James Charlton

Residency: Aspirus 04

27  June – 16 July 2013


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The recent work of James Charlton (New Zealand) explores breath as an actuator of form. Breath is treated as an intermodal “gesture” which breaches corporal boundaries. His interest in the intimacy and communality of breathing draws on aspects of Phenomenology and Information Realism to propose an inter-subjective practice, within which the audience is implicated as an agent in a network with digital matter.

During his residency James worked on the development of a networked breathing project that allows remote participants to share digital breath. The proposed (final) outcome is a series of geographically distributed custom-built “breathing booths” located in public spaces. Through this “breath-net”, participants digitally exchange and share breath by inflating (using breath collecting apparatus) a non-corporal lung like visualization (represented as a digital image) as a result of their shared agency.

The breath-net will be made using Arduino and custom designed 3D printed transcoders that measure exhalent volume and send user data to a central server that drives the non-corporal visualization. The design of the physical booths will be developed in response to selected public locations, integrating where possible with existing structures such as parking meters and phone booths.

While a core part of Charlton’s practice is individual, it is paralleled by an ongoing interdisciplinary collaborative practice with other artists, engineers and computer scientists. While in Manchester he took the opportunity to make connections with non-artists working around the same practices as himself, and hopes to develop those relationships within specific project structures related to his and his potential collaborators research.