> > > > susan lok: Lightness


susan pui san lok

Commissioned and curated as part of ‘Everything Flows’ by Film and Video Umbrella and De La Warr Pavilion. Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England

Lightness is a moving image work that developed out of dialogues with scientists Professor Nicola Clayton (Cambridge University) and Dr Tali Sharot (UCL), relating generally to the subject of sporting excellence, and specifically to their research on corvid cognition and memory (Clayton), and ‘optimism bias’ (Sharot). The work borrows its title from Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millenium (1988), an essay that touches on lightness of thought, lightness in language, lightness in science, with reference to ‘the sudden agile leap’, ‘weightless gravity’, and flight.

Lightness explores the mechanics and poetics of the pole vault event, its cycles of training and competition, and as a gesture symbolic of the human capacity and tendency towards aspirations for the future. Three synchronised HD video projections onto suspended screens follow the overlapping narratives of promising young athletes in training at Lea Valley Athletics Centre, as well as the now-retired, former British women’s number one and double Olympian Kate Dennison, at Loughborough HiPAC (High Performance Athletics Centre), invoking the circularity and continuity between their conditions, experiences and aspirations.

Meanwhile, the voices of coaches and athletes can be heard across four audio channels, highlighting parallel and divergent perspectives and the continual revision of the past in the process of planning for the future, and the insistence of optimism as both rhetoric and technique for both coach and athlete. The goal of achieving literally ever greater heights and momentarily defying gravity are epitomised in the ambiguous moment between flying and falling, a fleeting encapsulation of suspension, ‘in the zone’. The exhibition opened at De La Warr Pavillion in 2012, accompanied by a programme of talks.


View composite stereo preview clip here




The Strand and The Strand Weekend Highlights Lightness interview. BBC World Service, 14 July 2012

Everything Flows: Artist Talk in conversation with Professor Stephen Mumford (University of Nottingham) and Heather Corcoran (Executive Director, Rhizome.org). De La Warr Pavilion, 15 July 2012

Everything Flows: On Balance Panel Discussion chaired by Quentin Cooper (BBC Radio 4), with Dr Morten Kringelbach (Oxford University), Professor Nicky Clayton (Cambridge University), Dr Elsa Bradley (Bedford University) and Dryden Goodwin (Slade, UCL). Featuring a dance performance by Subathra Subramaniam. De La Warr Pavilion roof terrace, 21 July 2012