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Desire Lines - an exhibition of early stage PhD researchers

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

18-22 October 2021, The Triangle Gallery, Chelsea College of Art, London.

A group of early-stage PhD researchers exhibited together at the Triangle Space, Chelsea College of Art.

Owain Caruana-Davies

Sara Grisewood

Yang Liu

Karen Piddington

Our being together in a physical space was significant as most of us had not actually met in person before preparing for this show, because of Covid 19. With ideas conceived in virtual meetings, we imagined ourselves as a small community or even a small village, coming together, for an informal gathering within a space where ideas and materials could be shared.

Our intention was to lay open our research journey, although individually, each is very different, they overlap and intersect, providing opportunities for collaboration and cooperation. We all have different backgrounds within art and design and we each exhibited our diverse ways of working, showing how our practice leads our research. Much of the content was work in progress - shifting and developing as our research evolves.

It was important that we sourced our materials responsibly. We didn’t want to create unnecessary stuff and we had chosen to use lightweight and economical materials, including some borrowed and recycled components, which could have a useful afterlife.

As a way of structuring the show, we have created distinct areas for our individual research; we have also created a space in the centre to represent our informal coming together, a communal space for sharing of ideas. We devised a series of pathways linking the spaces to enable connections and dialogue.

Species in Spaces

Species in Spaces: I wanted to bring into the gallery elements of my garden and the animals that live there. I presented:

  • a diptych film and sound projection (Untitled (White Spider)).

  • The Den, a wooden and cardboard construction containing a TV monitor showing Hoverfly and Slug, a film with sound (headphones).

  • an installation of cordyline leaves housing Woodlice World, a film shown on a monitor.

My intention was to present work that reflects my current explorations into the elusive interiority of animality through the notion of duration.

Our everyday lives and domestic space support an ontology of difference, where life and matter are temporal and durational entanglements between humans and nonhumans, existing in a constant flow of becoming. 'Duration' supports this transformation through a process of undoing and redoing. This work focuses on the creatures that inhabit the paradoxical spaces between the wild and the domestic. The viewer is invited to ‘become-animal’ and enter these interconnecting spaces and worlds of animality.

The Den: I wanted to create a small and intimate space that makes us feel separated from the gallery, whereby the viewer has to give up their upright bi-ped status and become smaller and quadruped. My intention was for us to experience a multiplicity of speeds, intensities and sensations predominately through the sound of Hoverfly and Slug.

Hoverfly and Slug is a combination of clips filmed during an infestation of hoverflies in a greenhouse during summer 2021. The swarm created an intensity, both acoustically and physically, which over time, became uncomfortably live. I wanted the viewer to experience the swarm by positioning them up-close-and-personal with the insects.

Woodlice World: As we look down onto a heap of cordyline leaves we see oversized woodlice scurrying around. Our vision is one of distortion. The darkened armoured bodies clumsily bump into, and clamber over other bodies as they dash for cover. I wanted to create a sense of us being one of the pack - a woodlouse.

Untitled (White Spider)

This work explores a kind of non-identity - a fluidity between human and nonhuman - a psychological straying into spider mode - becoming spidery (as discussed in a previous blog).

Learning nest building skills from a masked weaver

My original intention was to hold a workshop in the communal space. The idea being the participants would appropriate the sophisticated nest building skills of a masked weaver, as the bird demonstrates its creative expertise to us.

It wasn't possible to show the film. However, attempts were made at creating a nest. Laughably, this human attempt took two days and was far from complete. For masked weavers, the whole nest creating process takes 5 days.

Exhibition plans - sketches:

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