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Jacob Carter: Talk with our Team

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

In this post we will be showcasing the work of our team member Jacob Carter. He will be talking about how his art practice has progressed from exploring sound art to his current body of work exploring media archaeology and new methods for communicating.

Jacob Carter, Planting Seeds, C-Type Print, 2020.

Image description: Birds eye view of a round concrete post on a tarmac path. Piled in the centre are a number of pink and yellow seeds.

I am a British artist currently living and working in Birmingham. I create performances, sound atmospheres, handmade instruments as well as facilitating participatory projects through workshops. I am interested in iterative ways of working, approaching research and making from an exploration of materiality. I get very inspired by discovering a new process or using a new piece of technology. It’s that sense of exploring something new that excites me and makes me want to create work to find out ways I can apply this new method or see how far I can push a piece of technology. My recent project has explored how developing a community of artists can help construct contemporary and radical ways of performing sound within virtual spaces. These have included workshops such as The Art of Mimicry where participants joined online. In this they used domestic objects and their own voices to create background noise in response to different online appropriated videos.

Inferior Sounds (Demolition), video, 3:28 min, 2020.

Image description: video of appropriated footage of building demolitions. The audio consists of noises made by participants using their voices and domestic objects.

This project is titled Participatory Sound Making and was made in collaboration with a group of staff and students from Birmingham School of Art. I was looking at how workshops could be used as a research methodology, and how these can enable artists to work together to discuss themes and concepts. The workshops were very informal, few were in person while others were facilitated online. While it was challenging in certain aspects it also posed an interesting prospect for exploring virtual spaces and digital bodies. We were looking at how we could disrupt online spaces, with Microsoft Teams being this rather corporate space intended to portray information clearly. However, within these workshops we disrupted these ideas and its original purpose through acts such as rubbing the microphone and tapping the laptop screen.

These workshops also influenced my own research and independent making such as exploring the process of instrument making. Inspired by traditional African instruments I began exploring contemporary ways of building instruments using non-traditional materials sourced in Birmingham. I enjoyed the process of learning and the trial and error of constructing something that is both a finely finished sculptural object as well as an instrument that produces in tune music. This process developed into a documentary film to explore how the process of making can be seen as an art form in itself.

Making a Tongue Drum (Extract), video, 1:22, 2020

Image description: video documenting the process of building a wooden tongue drum, demonstrating the different machines and processes used.

My previous projects have been heavily influenced by sound art and ways of utilising obsolete technology and pushing them beyond their material limits. I was very inspired by the works of early sound artists such as John Cage, as well as Christian Marclay’s use of impromptu performances and manipulation of vinyl records.

A large proportion of my early work was focused on manipulating technology, creating chaotic layered soundscapes. This really helped develop my interest in creating artwork as an exploration of materiality. Actively avoiding contextual framing or having specific meanings within my work. It became more of an experience, something peculiar and chaotic. Music has always been a key influence in my work. I think that passion for music is what drew me to creating sound art. I wanted to move away from art that was just static and add a layered element that could be more interactive. After listening to sound works of G Lucas Crane and Basinski’s Disintegration Loops I became obsessed with the cassette tape. I found that the material quality of it was interesting in how pliable it was and how easy it was to disrupt and creatively play with. My performance Audio Collider was an example of this process. I wanted to create a multisensory experience, exploring the concept of layering both through the music as well as projected imagery and collage. This performance acted as a form of improvisation, attempting to find a rhythm and pattern within cracked media, disrupted vinyl records, detuned radios and repetitive tape loops.

Audio Collider, performance, 20 min

Image description: a performance using record and cassette players. Colourful projections of CDs flash in the background.

My current project is engaged in identifying what constitutes a culturally significant object, and how we can construct fictional histories. I was influenced to explore this concept of patterns after making interactive text-based games. These games were created to explore a more contemporary and interactive way of presenting research, while paying homage to retro 80’s game aesthetics. These games were also used as a way to facilitate online workshops, which required me to learn a variety of coding languages.

You can play my most recent game Participatory Sound Making here. It works best on desktop in Chrome Browser and displays images, music and videos.

Participatory Sound Making Poster, 2020

Image description: a portrait poster showing tangled wires in neon pink and blue colours. Bold

green text reads 'participatory sound making'.

Taking this concept of coded languages, I focused on how this idea could be presented through patterns, symbols, and sequences.

My recent project has built up a body of work that appears as a kind of catalogue of strange artefacts. This is developing as an exploration of Media Archaeology. This concept looks at the relationship between media and the development of technology. It speaks to the notion that media is recurrent through history and that new media can revive previously neglected or lost forms of communication. I am concerned with the process of civilising materials, creating my own mythical history and language. These strange collections of objects creates a fictional narrative and a sense of social cohesion, leaving the viewer intrigued as to what the purpose of the objects are. This has been influenced by prehistoric sites such as Stone Henge, with these stone monoliths creating their own sense of intrigue and a form of language of its own. Due to the recent lockdown these symbols have been forced into more of a domestic setting. This has made this contradictory dialogue with these strange symbols looking very out of place in the familiar context of the home or garden. It creates a theme of historical imagery being disrupted by the contemporary setting. It looks like it doesn’t belong.

Jacob Carter, Snow Circle, Installation, 2021

Image description: an image of a snowy garden, a square grid crop circle has been created by removing the snow.

These plaster casts that I have been producing is another way that I have referenced the idea of culturally significant objects. Take for example the historical sites such as Pompeii where archaeological artefacts have been recorded in plaster. The very material of plaster has been informed by these contexts to allow the viewer to read them as some sort of replica or document of historical objects. However, the context is removed to mystify where these have come from and why they are here now. The idea of taking something rather mundane and preserving it in plaster allows it to be memorialised. The broken fragments could appear to be debris from a warzone, or displaced objects from a lost civilisation.

Jacob Carter, Forgotten Fragments, Installation, 2020

Image description: an urban landscape with mossy concrete floor and a red brick wall. On the ground are 3 pristine white casts of broken slabs.

Currently I am teaching myself how to work with clay to produce pottery. This has been an interesting challenge due to the limitations of equipment I have. I have been exploring hand making techniques such as slab building as well as researching ways to make DIY fire pit kilns. The process of making pottery is my way of creating my own culturally significant objects, developing a fictional history of artefacts referencing those from ancient Rome. I am influenced by fiction writers such as Tolkien as well as popular sci fi media whose fictional languages are developed to provide a history and culture to made up civilisations. Exploring how the technology of language is essential for an emerging civilisation, I have included symbols scored into the clay to develop my own fictional language and allow these objects to appear like historical artefacts.

Jacob Carter, Engraved clay slab, Installation, 2021

Image description: an installation shot of a square clay slab worked into a wave. The surface is engraved with horizontal wavy lines and numerous geometric symbols.

You can find more of my artwork on my website

You can also follow my works progression on social media @jacobcarter_art.

If you are interested in my performances and films you can watch more of these on YouTube or Vimeo.

Thank you for listening about my artwork and letting me share what I've been making. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at If you enjoyed this keep posted for Hafsah Jamil's future artist talk.

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