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Critical Practice

Arieh Frosh

/Currently based in London/

Selected previous exhibitions and projects include: On water, sculled, quiet – two-person exhibition at Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2017); Of water: a ten-point system – solo written and reading group project in Glasgow (various locations) and Chisenhale Studios, London (2018);  Le Grand K – group publication, launched at Gossamer Fog & the Science Museum, London (2019); In the fog – group exhibition in RCA Battersea, London (2020). 

During lockdown I featured in the online exhibition Imminent Vibrational Logic – South Kiosk, London/online (2020), as part of the online festival 302_Redirect, which I co-curated and co-designed. I also live-streamed a participatory role-playing game based on ‘mothballing’ – the prevention of deterioration through deactivation or storage – on this is tomorrow

I hold a BFA Fine Art from the University of Oxford (2012-2015), where I’d initially been studying Chemistry. Alongside my practice, I was formerly the Art Editor for Skin Deep Magazine, a print publication and online platform focusing on race & culture, and have worked for arts organisations & artists in London, Glasgow, and San Francisco. 

I actively support the current campaigns holding HE institutions to account.



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Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Critical Practice

July 2020:

I work via a cross-disciplinary approach with bloated, seething, dirt-ridden, overwrought, inexorable, scrambled-up networks. Entry into them is swift, and always partial. 

The network can manifest in branching fictional or technical writing, that runs alongside CGI, animatronics, filmic, sculptural, painterly or photographic work, or that relies on being voiced. 

Recently I have tended to use characters, or figures, that either detail encounters comprising the work, or as nodes through which to access ideas. These characters are actualised contributors that affect, as does the written language that surrounds them. In recent work I’ve used part-animal forms, extracted and mutated from found sources, committing to interspecies modes of relation. 

The use of characters eschews the role of the all-knowing narrator. It allows for multiplicitous voices to speak against one another, or within a fabricated structure. This enables many forms of collaboration, in which other artists and writers might be invited in to construct and critique the work. 

Though even in non-collaborative projects, the telling of a work fits in with what I perceive as generative ways of ‘ongoing’. A telling involving movements that are transversal, that move across genre as material, that whir and relate continually and unprecedentedly. The all-knowing narrator is too static to be involved in such generative movements: it stiffens up and topples over. It lies rigid yet pulsates.

The character — be it a harpy, a falling tortoise, a microscopic louse, a governmental body, a leisure centre — channels various contingent narratives and notions, relates to them, mixes them up, and lets us take a short look.

Ornithanthropon 1480/2020 — 64 second animation. Featuring Giovanni Bellini, St. Jerome Reading in the Countryside, 1480-85 (extract). Audio input: Toby Tobias Kidd
Dialogues for Discoursing Harpies — Four page text booklet, renderings, and illustrations extracted from Ulisee Aldrovandi's 'Ornithologiae hoc est de avibus historiae libri XII' (1549). Each line is spoken by one of several characters, except for those noted ‘all:’, which are spoken by all of them.
Documentation of Discoursing Harpies — 3D powder print, motors, programming, steel. Harpy size: 15 x 24 x 10 cm. Support: 10 x 10 x 82 cm. 2020

Forecast of Discoursing Harpies — 3D speculation and planning

Beginning with a 16th century illustration by Ulissee Aldrovandi, included in his 'Ornithologiae hoc est de avibus historiae libri XII' (1549), this project uses the ‘Harpy’ as character. Harpies tend to be bird/woman hybrids, although often include elements from other creatures, and have been written as personified storm winds, always placed in a derided position by histories of writers. Here, Harpies are voiced in opposition to this misrepresentation; taking them as referents to hybridity, able to talk across species & genre, and ultimately embodying a long-standing, continuing politic of ‘radical interconnectedness’.

Shown here is a mix of animation, text, renders, and documentation of motorised sculptures, that perform sequences of programmed movements. The embedding of the harpy in technology attempts to engage in a mythotechnical process (O’Sullivan, Burrows; 2019), in which a new entity or assemblage is formed using technology and bio-matter, or its written and artistic representation. This form of fictioning takes on a “critical power”, during which the hybrid half-bird-half-person welcomes the technological addition to its already mixed up self, and becomes a perplexing combination of at least three halves.

