"For, conversely, if death is indeed the possibility of the impossible and therefore the possibility of appearing as such of the impossibility of appearing as such either, then man, or man as Dasein, never has a relation to death as such, but only to perishing, to demising, and to the death of the other, who is not the other."
Derrida, J. (1993) Aporias. Stanford, CA: Stanford Press. p 76.
In a study of bereaved individuals, it is noted that of the two different styles of attachment theory, avoidant-attachment can be used as a coping mechanism for bereavement. (Delespaux, et al. 2013). Avoidance in usual circumstances is healthy, as it plays a role in facilitating the healing process. The emotional pain can be severe enough that respite helps manage the worst of the symptoms. (Shear, 2010). Usually this is temporary, but prolonging this state can result in complicated grief, where the sufferer no longer adapts to change.
‘Complicated grief’, previously known as ‘traumatic grief’, is a condition that arrests the sufferer’s ability to function appropriately in society. (Hensley, Clayton. 2008) It usually manifests itself as anger, disbelief, preoccupation with the deceased, and/or avoidance of reminders of the deceased. It is the latter ability to avoid loss that sits at the heart of my research interests.
Through practice-led research I aspire to detail a practical and theoretical exploration of the role of erasure in dealing with complicated grief. My initial pathway into research, Derrida’s Aporias (1993), considers the personal psychological implications of death (spectres and ghosts) and this supports the kind of absent-presence I have often attempted in my own photographs. On the other hand, Derrida recognises the broader societal issues involved – ‘there is no politics of death’ he writes, as if loss of life is itself without prefix, without cultural mediation. (Derrida, 1993: 59). On this basis my research project creatively exploits the ‘compromised sense of purpose, significance, security, and control’ of bereaved individuals.’ (Neimeyer, et al. 2002: 241)
I am investigating how grief and avoidance impact upon, and motivate, the production of artworks that themselves manifest ‘compromised purpose’ through technical or procedural erasure. Given my emphasis on personal loss I am concerned with the tensions between public and private knowledge within practices that currently explore audio recordings of data transfer (voice, handwriting, typing), visualisations of voice sound waves, and obscuring of text.
This compromising of information illustrates the absent-presence that engages my current research project and addresses the impact complicated grief has on decisions within my studio practice. I strive to create a sensation of something lost, not found but almost there: an indexical trace of moments and memories left to me. This becomes the trace of complicated grief: a practical exploration of erasure.
 Delespaux, E. et al.. (2013). Attachment and severity of grief: the mediating role of negative appraisal and inflexible coping. Omega: journal of death and dying. 67 (3), 269-290.
 Shear, M. K.. (2010). Exploring the role of experiential avoidance from the perspective of attachment theory and the dual process model. Omega: journal of death and dying. 61 (4), 357-370.
 Hensley, P. & Clayton, P. J. (2008) “Bereavement-Related Depression”. Psychiatric Times. Available online at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/bereavement-related-depression [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014]
 Derrida, J. (1993) Aporias. Stanford, CA: Stanford Press.
 Neimeyer, R. A., et al. (2002) “Mourning and Meaning”. American Behavioral Scientist. 46 (2), 235-251
ORGANISATIONS AND SOCIETIES
Centre for Death & Society, Bath University
Order of the Good Death, California
Cruse Bereavement Care, UK National
Journal for Loss and Trauma
Omega: Journal of Death & Dying
Death Animations, symposium held 19 October 2012, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead
Trauma, Grief, Loss: The Art of Bereavement, conference held 15 May 2015, UCA, Farnham
RESEARCH & STUDIO DIARY
Here you will find essays, texts, experiments, and information about my research and studio development.