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.

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