Running Stitch

Jen Southern & Jen Hamilton

Archive Exhibitions (18 November to 17 December 2006)
Running Stitch was a 25sq/m tapestry map, created live in the gallery over four weeks, that charted visitors’ daily journeys through the city.
For Running Stitch, artists Jen Southern & Jen Hamilton re-configured Brighton & Hove by capturing its space through the movement of its inhabitants. Visitors to Fabrica were given the opportunity to take a GPS-enabled mobile phone with them to track their journeys through the city centre. These walks around the city resulted in individual GPS ‘drawings’ of the visitor’s movements that were projected live in the gallery to disclose aspects of the city unknown to the artists. Each individual route was sewn into a hanging canvas to form an evolving tapestry that revealed a sense of place and interconnection.

In the years leading up to their exhibition at Fabrica, Jen Hamilton (Canada) & Jen Southern (UK) had been using Satellite Navigation technology to explore urban environments. Data generated from the walking routes that they invited people to take were often processed in their installations to create collaborative and personalised maps. Two previous projects –Distance Made Good: Flow Lines (Morecambe and Lancaster, 2006) and Satellite Bureau (Cardiff, 2005) each involved people in making new maps of their locality determined not by formal topographical or geopolitical conventions, but by their own choice of journey.

About The Artist

Jen Hamilton was born in Toronto in 1968, and grew up in the Beaches in the east end of the city. She studied art at the Ontario College of Art and Design and Concordia University in Montreal. In 1995, she started her graduate thesis piece and made Symmetry Unlimited. This installation incorporated salvaged construction materials, styrofoam, and salt. The installation was made to relate to the immediate architecture, in this case, the main gallery of the graduate studies area in the downtown campus of the school. The work told the story of symbiotic relationships, and the power struggle between molecules in super-saturated solutions, bunkers and art in crates, and students and teachers in the institution. Her subsequent installations use materials in similar ways to explore narratives, and relationships of people and things with space.

The found objects Hamilton uses in most of her works are commonplace. A sense of matter-of-fact approach of how they are organized and put together in installation informs the style of the work. The installations often look unfinished and in-progress or put together in haste. By doing this Hamilton hopes to reinvest the objects with a magic and invite the viewer to experience them according to their own terms, and in their own right. By making them seem assembled in backyard garages I hope to let people be part of the process, and to participate. I want the viewer to feel in charge, that they too could make these things if they wanted- Jen Hamilton.

Hamilton studied film making as well as sculpture. The work in installation often takes on a narrative structure, and can be seen to have a sense of pacing and tempo, just as it would if were edits in a film. Although, in viewing the installations one has to walk around and through them. No single vantage point tells the entire story.

Jen Southern is an artist and PhD student in Sociology at Lancaster University, where she is affiliated to the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) and mobilities lab. Her recent fieldwork has taken her out walking with ramblers groups and footpath societies, on a flight with a flying instructor, and to meet a researcher who uses GPS to track reindeer. Her art practice is collaborative, process based and participatory, working with audiences to explore movement and sense of place through mobile technologies and locative media. She works across the disciplines of participatory art, sociology and mobile application design, and has contributed to international projects and workshops funded by NESTA, BBC, Arts Council England and Sagasnet.

She has has exhibited her solo and collaborative work both in Europe and Internationally. Most recently her collaborative work with Chris Speed has been exhibited at Futuresonic Festival, Manchester and ISEA09, Belfast; and with Hamilton, Southern & Hannah McClure Gallery, Dundee, Scotland; Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden and MOCFA, San Francisco, USA.

Jen’s research is currently exploring how the use of GPS changes perceptions of sense of place, particularly in relation to embodied practices of navigation and the GPS as a device for seeing from above. Her research takes place through socially engaged art practice and speculative mobile application design.

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