Research 2: tutor report

Here the notes about the second Research tutorial (the submission material and reflection are in these posts).

The tutorial started with and addressed some of the concerns I had about the research module, usefully at a point when I practically had also moved to resolve the frustrations by making work.

I include the key substantive points of the discussion here, there full report is attached.

The glossary: satellite objects
From this we quickly turned towards the glossary as vehicle and the field it opens out and up. So, the glossary in its terms but also in how it potentially relates to the visual material offers an important and exciting route into exploring nearness, distance and contact. At the same time, the glossary is (at least initially) additional to the academic text of the dissertation, is an appendix.
Rachel begun talking about it as satellite objects to the dissertation text and to then use the requirements of the dissertation to facilitate a (written) ‘body of work’ that consists of a series of other objects. This would at once fulfil the rules, address the institutional requirements but also allow to break them.
In doing so it also at once, exhibits some of the key methodology of the whole work itself: of how to pull things close and also let them go or push them away.
We talked about Laure Prouvost’s Legsicon, Katrina Palmer’s Endmatter and how there are a variety of ways of how my different materials can become a glossary, including the photos, links to texts and other things.
Rachel then mentioned Janet Cardiff’s audio walks (on entirely different subject matter) for the work to be encountered within and outside the gallery.

Relational tables within GIS and the links between analogue/digital
The second main substantive part of the tutorial concerned a meeting I had the day before with a Geography colleague of mine who works with GIS as artistic practice. I had asked to meet with him to consider some of the issues around site, on/offline and connectedness/ fragmentation within the various emerging strands of my BoW. He suggested to explore two things: the relational tables in which GIS stores hierarchical information and thus reorders/ categorises space; and secondly, to explore the ways in which one can draw within an Excel spreadsheet.
I have added the reference and link at the end
I mentioned the usual, fairly straightforward applications of siting and fixing narrative and event within GPS coordinates and that I raised my interest in indexicality (within lens-based practices, but more so around e.g. the work of Anna Barribal) as possibly a better way to explore the connections across (possibly also to consider fleetingness, and the concerns about drawing/contact, in ways the fixing/siting doesn’t generally allow for).

Diagramming my work and its relevant literature
The one thing Rachel would have liked to have seen in my submission are some diagrams about literature and themes. And I realised that, while I have the diagrams about the BoW, the substantive themes, I haven’t expanded these to include the contextual/research work. AP: to do this as part of Research 3
Here, and at other points, the tutorial was inspiring as at times it seemed it provided itself a methodology of how to move within this particular enquiry and the relevant media forms. Rachel mentioned the significance of exploring hybridity and how important it is as contemporary feminist practice of enquiry, and how in turn it then brings with it the difficulty of articulating within a contemporary arts context that still remains media-specific.

Gesa Helms 492645 Research A2

Assignment submission Research 2: a theoretical framework

This post presents my assignment submission for Research 2: a theoretical framework.

It consists of this PDF: Research Assignment 2 (with various links to earlier posts), outlining current status of creative work, a justification for theory and methodology as well as format, a literature review.

I wrote some reflections on this submission in an earlier post.

I am including the middle part: theory and methodology, and format in this post (and will likely fold forward the summary of creative process into another post).

Justification of theory, methodology, and format

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).

This section outlines reason and argument for theory and methodology as well as the form for the dissertation that follows the former.

Theory and methodology

Exploring contact and relationality in small, intimate, near, spaces positions this project foremost within contemporary and near-contemporary feminist concerns: over a body politic, the personal, care and relationality. The means in which these have been investigated in performance and video work of the 1960s onwards also investigate the materialities of such lived experiences and thus more recently lead towards concerns of a new materialism, post-humanism. In this, I am intent to keep the focus on bodily practices and gestures as starting point, and thus to maintain an interest in the signals and processes that constitute phenomenology (references: many, one that usefully articulates past and contemporary practices around relational aesthetics is Reckitt 2013).

At the same time, the subject matter is concerned with moving and shifting: of the unfolding of an event, a gesture, a relationship: what chain of actions take place to co-create drawing, contact and thus space in these small-scale encounters? It is possibly here that some of the contemporary theoretical articulations, originating with Deleuze/Guattari and being further articulated by Rosi Braidotti’s (2011) nomadism and others that concern the transversal, the translation. While not within the scope of this undergraduate dissertation, I nonetheless hope that this focus can point towards a form of practice which speaks to some of Friedrich Kittler’s (1999) media historical arguments concerning the shifts of possibilities and closure with each new media technology precipitated our understanding of not only ‘writing’ or ‘drawing’ or the ‘the visual’ but also constituted ourselves as subjects, bodily and haptically. Practically, this enquiry thus follows a series of movements and shifts across forms, sites and encounters (analogue and digitally) and seeks to examine closely the material processes at play in these movements.

An important aspect, already discernible in this and the earlier document for the module, concerns a question over there being a practical way (and a methodological/theoretical interest) in dealing with questions over divergence, excess and a porous and open practice (I have currently the sense that this relates also to the issues of smallness, fleetingness and absence, above). The form of a glossary (see below) explores a way of investigating this for the Research module (BoW has other forms and processes to pursue this concern, such as inventories in different forms, redundancy and iteration).

The methodology is primarily articulated and explored through the BoW: the concepts of near space and moving-with in a series of artistic propositions around drawing/contact. Here, A2 and A3 of BoW have so far been a considerable research laboratory to explore what these concepts can be within an expanded field of drawing. There is data collection as to the experiments and processes to test and explore to understand my concepts and what they do. – I intend to submit BoW 3 during November before investigating the material more fully for Research 3.

