SYP 1.4/1.5: presentation and promotion

There are two remaining exercises for SYP 1: one on presentation and one on promotion. These two have pointers which are very clearly geared towards a gallery exhibition. I am a bit reluctant to answer and/or modify them but also don’t want to skip entirely.

I am fairly clear on online presentation of the BoW and how Research relates to it (what actual platform, either purpose-built site via Adobe Portfolio or otherwise; or a modified version of the existing padlet, I am not sure of).

For the analogue form of an edition set I need to do development work but also consider circulation. The same applies to the idea of an event/performance.

For promotion I need some more thoughts, these are rudimentary (and a little indifferent). Here the question of who is audience and what for, and who are participants, co-conspirators etc is not clearly delineated, and neither is who is needed to be part of one group and/or another.

I am copying the Qs on promotion here for further reference (some of these are clearly not relevant, others need tweaking):

Use the headings below to help you – and add your own as necessary.

What is the nature of the body of work you’re promoting? What is its theme and format?

What is its function? Do you want it to educate, inform, entertain, or some combinationof these?

Who are your target audience?

How will you reach them? What will you do or produce to do this?

Do you have any key dates or deadlines? For example, when is your intended exhibitionspace available? Do you have to consider any collaborators’ timescales?

What journals or blogs would be interested in your project?

What regional media/newspapers would be interested in your project?

What potential employers are you looking to reach or invite?

What events are planned for your area that you could join/use/attend?

If applicable, how will you integrate promotion of your body of work with yourprofessional profile?

Will you create a new website or use an existing one? If so, does it look professional?

How might your exhibition affect others? (Read the sections on health and safety andtaking an ethical perspective in your Level 3 Handbook for help with this.)

SYP 1.3 : Looking forward

This is a set of good pointers, even so many are very simple to answer. There are other more open questions that will follow on and so I want to put this here:

  • Are you looking to earn income from your creative skills?
    • Yes, if there is, possibly through residencies, commissions, teaching, research/projects (sales less so but some may be possible)
  • Do you aspire to making your creative arts practice your full-time job or do you intendto pursue it as an interest?
    • I want to work professionally but also be free to pursue artistic projects that interest me; so realistically I will continue to work/live between research, art and education (with a shifts as to what, where and with whom)
  • Do you want to take your degree forward into postgraduate study, for example bydoing an MA (see Part Five)?
    • No, my idea is to conclude with this BA (Hons) and use the PhD in Human Geography as well as my academic experience to allow for working in research and teaching in a Creative Arts context where possible
  • Do you see a clear line between commercial and personal work or would you hope to reconcile the two?
    • My current work portfolio allows for clear preference towards artistic projects that are personally worthwhile for me (realistically, there is little commercial work in the kind of artistic practice that I engage in); I want to be able to say yes and no to projects where they interest me or not.
  • How does your combined creative activity fit within the wider creative arts world?
    • PaR, research and engagement, education, the link towards Geohumanities and academic disciplines that take in artistic practice; residencies and tailored projects work for the kind of practice/portfolio that I have also (not: graphic design nor editorial/commercial photography)
  • Will you continue to integrate your two specialisms beyond this course or do you intend to prioritise one discipline?
    • There are, possibly since Drawing 2, no longer two specialisms in my work but the work exists as contemporary practice.
  • How can the subjects you come across on a daily basis and have unique perspectives on, feed into your creative arts practice?
    • See Drawing 2, Res and BoW for how I work on that daily basis.
  • Do any of the ideas you’re working with have currency? Are they being discussed in the media?
    • Yes, and then again: not looking. But more seriously: a clear sense of relevance and significance. Will it make a good press release? Less certain.
  • How could you extend the discussion around these subjects through creative work?
    • Yes. Writing, applications for artistic/research projects and residencies on the themes of BoW/Res but also of the methodology and process of my PaR; the objects it generates can also circulate in various forms (exhibitions, writings, platforms)
  • How could you make your project for this course work towards your future development, whatever that is? It could be a valuable opportunity to make contacts, for example.
    • See engagement and project plan; very much the interest for SYP to take engagement and development serious over this module.

SYP Exercise 1.2: Ten key moments

I make a list and reread the instructions to find I have a bit too self-centred. The instruction asks for ten key moment in your field, I take ten key moments for where I am currently at. I don’t revise the list. I will remain a little idiosyncratic too as I am not sure how much I want to explicate, but here in chronological order ten key moments for having arrived at the artistic practice that is currently mine and with which I want to move forward:

  • Joan Eardley’s painting of Glasgow and Catterline, c2005
  • James Turrell’s exhibition in Wolfsburg 2010
  • Anna Barribal’s rubbings at the Fruitmarket, also c2010
  • I talk about the trickster and the banality of drawing grass as part of my Coaching and Facilitation training outside Berlin in 2013
  • I organise myself a residency in my mother’s childhood home and call it House, 2015
  • I make a video of balancing and falling on my bed as part of DI&C, 2016
  • I acquire my Bronica and travel to rural Aberdeenshire to photograph ferns with wide aperture, 2016
  • The event I do with Amelia and Liam at Market Gallery on Blow up my Town, 2017
  • I remake the gap between two institutional filing cabinets, 2017
  • I exit the corridor and find Other Green as part of Drawing 2, 2018
  • I talk about House, violence, memory and walking-with at a Walking Arts Conference in Northern Greece in 2019
  • I stumble across Laura Mark’s the Haptic and the Erotic while concluding the dissertation for For Cover, 2021.

For all the work post 2015 there are my earlier online blogs to trace the works in the respective modules — DI&C, Drawing 2 and then for the final two this current blog.

I reread the exercise’s instruction and it invites me to present this more engagingly than the above. I won’t at this point.

I present an equal mix of encounters with artistic and contextual work and then my own work and how different projects, approaches presented novel insights, allowed for a shift. The latter are in equal part private, personal, and some come from making work public.

I had not done such a list before and greatly enjoyed it. It was surprisingly easy: the moments, shifts and markers remain clear. I end up with slightly more than ten but am confident of the shifts they mark: of confidence, a new technique, a new position or recognition. They intimately concern my concerns and practice: I can see these as entirely my work, and the earlier three artistic influence kind of prepare the ground on which I move, there have been many other shows, art works and artists since but I think these early ones were significant in a way that some of my own projects then embodied similar shifts, new insights and understanding.

SYP Exercise 1.1: Five practitioners

With each new module I find myself liking the reflect/review activities of the first part. They routinely make A1 the biggest assignment for each, or rather: the most directive, the one where you need to do a lot before the assignment comes into view, but the review of Res and BoW carried me quite far into the courses, so I happily turn to A1 of SYP.

Five practitioners.

Kind of easy, they are in the Research dissertation, aren’t they?

I name: Joan Jonas, Katrina Palmer, Juliana Spahr and Noemie Goudal. None of them are new, of Spahr I have written only a little in the course contexts before, the other have featured. I also find myself returning again and again to Susan Hiller’s work. This one is possibly the most fan-girling choice as I am less certain how much there is of hers in my work. Except perhaps the insistence on themes, on dream and the psycho-analytic, of a range of working practices. Then there is Jew Street also.

I have a few books of each of them, of Goudal and Hiller none here.

The coursebook asks a number of obvious questions, and I find these are the more interesting ones to focus on:

  • What makes their ideas contemporary and of significance within the creative arts?
  • What can you learn from them?
  • How could you start a conversation with them?

The latter for Hiller, the only one of the list no longer alive, would be easy: Let’s hang out in our dreams together a little. Juliana Spahr’s Army of Lover is still not with me and it’s somehow the book I aspire most to, or possibly it’s one that I feel is closest to my own way of working with site, text, relationships and contextual references. I think I would possibly feel intimated by her more so than any of the others. That Doug, my BoW tutor did some work with Katrina Palmer and their conversations features in one of the coursebooks is exciting, and so was reading (and later gifting numerous times) her Dark Object and how close it is to some of our own institutional obsessions and desires.

