FACING THE POSTHUMAN
Yvonne Jones Artist's Statement
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Making Art is a way of life for me. Art is my first language so to speak. I am more able to give expression to my thoughts and questions, emotions and my sense of being alive, through art practice. I discovered this during a personally difficult period in life, changing direction from my focus on Maths and Biology I returned to education, (having previously qualified as a Teacher), to study at Liverpool College of Art, the same college as John Lennon had attended, all be it at a different time.
Trained as a painter my art practice moves between painting, video installation and a combination of the two. I use personal material often with my body as site. In the past landscape and interiors held significance for me, as did figures reflecting a personal position or memory, referencing either an external relationship of person to persons including family situations, or the externalising of an internal relationship, exploring how my mind ‘positions’ things, people, issues.
In more recent years my work is focused on my body with its medical interventions and the use of video projection. I use my experience, memory and medical debris to develop works and projects
My current position is a project that has seen the work move from straight video projection and installations into small square canvases of vascular-like acrylic paintings. This process has developed into creating small, square canvases of paintings constructed with shapes, colour and lines, with smaller random canvases built onto the work. I am now working on larger painted canvases, again with smaller canvases constructed within the work, and extending to the possibility for combining a more figurative area and / or projected video area to be developed within it Material Imagination
My work is centred on exposing questions of the relationship between the human and posthuman. It engages with socio transformative issues. These terms are not used to appear inaccessible or to deter or overwhelm, the first time I heard that we ‘may already be posthuman’ I wondered where I had been since the sixties and intuitively criticised the idea. The term was etched in my mind. Events brought me to a point where I needed to look more closely and examine the notions.
By human I mean the acknowledging, owning and exercising of the characteristics commonly associated with human existence, those of experience through the senses, of empathy, of emotions that are or are not kept under control, of compassion, of disease and of mortality. By posthuman I mean both the literal posthuman and the posthuman subject. With the literal posthuman, as imagined by roboticists such as Hans Moravec, it is believed we will be able to transfer the ‘I’ of ‘me’ or ‘you’ into a new machine leaving the worn out corporeal flesh and blood body behind and defunct, where immortality is possible. The posthuman subject is the more abstract idea spoken of by Katherine Hayles, where we accept some of the notions of the posthuman, but continue to accept our mortality. My PhD thesis says more about this in detail, http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/165501/.
My artworks stand up on their own, asking about, and exploring the meaning of being human as the corporeal bodies we still are, using the corporeal body that I am. Inevitably the work is effected by, and could in turn effect, social issues, and because of my born-female-body it draws in issues of feminism. Never consciously feminist or socially and politically focused, my PhD brought to light the ongoing issues of gender in the modern day with the possibility of the posthuman subject being able to side step or rise beyond them.
My work uses my body as it exists each day, with its ageing flesh and blood material, exploring and recording the phenomenon of being human as we (I) know it today, using the experience, memory and imagination of events, while wondering where we are in relation to the possibility of a posthuman life, its pluses and minuses.
Artists whose works excite me are Giacometti, Stelarc, Orlan, Hatoum, Gormley, always Van Gogh, Marina Abramovic, Francis Bacon, and most recently Shani Rhys James.