Brian Dailey

We sat down with Brian Dailey six years into his journey with the WORDS project (2012-2018).

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Brian Dailey. Words.

Peace. War. Freedom. Love. Environment. Religion. Democracy. Government. United States. Happiness. Socialism. Capitalism. Future.

We sat down with Brian Dailey six years into his journey with the WORDS project (2012-2018), capturing single-word reactions to thirteen nouns from over 1,500 participants in more than ninety countries around the world. 

WORDS is a complex work that, in its form as a multiscreen video tower, evokes both the biblical Tower of Babel as well as the digital billboards in New York City’s Time Square. The cacophony created by the sound of thirteen spoken words on thirteen monitors echoes the Babelian confusion of the tongues. Yet WORDS does not linger on this multiplicity of tongues; the confusion functions on a purely auditory level, since each word is accompanied by a subtitled translation. Instead, WORDS functions on multiple semiotic levels: the words spoken by the participants in their native tongue; the image of a flag behind each participants paired with the display of each country’s name; and finally the noun to which each participant is responding. These three semiotic levels bring to mind the three levels of translation proposed by the eminent Russian-American linguist Roman Jakobson in 1959:

1– Intralingual translation or rewording is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of other signs of the same language.

2– Interlignual translation or translation proper is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other language.

3– Intersemiotic translation or transmutation is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of nonverbal sign systems.

In Dailey’s work, the first level of translation takes place when each participant, after having been prompted with one of the thirteen nouns translated by a local facilitator into his or her native tongue, utters a one-word response in the same language. The second level of translation proper occurs twice: first, when the local facilitator translates the English noun into the native language of the participant; and again, when the response given is translated in postproduction into an English-language subtitle. The third level is added when the green screen behind each filmed participant is replaced in postproduction with an image of the flag of the participant’s choice.

According to Charles Sanders Peirce, pioneering American philosopher, logician, and mathematician, a symbol is a “Representamen [a sign involving a plural relation] whose Representative character consists precisely in its being a rule that will determine its Interpretant”. Words and images of flags are such semiotic symbols. Dailey’s WORDS, however, despite its title and the aforementioned semiotic complexity, also functions as a filmed portrait of the World at a particularly critical time, marked by the rise of nationalism and calls for national independence that have led to a crisis of the European Union and the United Nations.

The sheer diversity of faces in WORDS taking turns on the thirteen displays is mesmerizing. Were it not for the brief pensive moments or emotional expressions that draw us back each time to the words themselves, the dynamic participants almost make you forget the original word prompt to which they were responding. In WORDS, Dailey presents language as a “thought-signs,” to use Peirce’s expression for the fact that “man is a sign” because we think in signs.

Six years in, WORDS is still an evolving artwork. As Dailey reflects upon the experiences and lessons gleaned from his global immersion into the matrix of concerns with which this project engages, he continues to prove new questions that can further illuminate different facets of this endeavor.

WORDS is a powerful visual expression of the challenges faced in communication across linguistic boundaries and national borders in today’s world. The picture that emerges when taking in the totality of the project is the tenuous nature of words in conveying any universal meaning, further underscoring the inextricably interwoven relationship between language, culture, and environment in our global age.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”  – Ludwig Wittgenstein


Text adapted from: Klaus Ottmann, “The Life of Words” and Wendy A. Grossman, “The Power of Babel: The Poetics and Politics of Language.” Exhibition brochure, 2018.

Contributors / Celeste Chen / Karena Halvoressen / Patrick Emad / Ashley Le

Mise Maher and Oscar Briscall-Harvey

An interview with Mise Maher and Oscar Briscall-Harvey on the back of their Eviction Notice exhibition.

Mise Maher & Oscar Briscall-Harvey. Eviction Notice.

Introduction

On February 10th 2018, Arts University Bournemouth students Mise Maher and Oscar Briscall-Harvey hosted ‘Eviction Notice’, a mixed media exhibition featuring a curated selection of local artists, in their own home. Inspired by the real life brutality of being evicted from their student house due to a bankrupt landlord, the exhibition shines through as an inspiring example of how art can confront unjust abuses of power. Our interview with Mise and Oscar seeks to explore the process of putting on such an exhibition as well as expand upon the potential transformative power art can possess for young people.

Eviction Notice

Could you tell us a bit about both of your backgrounds in the art and design fields?

(Oscar) My arrival to the art and design field was quite a jump, going from studying three essay-based subjects at A Level to an undergraduate degree in Visual Communication at AUB (Arts University Bournemouth). In my final year of study, I’ve found a strong passion for branding and poster design, which lends itself well to the production of visuals for the Eviction Notice exhibition.

