A Ghostly Life (2019)

Minke Nouwens

Sponsor: V2_Lab, Host: Points Center for Contemporary Art

A Ghostly Life is a snap-shot presentation of an ongoing research project into materials and their voices. This project is a practice-based experimentation to discover a way whereby the artist can engage with materials in writing, without speaking about materials and objects as passive or inert matter – as is predominantly the case in materials research – but to let them speak for themselves, to imagine a voice with them.

A Ghostly Life was inspired by computer studies and science-fiction narratives, and specifically the concept of Artificial Intelligence and Robots as embodiments of non-human entities with voices, and how we imagine these voices sound, how we hear them, and whether or not we even accept or listen to them. How would a material, object, or any other kind of non-human entity have to speak for us to hear it? Do we consider it an entity with a voice if we – as humans – cannot hear it (even if other non-humans can)? When is something or someone “speaking” or “using a voice”? What happens after that something or someone has spoken? Following this line of questioning during her residency, the artist engaged with the material of glass, and conducted practice-based research at a local glass factory in Kunshan as well as ethnographic fieldwork in the water town of Jinxi. The title – a ghostly life – refers to the unexpected outcomes when random segments – like code, oxygen bubbles in glass, or the dance of reflected coloured lights – bond together beyond human control or predetermined intention, which could be understood as one interpretation of a material that is speaking.

Co-sponsored by Points Center for Contemporary Art.

This project was developed during a residency as part of a Summer Sessions residency at V2_.