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.

Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse as handling collections?

In the process of pulling together my different works for BoW 4 I am trying to explore scale and reach within the work, notably what role touch and tactility can have for this body of work (principally, but also practically under contact restrictions and all digital submissions).

Coming up to March 2020 I explored a series of objects, notably: stones, stones with seaweed, stones bound with yarn and elastic as tactile objects, the objects leading out of a the idea of Herz/Stein, heart/stone, a heart emoji placed in online conversations, the idea of it closing down, marking both territory and belonging.

This exploration continued at a distance and in tactility: a series of workshops over spring and summer had me exploring the stone, yarn, elastic combination as well as the relationship dynamic that sparked the initial enquiry and how some of this had been also moving through the staircase site before lockdown.

When I moved to Germany I almost packed the stones and yarn, I almost had it sent in three parcels. Then I didn’t. Now I realise I can use other yarn and other stones to continue if there is more to continue.

The work around the walnut tree and the opened shells mirrored the objecthood, if not at all the relational charge, and I set up Drei Nuesse as a similar close-range, intimate process of exploration of materiality that can be held, handled.

The concept or desire for the work always found expression as a handling collection, a term a fellow student introduced me too a couple of years ago with her work (and the binding, rope, yarn also found an early spark in her work).

How does a handling collection work at a distance? Also: to what extent is a handling collection an over-determined concept residing in museum practices (something my work isn’t interested in)?

This post is a summary post to help me articulate these ideas a little further in anticipation of a conversation with said fellow student to explore a little further what resolution for these near-range, tactile works of mine may exist.

Some of my questions at this moment are then:

What is in the handling collection as term? 

  • too determined by museum practices?
  • what happens in digital context for this?
  • can I invite to diy and then everyone has something to handle?
  • handling and/or touching (the former designates a subject/object relationship, the latter more equal, undefined)
  • sketchbook as handling item?
  • unique objects/ easy multiples

Role of screen/stage for the tactile objects?

  • Questions of scale
  • Figure/ground
  • Peripheral vision and centre stage
  • Satellite objects of work
  • Possibility of a wallpaper as a different concept from screen, stage, constellation

Distance/proximity as enquiry: handle/ touch at a distance?

  • Where does tactility move in a pandemic?
  • Digital touch and haptics
  • Sound as intimacy

This post is accompanied by the previous one where I collate the experiments around both series, both posts to serve as basis for a series of discussions

touch and intimacy at a distance

close/open comes to my mind, the title I gave this site before it was a site and a body of work.

I am spending time with the small tactile objects of this work, both Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse, turning them left and right, exploring well-tested processes and some other tangents to see what form of a tactility, touch and thus closeness I can achieve with them. First in my own hand (not so difficult), then possibly in yours (far more difficult).

Considering this an exhibition with audience participation always introduces the distance of a gallery site, however unconventional. Contact restrictions and sites closed add to this. These limitations notwithstanding, my work has also always worked with closeness and intimacy at a distance, often through social media posts, through audio messages and through touch screens. The viewing and listening experiences often one of a single person and their device. The sound and the handheld device the means for such proximity.

Yet, I remain uncertain if this will do as sensory means for the kind of objects that both Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse are: stones, paper, yarn, shells. Their touch and the sensation of their weight, shape and surface in one’s hand does not work through a device. Can I narrate these?

The padlets are attempts to bridge such gap and to provide a visual narration through the objects. It’s an effort of translation, transfer, and yet the outcome holds in a number of ways.

In any case, in advance of a series of discussion around my tactile objects, touch and handling, here two sets of images by way of collating what objects there are:

First, the experiments for the walnut shells (cyanotype exposure of the inside; bleach+tone with walnut ink; wrapping; staining with ink inside the shell; tracing the opening with ink and graphite).

The objects created with the cyanotype, bleach and tone are delicate strip, the paper almost undone through the iterative working. They are delicate objects, perhaps suited to a light box but also not quite for handling.

Is the handling just a fantasy? Is there just a trace of the touch contained in these?

A similar gallery for the Herz/Stein processes is this one (I left them in Glasgow, had the original stones and yarn and elastic almost sent three times, today I take a new ball of red sock wool to the edge of the wood and begin to wrap stone, stick and cone):

instruction as relational engagement at a distance?

Since Drawing 2 I have been experimenting with instructions, both to self and to others. There are a few that were sketchbooks ideas during L3. At the start of the first lockdown in April 2020 I attended two tutored OCA meetings of the London group with Bryan Eccleshall. Between session 1 and 2, I devised this padlet comment (copied in full), the discussion that followed invited me to consider these four points not merely as instructions to myself (or summary of my own practice) but to turn these into instructions to others. I didn’t do that at that point but now while compiling works for BoW 4 I want to place this here as note and potential series to include.

Distance… pets 2020 was what my filing system made of my conceptual musings at the start of lockdown 1, it’s worth keeping

Since the first meeting (of Keeping the Momentum) I begin to explore what are forms of enquiry for me now, tonight I find 4:

1. Drawing/ encounters in socially distanced times. I meet online, offline, accidentally or kind of so a few people. I take note, often in camera form, sometimes in FB posts, none of them yet folded onwards like what I did with the drawing/events in my BoW but they are similar kind of things, only the parameter has changed. I collect.

2. I explore the role and form of my walks. Previously they were commutes which were so familiar that they often mistake themselves for drifts. These have disappeared and with them my creative thinking/writing space. I no longer find the latter at the end of the former. Instead, I watch and observe the city and its pavement. I also begin to think of some interventions of my own. I have all that chalk pastel in one of my cupboard.

3. The space between my laptop camera and myself. It comes into focus as it feels extensive. It is hidden from view, yet when I am quite distracted it is visible to others. I begin to explore it.

4. There is possibly a fourth which is the computer camera and screengrab as photographic medium.

portfolio at a distance

In preparation of submitting 4 of BoW I have continued to review and assemble the works that I have. The biggest challenge for this lies in the distance: temporal distance to the material assembled and a simple spatial distance: sketchbooks #1-8 are out of reach since I moved to Germany in September. The current situation with haphazard postal routes between here and Brexitland has exacerbated this situation.

The plan a year ago was to create a loose sheet portfolio of photocopied collage assemblages, the act of compilation by the viewer (while ascending the staircase) was key to the work, along with the matter that each sheet was a simple copy, in a pile of numerous other copies.

