[dance-tech] Re: Ikeda/Supersymmetry, science and art participations

  • From: Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2015 19:40:01 +0000

dear all
am sorry for misspelling Jayne Wilton's name, but having come across her
collaborative works with scientists and medical researchers, I thought I could
make up for my mistake by sharing a review of her current exhibition at Guy
Hospital with you, and mention that Jayne has also been to CERN as well as
holding a residency as 'artist in science' --- an intriguing role that
numerous folks from our larger dance-tech and art-tech community have explored
as well, from Sarah Jane Pell to Gordana Novakovic, from Thecla Schiphorst to
Adam Zaretzky to Caroline Locke and Stelarc, and many others; and it would be
interesting in this context to hear again from Yacov, and what him work with
brain waves and neuroscientific concepts, and how we can trace such work back
to Alvin Lucier and other sound artists (including Ikeda, the Vasulkas, etc ).

Johannes Birringer

Learning the language of breath

[by Jennifer Thorley]

The very process of making permanent something as
transient and momentary as the breath is often heralded
as the ultimate aim of the artist. Combine that with
the capture and visualisation of the invisible, and you
begin to understand the understated magic of Breathe,
a snapshot of Jayne Wilton’s 8-year-long journey to
immortalise the breath, currently on show at Guy’s
Hospital, London, UK. The exhibition brings together a
small selection of her recent work, including work with
patients at The Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals
(as well as Will Self and physicists at CERN, to name some
notable others).

Intriguingly, the initial inspiration for Jayne’s
attempts to capture the trace of the breath comes
from a 1906 piece in The Lancet, entitled “Sighing,
groaning, and moaning”, in which “sobbing, sighing, and
groaning are…sentences in a monosyllabic cosmopolitan
language”. Jayne is a practiced translator of this
language and takes delight in sharing its elusive quality
with others, fostering collaborations with hospitals
and patients. Investigating the effects of respiratory
disorders on the breath, she works closely with members
of Breathe Easy, a support group for patients with lung
disease backed by the British Lung Foundation, and the
Singing For Breathing group, which aims to enhance
existing physiotherapeutic support for respiratory
disorders and to teach better understanding of breath
control through use of the voice.
Among the pieces on display at Guy’s are embossed
prints made by etching the trace of a patient’s breath
onto copper plates. The copper plates become works
of art in themselves, the process and the result equally
represented in two visually diff erent pieces of work.
Another body of work was created by asking patients
from the Singing for Breathing group to breathe onto
light-sensitive film in a makeshift darkroom, creating
the Drawing breath series, while the Expire series includes
graphite drawings that are so delicate, the graphite trace
itself will literally be blown away if not displayed behind

Perhaps most eye-catching in a hospital setting, Index is a
series of drawings representing the breath done on 16 mm
film, which, displayed on a light box, is reminiscent of an
electrocardiogram trace. However, on closer inspection,
one sees the inherent differences that emanate from the
repeated action of breathing, in sharp contrast to the typical
medical traces we are used to seeing displayed in this way.
Although the use of photographic techniques might
suggest something simply static, Jayne’s work goes beyond
merely visualising the result of the breath, and seems to
capture the dynamism of the action itself, creating a perfect
visual representation of a sigh, of words uttered, or a song
bellowed at the top of the lungs. What we learn from this
visual display is that a normal breath can vary drastically in
itself, let alone when we add in exercise, singing, talking,
and respiratory disorders.

Although Jayne is keen to state that these visual records
are works of art and by no means a scientifi c measure,
her visualisation has helped patients to understand the
effects of their condition on their breathing, and serves as
a poignant reminder of the importance of exercising good
breath control to patients with respiratory disorders such
as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients are also
motivated to be involved in the project and proud to have
contributed to the exhibition, lending a certain therapeutic
aspect to the process.

In keeping with the collaborative nature of Breathe,
the current exhibition marks a season of performances
hosted by Breathe Arts Health Research at Guy’s Hospital,
and will close with a screening of Jayne’s animated
fi lm, Vent, which simulates the dynamics of the breath
of a Royal Brompton Singing for Breathing group

From the short, sharp, sputter of struggled breath to
the expansive pattern of a sigh, this striking collection
of images certainly breathe some new life into a busy
throughfare of Guy’s Hospital, providing an intriguing
backdrop for patients, visitors, and staff alike.

Lancet Respir Med 2015
Published Online April 9, 2015

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