In the Face of Death

In The Face of Death / The Art of Dying.
ANTI International Contemporary Art Festival
Kuopio, Finland.
2019


In The Face of Death
Augsburg, Germany & Falmouth, UK
2015/16




 
In The Face of Death / The Art of Dying.
30 Memento Mori vinyl images were placed in shop windows around the city centre of Kuopio – reminding us to live life well – to contemplate our relationship with death and what might happen to us, when the one inevitable event we plan for the least comes to visit?

In The Face of Death
Is a graphic system of symbols, creating meaningful and applied visual language. Initially exploring four immortality narratives as a vehicle to establish systems; Elixir; staying alive, life extension stories. Resurrection; life, death and rebirth, science, faith and fiction. Soul; the non-material part of the body that is ‘the real me’, and Legacy; cultural, genetic and meme. Opening windows for meaningful conversation, communication and connection with those around us that we love. To consider our life & death narratives and our own personal belief systems.


The 18th edition of ANTI – Contemporary Art Festival took place between 10th and 15th September 2019. Internationally celebrated, award-winning artists from around the world presented their projects in Kuopio, Finland.
The theme and focus for the 18th edition of ANTI – Contemporary Art Festival was Death. The programme traces various iterations of death in an attempt to open-up thinking around our relationship to it and to the many sets of phenomena that surround it. Ideas die, eras end, materials become obsolete, things break, technology supersedes itself, places are abandoned, the natural world is destroyed, social and political ideals are overthrown, and plant, animal and human life is finite.


In The Face of Death / The Art of Dying.
ANTI International Contemporary Art Festival
Kuopio, Finland.

http://antifestival.com
#MOTH_ANTI




In The Face of Death In a collaborative project between Falmouth University and Augsburg University of Applied Sciences, entitled In the face of death communication students were asked to design a graphic system of symbols, creating meaningful and applied visual language to print, artifacts, digital and social media platforms. It focused on ideas and beliefs at the end of life, (the moment at which we die) and the consequences of that. The project used four immortality narratives as a vehicle to establish systems; Elixir; staying alive, life extension stories. Resurrection; life, death and rebirth, science, faith and fiction. Soul; the non-material part of the body that is ‘the real me’, and Legacy; cultural, genetic and meme.









An Extra place at the Table

How food and funeral feasting can positively impact and disseminate creative exchange around mourning, bereavement and end of life choices?

An Extra Place at the Table
/ 01. Epitaph. Anna Kiernan
/ 02. Publication. ‘Dining with the Dead’. Dr Elsa Richardson
/ 03. Event. Experience Design at the End of Life. Clare Hearn
/ A dining event, with a curated menu to revive and disseminate information referencing funeral foods and feasting rites from social, historical, cultural and ‘magical’ (folklore) perspectives. Reclaiming a personal relationship and greater understanding with the people and place in which we live, work and die together.



 
AN EXTRA PLACE AT THE TABLE, examines how through food and funeral feasting rituals, the bereaved can be comforted in the knowledge that this life defining moment, which we typically prepare for the least, can feel purposeful and positive, empowering us to take control and create the best and most personal ‘goodbye’ for loved ones. Loss needs to be mourned, acceptance of sadness is a natural and necessary part of a maturing process, reducing stress, anxiety and depression in the surviving relatives.

This forms the first stage of a bigger research project which aims to create dining events, with curated menus to revive and disseminate information referencing funeral foods and feasting rites from social, historical, cultural and ‘magical’ (folklore) perspectives. Reclaiming a personal relationship and greater understanding with the people and place in which we live, work and die together. Prompted by discussions around the food narratives, which are presented and eaten, along with questions, readings, sound/music/moving image and dining artefacts.

Food and feasting is important at every event and milestone in life; preparing food and the act of sitting and eating together can help to heal, resolve, share and shape experience. It can nourish us emotionally and physically, it can be symbolic, evoke memory, draw on historical, cultural and traditional sources, to help us find meaning and come to terms with life and death events. As a means of communication, food expresses our social relationships, it acts as messenger, encoded with meanings and narratives. Food can offer us a sense of identity and belonging, kinship and ritualistic comfort. It can evoke collective memory and experience, the very act of eating gives affirmation of life itself.

This project took place over a period of four weeks working collaboratively with 20 second year undergraduate students. There were three parts to the brief and at each stage of the project we worked alongside a writer, cultural historian and an experience designer.

01. Epitaph. Anna Kiernan a writer and editor who divides her time between academic life and consultancy work for agencies within the creative and cultural industries. At the time Anna was a Senior Lecturer in the School of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University.

02. Publication. Dr Elsa Richardson who currently holds a Chancellor’s Fellowship in the History of Health and Wellbeing at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) at the University of Strathclyde. Working at the intersection between the medical and cultural history, her research considers the relation of heterodox practices, beliefs and movements to mainstream society and culture, with particular focus on the interaction between medicine and the imagination, science and the supernatural, psychology and the occult. Victorian spiritualist movement. It looks at consumption within the seance, by the living and the dead, as a way of thinking about death/corporeality/spirituality/domesticity.

