Q&A with Loop.pH

by Robert Such

Led by textile designer and research fellow at Central Saint Martins, School of Art and Design, London, Rachel Wingfield and artist Mathias Gmachl, set up Loop.pH in 2003.

A London-based arts and design studio, Loop.pH works with a multidisciplinary network of academics and professionals to “to create new spaces and environments,” says Gmachl.

They both share an interest in “collaboration and cross disciplinary exploration, a fascination with both tradition and new technology,” he says.

RS: How and when did you meet? and what you get out of working together?

Rachel Wingfield: Mathias and I met in the circus in Great Yarmouth where we lived and worked for one month as part of a pan-European and multidisciplinary team creating a playful space where audience members became performers and vice versa. (A project by FoAM in Brussels)

Mathias is a sound artist (no formal training – yet the most intelligent and knowledgeable person I know). His background is in the abstract, strange, unfamiliar. I on the other hand was trained as quite a traditional textile designer, making me rooted in a more familiar, known and common practice.

I love the fact that our studio’s work is the product of collaboration and is completely co-created – the work wouldn’t exist if we didn’t work together and with others.

We often use the language of the familiar to communicate new and sometimes challenging concepts for living lightly and respectfully on this planet.

Mathias Gmachl: Rachel and I met in 2002 on a project called Txoom organised by FoAM, a Brussels based arts group. Both of us were part of a large team of artists collaborating on converting one of the UK’s last brick built circus into an interactive environment designed to revert the role of the artists and audience, so that the audience would become the performers.

As I started my career in music I always worked in bands, groups or teams. When I met Rachel at the circus I became aware that we had very similar interests, but were coming from very different backgrounds. This provided a great starting point for a collaboration.

Working together over the last six years we have found a good way to combine and complement each of our abilities into a process to create work we would be unable to do on our own. In general I think Rachel has a great sensibility for the everyday and familiar, a natural ability to be aware of the present and a real sense of community. She is very quick with ideas and has a great talent for art direction.

My own role is more located in the alien and unfamiliar, the non-verbal languages of numbers, pattern and music. I have got good attention to detail and approach most work from a process perspective.

We both share an interest in collaboration and cross disciplinary exploration, a fascination with both tradition and new technology and a strong urge to create new spaces and environments. We believe in life long learning and sharing of skills and resources.

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