Holly Márie Parnell is a London-based artist who works with moving image and sound. Leaning into the space of poetics and humour found in the everyday, she collects fragments of daily life, building new narratives through rhythm, arrangement and (re)composition. Finding meaning that emerges from an unravelling or a reshuffling, Holly is interested in a dream logic where the sensory and the sublingual become sites of potential for new forms of communication or reactivation. Drawn to the incomplete, the unfixed and the present tense, her practice meditates on the relationship between movement and stasis and what it means to move forwards.
Q: Have you ever collaborated with Rachel before? How did you begin working together?
H: No, but I think we are drawn to each other by a shared wavelength, rather than something direct. Rachel has a beautiful Tumblr account that compiles all of her research, and I also have an active collection of video, audio and field recordings that I post daily. I think we followed each other on there first, or maybe it was Instagram. We first connected by appreciating one another’s way of seeing, hearing, touching and thinking. There is also a shared mood among the other collaborators.
Q: When you compose sound and video for this project, how will you decide on the ‘source material’?
H: After meeting with the others, I noticed a shared focus on process and research so I began thinking about how potent fragments are, the unfinished. One of my contributions to the project will be a ‘desktop composition’ of collected fragmentary material from the other collaborators, woven together to explore an oscillation between all these different particles of thought. For my other contribution, I will be using all my own footage and field recordings in my archive, and compose another ‘desktop composition’ or collage that responds to some of Rachel’s loose research around air and breath, weaving and patterns, plants and sacred geometry, healing and symbiosis. In many ways, it is also a meditation on observation, research and connection. Rachel’s interest in the choral practices of Hildegard von Bingen was also an anchor for my sound contribution, which will be a new composition made up of micro-samplings of original and gathered material from a wide range of sources. More of a re-composition of countless slivers, it feels like a mix in a way, but a micro-mix. The precision that electronic production can offer is also an interesting way to explore sonic geometry, which has connections to fractals of natural branching, flowering and spiralling.
Q: How would you describe the collaborative process in this project?
H: Rachel has done a lot of the initial research, and asked her collaborators to respond in their own way, whether that’s through weaving, sound composition, poems or recipes, for example. It felt like there was a starting point and then a branching, so in that way it’s very rhizomatic and tangential – a mix of research and poetics.
Q: How do you imagine your audiences reacting to your sound and video compositions? Do they need a particular environment to bring people a sense of healing and meditation?
H: That’s a big question, but I appreciate it. It is never the aim of my work to make sure the audience reacts in a specific way, because you can’t control what people will feel or not. I just use my own reactions and feelings as a compass. My practice grows from quite a soft, gentle place in general, so if I’m thinking about an audience reaction, or a particular environment, my ideal vision would be someone experiencing it in the palm on their hand through a phone, lying in their bed, i.e. accessing it online, in their own time and space. Currently, this is the only way in which people are accessing art. While my contributions are certainly not about the pandemic, there are parallels to this moment of stillness and observation, or, as my friend Christine D’Onofrio describes it, to a new sensitivity to time: waiting, slowness, delay and anticipation. For this project, the exchange is also happening online, and the works are being made to be embedded, so I don’t think the outcome will feel contrived or like real works placed awkwardly on a website. It feels natural that it will exist there, like they will grow, transform and flourish there.