03. Event. Clare Hearn is Senior Lecturer in Business and Experience Design. She leads on MA Creative Events Management, a new digital international postgraduate programme, and teaches on BA(Hons) Creative Events Management.





Good Grief

Falmouth, UK
2018
Collaborators: Charlotte Heal | Graphic Designer and Art Director.
Michael Petry | Artist, author, and Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) London.



 
Good Grief investigated the aesthetics of mortality through the conventions of Still Life: Collections, Classification & Curation, and Ars Moriendi: The Art of Dying (well) & Magical Thinking.

How in a largely secular society can we be better equipped to discuss and facilitate bereavement? To understand that the expression of grief and mourning is an essential process to help to heal and begin to seek personal resolution. As communication designers, how can we use ‘our magical thinking’ through innovation and collaboration, to create products, services, brands and interventions to change behaviour and interrupt conventions.

Project_01. Collections, Classification & Curation
Start a Collection, archive & curate 20 objects in 2 days.

Project_02. A Still Life in 100 Objects
In collaboration with Michael Petry, we examined the aesthetics of the Still Life tradition and explored identity and legacy through collections, classification & curation of objects. We explored how objects have histories that shape us in particular ways and how during stages of our lives we continue to search for objects that we can experience as both within and outside the self.

Project_03. Ars Moriendi: The Art of Dying & Magical Thinking
Working with Charlotte Heal, we examined the potential benefits of engaging with the mourning process to externalize grief and to aid transition through bereavement. How design can create opportunities: services, products, platforms to re-consider conventions and future think how mourning, in (a largely secular) contemporary










Four Deadlines & A Dinner

Falmouth, UK
2017

Ben James, Jotta Studio UX Designer 
Anna Kiernan, Senior Lecturer in Writing
Dr Mark Taubert Clinical Director/Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff.



 

Four Deadlines & a Dinner is a MOTH collaborative practice project working with stage 2 Graphic Design students at Falmouth University and external partners from medicine, palliative care, writing, design for the live environment and VR. During this four week period students worked across a range of death & design projects, they discussed and delivered ideas and potential solutions relating to end of life experiences.

Communication design makes sense of complex information, using systems and hierarchy to create meaningful solutions to problems and questions. Established design process underpins and documents that journey. Working with Dr Mark Taubert we explored how visual communication designers and medics could benefit from sharing knowledge and skills to impact on policy and practice with regard to end of life matters, in particular with patients with life limiting illness and their choices regarding DNACPR.

In collaboration with Ben James, Creative Director at Jotta Design and Anna Kiernan a Senior Lecturer in Writing, we considered our own personal eulogies and innovative ways in which to store our digital selves as either a digital legacy or digital archive beyond our physical life.

During this four week intensive module we hosted a  Death Over Dinner party, where guests were invited to eat and engage in meaningful conversations and questions about the end-of-life:

‘Do you think it’s important to think about death? or is it just a waste of living time?’

‘What do you believe happens when we die? The soul remains? Resurrection? We cease to be - nothingness?’

‘Have you ever had a conversation with someone about what they might want at the end of their life? Would you feel comfortable with this and be able to initiate a conversation of this sort?’

The project also included a tour of artist’s graves at Falmouth Cemetery run by Glyn Winchester from Falmouth Art Gallery.









Stuff

Falmouth, UK
2016-18
Moth Design & Death + The Studio Society


 
STUFF
Moth Design & Death + The Studio Society

Objects have history and each one shapes us in particular ways. Objects that we have as children, the stuffed penguin, silk from the blanket are all destined to be abandoned. Yet they leave traces that will mark the rest of our lives. They specifically influence how we can develop a capacity for happiness, an aesthetic experience and creative play. They demonstrate to us as children that objects in the ‘eternal’ world can be loved. D.W. Winnicott (an English paediatrician and psychoanalyst who was especially influential in the field of object relations theory) believed that during stages of our lives we continue to search for objects we can experience as both within and outside the self.

The use of transition objects continues through our lives as we imbue objects with meaning and memories that are associated with other ideas, places and people. Photographs, mementos and other memorabilia are used to remember good times and friends. Virtually all possessions have a value in creating the self. What is ‘mine’ is that with which I have a defining relationship, that not only defines the object but also defines me. Possessions can vary in the degree to which they have this effect and ‘treasured possessions’ have a far more significant effect on the ego if they are lost.

Winnicott, D. (1953). Transitional objects and transitional phenomena


All staff from the School of Communication Design were invited to exhibit their personal collection of STUFF. This collection could be one which has been added to over time, bequeathed to them, multiples of objects accrued as a result of habitual buying, a chance encounter at a boot fair. Moth: design & death has been interested in working with staff and students instigating projects which encourage enquiry using objects and artefacts as triggers for hidden memory, micro/macro, parts and whole, constructing and de-constructing, a passion for ‘rejects’ and fragments. This projects extends into The Studio Society which seeks to promote opportunities for the community of the Graphic Design course to share, comment and contribute to the course beyond the curriculum.
Staff shared some of their collections, giving an insight as to why they have this STUFF and what it means to them.