'Whose voice?' was the title of my solo Featured Artist exhibition at Magdalen Road Studios, which took place in November 2018. The exhibition showcased my own enquiry about the nature of artistic research and practice, and the perceived value of their outcomes.
The enquiry centered on meaning and interpretation of either physical artefacts or generated knowledge, stressing the similarities in which the two are interpreted or understood, so that the manner in which either are viewed, shared, exchanged, interacted with or owned has deep implications on their meaning and understanding.
I wanted to explore my own skepticism about 'participatory art', by testing if in allowing art to become a playground of experience are we also promoting reflection, if in speaking in a way that appeals to a crowd rather than to individuals, and providing fleeting experience, rather than extended awareness. I was also interested in finding out to what degree participative interaction aids knowledge transfer and whether viewer agency improves engagement. At the same time,
The exhibition tells the story of how I arrived at these questions, and at the same time, explores the ways in which perceptions can be changed by the way in which objects are presented, displayed and installed. The main concept explored in the objects is passage, starting from an image of flow to an array of curved hollow objects, hand built or slip casted and glazed.
I named the objects ‘periphones’ because they can carry sound from close proximity, from mouth to ear, and make the user aware of their own voice. The use of a periphone makes possible a personal examination of attitudes and reactions to one’s own voice. I may have nothing to say to myself or feel it is a taboo to use for myself something that is reserved for others. I may feel reticent to give in to it, varying degrees of shame in appearing self absorbed, perhaps paralysis by the stigma of madness, the risk of losing my mind, by talking endlessly to no one.
However, this dialogue evidences the existence of a channel of communication, not an internal dialogue, but one that requires an iterative mediation with the world. The channel, once discovered, is consolidated by being put to use, vital in the exercise of thought, creativity and the generation of knowledge. No longer deaf or mute, we can exercise our voice in private or public life.