Having lived with Mise for the entirety my time at university I’ve found myself often delving further into practice that may be considered closer to art than design. I think this has certainly aided my work, allowing for a viewpoint on a project that I may otherwise not possess. I believe we positively influence each other’s work and it’s one of the reasons working together to curate the exhibition was such a success.

(Mise) My internship at Charlie Smith London (Shoreditch) was a pivotal moment in my artistic practice and knowledge. Since then, my work has mainly consisted of painting and sculpture. I am highly influenced by the writings of Grégoire Chamayou, more precisely Oceanic Enemy. It makes one think of the limits of surveillance and the advanced secretive forms that are available to people. I am also in my final year of study at AUB, aiming to continue to achieve a master’s degree.

How was the process of curating and putting on an exhibition in your own home? Did the space present any specific challenges to your creative vision?

The most obvious challenge in terms of curation was the issue of space. Although the property is fairly spacious, with an upstairs lounge area, giving six pieces enough space to stand out individually was definitely an obstacle. On top of this, we’ve never had more than three guests in the house before this event, therefore over thirty attendees were quite tricky to accommodate.

In addition to this, upon moving in we discovered nearly all of the handles for doors were either missing or non-functioning, thus ensuring our personal possessions were safely out the way was challenging. To get around this problem we stored everything in a single bedroom with the artwork Preparing For Protest positioned so that it hung over the door.

Scouting for suitable exhibitioners was achieved by Mise, hand-picking artworks from AUB Fine Art studios. The primary theme for such works was reaction to authority or abuses of power. For example, Charlie Pritchard’s performance, Loophole, was an attempt to use the voice to mimic a moment at which the eb and flow of symbolic value imperceptibly surging through the world as we speak oscillates and gyrates to a halt. In this performance, Pritchard evicted the attendees to the forecourt and performed from the warmth of the inside of the property, as rain and wind battered the audience.

” For me, art would not be as exciting to create if there were no challenge to address. I thrive off having a voice through what I produce.”

Mise, what was the thought process behind your curation for the exhibition? Could you tell us more about the artists and works on show?

Upon entering Eviction Notice, the viewer encounters miscellaneous objects showcased above the stairs; such as broken handles and a malfunctioning shower head which represented the landlord’s disregard for the property. To juxtapose this, personal ephemera in the form of moving in greetings cards from friends and family to celebrate a milestone in life of finally living together as a couple. These new-found artworks were shown above red fabric which formed a consistent theme throughout the exhibition, a prominent element of Maher’s work.

Upon entering the bathroom, the viewer is met with walls lined with copies of the eviction notice served by Bournemouth court. The aim of this display was to enable the audience a unique view into the mind of the tenants and the scale of how this single sheet of A4 paper affects their lives. The work of Jack Hughes, Untitled (Remember Diego Time), was placed in the bathroom to reflect the content of the painting. The work depicts a figure consuming an unknown controlled substance, an act which is commonly undertaken in a concealed environment such as a toilet.

Exiting the bathroom, the audience is met with Emily Everard’s Preparing For Protest, a large white bedsheet marked with the phrase ‘not up for grabs’. The technique of the writing reflects emotions of anger and frustration, and the wording could be interpreted by the viewer dependent on the circumstance of placement and environment. For example, on a bed, the work may be conveyed in a sexual manner, whereas in the context of Eviction Notice, it is a direct hit at the court, bailiffs and forms of power seeking to take the property from the tenants.

Upstairs, From 29 With Love, by Mise Maher, is precariously stacked similar to the shape of a caltrop. At first glance, the works appear to be sculptures, but are in fact 1:1 scale hellfire missile spray-paintings. From a curation perspective, the positioning interacted with the audience as they viewed the work of Patrick Drake.

Drake’s work, The Jarsdel News Report comprised of a satirical commentary ‘diss-track’ aimed at fictional pharmaceutical company ‘Jarsdel’. Also being presented through video was Georgie Ryan’s Shadowplay, which explored ideas of processes devoid of human contact, similar to how the tenants had no contact with the landlord or human contact with the power serving the eviction notice.

The story behind Eviction Notice is heartbreaking and represents an all-too-real problem of young people, especially students, being forced to the margins of society. How were you able to turn such a profoundly negative experience into an outlet for creativity?

The eviction was served at an incredibly important time in our education, both working towards our final year in our respective courses. We felt letting such an event, completely out of our control, simply leave us with solely negative consequences and emotions would be an incredible waste. As students we had neither the time nor money to challenge the decision of the court, therefore utilised our resources as creatives was the next best option. It is not uncommon for artists to turn incredibly negative moments and emotions into beautiful and expressive works of art, and we feel as if we acted in a similar manner.

Do you feel a certain responsibility as young people in creative fields to tackle injustices in society through your work?

