The last event of the first (and I hope not last) year of a World without Words, which has been curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and myself. We returned to Apiary Studios, where we began, and hosted artists Sarah Kelly, Christian Patracchini, who both offered powerful, intimate performances, alongside neuroscientist Daniel Margulies, curator and art historian Elena Agudio, and resilience therapist Gillian Bridge. Once again we were fortunate to have a great turnout and feel gratified that our open, eclectic, immersive curatorial approach, to let discussion and performance sit by side by side, to allow technical information blend with avant garde art, seemed to effect people in the best possible way. www.aworldwithoutwords.com
Thanks to everyone who has made 2015 so special, a few highlights, upcoming, for 2016
The final a World without Words event takes place January 9th at Apiary Studios featuring a host of neuroscientists and artists.
I'll be on BBC Radio 3's The Verb with a new commission responding to the Hearing the Voice project in January.
Ovinir - The Enemies Project: Iceland, includes a big Camarade reading in Reykjavik where I'll be collaborating with Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir, supported by Reykjavik UNESCO city of literature. Then a reading in London, on January 30th, with over 30 poets, where I'll be presenting a new work with Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir
February sees a reading in Buenos Aires, hosted by El tercer lugar, curated by flavia pitella, thanks to the British Council.
The Soundings project will continue with 7 new collaborative performances including works with Tamarin Norwood (February), Sharon Gal (March), Patrick Coyle (April), Phil Minton (June), all responding to prompts from Wellcome Librarians.
I'll be attending the StAnza festival on the weekend of March 5th, speaking at an event on the body and poetry, responding to a film about bp nichol and leading a workshop / curating a Camarade collaborative event.
I'll be curating the English PEN Modern Literature Festival over one day on April 2nd, featuring 50 writers writing new works responding to some of PEN's writers at risk cases. Free to attend, but signing up for membership encouraged!
Very happy to be attending the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature in May 2016, thanks to the British Council, Writers Centre Norwich and the International Literature Fund, beginning a Georgian Enemies project: Mtrebi, which will return to the UK in July, where it'll visit the Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Rich Mix in London.
I'll be curating a Camarade for the Essex Book Festival on March Sunday 20th and I'll be curating further innovative Camarade events, including the University Camarade, on April 23rd, where students from five different creative writing departments (including my own at Kingston) create new collaborations across institutions.
I'll be attending the Milosz Festival in Krakow in June, writing new collaborations with Polish poets / artists, thanks to UNESCO Krakow City of Literature, The British Council & co.
The Kakania project will return with readings in Berlin and London, from February to September 2016, all featuring new commissions of poets and artists responding to figures from Habsburg Vienna.
I'm happy to be part of the ambitious CROWD project, which crosses Europe next summer, travelling from Finland to Cyprus, over many months, with lots of interchanging poets on a bus. I'm doing Graz to Belgrade in June 2016.
Lots more publications, events and projects to be announced next year.
A really resonant and powerful evening at the Frontline Club. The highlight of what has been a wonderful journey so far, curating www.aworldwithoutwords.com with Lotje Sodderland and Thomas Duggan. During this night It became clear to me what this project was really about, there was a sense of clarity and the brilliant Professor Barry Smith and I both came across it in our discussions before the event. It is about will. A will to life, an affirmation of the continency of language, on life, and how Lotje represents to me, in the most deferent, humble, inciteful and beautiful manner, a pure engagement with being alive. And so through her presence, the lynchpin of the project, so my work, the films of Vincent Moon and insightful thoughts Barry himself shared, to a sold out room of over 100 people, became about that - a celebration or affirmation of life and language. An amazing chance for me to be associated with an institution I have been going for many many years too. Such a privilege, a very special and dear evening to me.
From Sufi rituals in Chechnya, to ancient folk songs in Columbian’s pacific rainforest, we experienced how the brain ascribes meaning to music and sound - even when words are obsolete through a selection of Vincent Moon’s short observational documentaries — shot around the world and capturing local folklore and diverse musical rituals. They were screened in alternation with an informal discussion by the director of London’s Institute of Philosophy Dr Barry Smith, who explored the neural correlates of meaning, music, and language in the context of each film, to offer the audience an explanation of the role of language in subjective mental life.
