Joanna Mayes & Justin Wiggan: November Porthmeor Studios SWCTN Residency
1st November 2019

Over the summer, Falmouth University ran an open call for three SWCTN Porthmeor Residencies in St Ives in October, November & December of this year for those based in the South West, working in the field of immersion, using tech in some way, at some point.

Joanna Mayes and Justin Wiggan hold this residency in November. This is a joint collaboration that explores an extended notion of communication, incorporating human and non-human data. They will investigate sender / receiver information via haptic technologies to investigate the spaces between connection, the non spaces, the void where information is held but not perceived.

You can read their Residency Blog at the bottom of this page.

Here’s what Joanna and Justin have to say about their plans for the month:

We bring young people (as part of the innovative GameChanger project) and community members to historic Porthmeor Studios as part of our residency, exploring the story of astronomical measurement, drawing on Cornwall’s prehistoric interest in the measurement of the solar cycle at stone circles (solar system measurement walks, using drawing and sound recording for focus).

We will be working with sound and live visuals, building upon material accumulated during this year’s 400 Light Years residency at Lizard Point and extending this with work created during our residency. 

During this residency we will be working with themes from our Chasing Venus project,  celebrating the intriguing Cornish connection to the 1769 observation of the Transit of Venus. In this 250th anniversary year we share the story of John Bradley at Lizard Lighthouse and Cornwall’s Malachy Hitchens at Greenwich Observatory. 2019 is also the anniversary of the building and first light from the Lizard Lighthouse 400 years ago. We have been considering the story of the use of parallax for observation, which creates a link between these anniversaries, with 400 light years being the limit of its use to measure objects in space.”

You can find out more about October’s Artist in Residence, Christian Guerrini, here.


Tuesday 12th November

Curious exploration in studio 11 at Porthmeor Studio , artist Jo Mayes and Justin Wiggan have been considering themes and relationships between the  immersive qualities of shadows and echoes which are connected by the notion of vesitage .

Discussion centred around small parts of things that existed before lensed through lost practices of vocals and painting , two disciplines that used to be part of Mayes ( vocals )  / Wiggan’s ( painting ) creative past as analysis of personal immersion.
Towards the end of the first week Wiggan was studio based and Mayes was off site at London’s Royal Astronomical Society and Greenwich Observatory .
Mayes documented assets and passed on images / words as a satellite duel location test to be used further in the residency.
In the studio Wiggan descended  into playful research on how a voice could be a shadow, by removing recorded audio statement and leaving entry and exit points for the statements , these ” voice shadows” where then visualised in a spectragraphic form allowing to read the information in a more painterly approach, even potential large scale paintings / beach flags.


Thursday 21st November

An extension of our conceptual work on ” voice shadows ” has seen the development of possibilities for public intervention work with the realisation of ” voice shadow flags ” .

Using the techniques of severe editing from voice recordings to create spectrogram landscapes , the work has then been realised into a mock up of St Ives Harbour intervention with the additional of geometric shapes referencing maritime warnings.

We have also been continuing our consideration of the importance of physical immersion, using walking as a way of understanding concepts. We performed a test walk using our new ‘trundle wheel’ and have been taking that experience of concepts within the body to look at ways in which these relative distances can be experienced within film and sound, through timed interventions; today we experimented using a taped ‘timeline’  on the studio floor and pacing out a click track. How can we use timings from the solar system (8 minutes for light to arrive from the sun, 1.25 seconds ‘light echo’ time lag somewhere between the reflected light on the sun hitting the earth as moonlight)…..? Is it interesting? Useful?

We will be sharing our Measuring The Universe walk and some of our research questions and findings at our event on Friday (Porthmeor Studios, 1pm talk, 1.30 walk and 2.45 back for tea!


Thursday 28th November

Jo has been focusing on site-specific filming and alternative caffenol processing using seawater, as part of thinking about working across multiple locations; Greenwich and Cornwall are linked by the sea and using seawater in her practice brings that experience to her work in the studio. The fishermen, who make nets in the cellars of Porthmeor Studios, were very helpful about shoving the door open to the beach after the sand build-up during the recent storms, and she managed to fill her buckets up with seawater without getting too wet….results were encouraging and the negative was projected in the studio the next day (still below). Jo also hosted Ruby, a teenage work experience student from the RIO Gamechanger programme and her support worker; Ruby documented our meeting with the Tate team, in preparation for our Walking The Universe activity this Saturday 12.30 Porthmeor Beach (part of Tate St Ives Winter Festival) and also her experience of being in the studio.

Justin and Jo have also been working on sharing residency outcomes at the event on Saturday using stickers with QR codes. They have also been working on bringing together sound and visual ideas around the planets, looking at the ways in which sound and digital and analogue projection work together, using original and found film footage alongside thermal imaging of speech and sounds. Justin has also been working this week on developing short sound pieces based on Nasa’s electromagnetic recordings from around the planets.

We also had a really interesting (if wet!) research walk with our enthusiastic and weather hardy participants, Walking The Universe through St Ives.We started with a research talk from the artists who were joined by astronomer Carolyn Kennett to talk about our collaboration with her and the science behind the event. We then went into town to pace out the distances between the sun and the planets across 600 metres with help from Carolyn (and a trundle wheel), documenting our planetary ‘stations’ with mobile phone photography. Back for tea, cake and a studio visit.

Thanks again to SWCTN and the Porthmeor patrons for the opportunity to develop our practice at Porthmeor Studios during November.