AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractAs a poetic exploration of the collaborative practice of Kelly + Jones (2014-2020), this article critiques processes employed by the artists to excavate writing and site with attention to aspects of sound. The sites of investigation include a disused quarry in Cambridge, UK . The use of the chalk quarry creates a unique ambience/ambiance – which can be considered theoretically in relation to phenomenological, dialogical, and post- feminist perspectives, in tandem with a partnered site of an old staircase with integral chalkboard in a former inner-city Victorian school. The site-specific nature of the investigation requires that environmental ambience is noted and processed through the body as a material quality instrumental in rendering form. The material ambience of site is also embroiled with the cultural ambiance of received convention and practices that seep into diverse modes of expression through and off the body that is inescapably conditioned by the translation of social relations. Also to consider is an inter-relational translation from environment to tissue where cultural memory embeds in the yet-to-emerge gestures of the anticipated. Throughout this text ambience is a reference to physical and sensed qualities and ambiance to the cultural uptake that conditions individual subjectivity within its political realm. The gouging and scarring of the landscape where chalk has been blasted, hacked and removed, and the striking of surfaces inherent in chalk on board in regimes of education and enculturation chime with the violent and strident nature of writing a subject into being, even more evident in acts of resistance. The sifting of dust particles into the lungs of workers and educators are a reaction inducing irritant causing bodies to spasm in coughs and soft tissue to mobilise and swell. The artists value this material and cultural aspect as a site of troublesome proliferation on the side of the feminine. The collaborative writing offers a glimpse into the artists’ questioning of the material world of the human body and the spent bodies of marine-life which create chalk deposits, in order to explore the dialogic relationship of the body and its ambiant hauntological qualities . Though the project holds personal resonance and subjectivities for the artists tethered to site intimacy, in this instance they opt to share their research through the distance of third person. Through the culturally received dominance of the masculine empirical voice this could be viewed as a replication and appropriation of a hierarchical voice-as-trope rather than a subversion towards the non-binary. The artists have different intentions for use. By putting aside the intimacy of the first person the artists intend to draw attention to the there-yet-not-there qualities of the hauntological scene and to perhaps open a space where the reader can insert their own subjectivity as they wander through a newly encountered and perhaps dense terrain. A reader may find their own ways to enter the unoccupied space of first person and disrupt the flow of words and events, altering the course of the article within their individual encounter. Similarly, the practical research around writing resists using text because of its inherently hierarchical disposition in terms of gender, race and class codes and exclusions. By refusing to offer decipherable text in the practical investigations the artists set up an alternative provocation utilising grammatical signs and symbols. By tampering with the form and avoiding the defining sense of a word they aim to resist boundaries and enable ‘the structural enigma which inaugurates the scene of writing’. (Castricano 2001) As part of their investigation into the site of writing, this essay creatively contemplates the role of the body as an instrument for making and storing sculptural sound documentation to excavate work based on re/calling, un/calling, production and erasure within phenomenological experience. Kelly + Jones embrace the unknown within research-creation as the ground for potentiality in thinking around chalk’s materiality and the cultural significance of mark-making as a condition of writing a subject into being. The collaboration probes how this might be distilled into enmeshed visual and audial practice through creating a micro-ecology of sound-body interventions. Through their improvised gestures ambiance is situated as a dis/embodied oscillation that only exists in the moment of interplay between artists and site, which the artists consider live ‘jamming sessions’ within a responsive and improvised practice. The unforetold of improvisation and the discursive nature of ambiance necessitate the grapple of emergent subjectivity and its possible transgressions. The relationship between sound-body-landscape blurs the lines of formation of ambiance, as a site of re/action. Ambiance’s unfaithful and generative translation into gesture resists ontological distinctions and casts shimmering generative interplays. The exploratory works in the quarry consider the artist as instrument and sensitised corporeal recording device, the pit as echo chamber, and the artists’ interventions in the site as soundscapes – visceral, live scores that are embodied. The positioning of the artists’ bodies as a point of resonance in building sculptural soundscapes constitutes a fragile and precarious interplay with the site. This evolving body of work is a series of multimedia-based artefacts and live works that explore the contextual process of writing through the body and the writing of sound-as-site into being.
CitationJones, R., and Kelly, T. (2020). 'For we are made of Lines'. Journal of Creative Arts, 6.
PublisherUniversity of Melbourne
JournalJournal for Creative Arts
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