A reading for Operature. ATOM-R. Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Kings College London, 21st. October 2013.

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Written to be read withing the performance of Operature by ATOM-R.

Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Kings College London, 21st. October 2013.

Re-read at 6th Inter-format Symposium on Hybrid Natures 2016, Nida Art Colony.


Read #: liverwort/wind/code


Read 001

Liverwort scatters the subarctic tundra in vast dappling clusters of elephantine flaps of pale and palest green. A tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. Here the season is 100 days and the tundra begins at an entirely distinct level, the ecotone a clear mark where short crippled trees[1] as they are called give way entirely and absolutely, no gradual thinning, to where there are no trees, whatsoever.

But mosses. And Liverwort. Marchantia.


Read 002

He’s back up on the feet and he’s being very cautious.  He gets a takedown, but is now dealing with a guillotine for a bit. He pops free. He was briefly in side control, but got up and went into the half guard. He is now in mount after a pass and looking to be real methodical. He is slowly crunching his opponent from side control.[2]


Read 003

We humans have more bacterial cells (1014) inhabiting our body than our own cells (1013) [2],[3]. It has been stated that the key to understanding the human condition lies in understanding the human genome [4],[5]. But given our intimate relationship with microbes [6], researching the human genome is now understood to be a necessary though insufficient condition: sequencing the genomes of our own microbes would be necessary too. Also, to better understand the role of microbes in the biosphere, it would be necessary to undertake a genomic study of them as well.[3]


Read 004

X-ray crystallography.

Diffraction of macromolecules


"the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken."[4]

He said.

Closer she came.


Read 005

Late one night

X-ray diffraction.



Succession of failures


Read 006

It was a chilling experience, being in the hinterlands of a subarctic seemingly sparsely populated, only to discover numerous traces of war, WWII in particular, as we strode and hiked across the immediate surrounds. Gentle mossy dips revealing themselves to be dug out bunkers with rusted remnants still embedded and scattered; evidence of POW encampments, a WW2 Junnker crash site and an exploded WWI munitions storage facility - barely rusted, heaps of wire cutters, vast diaspora of casings and even some live ammunition, as well as heaps of safety pins.


Read 007

The liverworts (or marchantiophyta) are descendants of the earliest terrestrial plants. The group is characterised by morphological simplicity, and this seems to be matched by simple underlying genome structures. Liverworts show promise as new experimental systems after recent developments in transformation methods and genome characterisation.[5]


Read 008

He is back to standing. He has the back and is going for the Rear Naked Coke. He does get the Rear Naked Choke, while the other two carry own. He is in half guard with no kimura threat now.

He is standing as his opponent plays guard. He is being very calm and periodically going into top half and then returning to his feet. He has head control and gets swept by a keylock as he goes for a takedown. He is fending off halfhearted leglock attempts.[6]


Read 009

By providing the ability to examine the relationship of genome structure and function across many different species, these data have also opened up the fields of comparative genomics and of systems biology. Nevertheless, single organism genome studies have limits. First, technology limitations mean that an organism must first be clonally cultured to sequence its entire genome. However, only a small percentage of the microbes in nature can be cultured, which means that extant genomic data are highly biased and do not represent a true picture of the genomes of microbial species [10]–[12]. Second, very rarely do microbes live in single species communities: species interact both with each other and with their habitats, which may also include host organisms. Therefore, a clonal culture also fails to represent the true state of affairs in nature with respect to organism interaction, and the resulting population genomic variance and biological functions.[7]


Read 0010

Closer than most.


Between ‘51 and ‘53.

Photo 51.

In The Development of X-ray Analysis, Sir William Lawrence Bragg mentioned that he believed the field of crystallography was particularly welcoming to women because the techno-aesthetics of the molecular structures resembled textiles and household objects. Bragg was known to compare crystal formation to "curtains, wallpapers, mosaics, and roses."[8]


Read 0011

protein structures


unfolded and




to unsoluble



of crystalline contingencies


Read 0012

We looked for Russian soldier burials, given directions by the headmaster of the local school, and dowsing for bones, found some, but we weren't certain of what species.


Read 0013

The relative simplicity of genetic networks in liverworts, combined with the growing set of genetic manipulation, culture and microscopy techniques, are set to make these lower plants major new systems for analysis and engineering.[9]


Read 0014

He is in mount after a fast pass to the left and is pressuring down in low mount. Looking to get a keylock going. He uses a burst of energy to try a pass, but he pulls him back to half guard, while yielding the flattened back. He gets bucked off and He is standing.[10]


Read 0015         

New sequencing technologies and the drastic reduction in the cost of sequencing are helping us overcome these limits. We now have the ability to obtain genomic information directly from microbial communities in their natural habitats. Suddenly, instead of looking at a few species individually, we are able to study tens of thousands all together. Sequence data taken directly from the environment were dubbed the metagenome [13], and the study of sequence data directly from the environment—metagenomics [14].[11]


Read 0016

“Rosy, of course,

did not directly give us her data. For that matter, no one

at King’s realized they were in our hands.”[12]


Read 0017

Some proteins structures take no time at all, some take tens of years.

