Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) as part of For cover (1/3)

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) is a installation, consisting of a set of double-sided printed cyanotypes (36 sheets of Moleskine Cahier, 28x36cm), piled up and held on top with a hand-sized pebble in a heart-shape. They are placed on top of a closed manual sewing machine (Phoenix 355) with tressel and in a mid-century wooden table form. The front drawing is opened out and it reveals an assortment of sewing utensils: needles, spools, yarn. The work is place on a spring meadow, amid some grasses and white wild flowers. The v-belt of the machine is hanging slack, the plug for the electric lamp is hanging half-way down to the foot pedal.

This work was printing across October 2020 on the mature walnut tree in my parents’ garden. I had experimented with a series of cyanotype printing processes using hedges, trees, leaves etc. and different papers. The Moleskine Cahiers has been my go-to sketchbook for a few years, the thin, heavily-sized paper offers a translucency, rubs and transfers easily, and holds notes and sketches effortlessly. I experimented with single-layers, and single-sided prints. The double-layered double-sided prints I settled on take the paper to its physical limit: the washing of the exposed prints requires attention not to destroy the paper, it dries well and reveals the tears and cracks in close-up. (I would coat a single-side twice, exposure, fix and dry and then coat the second side twice)

The printing was using pegs to fix the paper to low-hanging leaves and branches, the intensity of the sun variable, the exposure time generally between 20-45 minutes), some were printed during high winds, some gathered rain. I placed a few on the ground, some flipped in the process, exposing the back, one I forgot overnight. In some the chemistry disentangled (or perhaps reacted differently with the paper’s seizing?).

For a long time I considered this a gallery-based 2-D curtain, reconstructing the tree in the centre of a room, Im Walde as wall-based installation surrounding it. Over the course of the coming months care and maintenance became themes of all these works and my stay here. I explored ways of building a curtain, sewing air into it, make it see-through, perhaps it could be a quilt, but how could I sew in negative space, make it malleable, make it possible to disassemble, keep modular and unimpaired?

I experimented with paper clips and pegs to make a make-shift shape to cover myself, and was content with that as a possibility, so the pile of prints contains that potential, it can be enacted.

The digital version has a sound piece alongside it. Here I developed what I had been calling Instructions to Touch as time-based portrait, as narration of the process of making in at once strongly chronological form (the numbers point to the chronology of narrating) and yet fragmented (as I would delete and edit the narration).

I installed Walnut Tree on 15 May and had in on site for a couple of hours, to explore its siting, reach and resonance. We played the audio through the phone speakers, it is currently in English, the language in which I art, for the site this however does not make sense. And perhaps the contextualisation isn’t necessary for the encounter in situ.

For development see these posts:

The work emerging around the walnut tree:

https://close-open.net/2019/10/19/d-c-event-walnut-gravity-support/

https://close-open.net/2020/12/14/walnut-tree-of-touch-autumn-works-1/

https://close-open.net/2020/12/15/drei-nusse-autumn-works-3/

Instructions to touch:

https://close-open.net/2021/01/11/instruction-as-relational-engagement-at-a-distance/

https://close-open.net/2021/01/22/instructions-to-touch/

Care work towards blanket:

https://close-open.net/2021/01/28/sorge-strom-as-part-of-stromverteilen/

https://close-open.net/2021/05/01/walnut-tree-of-touch-to-blanket/

https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/walnut-tree-of-touch-a-potential-blanket-resolution/

https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/performing-a-potential-blanket-walnut-tree-of-touch/

Trafodecken as part of For cover (3/3)

Trafodecken [transformer covers or blankets] is a drawing work. It consists of two covers, each approx 160x350cm (each in two separate parts of two x 80x350cm) of heavy tracing paper. The paper was laid out flat across the concrete surface of a compact transformer station at the village edge. They were tied down with ribbon and left on site for 2-3 weeks across November and December 2020. Over the period I would trace fir needles, rain and surface marks with graphite and marker pens. The latter were often dropped as ink stains into the emerging puddles. Over this time, the covers were frequently attended to: tied down, adjusted, in heavy winds rolled up for protection, rolled out again, water was wiped down also.

The first process started with an unmarked cover for several days before starting to trace needles, then water through staining. This resulted in a luminous blanket.

The second process started how I initially intended to start: to take a surface rubbing with a thick graphite stick right at the start (I abandoned that idea with blanket 1 as by the time I was ready to mark the surface many insects started inhabiting it, the graphite rubbing too violent to interact). The second blanket also acquired ink stains, mainly blues, the weather was much calmer, it was frosty too at point, I never rolled it up. This is produced the graphite blanket.

I ended process 1 at the point the paper started to disintegrate and tear easily. I ended process 2 when I was going away for a few days and didn’t want it unattended.

I experimented with various views and objecthood, uncertain as to the status of the work (as process or as object). Eventually, the graphite blanket (ripped once when I was trying to dry it at home after disassembly) covered the transformer station again, the luminous blanket became a kaleidoscopic viewing device for the meadow edge (please see here for a more in-depth discussion of this process).

Trafodecken facilitated the understanding of care and maintenance work within the drawing/contact cycle, and the shift in the practical work (less so the Research dissertation) of considering the haptic and touch as care matter also. This presents a late re-focusing of the module’s work, it is in line with the wider thematic of setting out with the body as a drawing tool and concerns of contact, touch and relational matter. It also facilitates the siting of the two other works, Im Walde and Walnut tree, as discrete works which are linked and related through the two covers, sited on the transformer and in bushes no the meadow edge. The discussion of immersion and access to the work also enabled to reorientate the objecthood and what these Trafodecken are as artistic work towards something that is haptic, encountered up close and can be interacted with (that they produce both rather immersive close-views and aesthetic photographs is a different matter, how these resolve digitally will finally be addressed in SYP).

Please see below for installation views of both Trafodecken.

