At the ‘From Macro to Micro and Back’ lab, we met Emma Fält, a visual artist in Kuopio, Finland. Emma works with drawing, installation – and performance art. We talked with her about the Bergen lab, its creative process and impacts, how this has inspired her work and her definition of a ‘Future DiverCitizen’.
• Future Diver Cities: What was the creative process of the lab? How did drone expert Piotr Pajchel contribute?
Emma Fält: During the lab we studied our ability to change perspective, create something together, and challenge each other’s thinking. We formed teams and learned to fly drones. At the end of the week we created a mind map, consisting of video, drawings, sketches and notes from what we experienced along the way. It all happened in a playful way.
Piotr Pajchel shared the the history, development and uses of drones with us. That was a good start for the more theoretical and philosophical discussions we had later on. He also helped us to learn better as we went on by choosing good methods, practices and keeping a good rhythm for the process to evolve. He trusted us and was supportive all the way.
• FDC: What was the results and the impacts of the BEK Lab?
E F: We were able to question, study and have discussions about new perspectives, about sharing and collaborating in our work. These themes are important topics to survey more when it comes to the future of arts, how it is funded, how new approaches are born and how to support art that is not about producing objects to sell but mere the creation of new thinking and sharing.
In my opinion, we made a very dynamic and fascinating group. We even found areas that we’d like to investigate further in a future collaboration or art project together.
• FDC: Could you tell us about your work as an artist? Has the lab led to new inspirations or ideas for your own projects?
E F: Definitely to new techniques. I do movement and sound based, large-scale ink-drawings and quite often I work on the floor. My practice is done together and alone. It has participatory and site-specific nature. For me, looking at footage from up above is good possibility to capture big scale drawings better. I have thought about it before and now it seems that it is a real possibility. Changing the perspective gives many new possibilities.
The lab also challenged me to consider how I interact in a group. Over the week, I saw more clearly the different roles we easily take and it’s made me think about what I need to work on and develop.
• FDC: What are the difficulties you encountered during the lab? How did you overcome them?
E F: It was generally a successful collaboration and not difficult to work together. As it was an exploration into new methods, very much open to trial and error, there were no high artistic expectations that you can sometimes have with artistics projects so I wasn’t nervous about the end result. I think it’s important to experience this “freedom” to experiment and play. On the other hand, maybe the most difficult thing was to forget the feeling that we had produce something.
There are often times when artistic practice can be filled with anxiety and fear, worrying about the future and art and the need to produce work. At the same time, we produce artwork too quickly to really show that we exist and live now as artists. This is not a very creative way of working but it can happen a lot, to artists, writers, creatives of all kinds.Idleness and joy are not to be forgotten. With the time and head space to experiment and work with each other, with no pressure to produce, to just exist in the moment, I think we all were able to listen to each other and that helped to avoid difficulties. It would be very interesting to see what happens when we as a group try to create something bigger!
• FDC: What will you take away from this experience? What is your best memory of the lab?
E F: I will definitely look into how to capture my drawing better. Also I want to remember the importance of freedom, taking time to relax and laugh when making art. As artists, this is something we often forget to do, when you work for yourself and take your work home with you. Even serious work can be done in a way that artist does not have to suffer and put pressure on themselves all the time.
Our precarious work puts us in many difficult positions where we see the suffering as something we just have to survive with. I don’t want it to happen; instead creativity needs time and relaxing. I think that the week was very well facilitated and that helped all to relax.
Best memories were:
1.First time flying a drone by myself over Bergen surrounding.
2.Meeting this magnificent group of artists head on in honest and critical conversations about life and art.
• FDC: What evokes the notion of ‘Future DiverCitizens’ to you?
E F: At first I am thinking about ‘Future DiverCitizens’ from the perspective of those on the edge, at the periphery. My childhood was in a little countryside village, I live in a small village even now and visiting areas outside of a busy city centre inspires me. The privacy feels different. In those more remote areas people often own the land they inhabit, they are still hidden and they are watched in different ways. Maybe they think they can hide from the world, but then, what happens in countries around the world, happens to all of us!
I am curious to see how the countryside changes and what happens to natural areas in the future. Who makes the decisions about our nature and territories? As Scandinavians we still have good natural resources that we need to take care of. This is everybody’s responsibility, not only the forest owners or farmers. If global industries can decide about the forest and water sources, what will happen?
For many, art is not easily accessible from these remote places. All audiences need art and culture and in the future I want to see art as part of remote towns and villages too. Not when it’s only brought there for a short time but when it is challenging and made collectively with people who live there.
Flying a drone made us think about the fact that we are very often being followed by cameras, satellites and companies.Where is the shelter and privacy of the future citizen? How decides where the cameras are pointing or where they are hidden?
FutureDiver Citizen makes me think about time too. Why do we have to hurry? Different species have different needs and rhythms. Our living environment should be constructed in a way that supports the various speeds of the living, and in turn this should help us to remember, acknowledge and take care of nature’s rhythms too.
Could an artist bring new ideas and dialogue between people who have power and those who haven’t? Diversity in nature we hope to see is as important as diversity in the cities.
The whole flora and fauna should be thought when we designing and thinking about our lived environments.
Visually speaking we should fight for our rights to see something else than logos; visually boring commercials and consuming centred city view and architecture. The same goes for the sound environment and lights not to mention our right not to be seen.
• FDC: What would be your wish for a future city to be more diverse?
EF: Trusting environment.
In the future I would like to see different age groups, races, universities and disciplines working together in an open way and not hierarchically. That needs portable, changeable and creative spaces, not centralized power with non-accessible and limited places for meetings.
Where are the places to sit, to be idle without the need to purchase? Where can we experience art without entering an art institution?
Sharing should happen, not only with devices or social media, but also with real physical contact. We should be able to decide about privacy and possibility, to live life peacefully without shame.
Institutions should not be the ones defining the value of a citizen. Our politics still favours living all in one place, where resources are limited to these certain places and values people by what they own and how much money they spend. We should invest our money and skills in education and brave environmental politics for the sake of the young and future generations!
Art can be a free and challenging meeting point, if supported and discussed openly. Bringing people together in this way, we can make big changes through small actions from everyone.