Some resist entirely and are unknowns and unknowables.



Read 0018             

We rebuilt the crash event in our minds, visualising it's trajectory from a 13 year old witness account given to us by the now elderly man who houses that memory, and the expert opinion of the drone operators. Incorporations of metal and body, memory and remnant and, fresh evidence.


Read 0019

He moves to a back take/seatbelt control off the arm triangle position. They hit the ground after a guillotine attempt by him. He is besting from side control and he has a very deep Rear Naked Choke stuck in. He appears to be fighting it until the very last moment possible. Guillotine busted in and he is now working a mean guillotine from front headlock position. He lost the Rear Naked Choke.[13]


Rear 0020

Indexical double


helices of coding


Franklin’s persistence


of recording the reflections into Deoxyribonucleic acid resolutions.


Kings here.

Here at Kings.


Read 0021

From these stories new shards were found, fresh, their placement in conciliation with our imaginings. We build model airplanes of Junnkers, enacted crashes, used toy drones and kites and found a quiet seriousness when burning the toy model on the crash site on a windy, rainy Sunday morning. Bodies exploded into nothing by their desperate payload.


Read 0022

He is on top of butterfly, but has the head controlled. They reset to middle. He works a mount to triangle. [14]



Read 0023

In contrast, the sequences obtained from environmental genomic studies are fragmented. Each fragment was obviously sequenced from a specific species, but there can be many different species in a single sample, for most of which a full genome is not available. In many cases it is impossible to determine the true species of origin. The length of each fragment can be anywhere between 20 base pairs (bp) and 700 bp, depending on the sequencing method used.[15]


Read 0024

The one that escaped, in a fever of burns and pure suffering.

‘Drones of Fascism’ one man remarked. 


Read 0025

The liverworts have alternate haploid and diploid generations.[16]


Read 0026

He scrambles out.[17]


Read 0027

For these reasons, computational biologists have been developing new algorithms to analyze metagenomic data. These computational challenges are new and very exciting. We are entering an era akin to that of the first genomic revolution almost two decades ago. Whole organism genomics allows us to examine the evolution not only of single genes, but of whole transcriptional units, chromosomes, and cellular networks.[18]


Read 0028

They lie so low the continuous wind barely moves them. They lie with the wind. The reindeer turn into the wind,



And with them everything takes direction.




Read 0029

He is much shorter, but built like a barrel. He is trying to work from butterfly to an armbar or something without success. He is dancing around and he is being patient.[19]


Read 0030

Keeping strict and comprehensive records of metadata is as important as the sequence data. Metadata are the “data about the data”[20]


Read 0031

She wrote in Acta Crystallographica in September 1953 that

“discrepancies prevent us from accepting it in detail”[21]





Online sources quoted more than once:


ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.  Retrieved on 21st October, 2013 from http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2013/10/18/4853132/adcc-2013-day-1-live-stream-blog-beijing-china-mendes-galvao-benson-braulio-bjj


A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology, retrieved on 21st October, 2013 from http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pcbi.1000667


Why Marcantia? Retrieved on 21st October 2013 from http://www.marchantia.org/home/why-marchantia.html


The Double Helix and the ‘wronged heroine’, Maddox, Brenda, Nature, vol 421, 2003. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/ultramol/nature-review-rosalind-franklin-8381422





[1] Ella Tarvas’ comment that the word for crippled trees xxxxxx, carries more nuances than it’s English translation and referrers to small, elderly people, country people, poor and destitute kept together, crowded in what sounds like a workhouse.

[2] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[3] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[4] Attributed to pioneer of x-ray crystallography, John D. Bernal, retrieved on 21st October, 2013 from http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/franklin.html

[5] Why Marchantia? Retrieved on 21st October 2013 from http://www.marchantia.org/home/why-marchantia.html

[6] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[7] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[8]  Black, Susan AW (2005). "Domesticating the Crystal: Sir Lawrence Bragg and the Aesthetics of "X-ray Analysis"". Configurations 13 (2): 257. Retrieved on 1st October 2013 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-ray_crystallography#cite_ref-43

[9] Why Marchantia?

[10]  Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[11] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[12] James Watson being quoted by Brenda Maddox in The Double Helix and the ‘wronged heroine’, Maddox, Brenda,  Nature, vol 421, pp 407-408.

