“I’d just returned from a wild camping trip on Dartmoor, walked into the flat in Bethnal Green, bent down to put the bags on the floor, then stood up into a barrage of internal sound”
Artist Victoria Coster is one of an estimated 5 million people in the UK to be living with the condition known as Tinnitus. Like many others to be diagnosed, there is no identifiable cause associated with her experience.
Coster’s three month residency with Free Space Project sees the culmination of a body of work developed as a result of her time at Kentish Town Medical Centre. Arising from the need to find a common language to relate her sudden shift in sound sense perception, Victoria devised a questionnaire for other tinnitus sufferers to respond to. Asking questions such as ‘If your Tinnitus were to be associated with an object, colour or form what would it be?, What does your tinnitus look like? and What sounds would you associate it with?’. Together with her own answers and along with the perceived ambience of sound within the building itself, the questionnaire became the basis of and has informed the outcome of the work produced.
Arrived at through an explorative and experimental process, rooted in the framework of a sculpture practice, Coster presents us with moving image, sound, objects, etching, screen prints and drawing. The physical work presented in Free Space Project gallery is accompanied by work made available on Vimeo and Soundcloud. Digital platforms specifically used to highlight aspects of collection in the work, specifically PHANTOM and Sounds Like, where both of these pieces use footage and sound collected from, and then so returned to the internet.
The works viewed in part could be considered as an extended enquiry into the nature of Self in relation to the constant shifting of sense perception. Where in the case of tinnitus it is the heightened sense of perceived sound within the auditory system. The constant and uninterrupted addition of daily noise as an internal veil, has forced Coster to not only look beyond sound to find an internal place of quiet but has also prompted the question ‘What is silence, where does it reside?’
The Practicalities of Endings !
The practical aspect of this particular ending is in consolidating the work created through the residency … the stepping back to objectify … a moment to reflect upon and look at the fragments as a whole … Sound, Video, Drawing, Sculpture, Screen-prints and Etching, this is the form the work has taken … resolved and un-resolved, all at different stages of development … and all will somehow find a way into the up-coming exhibition … the plan is to have work available across platforms … soundcloud and vimeo details to follow at a later date …
Coming to close … with more In-Tension
To arrive at the beginning of something at the end of the residency is an exciting place to be. A personal challenge I’ve faced during the time spent in residency has been in the translation of ideas. How to combine the various two dimensional and three dimensional elements of my practice and then present them as a coherent body of work at the end.
The Freespace Project is situated within Kentish Town Health Centre, a building designed by architect Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and one that was nominated for The Sterling Prize in 2009. The project itself was set up in 2010 and is an arts and well-being charity that provides arts activities, therapies, exhibitions and residencies across two NHS sites. The AIR scheme is open to artists from all backgrounds and provides the opportunity for artists to explore ideas around health and wellness in a clinical setting. The opportunity for me has enabled me to immerse both into Tinnitus as a theme and into a deeper understanding of Tinnitus as a personal daily experience. I’ve worked both on and off site to develop and make work but even when off site and responding to answers form the questionnaire, the space of the building, the light, its sound, its ambience in general has influenced and informed decisions I’ve made.
So … as the residency is coming to a close I’m starting to pull the strands together, I’m looking forward to seeing how things work within the project gallery space … and beyond that the experience will no doubt continue to influence the direction of my work …
In – Tension
Really coming close to the end of the residency – have been working off site to pull things together, translating work into different mediums, finishing video and sound projects … organising … collating … planning … and making a mess in the print room !
Drawing sound / Pulsating
On week one I took a roll of paper into the residency, I don’t know how long it is because I’ve had the roll for some time ! But I’m into week ten and I’m still drawing, a continuous sound drawing, responding both to the internal and the external, keeping in mind words I use to describe Tinnitus and words others use to describe it … Drawing was the first step into the project before the residency began … the question ‘What does this sound look like’?
‘Where you are – the place we occupy, however briefly – has everything to do with what and who we are (and finally, that we are).’ – E. S Casey
I can’t believe I’m in week five of the residency, time is running so fast … where am I ! I’m dividing myself between several places at once, or rather immersing myself in several locations at once, immediately, now, this is not brief, but fully felt, fully experienced, though in a greater context it is but a moment, fleeting and fast … today I struggle to hear my recording, T is loud, even with the headphones on … I keep perspective, it is an experience but it isn’t who I am.
Acknowledging the bodies limitations / Loop !
Pushing oneself to the point of collapse isn’t conducive to a restful nervous system, there has to be a space, a time, an acknowledgement that stillness is required … one of the problems with the experience of Tinnitus is that down time is frequently interfered with, if the sound is consistent and loud even sleeping may not offer a period of rest … quietness and relaxation has to be found or experienced in new ways, a further shift in perspective has to take place and a deeper enquiry into who one is has to unfold … living with any condition on a long term basis means that there has to be a re-evaluation of self, self in relation to environment and other alters … at least this is my own personal experience of ‘T’.