Q+ A with Emily Hornum

Artist in Residence | September - October 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you began making art?
So, I was born in Queensland and moved to WA ‘accidently’ after a road trip here almost 9 years ago now. I had just graduated with a Bachelor of Photography with Queensland College of Art and then spent a couple of years travelling around Australia and Europe. It didn’t take me long before I wanted to get back into my studies and so I decided to ‘officially’ move to Fremantle in 2013 and begin my Master of Arts by Research with Edith Cowan University.

‘Making art’ has always been part of me and my family – Grandad was an actor and artist; Grandma played the piano; Mum is musical, an artist and academic; Dad was a potter and engineer and two brothers that are also highly creative – and so, art and music was always encouraged and supported in my upbringing. In high school, I knew I wanted to keep making art and being creative but it’s rather hard to define when I ‘began’ as it’s always been such a natural instinct and part of my environment.

What has been your favourite project to date and why?
That’s a bit of a tough one as I think my Masters body of work has been the most intense, rigorous and challenging project that I’ve competed and it really shifted my work visually and conceptually and has carried through into my arts practice. But since graduating, it’s been super exciting and fun to be a little bit more playful in my works like Tinderreotypes, (currently exhibiting as part of CIAA City of Joondalup and Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award). In this series, I connected found Daguerreotypes of the Internet with Tinder profile lines. I wanted this work to be a comical social commentary on the way technology has shaped language, communication and the dating world.

The Tinderreotypes series and the VHS works I’m playing around with in my PICA studio residency are by far the most playful and enjoyable works to date in my practice. But I guess to me, my ‘favourite projects’ are not so much specific bodies of works but rather those pivotal points in my practice where a concept, process or material can completely shift and alter the direction of my work and this to me is exciting, challenging and refuels the motivation to make art and to be an artist.

How would you describe your approach to the making process?
I describe my arts practice as both process and research driven so there’s this constant dialogue between how I make art and the experimental processes that go into exploring a particular idea or concept. For me, that’s why studio residencies are a such an important element in my arts practice – to have a space to experiment, research and trial out ideas, and through this process it inspires the work to be challenged and driven in new directions – both conceptually and visually.

I view my practice as an ongoing inquiry surrounding archives, memory and new media. As researcher and artist within my own practice, I reflexively engage between these two roles. And so, with this approach, nothing is ever really ‘final’ but becomes a continuous negotiation, conversation and exploration of these ideas through conceptual frameworks and experimental processes.

What kinds of questions do you ask when making your work?
The kind of questions are both conceptual and material/process based. So, I guess firstly, my arts practice is a constant ongoing inquiry around archives, memory and new media. This is driven by questions such as – How are our memory practice changing as a result of digital technologies? What performative and bodily engagement do we have with media due to its inherent materiality? How does ‘old’ and the ‘new’ technology translate and adapt with each other? What impact does media materiality have on our language, communication, history, narratives and identity? What kind of material forms of family archives will be passed down to generations and the affect will this have on our individual narratives and family histories?

Secondly, I ask myself questions around the materiality of the medium and also the processes used in my practice. The objecthood of ‘old’ and ‘new’ media plays a crucial element throughout many of my works – I’ve included analogue TV’s, 35mm slides, film canisters, ViewMaster reels and VHS tapes, combined with ‘new’ media such as projectors, monitors, tablets, video and digital editing processes. As a direct result of asking these questions about concept and material alongside each other it has driven my work into a multidisciplinary practice informed by installation and sculptural based forms.

Do you have any major influences? What/who are they?
Major influences in my art practice include artists and theorists across photography, video art, performance and media arts including Tacita Dean, Bruce Newman, William Kentridge, Susan Sontag to just name only a few. But more recently, I’ve been influenced by 90s hip-hop sampling style used by artists like Soda Jerk to reconfigure fragmented sequences in a new narrative or context.

But what fundamentally has shaped my interested in memory and archives are personal experiences of the death of my dad when I was 12 and more recently, watching my Grandma suffer from Alzheimer’s. Photography and my own family archives have always played an important role in reinforcing and preserving the memory of my dad. But then when I translate that to the experiences of watching my Grandma lose her memory and these precious family photographs become irrelevant as she cannot identify herself or her family anymore – it’s seemed only natural that these experiences would influence and feed into my art practice and research.

  • Artist
  • Emily Hornum
  • Date

    September – October
    Open Studio: 27 October | 2 – 3pm

  • Location

    Studio Zero