Multiple Voices and Multiple Subjectivities

I was excited to come back to the very place where the seeds for Lucida were originally sown. Two years ago, Aspex invited me to a three-day residency with psychologist Skaiste Linceviciute to explore art and psychology. The residency inspired me to further research sensory perception and subjectivity, which led to the production of the Lucida trilogy.

Marius Kwint, Reader in Visual Culture at the University of Portsmouth, joined me in the in conversation. His sharp and well-observed questions prompted me to explore some interesting threads between Lucida and earlier works, A Hundred Seas Rising and Still Point, both made in 2012:

I thought we would start off by asking Suki to describe her own field of interest in her artworks so far, particularly thinking about the way that her work tends to involve testimony or the spoken narrative or the spoken word?

It has felt ‘natural’ for many years to use the human voice as a material to make my artworks.  I had not thought about the importance of multiple perspectives, percepts and constructs of the world. The multiple voices reflect multiple subjectivities that challenge the idea of a singular ‘truth.’ The layering of the soundtrack in the Lucida trilogy is triggered separately depending on a) the presence of an audience member in front of the eye tracker and b) their unique eye movements. Therefore, depending on the audience, the soundtrack changes and a slightly different configuration of the soundtrack is possible for each person experiencing the work.

With both A Hundred Seas Rising and Still Point, the different voices were organised spatially and as one moved through the installation, one could choose with one’s feet what one hears. Lucida takes this further by allowing the audience to change both the moving image and sound and a feedback loop is created between the artwork and the audience.

Whilst the earlier works dealt with socio-political ideas and socio-cultural heritages, Lucida was a bold new step forward as it engaged directly with neuroscience and perception.

We reflect on Phenomenology and its importance to Lucida, which Marius sums up succinctly:

Phenomenology – thinking about how our bodies and perceptions relate to the world and therefore what it means for our understanding of selfhood and this phase “being in the world.”

We go on to discuss art education and how for me as a visual artist, I was surprised that I knew so little about our eyes and vision. Marius reflects on the historical moves to inculcate scientific knowledge about perception into art:

Ruskin in the Nineteenth Century was a great advocate of the Goethean tradition, using prisms to understand light… which seems to have fallen by the wayside in mainstream art education.

Marius was interested to know how as an artist I can relate to Science and the value of Science on an artist. My response was that I did not see the two subjects being diametrically opposed or separate. I find Science rich with inspiring ideas. As an artist exploring Science I am able to creatively mix and match ideas and concepts, present a laboratory of research and new ideas in new juxtapositions.

I shared my experience of meeting my scientific advisors at the exhibition at Tintype and recalled how everyone seemed to be so amazed and impressed with the work. This surprised me as I had thought that they might have been above all this as we had spoken at length about the work for such a long time. What I realised was that although, I was speaking with experts, the cross disciplinary project has enriched our understanding of our respective fields.

Before opening out to questions with the receptive audience, Marius concludes:

For you then it seems that this field of Science is enhancing wonder. What you’ve engaged here is more wonderful than what one can imagine.

Book signing at the end of the In Conversation
Book signing at the end of the In Conversation