Since early Summer, since it became clear that autumn would not mean the staircase would again become accessible I have explored alternatives to this process-based performative work and what the impulse to ‘lift the sketchbooks off their pages’ could look like in the context of contact restrictions and inaccessibility.

I will write some more about the options that I explored in earnest in autumn (individual portfolios with unique pages, already discussed in this earlier post, a single book, a printable zine, a singular body of work).

Each physical manifestation however had the challenge that the tactility and the self-propelled engagement with the work remained out of reach, and thus the work itself would revert back to a gallery piece, out of reach, and I am not interested in such a work for the portfolio.

For the past three weeks I sat down to begin to assemble single sheets out of the materials and the absence of half my sketchbooks became more salient: how can I create tactile objects when the source material itself is absent?

If this question of reach, engagement and tactility is so central to this work, what would a version for this current time look like?

I made in August a restless lockdown loop padlet, a simple wall, not the usual spacious and contemplative canvasses I had used before lockdown. The simple, almost breathless format of the padlet provided a similar sense of immediacy and repetition to the sense of the lockdown walks and fitted well.

(I find padlet as a presentation surface quite functional, as space for actual work, as a final form it is lacking, e.g. the inability to properly position and frame video work is a huge problem).

I collated and then edited all records I had of the missing sketchbooks in photos and then proceeded to upload 260+ of these to a padlet. They are in chronological order in the sense that I uploaded in batches of 8-15 images, the order than finalised with the upload sequence so somewhat variable inside each batch but the batches themselves are in order.

It is a portfolio, it gives a good sense of the explorations and themes, it coheres too as a series. It is intimate, notably on the phone app, two columns, its excessive too, you can look closer, there is visual detail and some text too. It is tactile on the phone screen and alludes to its own textures and yet it also remains at a distance that is distributed.

I want to let this settle for a bit but have the sense that for this resolution of a body of work in 2021 it will hold alongside the other objects.

Here is the padlet (click on photo to open):

Two December crits: screens and dis/continuity in time/space

I presented (parts of) my autumn works twice late last week and want to write up a few of the comments and insights from these two discussions.

  1. Practice as Research OCA Creative Arts sequence with Rachel Smith
  2. Saturday afternoon crit group

1. Practice as Research OCA Creative Arts sequence took place in session 3 of three weekly sessions (one first meeting and two weeks where three of us presented work each), Rachel, who is also my Research tutor had set up an expansive padlet and prompted with questions (to all of us and individually).

I was glad this sequence came when it came and was keen to use it to review my autumn work and find key points (either new or related to the earlier work). Unsurprisingly there was so much work and I felt I only scratched the surface when trying to review and identify key concepts, resonances and shifts. Yet, the few days spent mid-December with the work and myself (see December reviews 1-3) were enough to articulate something concise and significant enough to seek some feedback.

I chose to focus on the walnut shells and the idea of screens in my work and situated the the shift that happened through Lockdown 1 to my work and how I tried to reorganised the contact restrictions affecting my work, the modality of the work and also what I came to understand as practice in the ensuing months.

Rachel had suggested earlier to invite the participants to consider how they would like to encounter my work, and how to present the work in a world as it wasn’t anticipated to be.

Here are some responses:

  • the shells on the floor and people walk on them, take rubbings, photographs, touch them
  • Small work needs to be touched, mere vision is frustrating
  • Visual work should be much bigger
  • I offer sound as a way of amplifying the work (and realise how I have used sound before to create reach, expansiveness and intimacy in visual work)
  • the V&A has a series of videos for the auto-sensory meridian report (ASMR) where objects are shown with tiny sounds.
  • I am asked: what do your pictures sound like
  • Larchwood seems out of reach: trying to access something but it remains just out of reach
  • There is a sense of a cocoon (and I offer the earlier walnut cream recipe that was one response to the shells)
  • the intent to ignore on how to present the work online as making art is a way of getting away from the screen.

A few of these already explicitly comment on the screen.

When I consider screen, I don’t primarily think of the monitor or touch screen, i.e. the tools which demarcate digital work. ‘Screen’ instead surfaced rather analogue in my work as describe in an earlier post.

Yet, of course, it also marks the transition between analogue and digital.

A few more comments on this from the discussion:

  • Screen as standing for the piece of paper between me and the object; paper and screen may function similar; in audience experience it may in fact stand between you and the (art) object
  • Screen as enabler and barrier under contact restrictions and the need to constantly negotiate new conditions

A closing comment from Rachel concerned how my work is interested in materially manifesting spaces, which can take different forms, but such negotiation is crucial for making sure that the work is able to do what it can (and/or I’d like it to).

2. I sent my Saturday afternoon crit group that meets four-weekly, and I joined in Summer, a revised version of the padlet Chris and I made in our DIY summer school, along with my question about screens (the Larchwood sequence). I wasn’t sure there was going to be time, but the work we discussed resonated easily with mine and so there was quite a bit of time. The feedback I received was generous and encouraging. It concerned the expansiveness of the time I printed across autumn, the tenderness of the images; that one of the group was concerned of entering my work as they worried they may fall off. The latter was huge to hear: a persistent thread concerns the opening, stepping down, off, inside, elsewhere. For the larchwood: of whether you can get lost in the woods that I printed so modestly. To hear, unprompted that one can was a considerable compliment. Furthermore, in the walnut shells, along with the woods was a process of stripping away, boiling things down to foundations, if not essence: to get inside with various means (and without obvious success), it also raises the longing mentioned the day before.

Placing Larchwood alongside some of the summer school work was interesting (and new), and one comment insightfully drew the link to some of the performative work, notable, the video with my hand on my chest and breathing, this video marking a punctuation as it featured solely my hands, while much else constituted a result of what my hands were doing. Time, in this also has become the object of the enquiry (and relates to earlier thoughts that in the staircase work was not so much nostalgia but a particular working with memory, which stopped due to the lockdown and than all new work took place outside).

There were a number of further comments concerning the screen:

  • the role of screen for the cyanotype printing process
  • the screen as grid-like device. How can you subvert it successfully? The attraction and failure of the grid, if you are not careful you simply enter a computer game or a generic virtual exhibition space with such grid

This was the first time to present some work in such depth but also to use the discussion to explore some of the conceptual connections. As I said in the OCA workshop: one of the difficulties of the pandemic, and the move to Germany, concerns the inability to step outside, to review, zoom out, reflect on what is what, instead, the immediacy of an ever unfolding situation seems to enforce a pace and speed that is difficult to navigate.

