Differentiation - Solitude (detail)
FMC SALA Artist Residency 2015
John Blines is an emerging multi-disciplinary artist who graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art and Design from the Adelaide College of the Arts in 2013. In 2014, he was selected to exhibit in the National Graduate Show, Hatched, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) and in the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition in Adelaide. His eclectic practice encompasses sculpture, installation, work on paper and photography.
John was selected as the inaugural FMC SALA Artist-in-Residency and has been based at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) since July 2015. During his residency, John has been working with patients on The Book Art Project while considering What does cancer feel like?, and with clinicians and researchers to explore What does cancer look like?.
This exhibition is the culmination of the residency: outcomes from his personal interactions with patients within the Flinders Infusion Suite (FIS) and from his immersion within the FCIC research environment. It builds upon his personal cancer narrative and is a precursor to further research into cancer, genomics and identity, while continuing to explore the benefits of arts in health on the wellbeing of patients.
The Book Art Project
A cancer infusion suite is a unique place. It is impossible to verbalise that uniqueness: it simply needs to be experienced. To be welcomed into, and to share in the experience of, this special place has been a privilege.
The Book Art Project was open to all possibilities and the outcomes included making journals (of various types) for patients and working with patients on their own projects.
When not working with patients, I was developing ideas for possible book art projects and ways of engaging with patients. One such project idea was a ‘Doodling 101’ zine, which became the catalyst for a patient to request a ‘Drawing 101’ version. Another project that began as ‘playing with an idea’, and is now an established process within my practice, is using redaction as a means of modifying an existing book or text.
Slipping the Mind into Neutral
Upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, the mind becomes overloaded by the sheer quantum of information with which it is bombarded: it cannot rest.
An important functional requirement of my art practice is the ability, when necessary, to remove or minimise as far as possible the need for decision-making and conscious thought from the activity of making. The impetus is the necessity to disengage the mind from a state of overload; to give it space for respite. I attempt to satisfy this need and to achieve this state via various process methodologies.
The fundamental premise of Doodling 101 (other than to confront the all too frequent statement “I can’t draw”) was to provide drawing instructions that removed the need for thinking and minimised decision-making: draw a line and then continue by adding more lines. The intent is not to think about where the next line goes but just draw: errors don’t exist. Further, if thinking enters the process, accept the thought and continue with the process. Success occurs when the mind ‘slips into neutral’ and is independent of an objective material outcome.
The rudimentary doodles produced while developing the Doodling 101 kit were utilised as raw material input into a series of trace monotypes and a series of screenprint monotypes: two well-established printmaking processes utilised within my practice that assist in minimising thought and decision-making from the creative process.
The redactions began as a book art project, a means of modifying an existing book or text to produce an outcome. However, I quickly discovered that it is a process that stimulates alternate and challenging thought processes (possibly because it involves the elimination of information) … and that I have become somewhat addicted.
While exploring the possibilities of this idea, I invited various people, including the research team and the arts in health members, to participate by redacting a photocopied page from the book I was redacting, culminating in the displayed results.
Untitled (Me and It)
This is a series of redacted texts sourced from a histology textbook c1954. The series explores identity: the boundary, both physical and psychological, between the self (me) and it (cancer).
“Cancer changes you... sometimes your friends like the old you!” FIS cancer patient 2015
This series of work explores the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Cancer permanently changes you: you are now other ... unknown.
While these works can be interpreted as self-portraits, they are intended as simply portraits of a patient.
Leather ‘Pocket’ Journal
Having failed to deliver on a patient brief for a “small book that I can carry around” as it was considered to be “too good to carry around and I don’t want to damage it”... this is the prototype for the heavy-duty version.
The mind maps are visual representations that present some of the information supporting my work, providing clues to layering within the work, as well as illustrating possible future directions.