1. Trafodecke 1 (luminous blanket)

2. Trafodecke 2 (the graphite blanket)

For cover (a drawing/contact event): personal statement

a cover is a covering a ceiling a blanket.

it covers first the transformer so as to trace, to rub, to transfer. it collects sun wind rain needles, and insects wander and meander atop.

i climb up, survey, convey, a tricep lift, a turn, then a jump (i could and do repeat).

the view point is close, caressing along the surface, a blur at times.

the chemistry leans against a branch, a trunk, on the moss it soaks up some acidity (or was it the blueberries) and plays not with blues but with purples, greens and greys, all the while attending to the wind the rain the sun.

i draw, it draws; in contact that is often near yet unsuspecting, unassuming. sometimes we detach, blow off.

a kaleidoscope points to the fir tops, another along the line where meadow path and woods meet.

the fourth blanket was the first, a garden tree in sun and rehabilitation. neither curtain nor quilt (with skills for either discussed while making the bed), it becomes potential, to fold, to enclose, to caress. the tool may be my gran’s sewing machine. you reach it while tracing the spring meadow’s abundance.

For cover presents four covers created across a rural autumn and early winter. It utilises tactile media (graphite rubbings and contact printing) to move-with wind, rain, sun, plant matter alongside hands and other bodies. It did so in an unexpected site, across the small village, just where it meets the forest: a cover is a covering a ceiling a blanket, to potentially cover you and perhaps I.

For cover (a drawing/contact event, Sunday 15 May)

I ask a friend to visit me and to set out the materials on site. Over the past months him and I have discussed frequently the work, the site, my stay and the wider circulation of the drawing/contact methodology. He knows the work, has seen earlier manifestations in mid-December. After I ask him I resolve the Walnut tree piece along with the sewing machine and installation on the meadow. I wait for a dry(-ish) day in this fairly wet and mild May to move the furniture onto the meadow. I try and place the blankets before and by myself, the siting and placement of Im Walde had been resolved in January already (yet not in relation to the others).

The day eventually isn’t dry. The traffic high so he arrives a couple of hours later. We do a walk through the village, each carrying a blanket (and likely under the watchful eye of the entire village), we exit the village to the swimming pool, walk up the slope and pause once the transformer is in view.

I ask him to take some documentation photos. We climb up on the transformer together, he jumps forward, I tricep lift. He says his feet are getting warm from the energy underfoot. We jump down, unroll the graphite blanket, tie it as before (it is now in three parts, a tear happened on the December de-install when it was wet and soft), note how it shrunk over the time, barely covering the width at all. Then I roll out the luminous blanket and place it, adjust, readjust and we watch inside out.

We walk back round via the cafe to pick up some cake, have coffee and cake with my parents then load the other materials into the car, through the village again, watched again. We carry the furniture, not to the place I initially thought but much closer, it obviously needs to be closer to the blankets. Then we watch, wonder, step away, around and closer again. The feet on the spring meadow amidst white delicate flowers and lush green grass is quite something. That I hadn’t considered my gran’s sewing machine for almost thirty years quite another thing. I then begin to set up Im Walde, it takes a while, I seem to get lost in its chronology, we adjust a few sheets. Someone walks past, someone else again. They stop and we talk about the printed wood and my extended stay. I eventually ring my parents who arrive 30 minutes later and the next shower is beginning to threaten. I show them round, they play, we talk. They talk to the neighbour for a while who then steps closer and I show him around. Oh, by now it is raining and the sewing machine hidden under green cover. The cyanotypes are getting soaked and acquire much matter from the Douglas firs above. We stand under the fir on the edge of the site and marvel across. A huge rainbow eventually appears all and us.

I end up with a whole series of process photos and a decent amount of documentation too. The interrelatedness of the different works is difficult to convey visually, the atmosphere of the afternoon and the site similarly so.

(I eventually close my laptop at this point as a heavy shower seeks out the sheltered veranda table I am writing on these days).

So, the day was a drawing/contact event, not a documentation of materials but a testing out and probing how they work on site and with each other. The extent to which the placement of a rather delicate manual sewing machine from the mid-1950s works as resolution to hold the pile of delicate sheets that are another walnut tree and a potential blanket on this abundant spring meadow and in this site was quite something. While I understood it as a resolution I hadn’t quite anticipated the strength of this resolution and what this simple furniture placement would do to alter the site, its reach and resonance.

The site for the luminous blanket is similarly well chosen: there is a rhythm from both East (the village) and West (the forest) to the works, Im Walde and Walnut Tree are big, weighty works with extended outdoor cyanotype processes, they reach well beyond in scale and temporality. The two blankets are in contrast playful, light and airy, the tingle-tangle along, also in height: up on the transformer and half-way up some bushes. They are works to engage with, play with, touch, while the cyanotype works are visual, encountered from a bit of distance. In fact, my mother was the only one who touched the walnut tree sheets, noone stepped uninvited closer to the sewing machine.

I am pleased that Doug pushed me to consider site further and even though as the BoW presented is a series of four covers, not a site nor place, the siting of the objects and the environmental, physical resolution of it would not have been achieved if it wasn’t for my budging up against place and immersiveness.

That Research considers performance and the role of the body in drawing as much as it does is also beneficial for being able to understand this day as performative, as a trying out and testing and then also inviting people to explore it. Five of the six people who I met and I am close to in these nine months in Germany were present and explored the site and the work with me. They took different routes through it, my father sat on sofa I have been sleeping on for this time the next morning and was quite moved how his time recovering from the stroke (the period over which I was printing the walnut tree) was suddenly mingling with his mother’s work tool, which for all my memory stood in the tight corner of the small room which was my favourite childhood place. That all got rained on with the softest West Coast of Scotland weather (incl. a full luminous rainbow) is almost too kitsch to add to this, but of course I do.

See here for a series of pictures from the day to give a sense of the event and performative nature of it:

Luminous cover (Trafodecke 1) as viewing device

Drawing/contact explored a number of routes around viewing devices and visual games: these were called kaleidoscopes or peripheral vision; some of these were digital, others analogue, some involved others: I posted out three singular prints on A4 copy paper to await a return, they returned as a viewing device box, the Boris box, spikey; and the other was a set of chemical experiments on a kitchen stove).