There is plenty in that screen and its role. I am not sure how much this takes me away from the drawing/contact interest or if it’s part of it. My hunch at the moment is that it is the latter, a new condition, added to what were ‘simple’ encounters initially and these got complicated (but of course the condition of screen, kaleidoscope etc is not as such a condition of the pandemic, it however became more visible, significant).

I think what I am still trying to figure out is how much the original enquiry needs to shift and how much can become an appendix, a bookmark for the future.

Thanks everyone for their thoughts, comments and time — I haven’t named anyone from the two meetings.

December review (3): the sketchbooks > drawing/contact portfolios

What is drawing/contact now (after nine months pandemic, after nine months pausing and after not just one (pandemic) but two shifts in site/practice (relocating temporarily and suddenly to Germany)?

What do I understand about it (better than in March)?

How can I re/present it?

  • Relational space
  • Recording
  • Translating
  • Shifting/remaining

At the BoW tutorial 3 (December 2019) a key task was to explore how to lift the material off the various sketchbook (physical, digital (IG and FB) and camera roll).

I realise this task remains the same, and currently plan to revisit the various drawing encounters across the two years and try to work each of them as a loose sheet portfolio. The idea is to arrive at about 7-12 such portfolios, with unique material for each encounter and a series of works (multiples, some originals) that stretch across and mark my understanding of key aspects of this work/practice.

For these, the bigger works of the autumn will act as screen and constructed site, so that the entire body of work functions across different scales and forms of intimacy: dropping into handling collections such as these portfolios (alongside Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse) while sited within the bigger installations of Larchwood, Trafodecke and Walnut Tree of Touch.

December review (2): siting/practice

The dissertation draft and notable tutorial 3 (Research) notes give details of the Body of Work as it was envisaged early in the year.

The intervening months have added further work and allowed for some reflection of how the work is organised, structured.

I made a series of notes for how to revise and update the dissertation structure (and thus what would fold into the body of work) in the absence of the stair:case as site for the work (and exhibition).

The relocation to Germany in September added a further rupture and I have now begun to explore the work that I have been making since and how this work relates.

I seem to return to orientating the work (practice/research) around practice and site.

Original conception (March 2020)

Initially, Herz/Stein was a series of works that would move across the three ‘sites’:

  • verge/weed
  • stair:case
  • drawing|encounter

— of these, only the staircase is strictly a site, verge/weed is a movement practice (somewhat linear but also discontinuous); drawing|encounter is a relational practice but each sited in particular locations.

There are a number of reasons why I still want to call these sites, and also don’t consider them places >> I will return to this later, the discussion around stage/screen has made this clearer to me, it has to do with the manipulation, the deliberate handling of what makes the context of each piece, encounter; it also has to do with modularity, discreteness of each piece, that it is specific, originating in a particulate location/time/relation/material but does not bear the entire history and weight of what we want to consider as place; it is, possibly contentiously more modern than that; and then in its encounter and presenting thoroughly post-, yet again.

Covid Loop revision (August 2020)

To amend the quadrants of the glossary to include also:

verge/weed and stair:case as sites


Herz/Stein and Maraprilay as practice

December revision (December 2020)

I now add

Stromverteilen as site, and

Drei Nuesse/ Tree of touch as practice.

(there remains an omission that the first site is arguable the pontoon bridge in Northern Greece)

I then continue to wonder if drawing/contact can be reconsidered as practice/site or site/practice.

Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse are the most material, tactile works: they are effectively handling collections or enquiries that result from touch.

Using the space I hired for a week to review the work, I lay out the four works and discover that they all organise a site, a screen, a stage for the smaller work to organise within. They create space, they remake the sites in a space all by themselves and it is within this space that the practice of Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse can unfold, along with a series of portfolios that activate the sketchbook materials, quite possibly around a series of drawing/encounters as initially started in Spring 2019.

December review (1): screens in my work

I signed up for a few workshop over the past couple of months. The Moving Image one, a continuation (3-part) of Creative Arts Practice Research with my Research tutor another.

For the latter, I am going to offer some of my work for discussion. So I want to write a few survey posts to begin to articulate where two shifts since the material entered lockdown at the start of Maraprilay have led me to.

This one concerns the emerging body of work that I have been working on for the past few months since I arrived unexpectedly, and stayed similarly so, at the village of my teenage years.

I will discuss the works themselves in other posts (Larchwood, Walnut Tree of Touch and Drei Nüsse). At the moment I am interested in how three of these works (Larchwood, Walnut Tree of Touch and Trafodecke (transformer blanket) all work with the concept of screen, and what this concept may do for my work.

a. the staircase and other dreamscapes > utopian/ other space as screen

The biggest rupture to my work was when the Spring lockdown moved the site of the staircase out of reach. The work was not far off concluding, yet, after four weeks in February/March of being mostly out of reach due to industrial action, the site was effectively not concluded. I had gathered a wealth of material but the insights remained somewhat off. The lockdown was sharp and painful and with the site having become inaccessible the project seemed failed: the rupture added such a stark emotional register to otherwise so tender work that it felt impossible to continue to work with the site at a distance. This eventually led me to pause (after it was clear that even access in autumn seemed unrealistic, the Scottish Government’s covid plan needed zero covid to open sites like this one to random visitors like me).

At some point in May I begun to cautiously revisit the thematic and the site at distance – it had originated in a night dream, and I used the surreal nature of the pandemic to actively explore the dream components further, to continue to dream into the site and its inhabitants and themes. This yielded a number of insides, if not material. It crucially also opened the link again that hovers in the background of this (and other) work: that of a different, utopian space that lives just adjacent to the functional, institutional spaces such as Corridor and stair:case.

I also realised that my work functions closely along an unfolding present, that it is not interested in memory and nostalgia but also not vastly future-oriented but traces different temporalities as they tag closely along an experiential present. It is something that emerged first when I visited the Warhol show in Manchester in late 2016 (during Digital Image and Culture) and it keeps resurfacing. The limitations of the pandemic made it very apparent to me: I didn’t merely want to remember that site nor fantasise about its future. The material I had gathered as present/presence was insufficient to conclude, detach for the purpose of finalising the project.

b. Kaleidoscopes/ peripheral vision > a first actual screen

I have a strand of materials and enquiries which concerns ways of perceiving and seeing: kaleidoscopes and peripheral vision were the objects I previously investigated. Rarely did I do so centrally, but a curiosity as to folding in, manipulating visual planes (not just the edges but the patterning, the core organisation of observed to represented planes) remained. I also continued to try to secure, fix, chase the objects at the margin of my vision, tracing/chasing how horizon lines would bent at the corner of my eye.