Format of dissertation

I seek to represent (and present) the above in a dissertation that sits between three of the identified forms: creative writing, auto-ethnographic and traditional.

This choice follows from both subject matter and theory/methodology to find a form that allows to mirror concerns over fragmentation, relationality, transversalism/nomadism; of the body/ the sensorial as significant means for sense-making; and thus to employ theory/auto-fiction as element.

The format of the essay will be a narrative framework which takes the text as an artistic proposition itself (as one means of enquiry), and in doing so possesses characteristics of a creative writing proposition. It does so within a context of auto-/self-writing (which is somewhat covered in the coursebook as reflective practice) as much as theory fiction (i.e., also touching on elements of what the coursebook calls traditional/research essay).

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walnut gravity support (drawing/contact performance)

Reflection on Research (2: Theoretical framework)

This post accompanies my submission for Research 2: Theoretical framework.

It’s been about five, almost six months since my previous and first assignment submission for Research. This current one contains an articulation of theory, methodology and form of essay, along with notes on the status of the practical work as well as a literature and resources review.

During those past months I was at times close of walking away from this degree and that is largely due to the nature of the Research module: I find it entirely repetitive, generating lots of material and yet not offering anything in a way of editing the material. Furthermore, it proposes processes of dissertation research which are almost entirely suited for a social science project and only barely make reference to artistic research. I see how it genuinely tries to be helpful in supporting students at this stage, yet the ways it does this: lots of activities, lots of angles, only poorly cohering (what is the relationship between the various bits of writing at ‘exercises’ and the final submission for each of the assignments??) — in this it appears prescriptive and thus entirely limiting: there is throughout a sense that planning takes the place of a creative practice, that constant articulation is the way to evidence one’s academic readiness and thus to pre-empt investigative and creative processes (I understand that part of this is again the limits of a distance-learning degree, another part is due to the wide range of practices coming together in Creative Arts, but the third part: to assume a step-by-step planning process ensures progression is counter-productive for at least half of the students, and a somewhat lazy administrative process currently so in favour in UK HE0.

The advice by my BoW tutor to disregard the coursebook(s) was given early (and in some way how I worked with earlier, similarly limiting coursebooks, notably: Drawing 1 and TAOP). Yet, at this stage this seems not helpful and in the absence of what else, it drops me into a void. — There are afaik five students on this pathway plus myself, three further along, two in earlier parts. Also, by doing two modules concurrently, the contact with each tutor seems distant and hardly present (both tutor and peer interactions were entirely different in Level 2, and these were both, along with two very good coursebooks, the reasons for me to continue).

— This means it takes considerable effort to articulate a way ahead with the dissertation module. I would like to make each stage useful to me and it took me several attempts to do that with the current submission.

At this stage, almost half-way through the current two modules I can see that BoW and the practice investigations drive and animate my work. That my work is theoretically informed and methodologically curious does not distract from the former. In the BoW tutorial in late July we discuss to use BoW 3 as experimentation and research stage: to investigate my key concepts and processes. I did this and this current Research submission is my first point of assembling and stopping to reflect on the content and process of the Creative Work and reflect it back to the initial Research Proposal. For this, the process to get this current submission ready involved the following:

[x]assemble the materials you have so far: create an inventory
[x]write-up of BoW and research within it
        (then check what you had written before)
        (this will form the overview for the ‘findings’ material for later on.)
[x]glossary as focus (Williams, Prouvost, Vourloumis, also: Wu Tsang)
[ ]key literature: expand and focus in from Res 1
So, effectively, much time was spent on assembling a review of the materials of BoW and to reflect back on what I had said a few months ago about the direction and content of this. I enjoyed this process, it was good to do and to reflect on what is possible to experiment with and notably, what remains difficult and fleeting. I also drew out three current investigations to explore the idea of near-space in performance/drawing and feel quite content with having found processes and materials to employ in this process.
My resistance to the Research course material arrives from the fact that I am well used to writing academic materials at an advanced level (for peer-reviewed journals, academic theses etc) — and for a 5k text I need about six weeks not the duration of the course. — I knew this before I started, and having just recently supervised 10k long social science dissertations has brought the difference of instruction to mind. In all this, I want the module and the dissertation to be useful to myself: there is stuff I want to learn in this field, in my writing and in my artistic practice. So, how can I realistically do that in the confines of the course?
The proposed format (creative writing + reflective + traditional, in the words of the coursebook; in my own words: auto-ethnography meets theory fiction meets methodology) is one way to hone and develop my articulation in this field; the investigation of an artistic research process around the themes identified another.
I have mainly resisted at this point to provide a literature review besides the one already included: I am currently working with notes and diagrams and images and reading and feel this is productive; I can write these through for the Draft of Research 4, but don’t want to get embroiled in a discussion over individual sentences in my materials.
Preparing this submission I discover the extent to which I am actually conducting research: the material I generate is of that nature and I am excited by this: it is at once a known process but also new as it concerns a different field, different form of enquiry and I am looking forward to the next stage of Research, the data collection.
I have included a number of links to the BoW material and remembered how useful I found the tutorial of Research 1 on the line, the resulting reading and the understanding of my research process and artistic practice.
The above is a comment on the course direction, it is not one on the tutorial process at all. I know that I can be quite literal with instructions and get frustrated by poor ones before stepping to the side and making them useful for myself. I hope that my submission will facilitate such process and I look forward to the tutorial.
My suggestion is to conduct both BoW 3 (almost ready) and 4 before submitting Research 3 (data) and Research 4 (draft) after that.
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Shop front cover and reflection, Karlkrona, September 2019

critical reflection: modality of BoW

Screenshot 2019-07-28 at 13.33.01
Detail of updated concept map for BoW (July 2019): modality/methodology

As material for the dissertation:

The process of shifting back and forth as the process of the Body of Work and how produces itself and links to the dissertation.
  • the gap pointed to it: what is opened up
  • the photocopier manual, (m)use me, and the parallel project present its practice
  • the line as practice to deal with the social subject matter (and so does: office at night; the corridor work and other green: contact, secrets, gossip)
Katrina Palmer’s Loss Adjuster is good for process and shift
Juliana Spahr’s Army of Lovers, Everyone connected, The transformation as container and focus on new materialism and relationality within
Bhanu Kapil as for fragmentation and moving between different materials.
Joan Jonas and Rosemarie Trockel for holding these togethers (perhaps some like Doris Salcedo too?)
Friedrich Kittler opened the door to this and should be at the heart as conceptual/ methodological question
The smallness and the unimportance as guiding question to judge vis-a-vis artistic canon.

