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Artist Particulars

Portrait
 Name  Wilson
 First Name  Louise K.
 Citizenship  United Kingdom
 ZIP  TQ9 6DG
 City  Totnes, Devon
 Country  United Kingdom
 Date of Birth  06/03/1965
 Place of Brith  United Kingdom

Statement / Description

The multimedia artist Louise K Wilson has taken on the role of a critical mediator between the world of techno-scientific research and development and that of the general public. Her interest lies in the role of science in present-day society, “the nature of experimentation and the personal motivations of scientists and researchers” (1). She observes the codes of practice and conduct, the protocols and methodologies applied and raises questions concerning the morality of specific experiments and investigations. She has gained access to medical laboratories as a volunteer subject in order to investigate the relation between the scientist and the subject, between the medical image and the self.

Wilson’s line of enquiry is proactive and her visual arts practice research-based. She has undertaken numerous artist residencies and has collaborated with “individuals from industry, the military, museums, medicine and scientific research”(2). Such associations have included McGill University’s Aerospace Medical Research Unit in Montreal, Canada, and the electronic warfare site at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria, UK.

Wilson describes how her research forays into different institutions ”have involved co-opting scientists / researchers and engineers into dialogues as a means to both inform the work and produce original material”(3) and adds that “processes of negotiation inside closed or hard to access spaces contribute to the development of subsequent art works”(4). She focusses also on “the sophisticated and specialised imaging machines and data systems” that inhabit laboratories and techno-industrial spaces (5). Her multimedia installations and performances made following her associations and residencies incorporate and re-contextualise the generated imagery and scientific data, thus introducing them into the public domain and opening them up for public debate. Her works also frequently include “a degree of physical viewer interaction”(6).

By means of her works, Wilson simultaneously demystifies the arcane world of medical research, of science and technology while revealing their inherent discourse of control (7). Siân Ede, Arts Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, counts Wilson among those contemporary artists who are making comments “about the implications of scientific progress”(8) and adds that “when art / science / industry collaborations really ‘work’ a new form seems to emerge, drawing in viewers so they can better question, understand or articulate a response that may well alter our lives”(9).

Louise K Wilson has for some time “been interested in exploring a range of ideas around flight in its broadest sense: from low-level flying and perception of landscape, flight simulation and feelings of embodiment to narratives around escaping gravity”(10). This fascination culminated in her participation in the Arts Catalyst’s ‘Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research’ (M.I.R) project realised on a parabolic flight departing from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia, in October 2001. During the flight Wilson made studies in motion sickness and participated as a voluntary subject in a ‘Microgravity Movement Research’ led by Dr. Anthony Bull from the Department of Bioengineering (Bagrit Centre) at Imperial College, London.

Since the mid-1990s, Wilson has addressed “Space travel and the 'technological sublime' ”(11) in a number of her works. In 1997, the Institute of International Visual Arts (InIVA), London, enabled her to spend one month at The Science Museum, London, where she researched material from the 'Exploration of Space' gallery and the Museum's library. The three pieces resulting from this residency, ‘Oneironaut©’(1997), ‘Capsule’(1997) and ‘Enactment’(1997), explore “cultural perceptions of Space as an arena for evoking both nostalgia and dread”(12).

A more recent work, named 'Spadeadam' after the place where the rocket ‘Blue Streak’ was static tested in the 1960s, takes as its subject an archaeological investigation into the site of Britain’s mission to Space during the Cold War.

Anne Collins Goodyear places Louise K Wilson among those contemporary artists “responding to the shifting significance of Space in contemporary society”(13) and describes how they are addressing “the cultural void opened by the decline of the heroic narratives that characterised the first decade and a half of the human exploration of Space“(14). She ascribes them to “a generation for which Space travel has lost its purely romantic allure”(15).

Text by Carlotta Graedel Matthäi; quotations from: (1) Louise K Wilson, Dr. Anthony Bull and Morag Wightman: “Interdisciplinary Microgravity Movement Research: Experiments on a Zero Gravity Flight”, paper presented at the symposium: ‘ArtSci2002: new dimensions in collaboration’, American Museum of Natural History and the CUNY Graduate Center, NYC, USA, 06.-08.12.2002, on: www.asci.org; (2) Louise K Wilson: “Private Reveries / Public Spaces: Proposal for ‘Flightpaths’ ”, September 2001, on: www.proboscis.org.uk/prps/docs/wilson.html; (3) ibid.; (4) ibid.; (5) ibid.; (6) Wilson/Bull/Wightman, 06.-08.12.2002; (7) see: Carol Payne: ‘Interface / Encounters with New Technology’, exhibition brochure. Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, May 1998, p.6; (8) Siân Ede: in: ‘Artists-in-Research 1996-98’ (Alistair Raphael and Victoria Clarke, eds.). London: Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA), 1999, p.15; (9) ibid.; (10) Louise K Wilson: “Artistic Statement”, 02.2003, on: www.arenaproject.org/louise_k_wilson/artists_louise.html; (11) Louise K Wilson: “Science Museum, London, 1997”, in: ‘Artists-in-Research 1996-98’, (Alistair Raphael and Victoria Clarke, eds.). London: Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA), 1999, p.48; (12) InIVA (Institute of International Visual Arts): “Louise K Wilson: - Artists-in-Research Programme YEAR”, on: www.inivarchive.org, 2003; (13) Anne Collins Goodyear: “The Manipulation of Perception”, in: ‘Dreams in the Void; Post-Heroic Visions of Space’, exhibition brochure. Philadelphia, PA, USA: Temple Gallery / Old City & Tyler School of Art, 3.11.2000-13.01.2001; (14) ibid.; (15) ibid.

Personal Resume / Biography

Louise K Wilson graduated from West Surrey College of Art and Design in 1984 with a Diploma in Foundation Studies. There followed a BA Hons (1st Class) in Fine Art at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, in 1987. Wilson was then granted a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship for the years 1993 to 1996 which took her to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where in 1996 she received an MFA (Studio Arts) in Open Media at Concordia University.

Wilson has received several awards by South West Arts and Northern Arts. She has won British Council travel grants to the USA (2000), Canada (2003 and 1996) and Slovakia (1993) and in 2002 received the ‘Visual Arts Award’ from the London Arts Board.

Wilson has exhibited widely in Europe, North America and Canada. One-person shows include ‘Seeing for Oneself’, a specially commissioned video made for ‘Spectacular Bodies’ at the Hayward Gallery (2001), ‘Southern Electric’, a permanent sculpture commission for the Chiltern Sculpture Trail, Oxfordshire (2002), and ‘Spadeadam / Runway’ at Gallery TPW in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2003).

Recent group exhibitions include ‘Out to the Waste’ at the Live Art event for Grizedale Live, RAF Spadeadam (2002), ‘Crafting Space’ at the Smart Project Space, Amsterdam (2002), the ‘Blue Streak Exhibition’ at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle (2003), and ‘Memory and Forgetting’ at Angel Row, Nottingham (2003/4).

Louise K Wilson has completed commissions and produced site-specific pieces in diverse spaces including museums, hospitals, industrial plants, and sculpture parks as well as galleries.

Placements and residencies have included an Artist-in-Research programme at The Science Museum, London, organised by the Institute of International Visual Arts in 1997, the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, USA, in 2001, a parabolic flight from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Facility, Moscow, enabled by Arts Catalyst in 2001 and ‘Arena’ at Baltic/Samling Foundation, Newcastle / Gateshead in 2002/2003.

Shows/screenings curated by Wilson include an exhibition focussing on the human perception of wild birds: ‘Flock’ at Spacex Gallery in Exeter, and touring (2003), and ‘Flock on Film’ at Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (2003).

As a visiting Lecturer, Wilson has taught at different Universities and Art Colleges in the UK, and also in San Sebastian, Spain, in Washington DC, USA, and in Ontario, Canada. She has given talks and participated in panel discussions around the world, among which the following are ‘Space’ related: ‘The Soul in the Cosmos’ at Herstmonceux Castle and Hertsmonceux Observatory, Sussex (10.1998); ‘Space Camp’ at Regina Public Library, Regina, Canada (Winter 2000); ‘Gagarin 12th April 1961’ at Dundee Contemporary Arts (2001); ‘Artists and Cosmonauts’ at Sadlers Wells, London (03.2002) and ‘ArtSci2002: new dimensions in collaboration’ at CUNY Graduate Center, NYC, USA (12.2002).

Texts by Louise K Wilson have been published in ‘A-N’ (London), ‘Angelaki’, ‘Touch and Contemporary Art, Public’ (Toronto), ‘CTHEORY: Electronic Review of Books’ (Montreal), ‘Electronic Culture’ (New York), ‘Parachute’, ‘Variant’, and in ‘Arts Monthly’.

She lives in London.

References

Collins Goodyear, Anne: “The Manipulation of Perception”, in: ‘Dreams in the Void; Post-Heroic Visions of Space’, exhibition brochure. Philadelphia, PA, USA: Temple Gallery / Old City & Tyler School of Art, 3.11.2000-13.01.2001.

Klein, Adrienne: “Into Focus”, in: ‘Into Focus / Art on Science’, exhibition catalogue. New York, USA: Mandeville Gallery (Union College), 20.08.-11.10.1998, pp.4-5.

Payne, Carol: ‘Interface / Encounters with New Technology’, exhibition brochure. Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, May 1998.

Smits, Alice: ‘Crafting Space’, SMART Papers. Amsterdam, NL: SMART Project Space, 1.6.-7.7.2002.

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