I assembled 7 interwoven ideas in time and space. Each is timed differently and produces unique coincidences over the 3 days of installation, the longest piece being 40 minutes, then 25 minutes, 5 minutes and 3 minutes. The size and prominence isn’t necessarily an indicator of what the main thoughts are. Everything you see and hear is related, but marks a specific point in the development, like the research timeline being expressed at once.
Through practice-based research I’ve been examining breath and its effects on the regulatory systems in our body. The practice of breath work as a specific, intentional breathing exercise has me thinking about the unintentional circumstances of our breath. Since last semester I have been working with the concept of reaching out, physically, and in the form of the “ask” and I started to consider self-disclosure and the act of sharing as it relates to the Polyvagal Theory; the science of feeling safe and the role of the nervous system. One of the basic concepts of breathwork is that more inhaled than exhaled breath energizes the body and more exhale than inhale is grounding. The act of speaking is essentially breathing out, so I’m experimenting with the effects different types of breath have, based on what is being said and the emotion behind the act of sharing these words. In this way, breath is the space between sentiments, where what we say lands and where we release control of our thoughts. What happens to us physically when we share our stories? I am interested as well in the concept of sharing as a way of dispelling shame, of any degree.
From the concept of reaching out, physically, and in connecting with other people, sharing and vulnerability, I have identified that reaching my arms away from my body feels vulnerable, even more so when it’s directed to someone – where there is intention behind it and an ask associated.
During my breathwork practice one day I identified what felt like the pendulum of reciprocity embedded in the cycles of breath: an anxious abundance at the top of the breath, and an excited desire at the bottom.
Thinking about the spaces between things, looking at the fractures and relations across space and time, I’ve been thinking about how stories progress and the relationships of two events next to each other in time.
I’m interested in the different ways of seeing and the politics inherent in being “unfocused” as a state. Two of the videos I’ve created specifically favor an unfocused gaze, I theorize that when you aren’t focus on being able to see what an image is comprised of, in detail, you start seeing the space in between objects. I see lines and shapes being constructed around the content in these videos. Then, I overwhelmingly see waves and movement, based on the progressive scrolling of both videos – which almost forces a connection between theses lines and shapes that are emerging. The eternal scrolling and cycling of the ideas in the space intentionally point to cycles. Coincidental events and chance elements (which are multiplied when audience members read the text aloud) interest me as an added layer to progression or as a development to the concepts themselves. Taking in the fractured ideas, separated in space, I wonder how the audience will relate things, the timing of the experience? Concept? Proximity?
PROCESS (if you must know)
I set up a camera and microphone and proceeded to record myself talking about my breakup. I shared memories and recounted the final events, focusing on my feelings of shame and regret. I was glad for the chance to purge of these thoughts quickly and candidly. I then removed every word I said in the editing process, looking for variances in the breath based on what I was recovering from and what I was about to disclose. This audio track came out of the main audio system in the RBC Media Gallery.
Emerging (larger video with hand reaching):
Filming with an extremely short focal length lens I wanted to highlight a clarity that is enabled solely through proximity. I enhanced this effect with a lighting setup that created a wall of intense light that would blow out everything that occurred from that point and beyond.
I played back my breath confessions on repeat and moved closer and further from the camera, prompted only by the way my own words were landing in my experience that day. My only physical expression was proximity to the camera and to play with the concept of reaching out – as in; literally towards the camera and figuratively in sharing my experiences as a means of connection with others. I became aware of how shame was manifesting in a desire to retract and disappear. I also found it interesting to note that the height I placed the camera, in order to capture the fullest extension of a reach, is also chest-height. I was happy that in the closest moments my breath could be detected in the rising and falling of my chest, but I really struggled with what felt like a focus on the female anatomy and I wondered how this would play into the passers-by feeling invited-in or confronted.
*to be completely honest (a phrase I used so, so many times to preface a shameful confession) I wondered if a part of me was somehow subconsciously willing things to not work because the time I spent sitting in the gallery inspired new ideas and helped me tweak things based on how it was all landing in the space. I also think knowing just how many people pass the gallery, I was trying to protect my work. Sitting in the space, working on things either afforded me a certain privacy from onlookers or the respect of fellow artists for the in-progress state I was communicating with my involvement.
In editing out the words from my confessions, I had the idea to create phrasing only using breath. I took each isolated breath clip, condensed and rearranged it. For a fuller effect, I stacked, duplicated, shuffled and pulled apart all of these clips so the original order and pace was obscured and randomized in a looping series. It sounded like the multiplicity of waves crashing against jagged shores.
I decided to type out everything I said in my confessions. As I scrolled through the pages of painful words I unfocused my eyes so that the words were indistinguishable but I could still make out the spaces between. It’s not the first time I’ve shifted my gaze upon a block of text to see shapes in the connected white space but this time it felt as though the shapes were made my the progressive scrolling in a fractured but related configuration. I screen-recorded this scrolling, distorted the text with a gaussian blur and shifted exposure, contrast and highlight settings. I rotated the footage to a track horizontally.
Watching this creation, I saw the visual representation of these breaths as arriving, or landing, at simultaneous but distinct moments. As a juxtaposition, I wanted to use the space between the words, the breath I focused on in White Space, as the material defining the space around it in this video. I took a screen recording of the timeline playing and then rotated it to play vertically, with each clip descending. I inverted the colors to represent oxygenating blood in the blue within in the pink.
I chopped up a simple piano rendition of a popular classic song, one which was specifically recognizable by the first two notes. In practising mindfulness, I’ve become aware of how long it takes my mind to wander: anywhere from 7-30 seconds. I put that amount of time between each note, sometimes even more with a maximum of 2mins. How much time between two events negates causation? How do these two things have to relate in time to be considered a progression?
I looked for fun facts about our breath and ordered them progress on the page from topical to philosophical. They were printed in landscape orientation on a piece of paper with the title “READ OUT LOUD.” I took all of the punctuation out and put it in the first person conversational, starting with the second person, so as to address the reader initially and get them to start thinking about themselves. As the audience reads, there is no indication as to where the breaks are so they end up having to hold off until they absolutely have to take a sharp breath in. The amount of time between inhale and exhale is extended whilst making the reader highly aware of their breath. The last sentiment by Tim Ingold so perfectly represents what I have been working with. That part was fate!