'Whats the point of art ?' 2 weeks into the aa2a residency at Loughborough University
An image was spat out of a photo booth and could be eaten or dissolved in a tank of water. As the colours merged, they fragmented. A dream . A reflection on climate emergency, cost of living crises and whats the purpose of art?
Apart from actually feeling like it's one disaster after another like possible power cuts predicted in the UK this year (....and my street lights are already broken), I found an article in an online science journal written in 2014 that said ‘ by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today. ‘ (Behind the research is a group of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and CNA Corporation in the US.)
Whats the point of art ?
After not physically making art since the pandemic and on going post-apocalyptic, survival dreams each night , I wondered if there are actual names for each eras should humans no longer exist and what world/s would be left. We have 5 words for the stages of decomposition- fresh, bloat (autolysis), active decay (putrefaction), advanced decay and skeletonisation.
So, with all this in mind, sitting in one of my portfolios for 25 years, I have these etchings that seem to reflect how things feel around me at the moment. These images also seem to be the closest artworks I have to the very vivid dreams I have and thoughts I have had about another existence beyond our own.
During the second week (this week), I have been trying to remember exactly what I did in order to recreate these. My plan is to create a stop frame animation that can later be developed into an installation.
My memory finally kicked in (I think) at 4 pm Monday just gone, but it seems I had to hire one digital camera, one video camera, a zoom recorder, two tripods, create a mirror stand for the acid bath and go through each bit of equipment for the perfect settings on the equipment, before I started etching!
At the end of the day, the only thing worth keeping on any of the memory cards was the sound of the vents in the etching room!
The plate is ready to go to the next next week, and I'm going to focus on the etching for the moment instead of trying to do everything- as its just as much about the image, the process and the final installation using further technology.
Leila Houston (London, 1977) is a visual artist whose work investigates the social, political and historical aspects of a place.