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More Janet Cardiff…

Sometimes, in order to discern what is, I need to sort out what isn’t. As someone who is very easily distracted by the possibilities of what art can do and be, getting into the habit of assessing and reassessing the validity and value of what I am doing and why, helps with focus.

So, what I know at this point is that I’m going to go walking. Alone, and with others. I also know that I will be mapping my journey and using the data collected. I know that I have always been object based but that I am trying to move away from the object as an aesthetic form and towards experience; inspired as much by philosophy and anthropology as by sculpture.

As a line of enquiry, I have been looking in to epistemology: how do I know that what I know is true? If I imagine that what I believe of this world is a belief that has been formed by a clear perception of the world, then the value I place upon people and environment would be the same as many other people. Disagreements would be minimal. Those with whom I disagreed with would obviously be misinformed and my world view would be clearer and based on things as they really are. No, not really… So, how then do I persuade people that if they reconnect with nature, they will feel happier and healthier?

I know that engaging with natural environments changes our feelings of mental well-being as well as our physical health. There are any number of websites that back this statement up. Take a look here: Natural News and here Permaculture Research Institute for example. To underpin my art practice however, I need to look to the empirical research undertaken by scientists that provide verifiable data rather than believable logic.

My dissertation has changed my approach as far as how I research a subject and medical journals and research papers now inform my practice instead of feelings and supposition. (If you are at all interested, this is a good place to start looking at the science behind my claim: Natural Medicine Journal).

Taking a look at two artists that I admire, helps to underline my directional changes.


Doris Salcedo, is installation based and she creates art that is historically and politically charged. Exploring what is remembered and forgotten, she uses materials that are used in our domestic lives to convey the horror behind her themes of personal and political tragedy. Her work is simple but evocative. This piece called ‘Untitled’ is the result of interviews conducted with victims of political violence. (Untitled)

Janet Cardiff works with sound and you can hear her talking about ‘Forty Part Motet’ here: Tate. With her positioning of the speakers, Cardiff changes the perspective of the audience to one that allows them insight into the viewpoint of singer, active participant and not casual observer.

Forty Part Motet

In conclusion, what I know is that I would like to be more Janet Cardiff than Doris Salcedo. I would like to enable any audience of my art to connect with it from a different perspective to the one they approached it with. What I know is that I need to start doing and stop talking about learning to use my new technology. Zoom Q2N here I come! Eeek…

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