Still from the video installation   The Mind is a Muscle

Still from the video installation The Mind is a Muscle

 

Artist Statement

 

I paint, but in an expanded field, mostly using film and photography. My work often refers to painting and at first glance a video can be perceived as an ever so slightly moving painting. Since 2012, I have been collecting working material in an archive named Ecolonia. The archive contains expressions in film, photography, sculpture, and installation art. I garner materialities, perceptions, and sensations found in everyday life and encountered in nature. The collected body of various phenomena, lived experiences and emotions, is adapted via a set of digital editing techniques imbued with an intuitive rationale. The material undergoes a digitized abstraction development but always with outermost regard for the innate and unique modes of expression of all life. 

I am searching for small movements or minor changes that occur within something durable and ongoing, which over time progress in a spiral-like cycle pattern. This implies ongoing time that always returns but in each instance in a slightly altered form. Time thus creates monotone movements that in themselves create a rhythm. A monotonous rhythm indicates the stillness of time. I want to provide circumstances that lends the void a space; a place where the seemingly insignificant resides alongside silence. My work relates to the “in-between” which exists amongst humans, human and nature, between the natural and the man-made. It strives to challenge the boundaries between human, nature, and machine. The void, the gap, the movement-change between still or moving images and between scenes is also of great significance. As an intermediary movement, empty space houses anticipation. The in-betweenness of empty space leaves room for everything and nothing at once. The wait is a precondition for change. There is also a power relation inscribed in the wait, in the act of putting someone or something on hold. The wait both disciplines and administrates. It generates a hierarchy in the room depending on which sex, class, or ethnicity we are ascribed. In this way, my attempt at a visual balance within and between the images is also an attempt to redress the balance of power. 

The image archive Ecolonia provides opportunities for innumerable reconfigurations of the materials I collect. Moreover, Ecolonia is my language, my way of describing a reality we co-create with our surroundings. I’m interested in conveying the hidden, that something ‘more’ which resides in nature and goes beyond what meets the eye. Within this system, the everyday is revalued. New worlds and situations arise that can be both beautiful and daunting, they may contain recognition as well as alienation. The open and ongoing archive Ecolonia also contributes to an exploration of contemporary society’s relationship with nature. It does so by accentuating the aesthetics of experience which might help further a shift in the human conception of an unpredictable nature as an object to be mapped, controlled, and dominated. 

How come we often perceive nature as magical? Is it the moments of transience and intangibility that leaves a lingering sense of sadness and longing behind?

One spring evening we are out in the garden, the five-year old and I. A flock of birds starts to sweep by back and forth over the field, climbing and descending pliably in a v-formation across the sky. Our work with raking together the autumn leaves comes to a halt and we both stand there, lost in wonder, our eyes stuck to the sky. 
“– They are trick flying, aren’t they?” my son lets out after a while. 
“– Yes”, I reply, “they are”. 

The grandeur of nature fascinates us. An untamed and fickle nature might be perceived as mystic and exotic but threatening at the same time. Subtle shifts fill us with expectation. To be in nature yields a heightened sense of presence. In my practice, I explore what might be perceived as beautiful, I do however not seek to romanticize or glorify my environments. I want to bring the work past our preconceived notions about what we expect to be confronted with in a certain encounter. The demanding, technical abstraction processes I submit my working material to usher the artwork into a poetic narrative. The potentials of a newfound language offer us a chance to discover ourselves anew, and to get a glimpse of ourselves as a part of nature. By way of a poetic narrative a thing’s presence can be unfolded in light of its absence, and sometimes it is best described in contradictory terms. An omitted space makes room for our own lived experiences and missed opportunities. 

Movement is an intrinsic part of how time-images are constructed in my work. Movement also relates to other aspects of inter-embodied processes. One could imagining an approach to movement as a mode of thinking, as the pacing of an embodied mind. To ‘think’ through the embodied mind would then be a process parallel to conscious thought. This manner of conceiving of an embodied mind as a movement in space, e.g. dance, constitutes new and unexpected expressions of what it implies to be struck by life itself. Much like the treatment of sore bodily trigger points can conjure up new, till now unknown responses in other parts of the body, a walk in nature may evoke unexpected thought processes. The connection between these events remain concealed. It leaves us with a fleeting sense of being whole. 

In my practice, the technical devices; the camera and the camera eye, shots and panning, and not least the computational modification processes, all may function as an extension of the body~mind. Sat in front of the computer screen, with the short commandos deeply buried into my muscle memory, or propped up behind the lens of the camera, the technology is not something external to my body. It is a profoundly embedded and unique chain of technical logic – an embodied language developed over years of practice. 

I work with dramaturgic events stripped off a conventional narrative logic. A place is articulated, a credible space which can be deciphered as ‘site’ but which omits the “where”. In the moving sequence there is certainly a direction, a dedicated movement towards something. Yet, that something can never be captured since the direction given ceaselessly is interrupted by the folds and displacements created. Bodily movement affects our mind, it adds something to what I would like to call a Poetry of The Body. By focussing on movement-change and the continuous dissolution and eruptions of events, rather than static conditions – prioritising a “how” before a “what” – I take impression from choreographers like Yvonne Rainer whose 1978 work Trio A brought repetition of the mundane to the forefront, radically changing the vocabulary of dance. In defining a sensation of place, the omitted, is outlined, invertible.

The emphasis on a repeated displacement of material processes and habits in my practice brings matters to a head when I am working site specifically, and most notably towards care facilities and hospital environments. Since my work has room for meditation as well as provocation, the adaptation of a work for a specific site is always a joint negotiation which induces new issues and provokes thoughts for all parties involved. For me, it is a chance to better understand how different configurations of the artwork make mea

ning and carry meaning. At first glance, my body of work might appear low-voiced and unobtrusive. This is a quality much appreciated especially for placements of artworks in high-risk and sensitive environments and institutional frameworks. However, beneath a seemingly calm surface, there is a depth, a rippling surface-depth in confluence and always in a contingent relationship with the surface effects, and, consequently the work’s affect on a viewer. Within the surface-depth there is room for darker notes, hues, and themes which might provoke questions about a fear of the finitude and transience of existence. In the same breath, one is able to sense a deeply rooted ability of the body and nature to heal itself. It is this capacity, inherent in all life – even in the seemingly fatigued and dissolved, the perishable and weak, life-threatening and adverse – I am interested in addressing. In my site-specific works and installations I want to evoke a provisional space – a non-site – for chance, change, and reconciliation to take place. 

The body is taught to position itself, react to, and in one way or another embody current ideas and notions of the society it is immersed into. Through the habit of repetition political policies, gender roles, notions of class and racial difference are inscribed in the body, begetting actual patterns. “Feelings are facts.” Feelings are information which forms and literally in-forms human as well as more-than-human bodies. The cultured body is a set of choreographed movements, a disciplined body. When I incorporate the human body as an element in my imagery, I look to identify in-between moments of dissolution and collapse. To make use of the human form is not about introducing an individual subject into my work. Instead, I approach the human form as a creature, a parallel existence, a part of nature, and as a matter of facts. This is the case in works like The Mind is a Muscle and Untitled Painting #12 where the digital manipulations momentarily reframe the body in an exaggerated sense, conveying a sense of ‘unhomely’ movements, of an unreality of bends, shapes, and forms. While the viewer in these works is able to identify the body as “body”, in comparison to the elusive character of ‘site’ in other works, the recognizable human body becomes incoherent and estranged to us first when it presents us with difference, an anomaly, something not yet seen, heard, or experienced. Here is the power of nature. 

Carolina Jonsson