As part of our series ‘In Conversation With’, we spotlight artists currently enrolled at ECA. Today we bring to you an interview with Lucas Priest.
Can you introduce yourself: how would you identify or define yourself as an artist, and or, your art practice?
I’m an intermedia artist working and living in Edinburgh, for the time being. I am currently studying BA Intermedia art at ECA. I’m interested in walking as a research practice, participatory arts and co-operative learning. My practice is concerned with ever evolving gestures towards noticing how artistic processes can foster a greater awareness of our surroundings in both a literal and politicised sense. I am concerned with how space, place and usage interrelate in a kind of post-COVID psychogeography. Here I see the practice of walking as a kind of embodied cognition, offering us the time to just think, to not think at all, to share, to discuss, to remain silent, and to listen. As we find ourselves walking more and more, I have become interested in the space between each step, or in other words, the city as a site of performance, inquiry, and meditation. Often, I find that my practice exists as a system of structures that allow me to step aside as a creative decision maker, to allow natural phenomena, chance, participation, and divination to determine the final outcomes of a work. I am interested in how our minds deal with a confrontation with chance. How do we react? How do we make sense of it?
What does Psychogeography mean to you and how central is this focus in your work?
To me, Psychogeography has two components, theory and practice. In a theoretical sense it refers to how our environments shape how we move through spaces, and in turn how we think about and relate to these spaces. In practical terms Psychogeography is a practice one can engage with in order to observe how our environments are altering our perceptions and then (hopefully) freeing ourselves from them. So, in a way, you could say that what I am doing is exactly Psychogeography. However, I’d also say that my interests expand beyond Psychogeography into meditation practices and how they relate to walking art practices, I suppose I’m interested in helping to cultivate mindfulness in a sort of artful poetic way as to touch something fundamental about our human nature.
Why is walking important to your practice or project?
Walking is how I move. Living and studying in central Edinburgh, I find myself walking to work, walking to Leith, walking to the ECA! It’s also what we do in public spaces and I find these spaces very interesting; they are often used for getting from one place to another, usually in order to spend or make money. Public spaces are not capitalist in that they are free to inhabit and have no direct purpose related to making money or consumerism. However, I feel as though they have been hijacked by our capitalist sentimentality and attitudes in order to facilitate our movements from places of work and consumerism; they are like limbo spaces between private places. I would also like to add that in this context, I see walking in a very expanded sense to be more about how we inhabit spaces directly with our bodies and minds. So I would say that I include in my conception of walking any kind of movement and any way of moving: it isn’t limited to putting one leg in front of the other.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current project, Diversion(ists)?
“Diversion(ists) is a participatory walking group for the ‘play testing’ of psycho-geographic ‘games’ aimed at disorienting how we encounter public & private places & spaces. Come along for some fun and a chat!”
This is what I have on my website. I think it answers your questions nicely, but I understand that it’s also a bit jargony in the way it’s written. So perhaps a better way of putting it would be that each week we gather to go on a walk from the ECA – nothing long, as we are usually back within the hour. We do not know where we will go, but before the walk a ‘score’ (set of instructions) is made as to create some process that will generate a walk. For example we might decide to follow the colour red for 20 minutes: a person with red shoes walks by we follow them until a red car turns left, we go left and see a red road sign at the bottom of the street, we move towards it etc…
What influences your work? / you as an artist?
I think I’m influenced by my own lack of attention. As mentioned above, I’d describe my works as a series of ‘gestures towards noticing’. I suppose you could say that I create practices or technologies (similar to mindfulness or meditation practices among other spiritual technologies) that offer us an opportunity to pay attention to our life, while also disrupting how we habitually engage with the mundaneness of our every day. Something as simple as following a colour through the city (or any environment) can take us on an unknown journey through places we know very well. Maybe we see that street corner we always pass on our way to work in a new and illuminated way. This helps me find value in simple, often overlooked things, that give me a moment outside of myself to just look! I want to share this with others as it’s a great source of joy and excitement in my life (as boring as it sounds!).
How is public engagement situated within your practice?
I’m not interested in making objects (sculptures, paintings, photos etc…) but rather co-facilitating experiences that have elements of spontaneity and chance involved in their inherently participatory nature. For me, this is just way more fun and exciting than looking at an object in a gallery. I suppose it’s more about investigating how we can see and experience the world rather than what we can make in response to it. Doing this alone, then, seems pointless as it’s locked inside myself: there is no sharing. I want to share something directly with others, to create an experience together.
Images courtesy of Antonina Dolecka