(see here for all posts concerning kaleidoscopes)

In the making of the Trafodecken, the transformer blankets, I ended up with numerous close-ups, onto the indexical tracings, the effects of weather and enviroment, or skimming the surface of the paper into the wooded distance. As they were made on tracing paper, the translucency of the material played with sun and shade. The stiffness of the dry paper would hold shape well.

I hung them into trees, across low fences and pollards, installed in a holiday rental kitchen space, used them as zoom backdrops (with my dad modelling the cosmic weather forecast), but overall, I remained uncertain as to the status of the work: was it process or object, and if object what and where?

After BoW 4 I envisaged to resolved the scale and ambition of site along with a sense of immersiveness (or rather, what become with Laura Marks a notion of the haptic and the erotic). My approach was to create a ‘drawing’ of the site, its processes and how it interrelated. This would be an assemblage (other suggested to call it a map). The viewing devices and visual games resurfaced at this moment and I begun to think of how the idea of ‘climbing into’ the rolled up covers could become them being utilised as a viewing device, a kaleidoscope.

One day I tried out two locations on the meadow/forest edge: first a tree at the entrance (too close to the blanket on the transformer station; also too much a site for dog toilet to feel confident about stepping close). Then I found two bushes a bit further along and I propped the two sheets of blanket 1 (the luminous one) into the bush, one facing skywards (which was a direction I employed with a series of viewing devices), the other skimming horizontally along where path, trees and meadow meet. They are loosely rolled, the luminous ink stains, which resulted from a week of solid rain) to the inside. The sun would fall onto and into them from the top left, tracing branch and leaves as well as the various layers of the paper itself. The view hole fairly small compared to the inside of the viewing device. There is a sense of careful stepping in and towards the two devices, for one you reach up, for the other you crouch a little. I am wondering if for a show it would like a little stepping plate on the ground (or if that would detract).

The development process of final placement and form is here:

1. viewing device images in production process

2. site 1 (abandoned) next to the path

3. site 2 (chosen) further along the meadow edge

4. install process

5. the viewing device in use

Im Walde 14-23 as part of For cover (2/3)

Im Walde 14-23 is a modular contact print work of about 70 sheets of 38x28cm cyanotype exposures. The paper is a heavy cotton rag (Hahnemuehle Platinum Rag). The work is variable in arrangement, however, each column depicts one printing event, the sheets variably arranged within that event as well as each column to another.

In situ, the work is arranged across the width of a worn-out tar road at the end of residential area. Passers-by will have to step across or around on their way out of the village towards the path and the forest edge.

The prints depicts the forest: larch branches, moss, blueberries, young pines, dead firs, some in close contact, other with more distance. The shortest exposure time is 30 minutes, the longest 72 hours, the majority printed from mid-morning to mid-afternoon across late October to late December 2020.

Originally devised for a gallery context, the work is sited as part of For Covers on the edge between village and forest. As digital resolution it is presented as singular sheets in a slide show along with an opening instruction.

In situ, as part of For Corners the work is as follows, the digital resolution is presented underneath.

Research 5: final piece: submission

This post contains the Research Dissertation to my tutor to conclude the Research module.

I have also posted

This concludes Research just very tightly within the 2.5 years that I had for it (including a 6 months extension). I will post another bit of reflection on this Assignment 5, along with a series of changes and additions to the Research part of this blog to align it more closely for assessment (in November 2021) and to make space for a Research folder that will link to the currently blank links in the dissertation.

Here the dissertation. Any thoughts and comments: I’d love to hear them, send them along.

I look forward to wrapping up BoW over the next ten days also and then to turn towards engagement for all of this.

Research 5: reflection and analysis of entire module

I am compiling a series of assignment and tutorial reviews, shorten them and add a final paragraph at this point of concluding Research.

1 review

I reviewed a fair bit of work: live performances in different registers; I watched a series of films too and explored their cinematography, script and framing devices; I have read key pieces of fiction writing that I identified as key for my interests and a fair amount of academic work too. Attending the SAR conference mid-March was really important: both to test out my own work (though any feedback was largely self-derived and little came forward from audience) but also to see where my work relates to and can be situated within. I wrote a couple of these up on the blog, but there are a few other artists still key to what has influenced my thinking about performance, intimacy, site and drawing. I have also had my proposition to move the line from online video work to photo essay and to consider its methodology as walking methodology accepted for a conference in Northern Greece (Walking Arts Network).

What I have arrived at with the articulation of the research proposal is a clear sense of what BoW consists of as a work programme (a series of performances in different registers, audience/participant compositions); I have also settled on a focus for the Research: the concept that I currently call near space, that I seek to investigate in contemporary performance/ drawing practice; which investigates some key themes for BoW: relationality, presence/absence and site. This feels important and useful and allows a focus that fits and can be refined further.

2 review

With the glossary I arrive at the first satellite object and begin the exploration of an appendix, additional objects that are part of Research and thus the notion of this project as Practice as Research starts to take more explicitly shape.
In doing so it also at once, exhibits some of the key methodology of the whole work itself: of how to pull things close and also let them go or push them away.
We talked about Laure Prouvost’s Legsicon, Katrina Palmer’s Endmatter and how there are a variety of ways of how my different materials can become a glossary, including the photos, links to texts and other things.

The objects of research at this point are significantly different to what eventually become research objects (we discuss relational tables within GIS and diagrams).

3 review

The tutorial for this assignment took place soon after submission and just as pandemic lockdown was taking hold. My social life had quietened in its analogue form and the distance modality was pushing hard on the laptop camera and microphone. The tutorial, its discussions and insights sat as excess in a world that had begun to get stilled (with some anxious twitches).

We discuss the proposed site of the staircase, its objects and arrive at the padlets that designate at that point three case studies, and that these may be research objects rather than BoW. Questions arise as to how these fold back into the research, how they relate, as well as how the Herz/Stein series acts as warp right across. The glossary elucidates the different aspects here.

