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?