JAPAN IS A PLACE IN YOUR MIND, 2018, single channel video. Remaking a place in another place. Looking at how place merges through images, aesthetic choices, and sound associations.
JAPAN IS A PLACE IN YOUR MIND, 2018, single channel video. Remaking a place in another place. Looking at how place merges through images, aesthetic choices, and sound associations.
SOLFEGE SOUCHE, 2018, single-channel video, sound composition and arrangement.
“I love the way the figure is emerges then blends back into its surroundings, it is how I feel in the wild parts of Skye as if I am the landscape. The light is beautiful. It isn’t like Bill Viola’s work, but it has the same emotional effect on me.” -Joan Foye, UK
October 2020, “The Performer”, LoosenArt, Millipiani, Rome, Italy
June 2020, Semi-Finalist, Dumbo Film Festival, New York.
June 2021, Finalist in Best Experimental Film Category, Beyond The Curve Film Festival, Paris, France.
June 2021, New York Tri-State Film Festival.
A Solfège Souche is by definition the root of a forgotten connection with nature. In times of rapidly increased use of technology, humans face increased stimulation and variables on age old questions in ethics and morality. In an effort to portray a dynamic relationship with nature, instead of dominance over nature, the Butoh movements recreate ways lifeforms cut down in the forest continually find ways to reach towards light. This space framed in the video presents a body moving amongst an autumnal forest, merging and emerging from light and shadows. The body draws lines through movement; binaural beats compose the soundtrack. The pitches register at markers in time, reminiscent of ear trauma or tinnitus. The Solfège Souche video is situated at the intersection of dance, performance, video art, projection, embodied cognition research, and resonance study. The artistic research and pedagogical development around the project asks the questions: Are our cultural and bodily movements dangerous if we do not understand what we stand to lose? In what ways do sounds move and change forms from within the body and around?
“Ut queant laxīs resonāre fībrīs; Mīra gestōrum famulī tuōrum; Solve pollūtī labiī reātum, Sancte Iōhannēs.”
The term, Solfège, refers to the music education method developed to teach sight-singing and pitch accuracy. Originating in 11th century, music theorist Guido of Arezzo assigned six syllables: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, now recognized as the major scale. Much later, the “ut” was changed to the open syllable “do”. “Sol” changed to “so”. “Si” later became “ti”, was added for the seventh scale-note, giving rise to the modern solfège. Souche has several meanings; as a stump (of a tree), the Latin word meaning root, simultaneously referring to genealogy. Souche was also a name of an unknown virus claiming the lives of at least twenty people (une souche virale inédite a fait au minimum vingt morts).
The changes and understandings in musical notation, are related to posture and movement. These bodily performances considered intuitive or based on vision, relating Gregorian and Orthodox histories with traditions found in native and pagan rites of passage. Therefore the things themselves, present and projected become the shared ground. The next record in this artistic research is the Afjordance video projection and data based, algorithmic generated sounds based on the term Affordance.
Affordance is what the environment offers the individual, and refers to all action possibilities depending on users’ physical capabilities. For example, a chair not only “affords” being “sat on,” but also “thrown,” “stood on,” and so on. James J. Gibson, coined the term “affordance.”
En Solfège Souche er per definisjon roten til en glemt forbindelse med naturen. I tider med raskt økt bruk av teknologi, møter mennesker økt stimulering og variabler på eldgamle spørsmål innen etikk og moral. I et forsøk på å skildre et dynamisk forhold til naturen, i stedet for dominans over naturen, gjenskaper Butoh-bevegelsene måter livsformer kuttet ned i skogen kontinuerlig finner måter å nå mot lys. Dette rommet innrammet i videoen presenterer en kropp som beveger seg mellom en høstlig skog, smelter sammen og kommer ut fra lys og skygger. Kroppen trekker linjer gjennom bevegelse; binaural beats komponerer lydsporet. Plassene registreres ved markører i tide, og minner om øre traumer eller tinnitus.
Solfège Souche-videoen ligger i skjæringspunktet mellom dans, performance, videokunst, projeksjon, forskning og studier. Den kunstneriske forskningen og den pedagogiske utviklingen stiller spørsmålene: Er våre kulturelle og kroppslige bevegelser farlige hvis vi ikke forstår hva vi taper? På hvilke måter beveger lyd og endrer form fra kroppen og rundt?
Endringene og forståelsene i musikalsk notasjon, er relatert til holdning og bevegelse. Disse kroppslige forestillingene ble ansett som intuitive eller basert på visjon, og relaterte gregorianske og ortodokse historier med tradisjoner som finnes i innfødte og hedenske overgangsritualer. Derfor blir tingene i seg selv, nåværende og projiserte, den delte bakken. Den neste posten i denne kunstneriske forskningen er Afjordance videoprojeksjon og databaserte, algoritmisk genererte lyder basert på begrepet Affordance.
Overlegenhet er hva miljøet tilbyr individet, og refererer til alle handlingsmuligheter avhengig av brukernes fysiske evner. For eksempel gir en stol ikke bare “å sitte på”, men også “kastet”, “sto på” og så videre. James J. Gibson, laget begrepet “overkommelighet”.
STOP BATH, 2017, multimedia installation, images from Memoria Technica, single-channel video, audio composition, at Lekter’n. View Stop-Bath video at FilmEssay.com Interview on Oslo Fashion and Art Festival. Exhibition supported by Epson & Interfoto Norge.
THURSDAY Oct 12th FRIDAY Oct 13th 2017 – kl. 17:00 – 20:00 SATURDAY Oct 14th 2017 – kl. 12:00 – 20:00
Rachel Wolfe (b. 1984) is an American-born artist and photographer, living in Norway since 2015. Her work is realized in mediums of images, installation, drawing, painting, video, performance, and traveling objects. The Print Atelier represents images from Human Needs.
Rooted in disciplines of dance, painting, drawing, piano, voice, Wolfe has been making solo and group projects, working with land, space, light, and photography since 1999. Theories in Chinese medicine influence her work navigating themes of beauty, sense, feeling.
Awards and scholarships include: 2015 First place by the jury, Imagining New Eurasia exhibition in Gwangju, South Korea. 2015 Woelffer scholarship and 2014 academic merit award from Otis College of Art and Design, 2013 Academic scholarship for social psychology study in Matsuyama Japan, 2009 Historic Pathways winner from Indiana State University.
U: Who are you and what do you do? RW: I am Rachel Wolfe I make art considering the site and utilizing materials and images of photography, including light, video, sound, and performance of body.
U: What characterizes your work? RW: Sensory dynamics in the nature of desire. Human, felt experiences are important in a bottom-up approach to understanding versus a concept-to-completion mode of working. Beauty services the process in various forms as elements of nature are always in the work.
U: How would you describe your personal style? RW: Based on what I am learned about style I would say everything must always be in service of dynamic movement.
U: How do your own experiences influence your work? RW: Synesthesia is something I thought everyone has but later came to find out, they certainly do not. I use my sensory sensitivities and route them through a process of omission relative to the site, and to a history I am interested in daisy chaining with.
U: What will you be showing at the uncontaminated festival? RW: I’ll be exposing ways of gazing upon a horizon to consider the perception of motion through time. This sense of temporality as a form of continuous movement and how that relates to bodily senses.
U: What do you want to communicate through your work? RW: Reverence as an important tool in agency. Trade economics are sometimes spoken of as a force in opposition of life, and in the sense of hurriedness or performance anxiety, one could certainly become at odds with their lives and relationships. My work is demanding in a subtle way of slowing down, that most to gain by giving in to what is working through choices with what’s there. My hope is locating an orientation of intrinsic desire and value-to go forward from an aesthetic experience with an embodied sense of wholeness.
U: Do artists of today have some kind of social responsibility? RW: Responsibility is such a rich space for conversation. Artists have the responsibility to keep making work, and to start talking with people in a way that doesn’t create an intellectual paywall.
U: What does uncontaminated mean for you? RW: Uncontaminated is an idea about an ideal. For example, the idea of blue blood or a form of purity that in reality is an impossibility. For example, mud is still always dirt. That kind of aspirational dreamstate feels a lot like a mental space one could achieve through traditional forms of meditation.
