Stromverteilen: a drawing/contact practice as research portfolio

In the process of designating material for assessment, this portfolio for the Research module needs to go here (again). I will have posted it (likely, possibly) earlier when I used it to explore the links between BoW and Research; I also find an earlier padlet to take an earlier role, a body of work: a core,, and the later Ariadne thread to point onwards into SYP (

This padlet served as digital meadow, forest/village edge to situate, explore and reach out to and beyond the various works that were emerging around the site of Stromverteilen. I also then organised towards the resolution of the For Cover BoW while this padlet held onto the numerous enquiries and abandoned (or lost) sites that preceded the village/forest edge.

I am adding pointers forward as well as any missing works that I understand Research objects into this form and link here (and on menu sideline) as key post for understanding the reach/resonance of my practice as research.

Made with Padlet

What I understand as walking (notes)

Springgay/Truman (2018) Walking Methodologies in chapter on inclusion are good with movement:

what they mean, what is conscious, directed; what is intuitive: absolute and relative>> this relates also to participation (and the problem of inclusion); which in itself is precisely why my stuff isn’t Bourriard.
<< it relates to Manning’s minor gesture; but perhaps Harney/Moten on hapticality are better suited?
<< there is a naivety in new materialism: the vitalism is exactly the problem that the Critical Materialism identifies as vulgar materialism.
— Springgay/Truman propose: land + geos, affect, transmateriality and movement as new developments of focus in walking methodology/research.
Movement then supersedes Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis
Nomadic ethics of Braidotti are clearly strongly informed by Deleuze… I think that frame and background is good and resonates with how I work in processwork so this may be a good way to link that working practice (which in turn informed my artistic work, also in the line) to academic material. (see blog here:

But: then, what I have done is use this to transverse, move across spacetime and site/location: analogue/digital; fiction/non-fiction; gossip/sincere argument.
>> there is something in this that then takes the movement further (and arguably considers nomadic theory or hybridity as the constitution across << I mean, in some ways it challenges the notion of virtual space being virtual, non-haptic, non-moving
There is clearly something in the contemplation, stillness of Green that I try to garner, make use of (and in some way it proposes a counter-move to walking art).

Re violence, there are a number of issues that take argument with the flaneur and what he can do… that is a relatively simple route to follow.
Am I doing something else beyond that though?

<< the secrecy, reveal, moving stories and accounts along.

Much of my work in Drawing 2 explored this (see this link for movement in that module’s blog:, the talk in Prespes (July 2019) and the subsequent publication articulated this in writing (see MS here:

Immersiveness and my work (current status)

There are a couple of themes that continue right throughout my work (certainly from DI&C onwards across Level 2 and 3); immersiveness is one of them: the sensorial, an expanded field of drawing, the stepping into work that I make and the relationship it seeks between work and viewer/reader/participant around closeness and distance.

For the production of the BoW this was significant at a number of turns, e.g. when trying to devise what constituted drawing/contact, what the role of lint and the quotidian was, the sites and the reach/resonance of these and how to resolve the BoW.

In the Research (as practice) it was engaged with methodologically: moving-with explored the bodily registers of immersion (or lack thereof); of making mobile artists, viewer and work; the glossary circled around tools, obstacles and sites to explore the relational entanglements at the centre of the work; the Herz/Stein concept explored tactility, bind and release in material close-up.

For SYP I am trying to explore the exhibition checklist as PaR enquiry to get a better handle on (or perhaps a position to the side of) distance as key tool for how this practice moves onwards.

I am collating here the various posts that trace the engagement with immersiveness as concept up to now (at the point of submission for assessment of BoW and Res, and at Part 2 of SYP).

In chronological order the key posts so far are:

Immersiveness (complications) > research folder

A draft post which looked like this has existed for almost a year. It arose around the conversations during BoW tutorials around immersion, the sensorial and audience engagement with site and work.

The discussion linked forward and into BoW 4 and 5 and Research 4 also. How to invite, entice, lure the viewer into the work, inviting them to step forward, and then to get a little lost, not quite knowing where they stepped into.

In conversations that ensued, I wondered if the work needed to be seductive to achieve this: the luring was close enough to entrapment, of overwhelming with the (visual) senses. And I realised that I myself stepped right back at that moment.

