Ellen Gilbert

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Multidisciplinary artist exploring through photographic performance and a hybridisation of painterly materials and redundant hardware my internal feelings of being forced to navigate digitally in our habitat. I use my body to physically communicate my perceptions of the digital environment, creating works of art that become a visual language.

‘The New Eve-olution’ is the beginning of a modern digital adaptation of the Bible’s story of creation: Adam and Eve in ‘The Garden of Eden’ by combining how we have evolved with the speeds of technology. I reveal our culture’s new faith by using my body to visually communicate how ingraining pattern recognition into our nervous systems through our digital devices is affecting our bodies, minds and our futures. I hope to provoke a voyeuristic anxiety, and make the viewer question their relationship to technology.

My overall practice is centred on revealing the invisible technological environment we are surrounded by. I create anti-environments that make visible the hidden aspects of social media and the online world that we are unconsciously conforming to. Inspired by media theorist Marshall McLuhan and his vision that ‘Environments are invisible’. He stated that the artist as a creator has a particular role in society to do this: ‘The Artist as a maker of anti-environments becomes the enemy in society. … He does not accept the environment with all the brainwashing functions with any passivity whatsoever; he just turns upon it and reflects his anti-environmental perceptions upon it.’[1]

My aim is to address Marshall McLuhan’s theories by continuing to create series of photographic performances in a form of visual story telling that can be used as a resource in expressing the altered realities in our overwhelming online world.

[1] Marshall McLuhan, “The Invisible Environment: The Future of an Erosion.” Perspecta, Vol 11, (1967), 161-7

The New Eve-olution: 'Motherboard'
The New Eve-olution: 'Abandoned'
The New Eve-olution: 'The Dawn of Eve'
The New Eve-olution: 'Forbidden'
'The New Eve-olution: 'Eve-olution'

Ellen was born in 1997 in the South of England and had a religious Christian upbringing. Her Father, Brother, Aunty and Grandfather are all ordained as priests. Referring to as an Agnostic herself, she has always questioned reality and the unknown of why we are here, our purpose in life, fascinated by how people view the world in different ways. This has influenced her current work and continued series ‘The New Eve-olution’ from her father reading to her as a child the stories from the bible of God’s creation and how these stories can be adapted to interpret digital modern life today.

Creativity came naturally to Ellen from being diagnosed with severe dyslexia at age 10, learning became a challenge at school that progressed with having to think outside the box to find creative ways to overcome her difficulties – going from being unable to read, spell or tell the time in year 6 to achieving an A in English GCSE. This is relevant to Ellen’s art practice today as she finds it difficult to truly express verbally her inner thoughts and feelings and so, uses creativity and photographic performances as a visual language to express her inner perception of the world.

Her technique becomes a therapy for herself and hopefully for others, as she manipulates the body and image into a form of reflection. The overriding theme in Ellen’s work Is how technology has evolved us as humans, this stemmed from exploring her internal anxieties towards being forced to continuously navigate digitally. 

Whilst studying her degree in Fine Art Painting at the University of Brighton she discovered the Media Theorist Marshall McLuhan and his vision of expressing that ‘environments are invisible’ this gave Ellen purpose, as she believes that, the future relies on art providing the visual balance between our real life and all-consuming digital world. This is also now being brought to attention by James Bridle’s BBC 4 radio series New Ways of Seeing (2019), which considers the impact of digital technologies on the way we see, understand and interact with the world through conversations with contemporary art practitioners.

In 2019 she graduated with a 1st class honours and was nominated for the Nagoya University of Art, Japan – Prizes and selected winner of Hastings Arts Forum exhibition ‘4 young and emerging talent’. Ellen continues to share her visual language with the world; offering it as a tool to perceive the invisible environment.

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