Submission SYP 2: Resolving your work

This constitutes the submission of assignment 2 for SYP: Resolving your work.

Four elements (and related links) form this submission

1/ revised and new work;

2/ reflection on 1/ in light of presentation concerns

3/ a synopsis of my presentation plans

4/ revised project plan.

I wrote 1/ and 2/ a little ago: essentially concluding that little is to be revised as body of work and that in fact the objects created/revised form part of the engagement itself (for the purpose of this submission these are also called presentation, but I understand engagement to be more than presentation form.

1/ and 2/ are in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/11/18/syp-2-resolving-the-body-of-work/

3/ I argue that the two pinhole photographic prints constitute new work, made for circulation/engagement (while resulting out of the final stages of the Research dissertation enquiry): https://close-open.net/2021/11/28/for-cover-contact-and-gaze-pinhole-images-for-sale/

These then fold forward to the substantial addition of new objects, engagement objects, that are tentatively called A/ folder or An Instructive Glossary to: a growing series of zines in PDF print at home download format as presented in #3 Detach and #4 Open in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/11/28/a-folder-or-perhaps-an-instructive-glossary-to/. I am in the process of testing these in a series of small group settings to explore the viability of them being responsive and generative as a process.

There are a series of research processes at play around engagement, archiving and distance, with distance likely informing both of these others. I have written a little on aspects of contextual distance here: https://close-open.net/2021/10/15/contextual-distance-in-the-padlet-portfolio/ and here: https://close-open.net/2021/11/18/archiving-site-1/, and it is also raised in relation to the audience considerations for the above zine process.

I am also proposing for presentation aka engagement a series of workshop/discussion events: I would like these to be practice as research, making workshops and/or panel discussions and dialogue. There exist a few first considerations as to focus:

The idea is that these workshops run over a 3-4 weeks in February/March 2022 as digital events.

The presentation/engagement in digital form is being explored: perhaps, given the discussions around contextual distance, see blog link above re to archiving, the padlet is a suitable mediator for the work; I am however also testing Adobe Portfolio (perhaps too Creatives for my purpose, or other unlimited single page site — I intend to turn to this over the next assignments, and perhaps it sits as project on my artist website).

For the on site/ adjacent to it engagement, I am exploring e.g. a maildrop of a similar single page zine as for the A/folder PDFs along my ‘commuting route’, i.e. 15 houses, or similar.

4/ I have updated the project plan accordingly, along with the timeline here:

A/ folder or perhaps: An instructive glossary to

Most of my past few weeks were spent doing two things:

a/ to explore the notion of archiving (on site/ in notation); and

b/ to work through the questions around engagement.

I want to unpack the latter here in more detail as part of my submission of SYP2: Resolving my work: PDF zines for circulation as WIP.

The project plan of SYP always included an analogue element: perhaps a artist book/box to circulate in a limited edition; perhaps a performance/event on site or adjacent to (besides its already existing digital form, perhaps edited, perhaps transposed to a different platform from the padlet site).

The idea of an assemblage, an artist box, a limited edition originates with the idea of a large Research drawing or perhaps a large drawing that concluded the body of work. I have spent many hours on site/ about the site to work through the elements, strands, connections and dissonances only to find that such drawing remained elusive. There was however a list of objects that could transpose the site to elsewhere (even fit into a box to be posted; to be non-precious too). Some elements were: larch essential oil, a cone, a feather, an instruction for a drawing machine, a notation of burning birchwood and crows flying overhead.

Again, the materials seem too… perhaps too literal or too romantic, too much trying for immersion when earlier I had deliberately trying to distance myself from that and a simple sense-transferal from here to anywhere.

In my sketchbooks of the original site, the staircase, I find two instructive participatory processes that I have experimented with: a zine around a hatch atop of the staircase, and an instruction for a viewing device. The latter was posted to three friends/colleagues and returned.

Along with my current sketchbook notes and the instructions to touch that I developed as part of For Cover, these in turn became the following:

An expandable collection of PDFs, with printing and folding instructions, relating to variable elements of my practice as research: site, object, method. I modelled two and am attaching them here along with some relevant visual documentation.

#3 Detach:: presents a series of instructions around the notion of distance: to process a single line, phrase or in entirety

#4 Open:: a new invitation to copy a viewing device and use it.

I made simple instructions on the outside, along with title and a return address.

They can circulate as PDF and by means of a double-sided printer can then materialise as a small folded zine, a single image inside.

The series is flexible and can be expanded in various directions and include a number of objects and enquiries.

This unfolding does not yet have an adequate instruction in the PDF:

For Cover (contact) and (gaze) pinhole images (for sale)

Following my experiments with a large-format pinhole camera (taking 4×5 sheet film), I have subsequently edited and printed two images from this research enquiry.

The pinhole camera has an aperture of f232, i.e. very small. It means too that all that is in view is in focus: the very small aperture affords a depth of field far beyond any of the usual small aperture of e.g. f16 or f20. It comes with a long exposure time, which I utilised then for the double exposure of For Cover (gaze), the only sign of it on the other print is my translucent thumb (there/not there).

The pinhole camera was a new process (and so was large format sheet photography); it arose as an enquiry and pursuit around the viewing devices and games; that Laura Marks names its all-in-focus vision as the antidote to the haptic and erotic showed me that my line of enquiry was well worthwhile.

For Cover (contact) has become the title image for the BoW of portfolio: It looks onto the meadow from ground level at the time and site of the Walnut Tree of Touch (a Potential Blanket). The weather was sunny spring, the meadow full of small white flower heads and succulent greens, my little thumb also got a sighting.

It is printed via a hybrid process (chemical processing, digital scan, photographic printing) almost as a contact print but since contact sheets no longer exist as actually possible indexical form, I settled for a resonance of that mass printing format of 10x15cm. So, the dimensions of the print are 8.9 x 11.7 cm, no border, on glossy Kodak paper. They are batch printed and numbered in an open edition.

As objects, I experimented with two frames: the infinity, or floating, frame was my initial intention: an ever so slightly portrait-oriented, deep wooden frame, with the print floating just underneath a museum-grade glass. The second frame is a simple, ready-made square frame (at 20x20cm) with a mountboard sitting 0.5 cm outside the print, the board here is ever so slightly green, for the infinity frame the mountboard is a very slight beige.

For Cover (contact)

For Cover (gaze) is a double exposure image taken from the transformer station onto the meadow and back to the station. It merges thus sidelines, trees and plants along with a concrete cover.

It is one of a series of visual experiments with looking forward and back, with one looking and another returning the look. Gaze seems appropriate as it lingers.

The printing process as is like the earlier one, the dimension however different. The print on glossy Kodak is 15×20.1 cm; the prints again batch printed and numbered in an open edition.

For Cover (gaze)

As objects that sit directly at the research of the For Cover body of work: in terms of visual enquiry, contact processes and the exploration of site and movement within this, I am interested in offering these as objects to circulate.

Each print is offered for sale, along with a short statement of For Cover, for £35 or €35 including postages to the UK and Europe. Further abroad: ask. If you are interested in purchasing one or the other, get in contact via the contact form on the left-hand menu (payment via paypal or bank transfer).

