All posts by Jane Boyer

Jane Boyer is an independent artist, curator and writer living in France, working in London. Last year, she was awarded an ACE grant and private sponsorship to develop and present This 'Me' of Mine, a touring exhibition, symposium and companion book which explores in depth the issues of self in relation to context and the digital age. Her latest project, RECURSIVE, looks at repetition.

Forgetting Mechanisms

I recently posted the opening clip for the cult movie Paris, Texas, directed by Wim Wenders and written by Sam Shepard, on the RECURSIVE blog in response to something I read from Difference and Repetition by Gilles Deleuse,

Bledne kolo (Vicious Circle) by Jacek Malczewski

“For it is perhaps habit which manages to “draw” something new from a repetition contemplated from without. With habit, we act only on the condition that there is a little Self within us which contemplates: it is this which extracts the new – in other words, the general – from the pseudo-repetition of particular cases. Memory, then, perhaps recovers the particulars dissolved in generality…It is in repetition and by repetition that Forgetting becomes a positive power while the unconscious becomes a positive and superior unconscious (for example, forgetting as a force is an integral part of the lived experience of eternal return).”

I find this compelling and very true in the sense that normal forgetting moves information into the subconscious where it ruminates and comes back out in a creative interpretation. At least, that has often been my experience with a forgetful mind. As an artist I don’t want to copy the work of others, but I can’t help absorbing the visual stimulation of other’s influence. I rely on my ‘forgetting mechanism’ to make something new – at least I always hope it does.

But in a film like Paris, Texas, the forgetting is a looping trap that neither removes pain nor finds relief. It is not a positive force, but a negative destruction. That’s why repetition is a double-edged knife, both positive and negative, and why Nietzsche’s ‘Eternal Return’ contains the unending and unbroken circle of experience, passing through pain to find salvation.

I’m disturbed by reading of huge increases in prescription pain killer use and a rise in heroine deaths in the US. What would Nietzsche and Deleuse say about that I wonder?

[Image: Bledne kolo (Vicious Circle) by Jacek Malczewski]

When do you take warning from your habits?

Parc_del_Laberint_d’Horta_-_Hermit’s_cabin_-_The_monkI’m a terrible creature of habit. I like my routines because they free up brain space for more important stuff – the stuff where I can be really creative and unpredictable. Mostly, I live in harmony with my habits, enjoying their usefulness and the comfort they bring, but there have been times when my habits have given me cause for alarm.

This is the topic of the latest RECURSIVE post: Where does it turn?


Pop over to RECURSIVE to find out about a fascinating study from MIT which finds that habits are formed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and not in the subconscious. Then join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

RECURSIVE on Repetition

RECURSIVE blog banner

I’m very pleased to say

1) I have a new project in the works and

2) Art Pie is again media sponsor!

This project is smaller in scale than This ‘Me’ of Mine, but just as interesting. RECURSIVE explores the inner repetitive thought processes, both ones we’re aware of and ones we’re not. The works in the exhibition show evidence of this recursive thinking in action through the work. My goal for the blogsite is to create a place to discuss what repetition is, how it affects us, and why we’re so drawn to it. So far, that is working really well!

Here’s an example:


Submitted on 2014/05/16 at 1:03 pm

I’ve been thinking of how I feel about the change in repetition, and really, how would I put it into words?I can remember feeling ‘solid’, meaning I knew who I was in relation to where I was and who I was with. Mechanization made communities prosperous, providing most of the work for a local population.

I knew what products I could depend on, where to buy them and how much they would cost. I knew I would need to save money to afford more expensive things I wanted. There was stability in knowing products were readily available and in constant supply. I came home with products I liked in shopping bags. I could smell the production process of tires and toothpaste on the air, knowing they smelled polluting.Now, as someone involved in a digital world, I work where I do not live, I purchase products from all over the world which are shipped to me.

I feel guilty at the thought that less wealthy people than I (and I am not wealthy!) make the clothes I wear and have produced them in a very foreign place in unknown circumstances and at unknown costs to the environment. I feel ‘transparent’ as I share quirky little thoughts on twitter and downright exposed when I post anything on Facebook. I feel impinged by knowing that I can never decide to remove my profile on Facebook. I feel hectic and rushed even though I sit at a table most of my day typing on a keyboard.

I see almost no one, except my husband, throughout my workday. In short, I feel boxed, constrained, observed and strangely non-material in a world that I struggle to comprehend, as my thoughts flit from task to task, page to page, and site to site.

Ian Pickering

Submitted on 2014/05/16 at 4:50 pm

I am not sure that repetition is mechanisation. Farming is repetitive as is much basic craftwork. I am also tempted to suggest that change has always produced a response that things have got worse. Feeling transparent. That is an insight and I understand the idea of being simultaneously connected but isolated.


Submitted on 2014/05/16 at 5:17 pm

I recognise your descriptions. I do feel though that I work where I live, but the product of that work is then spread instantly to all parts of the globe and to anyone who cares to take an interest. Working alone is lonely.

I envy those who have a physically located group to associate with and are able to share ideas face-to-face. I don’t know if any of this has repetition at its core though. I do know I would not want to turn the clock back entirely. I feel privileged to be able to discuss ideas with people all over the world.

Being able to find like-minds wherever they might be is a huge plus for the web. On the other hand I need to find a better balance, where at least some portion of time is spent physically co-located with other artists. I will be working on that aspect in the days, weeks, months and years to come.


Submitted on 2014/05/17 at 1:46 pm

A few thoughts on a great topicI knit and crochet so there is much repetition involved in those actions. By chance I found and continue to find those repetitions creative. The stitching can also have a meditative quality to it, awakening me to the moment.

