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Modern Art Oxford is reopening on Friday 2 October. Find out more

Breathworks is a participatory digital project exploring everyone’s unique experiences of breathing.

Throughout August 2020, Modern Art Oxford invited you to contribute your own ‘breathwork’ by capturing an experience of breathing via an image and sound recording. The result, is a fascinating and timely collection of personal stories that shed light on how we all experience breathing.

Breathworks was started by Modern Art Oxford’s Creative Associate (Digital), Lucy Sabin before the 2020 health crisis began. The idea behind Breathworks was to explore the diverse range of scenarios that remind us of our breath, from illness to new life and everything between.

Selected breathworks are displayed at Modern Art Oxford as part of the exhibition, Responsive Space (2 October 2020 – 3 Jan 2021). Responsive Space invites you to explore the imaginative participatory art projects which have helped us to remain connected in the wake of the pandemic.

Experience the breathworks on display in the below video.

You can discover Breathworks on Instagram and in the below online exhibition. 

Still want to take part? Although the Breathworks digital project is finished, we wanted to keep it open for a little bit longer to accompany our exhibition, Responsive Space. Visit our Take Part page to discover more.

The Breathworks public programme is part of the Humanities Cultural Programme at TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities). The Breathworks Principal Investigator for TORCH is Derek McCormack, Professor of Cultural Geography, The University of Oxford.

 

 

