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Conference Programme FULL (1)

Abstracts – Art

Abstracts – Art Installations and Exhibitions Learning Disabled / Non-Disabled Collaboration in the Context of Contemporary Art Anne-Marie Atkinson My practice-led research explores the inclusion of learning disabled people and artists in the contemporary arts. This includes: The methods employed and realities experienced by non-disabled artists who collaborate with learning disabled artists The aesthetics and ethics of collaborative encounters The attitudinal and structural barriers that exclude learning disabled people from the contemporary art world as both artists and audiences The broader social, cultural, and political contexts informing this work The cultural value of learning disabled inclusive arts and its influence on the mainstream art world This research meets the conference theme by challenging the historic exclusion of learning disabled people, who within living memory experienced social segregation and state-sanctioned violence. To address on-going prejudice, ‘inclusion’ needs to encompass not only access to public spaces such as galleries and museums, but also representation – people speaking for themselves. The potential impact of this research is to: critically inform and strengthen the practice of arts organisations working with learning disabled people; promote learning disability inclusion and representation in contemporary art organisations; foster greater public acceptance and respect of neurodiversity and create a richer cultural narrative for all. The artworks created by and in collaboration with people with learning disabilities are in many cases rich, aesthetic and multifaceted, and merit consideration beyond the paradigms of art therapy or community arts. I propose to present a research poster and accompanying paper that will be presented as an illustrated film as I will unfortunately be out of the country on the day of the conference. I am keen to get targeted feedback with a view to future publication. The overlooked : using wandering and visual response to investigate everyday Northern life Ann Barrass Our lives inevitably change with the passage of time. Yet for many of us, our individual stories are muted by the overarching narratives of the history book and the news outlets . My research by creative practice seeks to unpick some of the tensions between these “official” narratives and one’s own life-as-lived within the North of England, and to present the outcomes using visual methods. Using the critical lenses of heritage and identity, I am undertaking a series of urban wanderings to investigate the past, the present, and the blurring of the boundaries between the two. Wandering the urban environment gives a direct experience of Northern life and allows investigation of its myriad colours and shapes. These elements can be synthesised into abstract visual responses which tell the stories of our heritage and our everyday lives at the local level, giving a voice to some of the discourses hitherto overlooked. The intended outcome of the research is two-fold: By telling stories visually rather than in words, I aim to offer a different style of narrative in which the viewer can find their own place, read their own meaning, and hopefully be inspired to tell their own story directly by whatever means they choose. By synthesising academic research, the active use of urban wandering, and the production of visual outcomes, I aim to develop a repeatable methodology to visually depict Northern life-as-lived, which can then be offered to other creative practitioners to tell overlooked stories.

Feeling Like a Plant Lin Charlston Parasitic exploitation of plants by humans is ecologically disastrous but acknowledging plants as agents and active partners is equally problematic . Mechanistic world models see human agency operating in a passive world, and traditional hierarchies place humans above nature. However, New-Materialists reposition humans as unexceptional life forms, reconstruing agency as an interactive process. Bennett refers to ‘distributive agency’ in which multiple subjects are considered to cause an effect. Moving towards a more reciprocal and ethical realignment, my research initiates participatory encounters with plants. I am proposing a quasi-scientific, interactive installation based on the ‘phantom-limb’ phenomenon. Cognitive neuroscientist Henrik Ehrsson has shown that people identify with a dummy hand if they watch it being stroked and simultaneously feel their own hand being stroked. My installation ‘Feeling Like a Plant’ is a mechanical device which strokes a dummy hand onto which a plant is grafted. Simultaneously, the device strokes a participant’s hand which is out of sight. The perceptual illusion of feeling that you are partly a plant counters the established view of plants as passive objects. The Luckybag of Life:Can we appropriate William Burroughs’ aleatory cut-up techniques to gain insights into our personal lives? David Colton This paper shares recent discoveries from my practice-led research into whether aleatory art techniques can be adapted to create insights into our own personal realities; with particular reference to the cut-ups of the writer William S Burroughs. The focus will be on my interactive artwork- The Luckybag of Life. This work attempts to find solutions to personal questions or problems by matching them with random cut-up texts; the aim being that the unconscious mind will strive for answers, using the texts as a primer. This artwork is one of several that I have made which explore how we can adapt chance art techniques to affect our personal realities. The premise of my research is that new insights come from making connections and that often, more obscure links can create the most interesting insights. David Bowie, who used the technique to create song lyrics, suggested that his cutups gave him insights into his future, while Burroughs believed that cut ups are a juxtaposition of what is happening externally and in the unconscious mind. The writer and academic, Stephen Karcher suggests that the ancient Chinese divinatory system, The I Ching, works by acting as a mirror for unconscious forces, shaping a given problem or situation. My suggestion is that cut-ups can do the same thing and this is explored in the The Luckybag of Life.

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