Yes: enquiry and desire in Palmer and Spahr; vision and improsication in Goudal, Hiller and Jonas for treading beyond the obvious, easily accessible. In all of them I feel I admire their persistence, scope and commitment. There is ambition and sincerity and I think it’s what I can do with as a public persona, as a private persona it’s there plenty but I rarely enter into cultural spaces publicly with it.

No images either, they are easily found however.

Sustain Your Practice : opening moves

I signed up for SYP before submitting assignments 5s for Res and BoW, I wanted a little transition to see if any redundancy would emerge. I asked for my Res tutor to continue as my SYP tutor which meant that I would benefit from both L3 tutors for two modules each.

We had a preparatory conversation in early May and it was incredibly useful at that time as it wrapped and focused the eventually fairly tight submission deadlines for Res and BoW but also helped me with some motivation towards moving forward with this work and using SYP as a way to revisit a number of intentions, motivations and ambitions that I had and have for pursuing this Creative Arts degree and, crucially, for sticking with it for this long.

The notes for the May meeting are as follows:

  • Site specificity of the work for this site that I found myself and the work in?
    • Where and how does the work exist?
    • Does the documentation become the work?
  • Rachel says that what is good about SYP is its seriousness of identifying, articulating and seeking who and where the audience is and how to interact with the work: taking engagement very serious.
  • Sol de Witt’s Instructional Drawings
  • Elisabeth Tonnnard’s Swimming Pool Book and Ed Ruscha
  • But to return to the engagement and to finding your audience as key to sustaining your practice
  • The extent tow which text and journal submissions are part of this
  • To use the 9 months that I have and to schedule what needs to happen
  • Submit the project plan and the other assignments happens somewhat concurrently
  • How to delineate what is BoW and Res, and how SYP traditionally only pursues BoW in an exhibition format
  • There is often a mistake that people submit too much as BoW for assessment: be clear what needs to be submitted: like, 3 objects and the relationship across (and to check with Doug)
  • 20 July as submission for SYP 1

I submit Res 5 and BoW 5 after this discussion and then have a joint tutorial (plus a written one for Res 5) with both my tutors. The latter, as requirement for BoW 5, includes a projected engagement plan which now folds forward in to SYP A1.

After conclusion of Res 5 I start a series of site-based drawings, essentially the final drawing for BoW that I halted as I began to understand it as Research Object, not as part of BoW. I use the practice of this drawing as transition and then begin in early July to assemble the materials for SYP 1. As with all modules it has a series of exercises to gather and review at the start, they are good ones and I will place them on the blog over the next week.

I also sign up for another Practice as Research set of workshops with Rachel for the CA cohort and am offered a 45 min slot to talk about my work, I use this to tease out connections and lose threads and try to make communicable how I research and what my methodology is (in part I see this working towards that development of a mobile toolkit, another part helps me write the project plan alongside).

(I will add and later link relevant blog posts here).

I remain a bit daunted by the timescale as my family situation remains fragile as it is, at the same time I take confidence from what has been possible to do over the past year and have a strong BoW and Res completed and to move forward with. The start of SYP helps me to remember the reasons for sticking with the degree, even though my location and the field in which I would see my artistic practice be professionally situated shifted so much over the past 18 months. Some of that however doesn’t matter and I have a good sense of what I want to make public, to what kind of public and with what kind of professional position. For this, SYP will be good.

(no images today)

Picking a line as research enquiry:

For the current iteration of Rachel Smith’s Practice as Research workshops, I looked at my research objects at this moment of transition between BoW/Research and SYP and made a line of enquiry to explore the methodology, the notion of a research drawing as well as what in my work presents a mobile toolkit to take elsewhere during SYP:

I will try to pick a line that…

in three parts explores
a. a Research Drawing of the space underneath the fir tree that marks the beginning of For Cover last autumn
b. the role of insolent reading (or: reading, voicing, writing in/of site with Laura Marks’ the Haptic and the Erotic as key theory for the work; and 
c. the methodology of using audio recordings while walking as theory/methodology development for Research/Body of Work

This padlet column presents an Ariadne Thread, a linear tangle of these items. It is an aid for me to talk about and for you to explore the bits that hold interest.

Made with Padlet

William Kentridge: Why I should hesitate at Deichtorhalle Hamburg

My first train travel in over nine months led me through HH and on the return I stopped and saw the first show since Shuvinai Ashoona’s Holding on to Universes at CCA Glasgow a couple of days before Lockdown 1.

I don’t linger too much around the earlier drawings and prints but enjoy the construction of viewing boxes and small rooms along with the studio space, the later hotel reception and the reading room.

I am sure I will have seen More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015), I thought it was a Documenta work but am corrected, so I am uncertain where I saw it. It, the scale of the relief prints that concern the Mediterranean refuge routes of the mid-2010s (Refugees (You Will Find No Other Seas), 2017), the work concerning the death of the African porters enlisted for the British war effort and subsequent silence (Porter Series 2005) are stunning and humbling, yes, I think that is the word.

The work is vast and serious about its sincerity and concern. I think that is what strikes me most with the scale of the print productions. And while I am often put off by large scale ambition, here I feel grateful for him affording the subject matter all that space and visibility (it enters a dialogue with my own questions of scale, encounter and engagement).

The work for the Istanbul Biennial a few years ago of Trotsky’s Hotel reception and the ghosts that would haunt that reception was sweet, funny and playful, I liked it a lot too (O Sentimental Machine 2015). The show almost ends with a large reading room and flower bouquets (Studio Flowers 2013) drawn in ink on found paper, each consisting of around 80 sheets pinned together. They framed a socially distanced reading room and library cabinet. That room worked for me so well and so did these drawings of such a quaint subject matter. Perhaps it was the earlier works that contextualised it and moved the flowers elsewhere?

Here a few images.

The exhibition site has many more videos, I am including a link to a digital symposium from Spring 2021:

Raumfaltung mit Le Guin

[spatial fold with Le Guin]

The dandelion heads

The blue cushion and the folded loop of eight,

The beheaded dog violets and the broom that is still a little almond-scented but mostly busy forming seed pods.

The half acorn mixing with my knee kind of anticipated the folded loop over a week ago,

There is repetition and recurrence of shapes and marks across the sheets that is vast and abundant.

The rabbit came and watched me for a little. I watched it in turn (and later we would meet again at the seashore one early morning).

There we sat for a moment.

Submission of BoW 5: presentation and outcome

This post constitutes the submission of BoW 5: presentation and outcome.

The work that I submit as BoW is entitled For Cover and consists of Im Walde 14-23, Trafodecken 1 & 2 and Walnut Tree of Touch (a potential blanket). It is a site-specific work, yet has some mobility to it.

This padlet site presents a digital resolution:

Made with Padlet

The padlet also contains:

As part of the submission I am also including as requested:

For the relationship and further development in SYP is important that I consider the whole work as Stromverteilen, consisting of both BoW objects and Research objects, some of these taken forward for further engagement.

