“In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.” (Iyer, 2014)
My work is about finding strategies for living in contemporary society with the challenges we face of being in an attention economy.
The Net is a terrific source of information. We are surrounded by information, so much so that it can be overwhelming. Readily available information is now so commonplace that it has no real value. The thing of value, now, is our attention.
The psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states that, “without focus, consciousness is in a state of chaos. The normal condition of the mind is one of informational disorder: random thoughts chase one another instead of lining up in logical causal sequences.” (Csíkszentmihályi, 1997).
According to Csíkszentmihályi people are happiest when they are in a state of concentration or complete absorption. He describes this immersive state as a “flow experience” – being in the zone.
The Net plays on our natural racing thought patterns and encourages us to distract ourselves.
We need focus and attention to find flow, to be happy and to fully experience life. The distractions of the Net propel us to a state of mental chaos and we are so distracted that we are never really experiencing anything. We are living in a state of virtual experience.
To counteract the increasingly virtual nature of our lives, my work is about re-engaging with life. It is very much about the physicality of materials. It is about stuff, and getting your hands dirty.
I gather materials locally and have recently been collecting fallen branches and leaves from nearby woods, and water from my local rivers, which I have transformed into charcoal, ink and handmade paper.
I am also interested in the phenomenological aspects of drawing, particularly how the energy of the maker is transferred through process into or unified with the object or drawing. By making my own drawing materials this unification of matter and energy begins before even a mark is made on the paper.
The series of burned and pierced circular drawings made in 2016 for example, Breaking Down, Breaking Dawn and Breaking Through rely on a repetitive mark making process to create immersive surfaces. The process transforms the material into something compelling and extraordinary, almost unrecognisable from its original state.
Repetition is a recurring theme in my work. It can be through a repeated mark, or by repeating an action, for example, Crush, 2017 is made with locally produced charcoal that has been repeatedly and systematically crushed into the surface.
By creating these intriguing surfaces, the aim is that the work will cause people to pause and maybe, just for a moment, experience a different reality, maybe more meditative - a quiet reflective moment away from daily distractions of our world today.