Definition: to “quicken” something is to bring it to life or restore it to a former flourishing condition
to make alive, to vivify, to revive or resuscitate, as from death or an inanimate state
to enter into a phase of active growth and development
to give or restore vigour or activity to; stir up, rouse, or stimulate
to shine more brightly
The theme of ‘animacy and lively objects’ has run throughout my creative career in practically everything I have done. Creating a living presence has been the way I have tried to engage with an audience, whether it has been through puppetry or multimedia installations.
Below are some examples, from the earliest to most recent work.
After training in sculpture, I initially gravitated to puppetry, as a more direct way of engaging with an audience. Puppetry is a kind of ‘animating sculpture’, which involves the skill of the puppet-maker to create a representational structure articulated in such a way to enable the illusion of life to be conjured in the mind of an audience by the skill of the puppeteer. The art of puppetry exploits basic human reflexes responsible for the experience of perceiving life in moving objects.This suspension of belief which enables the viewer to ignore their knowledge that the puppet is an inanimate crafted object and attribute life to it is a kind of ‘enchantment’.
Animated painting – one of my earliest projects was animating Picasso’s mural Guernica through performing structures as a theatre show for the Belfast Festival, drawing on contemporary documents, paintings and etchings.
Animation and video
For the video Openings, through a guerrilla-style stop-motion process over two days, we animated a fascinating household collection of curious objects amassed over two centuries.
Mixed media / projection mapping
Tabernacle (Video of a multimedia installation with video projected around the inside walls of dome tent), is another work evoking a sense of presence. It reflects on ways the divine may be sensed through the sublime and powerful in nature or in relationships. The tent appears to contain the elements water, wind and fire with figures mysteriously appearing in the midst.
Film and Glass
After developing a practice in glass sculpture, about ten years ago I began to combine crafted glass artefacts with film. Having previously explored the impact of projecting onto different surfaces for theatre sets, I discovered the ethereal, entrancing effects video has on cast glass. It also brought possibilities of creating narratives which unfold over time.
For a number of years, I was part of a theatre team seeking to get beyond vicarious experience of a passive audience by making interactive multi-sensory shows. This led to creating interactive artwork. Mirror is a piece, about identity and ageing, which changes in response to a viewer’s arm movements.
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