This is my last post as artist-in-residence at Big Red and Shiny. I have really enjoyed the challenge of making my thoughts coherent on a regular basis. Thanks for listening.
I sometimes describe myself as agnostic. The definition I use is not one of sitting on the fence, or that I don’t know (shrug), it is that the existence and nature of god is not only unknown but unknowable and therefore irrelevant to the way I live my life. If pushed, I would go with atheist to keep it simple. That said, I do experience feelings of awe and spine-tingling sensations of surprise when new ways of seeing the world are spawned – I believe in the power of belief. In response, I have made some works about the efficacy of placebo in treating pain, and the power of positive thinking or having agency in treating cancer.
As a chorister, I spend a good deal of time in churches, and other halls imbued with brilliant acoustics, singing predominantly sacred works. Music in places of reverence can be very powerful and evocative no matter my sceptical outlook. I think of such places and such music as machines for generating intense emotions. As a secular person, however much I enjoy the thrill of singing in cathedrals, I also hunt for those machines that are not tied too tightly to religion, and I have tried to make my own. For me, art galleries and laboratories are both places where I can sometimes find secular awe, and scientific practice and making artwork are the best emotion-machines of all.