Pippilotti Rist’s (2005) Homo Sapiens Sapiens video installation at Garden of Earthly Delights (you lie back onto floor cushions, the projection happens on the ceiling in a round shape), came to my mind and that my work was not like that (and didn’t intend to).

I was surprised by my strong reactions here and further discussions with my Research tutor clarified some of the links about it (immersion = seduction = overwhelm = entrapment). It also clarified for me that HD video on large/multiple screens is not where my intention of the kinds of work I want to make lies (I think it’s been a no for some time, being invited to spend £10k for a digital back for a MF camera) — I am too little photographer for these approaches.

The works I turned to were these three — I have known them for a long time, they are datable, and dated as late 20c British contemporary art. I find myself however returning them at frequent intervals:

Bethan Huws (1991) The Lake Writing or The Lake Piece, 24 works on paper, ink, each 297x210mm.

Georgina Starr (1992) Whistle (Eddy, photography and Whistle, vinyl 7” record); installation, dimensions variable,, accessed 20 August 2021.

Gillian Wearing (1994) Dancing in Peckham, video, 25 mins,, accessed 20 August 2021.

None of them is immersive in the way immersion is currently understood as a multimedia surround environment where the view steps in. Huws’s photocopied handwritten notes on walking around a lake are in fact anything but: it is formally sparse, daringly challenging the notion of the artist’s hand (or tech) and yet affording a slow stepping into a sensorial and experiential register which affords precisely that transfer, transporting the viewer/reader around that lake with her, if they let themselves be seduced by 80gsm photocopy paper spaced on a white gallery wall (that I was told the visit was animated by a large open window that moved the sheets on the wall on a summer afternoon in London, helped further). Wearing’s silent disco before there was such a thing is of a similar register, here we don’t know what she is dancing too, the noisy VHS recording clipped to youtube dates it further. Starr’s eddies on Kings Cross station translated to her whistle tune recorded on vinyl is similarly introverted, marked by an innocuous act in public space (like Wearing and Huws also).

They are all fairly ordinary approaches towards making and then the act of transferring, translating moves the terrain and makes them extraordinary with simple means compared to the immersion at play today. They also are playful (both in production and in presentation), there is a trickster at play, a playing with the expectations of audience and curators. They are also quite introverted works, I come to realise now: they are solitary activities, contemplative, a couple a bit performative, while the headphones kind of temper the level of exposure.

None seduces, none overwhelms, yet they stay with me as a way of translating, relating environmental experiences of making (with/in) site that are effective and relevant to how I am engaging with site. I hope these will provide further inspiration as I move towards SYP and the concerns over audience engagement.

Oh, yes: the link to the haptic and the erotic in Marks: it lies again in the autonomy and ability to negotiate coming close and pulling away: of diving in and dissolution and then to surface and step out. The choice for one or the other is key here (what that means for the initial idea of letting people peer in and they get a little surprised what they discover remains to be revisited).

Contemporary (visual) artists (distance/closeness > research folder)

The blog’s research folder introduces a series of relevant writers as well as (visual) artists who explore, develop and inform similar concerns around distance, closeness and near space. In the dissertation itself I introduce Joan Jonas’s and Katrina Palmer’s practice to orientate my own enquiries, yet of course there are others that contextualise influences.

Writing at a time that SYP also enquires about influences (see post here), I am retracing somewhat to consider spatial constructions around nearness, distance, reach and resonance.

Gordon Matta-Clark, encountered right at the start of my creative arts studies returns as influence (and so does James Turrell). The dissecting and undoing, revealing of architectural structures, of what holds together and what allows to fall apart was significant when I started approaching space not as a social scientist but from an artistic enquiry.

I encounter him in documented book form and grainy VHS (?) to youtube videos. I see a couple of shows and am intrigued by the delicateness of the documentation (small scale photographic prints, some diagrams) considering the ambition and scale of his practice.

His work is process and unfolding, responding to site and structure, revealing and cutting away. It’s air and void that he works with as much as steel, concrete, wood and the surface coverings. (I currently have no access to the books I have, I somewhat resist the temptation of youtube, so I rely on my memory for the documentation of his documentations).