A padlet entitled Stromverteilen, and made for Research 4, contains a number of the objects and processes:

Made with Padlet

Stromverteilen: Engagement plan for SYP

This work is both process-based and site-specific. It shifted in site twice (unexpectedly); the methodology of drawing/contact adjusted and became more refined in this process, and also proved to be mobile, it itself was moving-with (not just the objects under investigation).At this point of concluding both BoW and Research, I am looking forward to forms and processes of engagement that make sense, and that are accessible.As engagement plan at this moment I put the following forward:

  • site-specificity and on-site installation/process
  • digital platform and portfolio
  • edition of DIY assemblage for distribution
  • publication (academic, artistic)

Site-specificity: the absent site of the staircase.Discussions around site, ambition and immersivenessI install on Sunday 15 May on site: less to document but it works really as event, as performance even. I and my friend document, yet the experiential relationship across the site, the different sightlines, connections, elevations and folds of each work are difficult to capture. I choose not to attempt to do this as part of the day but instead focus on the experiential for us, five in total, to test out and explore what it is the intervention into this space, place and what the objects open up here.
I think I want to reinstall as event as part of SYP at some point late summer, early autumn. For whom and with what programme needs to be considered. The site has a fair bit of village dog-walking traffic, there are of course people locally interested in what Gesa has been doing, or who would be interested in a site-specific installation or event. Would I be interested in considering these as my audience (I am less sure).
Digital platform/portfolioFor Im Walde 14-23 I have a digital resolution; similarly, the audio file for Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) [also: Walnut tree] lives effortlessly in digital. The two transformer covers create digital objects but are experiential, to step close, to step away, to look down, to look up. So a digital portfolio documents (and potentially anchors these as sublime, but their experience is much lighter in person).maraprilay as walking loop and an audio walk for this with this new site? How could this work on site/ away from site?
The actual installation of the whole work of Walnut tree is site specific and in situ: it effortlessly creates a wide range of aesthetic photographs, some as documents, some as art objects themselves, yet to experience the scale and crucially the relationship to the other objects and the wider site, these do not transfer. I recorded a video of walking up towards the sewing machine, which on a sandy soil spring meadow is quite spectacular, so as to relate some of the near experience of it.
Edition of DIY assemblage to post out

  • a kaleidoscope kit
  • a drawing machine assemblage
  • a fir cone
  • some larch essential oil
  • an instruction to touch

>> as a simple kit, in a small edition (8-15) to post out to re-assemblage their version of the research tools for this enquiry
Publication: writing (academic and artistic)> journal>book or zine form?The Research dissertation employed PaR to conduct as substantive piece of research which in itself creates a number of significant and original insights. These could (and possibly should) be put towards a public in the form of academic (either within geography or arts) writing, as journal article and/or a different public site. Also, there is scope to work the material into a publication that is closer to an artist book (or site), to exist as artistic/public object outwith academic sites of valorisation.
<< there are a wide range of objects and enquiries that are part of Stromverteilen, both in BoW and Research; the process of writing is key to it too. At the point of deciding that For Covers will be the actual BoW submission I was in the process of creating a final ‘drawing’ for BoW to hold the different strands together, so there are a series of active processes still live. I then realise that these objects are research objects, they continue to inquire into drawing/contact. So they can fold onwards and continue. After submission I am interested in seeing some of these out and the insights (and objects) they create. For Covers is conventional in its objecthood while the research objects are much less so as Practice as Research. For SYP and the engagement with this work, I want attend to both the objecthood of For Covers as well as the PaR of the work.

Critical reflection of relationship between BoW and Research

I have always worked these two in tandem, submitting them throughout by alternating them. By Research 3 (March 2020) it was becoming clear that Research itself was creating art objects and works (the padlets and the glossary first) and that thus the BoW was in objecthood disarticulating from the research enquiry. Significant was the moment when I discovered I was going to do an actual research project, first considered as auto-ethnography, the writing auto or theory fiction, at the point of eventual conclusion the research shifted towards a creative arts practice-as-research, PaR, the writing an exegesis with elements of creative writing but likely fairly consistent with a PaR-based complementary writing (Robin Nelson) approach: it enabled me to integrate my former academic research self more fully within an artistic context, making the researcher part of the artist and part of my artistic voice. Understanding the significance of PaR as creative practice was important here also to realise what kind of art I am interested in making (and also what less so), that my art was process-based, yet finding material objects (in analogue or digital) as resolution was something I did know before embarking on Level 3, the extent to which an active enquiry was part of the process was something I honed and refined. The status of art works was somewhat fleeting, abundant, slight at the point Lockdown 1 happened in the UK and I lost the institutional staircase site as research and installation venue just before I felt the research cycle was concluded. I had devised a series of interventions into that site (albeit I submitted these for Research 3 and not BoW4) which were however never realised. The next step was to fold these into a mobile walking loop outside to take account of contact restrictions and to develop the fictional elements of drawing/contact, near-space and moving-with further in summer 2020. These were abandoned when I moved to German due to my father’s stroke and then staying due to his poor health and looming travel restrictions from September 2020 onwards.The work I made during those months was first and foremost practical: to occupy myself and find ways of processing that was happening. I quickly realised how the methodology of making (cyanotype contacts prints outside of moving and slight leaves and other plant matter) was fully situated and articulated within the drawing/contact framework: I had in fact had the chemistry I had bought in early summer sent over to use here and not there. The work became extensive, vast, a new site emerged, a transformer station to enquiry into and perform-with. At this point the research methodology was fairly well-articulated and as it was holding along the main parameters of drawing/contact and its questions (body as drawing tool, relational contact, materialisations of these), I decided to keep this methodological focus of the research and to keep what was the original work as case studies, to develop them as research objects, and to more fully articulate the findings, insights and conceptual relevance of these for the dissertation, while making a rather analogue and material BoW alongside.In the BoW 4 tutorial (February 2021), Stromverteilen as site (the transformer station) turned entire work rather than case study and I developed a portfolio where Stromverteilen would house and contain the earlier processes and sites. The extent to which this was straightforward and helped refine further the key processes of drawing/contact and its enquiries (many of these articulated through the Herz/Stein process) but also helped develop a site that was fictitious yet physical, that was accessible and offered routes towards other sites, to dreams from earlier was fascinating. It helped then decide on the autumn works to become four covers to become For Cover as BoW submission, sited and linked in an environmental context and translated also into a digital portfolio that uses audio narration to allow for access, intimacy and some immersion. At the point of module conclusion (at the time limit of 24 months + 6 months extension), there exists a whole series of live drawing processes which I initially had intended to turn towards a final ‘drawing’ for BoW, to encompass the entire site, but which I then realised where actual research processes, the BoW complete with For Covers. I have the sense I needed to test and move further with these drawings to come to the realisation of how Im Walde, Walnut tree and Trafodecken constitute the work and how they can be sited to activate each other, the site and make the objects also accessible for viewers (and perhaps participants).

Reflective commentary of submitted BoW

A reflective commentary reviewing your work and critically reflecting on both tutor and peer reviews of your work:

The eventual BoW submission includes some of the works I created in autumn 2020. Rather than it being about the site of Stromverteilen (as discussed in BoW 4), it consists of four covers, these are three works, two processes, they are installed in situ at the edge between village and forest.
The first work that resolved was Im Walde 14-23: a series of almost 70 A3 sized cyanotype contact prints taken in the woods. It was initially conceived as gallery-wall based work, covering a corner of a white cube. I laid it out (as a loose grid, based on chronological columns) at the end of the road, facing the woods. 
The second work that resolved was the Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) as site specific installation of a piece of furniture on the meadow next to the forest. The 36 double-sided cyanotypes were the first series I started while here and completed it during October 2020. It’s form was to be a curtain hanging in the centre of the room where Im Walde was up on the wall. Following many discussions around care and maintenance work (for the transformer blankets which make up the third work in this submission), I realised that this Walnut tree could become a blanket, a cover also, yet wanted to leave it intact, able to assemble and disassemble. Looking for a place for it around the site, and enjoying the abundance of the meadow so much while walking across it, my gran’s sewing machine became the table, the blanket merely a possibility on top of it, held down with a heart-shaped stone that I found one day further in the woods. For this work, the instructions to touch that I experimented with and put for critique a number of times evolved and became a softly spoke, chronological yet fragmented narration of how this work (and in fact the others) came into existence. For the on site installation this audio needs further resolution (rather than being played merely through an iphone speaker; and possibly it needs a version in German too), for the digital presentation it provides the hook, the intimacy to invite viewers to linger and step closer.
The ambition of the two transformer blanket processes is possibly larger still as they were continually sited and attended over three weeks each, with usually twice daily visits to maintain, adjust, tie down, roll up or out, and to trace markings across them. These created two large drawings, of 160×350 cm each), the status of these drawings vis-a-vis the process of their making remained insecure. The invitation was to invite viewers into them through some form of immersion, I remained hesitant as to luminance, the sublime in some of photographic records I created of them. That I had created and explored a whole range of viewing devices and tools (along with many others that moved) came to help me resolve the request for immersion and the idea of playful fragmentation: I rolled the first one, the one with high chroma ink drops up along the sheets that they were and placed them along the edge in what I now know are wild peach trees. One faces skywards, one along the edge of meadow, path and wood. You step in, closer, crouch down, peek up, the sun plays with the marks and the tracing paper, the view shifts and reflects back into the long roll of indexical drawing. The second blanket (graphite) became literally a cover for the transformer station again, it tore when I removed it on a wet day in December, it dried brittle and as it shrunk it does no longer cover the station fully. It invites you to explore the surface of the station, of touching it, possibly pondering if you can climb atop. 
The two transformer blankets are the lighter, more playful objects, they sit along the edge of village site, the Walnut tree sits on the meadow behind, the Im Walde prints lie in front. One is a literal cover, a blanket, the others play and subvert the notion of cover, covering, blanket and ceiling. They fold both in space and in time: the potentiality of the Walnut tree possibly the most expansive notion of a blanket.
The site installation thus engages different dimensions, connecting through a drawing/contact methodology the four objects and processes. The durational nature of each making process sits at the same time lightly within this transitional space.
The main feedback from peers and tutors concern the following themes:Abundance and excess: the BoW submission is tight and concise: three works, four objects, all relating to the site they are not placed inAmbition of site: this edge site is vast and extents both into the village and well beyond; the works are all substantial in dimension and in connection hold their place as interventions that are at once weighty and playful.Immersiveness: the two transformer blankets offer immersiveness in close-up, onto the drawing paper and beyond or through it. The digital translation of the entire BoW is not visually immersive but seeks intimacy, attachment through audio narrationAccess: The works are experiential, the site performative, who steps in and closer is a different matter and for SYP. The personal statement along with the narrations are inviting, approachable, their layering and complexity become clearer once you linger. If you walk on, the visuals remains and that there is something there.

