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In The Open | John Bowers, Alan Smith & Louise K Wilson

John Bowers has a varied academic background having made contributions to research in psychology, sociology, computer science, and art and design. He is also a sound and inter-media artist who works with modular synthesisers, home-brew electronics, and reconstructions of antique image and sound-making devices, alongside contemporary digital technology. He makes performance environments which combine sound, image and gesture at a fundamental material level. He has performed at festivals including the collateral programme of the Venice Biennale, Piksel Bergen, Electropixel Nantes, BEAM Uxbridge and Spill Ipswich, and toured with the Rambert Dance Company performing David Tudor’s music to Merce Cunningham’s Rainforest. He contributed to the design of The Prayer Companion - a piece exhibited twice at the Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and acquired for their permanent collection. Amongst many musical collaborations, he works with Sten-Olof Hellström, Tim Shaw and in the noise drone band Tonesucker. John Bowers works in Culture Lab and Fine Art, Newcastle University, where he helps coordinate research on Digital Cultures.

Alan Smith operates as a participant/observer; playing with conventional understandings of interpretive and perceived realities. Creating live events, performance and audio/video installations that use appropriated texts and sound which subtly shift the security of apparent normality. In an on-going series, ‘Parameter’, he established conditions for people to share experiences. Participants had to follow rules; no speaking, no smart phones, no reading, no writing, no cameras or sound recording devices. The rules were set to correspond to a venues physical attributes and social function. ‘Parameter 1’ seven people 24hrs in a disused mine, ‘Parameter 2’ 14 people 8hrs in a pub, ‘Parameter 3’ 24hrs 9 people in a hotel room. Most recently he produced Chthonoic 72 hours underground in a disused lead mine. His practice merges with his curatorial role at Allenheads Contemporary arts creating projects such as As Above So Below, 95% and Base elements. More information here.

Louise K Wilson is a visual artist who makes installations, soundworks and videos. She has exhibited widely in North America and Europe. Recent exhibitions include Thackray Uncovered (Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds); Submerged: Silent Service (Ohrenhoch, Berlin, 2015); Dukes Wood, Nottingham (2013); Topophobia (Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London; Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool and Spacex Gallery, Exeter, 2012); SOUNDWORKS (ICA, London, 2012) and Re-sounding Falkland (made with David Chapman for the Falkland Estate, Scotland, 2010). In 2006 she was awarded a NESTA Fellowship. Her published writing includes an interview with Paul Virilio (CTHEORY, 1994) and book chapters for 'A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War' (Left Coast Press, 2007), 'Contemporary Archaeologies: Excavating Now' (Peter Lang, 2009) and ‘In the Ruins of the Cold War Bunker: Affect, Materiality and Meaning Making’ (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017) amongst others. She is a lecturer in Art and Design at the University of Leeds. For more information see:

Chthonic (2017)

In April 2017, three artists and one engineer spent three days and three nights underground in a disused lead mine in Cumbria for a project entitled Chthonic: Below Earth Day. They navigated through the tunnels of Smallcleugh Mine (in Nenthead, North Pennines), and settled into the vast cavern known as the Ballroom. This space, cut out of solid limestone by lead miners, takes its name from an event that that took place over a hundred years ago when around 30 local people – reputedly Freemasons - travelled into the mine for a village dinner party and dance.

The four were challenged with existing in the extreme subterranean environment for 72 hours - with an audience journeying in to meet them on the third day.  Chthonic combines field recordings, photographs and material traces (such as the canvas sheets defining each of the four sleeping areas) to explore ideas of documentation and reconstruction.