A side silhouette of a pregnant woman in front of a glitched landscape

Quickening (2018)

Quickening responds to the border between the Irish border, where I used toreside in Rassan, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Landscape images are obscured through digital manipulation, where not only the territories of North and South merge through the photographic form of the landscape, but the shifting pixels emphasize the slippage of place in the border region. Bodies manipulate these images and sound through a motion sensorin order to highlight the human presence of this region, which constitute more than national and political divisions, but are home to communities with a particular history that relate to the contested space of the border. The result is an ongoing stitching and unstitching of these landscapes, creating a dynamic visual and sonic experience where bodies and borders mingle.

The term quickening refers to the movements of fetus in early pregnancy. These sensations can only be experienced in the physical state of pregnancy: they are internal, haptic, and also phenomenological, making the pregnant woman the communicator of experience. Antenatal technologies, such as ultrasound, have surpassed reliance on a woman’s experience of quickening as indicating pregnancy. The notion functions as an apt metaphor for the border, which encompasses a phenomological quality that is experienced affectively and cannot be simply reduced to a line on a map. In terms of Brexit, politicans negotiate how to handle the border, while paying little, if any, attention to the experience of being at the border itself. Thus, the ramifications of Brexit is experienced through a quickening that is tied to remnants of the border’s past while the outcome of which has yet to be manifest (like the quickening of the early stages of pregnancy).

For writing about the work, please refer to:
EL Putnam: “Pregnant Pause: Technological Disruption and the Neganthropic Aesthetics of Landscape in Ireland’s Borderland” In: Aesthetics, Digital Studies and Bernard Stiegler. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2021. 
Soren Bro Pold: “New Ways of Hiding: Towards Metainterface Realism” (2019)
Anne Karhio: “Ethics and Aesthetics of (Digital) Space: Institutions, Borders, and Transnational Frameworks of Digital Creative Practice in Ireland” (2020)

Photographs by EL Putnam
Audio by David Stalling

Square grid with pink, green hues, and yellow with overlay of abstracted hands