Sophie Calle returns similarly in this consideration of distance, nearness and spatial constructs. Hers evidently relational, possibly a similar trickster figure to Matta-Clark yet manifesting in a radically different disruptive practice. I again have no access to the numerous books I have by her, the address book, the one where she collates post-break up advice, then there is the memory of seeing her hotel maid work (and I briefly dream of Chantal Akerman’s Hotel Monterey film emulsion). I encounter her first through my closest friend and a surprise at her daring to reveal a relationship breakup just so. Much later I realise that it is performance and art and may as much be untrue as true (and this eventually leads me to all the non-confessional auto-fiction of Kraus, Kapil and others). And it is this suspension of dis/belief over intimacy, truth, conceal of personal affairs that make me return and return: of making personal matter malleable and letting it shift vis-a-vis un/suspecting audiences.

Thirdly, I want to refer to Noemie Goudal‘s work in this post here (insert link to separate blog)

These lay the ground for the enquiry presented in the Research dissertation, around near space, distance, intimacy and eventually resolved along the notions of Laura Marks’s The haptic and the erotic.

(see related post concerning contemporary writers)

Contemporary writers (distance/closeness > research folder)

The blog’s research folder introduces a series of relevant writers as well as (visual) artists who explore, develop and inform similar concerns around distance, closeness and near space. In the dissertation I introduce Joan Jonas and Katrina Palmer’s practice to orientate my own enquiries, yet of course there are wider influences, both in writing and in visual arts, so I would like to draw together some of the other writing influences here (and see this related post concerning (visual) artists)

A series of contemporary writers who write within and across relational human/ non-human narratives in which theory, documentary and fiction mingle:

— I add FB posts copied (and minimally altered in layout) to reference my conversations with Juliana Spahr and Bhanu Kapil. I had also intended to add those around Chris Kraus’s writing but feel these two will suffice for the material that organises around drawing/contact and open/close:

Juliana Spahr (Buuck & Spahr 2013; Spahr 2005, 2007),

Army of Lovers, This connection of everyone with lungs, The Transformation

thisconnection has been explored here:

Gesa Helms added 8 new photos to the album [almost titled].

30 July 2019  · for months i have been circling around her. like an elastic band i stretch the connection and at points then jump right onto some of her pages. . i write a cryptic line in my summary and off i go again..this morning i pack all three and search..among other things i i continue swimming i bodythink through the cosmos. through the work the living and the dying are doing for each other at this moment in time and any other. i had realised earlier this summer that my dad is going to teach me something vital. and here in this process with Achim i realise the work that is being done by us around to facilitate the movements between here and there and what each receives in this. i think i rarely felt so tender amongst it all..thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs (juliana spahr) is the closing line of a longer thisconnection (men, women, roleplay, victims, essentialism).she will be the bridge across and away from the site. form content that connects while standing apart. .in army of lovers, she and David Buuck investigate a plot of grassy wasteland between a few major roads. .i have precisely such a plot. a pontoon bridge leads to it. all sorts of insignificant incidents take place. some are fantasy. a good part happens on speed. someone falls into the water and eighty-seven pelicans take off while the sparrows argue over the best spot to pig watch each morning. he who opens the kiosk at will and hides in dark corners within sells me an ice cream for €2.50. i think he made the price up. next time i check and i know he did. but he settled on it, having committed to a sun-worn board with lots of expensive ice cream (all cost €2.50). it sits next to the instant cameras,€20 for 2. how did the film develop?…unrelatedly, i observe the verge. in mid-July on the abundant West Coast it is exuberant. i move along and record it. later i step into it and record some more. elsewhere in the village, the council spent money on controlling growth. it does so abundantly. i record eagerly and just wait for being approached by watchful neighbours (none so far).

Gesa Helms shared a memory.

7 June 2020  · Shared with Friends; Except: Acquaintancesoh — a rare moment when i actually named my reading. i did read it again, not long ago and my frustration well and truly dissolved. of all the wonderful things that i have read the past few years, and the many that have come via Angela, Juliana Spahr has hit a spot (as A rightly anticipated). Army of Lovers does so many things at once, i probably need to read several more times over before i start to copy. or perhaps i have been copying all along. or who knows. i kind of know what my summer will be like. i wish they’d put those benches back up on other green. maybe we will need to DIY after all. or i do relocate after all into the dark and scary woods around my parents.

3 years agoSee your memoriesGesa Helms added a new photo to the album [untitled album].

7 June 2018  · for our bodies are bored by answers…. i read along and through, sense her frustration, am possibly frustrated a little too but sense too that a second reading may resolve it as only in part four i begin to sense the animating motif. the final part, army of lovers is replete with Caliban and the Witch, so much so that i can hear chanting throughout. it is an amazing culmination of what before appeared as rambling. so i do need to read again to be able to follow onto this high, or perhaps, instead just enjoy this momentary high.

