GOLDSMITHS | BA Fine Art & History of Art 2015

Melinda Lauw

My practice thus far has been informed by my interest in haptic perception and our affective experience of the world. I am fascinated by the power of materiality to affect us both physically and psychologically, through sensations like pleasure, fear and perhaps other unknown feelings we have yet to name.

The Internet to me is a fertile ground for navigating through this materiality. It is rich with textual, visual and auditory information and creates spaces where people gather to discuss weird and idiosyncratic experiences, things that are sometimes too absurd to mention in person. I for one, discovered that my strange addiction to instructional massage videos was in fact Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a pseudo-scientific neologism describing a pleasurable tingling sensation, triggered by certain visuals and sounds. I like to think that I am more attuned to my senses; that my body openly interprets its surroundings through my whole sensorium.

My exhibited works reflect my other affliction, similarly pseudo-scientific and shared by many anonymous friends online. Trypophobia is the fear of clusters of holes and I dare you to stop now and Google it for images. The Internet has managed to amplify typophobia, which conventionally presents itself in natural formations (beehives, lotus pods etc.), through digitally manipulated images with its distilled essence – a superimposition of lesions and burrows on synthetic fleshy material. This falsity, the synthetic nature of materiality, is echoed in the field of Synthetic Aesthetics, which espouses the idea of living matter as a designable and programmable unit. I see my rug works as a visual interpretation of the mysterious sensations triggered by brute materiality. Using the aesthetics of microorganisms and cells, my pieces are finely crafted, with detailed designs and a mix of natural fibres and plastic, alluding to the sporadic growth of ambiguous matter.

Over the last four years, I have worked extensively with yarn, specializing in hand tufting, a technique of rug making. Growing up in tropical Singapore, yarn strikes me as an exotic material. Though I am aware of the history of needlework and textile art, especially in the context of craft and feminism, I do not necessarily identify with all of it. On one hand, I like that I do not bear that burden and I relish in my attraction to its irresistible tactility but on the other, my medium of choice situates my work within the field of textiles and fibre art.