4 review

After a thirteen months break we pick up and start with the concepts of the previous BoW 4 tutorial, immersiveness and audience engagement and how these relate to the Research draft. Concerning the draft then the structure of it, its different voices and positions and how it organises excess are key at this point: the role of the academic voice, of research materials, of a research folder on the blog; and then to ensure excess is managed and that the research questions are addressed. We pick up fairly effortlessly after that 13 months break between 3 and 4; we cover initially some of the discussions around immersiveness and audience engagement that arose in BoW 4 and then cover the following:

5 review

Tracing the first proposal through to this moment of conclusion shows at once what has remained constant, what has become more defined and clarified and what was abandoned during that time. The consistency of enquiry, concern over engagement, voice and excess strike me, along with the fruitful exchange and support in the tutorial arrangement, the persistence of focus even as my material and site altered drastically not just once but twice. Relational enquiries with other people, 1:1 or in group settings did not take place, I tried a series of small exchanges at a distance, but the main focus moved to drawing/contact with materials, sites, atmospheres. The BoW shifted further while the methodological focus of Research was merely adjusted to also allow for the eventual BoW series, albeit it taking in Laura Marks’s Touch provided a key conceptual development for both, BoW and Research. I became confident in articulating PaR as methodology and integrating existing research experience with my growing skills as a creative arts practitioner. This feels a considerable achievement and I look forward to engaging this during SYP.

Reflections and alterations on the initial research proposal (part of Research 5)

The initial research proposal, my tutor’s annotations to it and the tutor report report for Research 1 are here:

Revisiting these after more than two years point to a series of continuities:

a. the question of voice (and the balance between a reflective, narrative one vis-a-vis an authoritative academic one) was already raised: how of tighten and how to make more authorial my argument. I valued these discussion as much as they clarified to me why I left an academic appointment to seek a creative arts setting, this being an academic degree qualification of course didn’t make the engagement obsolete but it helped sharpen and hone the kinds of voice and registers that I was seeking with my research and practice enquiries and engagements.

b. the suggestion of a glossary arised early on (partly in response to a) and enabled the long and rather fruitful path of how to create objects for Research, of how to conduct PaR and what kind of artistic ‘objects’ I am interested in.

c. from the start I took the critical reflection between BoW and Research serious and frequently returned to these. I feel this is a part where I successfully drew on my existing research experience as well as a rather well-defined artistic practice to be able to move between process and objects and to help develop these as strands with both Research and BoW holding objects and processes accordingly.

The research questions necessarily narrowed: there were no workshops, there were less and less 1:1 enquiries (even though I had found a way of how these could be made fruitful for drawing/contact). This was to a good part due to the pandemic and contact restrictions. And while I experimented with a series of participatory processes (a DIY zine for the staircase site; a series of viewing device instructions posted out), these towards the end call themselves ‘Instructions to touch’ yet are surreal, time-based portraits and narratives rather than engagement. However, with the question of engagement being at the heart of not just SYP but also how I conceive of this work, I look forward to moving this towards processes that involve others, closer and at a distance. The review of other artists’ practice was also less of a feature than initially planned and the work became very strongly one of a process-enquiry of my own practice, of the objects emerging and developing within this and this practice-as-research would yield insight and learning to fold onwards.

With the decision to actively conduct research in this enquiry, the creative writing as theory fiction as auto fiction, retreated somewhat in order to make space for methodology and findings. The case studies became research material, sited outside the text and along with other objects became part of the satellite objects, the appendices that surround a 5000 words academic text in the field of creative arts.

The initial proposal, a few months into the project, draws on earlier work and the development of this, it also features a series of academic practices (conference talks, academic papers, powerpoint presentations as well as diagrams). I wondered at that stage not only what would be considered new work but also the extent to which this academic practice should be part of BoW. Eventually, none of this become part of the portfolio, neither of BoW nor Research. For the latter, I over the course of the module developed a research practice which is firmly located within the creative arts and articulates as PaR, that this is building on an social science research career is not hidden but it is also a distinct development on from this. It is possibly this which I consider the most important learning from Research.

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 itself.video: 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:http://www.doubledialogues.com/article/stop-telling-me-stories-she-said/

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?https://ecu.au.libguides.com/research-methodologies-creative-arts-humanities/exegesis

Site (ambition of), immersiveness and lint in the BoW

These are the two key themes that arose from the BoW 4 tutorial for the final resolution. As Walnut tree approaches resolution I revisit the BoW materials and come to the view that these are now complete and effectively concluded. They orientate around each other, contain site/practice and are my response to the drawing/contact brief. Much remains unresolved, open but this is very much the nature of my artistic practice as research, so all else will either be addressed in Research, in SYP or at a time later.

I am adding the sketchbook notes here for now, I may type them up but perhaps they will also suffice for my discussion and response to making the BoW address both the (ambition and scale of) site as well as the notion of immersiveness that organises the relationship between work and audience (and/or participants).

The task from BoW 4 were as follows:

  • Exploring the material forms (notably: video, perhaps writing, perhaps audio) that unpacks site and practice further – substantively (as in how the work relates to itself) and practically (as in how the work can be encountered)
  • Revising artist statement to clarify process and intent of the work
  • Tapping out which work is part of this process and how
  • Clarifying the role of screen and the relational principles between the work: how to negotiate different scales between ambitious site and quotidian lint

I spend a little more time considering the role of lint within the works that are proposed and come these:

Performing a potential blanket (Walnut tree of touch)

[pretty much a placeholder right now]

As part of the Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) I am exploring temporary fixtures, wooden pegs and paper clips, to create shapes and forms from the sheets of print and how these can be inhabited. A first set of images is done in low lighting and haphazard, I would like to add some outdoor explorations to this and will try to amend in time for the crit on Wednesday. But the idea is already contained in these rather poor images:

update (5/5/21): the weather being rather wild puts another iteration of this, outside and in daylight on hold.