(Oscar) I think we definitely do have a responsibility to some degree. In terms of design, I’m conscious of the fact no one will change the world with a poster. I think young people often utilise creative responses when faced with injustice, as authority and power in society often reject their challenge when it takes the form of what they are familiar with. Reprisal against power-holders utilising something they are unfamiliar with may have a higher chance of a response or correction to injustice.

(Mise) For me, art would not be as exciting to create if there were no challenge to address. I thrive off having a voice through what I produce.

Eviction Notice very clearly has close ties to some of the topics that our prompt ‘Living in the Shadow of Power’ seeks to explore. Could you offer your own short interpretation of the prompt with regards to the exhibition?

An important element of the exhibition was how the solicitors of the party seeking repossession of the property outright rejected the request to extend the eviction date due to such a request being deemed ‘unreasonable’. The right to apply for a delay of up to two months is stated in the Protection of Tenants Act 2010, but the solicitors were well within their rights to deny the request, it essentially balances on the humanity of the repossessing party.

The tenants of the property undeniably lived in the shadow of power from the moment the eviction notice entered the letterbox. The threat of eviction transformed the place they once called home into merely four walls and a roof, an unfamiliar stack of bricks and mortar waiting to be reclaimed by the authority of the court and sold on to another member of the same unjust society.

Contributors / Josh Proctor 

Maps Glover

We chat to and explore the limitless world of multidisciplinary artist Maps Glover.

Maps Glover. Where in the Maps?

Introduction

The world of Maps Glover is limitless. Each performance from the multimedia artist is a unique experience, painting images with physical forms. For Issue 1 of the magazine Maps has provided us with an exclusive installment of his Where in the Maps? film series which sees the artist explore relationships between space and time. We sat down with Maps to discuss his work, watch the video and read the interview below.

Watch the Video

Read the Interview

JP: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I wanted to start by asking you to talk about your creative process for the video, both in terms of the concept and in practice.

MG: The video is really a compilation of this project that I’ve been working on since the year started. As a performance artist I’m always looking for ways to understand how body and movement affect the way that people are perceiving what’s happening. Especially since everything is so fast paced now I’m always trying to find quiet moments just to exist with my own process as to what I’m doing. A lot of the images are from documentation of me in spaces where I’m just performing, just existing, just trying to create an energy field of some kind within each of these spaces.

Why I chose certain locations? They may be high-traffic areas, or I’m looking for some way to be completely contradictory of what’s happening. For example, the one scene when I’m on top of the median where the bikes are going by. I go there quite often because there is a different way that energy is passing through those spaces. I was really interested in how people would respond to my physical presence there as they’re speeding down and I’m slowly moving.

JP: The physical aspect that you touch on was really compelling to me, could you talk a bit more about how the idea of ‘the body’ is important to your work as a performance artist?

MG: The body is quite literally, physically, a ship for our spirit and our soul to exist on this planet. Without it we really wouldn’t have reference to anything that’s going on. The body is how we know we’re here. In a lot of ways, I’m acting as this vessel to understand what is going on around me from the sounds, to the smells, to the taste, to how people are interacting. Essentially the body is a sensory spaceship.

JP:  I think the way that you use the body is a way of showing that the ideas that you’re discussing are grounded in the world that we live in.

Talking about the idea of feelings and concepts, the piece really comes across as an ‘artist manifesto’, particularly in how you repeat the phrase ‘you will not play for this art, you will live this art’. What would you say your manifesto is?

MG: The idea of ‘art as life’ plays a huge part in the way that I see my own practice. I’ve never worked a 9-5. A lot of the struggle that I used to feel in being an artist relates to having this as the only way that I connect to the world. It is my life.

I know that some people are hobbyists and I think that’s amazing because art is for everybody, and not just for people who paint things or draw things, it’s for people who experience the world. Art is everywhere.

So I’d say it’s a huge part of my personal manifesto to live art and not play for art and to make art understood as a very valuable part of how we understand the world, especially how we understand where we are in a particular time of history. I only exist now, so all of my experiences and what I create is really based off of what my body is experiencing in this space.

Maps2

” When I think of the name ‘Maps’ I imagine the way in which our experiences become our own internal ‘map’. Our experiences have led us to where we are right now.”

JP: Indeed, I think there’s a really interesting contrast between ‘way of life’ in terms of what you do everyday and art as a real way for you to exist. It seems the piece is really trying to explore an innate human need for expression.

MG: I think about art in terms of the way in which thoughts exist outside of any physical dimension. In essence, you are  forming something physical out of thoughts, and ideas, and questions. If you are an accountant, you need to figure out how all of these numbers work together. All of this information that you don’t quite understand yet and you bring it into some sort of a concrete thing. In this way, art is creating something out of nothing; it’s manifesting thoughts and ideas and questions into something that can be digested in some way. Sometimes it’s easy to swallow, sometimes it’s hard to swallow.

