[ISEA2011] Curator Statement: Helen Sloan – UNCONTAINABLE: Broken Stillness

Curator Statement

Sirket-i Hayriye Art Gallery, Istanbul.

The relationship between technology and speed has been closely associated with the development of progressive technology in the 20th century and now in this century, with the ubiquity of personal computers, mobile devices and networks, with rapidly increasing capability. It has been an expectation that machines will work faster and more seamlessly in the service of making society more flexible and agile. Unless procedures go wrong in the mainstream, data transfer, manipulation and creation is rarely questioned. Notably Paul Virilio commented on these developments observing that speed is so much a part of our engagement with society that we are dependent on it, while apprehensive or even fearful that the technology of speed may break, stop or cause accident and disaster. This subject has of course been the subject of much science fiction over the last 120 years from HG Wells to James Cameron. Current debate, such as that present in ISEA2011, focuses on our relationship with digital data and the complexities that have arisen in terms of creative practice, data storage, the environmental impact of working with digital data, and new forms of socio-economic grouping that are being created by social media and data mining.

The subtle, beautiful and hypnotic works in UNCONTAINABLE: Broken Stillness use digital practices to examine the border where well-established forms of imagemaking, especially painting and photography, meet the possibilities offered by new technologies. Through custom written software or hacked packages the artists use a fusion of the analogue and the digital to engage the politics and development of image-making in contemporary visual arts. The works manipulate data to create images that reside between the moving image and the stills of painting and photography. CURATOR: HELEN SLOAN. ARTISTS: Boredomresearch (VICKY ISLEY & PAUL SMITH); Susan Collins; David Cotterrell; Sigune Hamann; Peter Hardie; Tim Head; Susan Sloan.

  • Helen Sloan (UK) has been Director of SCAN, Digital and Interdisciplinary Arts Agency since its launch in 2003. SCAN is a networked organization and creative development agency working on arts projects and strategic initiatives in arts organisations, academic institutions and further aspects of the public realm. Helen’s career spans over twenty years during which she has curated, commissioned and convened over 200 exhibitions, new works, and events. She has written and researched a number of key strands in digital arts including wearable technologies, the intersection between art and science, and arts policy. She has directed festivals such as Across Two Cultures in Newcastle 1996 (an early event on the overlapping practice of creative thinking in arts and science), Metapod, Birmingham 2001 – 2, and Bournemouth’s festival, Public Domain 2010. Current areas of interest are digital arts and place, high-speed networks and online resources/spaces, models of practice and the creative economy, and climate change and the arts.

Full text (PDF) p.  154-156