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket): resolution

1. In situ installation (a Phoenix 350 sewing machine, folded down, the front drawer is open, revealing an assortment of sewing utensils as well as a small b&w photograph featuring a woman sitting at a wooden desk in front of some garden bushes, possibly currants; a pile of double-sided printed cyanotype on Moleskine sketchbook paper, double-sided; a stone holding these in place)

2. Proposed site of the above installation

Option 1: central to first image in centre of meadow, images 2-4 are views from the proposed table site:

Option 2: at the side of the meadow, near a pine, looking onto the meadow (images 1-3) from table location:

3. Instructions to touch (a potential blanket)

There is a text or audio document to go alongside (possible the text printed and wrapping the pile, or in a digital setting, the audio would play:

(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 marker 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.

(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 windowsill. Think about a precious wrapping for this singular stone.

(16) Remember the process of unbinding the sketchbook, mixing the chemistry after dinner and coating a first side once, after an hour a second time with the chemistry. Switch off the light, after an hour place the sheets (10 for 10g+4g) into the light-proof bag and go to bed.

(17) Over lunch, on any day throughout October, place your prepared sheets onto the tree, watch for wind, sun and rain. You can vary the exposure time and you can also discover that you don’t need to concern yourself all that much with mistakes here and there. Continue to print in this manner until the leaves are shed off the tree. Show your dad your prints at regular intervals.

(10) As your father and you move his mother’s sewing machine (manual, with trestle and no zigzag stitch) to your room, tell him about that photo of your other gran, in their garden, on a desk, revising for her driving license. Look it out and retrieve it from appr0ach.net.

(11) Remember the stone from autumn, find it on the desk and place it on the pile of prints.

(15) Sit down to write these notes at the furthest desk in the woods. The shoes are wet from the grass, you pull the hood over as it is slightly not warm enough (like most days, really). There is the usual bird chorus, then after a while another sound rises to your consciousness: further out, beyond the furthest field a cuckoo. The first of this spring.

(12) After that meadow exploration I navigate the hedge and fence and step up to the patio, I kneel down next to him as he washes tools in a bucket filled with water and vinegar. I tell him softly that I may have resolved the work.

(13) There is a walnut tree in your garden. Yes, I took some leaves from yours in autumn. Yes, mine is about to get new leaves.

(14) I write the process from the day before on the Trafo, cross-legged, in an early sun. I take a leave and hold it against the sun and the firs. It layers effortlessly.

(8) I tire after a first attempt a few days earlier and prepare to walk off. I return and explore the meadow with a view as to siting the table. I wonder: are we looking at the table or looking from the table. 

(18) The start of this, I realise, is a wrong lead, another project, not this. Really, perhaps this project starts with a hastily packed bag for a short emergency visit and a navigation of European Covid travel towards an ICU hospital bed some 36 hours later. I write this record eight months later still.

Walnut tree of touch (to blanket)

The prints of the autumnal walnut tree have so far remained unresolved. They featured in a number of posts and small explorations but have stayed in in a folder.

Previous relevant posts for this series are:

https://close-open.net/2020/12/14/walnut-tree-of-touch-autumn-works-1/

https://close-open.net/2021/01/28/sorge-strom-as-part-of-stromverteilen/

https://close-open.net/2019/10/19/d-c-event-walnut-gravity-support/

For a crit group session on Wednesday 5/5, I proposed to explore these as the work is too relevant and significant to stay out of the actual BoW.

I go through a series of enquiries and a development process that is detailed in this sketchbook note:

The main points here are:

  • Discussions with my mother and a colleague over quilting, making a blanket alongside the other blankets (nb that Decke in German means blanket but also ceiling or cover, translating Trafodecke merely as blanket is too cosy) clarify that
    • a sense of context, a see-through is as important as
    • a sense that the blanket can become undone, the individual parts remain unchanged, undamaged.
    • an exploration of sculptural form beyond a blanket, e.g. a trunk, a cave, a cape are important too.
  • I make a sheet clipped with paper clips of 2×6, closed and explore one evening
  • I place the sheets in a tree and watch them move, sway, fall off

I realise too that I am thinking of an installation that includes a potentiality for the blanket: a pile of sheets held down with a heart-shaped stone I found one day on top of an old manual sewing maching placed on the meadow at the forest edge, along with a text that includes instructions around this work, and a series of performative video pieces that explore the potential blanket.

  • the prints were done when my dad moved from ICU to ward to rehab following a severe stroke in late Summer and that process is contained in the printing (him and I did some performance work around the walnut tree in the preceding autumn).

So, for the work a number of things are important:

It should hold the significance of the material and context well: tender, soft, with depth.

It should also hold the relationship of drawing/ contact, of the haptic and the visual and of closeness and distance.

How do these relate to the other parts of the BoW and where does it slot into the ‘site’ that is Stromverteilen?

As remaining development work this means:

  • a series of performances around sculpted/modelled constructions from the sheets (I order both wooden pegs and large paper clips to build temporary structures)

>> a temporary placeholder (with poor images) is in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/performing-a-potential-blanket-walnut-tree-of-touch/

  • to write instructions for the work
  • to try the sewing machine (currently located in the upper floor hallway in the house)

>> these instructions and a first photo set of the machine, the prints and the location is written up in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/walnut-tree-of-touch-a-potential-blanket-resolution/

  • to do a performance on the meadow with all elements once my friend T. comes and visits me in ten days.

The development of this overall material and various experiments are caught in these images:

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))

Orientating Research blog towards assessment

The Research module consists of several elements. This post is a first attempt to orientate these towards resolution and assessment.

a. Research outline from A1

b. The dissertation, consisting of:

  • main body of text
  • different voices articulating alongside the main body of text, notably: research practice and notes sitting aside
  • Appendices to the main body: key points to the research practice and clarifications over key works and positions

c. Research padlets

d. Other padlets transecting across BoW and Research

e. Art works originating within the research process

f. Research folder on blog

It is this latter, the research folder on the blog that I need to organise and orientate. I have the blog so far mainly used to provide a number of things

  1. assignments, reflections and tutorial notes
  2. critical reflections across BoW and Research
  3. practice pieces and enquiries, many of these are part of BoW, some are part of Research; these often have a performative nature, are often not contextualised nor annotated but instead use the blog as performance/presentation platform
  4. some reflections on works and processes that do not directly relate to the intersection between BoW and Research, some of these are for Research

I have not so far used the blog to provide contextual studies or reviews or reflections (like artists, works, exhibitions, etc.), I did this in the past but for these modules much less so, and little that is writing for such purpose for Research.

