rigorous relaxation




ARTIST // Academic Research

Research Questions:

_in what way might a moment of curiousity be crafted through applying self imposed restraints to a repetitious production process?

_furthermore, how might these strict production rules reveal a sense of unconscious human error which animates materials?

Traditions of monasticism, eremitism and asceticism exist in many cultures and traditions.  In examining whether Monasticism is relevant to a Modern world, this practice-based project proposes that, through reconsidering the definition of prayer, moments of error can reveal a sense of humanity, surprise and an unconscious intentionality of the mind (Pallasmaa, p. 50, 2009).

Repetitive daily rituals form the backbone of a Monastic Tradition.  Knitting is a ritual that is Repetitive in Nature and relevant to my own practice of ‘unwinding’ at the end of the day.  The process has the ability to transform material qualities as well as shift one’s frame of mind.  Knitting, as process, connects materials through an inherent set of rules, methodologies and codes.

Through reconstructing rules of production, distinct panels are shaped over a one-hour period, once per day, between 5pm and 6pm, beginning and ending strictly within this timeframe.  The panels, suspended upon nylon fishing wire in groups of seven, suggest a week’s work.  They are completed once per day for 365 days, becoming an immersive and overwhelming installation piece, evoking a sense of labour, time and human error.

Self-imposed restraints offer a version of prayer.  The rules inherently operate to construct a contradiction: enforced relaxation.  Opportunities arise for materials to become animated through this process, revealing a sense of vitality, energy and life, otherwise unfound in glad wrap; a cheap, disposable material that is difficult to recycle.  The material, through its length, width, dropped stitches, open holes, and wobbly construction, begins to speak a visual narrative of mood, alertness, and the passage of time, framed within a constructed daily ritual, reminiscent of Monastic Conventions.

As Coole discusses, New Materialism, as theoretical discourse, offers “an orientation that is posthumanist in the sense that it conceives of matter itself as lively or as exhibiting agency” (2010, p. 7).  It is a discourse that attends to “transformations in the way we currently produce, reproduce and consume our material environment” (2010, p. 3).

Suspension allows natural light to activate inherent reflective qualities.  Elevating objects off the wall encourage audiences to participate and closely inspect, transforming artwork into object and developing spatial presence.  Through sunlight, shadows can be produced, which carry spatial effects and bare a conversation with the passage of time.

Pallasmaa, J. (2009). The Thinking Hand. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Coole, D., & Frost, S. (2010). New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. USA: Duke University Press.

Copyright © Shiloh Dobie

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