Abstraction in art and in thinking offered both space and relief from the religious relics and other historical attributes of growing up in Montreal. I did not dislike this environment, but it came with so many competing narratives that finding art forms where one could seemingly experience a non-narrative renewal or reverence felt closer to what wordless, or foreign language music offered, and this imparted something meaningful to me that required exploration.
Peripheral interests in science seemed to reinforce this leaning and lent the sense that non-narrative art could be a mediator of sorts between the humanities and science. Well, I needed a mediator since I have dyscalculia and acquired a familial essential tremor in my teens; this could have ended my practice before it had really begun, but I am just too interested and stubborn. My introduction to the Experimental Arts program at the Ontario College of Art fit with my sense of art as a working theory. 1984 was an auspicious year to graduate. We knew it.
My practice and my life have entailed a lot of notes in the margins. A tendency to working through sequences that were non sequential describes a series of repetitive experiments that some how work in concert by idea and design but are otherwise imbued with randomness. My vested interest in neurology and work as an art facilitator in the disability/psychiatric community reinforced my interest in systems: social, perceptual, linguistic, structural and ultimately complex.
Oliver Sacks first postulated chaos theory as a process of migraines in his book “Migraine” long before the Internet and YouTube videos of murmurations. It stuck with me for years and had always seemed linked in some indescribable way to the music of Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt, the writings of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, the paintings of Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin and other abstract expressionists. This core set, as well as countless hours observing and painting ocean waves during family vacations in Maine has provided inspiration and life long study.
I hope to be on this creative path for some time, working on new equations of expression and waiting to see what random events will bring to alter its form.
Here is a short bio:
Jan Swinburne is a Canadian visual artist whose interdisciplinary practice makes use of traditional and digital media. Swinburne approaches all media from a painter’s sensibility and this drives her aesthetic. At times her work mutates into large-scale, site-sensitive installations and projects. An experimental approach to art is central to her practice.
As a video artist, Swinburne’s interest is oriented to meta-exposure and the cultural and political implications of image degeneration. Swinburne's work manifests in the form of music/video-painting. Apart from creating original soundtracks, there have been several collaborations with musician/composers: Ryan Campos, Philippe Gerber (JOHN 3:16), Oscar Finch (Venn Diagram) and Marco Fierro (Burstbot). Jan Swinburne's videos have been screened in Brooklyn/New York City (Experi-MENTAL Festival 6), New Jersey (Filmideo/Index Art Centre) and Toronto (Open Screen, Nuit Blanche - renegade). In 2015 she signed with Alreaon Musique with her video remix project/EP Consensual Enigmas.
Jan Swinburne's work has been exhibited locally and select works have been exhibited internationally. Her work resides in various public and private collections.
Swinburne’s work as an art facilitator in the disability/psychiatric community has afforded opportunities to write and present talks on inclusive practices at The Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario College of Art and Design University, VSA Arts International and Workman Arts.
Jan Swinburne is a constituent of the alumni of Dawson College and the Ontario College of Art and Design University and is a member of Workman Arts visual arts advisory board.