— I in turn may keep adding to the next page.
This post presents my assignment submission for Research 2: a theoretical framework.
It consists of this PDF: Research Assignment 2 (with various links to earlier posts), outlining current status of creative work, a justification for theory and methodology as well as format, a literature review.
I wrote some reflections on this submission in an earlier post.
I am including the middle part: theory and methodology, and format in this post (and will likely fold forward the summary of creative process into another post).
Justification of theory, methodology, and format
My Level 3 work on the Creative Arts pathway comprises a series of processes and enquiries relating to drawing/contact. It is interested in modality, site and practice of an expanded field of drawing that sets out with the body as initial drawing tool. In so doing, it situates itself in a relational practice that begins with a situated, embodied self and as such follows feminist concerns, taking both contemporary writers and earlier performance artists as inspiration.
Interested in contact implies a curiosity about the fabric that contributes to our articulations of corporeal selfhood (as author, subject and audience). At once immediate, sensorial, tactile it also asks wider questions concerning relationship and presence. These concerns around agency, voice, autonomy are at once informed by older materialisms (notably: a critical materialism of social praxis) and are curious about new materialisms and the constitution of the human body (also in its potential hybridity, one cyborg form or another).
This section outlines reason and argument for theory and methodology as well as the form for the dissertation that follows the former.
Theory and methodology
Exploring contact and relationality in small, intimate, near, spaces positions this project foremost within contemporary and near-contemporary feminist concerns: over a body politic, the personal, care and relationality. The means in which these have been investigated in performance and video work of the 1960s onwards also investigate the materialities of such lived experiences and thus more recently lead towards concerns of a new materialism, post-humanism. In this, I am intent to keep the focus on bodily practices and gestures as starting point, and thus to maintain an interest in the signals and processes that constitute phenomenology (references: many, one that usefully articulates past and contemporary practices around relational aesthetics is Reckitt 2013).
At the same time, the subject matter is concerned with moving and shifting: of the unfolding of an event, a gesture, a relationship: what chain of actions take place to co-create drawing, contact and thus space in these small-scale encounters? It is possibly here that some of the contemporary theoretical articulations, originating with Deleuze/Guattari and being further articulated by Rosi Braidotti’s (2011) nomadism and others that concern the transversal, the translation. While not within the scope of this undergraduate dissertation, I nonetheless hope that this focus can point towards a form of practice which speaks to some of Friedrich Kittler’s (1999) media historical arguments concerning the shifts of possibilities and closure with each new media technology precipitated our understanding of not only ‘writing’ or ‘drawing’ or the ‘the visual’ but also constituted ourselves as subjects, bodily and haptically. Practically, this enquiry thus follows a series of movements and shifts across forms, sites and encounters (analogue and digitally) and seeks to examine closely the material processes at play in these movements.
An important aspect, already discernible in this and the earlier document for the module, concerns a question over there being a practical way (and a methodological/theoretical interest) in dealing with questions over divergence, excess and a porous and open practice (I have currently the sense that this relates also to the issues of smallness, fleetingness and absence, above). The form of a glossary (see below) explores a way of investigating this for the Research module (BoW has other forms and processes to pursue this concern, such as inventories in different forms, redundancy and iteration).
The methodology is primarily articulated and explored through the BoW: the concepts of near space and moving-with in a series of artistic propositions around drawing/contact. Here, A2 and A3 of BoW have so far been a considerable research laboratory to explore what these concepts can be within an expanded field of drawing. There is data collection as to the experiments and processes to test and explore to understand my concepts and what they do. – I intend to submit BoW 3 during November before investigating the material more fully for Research 3.
Format of dissertation
I seek to represent (and present) the above in a dissertation that sits between three of the identified forms: creative writing, auto-ethnographic and traditional.
This choice follows from both subject matter and theory/methodology to find a form that allows to mirror concerns over fragmentation, relationality, transversalism/nomadism; of the body/ the sensorial as significant means for sense-making; and thus to employ theory/auto-fiction as element.