Research tutorial 4 made clear that the current organisation of excess, appendix or satellite objects does not provide enough space to explore key debates, artists, works nor indeed conceptual considerations for my own practice within the 5k word limit of the dissertation.

Here, the Research folder on the blog will take this role, and it will hold a series of reflective and contextual pieces along with more theoretical and conceptual discussions.

Currently there are four key posts to write:

  1. Theoretical significance of nomadism and transversalism (and possibly some new materialism also) which underpins the dissertation but is not covered in depth. (The dissertation will discuss in turn Marks and Springgay/Truman in more detail)
  2. Key writers and artists: Spahr, Kapil and Krauss are alluded too, so are Calle, Goudal and Matta Clark; these need more discussion (and possibly just a list of relevant context as appendix in the dissertation); there are also: Bethan Huw’s Lake Piece, Gillian Wearing’s Dancing in Peckham and Georgina Starr’s Eddy & Whistle whose works keep returning to my mind. (Jonas and Palmer will in turn feature in more detail in the dissertation).
  3. Different voices in the dissertation
  4. Managing excess in Research

I will then also reorganise the categories and tags to account for this new section.

Tutor report for Research 4

I have the tutorial for Res 4 soon after submission and today post my notes to Rachel. We pick up fairly effortlessly after that 13 months break between 3 and 4; we cover initially some of the discussions around immersiveness and audience engagement that arose in BoW 4 and then cover the following:

  • Audience relationship and notions of immersion
  • Voices in the document
  • Unpacking and strengthening academic voice
  • Priorities and what to unpack: the role of the blog
  • Using the conclusion to go back to aims
  • Managing excess

The two key items to take are around the various voices within the document and how to organise these successfully.

The other one concerns one of the rules that I declared (initially in the introduction, for word count then as appendix: that the document, the Research project, manages excess). Rachel poses this as question and I include this section:

Managing excess

The Appendix with Rules: Can this come earlier, these rules are significant. As foreword or prelude? I also suggest to have it as opening quote to start with. Rachel asks: so does this essay manage excess (does it succeed?)? I describe how it manages excess through the various satellite objects and a designation of different voices. I then wonder if excess is already being managed by me naming it, by planting that idea in a relational context, in a dialogue and that the other then wonders if there is more, if there is more beyond the parameter of the project. So that it effectively introduces in dialogue a fantasy object that leads the other to seek around and beyond, and to go away with a fantasy (57mins: transcribe in toto).

Will Self: Digital essay on Kafka’s Wound, a hyperlinked essay.

Arno Schmidt’s Bottom’s Dream

[While listening again, I hear that Rachel also asks whether the project is successful, I didn’t hear that in the first conversation. I will come back to this: of what is success in this, what failure? Perhaps questions of control are always both: tight boundaries provide safety but exclude and simplify massively; and vice versa. Does it depend on the actual relational contact in which this is approached and negotiated every single time to give a sense of whether it works?]

A series of key points for what is next arise from the discussion, I will unpack these further in a next post but they will principally concern

  • clarification of voices across the document
  • strengthening and tightening of academic voice
  • use of Research folder on blog to take all excess and allow me to unpack key issues without worry about the word count

These are relatively modest in scope, I hope the first two won’t take more than a week, the second one requires some reorganisation of the blog which I so far have not really used as a Research notebook, the notebook only every functioned explicitly for the practical work; how extensive this work is going to be is after an initial set of 3-5 posts pretty much up to me though.

The full report is attached here:

Draft portfolio for BoW 5

As part of my preparation for Research 4 I populated a padlet that starts with a first encounter of the site of Stromverteilen and then spreads out (towards the bottom right of the site) to encompass different processes, enquiries and experiments to lead to some of the more defined works and series within this BoW. Crucially, I also include some of the textual concepts and experiments here and thus treat moving-with as textual as much as visual and conceptual.

So far the material around Herz/Stein is entirely absent. I am thinking of dropping in small elements either around the mid-diagonal or right across the whole site.

I also note a few other absences (like some of the finished objects and the still remaining large ‘drawing to provide access into the site of Stromverteilen).

I think the processes around the actual transformer station need a bit more around the care and maintenance work (I currently have only some images for this). It feels more substantial, as if that site is centrally engaged in that task.

click on image to visit Stromverteilen padlet

Research 4: submission of a working draft

I submit a word document with embedded audio and ten appendices to my Research tutor.

There are a few notes to accompany this submission:

  • Case studies, a/v materials and word count. The dissertation word limit is 5000 words. The Research handbook suggests a study with primary research, which I took serious and present the work primarily as Practice as Research (PaR), it features also forms of narration that fall between theory/fiction and creative writing. The word count even for a simple primary research study is severely limited. My desire to trace divergence with different formats runs up against that limitation even more.
  • My solution to this are several strategies:
    • A series of appendices was early on discussed, as satellite objects, I take Kate Zambreno’s (2018) Appendix Project as inspiration.
    • I move some of my theory discussion into a video narration
    • I present three case studies (verge/weed, Dreaming the staircase and Stromverteilen), they each relate to large work series with BoW, the latter, Stromverteilen, effectively becoming an overall container. Each of these series have an attendant padlet space which operates as object for the Research. I currently present the written narrations for each case in the dissertation but also include an audio file narrating these. I would like to consider these quotes rather than part of the word count.
    • To a lesser degree this also applies to a few sections from my research folder where I quote my own notes.
  • The above gives some space to explore the research findings relating to the questions, this still feels cursory (I offer a series of routes through enquiries along with two longer discussions of reach/resonance and near space as key findings). I include a list of resources and materials in which I provide more insight into the research processes and the BoW.

