When Shih Yun approached Hannah Quinlivan, an INSTINC artist-in-residence from Australia to come up with a theme for the final exhibition project celebrating INSTINC’s 10th anniversary in 2014, Hannah observed the common thread of “Motion and Emotion”, interweaving various art practices of a number of artists in connection with INSTINC.

For 2 artists who have never met each other and who may have very diverse artistic styles and subject matter, finding common ground to work together may be a challenging and time-consuming task. To accelerate the process of collaboration, we felt it might be a good idea to have some sort of starting point. “Motion & Emotion, or the Art of being Moved” hence naturally fell into place as a promising point of departure.


“[A line is]… a point that sets itself in motion… The most highly-charged line is the most authentic line because it is the most active.”
—Paul Klee, “Contributions to a theory of pictorial form,” 1921

Conventionally, art forms such as painting, drawing, sculpture and photography have been considered static, less concerned with motion than time-based media such as film, video, kinetic sculpture, and performance art. In Motion and emotion, we challenge this presumption and argue that the so-called static art forms can expand our understandings of mobility. Specifically, we are interested in the dialectical relation between movement and affect – motion and emotion – as interpreted in broad terms.

We suggest that movement and affect intersect in at least three registers, beyond the mere pictorial evocation of motion or stasis. First, art can interrogate how the rhythms of movement or absence of motion in a landscape or cityscape evoke a particular mental and emotional state. Whether the zombie-like condition of mass commuters, or the disquieting stillness in an artic landscape, the dynamics of environment have profound psychological effects.

Second, in this age of hypermobility, space-time compression and globalised culture, contemporary artists themselves have become mobile subjects, makers in motion across continents and climates. Brian Massumi observes that the body “moves as it feels, and it feels itself moving.” Artists respond to both the feeling of being moved and to the destination itself, generating new responses to place and displacement.

Third, while media such as painting and drawing conventionally demonstrate an intentional relation between motion and emotion because marks are created by the authorial movement of the artists’ hand in order to elicit a specific emotional response, experimental methods of mark making complicate this association. If the motion of non-human others such as trees, shadows, remote-control cars, or stochastic computer algorithms can generate an artwork, what can be said about the affective response the artwork elicits? Can algorithms evoke emotions?

These approaches hint at a deeper relation between movement and affect. In Motion and emotion, we wish to bring attention to these possibilities and provide intimations towards an art of being moved.

Hannah Quinlivan (Australia), January 2014
INSTINC artist-in-residence Sep – Oct 2013