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In The Open | James Quinn & Judith Stewart

James Quinn & Judith Stewart

Both of us work with film and make works from specific rural landscapes. These films, in the form of single screen and/or installations, are underpinned by environmental concerns and, in Stewart’s work, are often accompanied by texts that consider cultural responses to place and space. Quinn has recently worked with the cultural institution Joya: art + ecología to produce works that address the threatened landscape in rural Andalucía.

Our collaboration emerges from the place of our practice and research in our respective roles of Postgraduate Research Supervisor/Student. A 3-way collaborative text for Constellation, an exhibition involving postgraduate staff and alumni from Norwich University of the Arts and Piet Zwart Institute (2017), led to an acknowledgement of the role of dialogue arising from our individual practices. From this we have become interested in exploring the ways that the interplay between our visual and written practices might generate alternative connections. It is also a way of challenging this traditional academic hierarchical relationship.

Our initial thought was to take two separate filmed journeys and force them to occupy the same space. This stage took an exciting, speculative shape: layering videos, and finding subtle gestures to signal their respective identities.

The shared critiques and conversations as we mused over the shifting visual qualities of the works served as catalyst for a sudden realisation. Filming separately, only to bring the visual elements of the work together within the context of an editing suite felt somehow sterile: representing neither our collaborative process nor our vision for the project. A sense of the natural dialogue that was directing and shaping the project was missing. We found ourselves agreeing that filming our car journeys together might best serve as a site to coalesce our respective viewpoints and to situate our ongoing dialogue, even the ephemeral or whimsical, (our Deleuzian “becomings”) as a key component in the work.