Of course the above restrictions budge up against my existing writing practice across these registers: research articles of around 8000 words or in fact a PhD thesis where a 5000 words dissertation will always feel superficial and limited. And yet, I feel this working draft does work, it provides a frame and focus onto the questions that animate the PaR and it offers a series of original insights. What forms and publics these may seek beyond the assessors is a different question, which in part can also be attended to in SYP.

The early discussions around the glossary as well as satellite objects and excess has found a form and expression that seems fitting to me. It allows for different registers and media to circle in different orbits around the text.

There is a lot more in the reference (both artistic works and academic writing) that is not expressed in fullness, Friedrich Kittler’s work remains salient and solely features in a footnote. Relating Laura Marks sensuous theory to Kittler seems promising and is not articulated in writing (though perhaps in practice).

That this is completed almost 12 months late feels like a considerable achievement. I pressed pause at the start of the pandemic, then a combination of winter wave and family illness pushed me further away from the academic work while generating far more practical work (while all the same the loss of distance to and detachment from seemed to ever increase).

I am excited that it is at this stage, I look forward to the discussion of some of the findings and ways to hone and sharpen the written contribution for the Research module.

There are two things remaining ahead of the tutorial:

  1. I want to provide too an update on my BoW padlet (https://oca.padlet.org/gesa492645/rthyyn7qr5iz1zak) to account for the works that have developed alongside the writing of the text.
  2. Stromverteilen as padlet has developed from a single (and naive, first encountered) site to effectively function as portfolio for the whole BoW (https://oca.padlet.org/gesa492645/8vgddo2olqqwjib1).

I am not currently attaching the draft to this post, if you are interested in reading: send me a message and I am more than happy to send along.

glossary (for Res 4)

I start the work on Research 4 (draft) by turning to the existing (almost full) draft that I submitted for Res 3 about a year ago and investigate both the research questions and the extent to which these need to change as well as the glossary. The glossary currently exists and a .png file, an object but not a glossary as text.

In the previous Research tutorial we discussed:

  • how the glossary maps out the terrain of the dissertation and research and presents a research object in its own right; and
  • that I should investigate the relationship between the research padlets (verge/weed, stair:case) and the glossary object as a matter of research itself to feed back into the dissertation.

I am starting this process now before writing through the draft sections. Over the months I had updated and revised the dissertations sections as the project was shifting, and am in terms of structure fairly clear what needs to be cut, what reordered and what added.

A similar clarity exists as to the glossary terms: I revise, after having done a rather long list of potential new ones; I cut the ones that for the whole project no longer bear all that much relevance; and alter some terminology. I am clear about the four sections (new conceptual contribution; obstacles; series solutions; methodology; and that these will be the footnote added to the object). Some terms may combine or diverge (bridge/edge are contained in new Sorge/care; smallness of things becomes lin; a/drift covers some of the earlier barriers.

It may be necessary to abandon the title concept drawing/contact: it seems too vague now (and I have a similar sense over how I used performance in earlier submissions). Tentatively, I propose reach/resonance to cover the relational of drawing/contact, it seems to contain the movement better too as well as the role of site. I may delete site/practice and practice/site too: perhaps it’s also too generic and unnecessary.

I am considering including keywords as appendix as short, more traditional paragraphs for each term of the glossary.

Here my revised one, the original one below:

Glossary object as of February 2021
Glossary object as of February 2020

PS: distance (none at all)

as I sit and write the earlier post I seem to be forgetting one key element, I turn left and right, half-trace it, it dissipates again, eventually, I convince myself that it is all there already.

Only, it isn’t: the key condition of working (or perhaps: living) under pandemic conditions, here or in the earlier there, is marked by distance, the total lack of it: all is immediate, all seems an ever-running live feed, I can’t step to the side, pause, rewind. In turn, all becomes now, immediate, what is gone is gone and I barely get to anticipate.

In all previous work the stepping to the side was the key movement, the key move and gesture in order to step up closer again. This side step is gone (while still everything seems to pass by).

This condition of distance jostles for attention as much as the ever-evading module work and the distance of contact restrictions. Trying to give each of them a presence in this body of work is what this second half of the work is concerned with.

The maraprilay padlet was an earlier attempt, so was the distributed distance tracing of absent sketchbooks.

distance/contact (after BoW4)

I stumble upon a note from 14 months ago. I want to post it, it seems so resonant of now, then I find a note that I already did post it, here: https://close-open.net/2019/12/04/distance-proximity-after-res-2/

And when I find the image I immediately remember the loop I did back then before eventually heading back to the pub, after all.

Today, or yesterday, or the past however many months, the note on the same topic reads as follows:

Distance: the module seems to ever evade me, the whole project constantly under threat of slipping away, of me letting it slip away. Of it falling apart under my hands (es zerrinnt mir in den Haenden). I am anxious as the weeks pass that it will never get done. So, all the while the project is so interested in contact and touch, it is the distance that organises it.

In/out of reach as modality to know the project.

(and that an arm’s length is a good measure for closeness is something a colleague offered some time ago also).

It is of course the modality of the pandemic also, and in that the project begun an enquiry, the enquiry shifted, ruptured (like one of those register shifts I set out with? just more violently, more abrupt, entirely not initiated by myself), and I at once wanted to let it be unsettled, wanted to recognise that register shift as significant while also seeking a response that would not simply try to anchor the project in a before, nostalgic state. In doing so, an almost completed project got opened up and out again, my personal circumstances altered by care relations as much as what the pandemic introduced as travel distance and the combination of these proved almost too much for the lightness of touch, of contact that the project had been exploring.

Today I read back over my Research draft and settle down to reorganise it for the third time.

Submission of BoW 4 Core

This post orientates the works assembled as part of my BoW 4 Core submission and points towards key reflections around these.

The disjuncture of the previous 10 months means that the blog is somewhat discontinuous and I only start in late autumn to gather material and reflection here, after having completed a number of fairly extensive works. I have since Research 3 assembled much of my work in padlets, using the canvas layout effectively as interactive mindmaps and concept maps.

