July 31, 2018

Hangouts: Shaylyn Plett

Shaylyn Plett

Shaylyn's practice is interested in the ways that visual and sensory experiences can be concentrated into specificity. She does this by working with painting informed installation.  Using "expanded painting," as a method to use information such as colour, texture, sensory experience to incite an emotional relation between the viewer and the works, Shaylyn starts her process with a feeling or a physical experience and attempts to translate that into something tangible for the viewer. Her background in painting informs her methods of communicating abstract thought through colour, shape, 'atmosphere', etc. Though she appreciates the strategies and intentions presented by painting, she prefers joining these with installation and the affective potential of physical materials in space. Shaylyn designs/activates these installation spaces using seating and other spatial obstructions as sculptural tools and a means to guide the viewer's engagement with intention.

At the DIS Summer Institute, Shaylyn is examining the structure of language using colour in context. She is also looking at how the structure of language effects the speaker's visual perception or cognition of visual phenomena. Shaylyn told me about how anthropologist Brent Berlin and linguist Paul Kay did studies on seventy languages to see how they labelled colours, and if having a name for a colour effects your ability to see it. Though they revealed some information on visual perceptions, the studies were ultimately flawed in the way they ignored cultural context and sensory translation of what it means to have a word for a colour. Whenever learning a language, it's always important to know the culture, otherwise you can never truly be fluent or entirely process the language, especially when the language origin and cultural origin varies from one's own. Shaylyn says that this critique pushed for ongoing dialogue on multi sensory research and to consider the multitudes in which colour can exist (culture, commerce, geography, etc). She gives the example of the numerous indo-european languages that seem as though they have an unusually high number of words to describe horse colours, however this is because of the prominence of horses in their commerce and societies. This further increased research around the culture and commerce being a propeller of how language develops to it's speakers needs.

For the Summer Institute, Shaylyn has started out with a reflection on the essay Pale Horses and Green Dawns: elusive colour terms in welsh poetry, written by Jessica Hemming. Hemming expresses the necessity of multi-sensory approach for interpreting colours across language groups. In response to this essay, Shaylyn is thinking about how language operates not only as a signifier of change, but also collective sight. She thinks of her own history: her grandpa grew up with horses in South America, and her grandma who grew up with horses in Canada. Both spoke different languages than they do now. For Shaylyn, this information acts as an access point to examine the dialogue. Through the Summer Institute, she is writing an essay in response to these concepts in order to eventually create a sculptural response paired with text.

At the DIS Summer Institute, Shaylyn has mostly been processing new information. The Summer Institute has been useful for reflecting on her own practice while digesting new information and concepts from the seminars. Access to the many brilliant artists via video chat or visits have been amazing for her.

Sun Sign: Taurus
Website: shaylynplett.com

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