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Margaret Noble

Climate Crisis, Symbiosis, Post-Humanism, Artificial Ecosystem, Speculative Fiction, Curation, Installation, Machine-Nature Interaction


Dark Loops

Dark Loops, Margaret Noble, 2024. Multimedia. Dimensions Variable. Photography by Stacy Keck.

In "Dark Loops," Margaret Noble creates sensory environments that challenge our preconceptions of the boundaries between living and non-living things. She invites us to navigate the interconnected reality in which we live, transcending the anthropocentric vision of nature. Drawing from this ecological awareness, Noble's mixed-media installations avoid solely dwelling on the devastating effects of the Anthropocene. Instead, she interweaves opposing concepts such as reality versus illusion, artificial versus natural, organic versus inorganic, and freedom versus confinement. These contradictions redefine the relationship between nature, technology, and humanity.

When observed collectively, the sculptures, live-streaming videos, preserved insects, metal meshes, animal bones, artificial foliage, and technological components depict artificial ecosystems. While the artworks presented in "Dark Loops" might initially seem tied to an unsettling sci-fi narrative, they actually reflect the complex connections present in both our individual lives and shared experiences. Considering how human actions have significantly impacted nearly every part of the Earth, Noble invites us to encounter these intricate patterns with fresh eyes regarding our personal and collective existence as it stands now. Instead of providing definitive answers, she suggests that acknowledging the complexity of the present is one of the initial steps toward understanding and progressing in this reality.

Artist Interview

Q: In this new edition of the UAAD online magazine, we're exploring the theme of "[Matrix] of the [Not-Yet]." How would you interpret these two words, and how do you see your work aligning with the concepts of [Matrix] and [Not-Yet]?

The concept of the "Matrix of the Not-Yet" prompts a deep exploration of potentialities within our cultural, social, and political landscapes. It suggests a space where latent possibilities await realization, challenging us to consider the intersections of past, present, and future.

In my artistic practice, I find a profound resonance with these concepts. Through immersive experiences that blend physical and digital mediums, I delve into the intricate interplay between technology, nature, and humanity in contemporary urban settings. These installations serve as reflective surfaces, capturing the complex amalgamation of cultural and social dynamics—the very essence of the "Matrix" where diverse influences intersect and interact.

Moreover, my work embraces the inherent uncertainties and potentials in our relationship with technology and the natural world. Through experimentation and performance, I aim to spark reflection on the evolving intersections of these realms across time. This essence closely aligns with the notion of the "Not-Yet," as my installations invite viewers to explore potential futures and alternative perspectives that are yet to fully unfold.

Drawing inspiration from ecological awareness and philosophical discourse, my creations seek to challenge preconceptions and provoke contemplation on the complexities of existence. By navigating the boundaries between reality and illusion, artificial and natural, my work invites viewers to engage with the nuanced realities of our interconnected world. Through this exploration, I aim to encourage dialogue and introspection, inviting viewers to acknowledge the presence of our impacted Earth and consider paths toward understanding and progress.

Q: We are very interested in the trajectory of your creative practices and their connection to the theme. Could you provide us with a little more information about your background?

My artistic journey closely intertwines with the theme of "Matrix of the Not-Yet," reflecting my exploration of cultural, social, and technological landscapes in pursuit of artistic innovation.
Growing up in Texas and California, I was immersed in diverse environments that shaped my artistic sensibilities and fueled my curiosity about the interconnectedness of the world. This early exposure laid the groundwork for my exploration of interdisciplinary art forms, which became central to my practice.

My educational path, including a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Sound Art, deepened my understanding of art theory and technical aspects while embracing influences from southern California's dance music cultures and Chicago's underground club scene. These experiences enriched my grasp of the dynamic interplay between sound, space, and human experience, aligning with the concept of the "[Matrix] of the [Not-Yet]."

In 2004, I transitioned from the dance floor to experimental sound art, marking a pivotal moment in my artistic evolution. This shift opened new avenues for creative expression and collaboration, leading to the expansion of my practice to include sculpture, performance, and interactive installations.

Today, I continue to explore the intersections of technology, psychology, and environmentalism through immersive experiences that challenge perceptions and provoke contemplation about our rapidly changing world. Embracing the concept of the "[Not-Yet]," I remain dedicated to pushing artistic boundaries and fostering dialogues about the future of art and society.