How to trace this through the BoW:

Reworking the concept map from February made some of these processes clearer: what is the how and the what: I had discussed as key outcome/ process a series of performance formats (solo; 1:1; and group) but wonder if that is the process really and if the process is not a tracing, following, pursuing of material shifts and registers; and that performance (through the inclusion of others, and a focus on the body) is merely a format that facilitates that.
In June I collated a few thoughts as to material contact:
clay experiments (following the Bleakeley performance)
darkroom and contact printing
screenprinting again
then: in the sketchbook:
  • the transferral of marks to the next page,
  • the pick up of graphite on previous pages
  • see through/ fold
  • (it is again processes that have intrigued me for a long time; possibly it is the link to indexicality again here that also concerns the interest in the ‘contact’ concern for the wider project)
  • most actual drawings in the sketchbook are 10-15mins pieces while on the bus: layering fleeting views on top of each other, repeating and reworking. I did 12-15 of these over four journeys. They are not about indexicality. Yet, in some sense I feel they are relevant in terms of the drawing marks and in terms of what is connected through the moving through?
I also think the drawing on top of templates/copies is part of this too, and so is much around photocopying; and indeed the work with the typewriter in late March.
As in D2 I find a hesitancy towards material processes, as if they sidetrack me too much. I don’t think that I don’t experiment enough (which was one of the discussions over the material processes in D2), but I think I struggle to explicate or name what I am experimenting with.
As plan for Part 3 I want to focus on the processes themselves and pursue a range of them to explore what kind of register shifts are occurring (and, so my thought: are constitutive of the near space, the contact).

near space as concept (tracings)

near space as concept:

the gap as source – copying – remaking the gap – mapping/reinstalling (not) – talking about it – writing endings – performing it. letting it be.

the corridor – walking it – recording it – sitting next to – intervening in it – re-orientating it – working in it. leaving it.

other space – the gap as opening – utopian space in the office – world-making – tracing the corridor. dreaming the spot that opens up and out.

the island.

the line to the car park.

update/catch-up

— I have been busy. I also have been recording things that I have done and will move more of them here to the sketchbook and write up as relevant parts to coursework.

A couple of days ago was the already postponed submission date for the BoW 2/ Gather and manifest. I let it pass: I had thought of pulling things together but also felt that the more dialogical/public/relational aspects of it still needed further pushing about.

What I have been busy with was a series of writing/publishing projects. And in that process, I also considered Research further and how to proceed with it. I will rejig it and step further away from the coursework. I wrote (as I know I do) about 5k on the line for the conference publication within a few weeks. The piecemeal leading towards the dissertation doesn’t work for me, I find I am picking arguments with it (and that is only productive in a certain extent). So, I think I will set a series of writing tasks/ projects as equivalent to the module stages and take it from there.

I am also thinking about the idea of defining down and focusing in as discussed in the last tutorial (the report of which will go up after this post, I had it for several weeks — it is here). I think I am really not interested in defining things down — it goes back to the interesting discussion Rachel and I had about ambiguity. So much of what my writing and focus has been over the past few years is an opening out, a holding in tension, and linking to — and I don’t mean with that a ‘more, more’ or just any old stuff, but a rather careful and measured approach towards what elsewhere is considered emergence, or even some of the nomadic theory of Braidotti will hold a hand towards this approach. So, the idea of a glossary for the dissertation is a really good one, but what if it works more like Raymond Williams’s Keywords: a link, emergence, a holding in tension, not an undue tightening down?

I think I will explore this further and am reminded of the pieces of writing that I recently got sent (let me post and link these two.).

Research A1: tutor report.

This is a few weeks old, we had our meeting in early May, and the report got finalised soon after.

The notes are written by myself, a short addition at the end okays them and adds relevant references.

It is good to reread this now: I took serious and onwards the discussion around the line as old/new work and how that articulates towards BoW but also R. I have some further thoughts re the glossary and how it can function in the current update here.

Here are the notes on the existing/new work discussion:

Reviewing work and when does the work become a new piece?

I had uploaded a short post on the line (final work for DI&C, which I am currently working with in order to turn into two different formats), and wanted to discuss: – what in this concerns actually a new work? Are e.g., the different conceptions of the work in relationship to its audience constitutive of a new object? What is in this in relation to academic working practices (institutional critique, specific forms of artistic practice) that are relevant and can be insightful for BoW (and Research). Rachel encourages me to reflect on

(a) what has already been done and achieved in DI&C
(b) what am I looking to do now, new?

And, that part of this process, I am unpicking the methodology of the line to help it inform how I proceed: in terms of space, nearness, performance and relationality. I also raise that the previous form had very little interest in its audience, which now moves to the fore. Rachel advised to be clear about the above and to make a well-informed argument so that I am confident I am not self-plagiarising.

AP: a blog post that reflects on the above and articulate it forward.