JP: So tying that back to the video, would you say that this ‘where in the maps?’ series is your way of figuring things out? Your way of taking your ideas and making something real? Perhaps we could say your version of a tax return!

MG: I think largely it is for me, in that I’m experiencing going to these places and as the series continues it goes deeper into interacting with people I encounter. But on the other hand, it’s also for whoever is experiencing the video. ‘Where in the maps?’ is important for me but it’s not just about me.

When I think of the name ‘maps’ I imagine the way in which our experiences become our own internal ‘map’. Our experiences have led us to where we are right now. This can manifest itself both in physical and mental spaces. For example the beginning of the video opens up with me stretching on the couch in order to find my body physically through my own mental space. I always feel it’s about this journey that we go on. As an artist, and as a person, I like to document that process. All the recordings that are in the series come from me just waking up in the morning and talking out my thoughts to myself. Sometimes they’re depressing and sometimes I’m really empowered by how far I’ve come.

JP: One of the things you touched on there is this idea of space and specifically the idea of the couch. I wanted to think also about the space outside and the dichotomy between the two worlds – the inside and the outside.

MG: The couch is a really intimate space. I spend a lot of time on couches as I’m journeying through, being nomadic at times. I wanted to show the vulnerability of what I’m experiencing internally. Then there’s how I present that internal discussion with myself to the world. So I go out and give my soapbox speech in a few different places because I don’t think a lot of people speak about art in a way where people who are living the experience are valued. A lot of the time it’s really about your last painting or where the last place you showed was but for me as an artist it’s also important being amongst people who are going about their everyday lives. The juxtaposition between those intimate spaces where I’m internally mulling over my thoughts and experiences as an artist and how I fit into the conversation of culture and society, and me just outwardly screaming those thoughts to the world.

Maps1

“A lot of people say ‘get a job’ and I just think ‘get a job? I’m working everyday’. This is literally every day I’m providing something important to culture and society as an artist, but not only as an artist, as an activist, as a person, as a son, as a brother, as a friend.”

JP: Definitely, and the repetition of statements links back to that idea of an internal and external conversation but would you also say that this idea of repetition is a commentary on the often monotonous way in which people live their lives?

MG: Initially it did start as this repetitive practice because it is something that I do daily in my experience. However it wasn’t necessarily a commentary on the way that we all are doing these repetitive things. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just what I was experiencing.

JP: And often it’s the personal things to us that are reflective of wider society!

I wanted to also talk about the prompt for this issues of the magazine. The video is very closely tied to the idea of power, and the prompt is obviously ‘living in the shadow of power’. I think the last part of the video really offers an explanation for the way in which you’ve used creativity and art to claim power over your own life.

MG: It goes back to what I was saying before about how being an artist is being perceived, how artists are expected to function in society. I know a lot of artists that are starving, sometimes my stomach is empty and I don’t know when this next check is going to come, I don’t know how I’m going to eat but I still put in dedication to making things come to life. A lot of times the only return that I value is people’s experiences. I always find it fascinating how a lot of people, even doctors and lawyers, can relate to some of my experiences in general. It’s always fascinating how those kinds of positions are highly regarded and praised but as an artist sometimes that experience is diminished and belittled for whatever reason. So yeah it really is my way of saying, regardless of how the world is perceiving artists or me as an artist, I’m really interested in breaking free of that and not letting that deter me from continuing to create.

A lot of people say ‘get a job’ and I just think ‘get a job? I’m working everyday’. This is literally every day I’m providing something important to culture and society as an artist, but not only as an artist, as an activist, as a person, as a son, as a brother, as a friend.

JP: That idea of linking activism to art is really interesting. Do you see those as roles that are closely related? Are they distinctly different roles or do they need each other to thrive?

MG: I think activism requires creativity in order to get people who don’t feel empathetic to whatever issue you are talking about to understand where you’re coming from. And a lot of the time that creativity comes out as art.

I see myself as an activist because I refuse to ignore what’s happening around me. I refuse to not have a commentary. If I, as an artist, can see something differently or see a way to better deliver an understanding of what’s happening, I think they’re very closely tied.

Outside of my work now as an artist I work for the Fundred Dollar Bill project which is solely about using creativity. We have over 500,000 of these hand drawn bills which people of all ages have created over the past 10 years in order to help end childhood lead poisoning. So using creativity to bring awareness to issues is extremely important.

JP: What a great way to tie everything back together. As such, is there anything people should look out for in terms of your work in the near future?

MG: So yeah, the most recent thing is that a bunch of my friends and I from the Uptown Art House performed together at the Kennedy Centre on Millenium Stage on March 15th. I’m also going to be performing at the Funk Parade which is coming up in April.

Contributors / Josh Proctor / Enne Remener