SYP 2.2: Presentation and/or site visit

Presentation is routinely a gallery exhibition; and so it takes me a couple of rounds to read the details that veer off from this format. I am at the point of submitting SYP 2; print out the instructions in the coursebook and marvel at a site visit proposition for my engagement. Let me explore this a little:

Venue, venue, venue — it isn’t quite event, is it? How is my dislocated venue visited? I link to it, on social media, in DMs, in email footers and physical print outs (I am still undecided if QRs are rubbish, pandemic-light, or rather smart functional). There are plenty architectural details: letterboxes, the folds of paper print outs, the question as to ‘what type of printer do you have and use?’; and then there is of course a physical site that I tried to offer immersively, instructively; erotically even too, but that then became a blanket for cover.

My work, my objects, portfolio, research, glossary, sound notes, flow through these effortlessly; I realise I am not concerned and don’t need to be concerned about the objects to be engaged with: they don’t need reworking; they may need selecting, orientating, engaging; but somehow even the choice as to which ones seems not too important.

Scale: insignificant to cosmic. It contracts and expands thanks to several folders.

Services: care work; haptic encounter, a pinhole camera offering all in sharp focus, if you linger you may drown a little at will; there is a hide for cover, numerous blankets; a pencil or ten, swirls skywards and along the horizon line. All these services, in service, playful and with utmost sincerity.

Health and safety: a magnetic current field; underfoot you feel it, how far does it stretch? If you don’t lift your foot you may trip while trespassing. Mind the dog shit too. And if this was summer: the horseflies. Oh, the horseflies. And then, how far away is your screen, do you squint your eyes, hunch your shoulders, strain your wrists?

Sound is distant but a set of good headphones can come to your (or my) aid here.

All in this is abundant and non-precious. This secures protection. But then, I lost a set of good tree drawings to an exasperated owner once. Or do I misremember now.

Hold you phone, follow the link and there is your moving image doubled.

There are numerous paths, you can veer off too and rummage a little with squirrels and thrushes. The jays invite you to flap your wings. That’s all the directions needed, I feel.

My insurance covers outside the EU these days; there are public right of ways, to cross the woods and meadows too. But, mind, your dogs needs to be kept on a leash for most of the year.

Dog walkers are still there; not many else but that may change in the next few weeks depending on how unsafe indoors is turning again.

Let me tell you a story. Or, have a title. I may offer some simultaneous interpreting however. I am not sure they quite caught my accent at my last public speaking engagement in early September.

All totally within reach; just move one foot here, another there, reach your hand out and listen intently: there you are.

(I wrote of the Stromverteilen site, I realise; it may need a little tweaking for its remote versions).

(I only wrote of the Stromverteilen site in the lower part of this, so it evidently changed, narrowed as site; it may not need any tweaking after all).

SYP 2.3: Thinking about documentation

Pretty much all that I call archiving falls under this activity’s ‘documentation’. Similar as with the submission of BoW, the documentation presents the work, in the case of For Cover as the event documentation of that half-day installation on site.

For SYP then, documentation is recording of what is to come as engagement/exhibition but since it draws on what was/is, it is the recording of an archive in some sense.

Thinking of the forms of engagement for SYP, as per the revised project plan (event series; analogue engagement via shared objects (send out/return); web platform and possibly on site/surrounding engagement; these are then a series of records:

  • a/v recording of digital events; possibly with transcripts too;
  • a folder/record of objects in circulation along with notes on reflection (written, a/v, audio, photographic, otherwise);
  • web platform as accessible at any point; and
  • a similar record to any on site engagement (depending on the nature of this: as event some a/v recording plus notes; if a letterbox drop or similar, the recording will be akin to the one for the analogue objects).

Risk assessments are unlikely to be needed; perhaps if a site-based live event these come into play; otherwise these are postal engagement at a distance. An assistant for digital events and/or live events would be helpful but given my experience also not necessary.

Here, documentation is considerable more logistically and conceptually narrow than how I have so far approached the concept of ‘archiving the site and the work’; the latter poses a number of questions concerning the nature of the work, the time/duration of the work and various access/contact points. These will be explored throughout the remainder of SYP (and likely filter into the events.

SYP 2.1: resolving the body of work

I disentangle an earlier ambitious submission timeline and thus find myself still ‘resolving’. The task is not to resolve a body of work portfolio for an (exhibition) audience, that isn’t it. Rather: I am seeking a resolution in which both BoW and Research move forward as equal components.

In principle, this is already spelled out in the notion of a methodological toolkit as the core of the engagement plan as per SYP 1. In practice, this toolkit requires further refinement, notably as to where the engagement in it sits (in residency applications, in a postal limited edition, an expanded digital platform or, or, or?).

As for the actual body of work, the resolution is far more simple. I have noted it at various points and will revisit here:

Adding Research to BoW padlet to allow for more context

2 June (at the end of BoW 5 report):

We discuss at some length how parts of the reflective writing (either on the blog or from the dissertation) can come to the For Cover padlet to allow for deepening that narrative and contextual/conceptual understanding. I mention the various routes through different material enquiries that I discuss in the findings chapter which could work here and could then also link to the dissertation itself, and thus also letting the BoW link to Research (and not just Research to BoW).

Tutor report 5, Body of Work

AP: to set this up on the For Cover padlet accordingly.

Revising selected elements of For Cover

8 August (when preparing for assessment)

  • re-record the audio for Walnut Tree of Touch (a Potential Blanket)
  • a black screen as visual resolution for its audio file
  • rephotograph slides for Am Walde?

More generally, I was asking:

  • How is the site archived?
  • How does audio relate to the archive?

As far as reworking/resolving existing objects are concerned, these are very limited in what I identified as needing doing.

The set of questions of how these can fold forward towards and engagement format (with the work that is For Cover + Research), these were becoming more ambitious:

The engagement plan for SYP as per end of BoW Module (15 May):

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)

(see the actual post here, it has a whole range of further considerations as to what, where and when is the site: https://close-open.net/2021/05/21/stromverteilen-engagement-plan-for-syp/)

And then in the SYP 1 Project Plan (15 July):

To present a mobile and versatile PaR, combining the various practices (such as drawing, writing, lens-based and performance work) into elements that can test the methodology of For Cover in different sites and contexts:

  • it will include a digital platform/space to act as an open container that can grow alongside the practice;
  • it will also include a material, analogue, element, such as a small edition set of different self-assemble elements to engage with For Cover across a distributed space and as private performance (i.e. a loosely understood artist book in a box or similar);
  • thirdly I will test the viability to revisit the actual site for a public performance/event in autumn.

As practical reworking of elements of For Cover, I will

  1. not rephotograph Am Walde for the digital a/v presentation: they are good quality digital images and work well as they are in the slides;
  2. will add a blank screen to an a/v of the existing audio of Walnut Tree of Touch (a Potential Blanket), and NOT rerecord the audio: there was a concern over its speed but I find it fitting;
  3. I will investigate further if the existing padlet is in fact a suitable digital platform (in conjunction with the Research portfolio of Stromverteilen):
  • longevity and control over format changes as per platform developer and institutional access
  • precarity of presented material due to lack of control of platform
  • if both preceding points are not in fact fitting for digital distance as form of engagement
  • explore Adobe Portfolio as alternative site (and clarify what it needs to allow for, include in contrast to a professional website in which For Cover sits as one project of many)

<< this work will present the Resolution of Body of Work as per coursebook (i.e. SYP 2)

Further resolution (and why SYP 2 is a more complex body of work):

I wish to consider any concern over various interactive elements such as a limited postal edition or instructive work to be sent out to be returned as part of the Engagement or even Practice as Research, rather than resolution of previous wok.

