Hostings 8 – Ghost-makers I

Hostings 8: Presence – Ghost-makers
Hostings 8 and 9 demonstrated the uses of audio-visual technology, visual and performance art in the creative ghost-making in the work of visual artists – the dual absent and present nature of these mediums.

Michelle Hannah (artist): BLACK BLOC
Derek Hampson (academic/ artist): Ghosts – metaphors of the irrational
Brendan Walker (thrill engineer): The Experiment LIVE

September 19th, 6.30pm – 9.00pm, 2012

Programme for Hostings 8: Ghost-makers 1

Michelle Hannah: BLACK BLOC
BLACK BLOC –  is a performance where the fissure between the intention and the perceived conveys moral and metaphysical ambiguity through speaker and voice. The accompanying soundscape that gradually builds, are radio emissions taken from a point offset from Saturn that have been translated into soundwaves. The transcendental and meditative experience at the core of this ‘dark matter’ noise is disrupted by the disturbing presence of a singular unsexed voice.
This performance is related to the video: I AM THE SUN AT NIGHT. Screened at London Art Fair 2011 with GHost.
Born in Alexandria, Scotland in the early 1980s, based in Glasgow and a graduate of the MFA Program at Glasgow School of Art. Michelle Hannah has exhibited and performed across Europe; Berlin, Glasgow, Belfast, Newcastle, Gotland, Dresden, Brighton, Vetlanda, Edinburgh, Toulouse, Leipzig, London..

Derek Hampson: Ghosts – metaphors of the irrational
Ghosts is a series of paintings depicting members of the English working class as spectral entities, engaged in everyday activities of walking, talking, shopping and rioting.
The impetus to represent this particular social group as ghosts came from a desire to make artworks that captured the character of the riots that broke out across England in 2011.
The works depict the rioters as having ghostlike forms and qualities; they come into view fleetingly, emerging from darkness into light, disturbing the fabric of society, before being reabsorbed back into the shadows. As ghosts they create an irresistible sense of threat and disorder, bringing an alternative, uncertain reality momentarily into being.
As is usual when the irrational shows itself, observers of these civic disturbances were provoked into a frenzy of rationalization, i.e. driven to offer explanations. The works in this series go beyond rational definition, the understanding of the subjects as ghost-like is poetic rather than logical, created by joining images of the working class to the world of the supernatural. As such the artworks engage with their subjects metaphorically.
My aim in the presentation will be to offer an analysis of the foregoing from within the theory of rhetoric as developed by the Italian philosopher Ernesto Grassi (1902 – 1991) central to which is the role of metaphor.
Rhetoric, the speech that acts upon emotion, does not offer logical concepts to prove the truth of its assertions, instead it employs metaphor to make what is hidden both visible and significant to others.
Metaphor in making the invisible visible, demonstrates the capacity to be a primary tool in the manifestation of the ghostly.
I am an artist, writer and lecturer; Course Leader, School of Fine Art, University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury, UK. I am currently researching connections between speech and the visual, informed by readings in phenomenology, particularly Martin Heidegger. My work has in the past explored some of painting’s more neglected forms, such as ceiling painting, in parallel with developing other modes and mediums of expression. Commissioned works include The Loves of the Plants, for the University of Nottingham, a painting based upon the Enlightenment polymath Erasmus Darwin’s epic poem of the same name. I was lead researcher on Chat Moss, an AHRC funded research into the representation of landscape, with the University of Nottingham’s School of Geography. In 2008 I published Structures of Perception – the phenomenology of looking in ‘Geographic Visualization – concepts, tools and applications’, pub. Wiley. In 2010 I curated Hearing Bertolt Brecht for the British Art Show fringe.

Brendan Walker: The Experiment LIVE
31st October 2011: “For one night only, Thrill Laboratory present an experiment like no other: real scientists, amateur paranormal investigators, and the live exploration of a haunted building. University researchers have developed cutting-edge medical technology to monitor the effect of paranormal beliefs on the bodies and minds of those susceptible. Dr Brendan Dare brings to you the unpredictable results of their scientific research from the remote basement of a reputed Broad Street haunting. The Experiment will be captured by a film crew and transmitted real-time to a live cinema audience”
Reason for manifestation: Creating a taster for reality horror TV series. Technical requirements of transmitting live AV and bio data to the cinema, via hardwired link-up, required finding a local haunted site. There were none. A haunting was created to provide a strong context to underpin the experience of investigators and audience. The resulting ghost, ‘The Sobbing Boy of Lee Rosy’s Tea Shop’, was manifested and validated in several ways:
Reports: Newspaper clippings were fabricated featuring a distressing drug-related death in 1986, and a light-hearted story of flying teacups in 2006.
Scientific Interest: A fictitious University research group portrayed academic interest in the ghost. Their story evolved through a private blog, which was leaked to the public
Media: BBC News ran a genuine story about “Nottingham’s most notorious ghost”. The Sobbing Boy appeared in the National Paranormal Database.
Entertainment: An artist’s impression of The Sobbing Boy appeared in an advertisement for The Experiment.
Live Readings: Investigators were given tools to report changes in environmental conditions, along with unexplained sensations, feelings, and physical phenomena – some of which were manipulated.
Bio Data: The most unusual manifestation of the ghost was through its possession of medical monitoring equipment during the séance, which gave the ghost recognisable human qualities.
Credits: The Experiment LIVE was written, produced, directed and presented by Brendan Walker, and supported by the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute.

Brendan Walker is often described as “the world’s only Thrill Engineer”. He originally trained as a military aeronautical engineer, before researching and teaching in Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art. Brendan now runs Aerial – a design practice specialising in the creation of tailored emotional experience, with clients such as Nissan, The Science Museum, Merlin Entertainment, and Disneyland Paris. Brendan is also a Senior Research Fellow in the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham, a Professor in Creative Industries at Middlesex University, and a presenter on Channel 4.