U: What is the most important thing in your life? RW: Being alive.
U: How do you feel right now? RW: I feel like having a proper bath. Where are all the bathtubs here (in Oslo)?
U: If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be? RW: Remind people the generative quality of cooperation and the value of a well-considered no.
U: What are the main reasons you are joining us for the festival this year? RW: I am interested in art and fashion and want to connect with people to learn about what they desire-what brings people out of their homes to connect with each other in public spaces.
U: Who or what do you value as a great inspiration for you creatively? RW: Opposing points of view from books, family, and friends. Paying more attention to noticing phenomena in nature. How many different ways can something I think I’ve seen a million times reveal something new about itself?
U: Can you elaborate on an important moment in your life where you experienced a big change, chose to make one or another event which altered your way of thinking or your approach to creativity? RW: Deciding to be the author of my time, which is a never ending dance I still trip over my own footing with. After decades of training, the red thread is making something out of the desire to make and create value in the satisfaction of the making process.
U: How does digital and social media affect or inspire your life and creations?
RW: Being prone to affective disorders, I really try to keep an arms distance with the broadcast version of life. I wonder a lot about the ways in which the intimacy of viewing a distant life up close affects psychology and if there could be some kind of epigenetic change relative to the emotional change in media technology.
U: What do you define art? RW: Art requires discipline, something that is worked on by an artist and through a diligent practice and vision work is made. Is Duchamp’s urinal art today? No, that was an artefact as a testament of a notion that somehow art is one thing or another-that art is about ideas or feelings or one thing or the other. Art is art. To conflate art as anything other than the word itself services rhetoric or belief-both of which I am interested in being free from. I have a great faith in people and the ability to know. Art and artefact can have a close relationship but they are different. I as one among many people practicing art today may be in a practice of making artefacts more than art, and that’s something I’m always looking closely at within my work as well. Does this diminish what artists are making; I don’t think so. I do find the conversation valuable moving forward.
U: What is your definition of artistic freedom? RW: Discipline. Having gone through a phase of coming undone, and going in many directions, I’m in a process of refining.
U: Is there a difference for you between art and commercial/commissioned work? RW: Commissioned work has always been easier for me, to work in a dialogue. Making art for myself entails far more responsibility which then requires a lot more time. A few months at a residency can accomplish a lot, but it is still not the same as having years to work on art.
U: Do you struggle to find artistic freedom in the span between commissioned work and your personal needs to express yourself? RW: Personal expression is not an area I struggle with or work with in my art.
U: What do you aspire to? In the near future? In life in general? RW: Aspire is a great word. I wouldn’t go panting after doing I do though. The question I’m often asking myself now is what is truly essential and can I live with today, tomorrow, and 50 years from now.
U: How do you feel art and fashion intervene? RW: Aesthetics and function. The formal qualities of how something looks conveys a great deal of ideas. Aesthetics as signs of ethical choices isn’t a new concept. There’s a lot of value in considering what aesthetic choices are relative to fashion, and then wondering the function, does this work. And if it doesn’t work, ie can the body stay warm, does the systems circulate healthfully, this kind of questions have a lot to do with the intersection of art and fashion. The head and body need not be severed from the other, you know?
U: What is a great example of a fashion art collaboration in your view? RW: I cannot look at fashion and not see art. When I see art, I have a desire to somehow become the art I see. I have seen so much incredible and daring fashion and art these past years, I am afraid I can’t call out anything specific right now.
U: Where do you think art and fashion is heading in our digital age? RW: People are demanding more from each of their purchases. Less is not more now. More in fewer items is the thing. A lot of the digital future is already available today but not yet on a wider scale. Someone once advised me to invest in black clothing, that this pigment would become rare in the future. For some reason this stuck with me.
STOP BATH, 2017, single channel video projection, exhibited at Oslo Art & Fashion Festival & included in the FilmEssay.com archive.
IMAGE ARCHITECTURE, Installation, Culver City, 2015.
Materials: Tokyo blue photography gel, Cotton machine part bags, Digital negative triptych, White kite string, Cable staples, Gaffers tape, Sea salt, dimensions variable.
SUSPENDED PLANES, 2015, Installation, Configurations 1.0-4.0, Culver City, CA
Two square planes, one clear and one glossy black paint, suspended by tension from which nails affix twine to the wall. Painted gold clamps grasp each corner, as twine slips through, a projection of hands touching themselves as light passes onto, through, and around the planes as a meditation on words written by Kafka, “We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds.” The work expands the nature of the photographic image into a physically experienced, dimensional space. Centralizing a corning with a double planes of plexi, emphasize the hovering and pointing qualities of image making, and sensual experiences of an image. In a single-reflex system, such a quote appears articulated from observable reality, as each configuration assigning a new variable, shows the limits of such a system. Viewers are able to physically navigate this single reflex system, with the aim to point to multiple systems of the their bodies to enable and dismantle a singular-reflex system. The final configuration 4,0 leading to a direct experience of the single-reflex planes obfuscation of bodily projection.
Materials 1.0 Twine, nail, clamp, gold and black gloss paint, two panels of acrylic 40.64 x 40.64cm 2.0 Same as above with projected light 3.0 Same as above with projected video 4.0 Same as above with projected video
BLAST, 2014, 3:16 minute, stop-motion video, installation, Los Angeles, USA.
Materials: Ready-made glass bear coin bank, institutional pink hand soap, photographs.
POWER PLANTS PIANO, 2015, Installation, Culver City, CA. “Death of the Artist” installation involving: Blue paint, two square mirrors, 8 potted palms, 7 potted mums, tree bench covered in epoxy, Casio piano on stand, skylight. Note: Play the video with sound on to receive the “that’s too real” conversation. A writing and HC Andersen story follow the mobile phone video documentation.
What does “artist” mean? There was a time it means becoming incredibly skilled and creating something deemed valuable. Thanks to pre and post modern theorists, authors created the ability to think about the structure of life based on a multitude of awarenesses. During the last several decades, the demand for Master degrees as a certification to be eligible to teach or attain certain jobs, created an identifiable social phenomena: artist as identifiable myth. The story of where the artist came from, how that is tied their practice (as if in a perpetual state of never becoming a professional), is not only assumed to be the way for an artist to carve out a career but if a person making art goes against it, they may be cast aside from the “canon.”
In this perspective, art became both advertising and war. Instead of a ballistic material, the art object becomes a transitory object of the artists’ identity. The notion “anything can be art” opened up the field of art so much as to making anyone who questioned the blatant obtuseness of artist productions subject to being labelled in a sociologically negative way. Labels such as “rural”, “dull”, “unsophisticated”, became backed up by a strange blend of European philosophies, the Europeans themselves did not understand. This canon as often marked as having virtue by being related to the prestigious Frankfurt School, tactically warned even describing the obvious nature of what is going on would be cast out (perhaps expelled by the institution receiving cash or federal loan money), and if not then, then cast out of further legitimised work opportunities.
This idealogical apparatus became increasingly apparent as social media and the internet found ways to weaponise media. As every body with a mobile computer device became an unprofessional videographer, photographer, podcaster, editor, reporter or journalist, the space between abject emotional experiences to public viewership collapsed. Instead of clarity, a period of confusion arose. The obtuseness of “art” and the silencing nature of “ssshhhh, you shalt not speak unless degreed” created a scenario as Tom Wolfe writes in The Painted Word. A bit of a complicated version of the children’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen; in other words the emperor had no clothes on and no one dared say.
Roland Barthes, Death of the Author, sent forth the notion the author is not the matter in the book. The reader takes from the signs on the page and imagines scenes and recreates a story that may or may not be related to the authors intention. The focus on the nuances in temporality may lose the attention of some readers yet clarifies an important aspect into the way the idea an artists’ history and identity is taken up by society. Artist then becomes some kind of signifier of class or virtue; which sucks out all the air from the post-modernist idealism of agency, authorship, freedom because in post-modern ideals there is no objective truth or reality, and technology and scientific are merely avenues for power. The logos of post modernism becomes a logic unto itself, a closed loop or solipsism. This monocle with which to see the world simultaneously promises rewards (work or income, food and housing) while disregarding and disposing of the bodies and identities used. In this way, artists and their works become stones at which gallerists and societies throw stones at the other.
In this exhibition, a wall is painted blue; an aqua reminiscent of the colour chosen as the painted bottom of a pool, or the backdrop in a butterfly enclosure. 8 Palms are lined in their shipped pots, spaced with 7 chrysanthemums, sided by a log bench, and an electric piano facing the audience of plants. Two mirrors in the corner of the enclosure, reflected sunlight during a specific window of time the sunlight cut into the roof of the building by the artist inhabiting the space prior to the current installation. (Perhaps viewers would draw meaning from these refracted lights or maybe they would not). The piano was left plugged in and on, and was played by whoever wished to. Instead of a pianist, or a painter, or a performer, the viewers became the witness to the Death of the Artist. While the elements in the room were chosen somewhat autobiographically, the awareness such identity really did not matter. As the exhibition was situated in the graduate exhibition event for the college, in Los Angeles a city noted for a wave of artists working in Institutional Critique, it would not be until several years (nearly a decade later), the work would be written about.
The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
Many, many years ago there was an emperor who was so terribly fond of beautiful new clothes that he spent all his money on his attire. He did not care about his soldiers, or attending the theatre, or even going for a drive in the park, unless it was to show off his new clothes. He had an outfit for every hour of the day. And just as we say, “The king is in his council chamber,” his subjects used to say, “The emperor is in his clothes closet.”
In the large town where the emperor’s palace was, life was gay and happy; and every day new visitors arrived. One day two swindlers came. They told everybody that they were weavers and that they could weave the most marvellous cloth. Not only were the colours and the patterns of their material extraordinarily beautiful, but the cloth had the strange quality of being invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office or unforgivably stupid.
“This is truly marvellous,” thought the emperor. “Now if I had robes cut from that material, I should know which of my councillors was unfit for his office, and I would be able to pick out my clever subjects myself. They must weave some material for me!” And he gave the swindlers a lot of money so they could start working at once.
They set up a loom and acted as if they were weaving, but the loom was empty. The fine silk and gold threads they demanded from the emperor they never used, but hid them in their own knapsacks. Late into the night they would sit before their empty loom, pretending to weave.
“I would like to know how far they’ve come,” thought the emperor; but his heart beat strangely when he remembered that those who were stupid or unfit for their office would not be able to see the material. Not that he was really worried that this would happen to him. Still, it might be better to send someone else the first time and see how he fared. Everybody in town had heard about the cloth’s magic quality and most of them could hardly wait to find out how stupid or unworthy their neighbours were.
“I shall send my faithful prime minister to see the weaver,” thought the emperor. “He will know how to judge the material, for he is both clever and fit for his office, if any man is.”
The good-natured old man stepped into the room where the weavers were working and saw the empty loom. He closed his eyes, and opened them again. “God preserve me!” he thought. “I cannot see a thing!” But he didn’t say it out loud.
The swindlers asked him to step a little closer so that he could admire the intricate patterns and marvellous colours of the material they were weaving. They both pointed to the empty loom, and the poor old prime minister opened his eyes as wide as he could; but it didn’t help, he still couldn’t see anything.
“Am I stupid?” he thought. “I can’t believe it, but if it is so, it is best no one finds out about it. But maybe I am not fit for my office. No, that is worse, I’d better not admit that I can’t see what they are weaving.”
“Tell us what you think of it,” demanded one of the swindlers.
“It is beautiful. It is very lovely,” mumbled the old prime minister, adjusting his glasses. “What patterns! What colours! I shall tell the emperor that I am greatly pleased.”
“And that pleases us,” the weavers said; and now they described the patterns and told which shades of colour they had used. The prime minister listened attentively, so that he could repeat their words to the emperor, and that is exactly what he did.
The two swindlers demanded more money, and more silk and gold thread. They said they had to use it for their weaving, but their loom remained as empty as ever.
Soon the emperor sent another of his trusted councillors to see how the work was progressing. He looked and looked just as the prime minister had, but since there was nothing to be seen, he didn’t see anything.
“Isn’t it a marvellous piece of material?” asked one of the swindlers; and they both began to describe the beauty of their cloth again.
