Labour of Love Series, 2020-ongoing

Laboriously Processed Algorithmic Drawing Series, 2020-ongoing

Materials: Tracing paper, highlighters, black pigment ink

Dimensions: A1

Awarded a Data Fellowship by the South-West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN), in 2020, in partnership between the University of the West of England, Bath Spa University, University of Plymouth, Falmouth University, Watershed, and Kaleider, and funded by Research England, I was invited as a New Talent Artistic Researcher to creatively reflect upon data, alongside 23 fellows from academic, industry and creative backgrounds.

The Data Fellowship began when the pandemic hit and though I had separated from my 8 year marriage (16 year relationship) 2 years prior and the divorce proceedings were amicable, as the Data Fellowship moved online and I became confined indoors with my laptop as her main source for communication, it was during this extraordinary time of solitude that I began to mourn this loss and my heartache began to surface.

'Love by Proxy: Diagrammatic Drawing No. 5', 2020

‘Laboriously Processed Algorithmic Drawing No 6 (Breaking Away)‘, 2020

Opening my heart to Google’s search engine, this tool became my closest confidante and while looking for a means to process heartache in a matter-of-fact way, with some emotional distance, I discovered Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theorem for Love.

Curious to see if I could visually exhaust the psychometric model that underpinned Sternberg’s measurement theory, I adopted his triangulated forms and began executing a pattern making process, as a means to slowly-process heartache. Following a colour-coding system to map my permutations that I tracked within a spreadsheet, I became transfixed by this triarchic process and sensed a symbiotic relationship form with the algorithmic calculations used to complete a process using machine learning.

Becoming a form of slow-processing algorithm, to date, 50+ unique pattern formations, titled ‘Labour of Love: Laboriously Processed Algorithmic Drawing Series’, 2020-ongoing, has accumulated.

As means to share this process with my Data fellows during the pandemic lockdowns, I transfigured my algorithmic drawings into a series of digital images, accompanied by a disjointed form of communication, using a text-to-speech tool. Titled ‘Labour of Love: Episode I Matters of the Heart and Mind’, my text-to-speech voice; named Michael, utters word associations relating to the heart and mind that are loosely formed from a multiplicity of factors (playlists, poetry, facts, fiction, hearsay, and the odd advertisement).

Overflowing with unbounded sequences, iterations and potentialities, too much exposure to Michael’s wholehearted performance (or even a performance full of holes) can leave you susceptible to his uncanny spell, that sways between the comical, the empathetic and the eerie.

In Jane Bennett’s, 2010 text ‘Vibrant Matter: A political Ecology of Things’, Bennett shifts the focus from human experience to nonhuman forces and speaks to a ‘destructive-creative force-presence’ as an active energy that has the potential to impact change and bring renewed vitality. Distorting the human-centric worldview by pointing to the agency of the digital medium, in which, to consider how the digital can effect human thought and shape aspects of life, the ‘Labour of Love’ series is a work-in-process, centred around transfiguring the digital into the handmade.

While thinking about datum in its digital form and how it can become out of date if not maintained, the ‘Labour of Love: Stratified Relations Series’, 2022-ongoing, came into being to highlight the misconceptions of data if presented out of context and to speak to the unstable nature of digital forms of referencing when web links become broken.

'Love by Proxy: Stratified Spreadsheet Drawing, Exhibit A', 2022

'Love by Proxy: Stratified Spreadsheet Drawing, Exhibit B', 2022

In 2010, Sean O’Hagan reviewed David Shields Reality Hunger, describing Shields style of writing as a ‘raw’, ‘unprocessed’, and ‘uncensored…genre-blurring 21st-century prose’ that ‘questions ownership’ in our ‘technology-driven culture’[1]. With Shields Reality Hunger in mind, I envisage the ‘Labour of Love: Stratified Relations Series’, as printed monolithic, aluminium panels, in which, the unruly, often untrustworthy, dynamic nature of electronic publishing becomes solidified. Where unclickable web references are an act of petrification and the fluidity of hyperlink references are lost, and only image and object remain. 

Matters of the Heart: a constellation installation

Upon entering a dark, narrow corridor,

a series of floor to ceiling, monolithic, aluminium panels

lean against the adjacent sides of the walls,

spot lit from above.

On each panel are

layers upon layers of lines.

Blackness is interspersed by a sequence of horizontal, highlighted lines,

which guide a way forward,

but leave you not knowing where the ground level lies

beneath your feet.

Having followed the chink of bright white,

to enter into a portal of white,

a cell-like, panopticon space

holds a spectrum of colour;

perhaps an altarpiece,

figuring a seemingly endless array of permutations.

A luminescent source,

not harnessed between natural daylight and a stained glass window.

Perhaps the afterglow,

transfixed behind the back of the eye from too much screen time.

Kneelers invite you to one of a series of white, individual prayer stands.

Unlike a preacher,

your attention is captivated by a

disjointed form of communion,

where misinterpretations profess

what they believe to know about matters of the heart and mind

through a tumultuous clicking and clacking

from a multitude of black matter.

Data cloud like formations

clinging high above the crevice of the entrance

are almost lost to the ether.

A mass of unclickable weblinks

paying reference to the proclamations.

Parallel to the the entrance

a second, dark crevice

leads you in with a flickering of light.

Down the dark, dark corridor,

is a dark, dark room,

and in the dark, dark room

is an illuminated floor,

which blinks the array of pattern formations from the altarpiece.

Up in the eaves of this black expanse

a series of monolithic QR codes encircle the floor.

If scanned,

you can chose from a series of playlists, in which,

to attune yourself to the Labours of Love,

or skip and shuffle,

to find a groove and dance around the heart of the matter.

[1] O’Hagan, S. (2010, February). Reality Hunger by David Shields. Retrieved from: Source cited: 20th May, 2022