In summer 2020 I conducted a self-organised summer school with my friend and colleague Chris and ended up pursuing an eventually failed attempt to reorganise one of the core practices of drawing/contact, the Herz/Stein series, which had led me to a series of stones that I covered in string and also rubber bands. The latter had disintegrated and I ended up photographing an aftermath, printed this and cut into hundreds of squares to reorganise. The process as such as failing: it didn’t yield anything for the Herz/Stein enquiry. But towards the end I realised that I was interested in creating a screen, a stage to let events unfold and document in front of.

Concluding image of summer school process

Revisiting the screen of the summer school now, I realise that it is in fact two part: the viewfinder meets the screen in the distance, opening and focusing the view on the space between finder and screen surface. I have some video attempts of situating a movement of the Herz/Stein bound stone objects on a string between these two.

c. Screen/stage as artificial site for drawing/contact practices

My current hunch is that the previous experiments lead me to an invitation to create a site in the absence of accessible sites. They also affirm for me that ‘site’ rather than ‘place’ is a key concept here: it is constituted, made, shifted, translated from a whole range of sensory observations and experiences. It is made and then a series of enquiries happen in front of it (or perhaps juxtaposed, adjacent, behind?)

A plaything of shells in front of larchwood print

Drei Nüsse (autumn works #3)

I would like to consider this as practice and as a handling collection.
I find first one, then in the end over thirty walnut shells picked open by crows, either on the tree or on the ground. I collect them and become curious of the inside: some are deaf, the crows leave them, the others are emptied. I wash and dry them and begin to trace the opening. Then the inside.
Eventually I print the inside in a futile process, bleach the prints and stain them with walnut liquid we made earlier. 
There are other processes.
The resulting paper is at once brittle and sturdy.
Last year my dad showed me how to click walnuts out of their green shells.
As practice, Drei Nüsse relates to the Herz/Stein binding processes of earlier this year. Small tactile objects are found, related to each other and explored. They take the place of absent touch.
The blue is merely resonance.

I made a padlet about this WIP:

Larchwood (working title) (autumn works #2)

An expanding series of cyanotypes around a larchwood (and adjacent) at the village edge. It is simply presented: the prints arranged in columns, each present a printing event, from left, oldest, to right, newest.

I am intending to keep adding to this series over the coming weeks, to perhaps 50-60 prints (just under A3 in size) in total.

I have also photographed each print and created a digital site to mirror the paper print arrangement. The site is here (click on the image to go to the padlet):

Walnut Tree of Touch (autumn works #1)

approx. 40 double-sided Moleskine Cahier XL blank sheets, printed as cyanotype over the month of October on a mature walnut tree.

this current WIP state is laid out in part on the floor (viewed from above). I envisage this work to be sewn together as columns (possibly even numbered), space inbetween, simple white or grey thread to hang from a ceiling in a room. (organised as a plane, of 8×5 or 5×8 sheets, possibly some stabilisation across the rows too).

(To the side are two pressed sets of walnut leaf prints exposed under glass, these are not part of this work)

Documentary to derive material 1

for the Garry Clarkson workshop I want to focus on movement: movement of the camera, movement in front of the camera but also then how the editing moves the material.

I am using a simple performance structure around a small electricity transformer station I am working on the edge between village and woods.

I have been rolling out heavy tracing paper on its surface, keeping it for a couple of weeks and recording rain, wind, falling needles and some insects too. This is the second iteration of this process (a simple soft graphite rubbing, the moisture, drying and wind have pulled the middle of the two sheets apart).

The interest in the transformer is manifold. I started pulling myself up onto it and sitting down, feet dangling a while ago. The lift and the jump is an action that interests me — it’s a very modest parcour but fits around my interest in the body as drawing tool.

I often work with single shot video sequences, often found, often a static camera. The main clip is a simple attempt to narrate my POV movement up to the transformer, inspecting the tracing paper and then climbing on top and down again.

I have a supplementary last action: removing the soil my shoes left on top.

I play with two details of Bosch’s Garden to add a rupture, dislocation.

Development potential I currently see:

  • I am also interested in keeping the portrait ratio (and not having it altered to landscape), I work with iMovie 10.4.16 (the latest on Mojave).
  • Tightest of shots and viewpoints; use of slow/fast; focus and blur.
  • I am excited by the uplift and the move down
  • I have short sequences of insects on top of the tracing paper, unfortunately none with tripod which I feel it needs
  • Sound
  • Collage/Montage as way of accentuating the performance of it (the Bosch stills are an attempt to do this but not systematically so).

diary (n) one

my mother calls on the landline. i am sure it is her. as i respond she becomes alarmed. are you alright. yes, it’s okay. for the first time she seems to be listening to how it is here (besides: i am glad you are not ill). there is a spaciousness in her listening that wasn’t there before and so i tell her a few of the arguments across home, work, friends, futures.

is there some fun you can have.

i tell her some of the fun.

she proceeds to tell me what to tell the neighbours downstairs. i rarely follow her advice on social interactions. it often seems a little brutal. but i know what she says.

right at the start i realised how i switched into her crisis mode. i felt it in my spine, in my walk and in my focus.

the district with the town i grew up has no single death from covid-19 nor a single infection.IMG_2741

diary (d) d

i loop. time loops. i am repeating myself. time is repeating itself.

i remember a conversation from weeks ago. was it online. was it on the street.

he says: i can’t think straight. i am strangely confused. i seem to go round in circles. i am worried about my cognitive capacity.

i say: ah, yes, mine goes like that as well.

then i continue and say: you know, my mind is a little trippy most of the times. i tend to let it fold into the art stuff. my dream and fantasy sequences are generally a good site for that part of my thinking. what i started doing since mid-March is to let it fold into my day-to-day stuff and conversations more than usually. i almost consciously step into that mode and let it guide me through this strange now. it seems fitting. as i say this i realise that that is precisely what i have been doing. i have a series of messages that give evidence of how my dreams become a thing that is less closely guarded than normally. even my day dreams are the subject of my talking and writing now. as it write this i begin to wonder if my movement also gives evidence of this.

what happens to my walk

what happens to my sense of touch (notably when moving from plank to sphinx to locust and back towards downward dog.

what happens to my core muscles and my stomach when the latter gets nervous and worried.

how does fantasy manifest bodily

is this even a thing.



below the dandelion i correct myself: my dreams were never closely guarded. but what i would guard closely are the bodily sensations, the effects on movement and perception these would cause in me.

diary (d) iii

i keep saying it. this: it don’t want it to become infected. yet, if i don’t, all this is past. it is a nostalgia piece. i don’t make nostalgia pieces. how can this be current. what would that look like. i make work about the now, the moment that is just about to be and that has just about been. it is of longing in the present. it is not nostalgic.

diary (d) 2

IMG_2688i am uncertain of this numbering. it is all wrong in any case. they are not unfolding, they are in fact memory pieces. or rather: to fold forward what was to make it pliable again, to point towards soon.