Q: The creators participating in this magazine work across various mediums, including moving images, interactive installations, music composition, etc. What factors influence your choice of medium for your works?

The choice of medium for my artworks is deeply influenced by a combination of personal experiences, thematic considerations, and conceptual exploration. As an artist whose practice resides at the intersection of sound, sculpture, and performance, I gravitate toward mediums that allow me to express complex ideas and engage with audiences in immersive and thought-provoking ways.
One of the primary factors influencing my choice of medium is the thematic content of my work. Themes such as technology, psychology, and environmentalism often require multi-sensory experiences to fully convey their nuances and complexities. This prompts me to explore mediums that offer a rich palette of sensory stimuli, such as sound, sculpture, and interactive installations. By combining these elements, I aim to create immersive environments that invite viewers to engage with the artwork on multiple levels and provoke contemplation on the themes explored.

Additionally, my background as a sound artist and DJ informs my approach to medium selection. Sound has always been a central component of my artistic practice, serving as a vehicle for storytelling, mood creation, and emotional resonance. As such, I often integrate sound into my sculptures and installations, using it to enhance the immersive qualities of the artwork and create dynamic sonic landscapes that complement the visual elements.

Furthermore, I am drawn to mediums that offer opportunities for experimentation and innovation. Whether it's exploring new materials and techniques in sculpture or incorporating emerging technologies into interactive installations, I am constantly pushing the boundaries of my practice and seeking out novel ways to engage with audiences.

Q: How does your work reflect or actively engage with the cultural and social dynamics of your community or the communities you interact with? Are there elements in your art that seek to bridge, disrupt, or transform these dynamics?

My work actively engages with the cultural and social dynamics of the communities I inhabit and interact with by creating time-based, immersive experiences that blend physical and digital media. Inspired by my urban surroundings and immersive relationship with technology, my installations and performances delve into themes such as the perils and promise of technology, ecological concerns, and the complex interplay between humanity and the natural world.
Drawing from my experiences as both a teacher and an artist, I am deeply invested in examining how technology shapes our understanding of ourselves and our environment. Through experimental processes and performances, I aim to provoke contemplation on the ways in which technology influences our lives and relationships, and how we can navigate these dynamics in a rapidly changing world.

Moreover, my interactive installations and performances often incorporate elements of audience participation and collaboration, creating opportunities for community members to actively engage with the artwork and contribute to its meaning-making process. By fostering a sense of shared ownership and participation in the creative process, I seek to bridge the gap between artist and audience and foster a sense of collective engagement with the pressing issues and concerns facing our society.

At the same time, my work also seeks to disrupt and challenge prevailing cultural and social dynamics, particularly those related to technology and its impact on our lives. Through critical inquiry and experimentation, I aim to shed light on the often overlooked or taken-for-granted aspects of our technological society, prompting viewers to question their assumptions and reconsider their relationship to technology and the world around them.

In doing so, I hope to catalyze meaningful conversations and transformations within my community and beyond, ultimately contributing to the ongoing process of social and cultural change. By weaving together elements of technology, ecology, and human experience in my artwork, I strive to create spaces for reflection, dialogue, and collective action that inspire positive change and foster a more inclusive and equitable society.

Q: What real-world strategies or methodologies do you employ in your art practice to manifest your visions of the future? How do these tactics serve as forms of resistance or intervention within the current socio-political landscape?

In my art practice, I use real-world methods to bring my future visions to life. This involves collaborating with experts from various fields and experimenting with new techniques and technologies. By working together, we come up with innovative solutions to real-world problems.
I experiment with different materials and technologies to push the boundaries of traditional art-making. This sparks conversations about what the future might look like. My art aims to challenge the status quo by tackling social and environmental issues and questioning existing power structures.

Through my work, I invite viewers to think critically and consider different perspectives. Ultimately, I hope to inspire action towards creating a fairer, more sustainable world.

Q: How do you hope your work impacts its viewers or participants, particularly in terms of rethinking potential futures or alternate realities? Who do you perceive as your audience?