[13] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[14] Ibid.

[15] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[16] Why Marchantia?

[17] Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[18] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[19]  Adapted from ADCC 2013 Day 1 Live Stream Blog, By Ben Thapa.

[20] A Primer on Metagenomics, John C. Wooley, Adam Godzik, Iddo Friedberg, PLOS, Computational Biology.

[21] The Double Helix and the ‘wronged heroine’, Maddox, Brenda, Nature, vol 421, 2003.

Enabling conversations, a-n Bursary

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

This essay was written on the receipt of support from a-n when I had a series of fundamental questions about where I was professionally and where to go. Since then I have taken another less anticipated step into full time education as a lecturer in University of the Arts Helsinki, but the questions I had and the conversations I was supported to have are still being unravelled and developed thanks to this enormously helpful bursary that acted like a fulcrum in enabling conversations that gave direction to some very important actions.

In 2014 I had reached a point in which I had been exhibiting my work since 1998, mostly these had been performances, but also works that had emerged from my interest in the biosciences and that using biological processes and materials. A large quantity of my artistic output has been in the form of live events within across vastly diverse contexts. I was revisiting a large amount of other work, mostly in the form of photographic and video most of which had and still hasn’t been shown. Whilst I have achieved various successes in terms of my art work, both professionally and personally opportunities have changed as had my practice. I felt it was a period that asked for ripe sustained and thoughtful reflection, to pause and to consider where and how I might position my work.

The cultural landscape had changed since 1998 when I graduated from studying fine art UWIC(now Cardiff Metropolitan University) and emerged as an artist, at that time there was a golden age of departments that cultivated performance, multidisciplinarity and there were platforms and festivals that enabled rich and fertile context in which to present and find support for my emerging art works. Whilst gallery spaces and contexts had not generally been where I had presented my work, I still felt affinity to them and interest in artists working with performance who were finding their work curated in gallery spaces. I wondered about how to progress this and who to speak with, what kind of actions might enable this?

I was fortunate indeed to receive a bursary from AN that supported conversations with figures I felt were significant and who I felt would be ideally placed to support and enable my reflections productively.

The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester had provided me with one of the most valuable and important experiences of making work, notably during Marina Abramovic Presents . . . as part of Manchester International Festival in 2009. Over 17 days I returned to the stone steps of the Whitworth and performed a slow fall for 4 hours a day, the willingness of a gallery to give me the space and time to make such a sustained piece was enormously valuable to be so I returned to the Whitworth Gallery and to it’s director, Maria Balshaw to have a conversation as part of this bursary. Maria Balshaw’s ability to grasp, develop and realise the potential what a public gallery is and its potential has been key in my own understanding of what might be possible in terms of performance and where and what its presence might be in galleries, be they public, commercial, national or otherwise.

When I visited Maria Balshaw the Whitworth was still in it’s metamorphosis, cocooned and almost unrecognisable as the galleries were being reconceived and spaces previously unavailable to the public were being revealed and revelled in. Maria mentioned to me that the staircase I had performed my ‘fall’ down, which had been not accessible to the public was now going to be a main access to the large space being opened up on the first floor. The architects had witnessed the work and embraced the stairs potential. Bodies create space, space create bodies, there is a reciprocity of materiality, vitality and movement.

Within the material mutability of the Whitworth we discussed my work through a series of trajectories that were all anchored around and in the Whitworth and the living questions it has under Balshaw’s directorship. Maria was deeply eloquent in her discussion of the movement between performance, gallery contexts, collecting – both pubic and by the private collector. The need to not simplify or make simplistic artist practices that might be considered ‘difficult’ but rather to dignify the individuals who constitute the publics they participate in with the same curiosity and nuanced discriminatory verve they might bring to other arena of expertise. Actually I think Strictly Come Dancing might have been an example we discussed, where audiences are attuned to the absolute nuance excited by the avenues of awareness they garner over the weeks of avid involvement. It was a fascinating and for me, unexpected view point from which to consider how a gallery might approach both is custodianship of collections and its curation, and how I might reframe my work. We discussed my archive, a mass of tapes, notebooks, drawings, photographic prints and other ephemera which has since being undergoing the process of digitisation, and the possibility of its generative potentials. In a process of digitising much of it I had begun to revisit old video works on VHS and transparencies, becoming reinvolved in their material charisma and how I might extend and transform those. I was making small experiments in my studio, reiterations of iterations. I think often conversations are sought not only to learn from but also to validate what is often a sense of direction and to clear or perhaps confirm those hunches, intuitions and instincts. Much of our discussion did just that, but with the added dimension of a gallery context that evidences its commitment to maintaining the relevancy and vitality in regard to its obligations and relationship to its visitors. I found this incredibly important because it is a dialogue, one that is incredibly spacious, massively mobile and adaptable and hugely hospitable.

