Adam York Gregory & Gillian Jane Lees
Gillian is a Glasgow based performance practitioner. She makes rigorous attempts to build and control her environment over hours, and sometimes days, by undertaking physically demanding and mentally exhausting durational performances. Gillian’s interest lies in the fleeting moment where her will to succeed meets her diminishing physical ability to complete each task.
Adam is a scientist, games designer, typesetter, comic artist, film-maker and visual artist. His practice reflects each of these disciplines, often combining them to create novel areas of exploration, using his background in creating scientific investigations as a starting point for artistic explorations and methodologies.
Together, their internationally awarded practice seeks to explore the notion of ‘the imagined ideal’ through subjective performance, objective experimentation, documentation and observation.
Their work has been shown at Buzzcut (Glasgow), Tramway (Glasgow) BALTIC as part of GIFT (Gateshead), Rapid Pulse (Chicago), Mobius (Boston), Rosekill (New York) Tempting Failure (Bristol/London), The Lowry (Manchester) and Z-Arts (Manchester) and has been supported by The British Council, Arts Council England, Testbeds Luton, Lancaster Arts, Light Up Lancaster, and The Heritage Lottery Fund.
A performative film and book form the results of a year long collaboration with the Institute of biomedical Science and Technology in Luton, looking at the ways in which art and science collaborate, and fail to collaborate.
The film addresses appropriation and true collaboration in a representative space whilst considering if the mediated view of science is intentionally misrepresenting the role of science and the people behind it.
In a totally dark room, Gillian will attempt to construct 40 electrical lights in 4 hours using only match light as she connects bulbs, wires and plugs.
When each light is finished it is plugged into a socket that is operated by an electrical timer switch. After four hours the switch will activate and the space will be illuminated. The illumination correlates to the performers success and ability to perform the task.
Darkness denotes a failure of the task.
Gillian moves through the space carefully setting several hundred conventional wooden mouse traps on the floor. Her hands and feet are bare and vulnerable, close to the trap mechanisms. She continues until she is backed into a corner… We are looking to create a cumulative physical tension through the spring loaded traps and observe if it equates to a growing sense of emotional tension in anyone witnessing the piece – whether the repetition of a task that contains an inherent physical danger becomes more tense when performed repeatedly.
Two parallel lines of white tape create a running track that ends abruptly at a wall. Next to the wall is a speed radar. Gillian repeatedly runs towards the wall, trying to record ever-higher numbers on the display.
We are exploring personal risk in relation to performance. The faster she runs, the harder the impact, the higher the risk and the greater the cost.
Tangent is a task-based performance that assesses the perfection of a circle drawn by hand, using geometric processes to create a graphical representation of error. Gillian’s ability to perform perfectly is inextricably bound to the perfection of the circles she draws. Each circle is geometrically assessed, creating a graphical display of any deviation from perfection, both in terms of the circle and Gillian’s ability to perform.
Inspired by the development of Third Angel’s 9 Billion Miles from Home and A Perfect Circle by Christopher Hall, Gillian Lees and Alexander Kelly, Tangent is an ongoing inquiry as to the nature of perfection in performance.
With each run we learn more about how Gillian mitigates the risk of pain through technique and through tempering her performance.
Or, perhaps, injury and pain are the cost of success.
The White Lund Commemoration
One hundred years ago an explosion rocked Lancashire. The munitions depot at White Lund in Morecambe exploded with a force that could be heard as far away as Burnley. Due to the secretive nature of the factory, press reports were suppressed at the time and the incident was buried in all but the memories of the people involved.
The film is a commemoration on the centenary of the event.
We invited a group of local women aged 20–75, to document a series of choreographic movements generated by the women themselves, and which focus on their own working experiences, revealing, and preserving the story by drawing parallels between the mostly women workers of the depot and their modern counterparts through performance and film.
Time/Distance is a durational performance that measures itself by itself. Gillian transports sand a grain at a time across a defined space, much like sand falling within an hourglass. Just as a microscope is used to examine tiny things visually by making them appear large, we attempt to use the space to expand time beyond fractions of a second to examine it in more detail.
We wish to consider the slowing down of time, and how this enables us to be aware of it in greater detail by creating a rhythmical, meditative space. Much like a scientific experiment, the simple, repeated actions of the performer allow us to examine them in greater detail.
A Working Hypothesis
An experiment, a film, exploring the notion of an imagined ideal. A glass is picked up, and put back down again, repeatedly, until the ideal action is witnessed. This process sought to explore how a simple instruction given to a performer might differ through repetition; the result may never be exactly what was hoped for, but those results might be things that could never have been imagined. As a basis for collaboration, we considered how a simple, repeatable task, such as picking up and setting down a glass of water might be performed. Furthermore, at what point would the task be finished?