What is Foregrounding?

Yes, what IS Foregrounding. Well let me tell you. 

It’s 2017. Trump is President, Brexit is dividing Europe, and laundry needs to be sorted and groceries need to be bought. It’s all getting a bit much and it’s time for a break. The purpose of this project is not to tune out the noise of the world completely but to excuse yourself momentarily. To merely lower the volume for a couple of minutes so that you can engage with self, surroundings, community, and creativity. After that, by all means, get back to the noise. 

Foregrounding is a creative facilitation tool. A generative system of making. I am proposing that if we look beyond what is right in front of us, we can gain respite and a sense of joy and wonder. This project allows for everyday-ness and background-ness to intersect with normal behaviours and traits by briefly suspending the foreground and creating a breathing space — a gap or a hiatus — that enables us to engage with what is beyond our focus. This can then be apprehended as a medium. The success of this project lies in making visible what is already there, not hidden, but lying on the surface. 

The background, in relation to this project, provides sensory context in any situation. It is everywhere. The foreground, on the other hand is the noise that catches your immediate attention. Foregrounding is a system that encourages the participant to look to the background and use it as a stimulus for creative endeavours. The ideas behind this project lie in the use of instructions, chance, absurdity and failure, and play as medium. Foregrounding is the practice of bringing the background into the foreground, if only for a moment. 

Through written and pictorial guides outlining the fundamentals of the system, physical testing, and production of products, I am demonstrating that Foregrounding can work on many levels. What started out as an exploration of constraints for myself, turned into a system that can work for anybody, anywhere. A system of making that could harness the creativity stored up in all of us. Look up from what you are doing, find a detail in the unobvious, record it, make something new and share. A simple way to break through the noise of the world and gain respite. 

Celia Armand Smith