Room B312 Portland Square,
University of Plymouth,
What constitutes the ‘frisson’ – an ontology of the bodily, visceral experience that reveals itself at the point of an intuited apprehension, that which is momentarily given as the oscillation between immanence and transcendence, as intelligibility itself. How is the ‘frisson’ relevant in the act of a hermeneutical understanding?
The origins towards which ideas are generally set in motion happen by an encounter with a particular natural history collection, or artefact that presents itself more as fiction than fact or the clumsy presentation of a museum object or display. The particular things that draw my attention usually present themselves as,’truths’ in some way; a documentary or educational film, a museum artefact or display, however their claim to a certain objectivity becomes ambiguous against the backdrop of an anthropomorphic exuberance. Such exuberance can occur through the bias of the curator/collector, or under a concession to entertainment.
My research interests begin by looking at the way natural phenomena publicly comes to presentation, particularly objects of knowledge within the natural sciences that have a claim to a certain objectivity through rigid methodological systems of classification. Collecting, arranging, organising, archiving, naming, could all belong to a hermeneutical act as a procession towards possible understandings (of the world and oneself). Understanding as such that begins as sensory apprehension towards an explicit event in language only to re-enter the subjective domain in its re-application to the world.
These research interests have grown out of my practice as an attempt to articulate and explicate a particular experience that occurs in certain generative moments. Such moments act as prompts towards possibilities for new work.
My interest is to define and give form to the frisson and oscillation- the to and fro movement that is encountered between the observation of what we understand to be fixed, known or objectified and that of an objects transcendent ability to point towards a less certain understanding of the real beyond discourse.
Starting as a sensory experience the ‘frisson’ is prompted through the direct observation of certain objects, artworks, or phenomena available to our perceptual faculties. The ‘frisson’ moves us towards an apprehension of the conceptual, or that, which is unnameable to our intellect, but which we sense is there. It is the interplay of sensory and cognitive worlds that are irredeemably separate.
Through Fichte’s thesis the imagination becomes an activity of consciousness that finds itself in eternal oscillation in an exchange between determinability and determination. From this position the oscillation is the simultaneous experience of the singular and the plural. If the oscillation between these two paradoxical positions moves at such a speed, can it achieve an intelligibility as a whole? Is this the frisson? What happens during that oscillation? There is an area of uncertainty and doubt, self-reflexivity, an awareness of the act of seeing, a comparing of representations to the ideal and to the real.
The frisson is also the experience itself. The ‘glitch’, equipmental breakdown or contingency, the place where I detect a fallacy or a misleading notion mobilises me to create work. Heraclitus’ fragment ‘Thunderbolt steers all things’ seems to resonate here how the ‘glitch’, or the lightening, momentarily illuminates the world and subsequently guides us.
Drawing on the conventions of early natural history films my work seeks to explore the impossibility and absurdity of any attempted escape from the fanciful, farcical, whimsical presentation of abstract knowledge through these manmade systems and museological devices.
My practice is cross-disciplinary however it usually tends to take the form of film and video together with photographic printmaking processes. Through the work, I have established an interest in the phenomenology of perception, particularly the subtle nuance of human experience of both looking and being conscious of looking. Consistent concerns in my practice have been about interpretation and misinterpretation, the act of de-worlding, provoking a bearing, orientation or worldview, about knowledge and how it is configured through organisations and institutions.
These concerns have been explored over a long period of time and have culminated in the following ongoing work entitled The Frisson of the Super-real.
The origins towards which ideas for films are generally set in motion happen by an encounter with a particular natural history collection, or artefact that presents itself more as fiction than fact or the clumsy presentation of a museum object or display. The particular things that draw my attention usually try to present themselves as ’truths’ in some way; a documentary or educational film, a museum artefact or display, however their claim to a certain objectivity becomes ambiguous against the backdrop of an anthropomorphic exuberance. Such exuberance can occur, especially in the museum, through the bias of the curator/collector, or under a concession to entertainment. In this setting I often have to ask myself what am I really looking at?
A series of large scale medium format photographs of habitat dioramas from various natural history museums in Europe and America. The habitat diorama, an educational device, is a complex compound of three-dimensional and painted components that are assembled in specially constructed cases to bear witness to the inhabitants of wild places in their true settings. These photographs simultaneously transport us into a fictitious world that is more selectively real than the real, whilst remaining aware of the contrivance and unreality of the witnessed scene. There is a sense in which we gain huge pleasure from the athletic exercise of our senses in collaborating with an illusion when the mechanism of illusion remains somehow apparent. This work tries to describe the ‘frisson’ from the interplay of sensory and cognitive worlds that are irredeemably separate, whilst tweaking the very same visual mechanisms that we have evolved to navigate the complexity of our seen world. This work attempts to give form to the phenomenological experience, where the body is both transcendent and immanent, caught suspended between two places at once and in that oscillating moment aware of the act of perception.
Knots – adapted poems by R.D. Laing (2015)
This short film, inspired by psychiatrist R.D. Laing’s book of the same title Knots, presents a series of his powerful, witty, unexpected dialogue-scenarios that indicate the knots people tie themselves into through preconception or misunderstanding. Laing calls them “tangles, disjunctions, impasses or binds” the “knots” of the title present bonds of love, dependency, uncertainty and jealousy between lovers, between parents and children, between analysts and patients. This film demonstrates Laing’s insights into the intricacies of human relationships, through a similar format to that of Samuel Beckett’s short, intense play Not I, where an actor is suspended in utter darkness except for her disembodied mouth spewing a torrent, a stream of consciousness. Bringing both Becket and Laing together in this way provokes an affect that is intended to play on the nerves of the viewer.
Screened as part of LOVED UP at Cornwall Film Festival 2015 run in conjunction with the BFI LOVE series.
The idea for Vulpes Vulpes, which translates as the true red fox, also arose from looking at the way natural phenomena publicly comes to presentation, particularly objects of knowledge within the natural sciences that have a claim to a certain objectivity through rigid methodological systems of classification, collecting, arranging, organising, archiving, naming, could all belong to a hermeneutical act as a procession towards possible understandings of the world and oneself.