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) as part of For cover (1/3)

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) is a installation, consisting of a set of double-sided printed cyanotypes (36 sheets of Moleskine Cahier, 28x36cm), piled up and held on top with a hand-sized pebble in a heart-shape. They are placed on top of a closed manual sewing machine (Phoenix 355) with tressel and in a mid-century wooden table form. The front drawing is opened out and it reveals an assortment of sewing utensils: needles, spools, yarn. The work is place on a spring meadow, amid some grasses and white wild flowers. The v-belt of the machine is hanging slack, the plug for the electric lamp is hanging half-way down to the foot pedal.

This work was printing across October 2020 on the mature walnut tree in my parents’ garden. I had experimented with a series of cyanotype printing processes using hedges, trees, leaves etc. and different papers. The Moleskine Cahiers has been my go-to sketchbook for a few years, the thin, heavily-sized paper offers a translucency, rubs and transfers easily, and holds notes and sketches effortlessly. I experimented with single-layers, and single-sided prints. The double-layered double-sided prints I settled on take the paper to its physical limit: the washing of the exposed prints requires attention not to destroy the paper, it dries well and reveals the tears and cracks in close-up. (I would coat a single-side twice, exposure, fix and dry and then coat the second side twice)

The printing was using pegs to fix the paper to low-hanging leaves and branches, the intensity of the sun variable, the exposure time generally between 20-45 minutes), some were printed during high winds, some gathered rain. I placed a few on the ground, some flipped in the process, exposing the back, one I forgot overnight. In some the chemistry disentangled (or perhaps reacted differently with the paper’s seizing?).

For a long time I considered this a gallery-based 2-D curtain, reconstructing the tree in the centre of a room, Im Walde as wall-based installation surrounding it. Over the course of the coming months care and maintenance became themes of all these works and my stay here. I explored ways of building a curtain, sewing air into it, make it see-through, perhaps it could be a quilt, but how could I sew in negative space, make it malleable, make it possible to disassemble, keep modular and unimpaired?

I experimented with paper clips and pegs to make a make-shift shape to cover myself, and was content with that as a possibility, so the pile of prints contains that potential, it can be enacted.

The digital version has a sound piece alongside it. Here I developed what I had been calling Instructions to Touch as time-based portrait, as narration of the process of making in at once strongly chronological form (the numbers point to the chronology of narrating) and yet fragmented (as I would delete and edit the narration).

I installed Walnut Tree on 15 May and had in on site for a couple of hours, to explore its siting, reach and resonance. We played the audio through the phone speakers, it is currently in English, the language in which I art, for the site this however does not make sense. And perhaps the contextualisation isn’t necessary for the encounter in situ.

Trafodecken as part of For cover (3/3)

Trafodecken [transformer covers or blankets] is a drawing work. It consists of two covers, each approx 160x350cm (each in two separate parts of two x 80x350cm) of heavy tracing paper. The paper was laid out flat across the concrete surface of a compact transformer station at the village edge. They were tied down with ribbon and left on site for 2-3 weeks across November and December 2020. Over the period I would trace fir needles, rain and surface marks with graphite and marker pens. The latter were often dropped as ink stains into the emerging puddles. Over this time, the covers were frequently attended to: tied down, adjusted, in heavy winds rolled up for protection, rolled out again, water was wiped down also.

The first process started with an unmarked cover for several days before starting to trace needles, then water through staining. This resulted in a luminous blanket.

The second process started how I initially intended to start: to take a surface rubbing with a thick graphite stick right at the start (I abandoned that idea with blanket 1 as by the time I was ready to mark the surface many insects started inhabiting it, the graphite rubbing too violent to interact). The second blanket also acquired ink stains, mainly blues, the weather was much calmer, it was frosty too at point, I never rolled it up. This is produced the graphite blanket.

I ended process 1 at the point the paper started to disintegrate and tear easily. I ended process 2 when I was going away for a few days and didn’t want it unattended.

I experimented with various views and objecthood, uncertain as to the status of the work (as process or as object). Eventually, the graphite blanket (ripped once when I was trying to dry it at home after disassembly) covered the transformer station again, the luminous blanket became a kaleidoscopic viewing device for the meadow edge (please see here for a more in-depth discussion of this process).

Trafodecken facilitated the understanding of care and maintenance work within the drawing/contact cycle, and the shift in the practical work (less so the Research dissertation) of considering the haptic and touch as care matter also. This presents a late re-focusing of the module’s work, it is in line with the wider thematic of setting out with the body as a drawing tool and concerns of contact, touch and relational matter. It also facilitates the siting of the two other works, Im Walde and Walnut tree, as discrete works which are linked and related through the two covers, sited on the transformer and in bushes no the meadow edge. The discussion of immersion and access to the work also enabled to reorientate the objecthood and what these Trafodecken are as artistic work towards something that is haptic, encountered up close and can be interacted with (that they produce both rather immersive close-views and aesthetic photographs is a different matter, how these resolve digitally will finally be addressed in SYP).

Please see below for installation views of both Trafodecken.

1. Trafodecke 1 (luminous blanket)

2. Trafodecke 2 (the graphite blanket)

For cover (a drawing/contact event): personal statement

a cover is a covering a ceiling a blanket.

it covers first the transformer so as to trace, to rub, to transfer. it collects sun wind rain needles, and insects wander and meander atop.

i climb up, survey, convey, a tricep lift, a turn, then a jump (i could and do repeat).

the view point is close, caressing along the surface, a blur at times.

the chemistry leans against a branch, a trunk, on the moss it soaks up some acidity (or was it the blueberries) and plays not with blues but with purples, greens and greys, all the while attending to the wind the rain the sun.

i draw, it draws; in contact that is often near yet unsuspecting, unassuming. sometimes we detach, blow off.

a kaleidoscope points to the fir tops, another along the line where meadow path and woods meet.

the fourth blanket was the first, a garden tree in sun and rehabilitation. neither curtain nor quilt (with skills for either discussed while making the bed), it becomes potential, to fold, to enclose, to caress. the tool may be my gran’s sewing machine. you reach it while tracing the spring meadow’s abundance.

For cover presents four covers created across a rural autumn and early winter. It utilises tactile media (graphite rubbings and contact printing) to move-with wind, rain, sun, plant matter alongside hands and other bodies. It did so in an unexpected site, across the small village, just where it meets the forest: a cover is a covering a ceiling a blanket, to potentially cover you and perhaps I.

For cover (a drawing/contact event, Sunday 15 May)

I ask a friend to visit me and to set out the materials on site. Over the past months him and I have discussed frequently the work, the site, my stay and the wider circulation of the drawing/contact methodology. He knows the work, has seen earlier manifestations in mid-December. After I ask him I resolve the Walnut tree piece along with the sewing machine and installation on the meadow. I wait for a dry(-ish) day in this fairly wet and mild May to move the furniture onto the meadow. I try and place the blankets before and by myself, the siting and placement of Im Walde had been resolved in January already (yet not in relation to the others).

The day eventually isn’t dry. The traffic high so he arrives a couple of hours later. We do a walk through the village, each carrying a blanket (and likely under the watchful eye of the entire village), we exit the village to the swimming pool, walk up the slope and pause once the transformer is in view.

I ask him to take some documentation photos. We climb up on the transformer together, he jumps forward, I tricep lift. He says his feet are getting warm from the energy underfoot. We jump down, unroll the graphite blanket, tie it as before (it is now in three parts, a tear happened on the December de-install when it was wet and soft), note how it shrunk over the time, barely covering the width at all. Then I roll out the luminous blanket and place it, adjust, readjust and we watch inside out.

We walk back round via the cafe to pick up some cake, have coffee and cake with my parents then load the other materials into the car, through the village again, watched again. We carry the furniture, not to the place I initially thought but much closer, it obviously needs to be closer to the blankets. Then we watch, wonder, step away, around and closer again. The feet on the spring meadow amidst white delicate flowers and lush green grass is quite something. That I hadn’t considered my gran’s sewing machine for almost thirty years quite another thing. I then begin to set up Im Walde, it takes a while, I seem to get lost in its chronology, we adjust a few sheets. Someone walks past, someone else again. They stop and we talk about the printed wood and my extended stay. I eventually ring my parents who arrive 30 minutes later and the next shower is beginning to threaten. I show them round, they play, we talk. They talk to the neighbour for a while who then steps closer and I show him around. Oh, by now it is raining and the sewing machine hidden under green cover. The cyanotypes are getting soaked and acquire much matter from the Douglas firs above. We stand under the fir on the edge of the site and marvel across. A huge rainbow eventually appears all and us.

I end up with a whole series of process photos and a decent amount of documentation too. The interrelatedness of the different works is difficult to convey visually, the atmosphere of the afternoon and the site similarly so.

(I eventually close my laptop at this point as a heavy shower seeks out the sheltered veranda table I am writing on these days).

So, the day was a drawing/contact event, not a documentation of materials but a testing out and probing how they work on site and with each other. The extent to which the placement of a rather delicate manual sewing machine from the mid-1950s works as resolution to hold the pile of delicate sheets that are another walnut tree and a potential blanket on this abundant spring meadow and in this site was quite something. While I understood it as a resolution I hadn’t quite anticipated the strength of this resolution and what this simple furniture placement would do to alter the site, its reach and resonance.

The site for the luminous blanket is similarly well chosen: there is a rhythm from both East (the village) and West (the forest) to the works, Im Walde and Walnut Tree are big, weighty works with extended outdoor cyanotype processes, they reach well beyond in scale and temporality. The two blankets are in contrast playful, light and airy, the tingle-tangle along, also in height: up on the transformer and half-way up some bushes. They are works to engage with, play with, touch, while the cyanotype works are visual, encountered from a bit of distance. In fact, my mother was the only one who touched the walnut tree sheets, noone stepped uninvited closer to the sewing machine.

I am pleased that Doug pushed me to consider site further and even though as the BoW presented is a series of four covers, not a site nor place, the siting of the objects and the environmental, physical resolution of it would not have been achieved if it wasn’t for my budging up against place and immersiveness.

That Research considers performance and the role of the body in drawing as much as it does is also beneficial for being able to understand this day as performative, as a trying out and testing and then also inviting people to explore it. Five of the six people who I met and I am close to in these nine months in Germany were present and explored the site and the work with me. They took different routes through it, my father sat on sofa I have been sleeping on for this time the next morning and was quite moved how his time recovering from the stroke (the period over which I was printing the walnut tree) was suddenly mingling with his mother’s work tool, which for all my memory stood in the tight corner of the small room which was my favourite childhood place. That all got rained on with the softest West Coast of Scotland weather (incl. a full luminous rainbow) is almost too kitsch to add to this, but of course I do.

See here for a series of pictures from the day to give a sense of the event and performative nature of it:

Luminous cover (Trafodecke 1) as viewing device

Drawing/contact explored a number of routes around viewing devices and visual games: these were called kaleidoscopes or peripheral vision; some of these were digital, others analogue, some involved others: I posted out three singular prints on A4 copy paper to await a return, they returned as a viewing device box, the Boris box, spikey; and the other was a set of chemical experiments on a kitchen stove).

(see here for all posts concerning kaleidoscopes)

In the making of the Trafodecken, the transformer blankets, I ended up with numerous close-ups, onto the indexical tracings, the effects of weather and enviroment, or skimming the surface of the paper into the wooded distance. As they were made on tracing paper, the translucency of the material played with sun and shade. The stiffness of the dry paper would hold shape well.

I hung them into trees, across low fences and pollards, installed in a holiday rental kitchen space, used them as zoom backdrops (with my dad modelling the cosmic weather forecast), but overall, I remained uncertain as to the status of the work: was it process or object, and if object what and where?

After BoW 4 I envisaged to resolved the scale and ambition of site along with a sense of immersiveness (or rather, what become with Laura Marks a notion of the haptic and the erotic). My approach was to create a ‘drawing’ of the site, its processes and how it interrelated. This would be an assemblage (other suggested to call it a map). The viewing devices and visual games resurfaced at this moment and I begun to think of how the idea of ‘climbing into’ the rolled up covers could become them being utilised as a viewing device, a kaleidoscope.

One day I tried out two locations on the meadow/forest edge: first a tree at the entrance (too close to the blanket on the transformer station; also too much a site for dog toilet to feel confident about stepping close). Then I found two bushes a bit further along and I propped the two sheets of blanket 1 (the luminous one) into the bush, one facing skywards (which was a direction I employed with a series of viewing devices), the other skimming horizontally along where path, trees and meadow meet. They are loosely rolled, the luminous ink stains, which resulted from a week of solid rain) to the inside. The sun would fall onto and into them from the top left, tracing branch and leaves as well as the various layers of the paper itself. The view hole fairly small compared to the inside of the viewing device. There is a sense of careful stepping in and towards the two devices, for one you reach up, for the other you crouch a little. I am wondering if for a show it would like a little stepping plate on the ground (or if that would detract).

The development process of final placement and form is here:

1. viewing device images in production process

2. site 1 (abandoned) next to the path

3. site 2 (chosen) further along the meadow edge

4. install process

5. the viewing device in use

Im Walde 14-23 as part of For cover (2/3)

Im Walde 14-23 is a modular contact print work of about 70 sheets of 38x28cm cyanotype exposures. The paper is a heavy cotton rag (Hahnemuehle Platinum Rag). The work is variable in arrangement, however, each column depicts one printing event, the sheets variably arranged within that event as well as each column to another.

In situ, the work is arranged across the width of a worn-out tar road at the end of residential area. Passers-by will have to step across or around on their way out of the village towards the path and the forest edge.

The prints depicts the forest: larch branches, moss, blueberries, young pines, dead firs, some in close contact, other with more distance. The shortest exposure time is 30 minutes, the longest 72 hours, the majority printed from mid-morning to mid-afternoon across late October to late December 2020.

Originally devised for a gallery context, the work is sited as part of For Covers on the edge between village and forest. As digital resolution it is presented as singular sheets in a slide show along with an opening instruction.

In situ, as part of For Corners the work is as follows, the digital resolution is presented underneath.

Research 5: final piece: submission

This post contains the Research Dissertation to my tutor to conclude the Research module.