What does it mean to come together online in the current climate? 🌏
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THIS EVENING our #OnlineTalk with @torchoxford is Spaces In/between, an exploration of critical approaches to care and collectivity online. We welcome writer @oritgat > design activist Maral Pourkazemi > Dr. Francesca Sobande, lecturer in digital media studies at @cardiffuni > chaired by our own @jesscrobertson
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>> There’s still time to join us at 6.30pm, booking link in our bio #Breathworks #selfcare #digitalcommunities #collectivity #digitalactivism #DigitalWellbeing #OxfordTalks #MyResponse
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What are the political, personal and environmental worlds we breathe in? 🌏 ⠀
THIS EVENING our #OnlineTalk with @torchoxford is Breathing Worlds, where we'll explore breath in 2020 and beyond.
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We welcome Alice Sharp, @invisible_dust; Derek McCormack @oxford_uni; Patsy Isles @wordsofcolour; Lucy Sabin, creator of our digital project #Breathworks & Emma Ridgway, Head of Exhibitions & Learning at Modern Art Oxford. Free, 6.30pm. Booking link in our bio. #BreathingWorlds #BreatheTogether #breathwork #EnvironmentalArts #OxfordTalks #MyResponse 📷 Breathwork by @aniaready
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What’s Left Unsaid, Day and Night
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Day: The breath between words, reflecting the rise and fall of emotion, an arrhythmic breath.
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Night: The rhythmic rise and fall of deep sleep. A sleep state, only expressed through changes in breath.
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During the day our breath reflects an internal response to our external environment – relaxed, anxious, excited – however, when we are asleep our breath suggests at an internal world of internal thoughts or dreams and the workings of our autonomic system, breathing without conscious effort. The first part of the recording is an edit of the breaths taken between the words spoken by an excited child immersed in their day’s play; followed by their (unedited) breathing, relaxed at night.
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This beautiful #Breathworks contribution is by Victoria Mitchell @artvmitchell #YouthMentalHealthDay
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Breath basket
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I made this basket out of the ties I cut off face coverings. Wearing a face covering makes me feel that my breathing is restricted. I take short, shallow breaths. Tying the face coverings around my head made me feel like my head was being bound. I thought changing to elastic would be more comfortable but it makes my ears hurt. I made the Breath basket to represent the hope of returning to the freedom of breathing without constraint.
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#breathwork by A.M.Edward @a.m.edward #Breathworks #breathing #breath #BreathBasket #basket #FaceMask #FaceCovering #freedom #sculpture #FoundObject #BreatheDeep #2020 #artist #sculptor #recycle #RecycledMaterials
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Ghost of A Breath
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During the first days of lockdown I went out on my bike and brought back an early dandelion seed head. I intended to use it in a printmaking experiment about breathing and time for an online collaborative project with 16 other artists. I blew these seeds onto an inked up gel-plate and took a series of monoprints and ghost prints from the seeds where they landed, and the traces they left in the ink, filming the process. This print is a visual record of a single breath from that day. A ghost print.
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#breathwork by Linda Newcombe @linda_newcombe #Breathworks #breathing #breath #DigitalProject #lockdown #print #monoprint #dandelion #ghost #GhostBreath #seed #DailyBreath #ShareYourBreath
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Assistance
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I chose to create this piece of work in response to being recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. At night, my breath is interrupted several times an hour. I had to make peace with the mask, so I decided to draw it, study it, and absorb it. I drew it several times with my non-dominant hand in response to how uncomfortable the mask makes me feel.  I don't like it but I have made peace with it. The sounds you hear are the new sounds I hear at night, disturbing me but keeping my breath steady. Sleeping is healing.
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A fascinating #breathwork by Heather Nottage @heathernottageart #Breathworks #sleep #SleepApnea #assistance #LosingSleep #BreathSounds #BreathingMachine #drawing #draw #diagnosis #mask #FaceMask #ShareYourStory #DigitalStorytelling
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Third Attempt
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As an asthmatic I have had to provide many 'peak flow readings' over the years, exhaling sharply to see how quickly I can blow air out of my lungs. These readings have always been lower than expected, resulting in the Nurse Practitioner inevitably encouraging three attempts to improve them. For 'Third Attempt', I take a deep breath, and exhale slowly to see how long I can make this third and final breath last.
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#breathwork by deirdre kashdan @deirdrekashdanart #Breathworks #asthmatic #PeakFlowRecording #AsthmaAwareness #asthma #ShareYourBreath #nurse #ThirdAttempt #DeepBreath #FinalBreath #DigitalProject #DigitalStorytelling #ArtinHospitals @asthmauk @britishlungfoundation
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...and relax...
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Breath refers to the full cycle of breathing; it is the body’s most important function and affects all parts of the body. An automatic and rhythmic act that also has the ability to be controlled and the pattern of breathing changed. Deep breathing can be relaxing and relieve stress. On average, you take approximately 20,000 breaths per day but just how many do you notice?
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#breathwork by @v_a_esp