Bhanu Kapil (2011, 2015) and

Ban en Banlieue and Schizophrene

Here is one FB post copied into the blog which denotes some of my own writing approaches towards secretive subject matter:

two things/2b. wow. no playlist and my reading was quite hit and miss (sorry Dodo Bellamy, hey there Bhanu Kapil). i travel to Manchester and reread Schizophrene in anticipation of a square somewhere. this line is good. i remembered the dream and almost wrote a message about it the other day, then didn’t, it would have been rather long and perhaps does not want to be a letter but a poster instead, on a wall in an errant building or perhaps it can paste onto a pavement nearby.i am still folding though (it almost has a form). i rewrote another dream and offered its concept to the second of two very nice coffees yesterday. she asks one thing, i can explicate another.did i say: i had two very good coffees in one day, one long long overdue, since winter at least, the other a regular routine for the past few weeks.2 years agoSee your memories

Gesa Helms added a new photo to the album [almost titled].

9 July 2019  · — i had a dream that still folds forward from the night and may come later. over more cold coffee i pick up the book for what is next. this page resonates with the folding (mysteriously though).LikeComment

Gesa Helms added a post to the album moves (variable).

3 December 2019  · this is a memory from open/close a year ago. just as i started the Level 3 courses and looked ahead to what became drawing/contact.i also talked about precisely this last night, we talked about so many good things last night (and the bar encounter was just one thing). i just about catch a sliver of what i was after back then. and as i regretted it in early autumn, it is most clearly not what this body of work is about.— and, yet, it of course also sits in the trajectory of this. like i insisted last night to K.: that i had found a way to move with these themes in public. the past couple of weeks made that clearer still (and i guess this is where the two men from yesterday and my barely contained seething rage also belongs to).not everything has to be everything all the time. i giggle now at the thought of writing a racy novel as degree show work (i can photoshop the cover of the Groschenroman that i picked up in Kozani KTEL on my birthday on the front cover).it’s almost year end, my Granatenjahr as T called it in January, and he wasn’t wrong. it is also the end of a decade when we finally know about the climate and the fascism. i miss my grandparents..anyways, i am stalling:


confession/obsession (365 days later):


confessional/ obsession– i am not quite through with this but it’s becoming clearer what this may become.of course, what i am after is the other side to the sexual violence and trauma. i am after agency, pleasure and desire. i am not sure if part of my wants to write a racy novel or direct some moving image materials. i think it would be rather rubbish at it. and yet:there is a range of registers and approaches that i have investigated rather seriously over the past few years while i was trying to find a way to move with the sexual violence.the pond piece notes were the firstthe line, the next……as materials, the new narrative stuff works for me. i also however find it quite triggering. it triggered me right off and threw me into all the stuff around resentment/pretty. i have a sense how it did that: i found it hot. it works for me as being with desire — the commentary about each character was at once totally abject and a sex god really hit on the head/in the gut for me..Hval’s exotic rot also works; but it is far less sexual in how it works: there is a trippyness in the spatial constellations that it incantates that works akin to a contemporary Victorian horror meets situationists setting.


I love Dick works too for me: it’s the headiness and the authoring of abjection and remaining with it in its mundanity. but also the high theory alongside it..The things we learned in the Shadows by Liz/Benny worked as a session too: that was possibly the one time that i was turned on in a group of strangers in the middle of the day and none of us were there to dance, take drugs, get laid… that was a fascinating form of turn on and being able to work with that would be quite stunning..the many many coming of age, Bildungsroman films that I watched..And then there are the French ladies: Catherine Breillat’s Romance was pretty good; I always liked Bunuel’s Belle de Jour; Ernaux doesn’t work for me but I may have been hasty. Story of O… hm…. that was important but its misogyny is also always impossible to get past these days (even though I like the stories of how O. moves within sub/dom networks and is being appropriated in various ways)..none of the latter trigger me at the slightest. I love Dick also didn’t trigger me at all and neither did Hval, though with her it wasn’t long before Glueck et al… I do think it is the form of narration of the latter that gets under my skin and challenges me not just intellectually but physically. I like that effect. I would like to be able to elicit it with the stuff that I do. .that is a rather heady degree show ambition.

