Hear from the people we mentored in 2020, and who in turn have helped mentor us.
As we all dig into our deep reservoirs of being human, of having compassion and re-prioritising our capacity, we are trying to make new shapes and ways of experiencing life, asking questions and finding new possible pathways. As part of this, we’ve been mentoring a lot more people recently and our residency programme has been a virtual one since October last year.
Mentoring is something we’ve always done. Our formal mentoring programme is not highly noticed from the outside of Blast Theory, but it is there in our core. Our values as a group and as individuals who make up that group, mean that we see mentoring as an important part of what we do. And that mentoring flows and benefits in two directions. As artists, our job is not only to make and share work, but also to use what we have to help other makers – and people with projects or creative inklings – and support them through certain moments in time.
The events of the past year have meant that we opened up our mentoring doors in this direction much wider, as we ourselves have needed more support and are seeking new ways of thinking, doing and being.
Take a look at the video above, and read on, to meet some of the Blast Theory artist residents and mentees from the last twelve months.
Using AR to create a future cityscape | Artist Resident Tomo Kihara
As a result of the pandemic, our residency programme went virtual. It’s been a rare treat to be mentoring Tomo Kihara, a designer and developer currently working remotely from Japan. He is part of the Tiny Factories collective and in his own practice, he demonstrates an uncanny ability to sniff out corners of everyday life with the potential to create art. From revealing the algorithms which dictate our YouTube viewing, to designing novel devices for those forced to live on the street.
For his Blast Theory residency, Tomo has turned to AR application for making cityscapes of 2056 that prompt critical reflection on what is to come. In this tool, for instance, users can merge signs “Kentucky Fried Crickets” hinting at a future where chickens are no longer something you can grab cheaply.
Tomo is running a workshop for the project in July, aimed at artists wishing to contribute their ideas for future signs. If you’d like to take part, contact Tomo via [email protected].
Bianca Willoughby (formerly John A Douglas)
We had to rethink our residency with Bianca – Sydney-based interdisciplinary transfeminine indigenous artist – in October 2020, but Bianca and Blast Theory artist Ju Row Farr were able to work remotely to continue the exchanges made possible by our usual programme.
Reflecting on Bianca’s residency, Ju commented “when working at its best, a remote residency can offer focus. And thinking around an idea, outside of the meetings and discussions, is freeing. With Bianca’s residency, what was especially liberating for me is that I was able to go off in between our conversations and learn and research in a way I wouldn’t have done before. Bianca’s work and life experiences are intimately intwined, and navigating this, especially now, and how that relates to both Blast Theory’s experience and my own experience, has been incredibly enriching and stretching.”
With Ju’s support and guidance, Bianca surveyed and explored key aspects of her projects and process, especially around the concepts of virtual reality and installation; the role of the audience; and the collaborative/cooperative nature of her work.
This led to Paradoxes of Paradise, a series of five sessions presented by Bianca’s collective Creative Hybrid Lab, beginning on 3rd March 2021, which Blast Theory are excited to co-host. Click here to find out more and to book.