2 concerns my walk route. it is new(ish) and while all the pavements are familiar, none replicates what was before. there is a short stretch that marks the start of return that is part of before but once removed: now i cross the road to catch the sun, all this started when the sun would make it worthwhile. so, i walk 200 mtrs of very familiar but now on the northerly side, not the usual one.

come to think of it: the whole start is at first familiar, it denotes the main road if i know i take the subway or train. but now i turn right at the lights, then left. this is almost entirely new but as it’s probably become the most often walked turn for the past two months it feels no longer new.

yesterday i notice as i walk on that my stomach is turning. or rather: it bounces to right under my throat. it continues and i need to change my pace. does it settle? it is worst furtherest away, then it begins to ebb a little. as i walk on i remember his comment of how there are three cafes selling takeaway things. i find two but make a point to look at the bakery too. it is newly open, what were seats where E. and i sat not long ago now houses bags of flour. i remember their rolls and their sweets. they were nice things. will i go to acquire some soon? i am not sure. it is most certainly not essential.

a flat white. a coffee made as espresso.

as i walk on i recall the things that have become familiar along this old/new loop. the day with the goldfinches, the heart line, again, again, then a single remained, no none. the runners, the mothers and college-age daughters, the ones that stand in the middle of the pavement. the flower bouquets on the park table, the single child that had climbed the fence to the playground. the four who stood apart and drank a beer. and so it continues.

when i am back on the road from the shops, i realise what remains: how i enquire, how i observe and how these things mingle with each other, poke each other occasionally or run off into the woods. that remains. my mood in which they mingle is changing, or rather: it seems to be more volatile than usual. the detachment has changed as much as my attachment and touch has changed.


diary (d) #1

i tend to write my way through and out. there are two formats for this. one, tested, tried, is the response to ‘What’s on your mind, Gesa’, on a computer screen, occasionally a phone. i need to go and check twice what that box says exactly in the process of copying it to here. i am sure the invitation changed over the years too. and still: it is the box that foregrounds a slightly darkened background that focusses my minds and thoughts. once i press post. i read again, i edit, i read again and so it continues. over the day or the one after i add further comments.

two, i open the large moleskine cahier, black cover, mostly, blank pages and click on the top of the 2b mechanical pencil and start with the date of the day and then it continues. the longwriting across the page, the indentations, occasionally an underline, arrows (>>) are favoured. earlier, i sometimes retraced the letters of a word or two to highlight it. i turn the page and marvel and new and older tracings and marks.

oh, and then there is my camera roll.

there is always my camera roll. it sometimes accompanies one.


here, i am stumped. i test over the weeks a numbers of routes, routines, patterns and processes and discover much in the process.

how do they relate to all that i collected until mid-March?

how can i conclude something as current when it already feels outdated?

how can i address my desire to leave it untouched and thus uncontaminated?

yet, my processes were always current and would find resolution in the little sliver between present and soon (i steal this line from Warhol and invert its temporal ordering). i am stalling, undecided if that is helpful or not.


i pause one. initially in anger, then i realise what the absence offers. i contemplate absence as ending and it seems good. it is spacious. unexpectedly so, was i not just now contemplating loss.

i find a new site for two. then i realise what the discovery offers. i contemplate discovery as opening and it seems good. it is spacious, temporally too. unexpectedly so, was i not just now contemplating loss.



distance…pets 2020

This week is the first that I spent any length of time with my coursework (or other art for that matter). For the past few weeks I have a regular working-alongside zoom for a couple of hours one afternoon where I started to collate and organise my artistic work but this week has me returning to the dissertation draft.

I joined two of the recent tutor-led sessions, one by the London group on Keeping up the momentum (Bryan Eccleshall); and one for the CA pathway on Doing thinking (Rachel White); both of them are in two parts, the latter concluded today, the former will conclude tomorrow.

For the Keeping up, Bryan proposes a series of prompt to work on and let them fold onwards. I do this fairly early on, a couple of people pick my chain up; yet, I fail to return to it. What happens however in the intervening period is that I am becoming a little clearer as what my practice wants to do with social distancing. There are four ideas at the moment:

  1. Drawing/ encounters in socially distanced times. I meet online, offline, accidentally or kind of so a few people. I take note, often in camera form, sometimes in FB posts, none of them yet folded onwards like what I did with the drawing/events in my BoW but they are similar kind of things, only the parameter has changed. I collect.
  2. I explore the role and form of my walks. Previously they were commutes which were so familiar that they often mistake themselves for drifts. These have disappeared and with them my creative thinking/writing space. I no longer find the latter at the end of the former. Instead, I watch and observe the city and its pavement. I also begin to think of some interventions of my own. I have all that chalk pastel in one of my cupboards
  3. The space between my laptop camera and myself. It comes into focus as it feels extensive. It is hidden from view, yet when I am quite distracted it is visible to others. I begin to explore it.
  4. There is possibly a fourth which is the computer camera and screengrab as photographic medium.

Let me add a few documents for these (not ordered) (later)


Research 3: Gathering Data: Tutor report

The tutorial for this assignment took place soon after submission and just as pandemic lockdown was taking hold. My social life had quietened in its analogue form and the distance modality was pushing hard on the laptop camera and microphone.

It was quite a special experience to have this tutorial and discuss this subject, which is entirely not concerned with epidemiology nor actually science, in the context of what is unfolding around us.

The tutorial, its discussions and insights sat as excess in a world that had begun to get stilled (with some anxious twitches).

I spent some time transcribing much of the tutorial recording and it’s the longest report I compiled: it talks through the exhibition objects and the research findings along with with the padlets and case studies that I had submitted. It also spends considerably time unpicking the research objects that this module is generating too.

