“The hand tends to return by a shorter path”

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These images are  from a performance entitled “The hand tends to return by a shorter path” that ran for six days in September 2016. The machine works based on feeding 10m of calico fabric in a loop through a hand built vertical screen printing press. The machine is built to the artist’s physical dimensions at full extension (2m x 2m) which deliberately makes it a struggle to print manually. In addition, the ‘snap’ (the distance between the screen and the fabric] of the machine is set to exacerbate the vulnerability of the print to changes in pressure. Over the course of the performance marks build up on the fabric in process yellow, magenta and cyan. As the colours are overlaid, the fabric records the success (or failure) in maintaining sufficient pressure on the screen.

This performance is about the print process itself: both making use of its iterative nature but also rendering this capacity for reproduction pointless by the cyclical nature of the machine and the inability to create the same mark more than once. The performance is very long (6 days 9-5) so the relationship between the body and the machine changes over time – at some points it is a struggle to even make a mark, at others the body falls into perfect rhythm.

Somatic methodology talks about the body’s capacity to ‘learn’ and to create knowledge – this is very evident in the connectivity between the human labour and mechanised process. “The hand tends to return by a shorter path” as the body ‘learns’ what successfully makes marks on the fabric and adjusts to the rhythm of the machine.

Here is a short video that gives a sense of the performance:

 

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