body of work (3): synthesise: tutor report

I have a video tutorial for BoW (3) just before the holidays. Here is the report for it.

I took some time to let it sink in a little further: part of me wanted a clear steer of: this works, this doesn’t. I didn’t get that. What I got instead is a clear discussion of what constitutes my practice and how to proceed with that knowledge. The tutorial also returned to me the idea of rawness, directness, that I thought I had lost with the meek performative processes I had set in motion. It also moves, with the idea of a mobile, the satellite objects of work from the Research 2 tutorial into the actual work itself.

A good 2020 lies ahead. Hello, November assessment.

Here a brief overview of the topics discussed, see the report for full notes:

That Research articulates in its handbook effectively a social science dissertation project has helped to push me towards investigating research as practice and I find that I am in a productive process of making such research as practice. [During the tutorial this seemed to hover somewhat: I come away thinking of the dangers of merely employing creative methods for a social science project; much later I realise that this tension is productive and at the heart of what I am exploring as expanded field of drawing and a creative practice therein.]

There are four main fields of discussion for this tutorial:

  • What and who can I lean on for making work, i.e.: what is a productive context?
  • What constitutes the work/ practice?
  • What is the framework, or, as I name it as ‘animating principle’ that underpins and organises the work. Doug moves to call it cosmology.
  • What relationship am I forming with the viewer/ audience?

 

Gesa_Helms_of_Creative_Arts_L3_ BoW_Part_3_

BoW 3: synthesise :: reflection

Let me reflect: the challenge to move 4.5 months of work into a 1-hour slot. I feel the distance of this course this time more so than before. I am glad I did have a repeat task from Research 2 at this point and merely need to update.

I feel my work process is productive and generative; I can also narrate and explore this to others by now. I had one session last week where I folded the bannister on top of the staircase into another sketchbook while a meeting finished, people moved past. It remained okay to continue with the folding, only at one point I felt wondering if the work was insignificant. This was a key question for BoW 2, it lies with the subject matter and I have by now found ways to hold that and fold it back into the work.

I am surprised how many insights this process generates and what I am finding about drawing/contact and near space, and what other concepts are relevant to this.

By the time I had Research 2 tutorial I had dealt with my frustrations over the L3 challenges, they haven’t yet resurfaced and it seems fairly clear what lies ahead. I am enjoying the process of making work at this edge of an extended drawing practice, and wonder what my geographer is making of all this (I have ideas for a couple of research papers coming out of this, I find I am generating significant things in this process, but: is it good art?).

The material processes (mouldings) I am engaging in feel significant and exciting but I worry that they are merely basic sculptural techniques and not significant enough for what I am doing (see, significance). I had not expected to use photographic processes to the extent that I do, (both: phone and MF analogue); there are a series of traditional drawing processes and larger scale drawings that I want to produce as part of this too, I keep pushing them forward.

What is exciting in this process is that I begin to become confident with how to conceive and produce a complex and extended body of work: this work is fragmented, disparate, dislocated and to find a form to hold it and make it relate (with gaps, absences) to itself and others is becoming clearer to me — It is like understanding how books I love, e.g. Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en banlieue were actually made, something I begun to investigate for the line (in DI&C) but now have a better grasp.

I was planning on continuing with BoW 4 before turning to Research 3, and analysing all the material post-fact, but I wonder if I should work on Res 3 while doing BoW4 to have time to let them inform each other more fully.

 

body of work (3): synthesise

— okay, then. this single post contains the materials submitted as part of BoW (3): synthesise. It’s a bit of a challenge but let me try. it presents roughly four and a half months of work; I did a considerable review already as part of Research 2 in late October, and am glad I did so, as I have a series of sites (sketchbook, FB, here and notably evernote) which collect and collate. I feel I am very much in the middle of things, have started and pursued a series of routes around drawing/contact and while it’s time to step back and review/refine/focus, this feels quite a task.