Nov 13th: A World Without Words IV
Nov 14th: Electronic Voice Phenomena
Nov 15th: Globe Road Festival Walking Tour
Nov 18th: Soundings III
November Friday 13th - A World without Words IV at the Frontline Club: 7pm
The fourth event in the series exploring neuroscience, aphasia, the brain and language, this time at the incredible Frontline Club. With a talk by Professor Barry Smith and the screening of a series of anthropological short films from Vincent Moon. Curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and I. http://www.frontlineclub.com/screening-and-discussion-a-world-without-words/
November Saturday 14th - EVP Sessions at Shoreditch Town Hall: 8pm
Electronic Voice Phenomena hits London once again, I'll be presenting a new commission in full skeleton embodiment, exploring disembodied voice and death http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/theEVPsessions
November Sunday 15th - Globe Road walking tour for the Globe Road Festival: 11am
A Sunday morning stroll up Globe Road in the company of Gareth Evans, Elaine Mitchener and the Bohman brothers, all of whom will present brand new performance commissions related to the road itself, finishing with a reading in York Hall with Stephen Watts, Richard Scott and Jonathan Mann www.theenemiesproject.com/globeroad
November Wednesday 18th - Soundings III with Maja Jantar at St Johns on Bethnal Green: 7pm A collaboration with the incomparable Maja Jantar for a new sound poetry / avant-garde music performance as part of the Soundings project with Hubbub at Wellcome Collection responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library. St Johns on Bethnal Green, an early 19th-century church, is an amazing venue too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings
My 'A Language Art' course runs on Monday nights throughout November with sesssions exploring the intersections of avant-garde poetry and modern art in the galleries of Tate Modern and in the Tate stores.
November Wednesday 4th - Pugilistica at Apiary Studios
A chance for me to launch my book Fights, in it's 2nd edition from Veer Books, alongside some amazing journalists, novelists, poets and art historians, all exploring the literature of boxing. www.theenemiesproject.com/pugilistica
November Thursday 5th - Mondo: global avant-garde poetry at Poetry School
A new course at the Poetry School, this time exploring avant-garde movements from Japan, Nigeria, Canada, Brazil and Syria / Iraq. Still a place or two left! Book here
November Friday 6th - Symposium: Pulling Together/Pulling Apart: Forces in Creative Collaboration, OVADA, Oxford
Thanks to artists Brook and Black, I'll have the chance to discuss collaboration at OVADA, alongside Tamarin Norwood and others http://www.ovada.org.uk/arkitektoniske-kramper/
November Saturday 7th - Nemici: an Italian Enemies project at the Rich Mix
A really ambitious Enemies project I'm curating with ten Italian artists and poets visiting London, each writing new collaborations with British poets. I'll be presenting a new work with Alessandro Burbank. Should be special www.theenemiesproject.com/nemici
November Friday 13th - A World without Words IV at the Frontline Club
The fourth event in the series curated by Lotje Sodderland, Thomas Duggan and myself, exploring neuroscience, aphasia, the brain and art, this time at the incredible Frontline Club. With a talk by Barry Smith and anthropological short films from Vincent Moon. http://www.frontlineclub.com/screening-and-discussion-a-world-without-words/
November Saturday 14th - EVP Sessions at Shoreditch Town Hall
Electronic Voice Phenomena hits London once again, I'll be presenting a new commission in full skeleton embodiment, exploring disembodied voice http://shoreditchtownhall.com/theatre-performance/whats-on/event/theEVPsessions
November Sunday 15th - Globe Road walking tour for the Globe Road Festival
Happy to be leading a Sunday morning stroll up Globe Road in the company of Gareth Evans, Elaine Mitchener and the Bohman brothers www.theenemiesproject.com/globeroad
November Wednesday 18th - Soundings III with Maja Jantar at St Johns on Bethnal Green
So excited to collaborate with the incredible Maja Jantar for a new performance as part of the Soundings project with Hubbub at Wellcome Collection responding to prompts from the Wellcome Library. St Johns on Bethnal Green is an amazing venue too. www.stevenjfowler.com/soundings
November Friday 20th - The European Camarade at Freeword Centre
A mini festival of European poetry in collaboration, so pleased to have the chance to curate this night and present a new collaboration with Endre Ruset. Some of these poets are doing the most exciting work in their nations, not to be missed www.theenemiesproject.com/europeancamarade
A WORLD WITHOUT WORDS III
September 30th | 7pm-9pm
The first speaker will be philosopher Jamie Brassett who will discuss the emergent properties of consciousness, elaborating on philosophical and physiological interactions.
