10 September 2014

Author David Ogle

Darsha Hewitt, Electrostatic Bell Choir (2012) 1

As part of this project, an international exchange will be taking place with Liverpool based artist Sam Meech travelling to Montreal, and Canadian Darsha Hewitt taking up residence at FACT.

Project manager David Ogle has sat down with both artists to discuss their work and plans for the exchange.

Visit the Human Futures project page to find out more.

What aspect of FACT's allotted theme (Cognitive space) do you most engage with in relation to your own practice?

Sam: I am interested in peoples’ memories of - and also ideas about - spaces around them. I try to collect those experiences and represent them in an interesting way that values them as much as an official / historical account of the area. Subjective experiences are very rich, but give important insights into how people relate to spaces. In the past I have collected memories of cinema, experiences of and ideas for the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and even peoples’ dreams. These have been shared through films, on site installations, and immersive AV performances (the latter sent people to sleep).

Darsha: I am interested in taking apart old machines which I find in the garbage or ones that are deemed obsolete. Through the act of deconstruction, I try to decipher their technical function. The fun thing about doing this as an artist is that I often don’t really know what I am doing and I find my way through circuits in an intuitive way and end up inventing more or less poetic hypothesis about what the fuck is going on inside some giant rust radio instead of having to be too anal like a real geek. In the past I have tapped into the particle acceleration capabilities old TVs and transformed them into static electricity generators for a sound installation or I have subverted creepy sounding feedback and radio interference from a huge pile of 1980s baby monitors. Right now I’m looking inside the Wurlitzer Side Man - the first ever electronic drum machine. While working my way through it I came across a valve circuit called the Shimmer Generator. I was like, Holy Shit - there is shimmer in this old machine! I like things that sparkle and shine so I am going to research this circuit and think about the how I can draw out the aesthetic potential out of a complicated technical system.   

How do you envisage collaboration and exchange being utilised within your project?

Sam: There is the collaboration and exchange with people in Montreal and Liverpool, and also the collaboration between myself and Darsha. The first, for me is a chance to speak to people in Montreal about their experiences of the city, in particular the area around Les Place des Arts, and to be open about how some of these could feed into an artwork, and give them to chance to steer that representation. It’s a chance for some of the ideas, experiences and even tensions of people living and working in that area to be shared through an artwork. The second collaboration, between myself and Darsha, is more a chance to share approach and tools. I have little experience of electronics, but I’m keen to find ways that some of Darsha’s practice can inform my own and feed into the artwork I’ll be making in Montreal. Hopefully too I can support her in the same way.

Darsha: Sam and I have been doing a lot of talking. Discussing the implications of integrating socially engaged practices into projects that involve public space and lots of gear. For me, learning about technology, transferring hand-on knowledge about electronics and the actual art developed from my studio experiments are all integral parts of my artistic discipline. I make art because I like to learn about how things work and I am so passionate about what I learn that I feel compelled to learn about it more by sharing it with others.  As I am constantly in communication with communities of nerds, geeks and people that want to do electronics with me such as kids and artists I am constantly looking at how these collaborations effects the artwork I present to the public.  I am becoming increasingly interested in how I can transform the workshop experience into a site of artistic content and I am also looking at how I can integrate the artistic input from these communities into my work in a sophisticated manner.


With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union