This discussion also involves my interest and experiences in academic practices while being eager to avoid the work falling into earlier approaches (i.e., to ensure I am not writing a Human Geography dissertation or PhD but one that approaches the material from within a Creative Arts practice); the question of making the conference presentation and text part of the modules or not was informed by this also, and I have a good sense of how the work (and the new work that builds on the line can contribute to this while being qualitatively new to the DI&C material and also presenting an artistic practice that informs BoW/Research)

We discuss the line and The gap in detail and I realise they share a number of aspects: as concepts that allow me to explore agency, movement, transgression, reveal/conceal. There is in both (more so in the line) an element of excess, overwhelm and I recognise this (positively: abundance, potentiality) as an element where I am seeking a particular sensation in the encounter and to transmit that sensation. It will be good to get a better handle on this (to gain a bit more fluidity in navigating it. [this characteristic is also in my writing, in how I bound/delimit a topic (or not) and what I raise implicitly, allude to].

 

The whole report is in this document. It is accompanied by an annotated copy of my initial research proposal (which I am not uploading). Gesa Helms 492645 A1

Critical Reflection after Res A1

— the tab critical reflection acts as the hinge between the two courses (I have one here, as well as a private one as an evernote folder).

The research proposal is written, thought a fair bit longer than asked for (and it still only reviews key work/resources in 250 words).

I must admit the uncertainty over the relationship of requested tasks (what and how to review, write out, clarify, clarify further) and my own plans seems confusing still: I end up with a far too wide field when I pursue the instructions. It is generative of a lot of text and then wants a very brief text only. (I have no problem with the questions and tasks it asks: the reviews are useful; I think there is struggle is that the text is rather prescriptive in pursuit but offers no tools to tighten and focus: the proposal wants five themes addressed in 1000 words).

I have seen and reviewed a fair bit of work: live performances in different registers; I watched a series of films too and explored their cinematography, script and framing devices; I have read key pieces of fiction writing that I identified as key for my interests and a fair amount of academic work too. Attending the SAR conference mid-March was really important: both to test out my own work (though any feedback was largely self-derived and little came forward from audience) but also to see where my work relates to and can be situated within. I wrote a couple of these up on the blog, but there are a few other artists still key to what has influenced my thinking about performance, intimacy, site and drawing. I have also had my proposition to move the line from online video work to photo essay and to consider its methodology as walking methodology accepted for a conference in Northern Greece (Walking Arts Network).

While during A1 of BoW I was still exploring the extent to which I move anything that sits closer to academic involvements as actively a part of BoW (conference presentations, the concept maps etc), I have stepped somewhat away from this: I feel it would crowd out any visual/performative enquiries and enforce too much of an academic modality on these. I think this move will free BoW, possibly can be altered for SYP. It will however also mean that some of my current commitments in Spring and early Summer will sit additionally to the course work, likely slowing the coursework down.

What I have arrived at with the articulation of the research proposal is a clear sense of what BoW consists of as a work programme (a series of performances in different registers, audience/participant compositions); I have also settled on a focus for the Research: the concept that I currently call near space, that I seek to investigate in contemporary performance/ drawing practice; which investigates some key themes for BoW: relationality, presence/absence and site. This feels important and useful and allows a focus that fits and can be refined further.

What follows below is a series of answers to some preliminary questions in Part 1 of Research, I will keep them here for future reference.

Reviewing your creative work

You’ve got two subject specialisms and two Level 3 courses (for now at least) and somehow you need to find a way to bring them all together as a coherent body of work. Think about the creative work you’re doing for Body of Work first.
1. Look back over the work you’ve just submitted to your tutor, consider their feedback and implement any changes that would improve the work. Now look at the work you’ve created so far for Body of Work and consider how it can relate to the work you’ll create in this course and vice versa. Identify a variety of ways in which the creative and written projects can interlink. Record your thoughts and explore a range of options. Will your creative work drive your written work or will it be the other way round? It doesn’t matter which it is, provided you are working to your strengths from each subject area.
  • I thinks the weighting is going to fairly equal: one informs the others and vice versa, I don’t want R to drive BoW, realistically, BoW will always be strongly informed by R; so 50:50 is a good aim
  • I don’t want BoW too be too intellectual, solely focused on academic means of interdisciplinarity: I had started to think about some of the hybrid forms between PPTs, diagrams and performative lectures but I don’t find this satisfying enough: it seems more of an institutional critique (and too trying, derivative a form for me to focus on solely). I will thus also not fold the talks at SAR or in Prespes into BoW but set them up as testing grounds for forms of R (and test the materials and how they can fold into other media formats).
  • Yet, what I had started to discuss as hybridity is important, and I think the works of HJ Giles and M Bleakley point towards something that then in Jones/ Heathfield eds 2012 is further explored: the performative as viral, activated in different forms and in different instantiations (their focus is strongly on history/memory but bears much significance to the questions that animate me).
  • I would like to use BoW as a lab/ experimentation ground for R and to use R to formulate questions/enquiries and then study/contextualise/push further the questions that BoW present as findings.
2. Now think about resources. Can any of the resources you’ve identified in Exercise 3 help you with your creative work? Make a plan of action for accessing these resources. Will you need to visit a specific location, collection, exhibition, practitioner, design group, artist collaboration, performance, installation, recital, reading or conference? Can you access a record of these resources online?
  • I am not so worried about particular resources and access just yet: most of what I identify is writing/ artworks for artists that are reasonably well documents/ accessible. This may change though and I started to attend to conferences, exhibitions and performances coming up. My plan is to see a reasonable amount of live performances (both live art/theatre but also more artistic) over the duration of the final modules to get a good sense of what is going on (and am well placed for this in Glasgow/Edinburgh)
  • I would like to set up/ test out my own materials/ processes fairly soon though: I am thinking of either a reading group, 1:1 private performances/meetings with artist colleagues, later some workshop/ more public settings >> I am not sure if this will create material for BoW or inform the R (perhaps it will do both)
Now identify what you’d like to achieve from your creative work in Body of Work and think how you could use your research project to help you achieve some of these goals
    Write down answers to the following questions:
  • I want to consolidate skills in …
    • performance and interdisciplinary work
    • drawing as in relation to the above and an expanded field
    • conceptual art making that attends to the phenomenological and the sensorial
  • I want to produce …
    • a body of work that speaks to my concern
    • a body of work that offers multiple entry and exit points as well as routes through
    • a body of work that uses a range of approaches that originate within photography and drawing and move beyond these in an interdisciplinary field
    • a body of work that is effective with time/space (duration, pace, rhythm, site, place and space and ourselves within it)
  • I want to promote my work to …
    • be recognised locally both for my academic/ facilitation work as well as contemporary art practice
    • be able to navigate art contexts further afield (UK, but also NL, DE) primarily through this BoW and an effective link to my Geog/facilitation self
  • I want to refine …
    • my understanding of an expanded field and contemporary performance approaches
    • an entry and presence around geographical debates within arts and a potential contribution
    • the analogue/digital
  • I want to explore …
    • intimate performance modalities (1:1)
    • the potential for solo performance
    • the role of audiences (present/absent, near/far)
    • moving registers across media forms (Jones/Heathfield)
  • I want to prove that …
    • production of space happens in intimacy/body-oriented performances; and discover more about the kind of space being produced in this
    • these spaces contain the potential to be utopian
    • and that they provide easy and accessible links to our understanding of drawing
  • I want to involve …
    • my self, my fear, my apprehension
    • my joy and laughter too
    • colleagues and strangers
    • earlier performances
    • writers and authors
  • I want to integrate …
    • most of the above works towards such aim.

