Timber & Battery’s playful work considers meaning and meaninglessness through oblique gestures. The collaborative practice of Rohanne Udall and Paul Hughes, it takes place across choreographic, performance and visual arts contexts. Trained in fine art and philosophy, our practice is a meeting point between disciplines; a persistent and fidgeting enquiry that continually questions itself and the contexts it finds itself within.
Through formal simplicity and game-like propositions, our playful and gestural work mediates on questions we face as artists; how to collaborate? (Floorplan, 2015); how do we contextualise ourselves? (Finding the Frame, 2016); what does it mean to choose this, over that? (Some Possibilities, 2016); when does a performance start and end? (For as Little or as Long as You Like, 2017); what does it mean to learn a performance (Empty Gestures, 2016); what is our relationship to an audience? (VVVV, 2017)
Indecisive in the face of these anxieties, we strive to skewer and sidestep these problems through a persistence and poetic simplicity that takes place over many light and fidgety works. We are attracted to a certain weakness (weak positions, weak gestures, weak ideas and weak images), aligning ourselves with a history of critical and conceptual practice while directly borrowing from the figure and physicality of the fool. We are idiots, stumbling into situations which appear to confound us; forcing ourselves to playfully adapt in the hope of generating liberating new possibilities. Each individual work resists being reduced to any fixed and communicative message, our practice rather foregrounding the complex materiality of the body – fleshy, uncertain, demanding, awkward, restless, lethargic, playful, and deeply political.
The work is born out of, and speaks to, a culture that is saturated in content and subject to endless streams of reference and possibility; we are attracted to sidestepping, fidgeting, obliviousness, distraction and emulation. Our projects host collisions and confusions between participants, and unfold out towards the viewer through instruction and suggestion. We stage uncertain encounters between spectator and performer that move between the legible, the empathizable and the distant. Exploiting cliché gestures of sensation and thought, we manipulate the space between internal sensation and a viewing audience, and critically exhaust strategies of performing a ‘neutral’ body.
Within a climate of austerity and neoliberalism, the artistic and experimental performance scene announce their political utility as sites of assembly, exchange, expression and critique. However, in rejection of a society that calls for productivity, stringency and accountability, we resolutely defend art’s potential to remain wasteful and non-instrumentalized – a waste of energy, time, space and possibility. Insisting on the most oblique of gestures, and floating in an interdisciplinary void, we assert the continued significance of strategies of insignificance and meaninglessness. We embrace the contradictions of valuing uselessness and pursuing meaningless, and remain curious, playful, and suspicious.