Ju has been at the heart of Blast Theory since the very beginning, so with Ju’s move to creating work independently, it seemed like a good time to think about how Blast Theory ticks. And from my perspective, what will be the shape of the Ju-shaped-hole that she is about to leave behind?

Since I’ve been with Blast Theory, creative discussion between the artists has been the meat and drink of making new work. It’s taken many forms: everything from collaborative diagramming and trips of imagination, to individual moments of inspiration as we stare out the studio window, to impassioned discussions where each of us argues to push file cards across a line on a whiteboard marked ‘Things we agree on’.

Through this, the work has been created as much by the ways in which our perspectives differ as by what we see in common. Hopefully, in the process gaining rigour and a more clear sighted vision of what the work is.

Whereas I often speak from the corner of ‘what is possible’ or ‘what technology would be interesting in this context’ – for me – Ju has always most tenaciously held on to questions of why we’re making the work in the first place and what we’re trying to say with it. And never in a way that looks to explain the work with simple taglines or sound bites.

From working with Ju, it often feels like these questions come in to focus most where the subject is most difficult to put into words, or is most overwhelming.

A friend of mine once said to me, that you should move as slowly as possible when you are travelling or rather, take as long as you can to get somewhere, in that way you will be less jolted when you find yourself in a new place. For as long as I can remember as an adult, I have been looking at people through a lens a bit like this but not connected to travel – how quickly do I think that people can change speed, if they had to, could they? If I had to, could I? And I don’t mean this only in a physical way, I mean it mentally too – I am looking for something in people’s eyes – do they have it? Do I have it? Can you tell? And is it there when you really need it? Sometimes I find myself on the underground looking around trying to work out who would react quickly.

Ju, The Thing I’ll Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life

In the wake of the 2011 tsunami, Blast Theory were commissioned to work with people from Sendai on a project for the Aichi Triennale. After a site visit to meet fishermen whose home town had been swept away, Ju led a process of bringing to the surface some of the most delicate questions of how people continue to live in the shadow of tragedy.

The Thing I’ll Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life brought participants together to haul a fishing boat out of the sea, documenting the boat’s journey to the site of the Triennale in a film and a blog which you can find here.

The Thing I'll Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life, photo credit YAMAGUCHI Takayuki


Ju’s honesty about her own experience has been crucial in eliciting what’s most at stake in our work. It’s built relationships and trust with participants in works such as Too Much Information where the participants voices ARE the work.

And it’s often been behind the writing for Blast Theory’s own voice. For example, in the questions asked by performers during 2097: We Made Ourselves Over, and by the narrator in Rider Spoke.

I want you to do something for me. And I appreciate that it’s a big ask and I don’t know how it’s possible sometimes and I can feel my heart in my throat and my life flash past me.

The narrator, Rider Spoke

Which leads to a final question.

Who will record the ‘Blast Theory voice’ in our work to come? Associate Artist, John Hunter, has made it clear that Ju’s voiceovers set the bar for the tone and disposition of the world of Blast Theory.

Among other things, her voice has been the prompt for around 30,000 recordings by riders reflecting on their lives in Rider Spoke, and has guided thousands of audience members on the path to rob a bank in A Machine To See With.

Ju at Rider Spoke in Cambridge


Taking everything in, it isn’t an easy hole to fill. But the flip side of the hole she leaves behind is the remarkable practice that she takes with her and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

See you on the flip side JRF

x N

Tagged with