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Art and Pain in Digital and Analogue / 2 May 2013

Yesterday I went to ‘Open Circuit’, which is part of Short Circuit is a strategic action research project commissioned by Arts Council England, South East designed to put digital acumen and disability artistry together – it’s not about short circuit meaning malfunction, it’s about a short circuit to create new possibilities through a path of least resistance.

Open Circuit was the first event of Short Circuit, where artists, technicians, coders, creatives and collaborators had a chance to meet. We were shown the raspberry pi, which is a credit-card-sized single-board computer that can be programmed so many imaginative ways. Other things talked about were live streaming, the multi-media platform Popcorn on Mozilla, and how we can use digital means to expand our art.

My interest in it stems from the fact I create a lot of my work digitally but need ways to go further. But also it touches me on a fundamental level. Psychiatry says my world doesn’t exist. In a strange way, the internet allows me to be more real; as the real world has taught me to be a virtual human being, an identity programmed by faulty reasoning and fear. For example, I Googled ‘Dolly Sen’ It told me who I was. I Googled ‘Where’s my soul?’ It didn’t have the answer I liked, so I will invent one and put it online.

Digitally I can question normal reality and identity. I can create things that don’t exist, as in this 10 second clip.
Personally I would like to explore the age old concept of madness in digital form. Can an isolating, alienating experience be know collaboratively? Can it be expressed digitally or shared artistically?  I would like to ask unique questions, like can the binary code have psychosis, can the internet have a breakdown? Can you forcibly medicate or question the sanity of the digital world? I will aim to find the answers in my art.

The event planted some seeds, and an idea for one exciting collaboration has come out of it.  But the strongest impact the event had on me was my conversation with Rachel Gadsden, the hugely gifted artist, because I said in my wee presentation that although I paint, I am scared of holding a brush, and need the distance of digital to feel safe and in control. The paintings I have done are purely representative and don’t really tap into what’s inside me. Rachel and I talked about it later. When I told her I am terrified of what mental and emotional doorways that it will open up, she talked of that unlocking of the subconscious that painting can achieve, and how she sees it repeatedly in her workshops. The broken heart can drawn onto the canvas like a magnet, wrenching what the mind doesn’t want to think about with it. Dreams deal with the process, but they paint with invisible ink – you don’t really see it in the morning. Painting forces you to see it. Rachel said ‘You have a story to tell’. These stories our souls want to tell us but we do not want to hear. But the soul must do so to heal. When Rachel does her next public workshop, I will be there.


Rachel Gadsden

2 May 2013

Thank you for including me in your wonderful report from our Short Circuit day yesterday, it was an exceptionally inspirational day. What I should perhaps say in all honesty, is that my studio is usually out of bounds to everyone, not because I don't want to share my practice but because the tiny space I create my artworks in, is full of all the unearthed discarded visions from my sub conscience, with diminishing sight this really is where much of my narrative inspiration emerges from, but even I have to battle and edit what I find, the truth is sometimes just too much to hold.