From The Archive - Clare Nattress' The Body In Conceptual Art

This article was originally featured on the One&Other Magazine website.

“Clare Nattress is a conceptual artist specialising in the body, data and information, exploring art as research and public inquiry”. This is taken from Clare’s artist mission statement, a statement she is so far succeeding at.

In her talk at Artemis House she discussed her artistic CV, detailing her work created during her Masters at York St John to her residency at York based creative design agency The Beautiful Meme to work done on her own.

After being awarded a 1st at York St John, Clare decided to stay on at York St John to achieve her masters. From here she showed an aptitude for utilising new media. With her piece entitled 48.869288,2.35425. she combined wallpaper, Paris metro stations and Google Maps. She fly posted paisley styled design wallpaper more favoured by the likes Laurence Llewelyn Bowen onto 35 different Paris stations. This was all documented live by Google Maps which allowed the public to trace her whereabouts.

The idea of being tracked seemingly had an effect on Clare as it is the basis of another piece, entitled now here. This saw Clare wear an electronic tag provided by the Criminal Justice System. This live data was then uploaded onto a screen in an art gallery for the viewer to see where she was in York.  Adjacent to the screen was a timer of her life, starting from birth in milliseconds. This created the idea of seeing someone’s life play out in real time, being able to track where they’re moving whilst simultaneously watching their life pass by, millisecond by millisecond.

 The ankle tag was used in another piece entitled diary of body. She was tasked with creating something that highlights how the body can perform beyond the boundaries of its skin and beyond the local space that it occupies presenting its physical presence. She decided to showcase this online utilising the ankle tag again being used to trace her whereabouts. The data was live on Google Maps for 5 days starting 11 September 2011 and finishing 16 September 2011. The public were also made aware of Clare’s activity through the use of twitter, where she regularly posted her activity under the guise of “The Body”. Her aim to extend experiences with the mediated realms of social and online media interfaces was seemingly accomplished with the line between the two become even more blurred with every tweet or track of her movement.

Her work references Cypriot born Australian artist Stelarc, famed for his third ear piece. This saw a microphone implanted in his arm in the shape of an ear and a speaker placed in the gap between his teeth. He is a strong believer that the human body is obsolete and that we are cyborgs. With Clare’s work detailing everything online with the entwining of life and social media it could be seen that we are almost there.

After she had been awarded her masters she was given a residency at design company The Beautiful Meme. This presented a new challenge to Clare, where before she had to answer a brief but was ultimately was given free reign, her new task was to please the customer. A hindrance to this at times was the briefs she was given which were artistically ambiguous. Working for the Beautiful Meme did allow her to work in collaboration with illustrious companies such as the English National Ballet, Black Sheep and Akzo Nobel Aerospace. It is with the latter that saw her utilise her previous experiences in live online data. It displayed a stream of data including the amount of paint used on the aeroplanes and the rate of emails sent per second onto a live backdrop of the Akzo Nobel Aerospace planes flying in real time throughout Europe.

After her commercial work Clare has now moved onto a new area focusing on Deoxyribonucleic Acid, otherwise known as DNA. Recently receiving funding to help pursue her interest in the analysis of DNA and genetic sequencing, it seems that Clare is now doing everything she can to succeed in her artistic mission.

Daniel Eggleston