The format of the essay will be a narrative framework which takes the text as an artistic proposition itself (as one means of enquiry), and in doing so possesses characteristics of a creative writing proposition. It does so within a context of auto-/self-writing (which is somewhat covered in the coursebook as reflective practice) as much as theory fiction (i.e., also touching on elements of what the coursebook calls traditional/research essay).
This post accompanies my submission for Research 2: Theoretical framework.
It’s been about five, almost six months since my previous and first assignment submission for Research. This current one contains an articulation of theory, methodology and form of essay, along with notes on the status of the practical work as well as a literature and resources review.
During those past months I was at times close of walking away from this degree and that is largely due to the nature of the Research module: I find it entirely repetitive, generating lots of material and yet not offering anything in a way of editing the material. Furthermore, it proposes processes of dissertation research which are almost entirely suited for a social science project and only barely make reference to artistic research. I see how it genuinely tries to be helpful in supporting students at this stage, yet the ways it does this: lots of activities, lots of angles, only poorly cohering (what is the relationship between the various bits of writing at ‘exercises’ and the final submission for each of the assignments??) — in this it appears prescriptive and thus entirely limiting: there is throughout a sense that planning takes the place of a creative practice, that constant articulation is the way to evidence one’s academic readiness and thus to pre-empt investigative and creative processes (I understand that part of this is again the limits of a distance-learning degree, another part is due to the wide range of practices coming together in Creative Arts, but the third part: to assume a step-by-step planning process ensures progression is counter-productive for at least half of the students, and a somewhat lazy administrative process currently so in favour in UK HE0.
The advice by my BoW tutor to disregard the coursebook(s) was given early (and in some way how I worked with earlier, similarly limiting coursebooks, notably: Drawing 1 and TAOP). Yet, at this stage this seems not helpful and in the absence of what else, it drops me into a void. — There are afaik five students on this pathway plus myself, three further along, two in earlier parts. Also, by doing two modules concurrently, the contact with each tutor seems distant and hardly present (both tutor and peer interactions were entirely different in Level 2, and these were both, along with two very good coursebooks, the reasons for me to continue).
— This means it takes considerable effort to articulate a way ahead with the dissertation module. I would like to make each stage useful to me and it took me several attempts to do that with the current submission.
At this stage, almost half-way through the current two modules I can see that BoW and the practice investigations drive and animate my work. That my work is theoretically informed and methodologically curious does not distract from the former. In the BoW tutorial in late July we discuss to use BoW 3 as experimentation and research stage: to investigate my key concepts and processes. I did this and this current Research submission is my first point of assembling and stopping to reflect on the content and process of the Creative Work and reflect it back to the initial Research Proposal. For this, the process to get this current submission ready involved the following:
— this is the manuscript I submitted as part of the Walking/Arts conference in July in Prespes, Greece.
This contribution explores a series of video pieces of encounters on street corners, in parks, at dusk, at lunch time. They also take place in private chats, in Facebook posts: circulating across a networked public, tracing notions of veracity, transparency and secrecy. In their gossiping nature they insist that something happened while attending to the power of silence and our attempts to comply and subvert at once. The work is interested in the constitution of public and private in circulation and production: what happens to a private self when it becomes public in: a series of movements-with, urban space, an audio-visual body of work.
a PDF of the manuscript is available here: Gesa Helms Moving-with a line_080619_FINAL_image placement
— it’s a working title, and it is the continuation of my earlier post (and research) on absence, walking into the verge, small performances.
These happened on the day of my departure. They are planned differently (like me walking on my own across some of the fallen walnuts. My dad comes and offers assistance. I don’t refuse and a series of explorations on drawing/contact ensue:
There are a few routes that I would still like to explore for Part 3 of BoW. The investigations of edges, sides, spatial demarcations and what bodies move across has been there since the bridge and road crossings in Northern Greece, they got taken further in August and September with explorations of routes, bridges, side views when moving (see here), as well as the biggest series of work around verges/weeds (minimally here).
