Emma Hislop, Sculpture & Environmental Art

Systemeterographgauge was a solo show by fourth year Sculpture and Environmental Art student Emma Hislop at Project Space 1, The Art School, Scott Street. Key themes included; climate change, environment, the in-between, memory/residue, meteorology and phenomenology. The piece, ‘Weather Balloon’ acts as a kinetic device through a looped Kodak Carousel slide projector. Featuring 36 images on 35mm slides, the 81 slot carousel functions on an interval timer to play on a continuous loop without break. The continuous shot images of ‘Weather Balloon’ – which depicts the capture of meteorological and occult phenomena, come alive. These slides alone act as an archive, each as an individual artefact. The loop acts as an automatic flip book, a captured moment in captivity.

Weather Balloon occurred November 2018 at Pig Rock Bothy, National Galleries of Scotland: Modern One. The grounds at this time served as Phenomena Delicti during artist Emma Hislop’s time in residence. Weather Balloon acted as experiment, measurement, detection, record, experience – and in this way – device. Through representation as archive box and automated carousel projection the work takes format as different performative artefacts. Schematic documents that have evolved into a reimagined devices. These strive to contribute to worldly knowledge and are preserved as a record of such, artefacts by definition. The associative reverence of this ensures that there will be no contribution to landfill, with your help may this long continue. If a language can be lost so can a civilisation and all knowledge with it.

As a research based artist I strive to have a reflexive approach to making through a multi-disciplinary approach. Through working within my local, peer and educational networks my practice evolves with the spread of knowledge/skills through, from and with others. This particular project has seen me work with an illustrator, photographer, curator, interaction designer, as well as students from fine art departments in Chelsea College of Arts and Australia National University. From early discussions with John Thorne I have found an entry point into working with experts such as Dave Reay, Climate Change Scientist and Professor of Carbon Management, Robert McLeod, Chairman of the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers and other faculty members of SUERC – Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre. These relationships have become intertwined in my work and foster the development of my practice long after I graduate this year. I hope to share this knowledge, learning (from mistakes/anxiety) and approach to others.

I believe that as an artist the only real justification for the creation and manufacturing of an object into our sphere is in its equal or greater than contribution to worldly knowledge. As an advocate of minimising plastic usage and waste it may seem extremely contradictory to use slides which come plastic mounted. However, I believe that the significance of what I am endeavouring to convey counterbalances this. To further this I intend to re-show this work around the UK and possibly abroad. These slides will be housed in a bespoke archival box collaborated with Thwrite, Hannah Giblett, a sustainable bookbinder and accessories maker. The enhancement of this into artefact format alters the perception of the object into one of reverence. Each slide will eventually take on a new life as a further work, there is much legacy within them as collective and multiple material for future use. I am excited by the prospect of showing this piece in a breadth of locations and will make a record of the different responses/perceptions per location as to gain insight into the wider social and cultural understanding of the themes this work and my practice tackle. Through this I will gain a wealth of collated data to grow from, serving back to these wider audiences further works which resonate with them on a deeper level. It is fundamental that my work does not ever reach the stage of landfill.

I hope that this project will allow me to bring tangible visual and informative evidence/data back to my collaborators (scientific experts – SUERC & ECA) to enhance and encourage our working relationship. Inspiring further work and the possibility of the more closed off academic sector to open up and merge with art to transform public perceptions of climate change. Data and facts do not and have not triggered palpable action, visual graphs as representations of such as well as shock tactics and insightful essays have all yet to fully capture the greater public’s attention. The only true grasp of this has seemingly been by capitalist commodification through eco goods and services, many of which are beneficial, but more and more this becomes a replica of the truth cast in plastic. It is an ambitious objective, but my aim is to do this alongside experts and move from a passing thought into creating an inception effect which implants the public with their own subjective experience, a resonation, a seed to sew and grow themselves, pollinating those around them.

It is important that any exhibition I create leaves the audience with a residue of the themes tackled in a way that they have a direct experience, a personal encounter creates a lasting memory and impact – a phenomenological one. Whether this be through conversations that the work activates or reference materials provided, audience members should be imparted with food for thought.

More on Emma Hislop’s website
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