Artists’ Statements from :
Chen Mei-Tsen, Fion Gunn, Maureen Kendal, Cleon Grant, Terri M Broughton, Nazia Parvez:
Chen Mei-Tsen experiences time, space and memory as an urban nomad, observes Nature and studies the mutual relationships between living creatures and their biological, social, and environmental surroundings.
Title: Drifting Life
by Chen Mei-Tsen
The oldest Jellyfish fossils that have been found date back to 550 million years ago. In the flux of the evolution of species on the planet, Jellyfish drift continually along with currents that know no borders. These floating organisms are certainly proving to be the only species capable of proliferating in the whole ocean by taking advantage of human misdeeds both technological and speculative. Overfishing, global warming, plastic pollution, etc. are the direct causes of their exponential proliferation. All the damage inflicted on the oceans favor the conquest of Jellyfish.
Inspired by the survival ability and impressive gelatinous beauty of these basic looking creatures, I remain permanently alive to global environmental threats. Metaphorically, I immerse myself into Jellyfish drifting life which was part of our ancestors, in a similar way I experience time, space and memory as an urban nomad. These travels are in resonance with the diverse architectural strata of my hometown Taipei, which witnesses over time and under influences of different countries. I translate my exterior trajectories into initial journeys in search of identity. For identity is constructed by both movement and assimilation. I walk the cities, passing from one path to another, thus developing tentacles of citizenship. My work is based on an aesthetic of displacement, envisaging life in flux in a fragmented, uncertain and random world.
‘Drifting Life’ describes the feeling of wandering, of strangeness. Designed by Unity, this world invites viewers to immerse in the movements of Jellyfish and to be lost in gravity and orientation. Entering as a first person viewpoint by diver’s bubbles, viewers explore and test out where the exit - liquid doors might be located. Inside these interactive spaces, viewers will find pop-up windows as ‘Iconography’ and ‘Ecosystem’ where artists' inspirations of Jellyfish represented in the history of art, and scientific researches showed how we are intimately connected with these living creatures in the marine ecosystem. Meditating and learning Jellyfish stories through a transdisciplinary way.
Fion Gunn contemplates the impact on her own work from curating other artists in large-scale exhibitions, creative journeys experienced through migration, displacement and transformation.
Title: Odyssey: Ride
by Fion Gunn
I created this work as part of an ongoing series in which I explore a central theme - that of transformative personal journeys. My own journey is played out against the backdrop of global movements- those of peoples, cultures, materials and ideas. I remain inspired by the narrative describing Odysseus’s journey as he made his way home to Ithaca in the aftermath of the Trojan war. It is a story of obstacles and hardships, errors of judgement and lessons learned, and the ultimate metaphor for our human condition, for the experience of life itself.
In this manifestation of Odyssey, created during the first lockdown of our COVID world, I wanted to capture the feelings of flux, of uncertainty, of experiencing the new and the unexpected in a way that is positive and exciting. This is a Ride and also a voyage of discovery.
I felt the need to create a metaphorical environment which allowed me and subsequently, the visitor to encounter flux and uncertainty in a positive way - to be transported by it. In making the VR landscape for this Odyssey, I turned to the resources of memory, imagination and all kinds of manifestations of art. This is a helter-skelter which draws on old narratives and myths, passion for seas, oceans and the creatures which inhabit them, for the revelations encountered in poetry and subliminal ‘imagined-scapes’. As someone gripped by the uber-inclusiveness of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ I wanted something of that stream of consciousness sensation to be present in my artist’s world.
My fellow artists’ worlds can be accessed through portals in mine so there can be constant movement and interaction between us. We have in effect created a multiverse together. The element of differentiation i.e. including artists who have different approaches, different thematic and conceptual practices, is key, as is the consideration of multiple pathways and multiple perspectives. Multiplicity gives visitors/viewers choice and empowers them to decide how they will navigate and interact with the experience.
When starting out on this project - working with ideas around interactive ‘conversation’ were a priority for me and derived from my approach to curation. The hub which I created, is an extension of these ideas - when putting together an exhibition, it’s important to think of the whole environment, how to make it attractive and welcoming. If artists neglect this, then the experience of their work is diminished for the visitor, and in the end for themselves.
Title: Remembrance Dance
By Maureen Kendal
Maureen Kendal offers a vision of migration, trauma and joy. Experiencing an immersive world, may open up deep wells of forgotten emotions, because we are all people, migrating from trauma, trying to survive in unfamiliar territories and seeking out connections.