When I started drawing the concept maps for this project, I kept finding some questions about in/visibility and absence. I conceptually knew this to have been a recurrent theme, it seemed to belong here too — in its most simple form: what happens when nothing, no drawing/contact happens, but I hadn’t got a sense how/why.
One medium I have continued to struggle with has been that of 1:1 performances or even of devising solo ones. It seemed futile, insignificant, compared to the materials that I would come across and find and develop further from an initial find.
Last week I did however pick up the idea and it was a simple one: to walk into the verge, and then later: to purposefully walk towards a point (in this case, a single apple). These developed over a few days and became some investigations into gravity, movement, our initiation and observation of these (it is also a lot more, but let me see how I want to articulate that).
The ‘verge’ is one of the wild flower borders in my parents place. It continues from there to two apple trees and later a walnut tree (all in early October).
This is the FB post and commentary I wrote about it and which explores ‘absence’ at the heart of the project’; I am also including another post on failure, which is similarly relevant, given my concerns about smallness of the subject matter.
- sweet Rambour
he is already my substitute. i ask her first, she is not keen: i don’t think i can operate your phone camera. he, as usual, is as keen as i usually am. when we walk down, we walk underneath the walnut tree and as on the days before, we step on nuts, on cracked nuts and on empty mushy shells. i say what i would like to do. it sounds simple. it sounds again too little. i am tempted to apologise and then think better. he says: so you want test what happens when you step off the marked way. i nod and explain him the camera and what i would like him to do.
he does it (beautifully). and we acquire this sketch.
later, she asks: are there more walnuts. i say: what do you mean? of course there are. if you asked me if i specifically stepped on some i hadn’t stood on before, i can’t say (but perhaps i should).
2. just after, I write this on failure:
earlier, still, i write a note on failure. the failure is obvious. i speak of it on the second phone call. the first one was mainly my silence, after stuttering: it’s not good. then i am silent again.
the failure is simple, i try to bypass it, to make it non-consequential but it sits at the heart of things. it pounds with a steady beat. it was what invited me in. and now it just evades, i reach my hand out and it remains nothing. not a single thing.
i offer a reason, i don’t think he believes what i offer though he sees the consequences and hears ‘i don’t want to talk about this’ and ‘that is enough now’.
let me turn to the note. it is a line through the year, you can fill in the gaps (you will know a few of them).
The form that folded onwards and sought to become different, other, more, and different again. The final piece in the room contained precisely that: an instruction of a performance for one. Folding, opening, folding again.
He admired my enthusiasm. He mistook my accent and my determination.
In the grass there was everything I desired for this. Like that.
I say later: I don’t care.
While most of my research takes place elsewhere (again), I am now beginning to pull together the materials from BoW and Research.
The plan is to submit Research 2 before BoW 3. In order to do so, however, I am seeking an inventory of BoW and my investigations that followed from the previous tutorial in late July.
The tasks back then for BoW were as follows:
inadvertently I revisited the kaleidoscope images from right at the start of this. I had printed a few dense shrubbery images from the verge/weed series on inkjet to work on, but hadn’t really moved much with that yet. yesterday, while waiting I started folding and it became an inside/outside viewing device/ lens/ focussing object. I took some more with me and will explore a little further.
the initial kaleidoscope images were: spatial praxis play (2: kaleidoscope)
(elsewhere/ otherwise I took a series of routes through drawing/contact and what that concept of near space could be, as set out in the forward plan after the previous BoW tutorial. I am now beginning to review, move and assemble what is there so; will send the overdue Part 2 for Research off in the next couple of weeks and then assemble Part 3 of BoW (for this, I still want to do a small number of enquiries, pursue questions that got raised, these notably concern a couple of larger drawing pieces or more sustained working in series and iteration)).
f. Is ‘My Brexit shite’ a suitable degree show title?
last evening and this morning i catch late and early sun on a couple of rolls each.