6 commentsLikeCommentShare

  • Gesa Helmsnone of the films neither Dick nor any New Narrative will feature. But: Exotic Rot will be spliced through the staircase, possibly creating the occasional refracturing of sunlight on a very short day of the year, just about scratching past (screeching in a high-frequency hiss as it does; it will forget to take an inbreath after; elsewhere, a cardboard box rattles and someone hums Peggy Lee while snapping his fingers and the audience shuffles in utmost discomfort. i later am angry with myself, uncharacteristically, while all the outrage should have been directed at him) .
    • Like
    •  · Reply
    •  · 1 y
  • Gesa Helms - Peggy LeeYOUTUBE.COMFever – Peggy LeeFever – Peggy Lee
    • Like
    •  · Reply
    •  · Remove Preview
    •  · 1 y
  • Gesa Helmsoverlaying with this, it creates a rather wondrous thing:"Un violador en tu camino": la intervención que dio la vuelta al mundoYOUTUBE.COM”Un violador en tu camino”: la intervención que dio la vuelta al mundo“Un violador en tu camino”: la intervención que dio la vuelta al mundo
    • Like
    •  · Reply
    •  · Remove Preview
    •  · 1 y
  • Gesa HelmsI have started reading Kate Zambreno’s Appendix project (a Rachel recommend), she is far too fond of Barthes for my liking, I find him insipid, every single time buhut: what her ten or so essays written the year following her publication of the mourning book that is Book of Mutter do is to unpack her work process, her circling around, notetaking, assembling, the texts are looping and fragmented (in a way that isn’t quite mine; it is also more trying, self-conscious than e.g. in Kapil’s work; and without being a resolved performative form) and I almost can picture and hear her notes assembling and being referenced back to right throughout. I like that, I will use that (in the parts where it actually tells me something of what I have been doing, or of what I could have done).
    • Like
    •  · Reply
    •  · 1 y
    •  · Edited

Ban en Banlieue (notes)

I have taken Ban with me. I have now twice refused to pass on my copy of her, and each time I could not anticipate a time by which it may be alright to loan my copy to others. I also regret not having taken any post-it notes with me. I sense this book is not for writing within or alongside.I have however ordered a couple of extra copies of Ban for giving away. I can’t recall a book that encircled me to quite such an extent. In my writing about it I am conscious that each of these sentences, except for this one, begins with my I, while Ban is always written around, not directly written about, let alone being a one to have an I. This former sentence, the one without my I however began with my writing – not quite but almost an I.And still, and still, in all that absence and the void that this writing around opens out, she is cared for, deeply cared for. The whole writing around is indeed, so Kapil’s title for the main section of the book, a (self-)sacrifice. So, if anything, Ban is ever-present in her (dis-)embodied (ab-)sense.I started noting Ban with the section of the contents in which she absented her childhood stories. Kapil does so be quoting an encounter with Petra Kuppers over vegan cake in 2011. All disregard for stories are attributed to Petra who is ‘not interested in disclosure. I am interested in discharge.’ (Kapil 2016, 9). My first reading of it makes me blush, I think I would not like Petra Kuppers was I to meet her, what’s that with the confident statement made over vegan cheesecake in 2011 anyway? Kapil writes that she deletes the childhood stories but yet she lies and discloses at once: she moves them elsewhere, and frequently (already on the next page) discloses further, fails, and hopes to find a form and place for those stories that she has nonetheless.No disclosure but discharge. Do these circumvent the confessional, I wonder?‘I am not interested in where you are from’, Petra continues. And still, she wants a discharge. I wonder what in her mind builds up that that is to be discharged. Just collapsing the then violently into the present does not erase the then. It may avoid the agentic construction of a story neatly told. Moving form, either as Kapil does from novel, narrative, to notebook to Ban en Banlieue in textual registers; or by moving across curating, performance, bodywork and back to text, as she also does, are all ways of discharging.And still, they also disclose a ‘from’, however hidden, concealed, burnt to ashes, buried, smudged. Writing around Ban is form-giving nonetheless – negative space gives form to figure/ground too.#pondpiecenotes

11 commentLikeCommentShare

1 comment

(see also related post concerning contemporary visual/artists)

Care and/or the erotic in For Cover

screenshot of dissertation draft (comments from tutor), 16/08/2021

That the actual BoW took the resolution it did was not anticipated: for a long time the site of Stromverteilen (site 3, on the village edge, active from October 2020 – July 2021) sat side by side to the staircase and also the lockdown walking loops.

Similarly, that the site-specific work at the village edge resolved towards four blankets, covers was only apparent once the final form for Walnut Tree of Touch (a Potential Blanket) [WTTPB] was realised.

However, care and maintenance as routines and practice has been present for a long time in the L3 work and arguably also much of the work prior: the Trafodecken as durational drawings on top of the transformer station consisted as much of the acts of myself going, checking, arranging, fixing, covering etc over the weeks of their late autumnal exposure. The careful tracings and interventions, often fleeting, on site spoke to a similar sensibility.

One frequent artistic contact from Spring onwards begun to articulate the role of care, of the work, as much as us as daughters of ageing, frail and increasingly ill parents. She pointed me to Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s (2017) Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds (U of Minnesota Press), which I for some time was reading on site. It was in these conversations, a weekly Zoom, before an early lunch, that I explored some of the possible forms too of the WTTPB and also explored the so far unresolved forms of Fir Tree and the large Research Drawing to stretch and record events and encounters on site.

In the dissertation this turn towards care and maintenance is not conceptually explored further. It features briefly in one of the empirical lines of practice yet I decided to keep this out of the dissertation. It is significant and will feature in the wider circulation of the work; it follows the discovery of Laura Marks’ haptic and erotic. The methodology employed for the dissertation very much engages both directions, care/maintenance as well as the haptic/erotic. They are somewhat congruous and I am interested in spending some time to explore further the relationship, resonances and edges between them.

See also this post as to care/maintenance as it emerged in the BoW:

Not/writing about Not/guiding a reader: clarity, reveal and conceal in the dissertation (>Research Folder)

In as much as this text approaches contact in different voices and positions, it also does so with varying levels of distance: some voices lean close, others intent on an arm’s length distance between one and another. Clarity is thus negotiated in a series of reveals and conceals, sometimes it is upfront and present, sometimes it skirts around the edges or hides in tangled matter (as excess or abundance)

(Introduction, Research dissertation)

I add towards the final edits this short note to the introduction of the dissertation. It concludes a long series of discussions between tutors and myself around clarity, reveal/conceal, excess and that notion of writing auto/fiction.

My research tutor carefully noted where I did not guide the reader and in Res 5 she writes:

R: There are also still some moments where you drop works or large theories into the text with very little framing which can cause a feeling of being lost in the text (this might be intentional? but equally you can consider how much you want to then frame that expectation for the reader?)

Some more footnoting or a more traditional glossary would help with this, as we discussed in the last tutorial

However, I also recognise this is an ongoing consideration for you in terms of the writing as practice and the idea of contact, distance and how sometimes you are holding your reader at arms length. Again the more you can make decisions about transparency and opacity in the style of the writing and make this deliberate with signposting the better. 

You outline the idea of voices clearly in your introduction and the typography of the text in some sections which is really helpful, and so you might want to do the same with the idea of clarity or what is revealed and what obscured?

Perhaps this connects to our discussion last time about managing excess, and the difficulties of cramming all the rich research you have done in the word count?- You do acknowledge this in the dissertation, but you might want to acknowledge the moments when this will impact the reader?

G: I seem to have been wholly resistant to that traditional glossary. Maybe it’s the fixing that happens through it, the solidity, that puts me off. Let me try for some key terms and add to the dissertation appendix. I mean: it’s not that difficult to excerpt from the blog post two sentences as to nomadism, right. 

As I said in my first email response to this feedback: I really like how you returned my investigation of care and maintenance to my readership. I think it’s my social scientist who is a little impatient with slow or ignorant readers and I need to have a conversation with her as to how serious she is in carrying this forward to her artistic writing practice. 

I think our conversation in the BoW5 tutorial that it is not a matter of handholding but perhaps merely naming the opacity, the distance (in a footnote, or in a glossary, now this is turning interesting for me), could be sufficient. And: importantly: that that investigation of clarity of approach will only benefit me for how to proceed beyond this.

(Research 5 report, written by tutor, with my commentary marked in document)

This blog post intends to expand on the relational construction of clarity, opacity in the written aspects of my work and also serve going forward to SYP.

Having begun in seriousness to work with personal family matter at the end of AOP meant to explore how to place into public private matter and how to make such private matter strange, performative while still holding and containing its frequency, resonance, content. I have experimented with different forms since (and DI&C, Drawing 2 and now, much less charged and more at ease, have done so also for L3). In all this, the original charge, impetus, motivation is contained and woven into the material, sometimes tightly, sometimes loosely.

For L3, and even more so once I moved towards the edge of the village, this has become much easier and discovering Laura Marks’ negotiation of the visual and the haptic has provided a tool, a methodology that allows for it to be considered artistic practice of serious subject matter.

The forms in which I seek contact are varied: directness, in your face, elliptical omission, shifting text and work along, inventing names, dates and locations while reporting truthfully on all else. In fact, so much of my observations are in fact literal to a fault: even the taste is the one I remembered, and yet a series of turning, shifting, removing and reordering turns pointed observation into matter than can be held and considered otherwise.

The other means in which I negotiate reveal/conceal is excess — in its positive connotations its richness, suppleness, abundance; yet easily it is also simply: too much. In all this muchness the important stuff can be included, can mingle and move while not sticking out all that much. The L3 work (PaR, written) sought and found forms to relate this back to site, audience and artist, and does so through a variety of surfaces, containers and means (glossaries, appendices, font type alignments, a simple visual surface which presents links and layers should one seek these, etc).

In this, care of the matter, the source, the relationships contained therein are a first priority; care for the readership or audience a second thought and one that I sometimes brush aside, even though the intent to make visible, negotiable, public is sincere and thus an audience, a public required nonetheless. Possibly the biggest learning for all of L3 so far has been how to become adept, confident and careful in modulating these relationships and forms. This is work in progress, this blog post situates the Research dissertation as such form and provides a base towards the engagement of SYP and an artistic practice beyond it.

Voices and positions within the dissertation (> research folder)

This text is articulated, in the spirit of above’s rules (see post here), by means of a series of different voices and positions. These are often demarcated by alignment and font type, some sneak in a little under cover. For an articulation of these different voices, please see Appendix 11.1 Voices and positions in this document)

(dissertation draft, May 2021)

This follows the following note from Research 4 tutorial:

Voices in the document

G: One of the points for me to ask is of how the excising of the case studies from text to audio works and the hyperlinking there. This leads to Rachel raising the range of voices in and across the text, the use of different font types and alignments to indi-cate this, so that quotes and case studies can be part of practice and thus not part of the word count. We discuss various ways of designating the word count and how to then conclude what it actually is.

A main action point here is to work on further clarifying and strengthening the dif- ferent voices (reflective, practical, academic, [check if there are others].

Rachel: You might even think of them as geographer, social scientist, artist, writer, educator, as these are all part of your arsenal and play different roles or have different interests and concerns which surface at different times?

G: Voice then functions for the text as Marks’ discussion of the erotic [write this out in text of blog].

I listen to the audio recording again to get to the one of how voice functions for the text as Marks’ discussion of the erotic:

How does voice/ position interact with the viewer? What is happening here in relationship with the viewer: appendix and glossary sit on safe ground, single observations in addition; the case studies sit aside. How can different voices work within an essay, trying to separate out and to layer. It is part of the animation principle of the work, and a common form for me to write and now needs to fit into an assessment format.

With the different voices, the text moves close and further away from the reader, reveals and hides and thus enacts the autonomy of movement that Marks identifies in the erotic: the submersion, the haptic, embodied encounter and the seeking of distance, of visuality.

I edit subsequently the Research draft and enact (for the word document) a series of font types and alignments accordingly. These are some voices and positions, I also identify a few others which I name in Appendix B as follows:

Voice then also orientates differently to the audience and centrally relates to the work’s relationship to the reader, the audience, the participants (and folds forward into SYP).

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.

Practice as Research (PaR) (> research folder)

>> key methodology. 

[these are excerpt notes, not all page numbers are given nor is it clearly indicated what is paraphrased and what a citation; this is resolved in the dissertation, this is for further reference posted here only]

Estelle Barrett & Barbara Bolt eds 2006.Practice as Research: approaches to creative arts enquiry.

Barrett, Introduction

Situated knowledge: the subjective and the personal in creative arts research (p.4f)
Paul Carter (2004): Material thinking; to understand subjective and relational dimensions of artistic process: decontextualisation from a universal in the artistic process in order to bring to bear ‘instances of particular experience’. ‘In staging itself as an artwork, the particularity of experience is then returned to the universal’.
Bolt 2004: develops this further towards ‘materialising practices’ to understand ‘the dynamics of the circulation of artistic products… which implies an ongoing performative engagement and productivity both at moments of production and consumption.

>> a relationship is constituted between process and text (and not between image and text), ‘of which the first iteration is necessarily the researcher’s own self-reflexive mapping of the emergent work as enquiry.’

In this, studio practice and own critical commentary in writing enter a dialogical relationship of creative arts exegesis, this in turn creates further development.
Relationship to practice-based learning: ‘A general feature of practice-based research projects is that personal interest and experience, rather than objective “disinterestedness” motivates the research process’.

>> crucially: new learning, not anticipated; emerging methodologies. (6)
Interdisciplinarity (7): Carter 2004 makes the argument that the relationality of the artistic process constitutes interdisciplinarity.

Chapters 1 (Carter): ethics of invention.— not so keen after all… seems confused.

Chapter 2 (Bolt): studio practice and meta-reflective work of exegesis.

I can request her PhD, bookmarked in Safari, if I need it?

Chapter 3 (Perry): creative writing as research; autobiography and fiction: a shift from the tangible object (novel) to the intangible benefits of studio enquiry.

<< this seems really relevant. 

It is an excellent expose of tracing narrative construction and biographical links; of filling one with the other and the blurring of reality and fictional spaces and what that as practice allows for.Writing as searching and contemplating of difficult (to understand) things.The exploration of the journal as creative work itself (rather than a means to other work)

>> this is highly relevant too.

I marked a few pages.

Chapter 5 (Iggulden): space within illuminated scripts revealing existing codes in medieval writing practices.

There is something in this process of copying, repeating, adding mistakes that is important (and the general focus on text is actually, if not in subject matter than in intent — probably even the transcendental focus) quite close to my own; There is something too in the projects she sets up and how she uses cursive and repetitive writing that is relevant.

There is a bigger strand about silence and obliteration of women’s experiences in there that is fairly generationally specific but nonetheless relevant too in the framing of ‘matters of no consequence’

Chapter 8 (Goddard): excess of reflection and core aspect of studio-based enquiry.

Lorne Story video postcard
He finds quite late a family postcard from the 1930s that functions formally like the video postcard that he has been making for his PhD116: ‘As a writerly practice, the exegesis can be as creative, fictive, and as full of playful conjecture as the other creative practice (or practices) it seeks to elucidate.’

> this is precisely how the parallel project for D2 functioned!

<< use the methodology for Res to help you articulate your methodology across writing/production (this stuff is what all the people in Glasgow are doing, it is not new to you. What is however new is that this is academic part of it, the one that ‘legitimises’ it.)

epistolary format: the Dark Object is one; are parts of mine such too? Are the FB posts epistolary?

<< my FB practice is this kind of stuff. it really is. do I want to pull this further into the process?

There is more on 117 about what is epistolary and how it functions

Overlapping fields: autobiographical writing and subjective video practice.

How to perform the reflective process of exegesis as part of the research direct monitor to see what is being recorded (unlike film): one camera records while the other was replaying: key meta-narrative in Lorne Story.

He describes the story and how it nestles one layer into another (over time/memory)

> ‘Ultimately, a correspondence occurs between the practice and the exegesis, as a series of interactive dialogues’. (118)

His exegesis was a supporting document, trying to negate the assumption of explanation (119)

A letter or postcard are accessible to a range of different audiences (they are leaky, blurry in that sense), erasure, defacement and destruction in process of delivery (transmission isn’t guaranteed).

(check for quote when using, this is close to original)

> this applies to most things but it’s a good elucidation of how transmission, exchange works and I think while I worked with this before I, and it is active here too. Use it.‘What makes visual, performative, and media arts-based research so distinctive are the ways in which they conduct their enquiries beyond the sphere of written discourse.’ (120)
I don’t seem to find any actual text of the thesis, nor the video. Here is a text:

Chapter 9 (Stewart) Mapping and other research practices as informing artistic research; bricolage as notion.

Chapter 10 (Barrett) work is not the product but the process of enquiry and evaluation (Foucault and Haraway)

Chapter 12 (Barrett) Exegesis as meme.<< this is well before digital memes. quite interesting.
there is a definition on role of exegesis for Australian Res as practice qualifications… is this useful to consider? what does it add? or perhaps overcomplicate?

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.



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.