August 14 - 28, 2019
Jess, I wonder if you might try something for me: imagine the shape of a soft outline traced around your body. A puddle or body-shaped wobble. Now zoom in and imagine just the shape of the line that stretches from the tip of your finger into the soft webbed tissue in between and back out again. For me, thinking about something in detail always seems to mean forgetting something else. Working on part of a painting inevitably means forgetting other parts and losing a sense of the overall narrative or composition. To be present, really present, while working on something can mean losing context. Proprioception is defined as a sense of self relative to the position of the body. A feeling about the position of the body based on a system of communication between the brain and sensory receptors using information derived from muscles, tendons and joints.
What I think about is an exercise I did in school -- maybe in Kindergarten or first grade, maybe you also know it? The assignment was to break into small groups and each student would take turns laying on a life-sized piece of paper while their classmate traces around them. With this life-sized tracing, we would each colour in the clothes and features of ourselves once the outline was complete. The resulting fingers on the hands of these cartoons were glove-like and bloated from the hasty inept tracing. Hair also didn't really translate, and baggy sweatshirts only yielded disappointing blobs on paper. I remember laying on my back and being traced was somehow so exciting, like it would reveal something about my true self that nobody had seen before. Being afterward confronted with the amateurish outline never aligned with what I imagined it would be, or who I imagined I really was.
The first medical x-ray (taken by German scientist Wilhelm Röntgenof) shows a cropped, blurry palm with tube-shapes that surround the clear outline of four finger bones interrupted by a dense rounded shape, likely a wedding ring above the first knuckle of the index finger. The image shows a moment outside of linear narrative where the hand can be at once, inside and outside, structure and form.
In airport security scans, porous images of bodies and objects merge inside and outside. The x-ray process methodically looks inside luggage and underneath clothing, reflecting back a coded system where colour is used to tell a story outside of representation, where orange indicates organic materials like paper and food; metals and glass are blue or green.
Parts of the text are closely informed by conversations with dance artist Shelby Wright. Sound recording by Katie Lyle and Shelby Wright, with technical assistance from Angela Shackel.
Katie Lyle works in painting, drawing and performance. Selected solo and two person shows include Projet Pangee, Montreal; and Erin Stump Projects, Daniel Faria and The Loon in Toronto. Selected group exhibitions include: Mother Culture in Toronto; Oakville Galleries; 67 Steps, Los Angeles; Model Project Space, Vancouver and The Nanaimo Art Gallery. Selected performances with Shelby Wright include Carl Louie, SummerWorks Festival and Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto; aceartinc. in Winnipeg and Interplay Festival in Vancouver. Lyle lives in Toronto and is represented by Erin Stump Projects.
Katie Lyle would like to acknowledge funding support for this project from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.