— the verge romps ahead in late summer resolution towards its demise: the only plant growing in abundance is the bindweed and it helps topple thistles and nettles along with all else and creates the most intriguing sculptures (it is Daseri in miniature, no villagers displaced here).
i don’t find what i found all other walks but am again enthralled by the lure and beauty of that waist level viewfinder. part of me wants the world in that viewfinder forever. a bit like the wind last Sunday it separates the view and isolates (here: by distance, i can take the narrowest slices through).
the images become in this much more still and sculptural (it’s not what i have sought and still it is of course also in the ones from three years ago). i stick with it and it’s abundant along this route too. it is warm and while i considered the insects i did forget that stepping into verges to photograph tall and extensive nettle patches has a bodily effect. this morning i at some point jump in front of weekend cyclist with a loud ouch. the sunlight is pretty glorious and sculpts further. it is all a little too pretty and the film substrate will make it more so. but then: nettles and bindweed.
Here is the report from the tutorial from 31 July for part 2 of BoW.
Two items here for reference, the rest in the document below:
Project proposal (if any change) (student)
To refocus towards the attention on process and material shifts rather than taking performance as key to the project.
To explore drawing/contact within the parameters of the methodology that I have already begun to articulate and test and experiment with a view to gain an understanding on:
- expectations of the work
- digital and analogue forms of these
- the types of relationships between objects and the overall container, holding framework, assemblage of the work
Critical Reflection (space to critically reflect on the work across both units) (student)
Role of concepts of near space, site and moving-with to create a terminology to describe a performative action (of drawing in an expanded field)
>> the methodology for the project needs further unpacking and articulating: where does it come from and where does it reach.
>> here the glossary that Rachel suggested for Research is indeed useful (possibly to explore and make connections, to refine – not necessarily to define down) [I am thinking of e.g. Raymond Williams’ Keywords].
BoW then would become the place where I figure out practically what the methodology is for the ideas concerning near space, drawing/contact and moving-with.
Part of my own reflections (and which didn’t come into the report) are here: tutorial reflections 1: what is (source) material?
— following my 2nd BoW tutorial last week, I want to write up a few posts exploring some of the key themes going forward. This is the first one, the other ones are likely to be:
- what are expectations of self/object/viewer in the work?
- what about the smallness of things?
For the past few months, I had a sense of what events, gestures or questions would become source material for the project (they were significant, they generated questions for myself and they invited to be explored and shifted in register). Following the tutorial, I however think, that my source material is far broader and more extensive than I had previously anticipated.
It was becoming evident when discussing what I had and notably what the role of the lens-based material is. I tend to sketch with the phone, and yet I hadn’t thought of including virtually any of the photographs as work (the moving image clips possibly, but also not really).
It was also then becoming clearer as to discussing why an event/ gesture/ question is part of the project (and which ones I overlook); and whether I had collected and explore enough for assignment. I had far too much, Doug seemed to indicate I was an assignment further on that 2, and also that there was not enough time to even go through material that was already on the blog/instagram, let alone the material that was still sitting aside/offline.
This has been turning in my head and so I wanted to explore it further. With my parents, I went on a day out yesterday and I designated the day as exploration. I used the camera a lot to observe what came to attention and recorded a series of questions.
Here they are: road signs, positions of bridges, then an artificial mountain of a mining extraction and its position within a field of wind turbines, cloud formation, incidental signage and finds.
The questions or interest revolved around connections while moving, and of bridges/crossings.
— I recognise that earlier bigger projects also started to follow a line of adjacent/ juxtaposed propositions and questions (notably: the line) to place a series of themes next to each other or in relation with each other. I will explore existing material with this in mind to see what it is that leads me to include within the project or to consider part of the project (i.e.: to ask what is the connection/contact/moving-with that I am interested in and how does it manifest and when).
I presented a short cut through the site/moving-with question to the art&environment group on Wednesday evening. For it, I had edited in iMovie+Powerpoint the set up to show the three pieces from the pavement walk in Kozani on one page.