In my exhibition "Dark Loops," I aim to challenge perceptions and invite contemplation about the interconnected reality we inhabit. Drawing from "Dark Loops'" portrayal of artificial ecosystems through sculptures, live-streaming videos, preserved insects, and technological components, I explore alternative paths for understanding the relationship between nature, technology, and humanity.

"Dark Loops" reflects an ongoing exploration of existential themes linked to nature, expanded from interactive sound installations to incorporate live streaming wildlife camera feeds from around the world. Creatures like bees, moths, and snakes take center stage alongside representations of nature's cycles, subverting traditional taxidermy conventions.

The tension between reality and illusion in pieces like "Horizon" and "Infinite Bee" prompts viewers to question perception in a world mediated by screens. Metal meshes and cages throughout the exhibition add to the sense of confinement, encouraging contemplation on what we choose to share or conceal.

Despite initial associations with sci-fi narratives, "Dark Loops" ultimately reflects the intricate connections present in our individual lives and shared existence. By inviting viewers to observe and encounter these patterns in unconventional ways, I encourage acknowledgment as an initial step toward understanding and progress in our complex reality.

Q: As a creator, what do you see as the threats or uncertainties we will face in the coming decade?

As a creator, I see several looming challenges for the next decade. The rapid pace of technological advancement brings both opportunities and risks, including concerns about job displacement, privacy breaches, and ethical dilemmas. The urgent need to address the climate crisis is another pressing issue, requiring immediate action to mitigate its impacts and transition to sustainable practices.

Q: What motivates you to continue creating as an artist?

As an artist, my drive to create stems from my personal experiences and the themes I explore in my work. With a background in philosophy and sound art, I'm passionate about delving into the intersections of technology, nature, and humanity.

Drawing from my time as a DJ and sound artist, I'm motivated by art's ability to provoke thought and foster dialogue. My work serves as a platform to address pressing issues such as technology's societal impact, ecological concerns, and social justice.

My commitment to social and environmental justice drives me to use my art as a tool for advocacy and activism. Through immersive installations and interactive experiences, I aim to engage audiences in discussions about the future and inspire positive change.

Ultimately, the joy of creative exploration, the satisfaction of connecting with audiences, and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the world are what keep me driven as an artist.

Q: Are there any theories, books, or artists you would like to recommend in your current areas of interest?

In my recent exhibition, "Dark Loops," I've been heavily influenced by a variety of texts and works. Timothy Morton's "Dark Ecology" has particularly resonated with me. Morton's exploration of ecological awareness in the Anthropocene era, likening it to a strange loop or Möbius strip, has been deeply thought-provoking. Drawing parallels to Deckard's journey in "Blade Runner" (1982), where he grapples with his own identity and role in a complex world, Morton's perspective has shed light on the fundamental interconnectedness of ecological phenomena and reality itself.

Moreover, Giovanni Aloi's investigation into animals and taxidermy has sparked inspiration in my artistic practice. Aloi's work dives into the intricate relationships between humans, animals, and the representations of nature through taxidermy, offering valuable insights into the complexities of our interactions with the natural world.

As I've explored broader theoretical frameworks, Object-oriented ontology and Jane Bennett's "Vibrant Matter" have captured my attention. These frameworks challenge traditional understandings of reality and agency, offering fresh perspectives on the dynamic relationships between objects, subjects, and the environment.

Q: If you could possess a superpower, what would it be?

If I were to gain a new superpower, I'd wish for complete strength and control over my body, fostering an unshakeable sense of safety and security, unbound by society.

About the Artist

Born in Texas and raised in California, Margaret Noble’s experimental artworks have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her interdisciplinary work resides at the intersection of sound, sculpture, and performance. She holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego, and an MFA in Sound Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Noble’s work is influenced by the dynamic, dance music cultures of southern California which flourished from the 1980s to the 1990s and later led her to perform as an electronic music DJ in the underground club community of Chicago. In 2004, she branched out from the dance floor into experimental sound art for new audiences which intersected the electronic sound scene and the visual arts community. During this transition, Margaret created sound works for collaborative projects in video, dance, and object theatre. Her interdisciplinary artworks have now evolved into interactive sculptures and installations investigating technology, psychology, and environmentalism.

©2024 Underground Art And Design LLC | ISSN 2835-284X

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