I have also posted

This concludes Research just very tightly within the 2.5 years that I had for it (including a 6 months extension). I will post another bit of reflection on this Assignment 5, along with a series of changes and additions to the Research part of this blog to align it more closely for assessment (in November 2021) and to make space for a Research folder that will link to the currently blank links in the dissertation.

Here the dissertation. Any thoughts and comments: I’d love to hear them, send them along.

I look forward to wrapping up BoW over the next ten days also and then to turn towards engagement for all of this.

Research 5: reflection and analysis of entire module

I am compiling a series of assignment and tutorial reviews, shorten them and add a final paragraph at this point of concluding Research.

1 review

I reviewed a fair bit of work: live performances in different registers; I watched a series of films too and explored their cinematography, script and framing devices; I have read key pieces of fiction writing that I identified as key for my interests and a fair amount of academic work too. Attending the SAR conference mid-March was really important: both to test out my own work (though any feedback was largely self-derived and little came forward from audience) but also to see where my work relates to and can be situated within. I wrote a couple of these up on the blog, but there are a few other artists still key to what has influenced my thinking about performance, intimacy, site and drawing. I have also had my proposition to move the line from online video work to photo essay and to consider its methodology as walking methodology accepted for a conference in Northern Greece (Walking Arts Network).

What I have arrived at with the articulation of the research proposal is a clear sense of what BoW consists of as a work programme (a series of performances in different registers, audience/participant compositions); I have also settled on a focus for the Research: the concept that I currently call near space, that I seek to investigate in contemporary performance/ drawing practice; which investigates some key themes for BoW: relationality, presence/absence and site. This feels important and useful and allows a focus that fits and can be refined further.

2 review

With the glossary I arrive at the first satellite object and begin the exploration of an appendix, additional objects that are part of Research and thus the notion of this project as Practice as Research starts to take more explicitly shape.
In doing so it also at once, exhibits some of the key methodology of the whole work itself: of how to pull things close and also let them go or push them away.
We talked about Laure Prouvost’s Legsicon, Katrina Palmer’s Endmatter and how there are a variety of ways of how my different materials can become a glossary, including the photos, links to texts and other things.

The objects of research at this point are significantly different to what eventually become research objects (we discuss relational tables within GIS and diagrams).

3 review

The tutorial for this assignment took place soon after submission and just as pandemic lockdown was taking hold. My social life had quietened in its analogue form and the distance modality was pushing hard on the laptop camera and microphone. The tutorial, its discussions and insights sat as excess in a world that had begun to get stilled (with some anxious twitches).

We discuss the proposed site of the staircase, its objects and arrive at the padlets that designate at that point three case studies, and that these may be research objects rather than BoW. Questions arise as to how these fold back into the research, how they relate, as well as how the Herz/Stein series acts as warp right across. The glossary elucidates the different aspects here.

4 review

After a thirteen months break we pick up and start with the concepts of the previous BoW 4 tutorial, immersiveness and audience engagement and how these relate to the Research draft. Concerning the draft then the structure of it, its different voices and positions and how it organises excess are key at this point: the role of the academic voice, of research materials, of a research folder on the blog; and then to ensure excess is managed and that the research questions are addressed. We pick up fairly effortlessly after that 13 months break between 3 and 4; we cover initially some of the discussions around immersiveness and audience engagement that arose in BoW 4 and then cover the following:

5 review

Tracing the first proposal through this moment of conclusion shows at once what has remained constant, what has become more defined and clarified and what was abandoned during that time. The consistency of enquiry, concern over engagement, voice and excess strike me, along with the fruitful exchange and support in the tutorial arrangement, the persistence of focus even as my material and site altered drastically not just once but twice. Relational enquiries with other people, 1:1 or in group settings did not take place, I tried a series of small exchanges at a distance, but the main focus moved to drawing/contact with materials, sites, atmospheres. The BoW shifted further while the methodological focus of Research was merely adjusted to also allow for the final BoW series, albeit it taking in Laura Marks’ Touch provided a key conceptual development for both, BoW and Research. I became confident in articulating PaR as methodology and integrating existing research experience with my growing skills as a creative arts practitioner. This feels a considerable achievement and I look forward to engaging this during SYP.

Reflections and alterations on the initial research proposal (part of Research 5)

The initial research proposal, my tutor’s annotations to it and the tutor report report for Research 1 are here:

Revisiting these after more than two years point to a series of continuities:

a. the question of voice (and the balance between a reflective, narrative one vis-a-vis an authoritative academic one) was already raised: how of tighten and how to make more authorial my argument. I valued these discussion as much as they clarified to me why I left an academic appointment to seek a creative arts setting, this being an academic degree qualification of course didn’t make the engagement obsolete but it helped sharpen and hone the kinds of voice and registers that I was seeking with my research and practice enquiries and engagements.

b. the suggestion of a glossary arised early on (partly in response to a) and enabled the long and rather fruitful path of how to create objects for Research, of how to conduct PaR and what kind of artistic ‘objects’ I am interested in.

c. from the start I took the critical reflection between BoW and Research serious and frequently returned to these. I feel this is a part where I successfully drew on my existing research experience as well as a rather well-defined artistic practice to be able to move between process and objects and to help develop these as strands with both Research and BoW holding objects and processes accordingly.

The research questions necessarily narrowed: there were no workshops, there were less and less 1:1 enquiries (even though I had found a way of how these could be made fruitful for drawing/contact). This was to a good part due to the pandemic and contact restrictions. And while I experimented with a series of participatory processes (a DIY zine for the staircase site; a series of viewing device instructions posted out), these towards the end call themselves ‘Instructions to touch’ yet are surreal, time-based portraits and narratives rather than engagement. However, with the question of engagement being at the heart of not just SYP but also how I conceive of this work, I look forward to moving this towards processes that involve others, closer and at a distance. The review of other artists’ practice was also less of a feature than initially planned and the work became very strongly one of a process-enquiry of my own practice, of the objects emerging and developing within this and this practice-as-research would yield insight and learning to fold onwards.

With the decision to actively conduct research in this enquiry, the creative writing as theory fiction as auto fiction, retreated somewhat in order to make space for methodology and findings. The case studies became research material, sited outside the text and along with other objects became part of the satellite objects, the appendices that surround a 5000 words academic text in the field of creative arts.

The initial proposal, a few months into the project, draws on earlier work and the development of this, it also features a series of academic practices (conference talks, academic papers, powerpoint presentations as well as diagrams). I wondered at that stage not only what would be considered new work but also the extent to which this academic practice should be part of BoW. Eventually, none of this become part of the portfolio, neither of BoW nor Research. For the latter, I over the course of the module developed a research practice which is firmly located within the creative arts and articulates as PaR, that this is building on an social science research career is not hidden but it is also a distinct development on from this. It is possibly this which I consider the most important learning from Research.

Site (ambition of), immersiveness and lint in the BoW

These are the two key themes that arose from the BoW 4 tutorial for the final resolution. As Walnut tree approaches resolution I revisit the BoW materials and come to the view that these are now complete and effectively concluded. They orientate around each other, contain site/practice and are my response to the drawing/contact brief. Much remains unresolved, open but this is very much the nature of my artistic practice as research, so all else will either be addressed in Research, in SYP or at a time later.

I am adding the sketchbook notes here for now, I may type them up but perhaps they will also suffice for my discussion and response to making the BoW address both the (ambition and scale of) site as well as the notion of immersiveness that organises the relationship between work and audience (and/or participants).

The task from BoW 4 were as follows:

  • Exploring the material forms (notably: video, perhaps writing, perhaps audio) that unpacks site and practice further – substantively (as in how the work relates to itself) and practically (as in how the work can be encountered)
  • Revising artist statement to clarify process and intent of the work
  • Tapping out which work is part of this process and how
  • Clarifying the role of screen and the relational principles between the work: how to negotiate different scales between ambitious site and quotidian lint

I spend a little more time considering the role of lint within the works that are proposed and come these:

Performing a potential blanket (Walnut tree of touch)

[pretty much a placeholder right now]

As part of the Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) I am exploring temporary fixtures, wooden pegs and paper clips, to create shapes and forms from the sheets of print and how these can be inhabited. A first set of images is done in low lighting and haphazard, I would like to add some outdoor explorations to this and will try to amend in time for the crit on Wednesday. But the idea is already contained in these rather poor images:

update (5/5/21): the weather being rather wild puts another iteration of this, outside and in daylight on hold.

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket): resolution

1. In situ installation (a Phoenix 350 sewing machine, folded down, the front drawer is open, revealing an assortment of sewing utensils as well as a small b&w photograph featuring a woman sitting at a wooden desk in front of some garden bushes, possibly currants; a pile of double-sided printed cyanotype on Moleskine sketchbook paper, double-sided; a stone holding these in place)

2. Proposed site of the above installation

Option 1: central to first image in centre of meadow, images 2-4 are views from the proposed table site:

Option 2: at the side of the meadow, near a pine, looking onto the meadow (images 1-3) from table location:

3. Instructions to touch (a potential blanket)

There is a text or audio document to go alongside (possible the text printed and wrapping the pile, or in a digital setting, the audio would play:

(1) Go to the walnut tree outside. Find a walnut shell that has been picked open by a crow. Take it indoors, wash it, let it dry. After a few days, open your sketchbook and place the shell on an empty page, fold the previous page over, hold it taut. Take first a marker pen (in a soft pink), then a thick and soft graphite stick and trace the opening of the shell. If you want to, also trace the edges and folds further down until the whole shape is transferred. Remove the shell and close the sketchbook. Have a look a few days later at how the opening has folded into the sketchbook.

(6) Look out for some replacement stones, ones that are smooth and you can bind together. Along the field with the empty seed heads, make your choice and lift one from the ground, it may be half-buried. You may find it’s an almost perfect heart shape, it may not require any other stone. Place it in the bag you brought with you and then in your pocket. Once home, forget about it for a couple of days, then place on your windowsill. Think about a precious wrapping for this singular stone.

(16) Remember the process of unbinding the sketchbook, mixing the chemistry after dinner and coating a first side once, after an hour a second time with the chemistry. Switch off the light, after an hour place the sheets (10 for 10g+4g) into the light-proof bag and go to bed.

(17) Over lunch, on any day throughout October, place your prepared sheets onto the tree, watch for wind, sun and rain. You can vary the exposure time and you can also discover that you don’t need to concern yourself all that much with mistakes here and there. Continue to print in this manner until the leaves are shed off the tree. Show your dad your prints at regular intervals.

(10) As your father and you move his mother’s sewing machine (manual, with trestle and no zigzag stitch) to your room, tell him about that photo of your other gran, in their garden, on a desk, revising for her driving license. Look it out and retrieve it from appr0ach.net.

(11) Remember the stone from autumn, find it on the desk and place it on the pile of prints.

(15) Sit down to write these notes at the furthest desk in the woods. The shoes are wet from the grass, you pull the hood over as it is slightly not warm enough (like most days, really). There is the usual bird chorus, then after a while another sound rises to your consciousness: further out, beyond the furthest field a cuckoo. The first of this spring.

(12) After that meadow exploration I navigate the hedge and fence and step up to the patio, I kneel down next to him as he washes tools in a bucket filled with water and vinegar. I tell him softly that I may have resolved the work.

(13) There is a walnut tree in your garden. Yes, I took some leaves from yours in autumn. Yes, mine is about to get new leaves.

(14) I write the process from the day before on the Trafo, cross-legged, in an early sun. I take a leave and hold it against the sun and the firs. It layers effortlessly.

(8) I tire after a first attempt a few days earlier and prepare to walk off. I return and explore the meadow with a view as to siting the table. I wonder: are we looking at the table or looking from the table. 

(18) The start of this, I realise, is a wrong lead, another project, not this. Really, perhaps this project starts with a hastily packed bag for a short emergency visit and a navigation of European Covid travel towards an ICU hospital bed some 36 hours later. I write this record eight months later still.

Walnut tree of touch (to blanket)

The prints of the autumnal walnut tree have so far remained unresolved. They featured in a number of posts and small explorations but have stayed in in a folder.

Previous relevant posts for this series are:

https://close-open.net/2020/12/14/walnut-tree-of-touch-autumn-works-1/

https://close-open.net/2021/01/28/sorge-strom-as-part-of-stromverteilen/

https://close-open.net/2019/10/19/d-c-event-walnut-gravity-support/

For a crit group session on Wednesday 5/5, I proposed to explore these as the work is too relevant and significant to stay out of the actual BoW.

I go through a series of enquiries and a development process that is detailed in this sketchbook note:

The main points here are:

  • Discussions with my mother and a colleague over quilting, making a blanket alongside the other blankets (nb that Decke in German means blanket but also ceiling or cover, translating Trafodecke merely as blanket is too cosy) clarify that
    • a sense of context, a see-through is as important as
    • a sense that the blanket can become undone, the individual parts remain unchanged, undamaged.
    • an exploration of sculptural form beyond a blanket, e.g. a trunk, a cave, a cape are important too.
  • I make a sheet clipped with paper clips of 2×6, closed and explore one evening
  • I place the sheets in a tree and watch them move, sway, fall off

I realise too that I am thinking of an installation that includes a potentiality for the blanket: a pile of sheets held down with a heart-shaped stone I found one day on top of an old manual sewing maching placed on the meadow at the forest edge, along with a text that includes instructions around this work, and a series of performative video pieces that explore the potential blanket.

  • the prints were done when my dad moved from ICU to ward to rehab following a severe stroke in late Summer and that process is contained in the printing (him and I did some performance work around the walnut tree in the preceding autumn).

So, for the work a number of things are important:

It should hold the significance of the material and context well: tender, soft, with depth.

It should also hold the relationship of drawing/ contact, of the haptic and the visual and of closeness and distance.

How do these relate to the other parts of the BoW and where does it slot into the ‘site’ that is Stromverteilen?

As remaining development work this means:

  • a series of performances around sculpted/modelled constructions from the sheets (I order both wooden pegs and large paper clips to build temporary structures)

>> a temporary placeholder (with poor images) is in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/performing-a-potential-blanket-walnut-tree-of-touch/

  • to write instructions for the work
  • to try the sewing machine (currently located in the upper floor hallway in the house)

>> these instructions and a first photo set of the machine, the prints and the location is written up in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/walnut-tree-of-touch-a-potential-blanket-resolution/

  • to do a performance on the meadow with all elements once my friend T. comes and visits me in ten days.

The development of this overall material and various experiments are caught in these images:

Immersiveness (1) : faking it

I take these two yesterday afternoon. The first, the Douglas fir skywards an idea after a long series of not very successful ways of trying to get at that skywards patterning. The second, the larch (budded) is a motif I have similarly often revolved around, set up with the 5×4 pinhole camera, patiently waiting for the right light, the right view and what it looks from the other side, across the fence, from the meadow.

I send both in two whatsapp chats last night, one not looked at yet. As much as they are short playthings, they are also more, much more. Their scale and subject matter condensed, a response to my months of exploring and refusing immersiveness, of scale and ambition.

This morning I mention them too, along with: let me send them. I call them fakes as she reminds me in a chat message later. I barely retrace how I came to call them fake. But it is here: in the playful refusal of immersion, in the hint of seduction. They are sincere in their fakery all the same.

The skywards rotation was initially planned as having a different filter, a different pace, a loop, possibly a monochrome range too. I will explore these, but side by side, they also belong, perhaps: like so:

Immersion (fakery v1)

The spacing between (and probably that black too isn’t right but it’s a quick imovie work around… seeing them side by side is perhaps wrong too, they may be sequential and separate after all:

I need to send a reminder, like: do look at the videos. They are lush.

Nomadic thought and transversalism (research folder)

Research folder, expanding on this paragraph in Research dissertation:

Interested in contact implies a curiosity about the fabric that contributes to our articulations of corporeal selfhood (as author, subject and audience). At once immediate, sensorial and tactile it also asks wider questions concerning relationship and presence. These concerns around agency, voice and autonomy are informed by older materialisms (notably: a critical materialism of social praxis) and are curious about new materialisms and its rearticulations of the non/human subject (Marks 2002, Braidotti 2011, Springgay & Truman 2019, Hilevaara & Orley eds 2018).

(Helms, 2021, dissertation draft, 28 April 2021, Introduction)

(a) new materialism, non/human subjects: nomadism and transversalism.

In the draft I carry a different line around new materialisms and the human body with me for a while, Rosi Braidotti’s nomadism is dropped in but not explicated. It is the link to what before was the interest in hybridity (originating from that interdisciplinary conception of drawing), cyborgs and non/human agency.

For the dissertation text I am drawing the theory closer around Laura Marks and Stephanie Springgay and Sarah Truman, all else will largely go to research notes on here.

Nomadic subjects in Rosi Braidotti (2011) as a theory of subjectification for our times: feminist, materialist; furthermore, while informed by post-structuralism, she (and others) break with Lacan’s lack as key psycho-analytical feature but draw on Spinoza (via Deleuze/Guattari) to centre desire and the generative features arising thereof for such subjectification.

Figuration is key for Braidotti, there are also references to earlier publications by Laura Marks.

Here are a number of key points relevant for the dissertation (all Braidotti 2011, Nomadic Theory)

Key articulations of what nomadic thought/theory is concerned with:

“Conceptually, nomadic thought stresses the idea of embodiment and the embodied and embedded material structure of what we commonly call thinking. It is a materialism of the flesh that unifies mind and body in a new approach that blurs all boundaries. The embodiment of the mind and the embrainment of the body (Marks 1998) are a more apt formulation for nomadic thought than Cartesian or other forms of dualism. ” (Braidotti, 14)

“Nomadic thought rejects the psychoanalytic idea of repression and the negative definition of desire as lack inherited from Hegelian dialectics. It borrows instead from Spinoza a positive notion of desire as an ontological force of becoming. This achieves an important goal: it makes all thinking into an affirmative activity that aims at the production of concepts, precepts, and affects in the relational motion of approaching multiple others. Thinking is about tracing lines of flight and zigzagging patterns that undo dominant representations. Dynamic and outward bound, nomadic thought undoes the static authority of the past and redefines memory as the faculty that decodes residual traces of half-effaced presences; it retrieves archives of leftover sensations and accesses afterthoughts, flashbacks, and mnemonic traces.” (Braidotti, 15)

“Nomadic philosophy is the discursive practice with the highest degree of affinity to the mobility of intelligence: it is both physical, material, and yet speculative and ethereal. The dialogue itself is a movement of exchange between two consenting antagonists, such as friends, opponents, or traveling companions. ” (Braidotti, 16)

“It is particularly important not to confuse the process of nomadic subjectivity with individualism or particularity. Whereas identity is a bounded, ego-indexed habit of fixing and capitalizing on one’s selfhood, subjectivity is a socially mediated process of relations and negotiations with multiple others and with multilayered social structures.” (Braidotti, 17)

Nomadism in contrast to the flaneur’s gaze:

“Back in the metropolis, the ponderous yet lazy gaze of the nineteenth-century flaneurs theorized the art of walking as a leisurely literary stroll round town. This endowed the continental urban landscape with the mystery and seduction often reserved for faraway places—a domestic variation on the exotic. ” (Braidotti, 28)

Figuration is key for Braidotti, there are also references to earlier publications by Laura Marks.

“Figurations are ways of expressing different situated subject positions. A figuration renders the nonunitary image of a multilayered subject. Feminist theories since postmodernism demonstrated that the definition of identities takes place between the polarized duality of: nature/technology; male/ female; black/white—in the spaces that flow and connect in between. We live in permanent processes of transition, hybridization, and nomadization (…). And these in-between states and stages defy established modes of theoretical representation. The figuration of nomadic subjects, however, should never be taken as a new universal metaphor for the human or posthuman condition. As I argued in the companion volume, Nomadic Subjects (Braidotti, 2011), we need to provide, instead, accurate cartographies of the different politics of location for subjects-in-becoming.
A figuration is a living map, a transformative account of the self—it’s no metaphor. It fulfills the purpose of finding suitable situated locations to make the difference between different locations.” (Braidotti, 34f)

Tracing transversalism, which has been in my vocabulary for quite some time is a bit more difficult. The work from early 2000s+ by Gerald Raunig et al. sits closer towards institutional analysis, translation studies; and while informed by Deleuze/Guattari, it turns towards institutional critique rather than the subject, affect and non/human agency.

I have no access to my notes on Erin Manning’s Minor Gestures; nor Stefano Harney & Fred Moten’s Undercommons where much of this was explored and fed into my research/thinking around the Drawing 2 module.

Springgay & Truman’s Chapter 2 in Walking Methodology (2019) however assembles and outlines key lines and arguments: around trans theories and Braidotti’s (2006) transpositions that are ‘playing the positivity of difference’ (52), emphasising the non-linear and nomadic and that explore ‘regulated dissassociation’ of bond which are usually assumed cohesive.

<< these are the arguments that link to the BoW discussion around immersiveness vis-a-vis a notion of fragment, distance and detachment and a moving in and out of closeness and distance, i.e. how I draw on Marks’ erotic for the work).

So, for Springgay & Truman in this review of trans theories intensities and movements are key rather than fixed beings or things. They reference Abraham Weil (2017) on ‘entangled linkages, or transversality’ (53).

Furthermore, they mobilise Harney & Moten (2013) on ‘hapticality to think about how walking constitutes a politics-in-movement’ (12).

Chapter 2 in Springgay & Truman on Sensory inquiry & affective intensities in walking research thus provides not only the arguments around the use of nomadism and transversalism but also in doing so spells out the relevance of the sensorial and how this can be explored beyond notions of immersiveness.

(links to explore: Immersiveness, hapticality and the erotic, new materialism and register shifts (why I am not focusing all that much on matter after all))

Orientating Research blog towards assessment

The Research module consists of several elements. This post is a first attempt to orientate these towards resolution and assessment.

a. Research outline from A1

b. The dissertation, consisting of:

  • main body of text
  • different voices articulating alongside the main body of text, notably: research practice and notes sitting aside
  • Appendices to the main body: key points to the research practice and clarifications over key works and positions

c. Research padlets

d. Other padlets transecting across BoW and Research

e. Art works originating within the research process

f. Research folder on blog

It is this latter, the research folder on the blog that I need to organise and orientate. I have the blog so far mainly used to provide a number of things

  1. assignments, reflections and tutorial notes
  2. critical reflections across BoW and Research
  3. practice pieces and enquiries, many of these are part of BoW, some are part of Research; these often have a performative nature, are often not contextualised nor annotated but instead use the blog as performance/presentation platform
  4. some reflections on works and processes that do not directly relate to the intersection between BoW and Research, some of these are for Research

I have not so far used the blog to provide contextual studies or reviews or reflections (like artists, works, exhibitions, etc.), I did this in the past but for these modules much less so, and little that is writing for such purpose for Research.

Research tutorial 4 made clear that the current organisation of excess, appendix or satellite objects does not provide enough space to explore key debates, artists, works nor indeed conceptual considerations for my own practice within the 5k word limit of the dissertation.

Here, the Research folder on the blog will take this role, and it will hold a series of reflective and contextual pieces along with more theoretical and conceptual discussions.

Currently there are four key posts to write:

  1. Theoretical significance of nomadism and transversalism (and possibly some new materialism also) which underpins the dissertation but is not covered in depth. (The dissertation will discuss in turn Marks and Springgay/Truman in more detail)
  2. Key writers and artists: Spahr, Kapil and Krauss are alluded too, so are Calle, Goudal and Matta Clark; these need more discussion (and possibly just a list of relevant context as appendix in the dissertation); there are also: Bethan Huw’s Lake Piece, Gillian Wearing’s Dancing in Peckham and Georgina Starr’s Eddy & Whistle whose works keep returning to my mind. (Jonas and Palmer will in turn feature in more detail in the dissertation).
  3. Different voices in the dissertation
  4. Managing excess in Research

I will then also reorganise the categories and tags to account for this new section.