Presenting artist Chloe Brenan’s film Different Dusts (2021) as part of our ongoing online Screening Series.
Chloe Brenan’s work captures the quiet poetic moments of daily life; the shadows cast by a hand, the splash of a river swim and the passing of a cloud. Chloe’s approach is spurred by scientific enquiry and spreads across disciplines, this work in particular conservation and meteorology. However these beautiful scenes contribute to a wider conversation, humanity’s phenomenological position within the natural world in regard to climate change and the biodiversity crisis.
Different Dusts is a non-narrative, experimental Super 8mm film and sound work. Gestural hands play the invisible cords of a theremin (an electronic airborne musical instrument) and exemplifies the sensitivity of the body in exploring intuition and tacit knowledge. The theremin is a motif that signals the liveness of touch beyond physical contact and acts as a sensor for closeness that cannot be gauged by human perception alone.
The title of this work is borrowed from the novel A Time in Rome by Elizabeth Bowen and conceptualises the corporeal experience of knowing a place:
The knowledge of Rome must be physical, sweated into the system, worked up into the brain through the thinning shoe-leather. Substantiality comes through touch and smell, and taste, the tastes of different dusts.
When it comes to knowing, the senses are more honest than the intelligence. Nothing is more real than the first wall you lean up against sobbing with exhaustion. […] Seeing is pleasure, but not knowledge.
To calculate the energy of gas, vapour or mist an average must be estimated – there are millions of molecules, numbers too large to comprehend. Yet our bodies automatically react and hair follicles stand on end when there is a drop in temperature. Dots of lichen change in pigment and shape according to the toxins in the air and stone faces on churches begin to dissolve due to acid rain. These are different forms of knowledge that inform changes in climate and the intellectual, corporeal or expert knowledge are all validated measurements. However it is having an ability to attune oneself to these signals or a cognitive dissonance to them that can determine our responsiveness to climate change.