I am including one segment of the discussion, towards the end of the tutorial which tries to conceptualises what the case studies are attempted and how these can feed back into the dissertation process:

Are the three padlets related? Do you see a line, a link across the three?

There is something, and that goes back to the glossary form. I changed the glossary in the sense that each quadrant of the glossary addresses a part of the dissertation and there is a narrative in how each quadrant unfolds.

There a question of geography and scale across the three padlets:

  • (a)  The staircase is a traditional, definite site in how it is delineated. I use the site then to step into a fantasy, into a dream space. So while it’s the most physical site it is also the one that moves most clearly into fantasy.
  • (b)  The verge/weed has a geography to it, slightly more dispersed and yet it works along a line. Each of the processes hover along a path and the side to that path.
  • (c)  The four events, drawing/contact are most abstract, almost purely event- based, almost just the relational aspect between myself and somebody else.

— There is probably more in it but this is first off: they operate on different scales. There is a fourth strand, the Herz/Stein which sits across the entire Research; there are in total four quadrants in the Glossary and four series (three of the latter currently have a padlet).When I talk about the quadrants. The one on the right is methodology; the middle ones are empirical, the top one is theory, the bottom one are the objects; the one on the left are the concepts that I enact and explore.

With the case studies plus Herz/Stein as four series, they don’t quite that easily map across the four quadrants.AP: to write a usage instruction for the glossary as note underneath it (37:00)

The glossary can function as a descriptive way into the work, and a potentially great way of using a glossary. It is important to go back and frame that glossary.

I did this for a PK ‒ I have done quite a few PKs over the year to explore the work ‒ and this PK has an illustration for this on a series of slides.

AP: to explore the relationship of each series to the glossary: what are they and where are the gaps? The spaces inbetween the screen tabs and how you visualise or articulate those connections across.

— I didn’t expect to be able to discuss the forms of writing that are new to me, strike me as innovative, and it’s fantastic to be able to do that in these tutorials. To be able to discuss the writing as if they were art, is immensely useful. I address the glossary items in the dissertation but not as glossary. This, above, will be a way to do so. I will take the glossary and the padlets as art objects and explore them as objects, their relationship and what they fall short of for Research. Rachel returns to a discussion from last time about tracing paper and things being seen through tracing paper and to explore the layering between and across them. There is something in the idea of layering things on to each other, those three padlets and the glossary quadrants and how they function as layers on top of each other and how to move about. I know how to enact these processes with art objects, with drawings, I will explore this process for the glossary and padlets. Doing the review in January, February was really positive as it showed me how the review creates new objects. To push that process a bit further still on the basis of the padlets and glossary, to feed these into the process and see what they generate. I will have my planetary system like this, effortlessly, or an appendix.

— It will also clarify the extent to which my implicit complexity needs other forms of clarity or forms of entry to be accessible in the way that I would like these to function as objects and to be quite deliberate about these.

Rachel suggests that this is important, going back to the opening of the tutorial and ongoing events: that there is material and insights that this work is able to offer and that it should offer. It is important to explore those entry points so that different types of people can access what you are doing.

I am attaching the full tutor report: Gesa Helms 492645 A3


Research 3 submission: Gathering data

I submitted my fieldwork submission to my Research tutor a few days ago. It is entirely contained in a word document, which effectively is my working draft for the overall dissertation.

Over the past two and a half months I reviewed my materials and processes by taking a new set of notes in my sketchbooks, proceeding iteratively; alongside, some of the material is actual practice and meant some of the works for BoW also developed further. I annotated further within evernote and last week decided to buy a license for Scrivener to use it for my writing process. It is aimed an novel writers, has a fuss-free interface and crucially allows for fragmentation into separate documents which then can be re-arranged; you can also keep all sorts of notes alongside. It was a good decision. While I have much experience of writing within word and enjoy it; this work is too sprawling and fragmented for the interface to work easily for me (i.e. not to worry that I will lose significant parts).

I made a shortened document for this post and upload the Introduction, Methodology and ‘case studies’ for the work, partly to help prepare for a meeting tomorrow. I.e. the document (copied into this post) isn’t complete but it gives a sense of the structuring of the essay as well as crucially presents the research practice that took place alongside the BoW and how I am currently thinking of presenting it for the Research module.

Three case studies:

  • verge/weed
  • the dream of the staircase; and
  • drawing/events

are written through as narratives and each link out to a padlet that displays still and moving image material of that strand.

There is a fourth set of work, Herz/Stein which will be woven through the whole dissertation.


The near space in an expanded field of drawing: interdisciplinarity, hybridity and contact

Gesa Helms DRAFT (for Research 3) 12 March 2020

I have started to assemble the whole document but really only to structure it. I have greyed the sections which aren’t that important and in black are the ones that I have now written: spelling out the purpose of the dissertation, its methodology and then, as key, presenting three case studies (with the BoW material presented in padlets for each) plus the structure for the overall dissertation. There is a second more traditional findings sections which I haven’t written through yet.

I would like to discuss the case studies, if the format and form works and what it raises. I would then move to complete a full draft as Res 4 before producing the work for BoW4 after.

(I currently don’t see the padlets being part of the BoW in their form; they exist for the purpose of the Research dissertation. In some sense, like the appendix they are an exemplar of the satellite objects).

1       Introduction

My Level 3 work on the Creative Arts pathway comprises a series of processes and enquiries relating to drawing/contact. It is interested in modality, site and practice of an expanded field of drawing that sets out with the body as initial drawing tool. In so doing, it situates itself in a relational practice that begins with a situated, embodied self and as such follows feminist concerns, taking both contemporary writers and earlier performance artists as inspiration.

Interested in contact implies a curiosity about the fabric that contributes to our articulations of corporeal selfhood (as author, subject and audience). At once immediate, sensorial, tactile it also asks wider questions concerning relationship and presence. These concerns around agency, voice, autonomy are at once informed by older materialisms (notably: a critical materialism of social praxis) and are curious about new materialisms and the constitution of the human body (also in its potential hybridity, one cyborg form or another).

1.1       Aim and objectives

Practically, I set out to pursue this programme in a series of investigations:

  • drawing/performance enquiries which are mainly focused on the self;


  • drawing/performance enquiries which are small scale, intimate and perhaps simply 1:1, either scripted and more formal or more spontaneous in nature.