I also have continued a range of enquiries into contextual distance as well as archiving over the summer and these present research objects or perhaps engagement objects. They will inform my engagement practice and the toolkit.

There is also a range of objects that resulted from the Research module, such as the drawing machines as well as two Cover images produced by the large format analogue pinhole camera, which are effectively part of the wider body of work and will filter forward into SYP (I will write a separate post about these).

contextual distance in the padlet portfolio

In my crit group on 2/10 I offered my For Cover portfolio for a crit (I had last put some work, a mix of padlets and the instructions materials, to the group in early Spring this year). I had asked alongside two questions: how about archiving and how about engaging? We talk for a bit over an hour and I take notes. I copy these notes here and want to draw out a number of points as to the questions over contextual distance, what constitutes the work and where the work is. 

The discussion quickly moves towards the platform, padlet, and how much everyone hates it: how clunky and intrusive it is, how it stands in the way of the work; but then really, how it mediates (my words) and poses those questions of navigation and access, of ensuring completeness or the worry that something may be missed.

There is the argument that it scaffolds the work too much..

Much after the discussion, where I am still surprised by the force of some of the dislike being put forward, I realise that the notes also tell me something different:

  • that the work is rather beautiful
  • that the distance to the work becomes uncomfortable to endure
  • that the work and the site cannot be touched while the work implies it should, could, perhaps even ought to
  • and then there is the wider sense of how padlet as corporate platform seeks to manage and facilitate that distance: of becoming more and more corporate; of inviting us to add more and more; of presenting every changing interfaces and post modalities to remind us of innovation
  • so the platform is an intrusive mediator: of wanting to be known for itself, not just an invisible interpreter
  • it also points (this image contravened against our policy) to the fact that it can and does remove items it dislikes (without notification, without recourse, without me knowing what the item actually was); so my presence and the works presence remains precarious: it may disappear sooner than even my institutional access disappears.

I come away thinking that padlet may after all be the right platform for this work if the work is interested in that distance (see SYP tutor report 1).

I also come away thinking that the work is effective here to encourage access to the audience’s emotional registers around longing (and its frustration of lack of access)

So, the work is present but somewhat out of reach. There is an institutional frame that governs part of this, it catches some of the frustrations.

Stromverteilen: a drawing/contact practice as research portfolio

In the process of designating material for assessment, this portfolio for the Research module needs to go here (again). I will have posted it (likely, possibly) earlier when I used it to explore the links between BoW and Research; I also find an earlier padlet to take an earlier role, a body of work: a core, https://oca.padlet.org/gesa492645/rthyyn7qr5iz1zak), and the later Ariadne thread to point onwards into SYP (https://oca.padlet.org/gesa492645/p8217c8jsc8rx4h8).

This padlet served as digital meadow, forest/village edge to situate, explore and reach out to and beyond the various works that were emerging around the site of Stromverteilen. I also then organised towards the resolution of the For Cover BoW while this padlet held onto the numerous enquiries and abandoned (or lost) sites that preceded the village/forest edge.

I am adding pointers forward as well as any missing works that I understand Research objects into this form and link here (and on menu sideline) as key post for understanding the reach/resonance of my practice as research.

Made with Padlet

What I understand as walking (notes)

Springgay/Truman (2018) Walking Methodologies in chapter on inclusion are good with movement:

what they mean, what is conscious, directed; what is intuitive: absolute and relative>> this relates also to participation (and the problem of inclusion); which in itself is precisely why my stuff isn’t Bourriard.
<< it relates to Manning’s minor gesture; but perhaps Harney/Moten on hapticality are better suited?
<< there is a naivety in new materialism: the vitalism is exactly the problem that the Critical Materialism identifies as vulgar materialism.
So:
— Springgay/Truman propose: land + geos, affect, transmateriality and movement as new developments of focus in walking methodology/research.
Movement then supersedes Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis
Nomadic ethics of Braidotti are clearly strongly informed by Deleuze… I think that frame and background is good and resonates with how I work in processwork so this may be a good way to link that working practice (which in turn informed my artistic work, also in the line) to academic material. (see blog here: https://close-open.net/2021/04/28/nomadic-thought-and-transversalism-research-folder/)

But: then, what I have done is use this to transverse, move across spacetime and site/location: analogue/digital; fiction/non-fiction; gossip/sincere argument.
>> there is something in this that then takes the movement further (and arguably considers nomadic theory or hybridity as the constitution across << I mean, in some ways it challenges the notion of virtual space being virtual, non-haptic, non-moving
There is clearly something in the contemplation, stillness of Green that I try to garner, make use of (and in some way it proposes a counter-move to walking art).

Re violence, there are a number of issues that take argument with the flaneur and what he can do… that is a relatively simple route to follow.
Am I doing something else beyond that though?

<< the secrecy, reveal, moving stories and accounts along.

Much of my work in Drawing 2 explored this (see this link for movement in that module’s blog: https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/?s=movement), the talk in Prespes (July 2019) and the subsequent publication articulated this in writing (see MS here: https://close-open.net/2019/10/26/moving-with-a-line-gossip-secrets-a-messenger-app/).

Immersiveness and my work (current status)

There are a couple of themes that continue right throughout my work (certainly from DI&C onwards across Level 2 and 3); immersiveness is one of them: the sensorial, an expanded field of drawing, the stepping into work that I make and the relationship it seeks between work and viewer/reader/participant around closeness and distance.

For the production of the BoW this was significant at a number of turns, e.g. when trying to devise what constituted drawing/contact, what the role of lint and the quotidian was, the sites and the reach/resonance of these and how to resolve the BoW.

In the Research (as practice) it was engaged with methodologically: moving-with explored the bodily registers of immersion (or lack thereof); of making mobile artists, viewer and work; the glossary circled around tools, obstacles and sites to explore the relational entanglements at the centre of the work; the Herz/Stein concept explored tactility, bind and release in material close-up.

For SYP I am trying to explore the exhibition checklist as PaR enquiry to get a better handle on (or perhaps a position to the side of) distance as key tool for how this practice moves onwards.

I am collating here the various posts that trace the engagement with immersiveness as concept up to now (at the point of submission for assessment of BoW and Res, and at Part 2 of SYP).

In chronological order the key posts so far are:

Immersiveness (complications) > research folder

A draft post which looked like this has existed for almost a year. It arose around the conversations during BoW tutorials around immersion, the sensorial and audience engagement with site and work.

The discussion linked forward and into BoW 4 and 5 and Research 4 also. How to invite, entice, lure the viewer into the work, inviting them to step forward, and then to get a little lost, not quite knowing where they stepped into.

In conversations that ensued, I wondered if the work needed to be seductive to achieve this: the luring was close enough to entrapment, of overwhelming with the (visual) senses. And I realised that I myself stepped right back at that moment.