The dialogic writing places the harpies interminably within a city’s unspecified green-space-under-development, where they (using their own malformed terms) reminisce, account, and predict, influencing those that mingle below. Small community signals are discussed with heightened importance, such as playground apparatuses, or the remnants of a pre-Passover picnic. The harpies flick between an omnipresent ‘all-knowingness’, and making sense of things as they come. The piece brings Aldrovani himself into consideration, and takes into account ‘the gender of sound’ (Carson; 1995), with the harpies' lucid comments often reacted to by inexplicable overt male-mania, which they play with.

The works here are an iterative moment: an extension of the motorised sculptures into a larger series of responsive, discoursing harpies, and an embedded audio piece to be overheard, and indirectly received by visitors, will follow.


Writing, Animation, Film, Animatronics (3D powder print, motors, programming; rubber coil, plaster), 3D-model
AnimationAnimatronicsbirdsDialoguefictionHarpyHybridInterspeciesMoving imagemythroboticsWriting
Collisions — The flow of movement is primary. That’s fundamental. Even the rocks get it. There is discreteness in measurement, otherwise it’s mostly flux. Aleatory. Stochastic. Lucretian. [laughs] That’s how all things emerge and become, always within the flow and flux of matter in motion; they don’t? A tumbler is a mover over and over. But, but smaller still: matter moves by itself; matter is the source of its own motion. Vultures are sources too. The Lammergeier or Cinereous ones, with expensive mall coats and three pronged daemon feet, that pluck, grapple, lift and hurtle. [spits]. First you’re amongst a ground plane, then coarse palms press to your back, and then it’s the whispering emptiness of digital air. This increase in speed is a more manic matter flux, a chaotic shake-up, and therefore a doubling of potential. Aren’t I now more possible than ever, throwing out orders of myself at speed? Pleasing, aren’t I?

ii. — The safety net is always altering, as everything shifts with time and interaction. Nets move with netted movements - across, knotted. Flexible and bulging when the weight is inordinate. [spits] Those that are fortunate enough to have safety nets, that’s the crux of it, that’s the distinction. They take a tumble into cushioning, not rocks or crania. [laughs] They uproot, fuck-up, then crash head-first into their teenage bedrooms, their slacks slipping from their holsters. And we all know what happens next... Or there are the taut nets that bounce back, sending the tumbler upwards with ever increasing possibility, into the open holes of infinite doors, in hemispheric directions. So it is for some. [spits] For others, it’s more of a reckoning. A big whack. A dull, heavy sound. This is no less a continuing – there is potential in the absence of the net too, or in slipping through its gaping holes, a milling in the dirt below. Most likely you’ll become carrion. And then? You’ll carry on. Enough.

iii. — For a moment there I thought I was '2876 Aeschylus', 6.8km diameter; first spotted from the great mamma observatory in Palomer, California or wherever. Who, although notationally between those nobodies '2875 Lagerkvist' and '2877 Likhachev', momentarily orbits close - in universal terms - to '2038 Bistro', and '2361 Gogol'. Such closeness in cultural reference - whirring as minor player in honourable company! - allows for occasional collisions. If only for entertainment. Like when '2138 Swissair', named after the defunct national airline, collided with '2436 Hatshepsut', the Egyptian Queen. [laughs] The results were unspeakable. The gossips tell me there’s a high likelihood that in the next 500,000 years - an instant - the Earth will have been hit by an asteroid of roughly 1km diameter. Assuming there’s no self-important aversion attempts. [spits]. And what if, by chance or by will, that choice asteroid is '2876 Aeschylus'? It’s a little unwieldy, yes, but better it than some kitsch like '2546 Libitina', Roman Goddess of funerals, to which the teenagers and invalids will praise in romance, or even '2400 Derevskaya', that smug goodfornothing foster mother who raised 48 orphans of different nationalities.