Next up, computer scientist Conrad Wolfram will speak about computer human-machine interaction in the age of mass data, and the need for linguistic evolution to enable verbalization of technical ideas.
Finally, biologist Rupert Sheldrake will close the evening’s talks with an exploration of his work on Morphic Resonance. He will speak about the dominance of scientific materialism, citing what he believes is the interconnected intelligence of all matter.
The audience will have a chance to ask questions for 15 minutes following the final talk.
Drinks will be available from 9.00 until 9.30pm in the Drawing Room at Pennethorne.
Admission is free. Booking is essential.
a World without Words explores the nature of human language, bringing together contemporary practitioners & pioneers in neuroscience and sensory aesthetics, to offer a fascinating and playful exploration of how words form our world. www.aworldwithoutwords.com The project is curated by writer & filmmaker Lotje Sodderland, artist & material engineer Thomas Duggan, and myself.
a World without Words IV will take place in October and the program will come to end for now, for our fifth and final event in November 2015.
Always a beautiful thing to be around people like Lotje Sodderland, Harry Man and Malinda McPherson, such is their intelligence and generosity of spirit. We presented our second www.aworldwithoutwordsevent.com in the Hardy Tree Gallery, during my exhibition, Mahu. Everyone followed on from the themes of the premiere event, and I had the chance to speak about my experiences in martial arts and my research on CTE and brain damage. Lotje and I has a structured chat too. A fine time was had by all.
Thanks to Dan Davies & Catalina Bolozan
"A World Without Words, an ambitious new project by three, London-based experimenters: writer and filmmakerLotje Sodderland, in collaboration with poet and curator SJ Fowler, and Thomas Duggan, an artist and material engineer, invites us to explore human language in staggering and intimate depth. Language theory walks hand-in-hand with neuroscience and sensory aesthetics to investigate how our brains map meaning. With such an incredibly broad scope you might be forgiven for wondering how anyone would go about tackling such a vast and complex subject matter, and perhaps question their motivation. In this case, the answer is disarmingly personal. With the World Without Words programme unfurling over the coming months, certainly into November 2015, there will be plenty of time to engage with and enjoy this truly multifaceted project."
The premiere event of a World without Words was an extraordinary night, well over one hundred people crammed into Apiary Studios in Hackney to watch six presentations from neuroscientists and artists from around the world. What really emerged from a night of big ideas and great personal passion, was how much the unique format we had aimed to provide appealed to both the speakers and the audience. The presentations were not centred about the sharing of knowledge, but of personal passion, and experience, and how the former came through the latter. The event was not one of provocation but curiosity. Lotje Sodderland, Noah Hutton, Ben Ehrlich, Harry Man, Malinda McPherson and Nick Ryan all found their journey into the human brain and our ability to wield language in different ways - through pain and illness, through study and discipline, through travel and creativity, yet they all shared an open, inviting, discursive evening where everyone left with more than they had a few hours before. It was also, what I had already known, a real joy to share the curating with Thomas Duggan and Lotje, we all seem to compliment each other and the process couldn't have been more gratifying. Four more events to come this year... www.aworldwithoutwords.com
I'm delighted to announce a new project: a World without Words, exploring the nature of human language, bringing together contemporary practitioners & pioneers in neuroscience and sensory aesthetics, to offer a fascinating and playful exploration of how words form our world. www.aworldwithoutwords.com
Co-curated by writer & filmmaker Lotje Sodderland and artist & material engineer Thomas Duggan, a World without Words will present artworks, installations, performances, talks, discussions and readings that call into question how meaning maps into the brain over a series of events throughout 2015 & beyond, taking place in bespoke venues across London.