Pippilotti Rist’s (2005) Homo Sapiens Sapiens video installation at Garden of Earthly Delights (you lie back onto floor cushions, the projection happens on the ceiling in a round shape), came to my mind and that my work was not like that (and didn’t intend to).

I was surprised by my strong reactions here and further discussions with my Research tutor clarified some of the links about it (immersion = seduction = overwhelm = entrapment). It also clarified for me that HD video on large/multiple screens is not where my intention of the kinds of work I want to make lies (I think it’s been a no for some time, being invited to spend £10k for a digital back for a MF camera) — I am too little photographer for these approaches.

The works I turned to were these three — I have known them for a long time, they are datable, and dated as late 20c British contemporary art. I find myself however returning them at frequent intervals:

Bethan Huws (1991) The Lake Writing or The Lake Piece, 24 works on paper, ink, each 297x210mm.

Georgina Starr (1992) Whistle (Eddy, photography and Whistle, vinyl 7” record); installation, dimensions variable, https://georginastarr.com/eddyforwhistle1992STARR.htm, accessed 20 August 2021.

Gillian Wearing (1994) Dancing in Peckham, video, 25 mins, https://youtu.be/lQqZj7DhRzQ, accessed 20 August 2021.

None of them is immersive in the way immersion is currently understood as a multimedia surround environment where the view steps in. Huws’s photocopied handwritten notes on walking around a lake are in fact anything but: it is formally sparse, daringly challenging the notion of the artist’s hand (or tech) and yet affording a slow stepping into a sensorial and experiential register which affords precisely that transfer, transporting the viewer/reader around that lake with her, if they let themselves be seduced by 80gsm photocopy paper spaced on a white gallery wall (that I was told the visit was animated by a large open window that moved the sheets on the wall on a summer afternoon in London, helped further). Wearing’s silent disco before there was such a thing is of a similar register, here we don’t know what she is dancing too, the noisy VHS recording clipped to youtube dates it further. Starr’s eddies on Kings Cross station translated to her whistle tune recorded on vinyl is similarly introverted, marked by an innocuous act in public space (like Wearing and Huws also).

They are all fairly ordinary approaches towards making and then the act of transferring, translating moves the terrain and makes them extraordinary with simple means compared to the immersion at play today. They also are playful (both in production and in presentation), there is a trickster at play, a playing with the expectations of audience and curators. They are also quite introverted works, I come to realise now: they are solitary activities, contemplative, a couple a bit performative, while the headphones kind of temper the level of exposure.

None seduces, none overwhelms, yet they stay with me as a way of translating, relating environmental experiences of making (with/in) site that are effective and relevant to how I am engaging with site. I hope these will provide further inspiration as I move towards SYP and the concerns over audience engagement.

Oh, yes: the link to the haptic and the erotic in Marks: it lies again in the autonomy and ability to negotiate coming close and pulling away: of diving in and dissolution and then to surface and step out. The choice for one or the other is key here (what that means for the initial idea of letting people peer in and they get a little surprised what they discover remains to be revisited).

Contemporary (visual) artists (distance/closeness > research folder)

The blog’s research folder introduces a series of relevant writers as well as (visual) artists who explore, develop and inform similar concerns around distance, closeness and near space. In the dissertation itself I introduce Joan Jonas’s and Katrina Palmer’s practice to orientate my own enquiries, yet of course there are others that contextualise influences.

Writing at a time that SYP also enquires about influences (see post here), I am retracing somewhat to consider spatial constructions around nearness, distance, reach and resonance.

Gordon Matta-Clark, encountered right at the start of my creative arts studies returns as influence (and so does James Turrell). The dissecting and undoing, revealing of architectural structures, of what holds together and what allows to fall apart was significant when I started approaching space not as a social scientist but from an artistic enquiry.

I encounter him in documented book form and grainy VHS (?) to youtube videos. I see a couple of shows and am intrigued by the delicateness of the documentation (small scale photographic prints, some diagrams) considering the ambition and scale of his practice.

His work is process and unfolding, responding to site and structure, revealing and cutting away. It’s air and void that he works with as much as steel, concrete, wood and the surface coverings. (I currently have no access to the books I have, I somewhat resist the temptation of youtube, so I rely on my memory for the documentation of his documentations).

Sophie Calle returns similarly in this consideration of distance, nearness and spatial constructs. Hers evidently relational, possibly a similar trickster figure to Matta-Clark yet manifesting in a radically different disruptive practice. I again have no access to the numerous books I have by her, the address book, the one where she collates post-break up advice, then there is the memory of seeing her hotel maid work (and I briefly dream of Chantal Akerman’s Hotel Monterey film emulsion). I encounter her first through my closest friend and a surprise at her daring to reveal a relationship breakup just so. Much later I realise that it is performance and art and may as much be untrue as true (and this eventually leads me to all the non-confessional auto-fiction of Kraus, Kapil and others). And it is this suspension of dis/belief over intimacy, truth, conceal of personal affairs that make me return and return: of making personal matter malleable and letting it shift vis-a-vis un/suspecting audiences.

Thirdly, I want to refer to Noemie Goudal‘s work in this post here (insert link to separate blog)

These lay the ground for the enquiry presented in the Research dissertation, around near space, distance, intimacy and eventually resolved along the notions of Laura Marks’s The haptic and the erotic.

(see related post concerning contemporary writers)

Contemporary writers (distance/closeness > research folder)

The blog’s research folder introduces a series of relevant writers as well as (visual) artists who explore, develop and inform similar concerns around distance, closeness and near space. In the dissertation I introduce Joan Jonas and Katrina Palmer’s practice to orientate my own enquiries, yet of course there are wider influences, both in writing and in visual arts, so I would like to draw together some of the other writing influences here (and see this related post concerning (visual) artists)

A series of contemporary writers who write within and across relational human/ non-human narratives in which theory, documentary and fiction mingle:

— I add FB posts copied (and minimally altered in layout) to reference my conversations with Juliana Spahr and Bhanu Kapil. I had also intended to add those around Chris Kraus’s writing but feel these two will suffice for the material that organises around drawing/contact and open/close:

Juliana Spahr (Buuck & Spahr 2013; Spahr 2005, 2007),

Army of Lovers, This connection of everyone with lungs, The Transformation

thisconnection has been explored here: https://close-open.net/2019/07/30/sketchbook-thisconnection-as-bridge/


Gesa Helms added 8 new photos to the album [almost titled].