This post mainly organises four parts:

  1. a series of projects and enquiries
  2. questions concerning the holding* form/ container of the overall body of work of L3
  3. a link to wider sketchbook and annotating materials
  4. a link to the more conceptual research questions and themes which link BoW with Research

 

1. Series of projects and enquiries

I am copying my notes on BoW here that I included as part of Research 2 and update them accordingly to offer a fuller and more up to date view of BoW.

Practically, I set out to pursue a programme around drawing/contact in a series of investigations:

a. drawing/performance enquiries which are mainly focused on the self; and

b. 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).

c. I intent to attend to the recording and further circulation of these in the dissertation essay as well as possibly also a different form, perhaps as an audio-visual essay, a moving image collage or an artist publication.

Following on from BoW 2 in late July, the first questions for a work programme for part 3 concerned:

  • What constitutes source material and subject matter for this project? (see the two blog posts from 28 July and 4 August on each)

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

https://close-open.net/2019/07/28/critical-reflection-modality-of-bow/

  • How are medium and material shifts achieved in these drawing/contact performances and events?

Following the investigation of what was source material I attended to my lens-based records and begun to read them as source material also, exploring them for a few short presentations along the ideas of contact/ moving-with and agency (human/non-human).

A series which begun half-articulated in June concerning the wild verges along a path and lochside location became articulated in a MF camera series to explore proximity, nearness and camera/viewer position in this context. There are, roughly, two substantive themes in here:

  • moving-with: edges, agency and transgressions

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

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

https://close-open.net/2019/08/02/sketchbook-2-12-ko-loop-edit/

  • verge/weed (and a variety of investigations)

https://close-open.net/2019/08/25/i-catch-late-and-early-sun-on-a-couple-of-rolls-each/

Verge/weed (narrow field) (first version)

One theme that did emerge rather strongly (and which I actively pursued further through my involvement with the Art/Environment group) is that of the environmental within it, the non- human, the relationships within/across.
In all this, there was still a sense of failure, or rather: a curiosity why the idea of intimacy and performance remained so difficult; and why in turn the subject matter seemed fleeting, small and inconsequential.

https://close-open.net/2019/10/19/absence-in-drawing-contact/

The idea of nearness and proximity came also into focus in a series of further investigations (these build on the earlier proposed drawing/contact events that formed the focus in BoW 2):

a. Herz/stein

The thin-papered book formats which developed out of two interests. Firstly, the visual see-through of my sketchbooks, the idea that material, notes in proximity to each other bleed and shine through. And, secondly, the hesitancy to make explicit some of the more intimate observations and events and to be curious if they can be narrated as flicker book (if not graphic novel) to make them present without explicating too much.

Herz/Stein:: flicker/tracing books

b. peripheral vision in close-up

So much of traditional visual art is premised on the illusion of space that it creates. Here, crucially, distance is a key function: if we move too close to an object, the conventions of perspective expose themselves as the artificial thinking device that they are and we discover our eyes ’seeing’ in rather different ways. I wanted to explore this by stepping in and close and trying to trace thereby myself amongst it (the distance denotes by the curves my peripheral vision produces).

marginal vision (or: is this peripheral?)

c. stepping into the verge: touching

Eventually, I devised a series of small, solo, then 1:1 moving-with performances to record. Over a few days I stepped into the verge, walked towards and reached out to a single apple, then had my dad observe me doing the latter and us to pick some apples further out of reach still and lastly, a plan to walk across recently fallen walnuts turned the stepping out/ across into a horizontal reach of each of us dislodging walnuts.

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

d. Die Luke

It started primarily as a case study/ site to explore and pursue a complex set of spatial dynamics. I took and take various positions and draw, observe, but also chat and gossip. The enquiry is one of routes, movements across a complex set of institutional stairs and pathways. It seeks openings and has begun to investigate the objects within the staircase, notably: bannister and radiator. I have a strong sense of what further investigations are relevant here, and how the spatial construct may also operate as a framing device for the overall work itself (routes/alternatives/positions). There are ideas for a participatory zine interaction with those who move through this space.

Die Luke (first take)

Die Luke (hatch):: zine/process idea

Interestingly, it also served as an easy site to investigate materiality/shifts and contact: I took a series of mouldings and rubbings of materials, attempted to transfer the structural features into my sketchbook.

ban/n/ister (two parts)

phone, encased

e. Kaleidoscopes

An early observation and digital plaything last winter recurred and became a point of investigation of viewpoint, paper folding, and limited inside/outside vision. I developed this further to provide a simple instruction for an open participatory performance, and hope to expand on this.

kaleidoscope / revisited

Kaleidoscope:: participatory process

2. Holding* form/ container: what animates and holds this overall body of work

Possibly quite close to the early question as to who is audience, what is the relationship to the audience, this question of how this extended body of work can be held (and presented) has remained throughout the project and it was one concern that became a little clearer during this part.

I am proposing to use a dream fragment and its complex spatial arrangements and movements as a loose framework to orientate the materials. In my mind, this sits conceptually well with ideas about near space, contact but also a seeking of alternatives, other spaces within this work.

Practically, I am not sure yet what this means, there are still a series of processes than I want to test that can practically perform such role (GIS, excel spreadsheets, geolocation).

This post explores these question more fully to the point that I have reached so far:

holding* / form

3. Sketchbooks (here and elsewhere)

Following on from D2, I had set up this L3 work more fully at the start to encompass the range of materials and sites that constitute my working materials and practices now.

I feel fairly confident that the material included on the blog under the sketchbook tag gives a good view over both range and depth of my working process.

Furthermore, there are extensive visual and textual notes assembled in Photos, evernote,  and sketchbook and FB, these in themselves also form small series and investigations, I haven’t pulled them together for this assignment (as I didn’t do with the moving image materials, part of which I presented as various PKs for small group crits) — I feel this material is there, it’s productive and needs some investigation.

I also have fairly extended notes on evernote for each project/enquiry of BoW. For my lens-based materials, I have been using Photos rather than Lightroom as catalogue. I only work with Lr or Ps at the point of post-processing.

Screenshot 2019-12-16 at 12.04.27

Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.13.05Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.11.39Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.11.25

4. Critical reflections and linking to Research questions

For Research 2 and now for BoW 3 I revisited the concept map for the overall project, the questions around my theme have been tested to a considerable extent and are to be developed further beyond the next BoW assignment. This material will then in turn provide the research material and data for Res 3.

img_1311

Furthermore, I created for Research 2 a list of items for a glossary:

Screenshot 2019-10-26 at 21.06.07

In reviewing for this submission the materials and processes that are gathering, I begin to have a strong sense of the questions this work investigates and drawings that it produces.

The themes for these will be more fully investigated as part of Research 3 and 4, but I want to list them here now:

  • material and register shifts (between and across analogue and digital);
  • smallness of things;
  • peripheral (vision)*;
  • moving-with as the process;
  • and near space.

 

As part of this submission I am asked to outline ambitions and work plan for the remainder of BoW. This post attempts to do so.

Finally, this post reflects on the submitted assignment.

 

Ambition/ Onwards (as part of BoW 3)

I am in the middle of things and things are good. Turning seriously towards BoW and not worrying too much about Research a couple of months ago was a good decision and definitely addressed some of my concerns around Level 3.

For the past fortnight I have begun to draw together the various strands of work that are part of BoW 3 and effectively present a live and ongoing research lab. They are not completed, and this is what is keeping me from closing and submitting the next assignment. I am confident I have plenty of work that works and that supports my aims with this Body of Work. I feel also really strongly the pull to keep folding onwards.

So, the coursework wants a review of my ambition and workplan for the remaining two assignments. I am a bit hesitant to do that in a detailed way but, I want to use this post to articulate that what I already know about the BoW and want I want to aim for until the conclusion of the module.

My plan is to complete Research and Body of Work in early summer, ready for submission for the November assessment; and to complete SYP for the March 2021 assessment event.

I would first and foremost want this work to exist in a variegated, expanded form that holds both in analogue and digital a series of investigations into the constitution of near space in the context of drawing/ contact. With drawing/contact I identify medium (expanded field of drawing) and modality (small-scale, intimate, interested in the relational constitution of such spaces).

There are five themes that unpack from this aim:

  • material and register shifts (between and across analogue and digital);
  • smallness of things;
  • peripheral (vision)*;
  • moving-with as the process;
  • and near space.

I reviewed the state of BoW before submitting Res 2 in late October, and updated and expanded this for this current submission.

*I add as fifth, and yet: maybe it sits below; it also isn’t entirely about vision: it’s about position and relationship between things, possibly the point at which a heuristic device (this time: perspective in vision) is unravelled as that: a device, a construct, while the actual experience is a different one.

Some of the work has by now a clear sense of form to it (notably: the MF images of verge/weed); others have emerging and shifting formats (two participatory projects involving zine-type exchanges, Kaleidoscope and Die Luke (Hatch)); the Herz/Stein flicker/process books; and the earlier events around drawing/contacts have a series of expressions also. Besides this, a whole number of objects and processes begun to emerge that are ready to become part of something larger.

I have also begun to explore the forms and formats of assemblage, holding form for the overall form (and would like to make this part of the discussion for the tutorial of BoW 3).

I am not submitting a revised concept map for BoW but on revisiting the version from July 2019, I discover that I am right at the centre of exploring the substantive question on the right hand side of the map and have a series of processes and projects that fill in the medium/ format questions of the top left. I hadn’t revisited the map for some time and it was exciting to see just how far the enquiry is live and maturing (and will be the subject of Research 3).

I have begun to investigate more seriously the idea of material and register shifts and want to expand this further to include also:

  • MF imagery in b/w
  • typewriter
  • more considered photocopier drawings from sketchbooks etc.
  • Kaleidoscope and Die Luke as participatory/ performative events
  • possibly a group performance/event
  • a series of drawings at different scales originating from d/c events
  • excel spreadsheets and relational tables in GIS (to articulate across geographical spaces and sketchbooks, written formats)
  • any on-site/ locational means of linking geographical spaces and digital means?

– The last two of these already concern the wider question of presentational form and the connections/ relationships between different spatial constructs on/offline and what happens in their production.

These then also relate to the attempt to explore the role of dream and/or utopian spaces in this work.

Quite a few of these directly link to Research and most of the investigations that I undertake in BoW are directly relevant to how the empirical part of Research is constituted.

The medium/ form question that possibly sits most across the two modules is the role of writing/ listing/ annotating as medium. There is a whole set of notes and some more developed pieces of short writing that I consider part of BoW but they also can become part of Research (notably, the discussions of satellite objects of the dissertation, the role of the glossary, an appendix or similar are relevant here)

towards BoW (3): synthesis

While most of my research takes place elsewhere (again), I am now beginning to pull together the materials from BoW and Research.

The plan is to submit Research 2 before BoW 3. In order to do so, however, I am seeking an inventory of BoW and my investigations that followed from the previous tutorial in late July.

The tasks back then for BoW were as follows:

What is near space, moving-with and drawing/contact
>> testing my assumptions and links
what constitutes source material?
what is contact?
what is small and insignificant?
what is the translation/transfer between media
what is the sensorial?
what is the relationship?
The one of these that has been following me most, is the question of small and insignificant. It sits primarily as criticism of my approach to this project and it returned at every turn. Over the past fortnight, while testing one performative angle I think I finally got hold of it a little better and it became a thing to feed back into the process.
So, let me review and assemble the various investigations for this work and then conclude Res 2, then followed by BoW 3.
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