“I am not stupid,” thought the emperor’s councillor. “I must be unfit for my office. That is strange; but I’d better not admit it to anyone.” And he started to praise the material, which he could not see, for the loveliness of its patterns and colours.
“I think it is the most charming piece of material I have ever seen,” declared the councillor to the emperor.
Everyone in town was talking about the marvellous cloth that the swindlers were weaving.
At last the emperor himself decided to see it before it was removed from the loom. Attended by the most important people in the empire, among them the prime minister and the councillor who had been there before, the emperor entered the room where the weavers were weaving furiously on their empty loom.
“Isn’t it magnifique?” asked the prime minister.
“Your Majesty, look at the colours and patterns,” said the councillor. And the two old gentlemen pointed to the empty loom, believing that all the rest of the company could see the cloth.
“What!” thought the emperor. “I can’t see a thing! Why, this is a disaster! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be emperor? Oh, it is too horrible!” Aloud he said, “It is very lovely. It has my approval,” while he nodded his head and looked at the empty loom.
All the councillors, ministers, and men of great importance who had come with him stared and stared; but they saw no more than the emperor had seen, and they said the same thing that he had said, “It is lovely.” And they advised him to have clothes cut and sewn, so that he could wear them in the procession at the next great celebration.
“It is magnificent! Beautiful! Excellent!” All of their mouths agreed, though none of their eyes had seen anything. The two swindlers were decorated and given the title “Royal Knight of the Loom.”
The night before the procession, the two swindlers didn’t sleep at all. They had sixteen candles lighting up the room where they worked. Everyone could see how busy they were, getting the emperor’s new clothes finished. They pretended to take cloth from the loom; they cut the air with their big scissors, and sewed with needles without thread. At last they announced: “The emperor’s new clothes are ready!”
Together with his courtiers, the emperor came. The swindlers lifted their arms as if they were holding something in their hands, and said, “These are the trousers. This is the robe, and here is the train. They are all as light as if they were made of spider webs! It will be as if Your Majesty had almost nothing on, but that is their special virtue.”
“Oh yes,” breathed all the courtiers; but they saw nothing, for there was nothing to be seen.
“Will Your Imperial Majesty be so gracious as to take off your clothes?” asked the swindlers. “Over there by the big mirror, we shall help you put your new ones on.”
The emperor did as he was told; and the swindlers acted as if they were dressing him in the clothes they should have made. Finally they tied around his waist the long train which two of his most noble courtiers were to carry.
The emperor stood in front of the mirror admiring the clothes he couldn’t see.
“Oh, how they suit you! A perfect fit!” everyone exclaimed. “What colours! What patterns! The new clothes are magnificent!”
“The crimson canopy, under which Your Imperial Majesty is to walk, is waiting outside,” said the imperial master of court ceremony.
“Well, I am dressed. Aren’t my clothes becoming?” The emperor turned around once more in front of the mirror, pretending to study his finery.
The two gentlemen of the imperial bedchamber fumbled on the floor trying to find the train which they were supposed to carry. They didn’t dare admit that they didn’t see anything, so they pretended to pick up the train and held their hands as if they were carrying it.
The emperor walked in the procession under his crimson canopy. And all the people of the town, who had lined the streets or were looking down from the windows, said that the emperor’s new clothes were beautiful. “What a magnificent robe! And the train! How well the emperor’s clothes suit him!”
None of them were willing to admit that they hadn’t seen a thing; for if anyone did, then he was either stupid or unfit for the job he held. Never before had the emperor’s clothes been such a success.
“But he doesn’t have anything on!” cried a little child.
“Listen to the innocent one,” said the proud father. And the people whispered among each other and repeated what the child had said.
“He doesn’t have anything on. There’s a little child who says that he has nothing on.”
“He has nothing on!” shouted all the people at last.
The emperor shivered, for he was certain that they were right; but he thought, “I must bear it until the procession is over.” And he walked even more proudly, and the two gentlemen of the imperial bedchamber went on carrying the train that wasn’t there.
ECLIPSE, 2014, 1:11 minutes, single-channel video, and documentation of a hole cut in the ceiling projecting a form, light and meteorology onto the wall, Culver City, CA.