Confusao, images from Angola

August 24, 2013 § 2 Comments

Since moving to Sub Saharan Africa I find myself struggling with a new understanding of the medically scanned body. Whereas before the scan dataset was something I took more or less for granted, I now recognise its strong symbolic resonance signifying privilege both in terms of wealth and access to digital technology that is far from global. I have returned to the images of Melanix that the radiology software first offers: Melanix utterly alone floating in a deep black vacuum, a weightless void ripe for dreams, nightmares, superstitions, suspicions, myths and rumours. My mind brims with questioning images and I am driven to see them; Melanix with her worth in cows, Melanix having her soul released by a buffalo thorn branch, Melanix with a cloak of Angolan hair braids, Melanix hollowed out like a canoe in order to float, Melanix leaking. This intense proliferation of images encourages a refinement of my practice and my first body of work in Angola has been to create a series of images rather than sculptures. Returning to techniques I specialised in as a student (and have since become rarefied thanks to digital technologies) such as silver gelatin photography and etching I am creating what feels like a library of clashes, impossibilities and paradoxes between the physical and the digital worlds we are all having to precariously straddle. Moving forward my intention is to use this library as a resource for creating sculptures that make real some of the imagery within them whilst fusing together ancient manual skills such as wood carving, fishnet making, marquetry and weaving with those that digital mechanisation make possible such as laser cutting, CNC machining and rapid prototyping.

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Dugout

August 24, 2013 § 2 Comments

Dugout

detail

Ink stained and flame charred laser cut MDF.

In 2011 we moved to Angola. Unlike in Brazil, where we lived before to moving to Angola it proved challenging to find local fellow artists or artisans as the long Angolan civil war and endemic poverty has left people deskilled and without a handed down craft. The artefacts that I did come across however were those associated with fishing such as fish traps and dugout canoes. At this time my mother in law was also diagnosed with terminal cancer so these searches for ‘authentic’ African objects in a war and poverty torn country were shadowed with the sadness and harrowing practicalities of a close relative with Stage 4 cancer. There was hope of surgery to remove the cancer if the radiotherapy was able to reduce it’s size. These two things coming at the same time triggered an image of a CT dataset (the technology that is used to image the body is the same that is used in radiotherapy) that has had all its cancer ridden organs removed in order to survive. The icon of the dugout that I had found in Angola fitted very well not only aesthetically but also poetically as it is a fine balance when carving out a canoe for it to be hollow enough to float yet strong enough to carry its passenger.

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