Emily Hartless

Emily Hartless

I use language to discuss, analyse, reflect and re-construct art and design. After graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art last year, I made a conscious decision to move back to Wales. This has encouraged my practice to evolve from primarily discussing the work of nineteenth and twentieth century British artists, to developing a collaborative curatorial practice.

I am interested in the relationship of art and design, utilising material culture, images that are often classified as ‘outsider art’ or what James Elkins has termed ‘images which are not art’, to enlighten and challenge our perceptions of art. As such, my work is defined by an exploration of the fluidity of artistic practice beyond geographic and historical periodisation.

Latest Posts

05.08.2017 / ‘In short, we are all cyborgs.’.   →

In the introduction to Metamorphoses Ovid states his intentions; My soul would sing of metamorphoses.  But since, o gods, you were the source of these  bodies becoming other bodies, breathe  your breath into my book of changes: may  the song I sing be seamless as its way  weaves from the world's beginning to our day. (1.1-4)  Similarly, as the artist and mediator, British born James Richards aspires to describe consistent and often violent changes, through a seamless, poetic and lyrical materialism. The traumatic, yet smooth transition of a choir boy’s voice breaking, the synesthetic experience of being ‘frozen in spit’ is a point of reference for Music for the Gift at the Venice Biennale, a motif for the multiplicity of the human body Richard’s work explores.[1] However, in the twenty-first century, it is not gods who are shifting the shape of humanity, but the impact of technological advancements, which subsumes and re-shapes identity. The mass production of an inundation of images that perpetuates contemporary life, has led to the consumer becoming the consumed. We are absorbed; are power to discern what we consume is relinquished, by our own obsessive production of images; most significantly the self-image. The title of James Richard’s video installation What weakens the flesh is the Flesh itself (2017), a forty-five-minute collaboration with Steve Reinke featured at the 57th Biennale, highlights the fluidity between the re-cycling of digital imagery and the impact it has on our corporeality, through its self-cannibalising nature. Donna Haraway has contended, that, ‘In short, we are all cyborgs.’.[2]  Despite her specific locality as investigating Socialist feminism, her documentation of the breached boundaries between the organism and machine in A Cyborg Manifesto, highlights the universality of the post-human experience. A duality exists within the digital production of the self-image at the permeable boundary into our lived-experience, because the cyclitic pursuit of a solidified self-image, leads ultimately, to its multiplication. By tackling our societal image fatigue, offering a commentary on, and alternative ways to interact with, our production and dissemination of media James Richard’s Music for the Gift is, arguably, a commentary on and evocation of our post-human and cyborgian existence.[3] It reflects humanities continual and historic fascination with dissolving the self, illustrated by Ovid’s Classical philosophising, while exploring the potential impact that the marriage of organic and technological is having on the human psyche. [1] Richards, James, McCormack Chris, Voice De Testa, (2017). [2] Haraway, Donna, A manifesto for cyborgs: Science, technology, and socialist feminism in the 1980s, (1985). [3] Moeller, Susan D, Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death, (Psychology Press, 1999).  

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27.07.2017 / The Politics of Seating   →

You are tiered, there is a blister blossoming, slowly rubberising the pad of your foot at the slow speed, the undetectable speed of seeds germinating and mould spreading, so that you won’t notice the pressure until it is formed; a defiant, sheeny bubble. There is a soft gloss of moisture covering the top of your lip, the inner of your thigh and the base of your palm. Your eyelids momentarily shut, sticking.   You notice a seat.   A-    A padded grey minimalistic construction of plastics B-     A stone park bench C-    A divan in rust-coloured silk, low and cushioned D-    A Church pew, dark wood, high back, soft grain     Imagine, lowering your body onto the material. Imagine the texture, your posture, and staring out into the room; adjusting your body to accommodate who you’re with. Shifting to stare round the room. Becoming comfortable in your seat, restless in your seat, touching the person next to you- or moving to the edge of your seat, as far away from this other new person, the intruder to your designated space. Imagine approaching the seat. You try to perch on it, but it’s too high. Perhaps your thigh slips against the fabric or you become agitated as the backless frame leaves you lurching over the edge of a wooden ridge.   Do you pick up your seat, move your seat? You could try to push it, but maybe it won’t move. Maybe its soldered to the ground.   There’s a sign. DON’T SIT HERE.  

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13.07.2017 / The loss of self is regularly documented, and the ‘self’ is regularly lost.  →

Writing about the photography of Julia Margaret Cameron, I saw her subjects as erased by her touch, dominated by her aesthetic. I projected onto the deliberately out-of-focus images, that the subjects would have resisted, that they could have bartered, been coerced and, eventually, brought for their image.  

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Project

One of my primary interests is the British material culture of spiritualism; myth, paganism and new-age, and the appropriation and commodification of its visual language or mechanisms by artists. James Richard’s sound installations have been described as ‘aural’. The term aural in connection to his work highlights the relationship between the sensual and the spiritual for the audience who experience his work. I intend to explore further James Richard’s work for the Venice Biennale as perpetuation of spiritualist visual language, chiefly used by British artists, as a tool to communicate and provide specific experiential art. This directly relates to my previous studies of nineteenth century and early twentieth century British artists, such as George Federic Watts, Whistler, Julia Margaret Cameron and Walter Sickert.