— It was rough but functional. I knew that iMovie doesn’t allow a three-way split screen, and Powerpoint for Mac doesn’t allow to export as video slides with embedded video. So I finally opened the Premiere Pro and figured out how to split a screen and a few hours later, this is a more than functional sketch.
The audio is surprisingly generous of both clips and works well, also in interaction between them. I edited the ending a few times and this works for me at the moment.
I will review a bit further as to balance between the freedom of moving and the structural constraint.
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 find:
as 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)
it 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).
I have an earlier short note also relating to Juliana Spahr here.
this is the centre slide from the presentation of the line. I want to record the whole presentation again but haven’t got it finalised yet.
— I am trying different forms of editing voice and video at the moment; this is a direct recording and then export within powerpoint (current version for Mac), it does some things quite well, it doesn’t record any audio across transitions, and it also seems to show that there is audio on the slide (the symbol on the bottom right). Yet: the synchronisation is straightforward (before I would record audio separately and combine files in iMovie).
Following submission of BoW A2: gather/manifest, I sat down and revised the concept map that I made for BoW A1. Notably, I have clarified as to what concerns its modality (methodology and artistic practice) and how the concept of near space provides the substantive focus (between drawing as means and contact as intent).
Quite a few aspects are still not articulated but rather loosely grouped together. However, this will serve for the next round of focus but also provides a direction for the next Research assignment and how to achieve a stronger focusing in on key aspects.
As material for the dissertation:
the gap pointed to it: what is opened up
the photocopier manual, (m)use me, and the parallel project present its practice
the line as practice to deal with the social subject matter (and so does: office at night; the corridor work and other green: contact, secrets, gossip)
How to trace this through the BoW:
the transferral of marks to the next page,
the pick up of graphite on previous pages
see through/ fold
(it is again processes that have intrigued me for a long time; possibly it is the link to indexicality again here that also concerns the interest in the ‘contact’ concern for the wider project)
most actual drawings in the sketchbook are 10-15mins pieces while on the bus: layering fleeting views on top of each other, repeating and reworking. I did 12-15 of these over four journeys. They are not about indexicality. Yet, in some sense I feel they are relevant in terms of the drawing marks and in terms of what is connected through the moving through?
[edit, 28/ July: I updated and included links to a new concept map; and to a discussion that points towards Research on the theory/concept of how ‘material’ is engaged with here and what that means for the materiality of the project; I also included headings to orientate the reader better]
I have struggled (or am struggling) a little to delineate the materials that form part of this submission: they are extensive, a little excessive even and their form seems indeterminate. Part of the point where I am at now is to consider this struggle as useful. So: here it is.
I delayed the submission for a couple of months as I felt I didn’t have enough materials to point towards the manifestations that I was intent on exploring. The range of experiments and pursuits since the first assignment is relatively vast (but, perhaps along what marked D2, I am wondering what constitutes Drawing, even in an expanded field). However: what it contains and does pursue are questions over performance, over drawing/contact, the concept map from A1 but also questions over audience, relationship between artwork and author/audience. It also takes serious the focus on the small and intimate (both in encounter, but also perhaps in subject matter). It also has pursued and clarified further the ideas around near space, the sensorial and a shifting and moving between different registers.
So, what this post will try to achieve is to delineate the (leaky) container of my current sketchbook and to offer some routes into the material for discussion and a round of critique before focussing in further.
Material explorations (1: performance/ social)
The material that I explored concerns, in the main, a series of encounters/situations of exploring what I understand as near space in an embodied, sensorial form of drawing as expanded field.
A series of events (identified and explored after their occurrence)
A series of 1:1 encounters that are explicitly set up to explore the above.
A series of gestures
- they are mentioned at the start of the first drawing/contact meeting;
- they are also mentioned in some of the sketchbook notes.
- Yet: I possibly feel most uncertain about them, but would like to discuss further
- (part of the uncertainty has to do with authoring/voice; in what kind of process these sit: it is about moving-with, the concept that is the centre of the second presentation [see script below], it seems to have moved from performance more so to choreography/dance)
— I started considering these as somewhat connected to relational aesthetics, a feminist version of this; and also have been reminded of Grant Kester’s Dialogical Art in a conference presentation a couple of weeks ago.
There are a number of different forms/ media that I explored:
The concept map drawings (and some experiments to develop these both analog and digitally)
A couple of booklets/zines:
A series of performative sketches and scores:
- performance score for the gap
- contact/ form
- pavement walking in Kozani
- re-visiting the car park in Manchester (which formed an invisible hinge for the line)
Academic presentations (both performative in form/nature)
- the gap at SAR, Zurich (March)
- the line at Made of Walking conference, Prespes (July)
- she fell in love as layered slide
A FB album from my travels in Greece which became a performative research thing during the week at Made of Walking
A 5000 word essay on the line which is a mix of creative writing and academic article: Gesa Helms Moving-with a line_080619_FINAL_image placement
A sketchbook since mid-June which is travel log but also site of experimentation.
Conceptual/theoretical concerns: moving-with and near space
There is a key set of works and concerns that I felt my week in Prespes was touching on and exploring: the question of site, audience and authorship. I am really intrigued and excited by some of these considerations and findings as I feel they will fold forward to address the question of form and placement of this final body of work: https://close-open.net/2019/07/24/a-week-on-agios-achilleios-as-site/
There are a number of posts which exemplify this approach (and they sit within the FB album). Exemplary, I have moved one into the blog (the issue with moving is that they need a making strange, rewriting to work anonymously in public):
Much of the focus has explicitly rested on the work that is the line, its revisiting, re-publishing, re-editing but also the creation of some new elements and in exploring what is old and what is an artistic practice that folds forward.
The reason for focussing so strongly on the line lies in its approach and subject matter: it explores in detail what I have (again) turned to following the corridor work of D2: the near space, the 1:1 encounter and personal/ intimate stories and how they circulate in various publics, what they are constitutive of. (I have tagged all currently relevant posts with the line; the line itself as video work sits as a tumblr site here and is discussed as Part 5 (and 4) of DI&C))
Theoretically, it also shifted the focus from drawing/contact to a notion of moving-with. –I have some ideas what I mean with this and will focus on these two concepts for the next submission to Research but also amend/expand/re-focus the initial concept map for this (I explore this concept a little further in the manuscript above from the conference, but also have a draft for a longer one in which there is more scope to work conceptually).
Material explorations (2: shifting/matter)
I wrote another reflective post which concerns some of the approach I have been taking towards the media of this body of work: of why and how there is little tangible material engaged with. It led me to the key concerns of D2: the gap, questions of transfer/translation and of agency within and across, — something we did at various points discuss not only as expanded field of drawing but also transdisciplinarity.
Clarifying the modality of the working process points to this as both approach/practice for BoW but also then something that clarifies further the questions of the Research dissertation.
It started with a sketchbook note on near space (which is really a tracing of shifting material/media), here.
Please see this post for a fuller discussion.
Development to this submission
— The period between the previous assignment and this one is rather long. There are a number of staging posts between these to gather the process. In reverse chronological order these are:
I have also added many key FB posts into this blog for the blog to now effectively also function as a sketchbook. They are all categorised as such. There are also further sketchbooks elsewhere but the key items are here. Some further individual images may as before be on the Instagram account. I will revisit my presentation of my digital sketchbooks for the assessment (as I did for Drawing 2), but currently feel this blog site holds the key aspects of my working practice.
— some of the pages (mainly in chronological order) of the sketchbook.
— move, lock, pause. move, lock pause. it rotates around the axis of the split screen (but not quite); the camera is fairly static but still hand-held, I suspect. Twice, or three times the screen goes black except for the split and some colour cast, the monochrome and colour side switch. for at least one of the sequences, the camera is further away. the screen is suspended, like all others, from the ceiling, has some leaves wound around the suspension leads. to the right you see part of the large projection across the far narrow end of the room.