Breathworks

Participatory arts and video installation. Responsive Space, Modern Art Oxford, 2020-21.

Breathworks began as a digital participatory project led by Lucy Sabin, Creative Associate (Digital) at Modern Art Oxford (MAO). The gallery’s audiences were invited to capture an experience related to breathing, submitting an image and 20-60 seconds of audio via a webform. These media were then layered with a circular sound wave and added to an online exhibition and subsequent video installation in the gallery space. Thanks to its thematic timeliness and uptake, Breathworks also led to an events programme and research project in collaboration with the University of Oxford. A project write-up is available here.

Sabin was responsible for concept development, facilitation of focus groups, design of aesthetics and animation, design of interactive webpages (online form, online gallery), copywriting and content creation for webpages, user testing of webpages, co-curation of submissions and video editing, Instagram takeover, assistance with funding applications, networking with academic staff, participation in panel events, follow-up articles and interviews, contribution to impact evaluation reporting. The artist worked closely with Andrée Latham, Digital Curator at Modern Art Oxford.

Breathworks featured on BBC Arts, Art Daily, a-n The Artists Information Company, and The Oxford Times.

Video montage with 32 ‘breathworks’, Responsive Space, Modern Art Oxford, 2020-21.

Breathworks made breath and breathlessness visible beyond the clinical or biological framings that might sometimes contain respiratory narratives (Macnaughton 2020; Mbembe 2020). In responding to the theme of breathing through creative engagement, participants drew attention to both microcosmic stirrings and seismic ripples. The resultant body of audiovisual works spans multiple scales and includes beyond human perspectives, highlighting ecological connections and expanded imaginaries of breath’s importance and scope.

– Lucy Sabin in ‘Following Breathing’ (2021).

Discover more

McCormack, D. and Sabin, L. (2021). Breathing worlds. Venti, 2(1).

Sabin, L. (2021). Following breathing. The Polyphony [online], January 8.

Waddell, J. (2021). ‘Conspiracy theory’: James Waddell interviews Lucy Sabin. Still Point Journal, 5.