William Kentridge: Why I should hesitate at Deichtorhalle Hamburg

My first train travel in over nine months led me through HH and on the return I stopped and saw the first show since Shuvinai Ashoona’s Holding on to Universes at CCA Glasgow a couple of days before Lockdown 1.

I don’t linger too much around the earlier drawings and prints but enjoy the construction of viewing boxes and small rooms along with the studio space, the later hotel reception and the reading room.

I am sure I will have seen More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015), I thought it was a Documenta work but am corrected, so I am uncertain where I saw it. It, the scale of the relief prints that concern the Mediterranean refuge routes of the mid-2010s (Refugees (You Will Find No Other Seas), 2017), the work concerning the death of the African porters enlisted for the British war effort and subsequent silence (Porter Series 2005) are stunning and humbling, yes, I think that is the word.

The work is vast and serious about its sincerity and concern. I think that is what strikes me most with the scale of the print productions. And while I am often put off by large scale ambition, here I feel grateful for him affording the subject matter all that space and visibility (it enters a dialogue with my own questions of scale, encounter and engagement).

The work for the Istanbul Biennial a few years ago of Trotsky’s Hotel reception and the ghosts that would haunt that reception was sweet, funny and playful, I liked it a lot too (O Sentimental Machine 2015). The show almost ends with a large reading room and flower bouquets (Studio Flowers 2013) drawn in ink on found paper, each consisting of around 80 sheets pinned together. They framed a socially distanced reading room and library cabinet. That room worked for me so well and so did these drawings of such a quaint subject matter. Perhaps it was the earlier works that contextualised it and moved the flowers elsewhere?

Here a few images.

The exhibition site has many more videos, I am including a link to a digital symposium from Spring 2021:

Raumfaltung mit Le Guin

[spatial fold with Le Guin]

The dandelion heads

The blue cushion and the folded loop of eight,

The beheaded dog violets and the broom that is still a little almond-scented but mostly busy forming seed pods.

The half acorn mixing with my knee kind of anticipated the folded loop over a week ago,

There is repetition and recurrence of shapes and marks across the sheets that is vast and abundant.

The rabbit came and watched me for a little. I watched it in turn (and later we would meet again at the seashore one early morning).

There we sat for a moment.

Immersiveness (1) : faking it

I take these two yesterday afternoon. The first, the Douglas fir skywards an idea after a long series of not very successful ways of trying to get at that skywards patterning. The second, the larch (budded) is a motif I have similarly often revolved around, set up with the 5×4 pinhole camera, patiently waiting for the right light, the right view and what it looks from the other side, across the fence, from the meadow.

I send both in two whatsapp chats last night, one not looked at yet. As much as they are short playthings, they are also more, much more. Their scale and subject matter condensed, a response to my months of exploring and refusing immersiveness, of scale and ambition.

This morning I mention them too, along with: let me send them. I call them fakes as she reminds me in a chat message later. I barely retrace how I came to call them fake. But it is here: in the playful refusal of immersion, in the hint of seduction. They are sincere in their fakery all the same.

The skywards rotation was initially planned as having a different filter, a different pace, a loop, possibly a monochrome range too. I will explore these, but side by side, they also belong, perhaps: like so:

Immersion (fakery v1)

The spacing between (and probably that black too isn’t right but it’s a quick imovie work around… seeing them side by side is perhaps wrong too, they may be sequential and separate after all:

I need to send a reminder, like: do look at the videos. They are lush.

Nomadic thought and transversalism (research folder)

Research folder, expanding on this paragraph in Research dissertation:

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 and tactile it also asks wider questions concerning relationship and presence. These concerns around agency, voice and autonomy are informed by older materialisms (notably: a critical materialism of social praxis) and are curious about new materialisms and its rearticulations of the non/human subject (Marks 2002, Braidotti 2011, Springgay & Truman 2019, Hilevaara & Orley eds 2018).

(Helms, 2021, dissertation draft, 28 April 2021, Introduction)

(a) new materialism, non/human subjects: nomadism and transversalism.

