February 2018 – start of the latest Low Residency intensive 10 days.
We began with an inspiring and challenging talk by artist, performer and Camberwell College of Arts alumna, Jess Thom. Jess is also known as Tourettes Hero.
Quoting from their website: ‘www.touretteshero.com is a place to celebrate the humour & creativity of Tourettes.
It’s not about mocking or commiserating – it’s about reclaiming the most frequently misunderstood syndrome on the planet and… Changing the World One Tic at a Time’
Jess talked about her verbal tics, the strange and unusual combination of words that she often comes out with as a ‘random creativity generating machine’ and these were the trigger for collaborative group work for the rest of the day.
However before we got to the making, Jess discussed the ‘social model of disability’ which is in contrast to the medial or charity models of disability. The medical and charity model says people are disabled by their own impairments or differences, but the social model says people aren’t disabled by their impairments but by a failure to consider difference in the way society is organised. Jess gave an example:
‘…it’s not my tics that mean I can’t call up my Internet service provider to sort out a fault, it’s their voice-activated system that disables me and means I can’t do it myself.’
The new building at Camberwell College of Arts did allow easy access to the lecture theatre for Jess in her wheelchair, however the Fine Art Digital studio is in the old Victorian original building of the college and is completely inaccessible to a wheelchair. The good news is that the main entrance now has a long ramp instead of our old steep stairs.
So we used Toutetteshero’s tics as provocations and triggers for art making. Small groups of 4 could each choose one of more tics and create animations, films, sound or images. We had a premier of this output at 17.00 in the canteen on a large screen.
The final day was spent exploring some practical issues related to artistic practice and ways to address challenges.
Firstly Hannah Breslin, artist and Student Employability Practitioner at University of the Arts London ran 2 sessions looking at successful application writing for artists and what a good artist CV/Resumé looks like. After many years of applying for funding and competitions, Hannah was able to share insightful and valuable advice.
We concluded the Low Residency with an adaption of an experimental group tutorial structure that Jonathan first introduced last year. Through a guided series of steps over about 2 hours, groups of 3 students considered areas in their practice that were a problem, a challenge or not working. After sharing this in their group of 3 the other 2 group members had to simply ask open questions and not give any advice or direction. This encouraged the one sharing to listen to themselves for advice and insight. Hard to describe in this written format, it was much better to experience the session. One participant said the structure ‘asked of generosity and understanding from those listening, rather than critique and judgement’ and that it ‘effected (positively) both the person questioned and the questionee/s simultaneously’.
We concluded the intense but highly enjoyable 10 days with pizza in a nearby Italian restaurant.
A day at Tate Modern in the Tate Exchange education space. A drop in digital maker event was happening all day with several MA Fine Art Digital students involved in presenting work. Alongside this we also ran a 3 hour workshop for students and anyone else who wanted to attend, called ‘What happens if we push this?’
From an unprecedented rate of technological acceleration to climate change, fragile economies, humanitarian crises, and shifting demographics: we live in precarious times. It’s easy to feel lost or despondent in the face of our situation, but as artists and designers we have the chance to imagine a better world.
What Happens If We Push This? will explore how to breakthrough the inertia of despondency, and develop a range of responses to two of the biggest challenges facing society today: The future of energy and the future of work. Join subject experts, artists and designers to collectively make images and objects that address these challenges. You will be guided through the process of thinking, making, and doing, using methods from design-thinking to rapid prototyping.
You don’t need to be clairvoyant, mid-career artist or a climate scientist to attend this workshop. It has been created with everyone in mind. We encourage you to come and challenge yourself, in the spirit of solidarity and progress.
We started with a series of provocations and then a making session to explore the ideas further, facilitated by David Cross (Reader in Art & Design), Dr Charlotte Webb (Artist. Researcher. Bot matchmaker.), Jake Rees (Curator, futures researcher, meme-lecturer & writer), Andrew Simms (economist, author, analyst & campaigner) and Jonathan Kearney (runs this MA course).
Day 2 of the collaborative workshop with South Kiosk gallery in Peckham. Three groups pushed their ideas and by the late afternoon we gathered together to experience their interventions into the space. There was lots of use of the unique environment of a space built inside the gallery space. The great sound system that had been installed for the exhibition was used along with loads of mesmerising visual effects.
The very limited time meant students had to work quickly and some only saw their ‘completed’ work for the first time at the public showing. This lead to excellent discussions and feedback on each of the approaches. Two groups used the installed projectors and even added another one to reflect of the mirror effect walls, while another group blindfolded each person and invited us to experience sound and light without seeing.
After an introduction to the gallery, their previous projects and the current exhibition by gallery directors Ben James and Dave Charlesworth; Sebastian Kite talked about his installation and his influences.
Students were then invited to form groups and develop a collaborative intervention in the space over the 2 days of the project. Day 1 saw lots of experiments that slowly developed into potential ideas.
Morning: talk by visiting artist Sigune Hamann, who gave an overview of her diverse body of work and introduced the ideas for a project that she and Jonathan Kearney are developing with Oxford University. They have been successful in getting some funding to explore links between students at Camberwell College of Arts and the Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology department at Oxford.
A tough choice for some. There were 5 workshops available on this day with many wanting to do more than 1 option. However each workshop was planned for a whole day and needed the time to push the ideas and experiences.
The 5 options were; projection mapping, experimental black & white photograms, virtual reality & hololens, experimental letterpress textures and exploring raspberry pi .
In the evening 3 students who graduated last year, Manuel, Trystan & Jack and a current 2nd year student Celine, delivered an alternative and experimental workshop which challenged participants to hand over their laptop or smart phone for 5 minutes. Everyone was able to search for offline content for 5 minutes on each device and save to a shared drive. After a 40 minute period of creating we all made something of the content we had saved. This was watched once and then everything was deleted. This opened up lots of debate and discussion about the nature of these deeply personal devices and the effect of searching through each others’ content.
A painfully early start for some people, meeting at 08.45 for a morning of group tutorials (and this was going to be a long day not finishing until after 22.00!).
09.00 – Four invited artists lead small group discussions with each student having about 30 mins to present about an aspect of their work. The four artists, Jonny Briggs, Kaori Homma, Gareth Polmeer and Rosie Sherwood are great facilitators/tutors and each group had a diverse mix of 1st & 2nd year students, online and London based.
14.00 – After 4 hours of the tutorials and a short break for lunch it was straight into a lecture titled; ‘Demystifying postmodern obscurity’! Gareth Polmeer (who had earlier been leading one of the group tutorials) was drawing on his own research exploring the German philosopher Hegel and how his ideas about art can be helpful in cutting through the often deliberate obscurity of popular art school ideas and theories. He quoted Nietzsche: ‘Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound strive for obscurity.’
16.00 – The day was far from over. After the lecture we walked to 3 local galleries, South London Gallery, Peckham Platform & Assembly Point.
18.00 – A more relaxed finish to the day, we went to course leader Jonathan’s home for a meal.