I don’t expect every repetitive action to have a meditative quality to it however I do recognise actions which are engaging and enlivening and those which have a dulling effect.I have had interesting on-line conversations and got connected to collaborative on-line projects -which I would never have come across without the digital world – I do value them. What I find with digital media is that it is all too easy to get stuck in repetitive actions which don’t lead to anything in particular.

The impact of some digital repetition is to dull / numb the brain. Perhaps that is why we crave the connection with humans who aren’t glued to the screen. The connections can perhaps be more random, intuitive and exploratory.I also think that repetitive digital actions in office spaces are questionable. The assumption seems to be that if people are at the screen they are working and even engaged in their work.

I don’t agree. Humans create and work in a range of ways. As a fellow human I need variety and stimulation through words, textiles and other random moments to develop. This becomes more important as I get older. I work with older people and am obsessed with memory, aging, loneliness and isolation! A few of the comments here refer to people experiencing a sense of isolation even in a world of virtual connections.

I think it is essential to create spaces which integrate the virtual and physical nature of life (I love the makers library network). Isolation is a killer. As a human I want to be awake to this and create repetitions which sustain me and who know others around me.


We hope you’ll join us and join in the conversation…


The Memory Industry

Untitled 2008, (c)Darren Nixon
Untitled 2008, (c)Darren Nixon

“One of the reasons I source mainly from newspaper, television and internet imagery is because the way we interact with these media shapes so many of our opinions about the world around us. Most of what I know about the world has been drawn in a fairly disjointed and fragmentary fashion from this huge, seemingly ever present sea of information.

The sheer amount of available knowledge is so overwhelming that I end up feeling always frustrated that I know nothing about anything. Not knowing what I should be spending my time getting to know, I end up with a constant sense of only ever partially understanding even the most important current and historical events.

I am impelled by a great fascination but end up mostly confused about which direction to allow my fascination to lead me in the time I have. Although partial understanding can be frustrating and isolating, it does carry its own qualities. As events become jumbled and confused in our minds a kind of magical haze is thrown over everything. We start to create our own narratives, filling in the gaps between what we pick up from various sources with any number of unreliable memories and opinions.” Darren Nixon

Darren’s central theme of ‘not knowing’ brings up issues of ‘not remembering’ and when applied on a global scale, this “magical haze” created by the fragmented reality of media overload, threatens our formation of collective memories; memories we experience as part of a culture and a society, memories which connect our identity to the cultural experience of a larger social group.

In art since 1900, Benjamin Buchloh makes this encouraging statement in the final roundtable discussion, “The Predicament of Contemporary Art”: “…the effort to retain or to reconstruct the capacity to remember, to think historically, is one of the few acts that can oppose the almost totalitarian implementation of the universal laws of consumption…”

However, he concludes with this condemnation, “…to deliver the aesthetic capacity to construct memory images to the voracious demands of an apparatus that entirely lacks the ability to remember and to reflect historically, and to do so in the form of resuscitated myth, is an almost guaranteed route to success in the present art world, especially with its newly added wing of “the memory industry”. Chilling.

Read more of my interview with Darren Nixon, Joining a Conversation Well Underway.

Internal Objects and the Objectified Self

“Lacan revises and enriches the myth of Narcissus, so passionately in love with his image that he plunges into the water and is drowned.”[1]

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Bathroom, (c)2011 Hayley Harrison
Bathroom, (c)2011 Hayley Harrison

The mirror holds peril. Revealing truths unwanted or enticing the loss of the self to an objectified world. The creation of our self-identity begins with how we respond to our image in the mirror in infancy. We either recognize the ‘other’ and begin the process of socialization or we retreat to find the maternal object and become locked in the death wish.[2] Psychoanalytical theory is of course more complex and involved than that simple description. But the significance in the simplified description is the relationship of self to object. We begin to understand we are an object which occupies space, distinct from others or we seek the comfort and reassurance of objects to satisfy our longing, beginning to see everything as an object available to satisfy us.

In Kleinian theory, the ‘internal object’ is “a mental and emotional image of an external object that has been taken inside the self. The character of the internal object is coloured by aspects of the self that have been projected into it. A complex interaction continues throughout life between the world of internalised figures and objects and in the real world…the state of the internal object is considered to be of prime importance to the development and mental health of the individual.”[3]

Her, (c)2011 Hayley Harrison
Her, (c)2011 Hayley Harrison

We are bound to objects as a means to understand the world, ourselves and the complex relationships we have throughout life. Any kind of exploration of self and identity must perforce include a discussion of objects. This ‘Me’ of Mine has delved into several aspects of this ‘object relationship’, through the work of Kate Murdoch and memory association with personal identity development, Annabel Dover and the complex personal codes and emotions imposed on objects, Cathy Lomax and objects which represent self-image and emotional states and now with the work of Hayley Harrison and her use of objects as an expression of an inner self:

“I think we have to be in the ‘right’ place both internally and externally and that’s when a conversation occurs. For me self-recognition through the external is experienced in its ‘purest’ form when we are here, now, rather than through our pasts or futures.  We can be taken off guard by something, something perhaps poetic that throws us into the present. Whatever that something is, we just have to come into relationship with it.  When we experience one of these rare conversations between the internal and external I believe we come back to ourselves, much like Jacques Lacan’s famous discourse with the sardine can. Ultimately within these moments we are looking into a mirror.”

Read more of my interview with Hayley, Speak Me Many Times .

Read past interviews with Kate Murdoch, Annabel Dover and Cathy Lomax.

[1] Roundinesco, Elisabeth, “The Mirror Stage: an obliterated archive” from The Cambridge Companion to Lacan, edited by Jean-Michel Rabaté, 2003, Cambridge University Press, accessed online  at: , 25 June 2013

[2] Ibid.

[3] Melanie Klein Trust, ,accessed 25 June 2013