instructions to touch

Okay, this the proposition of how to organise tactility in close/open at a distance.

This post a first exploration of various modalities:

  1. audio only
  2. a/v with black screen
  3. a/v with illustrative image (at the moment: of the object instructed)
  4. a list of written instructions (these are also possible in different forms: as image, as handwritten list.

1. audio only

2. a/v with black screen

3. a/v with illustrative image

4. a list of written instructions

Instructions to touch #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 maker 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.

Instructions to touch #2

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 your mechanical pencil and trace the opening of the shell. Adjust the pressure so that the paper doesn’t tear entirely. 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.

Instructions to touch #3

Go to the spare room and look out a red-coloured sock yarn. Pack it in your bag, put on your shoes and jacket, make sure you have also headphones and house key and walk up to the transformer. Pick up one of the frozen fir cones and hold it in one hand. In the other, take the yarn ball and begin to wrap the cone from the middle outwards. Adjust the pressure, perhaps you can place the yarn ball in your pocket and it will simply release the yarn. When you come upon a break in the yarn, place the cone down and pick a new one. Repeat. Take the cones inside, place on your desk and watch over the next days how the warmth encourages the cone to open and strain against the yarn.

Instructions to touch #4

On your walks, look out for sweet wrappers. Pick up any you find and place in your sketchbook.

Instructions to touch #5

Look out for some replacement stones. The first ones you find may be large, almost as big as you can comfortably hold in one hand. Begin to wrap with the sock yarn, exploring how you can turn the yarn and/or the stone. You may also place the stone on the ground to ease the wrapping. After, once your yarn has finished, place the stone back to where you took it from.

Instructions to touch #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 window sill. Think about a precious wrapping for this singular stone.

Thoughts to consider further:

  • it is surprisingly easy to retrace an object by way of instructions to self.
  • what is the role between instruction and narrative
  • while the audio works well I find the illustrative image is the weakest: it is too definite and it forecloses what that object can become if someone else does indeed follow the instruction
  • the written instructions work also well; possibly as image rather than list, what does handwritten add here (other than decoration or hand of the artist?)

Approaching my sketchbook in this way and translating the sketchbook into something experiental, transferable in this manner seems a considerable step forward — it addresses the falling away of the participation, engagement with a self-assembly portfolio at the heart of the site specific installation. It also proposes a form of contact, intimacy and tactility both in terms of relational form and in what the materiality of the work here, in my hand and/or sketchbook can become when it travels over digital distance to reinstantiate in your hand, sketchbook, elsewhere and at a different time.

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