Interplay, Enmeshment, and Matter: Investigating the invisible, movements, and stasis (work in progress)

In my art practice, I am passionate about exploring how humans navigate and construct our world and societies, but at the same time I am amazed and deeply fascinated by the invisible aspect of our existence. I have always been attracted to the unseen, the mystical, and the inexplicable. We are part of a universe that we only perceive through our bodily senses—our five senses, plus our vestibular and proprioception senses. The immaterial part of our world and universe, such as ideas, sensitivity, and vibration is not perceived tangibly as matter because we cannot physically understand it. Yet, we have tools such as feelings and intuition that we can develop, and we have science to broaden our understanding of the unseen. A large part of my artistic practice over the past 20 years has been using technology to invent ways and processes that reflect and give form to these invisible forces that surround us. Over the past twenty years, I have developed new techniques in my artwork and investigated how to use colours, sound, and photographic and cinematic processes to explore these unseen dimensions.

 

I investigate the shifting relationships between our reality—both what we easily perceive and the unseen—and the digital world, exploring how we forge our identities within societal constructs and rupturing our perception of reality to expose unexpected beauty and new perspectives.

 

I love to explore and play with visual, sonic, and cinematographic codes, manipulate time to stretch out or compress visual and auditory experiences, and use duplication, sampling, and layering of multiple visual and aural component-creating pieces that disrupt societal normalization through the physical senses. I also frequently focus on female identity and self identity, intimacy, the human body and self imagery, and creation and destruction-opening up dialogues to access new and unfamiliar territories. Art gives us the ability to make what was previously invisible to the viewer. I'm working to uncover the hidden qualities of life in the photographs, videos and sounds I work with. Where do we go with the tension of imagery? What is happening within the images and the sounds?

  • My work took an unexpected turn when our lives were abruptly transformed with confinement orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I have always been concerned about our natural landscapes and nature, and the spaces that humans occupy-and how these spaces are transformed and destroyed in that process. But as humans reduced their activities, we saw for the first time in modern history how greatly our daily activities impact our environment. Within days, fish ventured back into the Venice canals, wildlife began exploring newly empty streets, and global CO2 emissions dropped worldwide. Nature’s ability to reappear and reoccupy the spaces humans normally take was especially impactful.

     

    I had two takeaways from the experience. First, that humans dominate and take over landscapes, assuming that it is a right when we do not have the right. Second, that nature has an immense power to reemerge and continue growing.

  • The result was that I was suddenly confronted with choices about what I can and cannot control. In my practice, I am interested in the TENSION BETWEEN materiality AND IMMATERIALITY of imagery, and the non-linguistic forms of gesture and intuition, which emerge in moments where we cannot control our outcomes, our futures, or our lives. In those moments, who is in control? I chose to let go of control.

     

    In my work, this decision affected the process with which I investigate the interplay between man and nature, and also how I approach my work-which became scattered and interrupted during the stay-at-home orders. Having to let go of control also meant letting go of control over the outcome of my imagery, inviting chance into the process. In an age where the vast majority of images are manipulated to control what is portrayed, I am deliberately choosing to let go and use randomness, intuition, and experimentation in my work. 

  • "Interplay, Enmeshment, and Matter" brings together a collection of multisensory pieces, combining photography, video, and sound, that delves more deeply into the parallel states of change and stasis, exploring the contrast between being creatures of nature while also distancing ourselves from it and our tendency to pay homage to nature’s beauty while also destroying it. Especially with the onset of the Covid-19 virus, it is evident that man and nature are completely intertwined, despite how our decisions and actions deny that fact.

     

    Photography gives us the ability to make what was previously invisible, visible to the viewer. In this series, I’m working to uncover those hidden qualities in the photographs I work with. Where do we go with the tension of imagery-what is happening within the image?

     

    To create the images, I print large-scale black and white or color photographs and scrape their surfaces with razor blades, removing the pigments and leaving ink dust, cuts, and holes in the paper, deleting some of the distinct elements. The act of erasing is a repetitive and violent gesture that represents the impact of humans on nature, and is an aesthetic statement as well as a social statement. Afterward, I rephotograph the damaged prints with a medium format camera and use both traditional and digital tools to recolor, add enhancements, and reorganize the image-creating a new final piece out of the deconstruction of the old one. My work is accompanied by a soundtrack of the sounds made during the production process, and enhanced with video showing anti-gravitational dust and particles that move around, suggesting natural elements and forces at play.

