Hi everyone, I’m Allie Joy, I’m an artist, entrepreneur, and creative producer. I’m going to share with you about how I ended up writing this article with you today.
It began with two qualities that I have nurtured from the start of my career, which are following my curiosity and walking with courage.
I remember sitting in my college library trying to write my university statement. I couldn’t refine what I wanted to do as I had an interest in science, art and the English language. I was trying to write one statement to study three different degrees! In the end I decided to study art, because my logic led me to realise art gave me the freedom to research and incorporate other subjects, hence why I found my path in creative technology with a conceptual interest in psychology with a mission for wellbeing.
Very quickly, in university I gravitated towards moving image (video) as my medium, using performance and installation as further components to strengthen the concept and exploration for metaphors about human nature.
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”.
A common artist’s mission is how to make the unseen seen, the invisible visible. This is a common driving force for an artist, each expressed in their own unique way. My way to express this was through a variety of creative technologies and using nature as my muse for understanding the abstract nature of behaviour. This rollercoaster ride of conceptual thrills has led me to many interesting projects and to work with some amazing people.
So how did my journey develop from where I was to here today?
A lot of the work I exhibited was video projection installations, this took me to festivals and theatres, however I quickly understood that this was more of a technical than creative role. It was close but not satisfying enough as a career. My search continued…
Then, I was a part of a workshop where we got to build a 3D printer with a Korean artist duo, one of these kits you can buy from eBay. I met a mental health nurse who was a part of the group and we got talking, networking and she invited me to deliver a series of workshops at the Sue Ryder Leckahmpton hospice she was working for.
The project was called ‘Pocket of Laughter’, it was my first experience with palliative care and my first time using the 3D printer within a project. Anyway, they invited a bunch of artists with different skill sets to make with the patients, so I decided that I wanted to turn someone’s sound bite into a 3d printed soundwave that was unique to the individual that their loved ones could keep. We had a brilliant time, patients sang songs, said their favourite phrase, others messages of love. This way of working with technology for me really complimented my constant curiosity for how to make the unseen seen, and how expressing this through technology can allow us to better understand, experience and manage emotions.
“Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination. Art is the aesthetic ordering of experience to express meanings in symbolic terms, and the reordering of nature–the qualities of space and time–in new perceptual and material form.”
I kept going down the rabbit hole to define and refine the purest way for me to create a sanctuary for the viewer to experience positive emotion and I landed in shapes and colour – the building blocks of perception and the fundamentals of abstract art. This journey also landed me at the heart – how can I visualize and interpret heart data, what part of heart data is important for this research, I found it was Heart Rate Variability. Once I knew this was the data I wanted to express, this is where I found my business partner and co-founder of Syntropy States, Gavin Andrews. Gavin is the managing director of Heartmath UK&IRL, they research into heart rate variability and a psychophysiological state called coherence, “Coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation,” that can be induced through a heart-focused breathing meditation that we use with the Syntropy breathe videos. After much conversation, research and creation we decided to create the app Syntropy – a digital platform where we could bring our experience and expertise together. Making mindfulness a quick and effective part of the day, when your head is too busy to ‘empty’ your mind like traditional meditation. This is because abstract art bypasses the meaning-making part of the mind, and does not engage in associative thinking, unlike the real objects and items we see, abstract art is free of these boundaries and limitations. It activates the visual cortex of the brain. The artwork below is an example of one of the videos stored in the app that aids in relaxation. We also hold a further two functions, Elevate and Breathe. I got to work designing and building the app and entered the world of business.
It’s been nearly 2 years since we launched the Syntropy app and began our work collaborating with international artists and musicians who shared our vision for creativity and wellbeing. This means more variety for the user who can choose from over 90 completely different art styles and the artists get international exposure. We are advocates for artists and we hope to close the gap between digital art and wellbeing.
Before I show you where this part of the journey went, you may remember my 3 ‘hats’. Well, an artist cannot live on inspiration alone and must find innovative ways to survive in the world in order to keep making, this is where my creative producer role comes in. I lend my skills of problem solving, time management and leadership to community groups such as Empower Poetry where we put on live poetry events and free workshops for the community around Birmingham. I’m also a tutor at the MAC in Birmingham where I tutor young people how to create VR films using 360 cameras. Being an artist means using any means, workarounds, and hacks to create your vision, to not allow a lack of resources or equipment to stop you from creating. This is the reason why I chose art; it gives you the freedom to grow different skills and then lend these transpersonal skills to reach new ways of expression and new communities, and more paid work!
I’d like to show you one of the breathwork videos here. These were designed to induce a state of coherence, this isn’t relaxation or meditation but a gentle focus, ideal to help reduce anxiety whilst still needing to function. We’ve received amazing feedback on how effective these videos can be from a range of audiences. So, before you get started, here are some basic instructions: breathe through your nose if possible. This video speed is 5 seconds, so that’s inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, if this speed is uncomfortable, please just breathe at your normal rate. This increases oxygen circulation to your body, focus on your heart center, which is in the center of your chest and a few inches left, breathe into your belly so it expands, and watch/listen to the art and music.
Notice the colours, the sounds and allow the movement and sound be your guide for the next 5 minutes.
Enjoy and stay coherent!