In the draft I carry a different line around new materialisms and the human body with me for a while, Rosi Braidotti’s nomadism is dropped in but not explicated. It is the link to what before was the interest in hybridity (originating from that interdisciplinary conception of drawing), cyborgs and non/human agency.

For the dissertation text I am drawing the theory closer around Laura Marks and Stephanie Springgay and Sarah Truman, all else will largely go to research notes on here.

Nomadic subjects in Rosi Braidotti (2011) as a theory of subjectification for our times: feminist, materialist; furthermore, while informed by post-structuralism, she (and others) break with Lacan’s lack as key psycho-analytical feature but draw on Spinoza (via Deleuze/Guattari) to centre desire and the generative features arising thereof for such subjectification.

Figuration is key for Braidotti, there are also references to earlier publications by Laura Marks.

Here are a number of key points relevant for the dissertation (all Braidotti 2011, Nomadic Theory)

Key articulations of what nomadic thought/theory is concerned with:

“Conceptually, nomadic thought stresses the idea of embodiment and the embodied and embedded material structure of what we commonly call thinking. It is a materialism of the flesh that unifies mind and body in a new approach that blurs all boundaries. The embodiment of the mind and the embrainment of the body (Marks 1998) are a more apt formulation for nomadic thought than Cartesian or other forms of dualism. ” (Braidotti, 14)

“Nomadic thought rejects the psychoanalytic idea of repression and the negative definition of desire as lack inherited from Hegelian dialectics. It borrows instead from Spinoza a positive notion of desire as an ontological force of becoming. This achieves an important goal: it makes all thinking into an affirmative activity that aims at the production of concepts, precepts, and affects in the relational motion of approaching multiple others. Thinking is about tracing lines of flight and zigzagging patterns that undo dominant representations. Dynamic and outward bound, nomadic thought undoes the static authority of the past and redefines memory as the faculty that decodes residual traces of half-effaced presences; it retrieves archives of leftover sensations and accesses afterthoughts, flashbacks, and mnemonic traces.” (Braidotti, 15)

“Nomadic philosophy is the discursive practice with the highest degree of affinity to the mobility of intelligence: it is both physical, material, and yet speculative and ethereal. The dialogue itself is a movement of exchange between two consenting antagonists, such as friends, opponents, or traveling companions. ” (Braidotti, 16)

“It is particularly important not to confuse the process of nomadic subjectivity with individualism or particularity. Whereas identity is a bounded, ego-indexed habit of fixing and capitalizing on one’s selfhood, subjectivity is a socially mediated process of relations and negotiations with multiple others and with multilayered social structures.” (Braidotti, 17)

Nomadism in contrast to the flaneur’s gaze:

“Back in the metropolis, the ponderous yet lazy gaze of the nineteenth-century flaneurs theorized the art of walking as a leisurely literary stroll round town. This endowed the continental urban landscape with the mystery and seduction often reserved for faraway places—a domestic variation on the exotic. ” (Braidotti, 28)

Figuration is key for Braidotti, there are also references to earlier publications by Laura Marks.

“Figurations are ways of expressing different situated subject positions. A figuration renders the nonunitary image of a multilayered subject. Feminist theories since postmodernism demonstrated that the definition of identities takes place between the polarized duality of: nature/technology; male/ female; black/white—in the spaces that flow and connect in between. We live in permanent processes of transition, hybridization, and nomadization (…). And these in-between states and stages defy established modes of theoretical representation. The figuration of nomadic subjects, however, should never be taken as a new universal metaphor for the human or posthuman condition. As I argued in the companion volume, Nomadic Subjects (Braidotti, 2011), we need to provide, instead, accurate cartographies of the different politics of location for subjects-in-becoming.
A figuration is a living map, a transformative account of the self—it’s no metaphor. It fulfills the purpose of finding suitable situated locations to make the difference between different locations.” (Braidotti, 34f)

Tracing transversalism, which has been in my vocabulary for quite some time is a bit more difficult. The work from early 2000s+ by Gerald Raunig et al. sits closer towards institutional analysis, translation studies; and while informed by Deleuze/Guattari, it turns towards institutional critique rather than the subject, affect and non/human agency.

I have no access to my notes on Erin Manning’s Minor Gestures; nor Stefano Harney & Fred Moten’s Undercommons where much of this was explored and fed into my research/thinking around the Drawing 2 module.

Springgay & Truman’s Chapter 2 in Walking Methodology (2019) however assembles and outlines key lines and arguments: around trans theories and Braidotti’s (2006) transpositions that are ‘playing the positivity of difference’ (52), emphasising the non-linear and nomadic and that explore ‘regulated dissassociation’ of bond which are usually assumed cohesive.

<< these are the arguments that link to the BoW discussion around immersiveness vis-a-vis a notion of fragment, distance and detachment and a moving in and out of closeness and distance, i.e. how I draw on Marks’ erotic for the work).

So, for Springgay & Truman in this review of trans theories intensities and movements are key rather than fixed beings or things. They reference Abraham Weil (2017) on ‘entangled linkages, or transversality’ (53).

Furthermore, they mobilise Harney & Moten (2013) on ‘hapticality to think about how walking constitutes a politics-in-movement’ (12).

Chapter 2 in Springgay & Truman on Sensory inquiry & affective intensities in walking research thus provides not only the arguments around the use of nomadism and transversalism but also in doing so spells out the relevance of the sensorial and how this can be explored beyond notions of immersiveness.

(links to explore: Immersiveness, hapticality and the erotic, new materialism and register shifts (why I am not focusing all that much on matter after all))

instructions to touch

Okay, this the proposition of how to organise tactility in close/open at a distance.

This post a first exploration of various modalities:

  1. audio only
  2. a/v with black screen
  3. a/v with illustrative image (at the moment: of the object instructed)
  4. a list of written instructions (these are also possible in different forms: as image, as handwritten list.

1. audio only

2. a/v with black screen

3. a/v with illustrative image

4. a list of written instructions

Instructions to touch #1

Go to the walnut tree outside. Find a walnut shell that has been picked open by a crow. Take it indoors, wash it, let it dry. After a few days, open your sketchbook and place the shell on an empty page, fold the previous page over, hold it taut. Take first a maker pen (in a soft pink), then a thick and soft graphite stick and trace the opening of the shell. If you want to, also trace the edges and folds further down until the whole shape is transferred. Remove the shell and close the sketchbook. Have a look a few days later at how the opening has folded into the sketchbook.

Instructions to touch #2

Go to the walnut tree outside. Find a walnut shell that has been picked open by a crow. Take it indoors, wash it, let it dry. After a few days, open your sketchbook and place the shell on an empty page, fold the previous page over, hold it taut. Take your mechanical pencil and trace the opening of the shell. Adjust the pressure so that the paper doesn’t tear entirely. If you want to, also trace the edges and folds further down until the whole shape is transferred. Remove the shell and close the sketchbook. Have a look a few days later at how the opening has folded into the sketchbook.

Instructions to touch #3

Go to the spare room and look out a red-coloured sock yarn. Pack it in your bag, put on your shoes and jacket, make sure you have also headphones and house key and walk up to the transformer. Pick up one of the frozen fir cones and hold it in one hand. In the other, take the yarn ball and begin to wrap the cone from the middle outwards. Adjust the pressure, perhaps you can place the yarn ball in your pocket and it will simply release the yarn. When you come upon a break in the yarn, place the cone down and pick a new one. Repeat. Take the cones inside, place on your desk and watch over the next days how the warmth encourages the cone to open and strain against the yarn.

Instructions to touch #4

On your walks, look out for sweet wrappers. Pick up any you find and place in your sketchbook.

Instructions to touch #5

Look out for some replacement stones. The first ones you find may be large, almost as big as you can comfortably hold in one hand. Begin to wrap with the sock yarn, exploring how you can turn the yarn and/or the stone. You may also place the stone on the ground to ease the wrapping. After, once your yarn has finished, place the stone back to where you took it from.

Instructions to touch #6

Look out for some replacement stones, ones that are smooth and you can bind together. Along the field with the empty seed heads, make your choice and lift one from the ground, it may be half-buried. You may find it’s an almost perfect heart shape, it may not require any other stone. Place it in the bag you brought with you and then in your pocket. Once home, forget about it for a couple of days, then place on your window sill. Think about a precious wrapping for this singular stone.

Thoughts to consider further:

  • it is surprisingly easy to retrace an object by way of instructions to self.
  • what is the role between instruction and narrative
  • while the audio works well I find the illustrative image is the weakest: it is too definite and it forecloses what that object can become if someone else does indeed follow the instruction
  • the written instructions work also well; possibly as image rather than list, what does handwritten add here (other than decoration or hand of the artist?)

Approaching my sketchbook in this way and translating the sketchbook into something experiental, transferable in this manner seems a considerable step forward — it addresses the falling away of the participation, engagement with a self-assembly portfolio at the heart of the site specific installation. It also proposes a form of contact, intimacy and tactility both in terms of relational form and in what the materiality of the work here, in my hand and/or sketchbook can become when it travels over digital distance to reinstantiate in your hand, sketchbook, elsewhere and at a different time.

Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse as handling collections?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of my questions at this moment are then:

What is in the handling collection as term? 

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

Role of screen/stage for the tactile objects?

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

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

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

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

touch and intimacy at a distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

instruction as relational engagement at a distance?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

portfolio at a distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Documentary to derive material 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Development potential I currently see:

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

diary (n) one

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

is there some fun you can have.

i tell her some of the fun.

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

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

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

diary (d) d

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

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

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

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

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

what happens to my walk

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

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

how does fantasy manifest bodily

is this even a thing.

 

IMG_2552

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

diary (d) iii

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

diary (d) 2

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

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

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

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

a flat white. a coffee made as espresso.

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

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

 

diary (d) #1

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

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

oh, and then there is my camera roll.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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distance…pets 2020

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

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

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

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

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

 

Herz/Stein 2 : stones/ stories

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

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

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

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

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

 

1 touch

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

 

2 contact

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

 

3 body in movement

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

site/event in drawing/contact, January 2020

 

(this clip is the outcome of 18 months trying to get the video clips in a PPT to transfer as videos in export to .mov in Powerpoint for Mac). I have some notes on the process, which I will use too.

But first: the most recent pecha kucha (no narration) from my materials. This one for a brief introduction to my research/body of work for a first hangout with other L3 people across different disciplines.

marginal vision (or: is this peripheral?)

Gesa Helms added a new photo.
27 September at 12:38 ·
— with marginal success i am trying to catch the corner of my vision. then i look up and find some above plaster electrics while waiting, far more pliable
(later, the next page, it rained and my tight corner sheltered me but not the page. the rain bled through and now catches the overhead lighting)

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Sam  trying to draw perspective at close up.
It was Ellen who first raised this issue in the stacked chair exercise.

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13/11
This remains demanding, and there are a few drawings from the staircase that attempt this. I tire very quickly and can’t quite concentrate. But I guess that is the nature of this and I wonder where sticking with this insight for a bit longer may take me?

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[insert sketches]

18/11
The issue of tiredness remains. On Friday last week, I abandon the idea to do more work (again) and instead hang. Today, I almost don’t go, then start to walk and notice the pain in my knee and go to the coffeeshop instead. I write it in my list, today:

d. i tire everytime my sketchbook takes its positions. i know this tiredness. either i am going to get sparkles soon or i may be pushing too hard.
e. i want sparkles but on the off-chance that it is the latter, i retreat.

— so, part of the tiredness may relate to the whole setting (institutional) as much as to the peripheral vision task. It can be either edge or too much pressure. It concerns questions of wholeness and holeness… There is something interesting happening here in terms of material/ spatial shifting: the peripheral vision seems to indicate an ‘almost there’ which can also be utopian in constitution. I wonder if the GIS/ excel approach may yield something here.

Three wagging dog tails, just observed:

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6/12

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