The second very significant and valuable dialogue was conducted with Matt Roberts who had been mentioned and recommended to me by another artist group. Matt brought a massive and extremely comprehensive gaze to bare on my practice, gathering references, names, points, indications and suggestions to bare with what I felt was a tremendous accuracy. It was tremendously refreshing to present my portfolio to someone I did not have a previous connection with, to quickly identify a series of key actions I might consider for how I might develop my work. The most urgent was a website. I was in the process of finally having a website, and my ambition for it had been something elaborate and extensive that would hold a significant amount of material. Matt advised creating something that was simple and current, that a curator could visit and view what might form the basis of a current discussion about my work. He also gave key advise in how I might utilise other projects, ones that are still in development but are, nevertheless, developing, to create connections and dialogues that I would felt would be helpful and interesting. Importantly I was able to benefit from expertise that was not remotely London-centric but that introduced me to many galleries and institutions in area of the UK I was less familiar with.

There were other conversations I had hoped to have but was unsuccessful in bringing about, and then further conversations that were unexpected but also incredibly useful. The bursary seemed to be a catalyst for an array of exchanges that enabled and realised the kind of reflection that is so difficult to conduct without the dynamism of someone else acumen and expertise. Its outcomes are time capsules, still being processed and usefully realised, albeit relocated since I have very recently moved to Finland, but I am very encouraged and excited to continue with the developments.


Dublin LIve Art Festival, winter

Added on by David Caines.

As a reiteration of the work made for Love Letters to a (post-) Europe, I made an action using the same elements inside the lobby of one of the buildings on the campus of Dublin Instutute of Technology in Grangegormon for Dublin Live Art Festival.

For an hour I drank mouthfuls of salt water the ratio of seawater, with each mouthful I attempted to speak: 'I came to the sea and I was scared, my heart is broken'

Infront of me were two copper pipes resting and overed in salt and vinegar causing verdigris to appear over the duration of the action. Each mouthful of water either dribbled onto my shirt or was spat out washing over the salt and copper, I felt I was at sea.

Documentation from Love Letters to a (Post-)Europe Παρασκευή 2 & Σάββατο 3 Οκτωβρίου 2015

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Love Letters to a (Post-)Europe, concept and curation: Lisa Alexander.

2 & 3 October 2015, Bios, Athens, Full artist line-up http://bios.gr/events/1266/

Performed by Dimou Vassiliki

Photography: Eftychia Vlacou

I was overwhelmed by the responses to this work that found me via social networking, I am deeply grateful to Dimou Vassiliki who performed with so much commitment, to Lisa Alexander for curating this work and for her careful handling of it to ensure it's realisation, and to BIOS.

The short piece consisted of Dimou Vassiliki taking salt water into her mouth, saying the words:

‘I came to the sea and I was scared. My heart is broken.'

and then repeating the action, alternating between English and Greek as a slide of a calm sea with the words on it also shifted between English and Greek.

'I came to the sea and I was scared. My heart is broken.' were the words reported to have been spoken by a fisherman on finding the bodies of the small child Aylan Kuridi who drowned along with his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother, Rihan when they attempted to make the crossing from Turkey to Greece and hope of refuge in Europe.


Ballybunion : with memories and feet

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Out of nothing and nowwhere, 'it is epic' she said, as if there were no beginning and no end to the words, to her and what she apprehended.

They picked through the rocks with memory and feet, nothing had changed except memories and feet

LIke threads weaving and shuttling they were, those silvery eddies skimming the glassy cloud strewn sand into delicate geometries

Collected by Dominic

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Scholar and writer Dominic Johnson has been collecting art for some years now, cultivating an extraordinary collection of small works by extraordainary artists including friends and colleagues he has written about such as Slava Mogutin. Franko B, Julia Bardsley, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Sheree Rose, Ron Athey and Fakir Musafar. It's a charming prospect having an artwork sit amongst a such personal cannon of artworks, narratives and linages of practices, and also to know and feel that a work gains another series of possibilities through it's situation and situatedness within the context of someones home and the circulation of objects and languages created by that environment. 

During the our last auction here at Tidemill Studios he had bought a new work Those Misty Girls series, a reworking of some older slides, overlaid, printed and stitched onto a linen table cloth. 

Last week he came by to my studio and we searched through my archive of prints and he acquired a small print of inthewrongplaceness, performed in 2009 as part of sk-interfaces at Casino Luxembourgand photographed by Alex Heiss.

Citing Shannon Bell's Discourse of the Post-Hysteric (Tattoo)

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Last night I spent quite a bit of time alone in Sigmund Freud's former study in London's Freud Museum contemplating an exhibition that has been developing in my minds eye on the Post-Hysteric, informed in part by Shannon Bell's 'hacking the lack' in her refiguring Lacan's metheme structuring the hysteric. I imagined Bell's Discourse of the Post-Hysteric (Tattoo) video work occupying the critical place, above the iconic analytical couch where the informous print featuring Charcot, A Critical Lesson in Salpêtrière is located, originally by Pierre Aristide André Brouillet (1857-1914) and recreated as a lithograph by Eugène Pirodon (1824-1908) it sat in Freuds office in Vienna before coming with him to London. I easily see Shannon giving her paper as a performantive gesture in the house, perhaps upstairs in the lecture room or possibly in the warm, dark, peaceful space of the study itself.

Video still from Discourse of the Post Hysteric (Tattoo), (2015), Shannon Bell

Here is the entire video piece:

and here is a photograph of how the couch looks with A Critical Lesson in Salpêtrière in place

In the Freud Museum is is known as The Lesson of Doctor Charcot.

Bell, Shannon. "Fragment of a Case of Posthysteria: D'or Owns the Jewel." ESC: English Studies in Canada 40.1 (2014): 189-210.

'that pine tree came to be my best friend' and other plant readings

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

' . . . they stuck carefully to the narrow paths that wandered through the carpet of moss from one granite outcropping to another and down to the sand beach. Only farmers and summer guests walk on the moss. What they don't know - and it cannot be repeared too often - is that moss is terribly frail. Step on it once and it rises the next time it rains. The second time, it doesn't rise back up. And the third time you step on moss it dies. Elder ducks are the same way - the third time you fighten them up from their nexts, they never come back. Sometime in July the moss would adorn itself with a kind of long, light grass. Tiny clusters of flowers would open at exactly the same height above the ground and sway together in the wind, like inland meadows, and the while island would be covered with a veil dipped in heat, hardly visible and gone in a week. Nothing could give a stronger impression of untouched wilderness.'

Tove Jannson, The Summer Book

Natasha Myers A Krya For Cultivating your Inner Plant.


'The 120-meter tall pine tree in the courtyard of the Casa Reisser y Curioni, which dominates all the horizons of this intense city that is defending itself against the aggression of ugly concrete--not of the good concrete—that pine tree came to be my best friend.'

Read further

José María Arguedas, The Fox from Up Above and the Fox from Down Below, El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo, trans. Frances Horning Barraclough (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000) 184-5










Conceiving of a bio-western - an endless film

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

My last couple of visits to Cultivamos Cultura in Alententejo have stirred my cinematic imagination and with the encouragement of certain desperados - all prominant artists and thinkers working at the intersection of art and biology, I have begun to work on a bio-western. It's a sub-genre of a sub-genre, a thrilling deritivitive of spegetti westerns but with a renegade biologic artistic bent, it positions bioart actions alongside a series of western pastiches and tropes, choreographies of bodies withinin the enironment inspired by western.

During my last visit to Cultivamos Cultura in May this year I made some small photographic studies with the help of Adam Zarestsky, Blu Zarestsky, Marie-Pier Boucher and Jamie Ferguson, ostensibly for location research but it quickly manifested into something else and elsewhere yet to be taxonomically catogorised.

The Alentejo Bio-western is a whimsical and astutely rigourous project, increasingly being informed by the desperados themselves and the typical velocity that seems to imbue projects conceived and realised at Cultivamos Cultura.

Marie-Pier Boucher suggested it be an 'endless film' borrowing from architect Frederick Kiesler's 'endless house' concept, allowing it's genesis and forms to become an elastic process, defined by what is pragmatic and possible and undefined by not being bound by production values, technology, narrative or funding.

The next phase of production will be during Cultivamos Cultura's annual summer school this July, the school is under the tutelage of Marta de Menezes and Marie-Pier Boucher as well as artist in resident Adam Zaretesky inputting and they've made the bio-western part of this years syllabus. So I expect us to take our pipette guns into the landscape amist the non-human ecologies where we will squint and cast long shadowns in long silences in the relentless sun. We will be sweaty and grubby and out of vengence, we will live and die and die and live, as we create maverick biologic enquires.

Current reading Place of Dead Roads, William S. Burroughs.

Current watching Antônio das Mortes

Copper Bodies at Just 40, Cultivamos Cultura

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Continuing working with oxidising coppper with salt and vinegar some human urins was also introduced for some of the copper patination.

In Portugal salt is sold in crude rock form rather than in the powder we are more familia with in the UK creating a very different texture. I was able to create kilograms of this beautiful blue colour by using an old copper container that I discovered in the barn that is used as the exhibition space at Cultivamos Cultura. I would fill the container, drench it in vinegar and allow it to dry under the hot Alentejo sun.

Copper Bodies & The Logic of Crystals

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Copper bodies is a short series of studio experiments, make quickly in Extractor Space, the project room in Tidemill School Studios in Deptford where I currently am lucky enough to have a studio. The studio works takes up from the experimentation during Prologue with Flora Wellesley Wesley, following some of those threads and continuing to work with salt, water, pigment, vinegar, copper, particularly experimenting with cultivating verdigris on copper with vinegar and salt. I don't know where it's going but it feels good simply to do and allow the materials to nudge the next steps.

Dataisnature published a fascinating entry on The Logic of Crystals, featuring the 1924 Space-group Diagrams by William T. Astbury & Kathleen Yardley which describe 'every possible atomic lattice configurations in crystals. The figures formed the basis for what eventually became the International Tables for X-ray Crystallography.' The diagrams are very beautiful, I took to drawing some of them in chalk on the kitchen tiles of Extractor Space, enjoying their tangental connections to the crystals building via the salt, vinegar and copper. Chalking some of them onto the floor they and their proximaty to my crude and elementary chemical reactions reminded me of magical diagrams, alchemy and the fertile origins of contemporary chemistry.

deodland - gifts

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Leila Galloways installation deoland was the fruition of a two week residency at Extractor Space, the former school kitchen in Deptford's Tidemill School Annex. 

Deodland was an old English law, abolished in 1862 that legislated that anything thing that had caused a person's death and was to be forfeited to the crown for a charitable purpose, it came from deōdandum, from Latin Deō dandum (something) to be given to God, from deus god + dare to give. 

deod land

Time scales seemed moored into poised moments within Extractor Space, flint gravel from the seashore arranged into simple geometric squareness, branches spindling up from the stones, bare and seemingly growing. Silver permeated, glinting on the flint pieces, pooling against a wall and floor, a magical silver tree in a side room growing upwards and downwards through a window sill. Flints cast in pewter and silver were embedded into the walls, a fragile dried daddy long legs minuscule time and dedicate beside the persisting metals, the space seemed full of threads of these tensions of incredible delicacy and incredible resiliance.

Leila Galloway, deodland, Extractor Space, 2015

photographs by Leila Gallaway.

Betty Davis Eyes: Helena Hunter, The Referral.

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Kym Carsons world is a strange one where nothing is certain and uncertainty lies within vision.  
Carson has episodes of not being able to distinguish between subject and object. It's an experience both troubled and troubling of what it is to see, and one that questions the sensorial schema and technological apparatus of ocular perception. Carson's perceptual aberrations appear to be coupled to the institutional and she has come to consider 'Her physical presence in the institute as perversion'. 

From within and around this world of dys-ocular orientation artist Helena Hunter introduces us as viewers to the dis-located enquiries that Kym Carson makes as she brings her troubling condition to the attention of The Optical Institute and it's Training Programme. We engage with her via the process of her Referral  on a Sunday in Islington within the one day Sunday School curatorial project conducted by DAM Projects in A_space, a photographic studio during weekdays but on a Sunday it's domestic dimensions are re-envisioned as a gallery.

We experience the beginning of Carson's condition as she applies to and fills in the referral questionnaires for The Optical Institute and describes her vertiginous, physiological experiences that accompany these collapses of subject/object dynamics, we peer at erie medical films of eye balls being dissected, projected in the room where there is a photographers infinity wall, allowing layering of seeing through extended visual senses via investigative and elaborated knowleges and where we can consider our ocularised worlding and its technologies of space, light and lenses. Carsons condition is extrapolated through institutional spaces and medical narratives, resonances of the psycho-analytic enquiries suggest themselves -  the Lacanian hysteric perhaps.

A bank of shelves hold obsolete camera equipment and slide viewing devices that along side bound books of eyes and sight. Two videos on monitors on plinths loop. People (other referrals or gallery attendees, I am not sure, they're status is ambiguous) chat amiably on nearby sofas in what might be a waiting room area. People come and go. Fort/da.

On the monitors there is a female figure in a tight dress of matt sequins. She appears to dance for us, to camera, to a medley of songs that embrace eyes and sight, her movements languid, svelte, elegant, and disarmingly silly as fake goggly eyes spring out of joke glass frames at pertinent musical moments. She is poised and  oblivious to her ridiculousness. 

The other figure with her back to us explores a white wall, THE white wall that pervades contemporary galleries with all it's thrall, lure, tedium and assertion of histories, currencies and perceptual governance. She proceeds to feel it out with her body, making multiple attempts as if to know the white wall - clumsy, funny, exposing,  this mysterious, indelible, unknowable ground upon which we place our artistic artefacts. Finally she takes a single tale whip and beings to lash the wall, slowly gradually expending a virulent, violent punishment of strikes on the unyielding but marked white wall. 

Accompanying Referral is a slim booklet, it's cover a corporate double eye logo both crisp and corporate and inside a report containting 'documentation for the assessment of the pupil Kym Carson and her progress on The Optical Institute Training Programme'. On the inside of the back cover is a letter from Kym Carson to the white wall, it is handwritten on white paper that has been crumpled as if to dispose of it but then retrieved and flatten out creating a topography of texture like an overhead view of a landscape - full of purchase and holds; within it she writes:

I want to be in that wonderful and terrible state that makes art inevitable. 

Eye Tunes, 2013
Live performance, sound, 5mins, recurring

White Wall, 2014
Live performance, sound, 10-20 min

Helena Hunter


Sunday, Monday, Tuesday conversations

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.


Copper, vinegar, salt, from Prologue in collaboration with Flora Wellesley Wesley

Over the last three days I have had three conversations with three artists
about my work
about their work
about where we are

However for the most part the weight of the conversation has been on my art making and each person has led the weight of their gaze, experience and accomplishment to looking at recent studio developments - experiments if you will that I've been making with materials, processes and combinations. I've also opened up older works, some that are still in that ambiguous, unresolved place of uncomfortable, strange, where I am not really sure what it is but sense that there is something there. 

Sunday Wayne Lucas has a studio in the same building as I do  here in Deptford in south east London and he curates Extractor Space, the former school kitchen in the building, inviting artists to undertake residencies and exhibit the outcomes.  His art works are grounded in painting but implicate other media and objects into assemblages and sculptures. He has painted me in water colours, repeating the act a hundred  times, making small, deft, exquisitely executions of watery pigment. One of the discussions we touched on was materials, commanding a process through the kind of attentive discipline of repetition. He said something along the lines of 'when I know what it is then I stop'. Currently Wayne is preparing an exhibition in which many reiterations of the same eggy/testicular forms will manifest embedded with tweeds that reference tailoring and melancholic classical Greek statues erased in granite powder.  

Monday Rebecca Stevenson and I have been discussing our art making for some twenty years now, we both studied together on a foundation course in Bristol around 1994 - 1995 becoming firm friends and fierce champions on one anothers work through the ups and downs of some successes and some disasters. Becky makes complex sculptures, rooted in a fantastic technical practice of drawing, molding, casting and manipulating to build intricate works that are figurative and yet depart into multiple configurations of cavities, petals, eruptions of folds and blossomings creating confusions and transitory objects, albeit fixed in wax, resin or metal. Frequently she draws on the rich and excessive decorations and forms from rococo imagery, a visit to the Wallace Collection inspires articulations of contemporary still life elements, distended hanging hares collapsing in aluminium, florid curvatures of isolated bulls head, dangerously sugar coated swans embellished in fruits, all troubling taxonomies of artifice, decoration and configuration. Our conversation has the old familiarity of having seen the stages of each others evolving practice, endless cups of tea in chilly studios. Becky will be able to remember the sculptures I used to make and their fleshy preoccupations and how eventually actual flesh took hold and for some time because the primary material in my art making.  I showed her difficult and unresolved photographic works, works that can happily remain in a folder forever but that she encouraged me to consider printing, to get away from the thrall of the screen back into the material and tangible. I find this very helpful, even if it's terribly obvious, but simply to print and see, then fold and tear and collage with or to enjoy proximaties with something else - such is the value of a studio. I find relationships between things being to assert themselves, 

salt will want fur 
fur will want copper
copper will want cotton
cotton will want vinegar
vinegar will want silver
silver will want spit
spit will want the peeling walls
peeling walls will want spider silk 
spider silk will want graphite powder
graphite powder will want skin
skin will want sweat 
sweat will want iron 
iron will want words
words will want

and so on. We particularly talked about metal and chemical reactions, small and thoughtful transitions of materials within the actual work during the duration that the viewer sees it, and how mechanical processes play with the forms of crystalline structuring - really its endless.

