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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

14/04/23 - Natural Interaction: Nick Jordan

Updated: May 3, 2023

Natural Interaction

14th April:

Natural Interaction: An Exhibition from Nick Jordan

With the postponed residency into Scotland, I took up the chance to travel to Manchester with my partner and visit the Nick Jordan exhibition Natural Interaction. The exhibition was showing at Home, a new addition to the Manchester arts scene, located just off Whitworth Street West.

I was not sure what to expect at this exhibition, as the work of Nick Jordan is fairly new to me, and this show was recommended by my supervisor Anneke for a must visit… and I am really pleased I visited. Before I delve into this wonderful show, I will just detail a little more about the practice of NJ (taken from his website).

Nick Jordan is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores the interconnections between cultural, social, and natural ecologies. Jordan's hybrid documentaries present oblique, layered narratives, filmed and edited by the artist, with an intuitive, experiential approach to material, people, and environments. Expressing an interest in reciprocity, shared agency and collaborative practice, Jordan's work often features cooperative input from practitioners in specialised fields, including life sciences, anthropology, history, architecture and healthcare. Nick Jordan's photography, drawings, paintings and objects are made in response to material, encounters or images that emerge during the process of film-making. From typography to organic forms, the works reconfigure pictorial motifs, either natural or human-made.

In essence what was presented at Home was just this, a clear multidisciplinary approach towards communicating interconnections and exchanges between social and natural ecologies. Although a small showcase of work, the curated space works very well encapsulating the multidisciplinary practice, with each piece working either independently and/or interconnecting with one and other as part of a bigger picture. The gallery space is relatively dark, with olive green walls and low lighting. The lighting is warm and used as spot lighting to highlight wall mounted work and sculptural forms. The shape of the space is in the form of an upside-down U-bend, allowing for each space to showcase one rather large protected film without disturbing the sound between one and other. Alongside the dominating film screens, benches are provided and welcome audiences to sit and watch each film. Prints are framed and hung on the walls either singularly or as a part of a series, with some prints placed into what I would call glass top museum tables (archival table), with items and other materials collected by NJ. A dominating but aesthetically pleasing greenhouse situates itself in the first space. This is illuminated from the inside highlighting what appears to be a multitude of strands of plant roots or possibly branches, but it is actually microscopic fungus roots magnified two thousand times over. Quietly situated in the second space resting on a traditional plinth lies a glass containing, which houses a calm and delicate microenvironment. This environment is an earthly sample that NJ has collected from the field and placed into a chamber to live and grow within the gallery setting as a live and breathing 'sculpture'.

What are my thoughts on this exhibition? Well from the onset (and as recently stated), the space was expertly curated, making this showcase of work an experience that encapsulated the idea of network and interconnected interaction. Each piece had depth and clear purpose to what NJ was trying to visually communicate. The depth was found not just in the visual appearance but also within the research and the application of methods to produce an outcome. For an example of depth, the wall-mounted piece ‘Kin Recognition’ was a series of prints made from the spores of parasol mushrooms that were foraged by NJ when within the field filming. They presented themselves as gathered material, a product of encounter with NJ, but the process to achieve these prints took several hours to create. The gill-side of the mushroom was placed down onto paper releasing millions of spores which in-turn recreated the fungi as what I might call a photographic reprint. What adds further depth to this piece is the purpose of printing these mushrooms, and that comes in the form of the family tree. NJ presents the prints as interconnected members of a parasol mushroom family, demonstrating how organisms have an ability to recognise and cooperate with genetically close relatives. This has been evidenced through observation with plant and fungi interactions. I admire this small but purposeful detail, found within the depths of the creation of the work. When I look past the spore prints and engage in the interconnected lines, I come to discover that each foraged mushroom serves a purpose to one and other, aiding, supporting the ‘family’, a natural and mostly overlooked ecology.

Kin Recognition’ is supported by the short film, ‘Entangled Forest’, situated two or three metres away as a large projection with two speakers and a bench for sitting. I must admit, when it comes to films within a gallery, I am not one to always sit through the whole piece (maybe it is something to do with being un-encapsulated), but ‘Entangled Forest’ had me within the first frame. I sat quietly with my partner (we were the only people in the exhibition at the time), and we delved deeper into the forest. The narrator hypnotised us and each frame took us on a journey through and within what NJ describes as ‘the wood wide web’. The film was demonstrating the biodiversity of the forest, highlighting the entanglement of natural elements interconnecting (or as Timothy Morton would state, interobjectivity) as a benefit exchange, once again (and just like ‘Kin Recognition’) supporting and working with each other. I thoroughly enjoyed NJ’s description through narration that this idea of the wood wide web is a representation of the network of neurons within the human brain. These neurons work together to fire and transmit messages and signals that feed information to the host. Each natural and or man-made element found in the forest plays an integral part to living environment. The connection between the human and nature is seen within the forest, almost stating that although we see ourselves as the intelligent specie and the dominant one, maybe we should recognise and acknowledge that our ability to transmit information through a systematic network is not limited to humans and animals, but transmission can be found within elements of the Earth. NJ from this film attempts to highlight the responsibility humanity has on its environments and that we must re-engage, re-learn, and take care of what we have, working as a co-operative society benefiting in exchange. The forest as stated is ‘independent of the non-human species’, it can live without human interaction, something I have recently stated within my PM1 referral. This is a wonderful ability (freedom) to have and if we were to approach the question of, why do humans need to interact with natural landscapes if nature can live independently of humanity, then we must react with the answer that nature has something to offer humanity and we should not consider the argument that nature does not need humanity. Something exists within nature, and that something I am trying to discover through my research. NJ highlights this through his practice, attempting to create a bigger picture of the importance between nature and humanity, maybe we should change our current perspective on how we engage with nature, and now try to create a new form of encounter.

I was fortunate enough to meet Nick Jordan as I was exiting the exhibition. I congratulated him on the show and asked if I would be able to pick his brains some more over email in near future, at which he was happy to do. As I go forth over the next couple of months, I look forward to my exchanges with Nick.

Natural Interaction: An Exhibition from Nick Jordan runs until the 4th of June, and I highly recommend a visit.

  • Home. (2015). Nick Jordan: Natural Interaction. [Online]. Home. Last Updated: 18th February 2023. Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2023].

  • Jordan, N. (2021). About. [Online]. Nick Jordan. Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2023].

  • Jordan, N. (2023). The Entangled Forest Teaser. [Online]. Vimeo. Last Updated: December. Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2023].

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