conference proposal: the gap and office furniture

I have submitted the following to the stream on productive gaps for the annual conference of the Society for Artistic Research:

Casual gaps among office furniture: drawing, teaching and seeking (beyond) the institution
The object at the centre of this contribution is a pair of metal filing cabinets situated in an institutional office space. More precisely, the investigation started with the shadow space between these two cabinets, with one leaning slightly towards the other. The gap, as a project, presented the first of a series of investigations into an institutional space (corridor, offices, the grounds below). Over a year or so it was conducted within two modalities: at first as researcher/ interloper; second as fixed-term member of academic staff. Was I, the researcher, still an interloper on a teaching contract?
A series of related works explored not only an expanded field of drawing (via photocopier, manuals, site-specific interventions and temporary performances) but also kept returning to the gap of the filing cabinet to ask what was and could be in that void and in that leaning gesture from one to the other.
As focus for this contribution I would like to map a series of movements concerning contemporary possibilities of institutionalspace, positionality and critique:
  • observing and drawing the spaces within and beyond the office and corridor: on the continued possibility of other spaces
  • as former and current researcher and artist in human geography; as part-time teaching assistant in the institutional space; as final year student for an undergraduate degree in Creative Arts.
  • the possibility of institutional critique in critical institutional spaces
In doing so, this talk proposes an input that at once seeks to open up the gap productively: as starting point and as practice for an expanded field of drawing and institutional critiques that attend both to the presence of contemporary work within the institution and the possibility for other spaces among the office furniture (see as part of these discussions e.g. David 2017,  Sawdon & Marshall eds 2015, Vishmidt 2017).
The filing cabinets have remained unused throughout this period.
— it of course relates to the overall module/ parallel project of Drawing 2 and specifically to the gap as the first assignment.

transitions from there to here (1)

Moving from the end of Drawing 2 and towards Research/Body of Work has been swift — D2 was completed and submitted for assessment considerably earlier than planned; and it was ready to be done so.

This also means that from early Summer onwards thoughts and ideas were beginning to form around Level 3 and its focus — most of these are methodological: the how that connects the what. Yet, there is also a set of themes and enquiries that I did not pursue with Drawing 2.

The parallel project did become a video right at the end, and one thats plays with the actual framing of the work: is the instruction an instruction or part of the work itself? where is the actual space/ site of the work and who is part of it:

Initially, however, the moving image work that I was intent on producing would take the corridor itself far more as site and actually engage with it visually and performatively further than what Parallel Praxis does (in PP, the corridor mainly exists in sound: the movement noises of passing through it, doors opening and closing and my narrating of it).

The early impulse for the corridor were a series of popular culture references — some gothic, some horror, which followed from this early study of the boundary between corridor and office:

The references were in part from the American Horror Story anthology (Asylum, Murder House and Hotel in particular); as well as of course this:

 

Throughout Drawing 2, I investigated various means to visually work with the space of the corridor, to draw, film, sound it out — the problem of presence and visibility remained. Early on, my tutor and I discussed means by which to set up an enquiry elsewhere: to treat it like a residency elsewhere, not as the space that I actually encroach on, seek my own legitimacy. This issue would resurface in various ways and eventually, for Assignment 3 (Green (Did I work hard enough)) lead to my departure from the space towards one green space and then another still.

The second means of working with the corridor would of course be in fiction, imagination, fantasy: to pursue a series of strategies in which the corridor mainly is a reference point, a marker from which a series of investigation spiral outwards. I was seeking such an approach early on, but know from experience too that most of my investigations tend to follow on, hold on to, notions of the real, an actual observation, experience for a rather long time before an opening towards a fiction of these emerges. So, during Drawing 2 that fictitious corridor did not exist.

However, right at the end of the module, through Assignment 5 m(e)use|use me, it begun to present itself: the box/artist book of 12 prints crumpled up that traced a year with the corridor pursued visually and performatively an opening out towards an other space, another presence of the corridor.

— In m(e)use, the corridor becomes a handling collection: invisible, yet present, and as the pages are unfolded, they link towards the corridor itself, operate clearly as representation and an object in their own right. Many of the photographs themselves operate as optical illusions, or perhaps, better: as attempts to seek alternative spatial configurations, constellations; to open out: forward, elsewhere; to offer alternative readings, practices and presences.

 

statement of intent

— I adapt from my final course reflection note for the Drawing 2 assessment and sent this as my statement of intent for Level 3.

Statement of intent for Level 3

I would like to continue at the point where my recent module, Drawing 2 concluded (and am for this statement drawing on my earlier self-assessment with some reworking and expanding for what may lie ahead). The final projects (m(e)use|use me; the Hornet Tree, the Critical Review on an expanded field of drawing) as well as the realisation to the Parallel Project, Parallel Praxis, all begun to articulate a notion and practice of drawing in an expanded, interdisciplinary field. Here, drawing emerges as a set of enquiries, methods and processes in which performance, photography, writing, installation and more traditional drawing processes interact and mutually inform each other.

The parallel project indeed relates and looks back to the previous module itself, it reorganises the materials and lets them become something else still. The video is not merely a narration, an instruction; I begun to include the key clips – visual, and also found sound recordings – in the work to author it and let it unfold. In this sense, it draws on a number of senses and sensations, and indeed revolves around an exploration of a body (mine) as drawing tool, investigating the reaches of what constitutes an extended field of drawing. It speaks out of the screen to ask the viewer to engage directly with some other materials. With this, it resonates with both Joan Jonas’s and Katrina Palmers’s work: they engage, performatively, and in doing so make visible and audible that engagement between artist and audience, viewer, reader, interlocutor. Will it work? Does it fail? What happens instead? In this parallel project, there is a literal voice – mine – and in its clarity it also helps to articulate all those other voices that are involved in my art-making, an art-making  that is visual, textual, increasingly dares to be performative; it takes in things I learned before: critical social theory; dialectics; a body/dreamwork coaching and counselling training; a dissatisfaction with academic publishing; a keenness on finding those other spaces and places that are never entirely utopian but offer a hunch, a first step from here to there.

Besides the actual projects that constitute the body of work of Drawing 2, there is something also in the tools that I used and which for the assessment submission refigured as a portfolio without large sheets of paper but instead a series of folders and pouches that relate and point towards some of the digital parts (FB albums, e.g.). This process of working with materials that are common, and in some ways mimic office work processes was important and I feel it may also structure some of my future enquiries. It also deepened my engagement with a movement between digital and analogue (continuing from DI&C). It also continues with questions over what constitutes site, audience, work > explored in different ways and always with an exploration of this movement digital/analogue (initially: gap, agency, control (generative systems, drawing machines); then: what constitutes drawing; the kind of tools: office tools).

The issues with regards to voice/ themes and practice that clarified during this final Level 2 module were:

  • humour and how I instigate processes that allow me to arrive at resolved pieces
  • the relationship to conceptual and intellectual concerns (institutional critique, production of space)
  • working across a range of media/approaches and finding ways to integrate them with each other and use that integration in innovative ways (photography, writing, performance, drawing)

It is then on the basis of these emerging working practices, conceptual concerns and emerging clarity and articulation of voice that I would like to approach Level 3. I do not at the moment have a clear theme or project or site in mind but rather would like to pursue and clarify the approach towards an embodied, sensorial and expanded field of drawing as artistic practice. There are a number of technical skills and approaches I am interested in: moving image/ video (possibly even 16mm film); darkroom techniques; screenprinting; performance; but none of these are fixed and I trust that the suitability of any of these will emerge in relation to the actual projects. Similarly, I am very interested in pursuing further my investigations into sites (interior/exterior) as well as movement between these. It may make sense to prepare and arrange for an actual site to serve as a field site for the Body of Work (and thus move it out of ongoing work arrangements).

There are a number of themes which are geographical, environmental that keep concerning me and they possibly should have a place within this project (as well as in more academic writing/ research practices):

  • there is a continuous theme running throughout which concerns questions over copy, reproduction, repetition and difference, and, as it becomes clear in the later part of the module, this concerns both the surface, the background of the actual artwork as well as that it stretches beyond and outwards from it: what kind of space do we perceive, live, practice?
  • a further articulation of what these pieces say to each other and beyond towards a potentially much larger exploration around space, performance, the sensorial, interdisciplinarity and institutional critique

My intention for the timeline for Level 3 is relatively focussed: I would like to conclude the majority of it by the end of 2019, with the aim to exhibit (or suitable alternative) early in 2020. My reasoning for this to a good part revolves around the Research element: I am actively writing through academic material around earlier projects and have the sense that a 5k word dissertation should, once the theme and direction is clear, be a fairly focused endeavour for me.

Examples of current work:

The line (Digital Image and Culture):

https://the———————–line.tumblr.com

Learning log post: https://digitalimageandculturegh.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/assignment-5-the-line/

The Gap

Documentation and learning log post and final:

https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/assignment-1-the-gap/

The hornet tree

https://vimeo.com/283649423

Learning log post: https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/assignment-submission-4-hornet-tree/

m(e)use | use me

Documentation and learning log post: https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/2018/09/18/assignment-5-meuse/

Parallel praxis

https://vimeo.com/292210412

Learning log post:

https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/parallel-praxis-the-parallel-project/