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From this October, experience #Breathworks in Modern Art Oxford’s exhibition, Responsive Space. We can’t wait to see some of your works in the gallery – stay tuned for updates #TakePart #DigitalStorytelling #Breathworks #stress #StressReliever #BreathPattern #rythmic #shadow #portrait #selfportrait @torchoxford
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morning breathing
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abstract images quietly responding to breathing
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#breathwork by @jonnieturpie
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#Breathworks is an online project that captures your unique relationships with breathing. There’s still time to take part >> link in our bio #breath #abstract #BreathResponse #ShareYourBreath #light #iphone #morning #MorningBreathing #mobilephone #rainbow #EverydaySounds #MorningLight #beauty #TellYourStory
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Nafas (نفس) = Breath
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There is a curious connection between how a language forms us as we speak words through our breath. Have you ever wondered, for a moment, what it is like to speak in another language and how your breath pattern changes?
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I believe language has a strong power to express our feelings. There is always a connection between a word and breath. This is a breath that makes the words sound differently and creates a rhythm beyond meaning. We would not be able to speak if we could not control our breathing.
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I use the word ‘Nafas’ meaning breath for something that is not only a word nor an analytical narrative, but it is something beyond which engages deeply with the sensuality of a word. In Persian, Nafas is a common word that contains a meaningful sense of feelings in Persian poetry and also refers to several interpretations, including breath, breeze, air, wind, and life as a time-line.
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Every single word we speak is a breath of emotions not just words on its own and yet in a poetic way can be like sounds of leaves, grass, and trees swaying in the wind when the moment comes to settle pleasing the perfect pitch and gives a sense of relief, joy, and comfort.
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My attempt was to connect the sound of rattling trees and leaves to the origin of a word, Nafas, which aims at empowering the notion of breath more than just to inhale or exhale but to give a metaphorical meaning to our breath as a symbol of peace and freedom, peace of mind and the joy of liberty.
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#breathwork by Hamideh Rimaz @hamidehrimaz #Nafas #language #spokenword #blue #feeling #poetic #Persian #PersianPoetry #breeze #air #joy #liberty #ShareYourBreath #TakePart #DigitalArt #ParticipatoryArt
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Homo Bulla
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When my identical twin sons emerged into the world prematurely at thirty-two weeks, they were immediately placed in incubators and their breathing aided by ventilators. These two small plastic pots containing their umbilical cord clamps and identity bracelets are reminders of their first days of life. Now sixteen years old, the sound is their combined breath.
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#breathwork by Heather McAteer @heathermcateerart #Breathworks #IdenticalTwins #CombinedBreath #BreatheTogether #premature #bornpremature #incubator #ventilator #identity #memory #son #mother #breathstory #shareyourbreath
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Tian Xiao
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The Tian Xiao is a Tai Chi form involving a sequence of movement and accompanying breaths (or no breath), which lasts around four minutes. The first three movements include a deep inhalation as the arms open, then no breath as the arms circle above the head and finally a forceful exhalation from the belly to remove stale air and energy (chi). The sequence includes three identical looking punches accompanied by this same exhalation but the focus comes first from the belly, then the heart and, finally, the head. The feet and legs are deeply connected to the earth throughout the sequence. My favourite place to practise the Tian Xiao is in bare feet in front of an energetic sea. I find it a revitalising and cleansing experience.
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#breathwork by Claire Leech @claire_leech_artist
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#Breathworks invites you to explore the many scenarios that remind you of your breathing. Find out more and take part >>> link our bio #Breathwork #TianXiao #TaiChi #energy #sea #breathing #inhalation #sport #artandsport #ShareYourBreath #chi #barefeet #join #DigitalStorytelling
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Air Wild
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#breathwork by Sylee Gore @berlinreified
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This is #Breathworks 💨Capture your breath on our website to join >> link in our bio #AirWild #air #wild #ConcretePoetry #poetry #birds #CatchYourBreath #Breathing #wellbeing #mindfulnessonline #LittleThings
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I cut the newspapers by hand with a knife leaving irregularities on its sides and then I stack the pieces in piles inside transparent boxes. I started recording the repetitive sound of cutting them as it became part of my routine. It is like a meditative exercise, equivalent to breathing. Each stripe of paper leaves traces in a fusion of spacial and temporal narrative.
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#breathwork by Marcia Thompson @thompson_marcia
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From new life to illness and everything in between, join our incredible community of #Breathworks this August >> link in our bio #Breath #repetition #soundrecording #newspaper #ephemera #eyes #magazines #collection #meditation #self #selfcare #paper #digitalstories #digitalstorytelling #TellYourStory
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'Wham! Bam! Thank You Fan'
