‘Above and Beyond’ – Collaborative artists’ bookwork by NTU’s Emma Cocker and SHU’s Rose Butler

Stills from Rose Butler's 'Come and Go'

Above and Beyond is a dialogue between artist Rose Butler and writer-artist Emma Cocker reflecting on the interplay between surveillance and resistance; how technologies and techniques of capture might be subverted, transformed into experimental tactics of protest and dissent. The publication was developed through a process of conversation between Butler and Cocker taking place over a number of years (2015—2018), a period marked by substantial political shifts and humanitarian crisis, an unprecedented increase in surveillance and security control.

This collaborative artists’ publication is conceived in response to  Come and Goa dual-screen, interactive artwork taking Edison’s 1920s films of the Serpentine Dance as its reference, with the dance phrases filmed from above and on high speed camera (slow motion). The dance phrases choreographed by Alexander Whitley references drone technology, states of limbo, control and resistance. The dancer shapes, animates and makes airborne a length of white silk as she moves within the frame. The marks, scribes and scuffs on the floor alongside the shapes and creases of the material point towards classical paintings. Each screen depicts a similar dance phrase, one plays forwards and one backwards, only occasionally does this become apparent. There are moments of synchronicity and times when the subject’s temporal coordinates are lost. This in addition to the ‘bird’s eye’ camera angle creates a non human-centred focus. The choreographic interpretation takes influence from flight, drones, states of limbo and invisibility.

Rose Butler is an artist, researcher and senior lecturer of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University, she works with video, photography, sound, animation and installation. She is a full-time Doctoral Researcher, registered in C3RI and sponsored by the SHU Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship Scheme. She is also a board member of Bloc Projects and a freelance artist mentor. Find out more about Rose’s work here.

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