A series of interviews with SPACE Art + Technology artists in residence
What were you doing in the year leading up to the residency?
Megan Snowe: It’s been just over a year since I heard that I was accepted for the residency, which actually inspired me to change the course in my life a bit and put more time and energy specifically into writing and finding my voice as a writer.
What are you doing at the moment?
MS: I am working on a play. I was already aware of the technology that SPACE referred to in the open call for the This Time With FEELing residency, Affectiva, which is a technology that reads your facial expressions and translates them into emotional data about your experience of some content, data, which companies can purchase, in order to adjust their advertising strategies accordingly.
For the residency proposal I outlined a near future scenario, in which some company had developed a physical implant that they claim can assist people in expressing their emotions. So my thought was that it would be a kind of translator between the activity of the nervous system and the muscles in your face, or the tone of your voice, in order to more accurately translate emotions into expression.
In the world of the play, this technology is marketed primarily for people who are on the autism spectrum and who suffer from various emotional disconnect symptoms, yet it is available for anyone to purchase. I developed two characters in response to this: Dale and Remy. Dale is considering getting this implant, because they are worried that even though they're not diagnosed with conditions that the device has been developed for, they are not able to engage with the current economy of emotions, which they believe drives the professional and social world. They both discuss that having emotional intelligence and affective emoting is very important to engage with various aspects of public, social and professional life.
In the original proposal this character is talking on the phone with a friend, not a terribly close friend, but a friend who is training to be an amateur MMA fighter or boxer. This friend works for a Fed Ex type company, where they are in constant motion, but can be on the phone at all times. I’ve always been curious about these jobs. You know, who taxi drivers, delivery people and people who I see working and talking on the phone all the time: who are they talking to and what are they talking about? I really don’t know...
How has it been since you started the residency?
MS: I feel fortunate to be here during summer, as it is beautiful and people, who are around are pretty relaxed and chill. I enjoy entering a community, which is not in full on hustle mode and more like “let’s go have a picnic in the park and talk about art”
What’s coming next?
MS: At the end August I’ll be doing the OpenPROCESS event for the residency. I will be launching, in a non-traditional way, a zine, which I have titled Sticky Business. We’ll be adding to the notes I’ve gathered in my research, working towards the play about emotions, texture, movement and capital and how we relate to them sort of as a material. I’ll be bringing different substances, liquids and writing utensils, so that we can annotate the zine together, with the intention that some notes can’t be made with words. I’m hoping people will come as collaborators and in a way editors.
Megan Snowe, a US based artist, works in a variety of mediums including installation, animation, text, sound and workshop. Snowe has recently been driven by questions of how we understand, strategise and quantify our immaterial and emotional lived experiences, critiquing various social strategies and subconscious behaviours that perpetuate inhibiting social norms. With a BA in Russian Studies & Studio Art from Oberlin College (2008) and an MFA in Time & Space Arts from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts (2014) Snowe has exhibited throughout Europe, the US and online.