New work – furthering unexpected process – Nothingness?

I have been beavering away in the studio working towards my next exhibition, a group show, Nothingness, to be shown at the beautiful Parndon Mill Gallery in Harlow 7th August – 14th September . It is truly a great theme to work on. I have found that my mind is bouncing around all over the place with possibilities.

How does one represent nothing? Does nothing actually exist, if it does, does that not make it something? ok, so slight mischievous glint in my eye here, but you get my point 😉

Wikipedia references it as…

‘Nothing is a pronoun denoting the absence of anything. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness. In nontechnical uses, nothing denotes things lacking importance, interest, value, relevance, or significance. Nothingness is the state of being nothing, the state of nonexistence of anything, or the property of having nothing.’

My approach is examining the notion of ‘nothingess’ by exploring emotional responses to ‘the space in-between’. Still a somewhat untangible description, I know. I am refering to this in two ways really. The ‘space in-between’ can be perceived as empty (though of course isn’t technical so). The emptiness is more a emotional perception rather than a physical reality. This emptiness has darkness and light. The darkness could be considered perhaps a little more readily than the light. After all, the connotations of the word ’emptiness’ are mainly negative in flavour, consider if you will, this list of synonyms: empty, vacant, blank, void, vacuous, bare, barren.

It is challenging the lightness of ‘the space in- between’  that has prompted a most interesting process for me.

I had recently posted about the influence of a particular piece of music by the talented Ludovico Einaudi.  I pondered my difficulty with the visual response of  my physical and written expression of this experience. Rather strangely, I have experimented with painting yet again, to bring this more clearly into view.

Nothingness process
Nothingness process

This work is not going to be shown at the ‘Nothingness’ show, but informs an important part of my working process. I have documented the stages of painting, each layer being photographed and recorded. This documentation I have reflected on, exposes for me the importance of  remaining connected to process. It is my experience of producing this work, the way I have moved my body, the choice of colour, the way this action makes me feel and the quality of marks that has stimulated the next stage of development.

Yes, there is still still a way to go, but very excited to have this record of an important part of the journey.

As a wee aside… when creating this, I had noticed the dust sheet I was using, rather delightfully revealed these characters. Of course they have been there before, but the process is allowing me to see with an open and enquiring mind (if not a little mischievous one at that!).

Thought i’d have a little fun with them… Enjoy!


Nothingness-cartoon Jo Howe
Nothingness cartoon


I love this work. The possibilities for immersive engagement within the Special Educational Needs sector are massive. I am just starting to look at immersive interactive solutions to enable alternative forms of expression and communication. I am experimenting with the Kinect linked to a PC, and playing with the open source software, Processing. There are some wonderfully creative and intelligent people out there doing amazing things with this set up. Go look here!  They have inspired me to revisit some old research ideas and explore this path. If only I could run before I could walk! Still I have managed to find the on switch, it’s a start!

Webcam Piano 2.0 Teaser from Memo Akten on Vimeo.