Across artform & discipline each event will explore that notion that while language is considered perhaps the most characteristic ability of the human species, very little is known about it. When curator Lotje Sodderland had an unprovoked brain haemorrhage, she woke to find a familiar stranger inhabiting her body, where her 'self' used to be. Unable to read, write, speak, or think coherently, she used this unique opportunity as a lens through which to explore the everyday assumptions of how we wield words to express ourselves, bringing a profoundly personal perspective to the contemporary Copernican revolution of neuroscience. A World Without Words is the latest in Lotje's body of work around visual perception and neurolinguistics, and you can read / see more about her previous work in the Guardian & in the film, My Beautiful Broken Brain.
The first event takes place at Apiary Studios May 6th 7pm - 10.00pm
458 Hackney Rd, London E2 9EG. Entrance is free. http://www.apiarystudios.org/
The event will feature:
Noah Hutton & Ben Ehrlich: founders of The Beautiful Brain, a website that explores the juncture between neuroscience and art, based in New York. They will present on the theme of discontinuity in neurobiological, cultural, and linguistic systems. As well as discussing The Beautiful Brain, Noah will show a brief clip from his most recent documentary film Deep Time (SXSW 2015) and Ben will share from his research about the life and work of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, "the father of modern neuroscience."
Harry Man: will lead an artistic examination into dyslexia and its potential advantages including identifying black holes and visualized data based on research by Dr Matthew H. Schneps at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. Using gravitational wave detection data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration, Harry hopes to illustrate how dyslexia might be an advantage to those studying the origin of the universe.
Malinda J. McPherson: a neuroscientist and musician who studies the link between emotion and musical creativity. Malinda will be discussing the human ability to ascribe meaning to sound, as well as the connections between abnormal brain states and creative musical expression.
Nick Ryan: a multi award winning composer, sound designer, artist and audio specialist, widely recognised as a leading thinker on the application of emerging and future technologies to the creation and performance of sound and music.
Lotje Sodderland: artist, writer & filmmaker, who present framed artworks created after she lost the ability to communicate with words, exhibited in Apiary Studios. An excerpt from her documentary My Beautiful Broken Brain will also be screened as part of the evening's program.
a World without Words will present further events in June, August, October & December, with more details to come.
The project is generously supported by Arts Council England
I am so so happy to announce a new project, co-curated with Lotje Sodderland and Thomas Duggan, called a World without Words. www.theenemiesproject.com/aworldwithoutwords
A World Without Words is an exploration of how aphasia effects our fundamental understanding of human language, how it interrogates our static notions of meaning in this language and how it calls into question the very character of self-knowledge. Through a program of exhibitions, newly commissioned artworks, poetry and sound performances, and talks that explore the nature of human language to illuminate this profound investigation of the human brain, a World without Words will bring together some of the most dynamic scientists and artists working in 21st century London.
A World Without Words marks a pivotal moment when breakthroughs in neuroscience mean there is greater understanding of those who possess atypical language function. Today, aphasia is more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, as over 250,000 people in the United Kingdom alone live with the condition. Yet in spite of its high incidence, aphasia remains a hidden disability.
Language is considered perhaps the most characteristic ability of the human species, a World without Words aims to be on the frontline of our social, aesthetic, creative and experiental understanding of this ability, working back through aphasia and into the potential of the human mind.
A World Without Words invites audiences to explore the nature of human language, offering a fascinating and playful exploration of how words form our world. The project presents a unique opportunity to explore how loss of language impacts on losing internal definitions of "self" in relation to everything "other" in the external world, while breaking apart assumptions of how we wield language to express ourselves.
a World without Words has emanated from the experiences of Lotje Sodderland, ably documented in this article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/22/it-felt-as-if-i-had-become-fear-itself-life-after-a-stroke-at-34
The first event will be held on May 6th at Apiary Studios http://www.apiarystudios.org/
with contributions from Lotje Sodderland = Malinda MacPherson - Noah Hutton - Ben Ehrlich - Harry Man & more.