Overview / personal creative practice

Dr Joanna Mayes is Creative Director of Mayes Creative and has a background in education (BEdHons), Jazz improvisation and computer technology with a PhD in music and visual performance (‘experiments with the activated presence’) from Dartington College of Arts/Plymouth University.

Currently living in Cornwall, creative projects include both creative production and direction as well as the making of film installation & performance, with a specialism in 8mm/16mm experimental/alternative techniques & live visuals (digital/analogue).

Jo’s continued interest lies in the way in which we understand ourselves and how to extend this through research, community and shared experiences. How creative practice and experiences can assist in the democratisation of learning (inclusivity via DIY technologies/non-urban perspective) and the interrogation of our worlds. Also in making the unseen available to be understood, with an ongoing fascination in working at the interaction between information technology/data and the physical world.

A researcher at heart, Joanna’s projects usually involve collaboration with a broad range of partners, currently working with ways of understanding our current situation through heritage and science.

Film artist

Joanna is a film artist who explores the experience of being in a location at a particular time through the medium of film.

Bringing her experience of musical improvisation into her practice, Joanna opens her work up to chance through hand processing and the use of organic materials, to create short film-poems that reverberate between abstraction and control.

She represents place through a layering of approaches to materiality: analogue film responds to the light in that place and time, physical outcomes are often charged with atmosphere from the site through use of materials of the locality, such as seawater for processing and wild berries for tinting the film.

Artist statement

I consider film as being a place of intersections, where the story of the present collapses into a collapses into a moment of action, light and presence.

For me, filmmaking is essentially performative and experiential. We may be in one place, watching and waiting, but time is always moving, tracked by the ticking of the clockwork motor on my clockwork wind-up Bolex camera.

I observe the comings and goings of the world through my tiny lens, always looking for ways to embody site as material reality (processing with seaweed, tinting with lichen) and return life to the film image. I celebrate process, welcoming small remnants from the experience of filmmaking in place to remain as artefacts, such as sand, hairs and dust. Past in the present, contained in film.

Marks of my personal presence are also retained in the physical film, taking an artisanal ‘hands on’ approach to film creation and development, contrary to the ‘hands-off’ nature and speed of digital image capture. Projection, whether analogue or live digital visuals, are also an integral part of rtist, keeping a sense of my personal presence within the artwork.

Analogue clockwork filmmaking requires choices to be made in the moment, creating a heightened sense of presence, as in the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Tacita Dean. I am intrigued by the experiences common to the filmmaker and the viewer and how these can be brought more closely together; the way in which we experience our presence in the moment through stillness or action within and across the frames.

My approach is influenced by my experience in performance art and the aleotoric and improvisatory music of John Cage, David Tudor, Charles Mingus and Albert Ayler, where the moment is a place to play, confound and confront preconceptions and presumptions.

Outcomes are open, the final form of the work evolves through the process of its making. I like to share my work and in different contexts, such as projected performance visuals, site specific film installation or cinema. I welcome collaboration with other creative practitioners and specialists from other fields, such as astronomers and archaeologists, and am influenced by the integral extended research processes of Goat Island, Forced Entertainment and others.

My current interests are in the enormity and small details of astrophysics, land and sea environments, and how the micro and the macro are reflected in each other.

Recent collaborations/performance/curation

Star Shanties (Dec 2019-)

  • filmmaker in collaboration with sound artist Justin Wiggan and composer Matthew Thomason

Measuring The Universe (November 2019)

  • SWCTN/Porthmeor Studios Residency with Justin Wiggan
  • outcomes shared as part of Tate St Ives Winter Festival (end Nov 2019)
  • Link to blog here

400 Light Years (June 2019)

  • Residency with sound artists Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) & Justin Wiggan with astrophysics support from Carolyn Kennett
  • extension to Lizard Beacons Project

Lizard Point Artist Residency (March 2019): collaboration with Lumen Studio

  • 20 artists selected from an open call for subsidised 4 day residency at Lizard Point YHA
  • exhibition of outcomes in Helston & London

Favourite Things & Places (ongoing)

  • film commission as part of Dark Skies: Bright Stars project, inspired by astronomy heritage. 16/8mm film, hand processeed

Jazz Shorts (ongoing)

  • short film series in collaboration with jazz composers
  • 16/8mm film

Deep Time/Meteor: Film Pod (2018-): With LUX and Plymouth University

  • Commission of 8 analogue short films from an open call
  • Commission of a sculptural film screening environment
  • Collaboration with creative technologist to control film playback with Raspberry Pi-based DIY cosmic ray detector

Creative Cosmic Ray Detector Project (ongoing)

  • devised plan with engineer Ian Falconer & Software Cornwall to create a DIY cosmic ray detector array for Cornwall; DIY cosmic ray detector commissioned & working
  • Creative Direction of planned big data project, with detectors based in schools and community hubs/libraries. Plan for artists/creative technologists to work with data produced to create artworks both online and as physical outcomes.

Deep Space (Spring/Summer 2018)

  • Creative Direction & Live Visuals for collaboration with Choreographer Lois Taylor & contemporary jazz group Michelson Morley. Performance at Sterts Theatre.

Working with ideas relating to cosmic rays and deep space telescopy.

  • Collaboration with creative technologist to build a DIY cosmic ray detector
  • mentoring in digital Live Visuals & Mapping (Modul8/MadMapper) from Tom Harding

Analogue Film Immersion Courses (Autumn 2017/Summer 2018)

  • with visiting artist Robert Schaller from Colerado, USA
  • wilderness filmmaking/DIY and alternative ways of working with analogue film

St Ives Jazz Club (2017-): Programme curator/committee member

See film work
See research work