 

Research A1: dissertation proposal

this post concludes assignment 1 of Research with the dissertation proposal. The work leading up to this is a set of questions and exchange with my tutor prior to this draft.

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

Research proposal for Creative Arts, Research
Gesa Helms | #492645
27 April 2019

This dissertation proposal seeks to support my Body of Work drawing/contact with an investigation into the kinds of relational spaces that are created in an expanded field of drawing. Here it begins with drawing as a performative practice and in turn seeks to understand performance as a drawing practice. If performance is centred on the body of the performer within a specific unfolding time frame – a presence, can we then be curious about the kinds of spaces this is productive of: relationally, sensorially and materially?

That such spaces exist in the present time also indicates that they may be past or anticipated, have a memory, an excess as well as an absence (performance art in art history presents precisely this dilemma). Jones & Heathfield’s (2012) edited collection centres on these kinds of presences and absences created, asking also how these by implication draw in a whole range of other media – such as photography, writing, drawing, re-performance, video – to access the live performance positing an important concern regarding interdisciplinarity and shifts in form, register and media.

Centring on the body of the performer and the experiential foregrounds both the material (older and newer materialism) as well as the sensorial (likely accessed through phenomenological means).

The Research dissertation will attend to:

(a) existing practices that engage with this

(b) a set of enquiries/ research questions that are driven through these and animate the dissertation as well as BoW.

  • how do these writers inform my enquiry?
  • how does contemporary performance practice do so?
  • what is there about what constitutes the work: the shifting of medium, register, encounter: how do we make contact within this?
  • who is the audience? subject/object? author?

See the PDF for the full proposal, its links to BoW and relevant key texts and resources: Research Proposal A1 Near Space

 

Research A1: responses (and more thoughts) on the first preliminary questions

the coursework asks for a set of initial questions to be answered and sent to the tutor before proceeding to the Research proposal proper.

I received the responses a while ago, then completed A1 for BoW (which covered a fairly similar ground) and am now returning to the research proposal.

Rachel responded to the post here in a generous and helpful manner (I am leaving out a few procedural discussions from our exchange):

I think I can understand some of your frustration with linearity and literalness, and hope that you can hold onto your anxiety of being a good student as the linearity of research, practice, and study rarely happen as they are presented. For myself, this is part of my own practice research interest in the Deleuze and Guatarri’s rhizomatic interconnectedness, and also the entangled cut together-apart of new materialism. 

Trust that there will be moments of overlap as well as moments of separateness between the body of work and the research, and that though they will often develop as a hybrid, they will also be separated for clarity of explanation and academic format. 

The photographs of the mind maps and concept maps are great to demonstrate your thinking visually, though they are a little hard to read in places, (I imagine they are too large to scan?) 

I also wonder if the concept maps perhaps seem to relate more to your practice than the research concerns? I imagine if this is the case it is because, as you have identified, at this early stage things seem so closely interwoven? Mapping the theorists and writers as well as their concerns in amongst your own concepts as you start to plan the areas of interest for your written work will help you to keep tightening your approach and focus.

In your post, course instructions/literalness you write: 

the Research/ dissertation then underpins some of this a research form that can explore conceptual forms, moves and potentiality; I hope that it will concern ideas of production of space/ site; utopian forms of hybridity and how this relates to institutional critique’.

I think it will help you to write more about what you understand by these terms, and how you are intending on using some them to clarify your intentions for the research. Also try to use the writers/theorists you have included to help situate your research in more detail. It will also help to start to identify the specific texts you are interested in from the writers you identify in your list of resources. 

As you move into the next section before assignment 1 you will be able to spend some time honing your research question and what it will entail. This will help you to think about the focused direction of the research and how it will sit in relation to your body of work.

My response was as follows:

Hi Rachel — many thanks for sending this and for providing such thoughtful response. This is really helpful, also in how to differentiate out Research and BoW at this stage. Yes: you are right, the concept maps are largely about the BoW focus (and I assume the Research will then peel off and focus in on one area where theoretical/conceptual support for the BoW is required). Yes, I completely agree re the poor readability of the maps themselves: they are done in graphite on grey paper, are fairly large (60x100cm or so), and I will see if I want to transfer them for a different format.Thank you for picking out that one sentence — and I will spend some time unpacking this (part of it comes down to my geography shorthand; another part also possibly that I am finding a good way to deal with my previous academic work, without it letting drown out the artistic practice). 
I will spend the time between now and submission of A1 with clarifying/ focussing on some of the writing aspects and what line through the theory/argument I consider as fruitful (while attending to what I may want to keep as options); I am quite good at keeping on to my anxiety and will make a point to get round to Deleuze/Guatarri — my own work was a critical materialism (the left-section of the Frankfurt School, Alfred Schmidt, Horkheimer; then Foucault and Lefebvre), which never valued non-linearity all that much but had a good grasp of overall messiness and how internal relations of dialectics can help us engage with that societal mess. 

To take at this point:

  • the productiveness of anxiety: holding on to it to stay engage; not so much that it blocks you but it propels you on and forward
  • I value that she is doing a PhD and while I haven’t looked at Deleuze/Guattari, they have always been on my list and it will be good to become more involved.
  • the circularity and iteration of the process will be productive (I know how to do that and have employed that as strategy for some time)
  • there is a real sense of being able to bring in my previous academic work and feed it through the artistic processes without overwhelming them. this is really exciting and something I had hoped to achieve over the past few years (when I re-established an honorary affiliation with my old department in order to pursue precisely this).

R1: first responses for tutor

I have now written up and compiled a series of posts relating to the first questions of Research to be send to my tutor for a first feedback before proceeding to write the project proposal. This has taken longer than planned, part of the reasons for this lie I have written about in this post, here about literalness.

In this post, I compile links to the various posts (not in chronological but logical order as per coursebook) that contain responses to the questions about

1. Initial ideas (identification, review, strengths/weaknesses, concept mapping, further identification of interest)

2. Getting started (getting organised, time plan, habits, process): https://close-open.net/2019/02/06/r1-2-getting-started/

3. Identifying resources (reading list, skim read, gatekeepers): https://close-open.net/2019/02/06/r1-3-identifying-resources/

Alongside these posts I have a number of further handwritten notes, some of these scanned in here (they include a number of SWOT charts for individual projects, which aren’t written up further yet but I want to do that, as it was a comment during the progression discussion).

There are also a number of sketchbook entries that process these documents and notes further:

R1.1 Initial ideas (part 2)

I had started to post some of the concept maps which are part of this extensive part of first questions around ideas, review, mapping of existing work, theme, potential, weaknesses in an earlier post here, and now want to conclude this question with a reworked outline of my initial ideas. For this I referred to the statement of intent that formed the basis for the transition discussion in autumn (keeping its review and context and writing through ideas as they have emerged since then):

Initial Ideas and orientation

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).

In this, and as a first step into Body of Work I have begun to explore the notion of hybridity (is that interdisciplinarity?) within an expanded drawing practice. For this purpose, I have started a series of investigations that take the questions and processes of these initial steps in Assignment 1 and explore their scope for an artistic practice: created and transposing concept maps; guide books etc. Also: having submitted and accepted a conference talk at that Society of Artistic Research conference in late March in Zurich around the work of the Gap and its wider relevance, I have begun to (a) explore further routes around this work (a void, a gap between two filing cabinets as a starting point towards investigating relationship, distance, agency and control as well as notions of a gap between analogue and digital processes within an institutional setting) and (b) the notion of a conference talk as performance, instruction, screening and thus to enquire into this particular format and modality, which I hope will be instructive for the further development of both BoW and Research.

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 find these first respective assignment pointers for Research and BoW useful in relation to review and investigate existing work to date (and have kept a good part of such review as context for articulating my first moves within Research). I also find some of the overlap but fairly little actual integration confusing, and it took me a while to make sense of the individual exercises and questions and how they do/ not relate between the two modules. As both first assignments are strongly focussed on planning ahead and specifying approaches, means, literatures I find myself hesitating: while I have a clear sense of direction I am at this moment wary of specifying this too far in advance as I generally review and refine on the basis of some work already done and articulate e.g. theory/concept post-practice (to feed into a new cycle). With this in mind, I have spend considerable time with some of the questions, have also reviewed some of the Level 2 pieces in some detail; but crucially, started to do a series of new investigations and enquiries to allow me to test some thoughts, refine these build in these. 

The theme and interest is refined to some extent as for the Research to be an investigation into 

The site of Interdisciplinarity in Drawing Practice, 

and for the Body of Work a Theme of Significance being

Drawing/ Contact (Modality, Practice, Site)

With these two related themes, I 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).

Following the Concept Mapping (Q1.3), the most promising and salient themes that animate my interest are geographical and environmental following my investigations into the institutional corridor and an artistic practice that engages it: they concern site, direction, orientation, movement, exit; gaps, possibilities for other spaces that sit aside, elsewhere; and as such follow on from the Gap, Green and Parallel Praxis. Related to the production of space, these touch on questions of performance, the sensorial, institutional critique and the sensorial.

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?

R1.2: getting started

The second of the initial questions concerns how to get organised, timelines, writing/ creating habits etc. I focus on my workflow and present an initial timeline for both Research and BoW, with the view to complete both by the end of 2019.

Workflow and process

I generally work with a mix of Papers as referencing database and more recently Books for epub. Besides this, a number of books exist on my bookshelves or in the University of Glasgow library to which I have access.
For the past six months I have started to use Evernote as research and planning tool and will continue to do so:

  • A large notebook is simply titled [untitled album] L3 work, which contains clipping and thoughts
  • A more general album [day thoughts] contains wider, course unspecific information
  • I set up more specific notebooks and move across when it becomes relevant
  • I tend to draft my blog posts in Evernote, move relevant photos from Photos in here too, which also means photograph handwritten notes and add to digital ones
  • I test much of my writing and thinking in limited Facebook publics, that has worked over the past 2 years well and is a good way to gauge how particular concepts, thoughts and writing notes function.
  • Once these are relevant, concluded I write a blog post
  • I also started to treat a section of the blog as a sketchbook — this comes out of the circumstance that much of my sketching happens digital and I want to recorded (I would like see if I can have these in a side column, separate strand within the blog)

My general manuscript writing interface has been Word, for all the academic texts I have written as well as the Geography PhD. I have now started to explore Scrivener as a tool to help me write longer text and use InDesign for layout work. With Scrivener I am interested in the flexibility that it offers and want to try to use it for a couple of texts that I am working on and I think the dissertation if it becomes a written document may function within that (with Papers, Books, Evernote as research surfaces as well as handwritten notes; InDesign for typesetting). My thought re format however is that I may end up producing a hybrid moving image work which will contain different format, such as a lecture style recording, some slide show with commentary plus perhaps original moving image works and stills. — I will revisit this thought in Assignment 2.

Proposed time line for Research and Body of Work

Spend considerable time in Spring and Summer to work on BoW, in that time refine the focus for Research, write the bulk of Research towards the end of the Summer (if it is a standard written work) – i.e. A4

Can the actual research be in the form of a series of performances/ experiments — largely auto-ethnographic but also testing forms of dialogue, relational encounters that arise from and relate back to the BoW i.e., there is actual empirical research here that sits at a hybrid form and links directly to the questions in the BoW? 

[the summary diagram on p. 8 of the course handbook seems to assume that there is original research taking place, which in part can be secondary literature but that seems only one of several angles and approaches]
If this is so, I envisage to conduct this also over the summer (depending on site, audience/ participation, this may need to be timed more carefully)

Timeline for Research:

  • A1: end of March
  • A2: end of June
  • A3: mid-August
  • A4: end of October
  • A5: end of November

How does this relate to BoW in terms of schedule?

  • A1: end of February
  • A2: end of April
  • A3: end of July
  • A4: early October
  • A5: end of December

R1.3: Identifying resources

For the Research module, the first step is to send the responses to three sets of questions to my tutor, to get a response and on the basis of this to write a 1000 word research proposal which narrows down and refines the first 3 questions.

This is my first list of resources (Question 3), a brief note on how they relate and how to negotiate access (which may not be relevant to how the Research/dissertation will unfold).

For the actual submission of A1, a further refinement happens on the back of some initial feedback.

Exercise 3: Identify resources 

Search

Relevant artistic work

  • Joan Jonas
  • Drawing Ambiguity
  • Sophie Calle
  • Aperture / Performance
  • Amelia Jones et al (eds) 

Written work:

  • Juliana Spahr thisconnections, The Transformation
  • Bhanu Kapil
  • Chris Kraus
  • Katrina Palmer

Interdisciplinarity/ mutability and technology of form/process (possibly simply: methodology)

  • Hilevaara/Orley eds
  • Stephanie Springgay
  • Donna Haraway 
  • Kristin Ross/ Bini Adamczak
  • Friedrich Kittler

>> some of this also concerns: The body/ the sensorial: agency/ control and the post-human

Space, site (utopian, phenomenological)

  • Ursula LeGuin
  • Gordon Matta Clark
  • Noemie Goudal
  • Henri Lefebvre
  • Site as method: Lucy Lippard
  • Sarah Ahmed on orientation

     << many of these overlap and filter into other of these rough headings.


Skim read

Reading Springgay and co-authors and following up Cultural studies <-> Critical methodologies; I wonder if I can work through this material with an interest in methodology as artistic practice that operates interdisciplinarily. I.e., to take the doing of the BoW to enquire into the how and use this to open a space across the different media forms and possibly also explore how this space is utopian/ relates to the institution?
The gap as the opening, entry point for this. Hilevaara/Orley’s introduction and practice of folding as question and first marker.

Gatekeepers and other access

These seems to concern primary research for the dissertation more so than what I anticipate this piece of work to currently be: an academic discussion of existing literature and research that relates to my Body of Work. Yet: I can also see that it may make sense to identify either practitioners or researchers to contact; to possibly conduct some interviews, a focus group or similar. I will spend more time on these considerations when they arise.  Otherwise: access to library materials through UCA and UofG; to galleries and archives as they are publicly accessible or bookable by appointment.

course instructions/ literalness

Returning to my notes that I started to work through a series of initial exercises for Research, I see that I have done a lot of it already: mapping, tracing, evaluating, prospecting existing projects; what animates them and what they could turn into; how they speak to each other, to the disciplines they situate within and transcend; and how they speak about myself and my practice.

I map, I draw, I photograph; I go back to the gap and explore it further in extension, in negation, in translation; I seek and touch other spaces that sit off and aside the functional ones. I also begin to use the developmental course tools as site/ enquiry into artistic form.

I felt always really constrained by observation: I have no experience nor vision to draw and conceive of stuff that I can’t access experientially; I never attempted a graphic novel, e.g.. But over the past year I have found means to experientially move with the stuff that isn’t quite there. That is a huge revelation, it moves some of my facilitation/ coaching experience much closer to my practical artistic practice. It seems conceivable now.

In all this, I get flustered. I check the instructions in two coursebooks; they relate – kind of – to each other and yet they are different. I haven’t figured out their difference yet. I thought I had it when I started to produce new work: work that sits as hybrid between instruction, tool and art object. The maps thus move from instrumental form to potentiality – in a similar way as the Photocopier Manual did; as Parallel Praxis did as m(e)use | use me did. It seems expandable, workable as practice; and I begin to conceive of far more other forms – academic presentations – to become hybrid objects. (I of course know of the format of a performative lecture, yet: until now its experiential modality seemed alien to me; it seemed more of a naming convention than something inbetween).

What I get flustered with is the linearity of instruction which yet does not resolve. I realise at various points, and yet forget always again, that I am too literal. I try to follow the steps outlined and yet they don’t resolve for me. I want to be a good student and submit to the process but the process stands in my way. I am too literal. It is the literalness that I understand as culturally different–the reason why we are assumed to have no sense of humour. I remember the teasing that people who are close to me start to dare at one point or another once they hit upon that literalness, that naivety. I always recognise the emotional marker when I am being teased with it, it rarely registers otherwise: I still follow the instructions.

Yesterday morning I dare to write out which part of the instructions make no sense to me. I feel better. And yet: the Research and BoW themes don’t gel yet, I feel any differentiation between them is artificial and premature.

I go back to an early note about the theme of significance:

Three ideas (are maybe only one):
Body in movement (my body as drawing tool) >> starting theme for D2
Interdisciplinarity in Drawing practice >> the wider theme for the Critical Review (if the Jonas’ essay would have been 3500 words longer than what it was)
Production of space, the idea of reaching, touching a utopian spacetime aside the corridor (or, the latter intruding)

At night, I think about a project about touch, about contact

I think about the touch drawings, the pencils on long sticks that produce a nervous line while registering every stutter and stammer along the transmission from hand to paper surface.

It can include movement, the walking back and forth
It can include distance via digital circulation
It can include one to one performances

It is about private, about public,
Tenderness and violence 
Love and withholding.

— and I am certain it can also accommodate some institutional critique and a wide-open grassy field should I desire either.

From this, I propose:

the Body of Work: drawing / contact (modality, practice, site)

the Research: The site of interdisciplinarity in drawing practice

With these two related themes; BoW can explore all that is in the concept maps around Body as movement, Touch, Contact and Spatial Praxis: it will do so phenomenologically; I have the sense that theme can cover most of the quote above, while the Research/ dissertation then underpins some of this a research form that can explore conceptual forms, moves and potentiality; I hope that it will concern ideas of production of space/ site; utopian forms of hybridity and how this relates to institutional critique.

Both will likely become more narrow and yet it is a field, play ground laid out to start within, that picks up and relates all important things from before.

R1.1 concept maps: initial ideas (part 1)

This is the first set of exercises (from Research, but overlapping with Body of Work) to revisit significant projects, identify a theme of significance, and to begin mapping out a research proposal and workplan. I have done a number of these exercises before arriving at these concept maps, I will see which of them I will add to the blog in what form).

These are a mix between concept and mind map. each takes about an hour and i develop these over a few days. i map my previous projects into these. contact and touch overlap in small sections the issue of communication and technology is new to arise and good to see where it fits (Kittler but also of course the spacetimes of Le Guin).
there is an issue of wanting to move between concept and methodology: to create a hybrid form similar to what i started with parallel praxis, but this seems daring, uncharted, difficult as it again sits right to the edge of subject matter, discipline, definition

to add:

  • touch poems
  • Abramovic (and perhaps other things from my Techniques lecture)
  • intimacy
  • Juliana Spahr’s this connection of everyone with lungs

 

Drawing as contact zone as overall theme for body of work?

>> do some more maps; including spacetime but also perhaps to get a bit more concrete? i.e.: the three themes from earlier:


Body in movement (my body as drawing tool) >> which was starting theme for D2

  • done 29/12: it becomes a model more like and some movement is part of the mapping:
  • audience sits separate
  • body as tool becomes fool as body
  • this is more limited to the ones before but also more generative: it is open enough to make connections and point forward:
    • a moving body of work
    • mainly missing: site >> I added this to concept map: Spatial praxis
    • there are a series of modalities of works beginning to appear:
      • impro
      • instruction
    • when is the tool the drawing?
    • what role does the shadow play?
  • to add:
    • writing as contact?
    • flirt as contact // erotic charge

Interdisciplinarity in Drawing practice >> the wider theme for the CR >> map the CR onto a sheet of paper

  • what else has been added/ remained/ left in terms of interest?
  • does the focus on interdisciplinarity still hold interest to pursue further? the extended field? what touches and is in contact with whom and what else?
  • what would be a lack/ absence of contact? a gap?

Production of space, the idea of reaching, touching a utopian spacetime aside the corridor
i am mapping the corridor and all else. strangely, i can locate an exact spot where i fantasise about it simply opening out to one of Le Guin’s worlds. i will need to test it.this is the fourth map (after touch, contact, and body as movement) — i want to do two more, then i think i can write what it will bei also realise in which types of constructions the photographers i care about cluster; the writers (of sci-fi, new narrative and steamy surrealism); and then the performance/installation work. i hadn’t thought of Office at Night having an open and House (Stories) having a closed door, but it is a very fitting image, and so is the line which is in fact two, one more rigid, the other one increasingly porous; the gap and the greens sit on different planes: the former folds up and allows us to crawl into the dark space between the cabinets, the greens are a quick release lever being pulled and we rattle (unharmed) to ground level


Also: what about the confessional/ obsession… do you want to explore it a bit further at this time?