By focusing on different self/audience parameters I seek to investigate the forms of contact, presence/absence in the kinds of near spaces that are productive and produced in drawing/performance, and, as a second step, explore them in a series of adjacent media and forms, folding forward and onward (Bedford, Schneider, Lepecki, all 2012).

1.2       The fantasy of linearity in a distributed field

This dissertation serves the purpose of a degree qualification component (40 credits at HE6), in this it has to address a series of objectives and its content is evaluated against a set of criteria to award it a mark. To allow me, the student and author, to progress to that mark, the coursebook offers, similar to other OCA courses a series of parts (five), each marked by a point of tutor contact, to arrive at a 5000 word essay in the appropriate structure and conventions.

At the same time it also is a document that marks the completion of more than ten years of (not very linear) engagement with the field of creative practice in a British Higher Education setting. This setting has changed much during those years, much to the better; and then it got a lot more expensive (as an English, fee-paying degree while I am as EU citizen a resident in Scotland where this degree would not cost me). But, to get back to the other purposes of the document (and you can sense, like I do, the pull to talk about the institutional framework governing this document’s existence): it completes my desire, intent and insistence of acquiring an understanding of first painting, then fine arts, then visual arts, then something that sits more contemporary, more interdisciplinary and concern-oriented. Since my last HE5 module I have come to understand my practice as creative arts in an expanded field of drawing. It allows for much.

Additionally, at the start of this module I was concluding a fixed-term part-time teaching role in the discipline, Human Geography, in which I undertook a PhD at the start of the millennium. As part of this I supervised eight undergraduate Honours dissertations, some of them employing approaches and questions not dissimilar to my own final year work.

This dissertation seeks to explore its substantive concerns in a form that is as much part of my creative practice as it has been part of my academic and professional skills for twenty years. In this it seeks to understand a written, textual form to perform, to present, to engage and participate in such practice of distributed drawing. It runs up against conventions and rules (like anything that is based in an institutional setting, or in fact is part of societal structures).

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.


. [omitting Literature review]


3.1 Methods of moving-with

The dissertation itself presents as artistic practice. It does so by moving-with a series of routes through the body of work and its enquiries. It is interested in the pursuit of movements in which contact arises in fleeting encounters. It is also interested in the materials engaged within these encounters and the kinds of spaces they are productive of.

As outlined in the introduction, the interest of the methodology is to practically — through a body of work — explore an expanded field of drawing (the shorthand I employ for an interdisciplinary practice) around the substantive concerns of moving-with, near space and drawing/contact.

The practical textual means of this dissertation draw on auto-ethnographic forms of enquiry in the social sciences and place them in relation to performative practices (mainly of self-directed enquiry, less so other human participants, though a few will feature). For this purpose, the body of the research material is presented in the form of three case studies which draw three lines (along with some further away animations) through the research field.

The three case studies are organised as loose assemblages: one, verge/weed presents a large substantive enquiry over a period of months; a second, drawing/contact events presents the initial enquiries and the concerns these raised for the articulation of research question, method and materials generated; the third one presents the final field site, an institutional staircase and explore this as the animating principle, the hinge around which most of the material can organise. This site also hovers between an actual, physical, site and a dream construction.

The core, or if I want to call it that: the heart, of the overall research is a series entitled Herz/Stein, heart/stone. Rather than presenting it as a separate case study, its work is woven right throughout the material of the dissertation to explore its relevance not merely as findings of the research but also as impulse, impetus, failure and excess.

In terms of exegesis of research practice and findings, the case study narratives present and link each to an online presentation space (as padlets) at this moment. A more traditional exegesis or analysis of findings is presented in the section ensuing the case studies. The approach taken for this consists of a review and analysis of sketchbooks and other materials and records (loose sheets, FB posts, evernote notes) in which I recorded, reviewed and more intuitively explored the emerging materials, their salience, potential and omissions. These currently consist of eight sketchbooks, three of which covering the production phases over autumn and winter, one of which consisting of review notes. The period of review took six weeks, during which some of the materials (notably Herz/Stein and drawing/events) were developed further still and in some case found resolutions. Alongside this review I also begun to explore the in-situ interventions in the staircase as potential exhibition site and developed a list of works to be produced as part of BoW4.

4        Drawing/contact in case studies

4.1       verge/weed

When does a series start? What marks its beginning?
Is it when I take the Bronica to the lochshore? When I load the film? When I say: next time I will bring the Bronica? The tenth time I stop and position the phone to take an exposure? The first time? When the grasses begin to grow? When the bindweed starts winding? verge/weed starts. It becomes a thing. I take the rolls and have them processed, one of them printed. I spend, much later, a day scanning. I make slideshows and posts (here, there, and the draft folder).

I dream of instructions. Of people watching. He does, watch. Sometimes there is a joke: step further, Gesa, just a little bit further still (into the verge, across, and eventually to tumble into the loch).

Other views filter in, prints veer off, find photocopy paper, a larger printer. The greenhouse. The bridge. Are they part of it? What is it? Is it staying on the path, exceeding it, recording the growing season (and this year’s lack of maintenance so that by August the cycle path has half disappeared.)

I depart. Live for a week on the other side of a bridge. Include the 700 mtrs walk across it. I travel again and find ourselves passing underneath a bridge, another and yet another.

I record more abundance. In close up, Shield Bugs nestle inside wild carrot flowers. They also nestles with each other. I watch, even stare.

I return, record some more and do one of the journeys again. By now, the season has changed, both here and there. The nettles are dying off the bindweed is exalted. The garden offers apples and walnuts, and my dad as eager participant. We finally perform, I record our veering, verging.

This record is merely remembered. It is written quickly. I may have omitted much. Will I retrofit, trace the medium changes across, the turns taken and the positions revisited.

4.2       Dreaming the staircase

I told him quickly of this dream. It doesn’t have an ending. I wake up before the ending, the destination. For weeks, months, I try and daydream a series of onwards developments. It is a desire dream. I don’t reach my destination within it and yet: it is totally within reach.

One day isn’t good. I depart, speechless, and exit, unplanned for, abruptly. I vaguely notice the interior construction that I am departing through. They walk overhead, I hear their voices. Outside I retrace my movement, my turns that have me exiting. I realise the movement is entirely congruous with the staircase movement in the dream itself. The dream starts with me doing the dishes, it follows with a suggestion, an invite, I fail to reach the invitation, or am I the one who gives up on it.