Tuesday This remarking on transitions and transformations of materials carried on today during a lavish visit Helena Goldwater made to the studio today. We've known about one anothers work for many years now, particularly in the realm of performance art, she has been an Extractor Space artist during which she presented a powerful durational work and left it's remains as a deeply unsettling and beautiful installation. Helena has been presenting painting works lately that similarly approach what are for me vital themes - transformation, mutability and plasticity, in which form is always somehow contingent and possible evolutions and permutations are continually suggesting themselves. Similarly to Rebecca Stevenson morphologies from botany or biology are seeming emerging but for neither artist does the work really rest easily there, something else is happening. Our conversation moved across scales between macro and micro, Helena identifying through lines and visceral connections across the activities, supporting my ranging bodily investigations through materials in particular the quite, simple ones that preoccupied the recent Prologue residency, namely salt, water and copper pigment arrangements that went though stages of drying finally crystallising into more stable what I referred to as drawings and elementary copper oxidsising with vinegar and table salt. Metals reappeared as chemistry, biochemistry and biology, where the sweat of the gym rusts Serra like iron weights and  steaming sweat tropical micro climates evaporate and condense feeding the inhabitant molds and micro organic gym-biome as the salts are left behind on clothing, bodies, surfaces, electrolyte. 


It's really impossible to underestimate the value of these conversation with peers who make time to give ones work such considered response and appraisal. it's where faltering steps can find some purchase, instincts and ituitions can be encouraged but also challenged, concepts can be smelted, forged and forged.

Most of all I felt encouraged to continue to trial these experiments, to delight in the tacit and sensory knowledges they suggest and the further developments that seem to present themselves. These conversations all asked about contexts, who, where, how, what are the kinds of spaces and places we care about and where might we wish to position these evolving makings. 


Prologue, epilogues i

Added on by Kira O'Reilly.

Images from Prologue, a two week residency in collaboration with Flora Wellesley Wesley, curated by PanicLab

Brown paper dance action, salt, water, copper pigment, salt drawing. 

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

The Monument is a telescope

 The Monument is a telescope – It was designed by Robert Hooke who fashioned its height to be the distance from its base to the origin of the great fire of London.

 The Monument is a telescope – Hooke arranged lenses at the base and summit to create a telescope with which to survey the night sky.

 The Monument is a telescope – The Monument is a microscope.

 The Monument is a telescope – Hooke, Surveyor of the City of London after the Great Fire, peered and scryed across scales. He put his microscopic attentiveness to the world that tips beyond sight.

 The Monument is a telescope – 50x

 The Monument is a telescope – He named ‘cells’ so because they appeared to his 17th century mind to be like the small discreet spaces in honey combs.

 The Monument is a telescope – Hooke was an architect, an organiser of space across the visible and invisible, he recorded the microscopic in the Micrographia

 The Monument is a telescope – She says that if you fuck her family she will come and fuck you. She will discipline and punish you in your own back yard.

 The Monument is a telescope – 1,259,712,000 cells in a cubic inch he reckoned.

 The Monument is a telescope – I will break your arm and put it on my mantle piece.

 The Monument is a telescope – Extended ocular sensing.

 The Monument is a telescope – There is an unexploded V2 bomb in Bermondsey.

 The Monument is a telescope – Time reveals glass as liquid, in old cathedrals one sees that the bottom of panes of glass are thicker where the glassy matter has gradually flowed downwards over centuries.

 The Monument is a telescope – Unhinged.

 The Monument is a telescope – Estimates of the viscosity of glass at room temperature run as high as 10 to the power of 20.

The Monument is a telescope – You can convert your smart phone camera into a microscope by positioning a homemade PDMS bubble on it.

 The Monument is a telescope – Lead glass bubbles capture air and create tiny lenses, surface tensions trap spheres in glass.

 The Monument is a telescope – Hooke with an iPhone 6 and a microscope app.

 The Monument is a telescope – Friday 20th March 2015, London, partial solar eclipse between 8.25 am and 10.41 am Greenwich Mean Time.

 The Monument is a telescope – Where raindrops the first lenses?

 The Monument is a telescope – Viscosity is measured in units of poises.

 The Monument is a telescope – ‘Oh, [she] will break her arm.’

 The Monument is a telescope – 50,000,000 poises is the viscosity glass requires to trap bubbles.

 The Monument is a telescope – A Plantagenet funeral processes through empty roads carrying a simple coffin.

 The Monument is a telescope – ‘Mark Antony do you see a whole universe in this one, single drop of water?’

 The Monument is a telescope – ‘I can say that right now. I'll tell you two things: [she] will break her arm, and [she] will not go up in weight.’

 The Monument is a telescope – It would take a plate of glass close to some ten billion years to flow so that the bottom would thicken by 10 angstrom units.

 The Monument is a telescope – ‘I cannot hear what you say for the thunder of what you are.’

 The Monument is a telescope – One angstrom unit is one ten-billionth of a meter.

The Monument is a telescope – ‘I love [her], she's a great person, she has many, many wonderful qualities, but one thing about her is she holds a grudge, and she will break [her] arm.’

 The Monument is a telescope – Please do not move the piano.