A series of short animated films, texts, and collages narrated by a CGI tortoise, always between fall and collision, using the supposed demise of Greek tragedian Aeschylus as an initiating, narrative point.

As the tortoise falls towards Aeschylus – to double death – released from a vulture’s grip above the planes of Gela, it reflects on the relationship between motion and possibilities. Such as the tension between micro-scale generative ways of moving – like vibrations, flux, the ability to move across responsively – and macro moments of stasis, of lockdown passivity, where potentials and elsewheres seem to diminish.

How do ideas of becoming as fluxes of matter in motion (Lucretius/Nail; ~99BC/2018) operate alongside the safety net, which has its own softened movements? How does interspecies connectivity, such as that of individuals never preceding their relatings (Haraway; 2016), operate within a returning to your teenage room, a supposed pause? Or a resistance to artifice being supplement to the human (Colebrook; 2019), alongside the mathematically generated forms, connected nodes and quadrilateral meshes, within the infinite but corruptible computer generated space?
These are some underlying ideas that trouble the tumbling tortoise.

The tortoise collides continually with a filmed person, seen from behind, each time reacting in a way appropriate to a different material (such as a T-shirt, or an airbag) – slithering, slipping or bouncing off the figure, who appears unreactive.


Once, I uncovered a humble origin story from a celebrated chemical source, that to me brought the precise drumming of scientific clarity: “Tortoises are the children of a frog and a rock”. (Levi, P. Quaestio de Centauris, the bit where he talks about the frog and the rock).
This really sums it up, really smacks it out, I thought: the motion, the life, the possibilities, or lack of. The confusion. [Laughs] Orientations too, as - look closely - the frog moves at interruptions in the xyz plane, whilst the rock maintains its original positioning. Offspring are therefore both an increase in the possibilities enabled by motion (as rock is to tortoise) and a simultaneous decrease (as frog is to tortoise). [spits] Once I had been lit-up by this, my own parents rattled in my mind, and I pictured my father - the frog - perched upon my mother - the rock - and saw a paltry imitation of myself. How alike we are as a three, I thought to myself, but only as a three.

(Later on I discovered: “Vultures [are children] of a worm and an owl.” Jubilation! That the over-confident feather stinkers are nothing if not half-worm, slippering in the mud in total naked abomination.)


The end of a fabric painting rolled around a cardboard tube rakes the back of 3524 Schulz’s head as he is driven home from Scotland, with all the meaningless things and excuses at work that he has accumulated over three years. Driving is a close friend and former colleague, who will sometimes visit, with lengthy intervals. [laughs]. The first roads are empty and generate the thinking space of wide open fields, with that dramatic northern light of countless layers. They talk shit about former colleagues. And about US stream media. ‘A long car ride for the uncertainty of 3524 Schulz’, he calls it. But really there’s a sense of possibility. A runoff. Later it’s the Amazon warehouse, how you can drive alongside it for minutes at 70mph, and sometimes more. Soft, smooth, blue and tremendous. Like a great vessel of the times - absolute untraceability. “This place really smacks of it” says 3524 Schulz. [Spits] Of what? (The familiarity of tiled flooring and a quick unload - der-dun-der-dun-der-dun - the ex-colleague heads off and it’s all where it is; greyer and more of it.)


CGI, Film, Digital collage, Text
26 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

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With Sonia Bernaciak and Lawrence Lek
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22 July 2020
13:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 1 – Empathy and Care as a Form of Resistance

with Jennifer Martin and Beverley Bennett – REPLAY
30 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 3 – Archiving as a Form of Resistance

with Bisan Abu Eisheh and Michael Rakowitz
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17:00 (GMT + 0)

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Organised by Peter Spanjer with Sonya Dyer, Tanoa Sasraku & Alexandria Smith, Students Questions
27 July 2020
13:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 2 – Fictioning as a Form of Resistance

with Sonia Bernaciak and Lawrence Lek
21 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 1 – Empathy and Care as a Form of Resistance

with Jennifer Martin and Beverley Bennett
31 July 2020
13:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Archiving as a Form of Resistance

with Bisan Abu Eisheh and Michael Rakowitz

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