  • MORPHIC RESONANCES AND THE ANIMA MUNDI

    For a long time, I have been interested in the theory of biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who proposes that morphic resonances, or fields of being and morphogenic waves, are what all living beings in our world use to communicate, and would provide an explanation for intuitions, and discoveries that happen at the same time, as well as synchronistic events. These morphic resonances would imprint emotional and physical events into our epigenetic memory. Sheldrake's work is related to Plato's theory on the Anima Mundi, or the World’s Soul. It would help explain the notion behind the self-organizing systems. According to these theories, it would be responsible for the cumulative memory of a society. His theory means we could invent a possible past for a location through inspiration, never knowing if in fact we actually feel this past reality or if it is pure invention. But just the idea that we have intuition and inspiration that might come from these waves is extremely interesting. And this relates to the level of consciousness we each have with our life and surroundings and also connection with these.

     

    In addition to the theories above, I am delving more deeply into the question of the parallel states of change and stasis, exploring the contrast between being creatures of nature while also distancing ourselves from it, and our tendency to pay homage to the invisible and non-understandable while also seeking to widen our understanding of the universe. I am also interested in the idea of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Argument which would mean, if I understand correctly, that space and time can be irrelevant, and these are exactly what I am working with and exploring in imagery whether through video or photography. 

  • WHAT I PRESENT IN THESE IMAGES IS A RECONSTRUCTED LANDSCAPE THAT PROPOSES A CERTAIN RANDOMNESS AND ABSURDITY, SYMBOLIC OF HOW HUMAN SOCIETIES OVERLAP WITH NATURE. I SEEK NOT TO CONTROL NATURE THROUGH THESE IMAGES, BUT TO AMPLIFY ITS BEAUTY AND HOW WE AS HUMANS AFFECT IT. 

  • AUDIO SAMPLE

    I created this soundscape uniquely with sound bits from an audio recording of the sounds it produces when I scratch my prints with a razor blade.

  • ANIMA, Carte Blanche, MUS√ČE DES BEAUX-ARTS LE LOCLE, March 8th - September 26th, 2021

     Anima, installation view

     

    “Anima” is a Latin word meaning soul and breath. It evokes both inner dialogue and imagination. By making her works float in space, Mauren Brodbeck plunges us into the heart of nature through her filter –her palette of colours, modified images, and an unusual sound environment. By creating such a singular visual and sound space, the artist invites the public to enter a garden that evokes a dream landscape rather than a realistic documentation of nature. With Anima, Brodbeck explores materials, colours, textures and sounds, both in the image and sound. The plant world is put into a vibratory state, because it must appeal to our senses and emotions. The artist’s visual and sound variations can be developed endlessly. By moving away from a traditional representation of nature, she invites us to enter into a relationship with a different type of plant environment. Through this immersive space, the artist encourages each of us to let our intuition carry us along. If Brodbeck disturbs what we know of nature, it is because she seeks to create a connection with the invisible, or rather the intangible. Anima takes us beyond the surface of the plant world – a surface that has literally been digitally transformed. Capturing sounds during the creative process is essential for Mauren Brodbeck: scratching photographs or physical contact with the plants contributes to the exploration of the material. The exhibition space thus constitutes an environment where the soundscape echoes the visual landscape, and vice versa. As you walk through this space, you are invited to listen to your own feelings. Conceived as a garden suspended in time and space, Brodbeck’s work refers to the traditional symbolism of the garden: between contemplation and pleasure, it is also a sacred space and a possibility to reconnect with an intimate world. With this installation, Brodbeck reinterprets a common experience: the walk in nature. Her garden sparkles to better address our emotions and sensibilities. Finally, Anima is also an exploration of the “Anima Mundi”: described by philosophers as the soul of the world, it consists of seeing nature as a living being, or rather a divine essence that encompasses and energises every life in the universe.

     Nathalie Herschdorfer, Director, Musée des Beaux-Arts Le Locle

     

    Anima, installation view

     Anima, installation view

     

    Anima, installation view

     Anima, installation view 

     

  • ANIMA SOUNSCAPE

     
  • FINAL BODY OF WORK

    Interplay, Enmenshment, and Matter" is a series is evolves every day. My goal is to create immersive and trans-disciplinary body of work and installations that investigate our relationship to space and the universe, matter and the invisible in various forms.

     

    This is a work in progress. This page will be updated regularly.