We bring with us unfolding memories, subliminal, epi-genetic, prehistoric, ancient, historical and futuristic when we wash up on new shores. Our old languages and music get lost in translation, our recollections reconfigured. “We invite our participatory audience to collect traces, remnants, memory-triggers of their time with us in our virtual multiverse, we also invite them to witness the current time. Gathering visual/audio collectibles from the flotsam and jetsam washed up on our immersive shores or hidden in virtual forests and caves, we ask our users to create their own story.
This narrative offers hope and transformation for women and children who find themselves fleeing as a result of war, whilst this war can be external, sometimes war zones are within the domestic space. As director of an organization which combats cyber-abuse, the artist supports at first hand, families who find themselves vulnerable and under threat, in dysfunctional family relationships, often triggered by external conflicts, (Cybercare, 2021). Myths of tragedy and transformation are reflected across many diverse cultures echoing these narratives, e.g: the myth of Hecabe (Croally, 2007)), the story of Ruth, (Gottleib Zornberg, A. 2009). Features of this artwork enable users to remember ancient untold memories, to gather and collect, to reframe and to manipulate scale, to tap into auditory worm-holes. Visitors have opportunities to write poetic notes and to transform memories by acts of re-creation, each one a new journey. Gunn, 2021 describes: “Visitors can follow pathways through our multiverse without repeating themselves and that their experience can be open-ended and always differentiated”, Gunn, 2021 shares :“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man” (Heraclitus circa 535 BC/ BCE) or woman.
Title: Thinking Aloud
By Cleon Grant
Cleon Grant develops 3D structural, coherent and elegant virtual worlds. Using sound and every day scenarios to explore and experience the thoughts and feelings of someone before and after an anxious interaction. This will feature 3 types of prompt/memories- one on one/group setting with close friends and a large social setting. Each memory will trigger sounds out loud as if you were reliving the thoughts. Each memory is represented by a framed picture where the thoughts get louder as you go near it.
By Terri M Broughton
It’s a fish eat fish world. The basis of the sea's food chain is largely invisible. Tiny plants and plankton capture the sun's energy and are then converted into nutrients for the next chain of sea creatures, which is continuously passed on throughout the sea. These humble plants play an important role as they are the primary producers of the organic matter that all animals in the ocean need to survive.I explore the significance of community through the lens of aquatic food chains and species survival. The primary producers can be seen in my coral reef within my environment which I 3D modelled and textured.
When visiting the aquarium, a visual reference of how aquatic life navigated and sheltered was handed to me. I saw the connection between their world and ours. This was essential for my work pipeline as I 3D modelled, textured, rigged and animated my work using these resources.
The navigation tools will use the ‘WASD’ keyboard controls to action up, down, left and right. Through this first person view, the user will emerge in the ocean and watch the natural order of the sea.
The user may assume the POV of a fish surrounded by the sound of waves, slightly blurry visuals and witnessing a close up of a predator and its prey. For protection, a school of fish is less likely to be eaten as they swim closely together with synchronised movement, protecting them from predators while swimming more efficiently. This is also a metaphorical sense when it comes to our survival and the idea of being protected amongst our peers.Whether you are a predator or a type of prey, every creature has a title assigned to them by nature. Lockdown showed me how different types of survival modes kicked in and to what extent. People purchase everything on the shelves in the supermarket, a major distance from anyone and everyone. Some benefitted, some didn’t. This is survival. The aim is for the user to understand the importance of community through navigating in the underwater space. Shock which then turns into reassurance and strength.
By Nazia Parvez
The A-Maze group created a shared space in which I was able to connect with other artists. It provided a forum for us to discuss our experiences of the pandemic and the impact of lockdowns both collectively and individually. These discussions were a means to explore different ideas and themes — both those I have an ongoing interest in — and others that were either new or less familiar. The themes that emerged from our interaction have either directly or indirectly informed my personal project: ‘Displacement’ and also sparked new projects.
Given my background in architecture and urbanism, I’m interested in how the pandemic has transformed how we experience and interact with our physical environments and with each other. The lockdowns have shifted some of our conventional ideas around space and place, community, connection, public and private, and what it means to be present. They’ve catalyzed a shift from an ‘embodied’ experience of our environments to a disembodied connection with a constructed space, a kind of hybrid of physical and virtual elements. It’s been interesting and valuable to explore the interconnection of these themes with those the other artists are pursuing.