I look at the actual staircase closely. I walked it for years. I noticed its grandeur but generally wouldn’t pay much attention. The turrets, on the other hand; the corridor, on my left hand; the occasional darkness. Once I begin to move-with the staircase, my body crosses effortlessly the edge between dreaming and waking. It is this movement that I trail, stalk until I can step effortlessly between one and the other, in the middle of that institution, while holding a conversation.

For months I return and observe, stand, watch; often talk or listen. I notice its participants, those who walk-with the staircase. I learn gossip. I find extra doors, hidden corners, the objects that make the staircase staircase.

Unexpectedly, just a couple of weeks in, my dream concludes. In practice. I find the two rooms that reside next to each other, the two fragments that suddenly relate to each other; and a movement ensues on the staircase that concludes both dream and desire.

The staircase, right at its top, has a Luke, or is it: die Luke, the hatch (I remain uncertain about its article, is its correlation to the living merely incidental?). I find it early and fantasise about its escape first. Intent to feed it back and to organise around it. In the end, I don’t quite remember: do we? organise around it? or does it remain a fantasy.

A wooden door invites me to push. I never did until recently. Inside it smells chalky, I am waiting for the cicadas on the other side to reward my response to Ancient Greek’s simple past.

In spite of its solidity, the staircase is movement. The principle animated. (not him, the Head, mind).

I try to squeeze it into a single post and a thirty minute conversation. Of course I fail, and yet I get another invitation which I follow suit.

The dream acquires a third act: a fantasy of its objects, me, the ones who view, walk and participate. It is, like the original, fun. We have fun.

Black heat / white heat. I stand and turn. Someone joins me: how can you bear that heat. Later, I take it to the picket and offer it as position, place to the one who complains about the cold. He smiles.

The filter for the staircase is dramatic cool. It mellows the gold decorations and pushes the contrast, I would say a little, it claims dramatically. Another site, further along the corridor owns vivid warm, doing so, it provides a step towards that forest that would eventually lead to the city of illusions. More commonsensically it leads to a filing cabinet.

We can, and once do depart, by flying down the far turret. At its base there is a plaster opening, beautifully peeled. Let me show you. We can quite possibly touch it, too.

4.3       Four events (and then some)

I start with these early on. First one, after my visit there are four. I don’t understand what they may be; they seem precious, special, extraordinary. In this, they are fleeting and insubstantial, of small things. I spend time letting them fold onwards in different means.

I try to talk about them and I falter. Not just once, repeatedly, over months. I set up meetings to falter over these and what I am doing.

The afternoon in Daserí marks a shift. I still falter but with what has happened the preceding day I become daring about the inconsequential things, or perhaps it is her company. We eat and we talk, we watch and we drive. Then we are silent for a bit.

For the first time I sense it is something. A tiny thing, merely. It hardly matters and nonetheless.

When I show him he says: you didn’t erase it, you just hid it, obfuscated it. It still remains.

In the meantime I produce a definite thing, a three layer video movement. It is all that I have done before: it is daring, scratchy, violent and confident. It has a heart too. Appropriately with a question mark, or should that be a semicolon.

Elsewhere, someone does die (while we saved a life before Daserí). The day of his death marks the day that I pick up something lost on a pavement on a cold night a few years before.
The conversation about it will conclude a few months later still, in an introduction, a meeting withheld, a space between us closed.

But, I shouldn’t mix methods, muddle enquiries, so let me change adjustment again.

(yet, seriously, I was observed drowning at the top of the staircase)

From then on I become curious over the insignificance and find it abundantly. I almost don’t need to pay attention and the encounters come to me. My recording changes in the process too, and it changes a third time when I start to review what I have done.

5       Discussing the findings

My research for this submission consists, besides the Introduction, Literature review and Methodology of two related substantive sections: firstly, the empirical ‘case studies’, which draw together three routes through the material under investigation, doing so creatively and linking to online resources. Secondly, this findings section in which I revisit the three conceptual tenets that inform the dissertation research around drawing/contact, moving-with and near space. It is followed by a Conclusion.

The findings present the methodological lens and process of investigating drawing/ contact over a period of almost eighteen months, in this the draw out some of the process of undertaking this project as well as drawing together findings as they emerged through the research and making process and investigate these vis-a-vis the initial questions and where relevant wider literature or other artistic processes.

5.1       Drawing/contact

5.2       moving-with

My proposal for the form of the dissertation to a large extent rests on my current writing practice and interests.

The concept of moving-with presents a development from Springgay & Trueman’s 2018 WalkingLab and their concept of walking-with within the wider field of walking arts. The material that forms drawing/contact is at once situated or perhaps rather: constitutive of an expanded field of drawing. In this however, it moves and it is not just the author or artist who moves, nor the participants but matter does too, across and between different terrains and spaces. It transverses too different modalities and registers. The movement is at once performative (like a drift, or like the practice of the flaneur are), yet, by shifting traditional terrains and moving towards concerns of networked presence and identities, it leaves ‘walking’ in its traditional sense behind. The material presented is keen to understand this moving across boundaries (of public, private; of analogue and digital) and does so as research practice.

5.3       Near-space

6 Conclusion



Herz/Stein 2 : stones/ stories

— this is as brief placeholder to point to some of the processes, ideas of how to reconsider Herz/Stein and its contribution/place as part of drawing/contact.

  1. stone/seaweed connections and movements
  2. Herz/Stein as story/character on the staircase (taking the hidden stories, the obfuscation and letting it become fictional). (to follow)

(the previous thoughts on this series are explored here: Herz/Stein:: flicker/tracing books)



concept maps: touch/contact/body in movement (revisited)

I go back to the concept maps right at the start of the course, put them up on the wall and then take little tours through them. I find three so far:


1 touch

i take a little tour across and through my living room wall and the concept maps i made a year ago. their format does neither photograph well nor did it display easily otherwise, so i forgot what i had been doing. touch was map #1, they got less textual, more spacious as i went along.
i of course delight at touché, tocarse, out of touch. google doesn’t translate the pleasure that lives in the middle.
bebopalubop it quietly hums before it moves a little upwards and out of touch. touché. (it possibly touches the ceiling now.)


2 contact

:: and for contact. (i had forgotten about the transmission but delighted to find the precursor of ωθήσατε in here already and of course: Ursula Le Guin… i wonder if i thought of anything specific, did i?)


3 body in movement

:: body in movement (map #3) is more graphic, less wordy.
site is a graphite smear, i have some misconceptions about audience, ask about the tool as drawing (and find this in some of the autumn things); there is a resonance field which i will keep: