a new year’s day sited archive

I still had a full set of the Hahnemuehle etching paper that I have been using for the Am Walde cyanotypes and wanted to print the woods again, this time with a view of making the prints available for sale. I couldn’t quite decide on the time, initially it was supposed to happen during Spring 21, then it didn’t. Then I liked the idea of reprinting in similar environmental conditions, i.e. around Winter solstice a year later.

I took New Year’s Day as the day to site paper, having treated it with chemistry shortly before midnight on the Eve. I went to a couple of familiar sites: one knobbly branch junction in a conifer, larches, blueberries and tree stumps. But by and large let myself to be guided by what objects held my attention.

I placed all sheets in the morning and collection most of them in the afternoon.

I also placed a number of them on the meadow, flat, facing upwards, nothing obstructing the direction of sunlight. I left these four outside, they got fixed by heavy rain during the night so the recording duration was rather short. I went to coat them again, placed them again to repeat, and repeated for some a third iteration to explore what is in repeat coating/exposure but also how time records work in the medium. There is likely another post on this to be written.

I also double-exposed the blueberry ones with damson and wild peach.

So heres: a rogue rhododendron, a low fence gate, peach and damson, blueberries, a dead conifer, broom, larches, a birdbox, a leftover field of grain, stumps and debris, the open meadow, the site of a drawing machine (conifer and ground). I cropped some of them too, so they are at a maximum 27.9×38.1 cm.:

I had a couple of iterations of editing and grouping these:

Submission SYP 2: Resolving your work

This constitutes the submission of assignment 2 for SYP: Resolving your work.

Four elements (and related links) form this submission

1/ revised and new work;

2/ reflection on 1/ in light of presentation concerns

3/ a synopsis of my presentation plans

4/ revised project plan.

I wrote 1/ and 2/ a little ago: essentially concluding that little is to be revised as body of work and that in fact the objects created/revised form part of the engagement itself (for the purpose of this submission these are also called presentation, but I understand engagement to be more than presentation form.

1/ and 2/ are in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/11/18/syp-2-resolving-the-body-of-work/

3/ I argue that the two pinhole photographic prints constitute new work, made for circulation/engagement (while resulting out of the final stages of the Research dissertation enquiry): https://close-open.net/2021/11/28/for-cover-contact-and-gaze-pinhole-images-for-sale/

These then fold forward to the substantial addition of new objects, engagement objects, that are tentatively called A/ folder or An Instructive Glossary to: a growing series of zines in PDF print at home download format as presented in #3 Detach and #4 Open in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/11/28/a-folder-or-perhaps-an-instructive-glossary-to/. I am in the process of testing these in a series of small group settings to explore the viability of them being responsive and generative as a process.

There are a series of research processes at play around engagement, archiving and distance, with distance likely informing both of these others. I have written a little on aspects of contextual distance here: https://close-open.net/2021/10/15/contextual-distance-in-the-padlet-portfolio/ and here: https://close-open.net/2021/11/18/archiving-site-1/, and it is also raised in relation to the audience considerations for the above zine process.

I am also proposing for presentation aka engagement a series of workshop/discussion events: I would like these to be practice as research, making workshops and/or panel discussions and dialogue. There exist a few first considerations as to focus:

The idea is that these workshops run over a 3-4 weeks in February/March 2022 as digital events.

The presentation/engagement in digital form is being explored: perhaps, given the discussions around contextual distance, see blog link above re to archiving, the padlet is a suitable mediator for the work; I am however also testing Adobe Portfolio (perhaps too Creatives for my purpose, or other unlimited single page site — I intend to turn to this over the next assignments, and perhaps it sits as project on my artist website).

For the on site/ adjacent to it engagement, I am exploring e.g. a maildrop of a similar single page zine as for the A/folder PDFs along my ‘commuting route’, i.e. 15 houses, or similar.

4/ I have updated the project plan accordingly, along with the timeline here:

A/ folder or perhaps: An instructive glossary to

Most of my past few weeks were spent doing two things:

a/ to explore the notion of archiving (on site/ in notation); and

b/ to work through the questions around engagement.

I want to unpack the latter here in more detail as part of my submission of SYP2: Resolving my work: PDF zines for circulation as WIP.

The project plan of SYP always included an analogue element: perhaps a artist book/box to circulate in a limited edition; perhaps a performance/event on site or adjacent to (besides its already existing digital form, perhaps edited, perhaps transposed to a different platform from the padlet site).

The idea of an assemblage, an artist box, a limited edition originates with the idea of a large Research drawing or perhaps a large drawing that concluded the body of work. I have spent many hours on site/ about the site to work through the elements, strands, connections and dissonances only to find that such drawing remained elusive. There was however a list of objects that could transpose the site to elsewhere (even fit into a box to be posted; to be non-precious too). Some elements were: larch essential oil, a cone, a feather, an instruction for a drawing machine, a notation of burning birchwood and crows flying overhead.

Again, the materials seem too… perhaps too literal or too romantic, too much trying for immersion when earlier I had deliberately trying to distance myself from that and a simple sense-transferal from here to anywhere.

In my sketchbooks of the original site, the staircase, I find two instructive participatory processes that I have experimented with: a zine around a hatch atop of the staircase, and an instruction for a viewing device. The latter was posted to three friends/colleagues and returned.

Along with my current sketchbook notes and the instructions to touch that I developed as part of For Cover, these in turn became the following:

An expandable collection of PDFs, with printing and folding instructions, relating to variable elements of my practice as research: site, object, method. I modelled two and am attaching them here along with some relevant visual documentation.

#3 Detach:: presents a series of instructions around the notion of distance: to process a single line, phrase or in entirety

#4 Open:: a new invitation to copy a viewing device and use it.

I made simple instructions on the outside, along with title and a return address.

They can circulate as PDF and by means of a double-sided printer can then materialise as a small folded zine, a single image inside.

The series is flexible and can be expanded in various directions and include a number of objects and enquiries.

This unfolding does not yet have an adequate instruction in the PDF:

For Cover (contact) and (gaze) pinhole images (for sale)

Following my experiments with a large-format pinhole camera (taking 4×5 sheet film), I have subsequently edited and printed two images from this research enquiry.

The pinhole camera has an aperture of f232, i.e. very small. It means too that all that is in view is in focus: the very small aperture affords a depth of field far beyond any of the usual small aperture of e.g. f16 or f20. It comes with a long exposure time, which I utilised then for the double exposure of For Cover (gaze), the only sign of it on the other print is my translucent thumb (there/not there).

The pinhole camera was a new process (and so was large format sheet photography); it arose as an enquiry and pursuit around the viewing devices and games; that Laura Marks names its all-in-focus vision as the antidote to the haptic and erotic showed me that my line of enquiry was well worthwhile.

For Cover (contact) has become the title image for the BoW of portfolio: It looks onto the meadow from ground level at the time and site of the Walnut Tree of Touch (a Potential Blanket). The weather was sunny spring, the meadow full of small white flower heads and succulent greens, my little thumb also got a sighting.

It is printed via a hybrid process (chemical processing, digital scan, photographic printing) almost as a contact print but since contact sheets no longer exist as actually possible indexical form, I settled for a resonance of that mass printing format of 10x15cm. So, the dimensions of the print are 8.9 x 11.7 cm, no border, on glossy Kodak paper. They are batch printed and numbered in an open edition.

As objects, I experimented with two frames: the infinity, or floating, frame was my initial intention: an ever so slightly portrait-oriented, deep wooden frame, with the print floating just underneath a museum-grade glass. The second frame is a simple, ready-made square frame (at 20x20cm) with a mountboard sitting 0.5 cm outside the print, the board here is ever so slightly green, for the infinity frame the mountboard is a very slight beige.

For Cover (contact)

For Cover (gaze) is a double exposure image taken from the transformer station onto the meadow and back to the station. It merges thus sidelines, trees and plants along with a concrete cover.

It is one of a series of visual experiments with looking forward and back, with one looking and another returning the look. Gaze seems appropriate as it lingers.

The printing process as is like the earlier one, the dimension however different. The print on glossy Kodak is 15×20.1 cm; the prints again batch printed and numbered in an open edition.

For Cover (gaze)

As objects that sit directly at the research of the For Cover body of work: in terms of visual enquiry, contact processes and the exploration of site and movement within this, I am interested in offering these as objects to circulate.

Each print is offered for sale, along with a short statement of For Cover, for £35 or €35 including postages to the UK and Europe. Further abroad: ask. If you are interested in purchasing one or the other, get in contact via the contact form on the left-hand menu (payment via paypal or bank transfer).

SYP 2.2: Presentation and/or site visit

Presentation is routinely a gallery exhibition; and so it takes me a couple of rounds to read the details that veer off from this format. I am at the point of submitting SYP 2; print out the instructions in the coursebook and marvel at a site visit proposition for my engagement. Let me explore this a little:

Venue, venue, venue — it isn’t quite event, is it? How is my dislocated venue visited? I link to it, on social media, in DMs, in email footers and physical print outs (I am still undecided if QRs are rubbish, pandemic-light, or rather smart functional). There are plenty architectural details: letterboxes, the folds of paper print outs, the question as to ‘what type of printer do you have and use?’; and then there is of course a physical site that I tried to offer immersively, instructively; erotically even too, but that then became a blanket for cover.

My work, my objects, portfolio, research, glossary, sound notes, flow through these effortlessly; I realise I am not concerned and don’t need to be concerned about the objects to be engaged with: they don’t need reworking; they may need selecting, orientating, engaging; but somehow even the choice as to which ones seems not too important.

Scale: insignificant to cosmic. It contracts and expands thanks to several folders.

Services: care work; haptic encounter, a pinhole camera offering all in sharp focus, if you linger you may drown a little at will; there is a hide for cover, numerous blankets; a pencil or ten, swirls skywards and along the horizon line. All these services, in service, playful and with utmost sincerity.

Health and safety: a magnetic current field; underfoot you feel it, how far does it stretch? If you don’t lift your foot you may trip while trespassing. Mind the dog shit too. And if this was summer: the horseflies. Oh, the horseflies. And then, how far away is your screen, do you squint your eyes, hunch your shoulders, strain your wrists?

Sound is distant but a set of good headphones can come to your (or my) aid here.

All in this is abundant and non-precious. This secures protection. But then, I lost a set of good tree drawings to an exasperated owner once. Or do I misremember now.

Hold you phone, follow the link and there is your moving image doubled.

There are numerous paths, you can veer off too and rummage a little with squirrels and thrushes. The jays invite you to flap your wings. That’s all the directions needed, I feel.

My insurance covers outside the EU these days; there are public right of ways, to cross the woods and meadows too. But, mind, your dogs needs to be kept on a leash for most of the year.

Dog walkers are still there; not many else but that may change in the next few weeks depending on how unsafe indoors is turning again.

Let me tell you a story. Or, have a title. I may offer some simultaneous interpreting however. I am not sure they quite caught my accent at my last public speaking engagement in early September.

All totally within reach; just move one foot here, another there, reach your hand out and listen intently: there you are.

(I wrote of the Stromverteilen site, I realise; it may need a little tweaking for its remote versions).

(I only wrote of the Stromverteilen site in the lower part of this, so it evidently changed, narrowed as site; it may not need any tweaking after all).

SYP 2.3: Thinking about documentation

Pretty much all that I call archiving falls under this activity’s ‘documentation’. Similar as with the submission of BoW, the documentation presents the work, in the case of For Cover as the event documentation of that half-day installation on site.

For SYP then, documentation is recording of what is to come as engagement/exhibition but since it draws on what was/is, it is the recording of an archive in some sense.

Thinking of the forms of engagement for SYP, as per the revised project plan (event series; analogue engagement via shared objects (send out/return); web platform and possibly on site/surrounding engagement; these are then a series of records:

  • a/v recording of digital events; possibly with transcripts too;
  • a folder/record of objects in circulation along with notes on reflection (written, a/v, audio, photographic, otherwise);
  • web platform as accessible at any point; and
  • a similar record to any on site engagement (depending on the nature of this: as event some a/v recording plus notes; if a letterbox drop or similar, the recording will be akin to the one for the analogue objects).

Risk assessments are unlikely to be needed; perhaps if a site-based live event these come into play; otherwise these are postal engagement at a distance. An assistant for digital events and/or live events would be helpful but given my experience also not necessary.

Here, documentation is considerable more logistically and conceptually narrow than how I have so far approached the concept of ‘archiving the site and the work’; the latter poses a number of questions concerning the nature of the work, the time/duration of the work and various access/contact points. These will be explored throughout the remainder of SYP (and likely filter into the events.

contextual distance in the padlet portfolio

In my crit group on 2/10 I offered my For Cover portfolio for a crit (I had last put some work, a mix of padlets and the instructions materials, to the group in early Spring this year). I had asked alongside two questions: how about archiving and how about engaging? We talk for a bit over an hour and I take notes. I copy these notes here and want to draw out a number of points as to the questions over contextual distance, what constitutes the work and where the work is. 

The discussion quickly moves towards the platform, padlet, and how much everyone hates it: how clunky and intrusive it is, how it stands in the way of the work; but then really, how it mediates (my words) and poses those questions of navigation and access, of ensuring completeness or the worry that something may be missed.

There is the argument that it scaffolds the work too much..

Much after the discussion, where I am still surprised by the force of some of the dislike being put forward, I realise that the notes also tell me something different:

  • that the work is rather beautiful
  • that the distance to the work becomes uncomfortable to endure
  • that the work and the site cannot be touched while the work implies it should, could, perhaps even ought to
  • and then there is the wider sense of how padlet as corporate platform seeks to manage and facilitate that distance: of becoming more and more corporate; of inviting us to add more and more; of presenting every changing interfaces and post modalities to remind us of innovation
  • so the platform is an intrusive mediator: of wanting to be known for itself, not just an invisible interpreter
  • it also points (this image contravened against our policy) to the fact that it can and does remove items it dislikes (without notification, without recourse, without me knowing what the item actually was); so my presence and the works presence remains precarious: it may disappear sooner than even my institutional access disappears.

I come away thinking that padlet may after all be the right platform for this work if the work is interested in that distance (see SYP tutor report 1).

I also come away thinking that the work is effective here to encourage access to the audience’s emotional registers around longing (and its frustration of lack of access)

So, the work is present but somewhat out of reach. There is an institutional frame that governs part of this, it catches some of the frustrations.

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: