The flow state is ubiquitous. It lies in moments where one is simultaneously challenged by an activity whilst maintaining complete autonomy. Researchers define the flow state as an “optimal state of consciousness,” a state where one reaches their peak performance. Some of us know this state by other names—runner’s high or being in the zone—but whatever the idiom, the experience is unforgettable. Examples of people realizing this state are found across various disciplines; the Curies’ “eureka moment,” Einstein’s mathematical genius, and Mozart’s legendary compositions. It is this condition which artist Ned Bott pursues through his practice.
Ned casts a tall, lithe figure that is complimented with a calmly confident demeanor. He has been studying at the ANU school of art for the past three years and has pursued the mastery of sculpture and installation. Currently, his attention rests in creating a ‘performative quality’ with his installations. Ned, as well as his spectators, can either view the artwork in the traditional sense, or interact with it to create an extra element as well as further enjoyment. These interactions encourages your self to vanish, to drive your attention into the now.
Ned’s installations exist interchangeably between sculpture and performance. Like many artists before him, nature provides some of his greatest inspiration. Whilst the quiet and serenity may be the obvious stimulus, it is the chance of being put into danger that drives Ned’s creativity. The high consequences that lay in the environment trigger the need to concentrate and elevate his abilities.
His installation pieces reflect this need to concentrate and dissolve into the moment; encouraging the duality between person and flow. Using boulders, logs and other miscellaneous from nature, Ned suspends them using climbers rope – creating a sense of danger as things are literally hanging from a thread. Upon seeing these works, ones risk levels elevate. Since survival is fundamental to any organism, our brain’s first priority is to scour all incoming information for any sign of a threat and focus intently upon it.
Researchers have warned that one cannot simply “make flow happen, all you can do is learn to remove obstacles in its way.” As he wafts through his works, one can see that he has no need to heed this warning. While the hanging boulders and logs sway and lurch, he effortlessly turns and flips, circumventing them. He enters into a dance with these works, almost a flirtation, where neither the two meet.
Watching Ned perform with his sculptures, the existence of the flow state surfaces. Action and awareness merge. Time flies. Self vanishes. All aspects of performance go through the roof. We call this experience flow because that is the sensation conferred. In flow, every action, each decision, leads effortlessly, fluidly, seamlessly to the next. It’s high-speed problem solving; it’s being swept away by the river of ultimate performance.