On Innards: A Three-Way Conversation

In: Body Horror and Shapeshifting: A Multidisciplinary Exploration

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As a part of preparing for an exhibition, Mindy Lee, Amanda Couch, and Andrew Hladky have been meeting regularly to discuss their artistic practice and shared interest in guts. At the 2nd Body Horror conference, we presented a snapshot of these discussions as a three-way conversation. Our artistic research centres on changing conceptualisations of the digestive system, the role these ideas have played in constructing and destabilising our sense of self/self-image, and the distaste and horror they can inspire. Recent medical research re-imagines the digestive system as a sensory organ and second brain, ‘a vibrant, modern data-processing centre’ and the site of our most direct and complex physical interaction with the external world. The messages it sends to the rest of the body have a profound effect on our mood and ability to function, but its reasoning remains largely inaccessible to consciousness. The idea that our entrails lurk behind the scenes exerting a decisive influence on our actions is an unsettling one, challenging modern cerebral-centred images of selfhood and agency. Our artwork highlights these digestive ruminations, usually kept so carefully hidden. It emphasises its own materiality and brings to light its inner workings, showing those imagistic indigestions and textual regurgitations that can shatter the fragile surface illusion. Our three-way conversation exposes and disembowels the artwork and the ideas within it. In research we take in and incorporate the ideas and stories of the other, processing and digesting to regurgitate and repeat through our own perspectives as artists: research as rumination.