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This is an image made by a rotary fan apparently taking deeper breaths than I could ever hope to. It was annoying me to think I couldn't hear myself breathe or think over the sound of it 'breathing', and then it suddenly became obvious to me that the fan had made its position very clear. I tied a marker pen to the automated mechanism to allow the machine to track its own breath.
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My work as a sonic artist, musician and composer encompasses a broad range of realisations and stems from varied interests including aural apophenia, pareidolia and personification in found sounds. I have a couple of ongoing projects called 'Adopted Objects' and 'Adopted Sound' where I use collected sounds and images as starting points for exploratory work. These 'adopted' images and sounds are usually brought to my attention due to an inability to avoid a tendency toward pattern recognition (apophenia) in inanimate objects or sounds.
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#breathwork by Cogwheel @cogwheelartist
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Join #Breathworks >> link in our bio #MachineBreathing #FoundObject #SonicArtist #apophenia #pareidolia #InanimateObject #WhamBam #fan #MarkerPen #cybernetics #cyberneticart #breathing #community #digitalproject #soundart #FoundSounds #SoundsoftheCity #AdoptedObjects
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‘Wake'
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“The wave paused, and then drew out again, sighing like a sleeper whose breath comes and goes unconsciously.” - Virginia Woolf
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#breathwork by @ellashepardart
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How will you capture your breath online this August? We are excited to announce that selected #Breathworks contributions will be displayed at Modern Art Oxford later this year. TAKE PART to feature >> link in our bio #VirginiaWoolf #author #quoteoftheday #TheWaves #wave #wakeup #water #fresh #waves #wavesound #sea #soundscape #mindfulnesssound #painting #dailyinspiration #digitalwellness #wellbeingonline
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Trace
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‘Trace’ explores the complex relationship between absence and presence and how difficult it is to separate the two. Using the artists own body as the medium to express personal experiences of decay and absence by leaving traces of the human body through powders on my skin. ‘Trace’ analyses what has been left behind yet at the same time shows what is quite clearly present.
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#breathwork by @coblefinearts
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#Breathworks #trace #personalexperience #story #powder #photography #portrait #body #skin #TellYourStory #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #emotionalwellbeing #ShareYourBreath #digitalart #participatoryart #takepart⠀
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Breathing in kata performance
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This is a karate kata, which is series of moves that replicates a fight. It is done in competitions and the breathing is a big part of the performance. Also, breathing out sharply protects you in real fights as it clenches the stomach muscles.
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#breathwork by Freya L
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#Breathworks is a digital storytelling project inviting you to creatively explore your breathing. Find out more and take part >>> link our bio #karate #karatekata #kata #performance #fitness #selfcare #digitalstorytelling #digitalwellbeing #sport #motivation #instagood #upworthy #changeitup #sundaymotivation #sundayafternoon @kugb
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Aum breathing - an unconscious leading to conscious
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Practising yoga everyday has made me aware of my breathing. We take our breathing for granted, but when we become aware of it, it opens up our mind and body to a different level. Aum is also called the Pranava, a Sanskrit word which means both controller of life force (prana) and life-giver (infuser of prana).
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#breathwork by Kashmira @kashmiraskitchen
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#Breathworks #Aum #Om #yoga #mindandbody #pranava #Sanskrit #life #lifegiver #meditation #yogacommunity #selfcare #peace #wellbeingonline #wellness #digitalwellness #takepart
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And B.R.E.A.T.H.E…..
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AND B.R.E.A.T.H.E feels very uplifting to me. It’s a piece that came out of my walks through deserted streets and down to the sea at the beginning of lockdown. The air was clearer and there was a stillness and tranquility that felt like everything was taking a long deep breath. The skies felt bigger and bluer, colours were heightened, the light was golden and the waters were crystal clear.
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#breathwork by Kas Williams @kaswilliams
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#Breathworks explores everyone’s unique experience of breathing. Contribute your own ‘breathwork’ by capturing an experience of breathing via an image and sound recording >> TAKE PART with the link in our bio. #AndBreathe #painting #colour #lockdown #sea #uplifting #deepbreath #wellbeing #selfcare #artforwellbeing #positivity
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Modern Art Oxford is grateful to its Breathworks Ambassadors: Derek McCormack, Professor of Cultural Geography, The University of Oxford; Alice Sharp, Artistic Director, Invisible Dust; Emma Garnett, Research fellow, Kings College London; Becca Rose Glowacki, Doctoral Researcher in Design, Goldsmiths University; Kyle Pattinson, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Associate Professor, The University of Oxford; Sarah FinneganPostdoctoral Research Scientist, The University of Oxford; Havi CarelProfessor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, The University of Bristol; Dr Kate McLean, Programme Director Graphic Design, Canterbury Christ Church University.