30 July 2019  · for months i have been circling around her. like an elastic band i stretch the connection and at points then jump right onto some of her pages. . i write a cryptic line in my summary and off i go again..this morning i pack all three and search..among other things i find:.as i continue swimming i bodythink through the cosmos. through the work the living and the dying are doing for each other at this moment in time and any other. i had realised earlier this summer that my dad is going to teach me something vital. and here in this process with Achim i realise the work that is being done by us around to facilitate the movements between here and there and what each receives in this. i think i rarely felt so tender amongst it all..thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs (juliana spahr)..it is the closing line of a longer thisconnection (men, women, roleplay, victims, essentialism).she will be the bridge across and away from the site. form content that connects while standing apart. .in army of lovers, she and David Buuck investigate a plot of grassy wasteland between a few major roads. .i have precisely such a plot. a pontoon bridge leads to it. all sorts of insignificant incidents take place. some are fantasy. a good part happens on speed. someone falls into the water and eighty-seven pelicans take off while the sparrows argue over the best spot to pig watch each morning. he who opens the kiosk at will and hides in dark corners within sells me an ice cream for €2.50. i think he made the price up. next time i check and i know he did. but he settled on it, having committed to a sun-worn board with lots of expensive ice cream (all cost €2.50). it sits next to the instant cameras,€20 for 2. how did the film develop?…unrelatedly, i observe the verge. in mid-July on the abundant West Coast it is exuberant. i move along and record it. later i step into it and record some more. elsewhere in the village, the council spent money on controlling growth. it does so abundantly. i record eagerly and just wait for being approached by watchful neighbours (none so far).


Gesa Helms shared a memory.

7 June 2020  · Shared with Friends; Except: Acquaintancesoh — a rare moment when i actually named my reading. i did read it again, not long ago and my frustration well and truly dissolved. of all the wonderful things that i have read the past few years, and the many that have come via Angela, Juliana Spahr has hit a spot (as A rightly anticipated). Army of Lovers does so many things at once, i probably need to read several more times over before i start to copy. or perhaps i have been copying all along. or who knows. i kind of know what my summer will be like. i wish they’d put those benches back up on other green. maybe we will need to DIY after all. or i do relocate after all into the dark and scary woods around my parents.

3 years agoSee your memoriesGesa Helms added a new photo to the album [untitled album].

7 June 2018  · for our bodies are bored by answers…. i read along and through, sense her frustration, am possibly frustrated a little too but sense too that a second reading may resolve it as only in part four i begin to sense the animating motif. the final part, army of lovers is replete with Caliban and the Witch, so much so that i can hear chanting throughout. it is an amazing culmination of what before appeared as rambling. so i do need to read again to be able to follow onto this high, or perhaps, instead just enjoy this momentary high.

Bhanu Kapil (2011, 2015) and

Ban en Banlieue and Schizophrene

Here is one FB post copied into the blog which denotes some of my own writing approaches towards secretive subject matter: https://close-open.net/2019/06/26/sketchbook-fb-old-new-control-excess-across-the-line/


two things/2b. wow. no playlist and my reading was quite hit and miss (sorry Dodo Bellamy, hey there Bhanu Kapil). i travel to Manchester and reread Schizophrene in anticipation of a square somewhere. this line is good. i remembered the dream and almost wrote a message about it the other day, then didn’t, it would have been rather long and perhaps does not want to be a letter but a poster instead, on a wall in an errant building or perhaps it can paste onto a pavement nearby.i am still folding though (it almost has a form). i rewrote another dream and offered its concept to the second of two very nice coffees yesterday. she asks one thing, i can explicate another.did i say: i had two very good coffees in one day, one long long overdue, since winter at least, the other a regular routine for the past few weeks.2 years agoSee your memories

Gesa Helms added a new photo to the album [almost titled].

9 July 2019  · — i had a dream that still folds forward from the night and may come later. over more cold coffee i pick up the book for what is next. this page resonates with the folding (mysteriously though).LikeComment


Gesa Helms added a post to the album moves (variable).

3 December 2019  · this is a memory from open/close a year ago. just as i started the Level 3 courses and looked ahead to what became drawing/contact.i also talked about precisely this last night, we talked about so many good things last night (and the bar encounter was just one thing). i just about catch a sliver of what i was after back then. and as i regretted it in early autumn, it is most clearly not what this body of work is about.— and, yet, it of course also sits in the trajectory of this. like i insisted last night to K.: that i had found a way to move with these themes in public. the past couple of weeks made that clearer still (and i guess this is where the two men from yesterday and my barely contained seething rage also belongs to).not everything has to be everything all the time. i giggle now at the thought of writing a racy novel as degree show work (i can photoshop the cover of the Groschenroman that i picked up in Kozani KTEL on my birthday on the front cover).it’s almost year end, my Granatenjahr as T called it in January, and he wasn’t wrong. it is also the end of a decade when we finally know about the climate and the fascism. i miss my grandparents..anyways, i am stalling:

.

confession/obsession (365 days later):

.

confessional/ obsession– i am not quite through with this but it’s becoming clearer what this may become.of course, what i am after is the other side to the sexual violence and trauma. i am after agency, pleasure and desire. i am not sure if part of my wants to write a racy novel or direct some moving image materials. i think it would be rather rubbish at it. and yet:there is a range of registers and approaches that i have investigated rather seriously over the past few years while i was trying to find a way to move with the sexual violence.the pond piece notes were the firstthe line, the next……as materials, the new narrative stuff works for me. i also however find it quite triggering. it triggered me right off and threw me into all the stuff around resentment/pretty. i have a sense how it did that: i found it hot. it works for me as being with desire — the commentary about each character was at once totally abject and a sex god really hit on the head/in the gut for me..Hval’s exotic rot also works; but it is far less sexual in how it works: there is a trippyness in the spatial constellations that it incantates that works akin to a contemporary Victorian horror meets situationists setting.

.

I love Dick works too for me: it’s the headiness and the authoring of abjection and remaining with it in its mundanity. but also the high theory alongside it..The things we learned in the Shadows by Liz/Benny worked as a session too: that was possibly the one time that i was turned on in a group of strangers in the middle of the day and none of us were there to dance, take drugs, get laid… that was a fascinating form of turn on and being able to work with that would be quite stunning..the many many coming of age, Bildungsroman films that I watched..And then there are the French ladies: Catherine Breillat’s Romance was pretty good; I always liked Bunuel’s Belle de Jour; Ernaux doesn’t work for me but I may have been hasty. Story of O… hm…. that was important but its misogyny is also always impossible to get past these days (even though I like the stories of how O. moves within sub/dom networks and is being appropriated in various ways)..none of the latter trigger me at the slightest. I love Dick also didn’t trigger me at all and neither did Hval, though with her it wasn’t long before Glueck et al… I do think it is the form of narration of the latter that gets under my skin and challenges me not just intellectually but physically. I like that effect. I would like to be able to elicit it with the stuff that I do. .that is a rather heady degree show ambition.

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  • Gesa Helmsnone of the films neither Dick nor any New Narrative will feature. But: Exotic Rot will be spliced through the staircase, possibly creating the occasional refracturing of sunlight on a very short day of the year, just about scratching past (screeching in a high-frequency hiss as it does; it will forget to take an inbreath after; elsewhere, a cardboard box rattles and someone hums Peggy Lee while snapping his fingers and the audience shuffles in utmost discomfort. i later am angry with myself, uncharacteristically, while all the outrage should have been directed at him) .
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  • Gesa Helmshttps://youtu.be/JGb5IweiYG8Fever - Peggy LeeYOUTUBE.COMFever – Peggy LeeFever – Peggy Lee
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  • Gesa Helmsoverlaying with this, it creates a rather wondrous thing: https://youtu.be/aF9ECnXiVNY"Un violador en tu camino": la intervención que dio la vuelta al mundoYOUTUBE.COM”Un violador en tu camino”: la intervención que dio la vuelta al mundo“Un violador en tu camino”: la intervención que dio la vuelta al mundo
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  • Gesa HelmsI have started reading Kate Zambreno’s Appendix project (a Rachel recommend), she is far too fond of Barthes for my liking, I find him insipid, every single time buhut: what her ten or so essays written the year following her publication of the mourning book that is Book of Mutter do is to unpack her work process, her circling around, notetaking, assembling, the texts are looping and fragmented (in a way that isn’t quite mine; it is also more trying, self-conscious than e.g. in Kapil’s work; and without being a resolved performative form) and I almost can picture and hear her notes assembling and being referenced back to right throughout. I like that, I will use that (in the parts where it actually tells me something of what I have been doing, or of what I could have done).
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    •  · Edited

Ban en Banlieue (notes)

I have taken Ban with me. I have now twice refused to pass on my copy of her, and each time I could not anticipate a time by which it may be alright to loan my copy to others. I also regret not having taken any post-it notes with me. I sense this book is not for writing within or alongside.I have however ordered a couple of extra copies of Ban for giving away. I can’t recall a book that encircled me to quite such an extent. In my writing about it I am conscious that each of these sentences, except for this one, begins with my I, while Ban is always written around, not directly written about, let alone being a one to have an I. This former sentence, the one without my I however began with my writing – not quite but almost an I.And still, and still, in all that absence and the void that this writing around opens out, she is cared for, deeply cared for. The whole writing around is indeed, so Kapil’s title for the main section of the book, a (self-)sacrifice. So, if anything, Ban is ever-present in her (dis-)embodied (ab-)sense.I started noting Ban with the section of the contents in which she absented her childhood stories. Kapil does so be quoting an encounter with Petra Kuppers over vegan cake in 2011. All disregard for stories are attributed to Petra who is ‘not interested in disclosure. I am interested in discharge.’ (Kapil 2016, 9). My first reading of it makes me blush, I think I would not like Petra Kuppers was I to meet her, what’s that with the confident statement made over vegan cheesecake in 2011 anyway? Kapil writes that she deletes the childhood stories but yet she lies and discloses at once: she moves them elsewhere, and frequently (already on the next page) discloses further, fails, and hopes to find a form and place for those stories that she has nonetheless.No disclosure but discharge. Do these circumvent the confessional, I wonder?‘I am not interested in where you are from’, Petra continues. And still, she wants a discharge. I wonder what in her mind builds up that that is to be discharged. Just collapsing the then violently into the present does not erase the then. It may avoid the agentic construction of a story neatly told. Moving form, either as Kapil does from novel, narrative, to notebook to Ban en Banlieue in textual registers; or by moving across curating, performance, bodywork and back to text, as she also does, are all ways of discharging.And still, they also disclose a ‘from’, however hidden, concealed, burnt to ashes, buried, smudged. Writing around Ban is form-giving nonetheless – negative space gives form to figure/ground too.#pondpiecenotes

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(see also related post concerning contemporary visual/artists)

Early spatial registers: site, praxis and contact enquiries

This is a summary post to bring the early enquiries and considerations and experiments around site, praxis and contact towards the final dissertation.

It is part of the research folder (and referenced in the dissertation itself):

There exist different modalities to distance and closeness. Some of them are indexical: folding the sketchbook pages around the staircase bannister; Herz/Stein wrapping and folding, binding them, the stone seems to disappear. Here the direct touch alters and shifts and is significant as to what is object or event. Through the enquiries I have a sense of what happens when this becomes looser, when the distance increases, how much resonance is carried up to what point and when it then recedes. At this stage I am glad to find and intrigued by the generosity and abundance of the research and how much was actually happening in contact.

The extent to which this has been researched over more than two years is significant. If I consider a number of early slide shows exploring travel routes, bridges to cross over and pass underneath and bus journeys in Northern Greece, these already explore such questions of reach, resonance, veiling along with questions of where and how contact happens. 

The first enquiries began to articulate as drawing/contact events (d/c events): they generally were fleeting, moving through or constructing a relational space (often with one other person); some happened in passing (the first four), then I begun to invite people to share such event/encounter with me.

drawing/contact events (accidental, intentional):

https://close-open.net/2019/04/01/sketchbook-four-events-drawing-contact/

http://close-open.net/2019/04/18/sketchbook-event-moves/

https://close-open.net/2019/06/19/sketchbook-first-11-meeting-for-d-c/

https://close-open.net/2019/07/25/d-c-2-with-sk/

This one the one where I felt I was beginning to understand the relational dynamics of fleeting, yet significant contact:

https://close-open.net/2019/07/25/d-c-3-with-jm/

This final one with my dad happened after I made the verge/weed series and which allowed a deliberate movement within spatial registers (a line, a boundary, a stepping across:)

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

Concept map around Drawing/Contract for BoW/Research:

I kept revising my initial concept map around drawing/contact up to this point:

https://close-open.net/2019/07/28/concept-map-2-0-for-bow-drawing-contact-and-near-space/

Agios Achilleios as site for enquiries:

Around the time the drawing/contact events begun to constellate, I travelled to Northern Greece for a Walking/Arts conference (presenting the work around the DI&C The Line project). I used the extended time on a small island to explore the spatial constellations, the role of the pontoon bridge, emerging friendships as well as attending to fauna/flora to dig around my themes of drawing/contact. In the months following I presented the material in a series of Pecha Kuchas to varying peer audiences, exploring notions of boundary, site (implicitly here: reach/resonance), fleeting contact:

This is an example of one the slideshows I made of the materials:

And finally, I made this video at the end of the trip, in register it’s closer to earlier work (in its forthrightness, its pacing and its directness) but also reference the spatial registers of those early enquiries:

I also continued similar enquiries at another visit at my parents, developing the theme of bridges in the work:

https://close-open.net/2019/08/04/tutorial-reflections-1-what-is-source-material/

https://close-open.net/2019/07/30/sketchbook-thisconnection-as-bridge/

https://close-open.net/2019/07/29/site-the-bridge-of-ag-achilleios/

All ensuing work around spatial registers then takes in explicitly the staircase site, a bit absentminded traced the first urban lockdown loop and then relocated to the Northwest German village/wood edge that became the eventually body of work. These are more easily accessible in the final parts of the blog but I wanted to draw together these early, formative, spatial registers that helped articulate towards the final resolution in For Cover as well in the dissertation itself

Care and/or the erotic in For Cover

screenshot of dissertation draft (comments from tutor), 16/08/2021

That the actual BoW took the resolution it did was not anticipated: for a long time the site of Stromverteilen (site 3, on the village edge, active from October 2020 – July 2021) sat side by side to the staircase and also the lockdown walking loops.

Similarly, that the site-specific work at the village edge resolved towards four blankets, covers was only apparent once the final form for Walnut Tree of Touch (a Potential Blanket) [WTTPB] was realised.

However, care and maintenance as routines and practice has been present for a long time in the L3 work and arguably also much of the work prior: the Trafodecken as durational drawings on top of the transformer station consisted as much of the acts of myself going, checking, arranging, fixing, covering etc over the weeks of their late autumnal exposure. The careful tracings and interventions, often fleeting, on site spoke to a similar sensibility.

One frequent artistic contact from Spring onwards begun to articulate the role of care, of the work, as much as us as daughters of ageing, frail and increasingly ill parents. She pointed me to Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s (2017) Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds (U of Minnesota Press), which I for some time was reading on site. It was in these conversations, a weekly Zoom, before an early lunch, that I explored some of the possible forms too of the WTTPB and also explored the so far unresolved forms of Fir Tree and the large Research Drawing to stretch and record events and encounters on site.

In the dissertation this turn towards care and maintenance is not conceptually explored further. It features briefly in one of the empirical lines of practice yet I decided to keep this out of the dissertation. It is significant and will feature in the wider circulation of the work; it follows the discovery of Laura Marks’ haptic and erotic. The methodology employed for the dissertation very much engages both directions, care/maintenance as well as the haptic/erotic. They are somewhat congruous and I am interested in spending some time to explore further the relationship, resonances and edges between them.

See also this post as to care/maintenance as it emerged in the BoW: https://close-open.net/2021/01/28/sorge-strom-as-part-of-stromverteilen/

Not/writing about Not/guiding a reader: clarity, reveal and conceal in the dissertation (>Research Folder)

In as much as this text approaches contact in different voices and positions, it also does so with varying levels of distance: some voices lean close, others intent on an arm’s length distance between one and another. Clarity is thus negotiated in a series of reveals and conceals, sometimes it is upfront and present, sometimes it skirts around the edges or hides in tangled matter (as excess or abundance)

(Introduction, Research dissertation)

I add towards the final edits this short note to the introduction of the dissertation. It concludes a long series of discussions between tutors and myself around clarity, reveal/conceal, excess and that notion of writing auto/fiction.

My research tutor carefully noted where I did not guide the reader and in Res 5 she writes:

R: There are also still some moments where you drop works or large theories into the text with very little framing which can cause a feeling of being lost in the text (this might be intentional? but equally you can consider how much you want to then frame that expectation for the reader?)

Some more footnoting or a more traditional glossary would help with this, as we discussed in the last tutorial

However, I also recognise this is an ongoing consideration for you in terms of the writing as practice and the idea of contact, distance and how sometimes you are holding your reader at arms length. Again the more you can make decisions about transparency and opacity in the style of the writing and make this deliberate with signposting the better. 

You outline the idea of voices clearly in your introduction and the typography of the text in some sections which is really helpful, and so you might want to do the same with the idea of clarity or what is revealed and what obscured?

Perhaps this connects to our discussion last time about managing excess, and the difficulties of cramming all the rich research you have done in the word count?- You do acknowledge this in the dissertation, but you might want to acknowledge the moments when this will impact the reader?

G: I seem to have been wholly resistant to that traditional glossary. Maybe it’s the fixing that happens through it, the solidity, that puts me off. Let me try for some key terms and add to the dissertation appendix. I mean: it’s not that difficult to excerpt from the blog post two sentences as to nomadism, right. 

As I said in my first email response to this feedback: I really like how you returned my investigation of care and maintenance to my readership. I think it’s my social scientist who is a little impatient with slow or ignorant readers and I need to have a conversation with her as to how serious she is in carrying this forward to her artistic writing practice. 

I think our conversation in the BoW5 tutorial that it is not a matter of handholding but perhaps merely naming the opacity, the distance (in a footnote, or in a glossary, now this is turning interesting for me), could be sufficient. And: importantly: that that investigation of clarity of approach will only benefit me for how to proceed beyond this.

(Research 5 report, written by tutor, with my commentary marked in document)

This blog post intends to expand on the relational construction of clarity, opacity in the written aspects of my work and also serve going forward to SYP.

Having begun in seriousness to work with personal family matter at the end of AOP meant to explore how to place into public private matter and how to make such private matter strange, performative while still holding and containing its frequency, resonance, content. I have experimented with different forms since (and DI&C, Drawing 2 and now, much less charged and more at ease, have done so also for L3). In all this, the original charge, impetus, motivation is contained and woven into the material, sometimes tightly, sometimes loosely.

For L3, and even more so once I moved towards the edge of the village, this has become much easier and discovering Laura Marks’ negotiation of the visual and the haptic has provided a tool, a methodology that allows for it to be considered artistic practice of serious subject matter.

The forms in which I seek contact are varied: directness, in your face, elliptical omission, shifting text and work along, inventing names, dates and locations while reporting truthfully on all else. In fact, so much of my observations are in fact literal to a fault: even the taste is the one I remembered, and yet a series of turning, shifting, removing and reordering turns pointed observation into matter than can be held and considered otherwise.

The other means in which I negotiate reveal/conceal is excess — in its positive connotations its richness, suppleness, abundance; yet easily it is also simply: too much. In all this muchness the important stuff can be included, can mingle and move while not sticking out all that much. The L3 work (PaR, written) sought and found forms to relate this back to site, audience and artist, and does so through a variety of surfaces, containers and means (glossaries, appendices, font type alignments, a simple visual surface which presents links and layers should one seek these, etc).

In this, care of the matter, the source, the relationships contained therein are a first priority; care for the readership or audience a second thought and one that I sometimes brush aside, even though the intent to make visible, negotiable, public is sincere and thus an audience, a public required nonetheless. Possibly the biggest learning for all of L3 so far has been how to become adept, confident and careful in modulating these relationships and forms. This is work in progress, this blog post situates the Research dissertation as such form and provides a base towards the engagement of SYP and an artistic practice beyond it.

Voices and positions within the dissertation (> research folder)

This text is articulated, in the spirit of above’s rules (see post here), by means of a series of different voices and positions. These are often demarcated by alignment and font type, some sneak in a little under cover. For an articulation of these different voices, please see Appendix 11.1 Voices and positions in this document)

(dissertation draft, May 2021)

This follows the following note from Research 4 tutorial:

Voices in the document

G: One of the points for me to ask is of how the excising of the case studies from text to audio works and the hyperlinking there. This leads to Rachel raising the range of voices in and across the text, the use of different font types and alignments to indi-cate this, so that quotes and case studies can be part of practice and thus not part of the word count. We discuss various ways of designating the word count and how to then conclude what it actually is.

A main action point here is to work on further clarifying and strengthening the dif- ferent voices (reflective, practical, academic, [check if there are others].

Rachel: You might even think of them as geographer, social scientist, artist, writer, educator, as these are all part of your arsenal and play different roles or have different interests and concerns which surface at different times?

G: Voice then functions for the text as Marks’ discussion of the erotic [write this out in text of blog].


I listen to the audio recording again to get to the one of how voice functions for the text as Marks’ discussion of the erotic:

How does voice/ position interact with the viewer? What is happening here in relationship with the viewer: appendix and glossary sit on safe ground, single observations in addition; the case studies sit aside. How can different voices work within an essay, trying to separate out and to layer. It is part of the animation principle of the work, and a common form for me to write and now needs to fit into an assessment format.

With the different voices, the text moves close and further away from the reader, reveals and hides and thus enacts the autonomy of movement that Marks identifies in the erotic: the submersion, the haptic, embodied encounter and the seeking of distance, of visuality.


I edit subsequently the Research draft and enact (for the word document) a series of font types and alignments accordingly. These are some voices and positions, I also identify a few others which I name in Appendix B as follows:


Voice then also orientates differently to the audience and centrally relates to the work’s relationship to the reader, the audience, the participants (and folds forward into SYP).

A pretence (and some rules)

I wrote about a year ago a set of instructions to my Research dissertation, about the pretence of linearity. I sensed the 12-weeks of lockdown ahead, hoping for only 4 (until Easter was the Germans’ unusually optimistic timeline).

I reread this now, while seeking the space of two register shifts that I didn’t see coming, and realise that I anticipate them quite alright in my instructions:

Nonetheless, I would like to introduce a few rules for this dissertation:

1. it manages excess. Part of the enquiries into drawing/contact are abundant and inherently generative. They are small and inconsequential when taken on their own (at least sometimes) yet in toto accumulate to a distributed field that far exceeds 5000 words. There are appendixes, follow-up on questions and there are satellite objects. 

2. it presents in conventional linearity something that is far less linear in practice. Yet, for a textual document the practice of ‘reading on’ still presents a key approach to temporality, not unlike other time-based work. I can add loops, side notes and references for- and backwards, and still: you will scroll down or turn over. My theoretical contributions are for this presented as findings; my case studies are story-lets that open outwards (to other media, to existing or imaginary appendices).

3. it budges up against its edges, seeks to subvert and step into the sidelines (knowing fine well the sidelines are as much part of the construct as the core itself). In this, it is dissatisfied with the institutional requirements. It tries to laugh at them but also takes them rather serious in its attempt to find gaps and little fissures to disappear into, to retrieve something from elsewhere or test where the citation convention can be made to serve other purposes.

(11 March 2021, Facebook timeline, Friends, no Acquaintances, also Appendix A: The fantasy of linearity in a distributed field)

SYP 1: submission of Project Plan and tutor report

I submitted a couple of weeks ago as planned the project plan as SYP 1 (first time through the new VLE platform), now had the tutorial and received the finalised tutor report, all added to this post.

I wrote the project plan alongside the PaR workshop series in which I unpicked my working methodology, and alongside the various exercises for part 1.

The plan is functional as such:

The two key items in the plan are aims as well as audience considerations, which I both add here (and see the document below for the fuller plan).

Aims and objectives 

I intend to develop my BoW, For Cover, as PaR (i.e. alongside the Research module) towards a toolkit, testing its versatility and mobility.

This toolkit intends to:

  • present a mobile and versatile PaR, combining the various practices (such as drawing, writing, lens-based and performance work) into elements that can test the methodology of For Cover in different sites and contexts:
    • it will include a digital platform/space to act as an open container that can grow alongside the practice;
    • it will also include a material, analogue, element, such as a small edition set of different self-assemble elements to engage with For Cover across a distributed space and as private performance (i.e. a loosely understood artist book in a box or similar);
    • thirdly I will test the viability to revisit the actual site for a public performance/event in autumn.

One key element for developing this towards a professional practice lies in pursuing residency applications and settings. My intention is to network by applying for relevant residencies during SYP and by using both application development and perhaps residency itself for articulating my professional practice as mobile toolkit.

The second element is constituted by articulating relevant and suitable forms of engagement for this work, its methodology and thus for myself as practising artist (in visual, textual and spoken form). I want this to further strengthen the ways in which I engage with others in this work and through this work (please see below under Audience for further details).

Audience

The work has public relevance and needs a public presence. Who this public in fact is besides a gallery-visiting audience (online/offline)needs further clarification. 

There are peers, curators, cultural practitioners as well academics across the fields of creative and performative practice, geography and social science as well as interested in PaR and methodology for whom the work has relevance. Engagement here will help to develop my artistic visibility within the field.

There is also an interested public for whom PaR, a methodological focus as well as the particular substantive focus of the work and its realisation will hold interest and relevance. These in part sit remotely for the time being, in future possibly also in relevant public/charitable artistic spaces and exhibition contexts.

Thirdly, there are passers-by and chancers-upon who encounter the work through its site-specificity. And while this isn’t an intended audience, they hover between participants and audience. I would like to consider a form of visibility in this general, distributed and possibly uninterested field also. 

Permissions for the time being are largely self generated: website space, social media access, the communication with existing networks and those to be developed; for the siting of an event/performance I would like to seek clearance with the landowner (although existing usage rights don’t necessarily require these).


The tutorial was again inspiring and generative, I write the minutes as during Research, although they now need to fit within a set of Learning Objectives.

The discussion around audience is key, as is the question of distance to site, work, myself and audience. I propose to conduct SYP as series of research enquiries (rather than a to do list).

I add the respective sections (audience and site/distance) here, the report in full again below as attachment.

How to understand audience outside a gallery exhibition context?

Challenge of writing around the idea of SYP as exhibition.

This is a functional project plan: how does my practice fit within that and where does it really push at the boundaries.

For this plan, Rachel observes that the concern over audience is really the most interesting area to focus on it: Who is the audience and in what form does the work engage whom, how and where? The instructions and how to push the form between you and the audience; when do you want to be open and revealing; when quite closed and secretive.

If this work is relational, it is concerned with various relationship forms: actants, matters; public, private, reveal and conceal. The concern of the engagement plan is the how and why, and it can be bristly.

At the provocative end, Rachel suggests that I could argue that the material is in fact the audience, seeing the new materialist and post-humanist aspects of the work.

If I stay here, in this place, my teenage home, longer, how does the village figure in relationship to the work: not quite as audience but as marker, as reference. 

[While I was making the work of course too] The village book as narrative and a contribution of my work (with an instruction to build a drawing machine) for its culture section. ‘The village would love to know about the mysterious woman who goes to the wood’.

R: And in years to come people will look back at these instructions as a point in the lineage.

The village not as audience but it rubs along it; there is something generous with how the village is towards me as the only one visible person of our family.

Current research/site work:

I clipped three empty sketchbook pages underneath the fir (and this is where the PaR workshop was really useful: to try out that research/object line); I have only been three times since I left it there ten days ago (the dynamics of the whole site have changed, besides the horseflies). I built a cover for myself, this little shelter with almost nothing, and this works. This is a durational work across this time. 

The site as a site for installing the work from last Winter: in May for the installation may be all that it has been. It may not work as a public event this autumn as initially envisaged.

R: To raise a question: for you and others who work with site is the big question: where is the work? What is the work? And a lot of people will only ever see the documentation. There are the audio pieces too but they are of the site, don’t necessarily need to be experienced in site.

Where is the site, where is the work, where is the audience? Is the engagement with you, the site the work and the question of how it works in proximity to the site. (27:00)

These don’t fall all into each other: site, work, I, audience.

It isn’t about near space but contextual distance; these aren’t the same but the distance is being negotiated within the work.

The concept of a toolbox is helpful: I can pick it up; so perhaps a mobile: what constellation does it all have, how does it move. Some of the distance is structural but some is moved by wind.

Also: role of time being slow and fast and what that does for proximity.


I have a set of action points:

  • to work through the analogue/digital forms and
  • to devise and pursue audience and site/distance as enquiries.

The plan is to submit SYP 2 (Revising my work) for late September.

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: