BRAINSCAPES, MIND-MASKS and STATES OF MIND
Commissioned article in: Interalia Art and Science Magazine -‘Memory Networks’ Issue 27 September 2016. Co-editors Richard Bright, Director of Interalia Centre and Magazine and Julia Buntain, Director of The SciArt Centre New York
DARKNESS ENLIGHTENED (2016-17) Arts Council Wales funding for new Research & Development project Darkness Enlightened with Dr. Ann John, Swansea University Medical School
We are experiencing a mental health crisis. There’s growing evidence that more creative and less prescriptive (and prescribed) methods are needed. A group at high risk of depression and suicide in Wales and the UK are young people, particularly young men and students. The visual arts have the ability to communicate in a way that verbal expression does not, important when dealing with individuals and groups that find language difficult, for example adolescents communicating subjective conditions such as depression or anxiety. Darkness Enlightened will explore immersive role playing experiences – online, offline and tabletop – for example World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, and The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, which allow players to create and identify with their unique virtual avatar, often an idealized version of themselves that they use to combat or banish their insecurities and ‘monsters’. We aim to utilise these types of gaming experiences to test if we can use digital media – fully immersive virtual 3D painting tools, 3D printing, and digital photography – to help participants recognise, articulate, and visually represent their own unique ‘depressive monster’. We will explore if these representations can be used as ‘affective objects’ – an object that transfers emotional data for the owner – by using 3D printing technologies. The project is underpinned by Dr. John’s world-leading research into youth mental health alongside Ingham’s international track record of working across art and science. Through the dual lens of art and medicine we will research, develop and evaluate new arts-based approaches to tackling depression and suicide in young people and share our research through an exhibition, two public forums and online media. Project partners include Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Swansea College of Art and Design.
Pollinator Frocks at 2016 British Science Festival (September 2016)
“Fashion meets conservation in The Pollinator Frocks Project, a limited edition collection of textile designs and clothing based on up-close images of plant pollen grains linked to endangered pollinators”.
Pollinator Frocks (http://kareningham.org.uk/portfolio/science-art-technology/pollinator-frocks ) is part of the 2016 British Science Festival, which is being hosted by Swansea University where I am currently an Honorary Fellow in the Medical School. Part of ‘Uplands After Dark’, I will be demonstrating how art and science collaborations can lead to new forms of public engagement for important issues around plant-pollinator threat and decline. After an internationally successful year of exhibitions, performances, screenings, workshops, and conferences, the project was archived in 2012 until further time and funds were available to develop it. This next development phase is now looking much closer with the next 12-24 months seeding new research and exhibitions around the theme of re-valuing and re-conceptualising insect pollinators and their host plants.
The initial platform for this research is the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded ‘Re-valuing Pollinators Through Arts and Science Collaboration’ working with project lead Prof. Andrea Liggins (Swansea School of Art and Design UWTSD) and co-investigator Prof. Mike Christie, Professor of Environmental and Ecological Economics (Aberystwyth University). I will be developing and expanding research, methods and approaches that I first explored in 2011 with the first Pollinator Frocks project.
I will be working on two main projects, the first with National Botanic Garden of Wales and scientists Dr. Natasha De Vere and Andrew Lucas. This collaboration will explore the ‘forgotten pollinators’ – Hoverflies – and their amazing ability to use bio-mimicry to impersonate other similar pollinators such as bees and wasps.
Project One – Hoverflies and Bio-Mimicry Masquerading (Hoverflies and Their Habitats Collaboration) https://crosspollinationartsciencecollaboration.wordpress.com/hoverflies-bio-mimicry-masquerading/
Project Two – When Less is More, is part of the ‘Farming and Environmental Policy Collaboration’, with scientists Dr. Sarah Beynon, Prof. Mike Christie, Duncan Coston, Professor Simon Potts and Dr. Tom Breeze from Reading University, Dr. Sophie Bennett, Sinead Lynch and Dr. Paul Thompson. The collaboration will use a filmic approach to question how two different farming environments – one a species rich, minimally managed parcel of land and an equivalent area that is intensively managed and species specific – attract, interact with, and sustain pollinators.
As the summer ends so too does my Arts Council Wales-Confluence commission Pembrokeshire Drovers, which finishes its six weeks exhibition at Oriel y Parc (The Park Gallery) in St. David’s on 9th of September (following on from the Haverfordwest programme of activities):
There are currently other exhibitions and screenings under discussion but the intention is to make the film and artist’s book available online in the near future.
Located in Haverfordwest Confluence is a creative collaboration between PLANED, spacetocreate, iDeA Architects, Pembrokeshire County Council and Transition Haverfordwest. Confluence has been awarded funding from Ideas: People: Places, an Arts Council of Wales strategic initiative that seeks to test new models of regeneration and collaboration through the arts. Pembrokeshire Drover will be a socially engaged, site responsive moving image artwork that draws on and reflects upon the interrelationships between Haverfordwest and the rural and coastal hinterland it serves. It will be screened and performed in Haverfordwest and Oriel Y Parc from July 2016. An artists blog for the project can be found here: https://studiowestorguk.wordpress.com
Recent and Touring:
Homesick – new body of semi-autobiographical photographic and film work about the trauma of extreme homesickness in ‘Towards America: Home Sweet Home’, at the Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography, Cardiff, October 2015 (and touring).
Presentation and exhibition of Facescapes and Physiognomic Landscapes at the Aarhus (Denmark) Creative Practice: Making Research Conference (September 2015), a multi-disciplinary collaboration exploring face blindness (prosopagnosia), architecture and neuroscience. Follows on from Facescapes in Crafting Anatomies: Performance, Materials, Identity, exhibition and symposium, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham, January 2015: Symposium 30th January; further development and chapter in book forthcoming.
January – June 2015: Working with Ben Koslowski,Roberto Bottazzi and team as part of the RCA-AHRC Creative Exchange collaboration with FACT Liverpool on ‘States of Mind’ in the exhibition ‘Group Therapy: Mental Distress in a Digital Age http://www.fact.co.uk/projects/group-therapy-mental-distress-in-a-digital-age.aspx The project is ongoing with a presentation at the (2015 Dublin) Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts conference. To hear project partners Ben Koslowski and Brendan Dawes discuss the project go to: https://vimeo.com/122330273
January – May 2015: Commissioned by Cape Farewell and Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to develop a site-specific sculptural response for the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. I will be developing a design based on the importance of plankton in relation to a sustainable marine ecosystem and the global carbon cycle. The commission follows on from a two years involvement with Cape Farewell and the SBTL project.
Crafting Anatomies: Performance, Materials, Identity, exhibition and symposium, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham, January-Feb 2015: Exhibitor and Symposium speaker.
Make Shift, Crafts Council England – a new biennial conference exploring how advances in materials, technologies and processes are driving innovation and imagination across art, science and medicine – 20th-21st November, Ravensbourne, Greenwich: contributor to Making For Medicine panel http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/makeshift
LISTEN: Crafts Council Make Shift and Resonance FM: http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/makeshift/
Episode 10: Bronac Ferran addresses the growing involvement of artists, craftspeople and designers in medical research and development scenarios with guests Gina Czarnecki, Matt Durran, Dr Karen Ingham and Rhian Solomon.
‘Between: Intersections in Art and Science in the Practice of Two Contemporary Artists’ (Co-author Susan Aldworth) in Art, Science and Cultural Understanding,
Brett Wilson, Barbara Hawkins and Stuart Sims (Eds), The Arts in Society Book Series, Common Ground Publishing (2014) http://theartsinsociety.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.192/prod.16
Dec 2013-March 2014
Professor Karen Ingham part of the AHRC-RCA design team behind the new ‘Hybrid Lives’ co-working space at Liverpool FACT
Professor Karen Ingham of UWTSD-Swansea is the only Welsh academic involved in the AHRC ‘Creative Exchange’, a multi-million pound project that brings together creative sector businesses and connects them with digital designers, major corporations and leading researchers in the Arts and Humanities. The major theme of the project is Digital Public Space. Ingham has been working alongside CX-PhD research students at the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre at the RCA, and they have designed and installed a prototype co-working space, ‘Hybrid Lives Co-Working Space’ as one of the major components of the international exhibition ‘Time and Motion: Re-defining Working Life’ at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) Liverpool. The exhibition runs from December 2013 to March 2014 and then tours internationally. There is also a publication from Liverpool University Press that accompanies the project. In addition to working on the conception, design and delivery of the interactive data tables for the space, a series of original video works were also produced, including a ‘hybrid’ live feed of the space that is layered with historical archive footage of working life. Co-designer and project leader John Fass says of the work:
“Karen Ingham created a video composition that montages a live feed of the space with archive footage of machines and factories. The piece evokes an intriguing tension between what we may think of as informal or improvised computer work (that done in a co-working space) and a reading of work as highly regulated, time constrained and machine like. Some of the questions the artist prompts is: are we as controlled by our machines as an early 20thC factory worker? Where is the human located in the de-centered virtual workplace?”
To see the space and hear co-designer John Fass speak about the project go to:
To learn more about the project and the AHRC CX go to: http://www.thecreativexchange.org/activity/hybrid-lives-fact
‘Between: Embodiment & Identity‘ opens at Somerset House East Wing – April 18th to June 30th
“How do we define the ‘self’ in an age of increasing materiality? The philosophical tensions between what we are and how we think, between human embodiment and identity, is being radically redefined by advances in anatomical knowledge and the brain sciences. At the same time, visual imaging techniques make this knew knowledge visible and explicit, conferring huge explanatory power onto digitized medical imagery. BETWEEN both celebrates the richness of such scientific research and presents works that collectively challenge technology’s entitlement to mediate form. Exhibiting together for the first time, and working in collaboration with King’s neurobiologist Dr Richard Wingate from the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, artists Susan Aldworth, Andrew Carnie and Karen Ingham present works that cross-reference contemporary science, digital imaging techniques, philosophy and the humanities, to explore emerging and enriched images of the Self.”
Wonder Chamber has just opened at one of the UKs leading organizations for photography and lens-based arts, Ffotogallery, and will be on exhibition from 9th of March to 14th April 2012. Wonder Chamber includes new and previously un-exhibited art works in addition to the consolidation of projects that have been in development for the past few years. A publication accompanies the exhibition and is available from Cornerhouse Publications: http://www.cornerhouse.org/bookstore/product/wonder-chamber-karen-ingham
The Pollinator Frocks Project (PFP) has just returned from New Zealand where it was part of the Eco Sapiens SCANZ event. A link to the SCANZ website with all of the details is on the PFP project page. Video clips from the SCANZ residency and exhibition, which included performative public video ‘walk abouts’ in Pukekura Park and Botanic Gardens, can be viewed on You Tube:
Thanks to Wales Arts International who supported the SCANZ residency, exhibition and symposium.