As part of this submission I set up a padlet which will serve as a work space to map the works, the key texts and the timeline (both for Research and BoW) (click on image to open padlet):

a body of work: core padlet outlining work to date

Currently it is organised chronological, pointing towards the works that informed up to Research 3, the pandemic interlude and then a series of works that took place since September and which I orientate my BoW around. It details key elements of these autumn works and key themes, linking to other padlets, to blog posts as well as a couple of videos.

The work is vast as it now covers 25 months as well as two ruptures at a point I was ready to submit BoW 4 and Res 4 back in March 2020.

Two of the autumn works are resolved in different ways.

1. Im Walde 14-23

2. Stromverteilen (series)

Two other works are part of the autumn works cycle:

3. Walnut Tree of Touch

4. Drei Nuesse

Given the amount of material, I propose a tentative priority:

1. Am Walde

2. Stromverteilen (as series)

3. Instructions to touch and related posts around tactility, handling collections and touch at the centre of the work (Drei Nuesse and Herz/Stein are practice-based series, and I realise now too that Stromverteilen, despite its scale and reach also has these elements strongly present).

4. Distributed Distance and Herz/Stein summer school

>> these latter point towards the small-scale, repetitive processes, the fluff of the work that I initially intended to make accessible as a self-assemble artist book portfolio and which I am now trying to reconfigure to allow for the idea of near-space, touch and contact to function under pandemic conditions.

5. Verge/Weed and stair:case from the Spring padlets function as extensive sites/practices

6. Drei Nuesse is a practice-based proposal, where I created fragile toned strips of exposed paper, they mirror bookmarks from earlier in 2020, but I am uncertain about the objecthood of this series.

7. Walnut tree of touch is resolved but not further assembled beyond the 36 double-sided prints. The intention is to sow these as 6×6, with spacing between and hang into a room. It has relatively little material assembled around it as I focused on the practice series and tried to make them work for a digital/distributed/distance format.

Leading up to this submission I spent considerable time around the small tactile practices once Im Walde was concluded. I then turned to Stromverteilen to explore what was in this considerable thematic besides the Parcours video and the blankets as residues. In this process, the work expanded and seems to hold considerable promise in the different strands (akin to the original staircase site). So the padlet and blog contains several recent posts trying to explore the themes and different forms in it. This also means that I have not spent much more time with either Walnut Tree of Touch nor the Drei Nuesse.

I have a sense that the autumn works address and explore the drawing/contact and relational near-space and the practices of moving-with; that this work can live digitally is without a doubt to me, enough of my practice moves between analogue and digital and is interested in the transitions and translations thereof. This is not the problem that the pandemic posed to me. The problem is more ontological as to the extent to which tactility was being pause, shifted, reconfigured and I realised that my work tracks along a present, works with memory and envisages a future; in order to understand this significant shift, it needed to pause as the sudden rupture and closing off of sites in March meant the work had suddenly ceased to be contemporary and I didn’t want to add a mournful nostalgic front to the whole project. That the pandemic is still with us however also means that the shift is longer term in nature and the rupture will remain as significant moment informing the present and near future. This in turn means that I can begin to make it part of the work and seek forms of expression, engagement and interaction within this shift.

I anticipate that a good part of these thoughts will fold into SYP; some of the ontological shifts and what it means for my practice will inform the draft of Research 4 and any notion of an appendix as satellite objects of the body of work. I will turn to these after this submission and have begun to mark a few observations in the reflections and post published for BoW (without necessarily needing to discuss these here in detail).

Sorge/Strom (as part of Stromverteilen)

Over the process of making the Trafodecken across several late autumn weeks on top of the transformer station, I realise that my role in this durational project is one of care and maintenance work (much later I discover that the employees of the electricity company are also charged with a monthly maintenance check-up of the station. We never meet until they send me a message late in January).

I am presenting the material simply in gallery form. There are alongside a series of short videos (turning pages, revealing cones and plugged feathers, insects moving on the blankets, the viewing device surveying vertical lines).

This work presents the practice thread that also features e.g. in the earlier sketchbook materials and Herz/Stein, Drei Nuesse. I remain uncertain about the form (other than galleries, slides and/or a/v works). I don’t think the purpose is to pull out individual photographs to print as objects — Yet, this remains part of the review/discussion.

Sorge (Care)

Across five weeks I go almost daily, often twice daily to check in on the blanket, the wind, the rain, the needles and the resin. The wider site had become a destination for about a months earlier, so the 12 mins route from one side of the village to the other village edge (I leave the village towards the swimming pool, walk up along the woodland to come to the holiday flats that mark the village edge a little further north) has become a commute. Noone asks but if they did I would have told them about my outdoor office.

I am most uncertain about the effect of the wind, the blankets are loosely tied to the station but the two rows mean the gap in the centre easily catches in the wind. I pull on the sides, tighten the string and at one occasion roll the paper up and tie it down on the northerly corner to secure it against a storm. The first paper is heavily marked by this process, for the second paper the weather was calmer, marked by periods of frost and clear sky, or perhaps I only secure the paper more firmly?

Across this period I patch some tears, hide marks I feel ambivalent about and also feed some of the documentation back in to the process.

I also observe the insects on top of the blankets. In fact, I observe mostly, besides the pulling the blanket into place.

The initial impetus for this work resided in the idea of rubbing and marking the tracing paper (much of my earlier work was interested in this, I (re-)discover Ingrid Calame’s large scale works), but once in place, I find the marking too strong, the graphite rubbing too violent, and so I step back. Later, with the heavy rains and the puddle patterning on top I discover the translucency of the Copic inks (dropped from the refill, the pens don’t work with moisture). These seem perfect to add and keep lightness in the process.

Here are a number of images around the maintenance work

Strom (Flow, also: electricity)

My maintenance work around the transformer has a resonance nearby. The house next to it is being refurbished. It becomes a welcome stopping point, a frequent conversation: we chat while he works. He discovers how faulty the house’s electricity is and spends the weeks while I mark wind on the transformer station with rewiring the house, trying to find and resolve faults. I joke that I can sit atop of high voltage while he fiddles about with residential low voltage.

I seek permission to draw the broken sockets across the house. I don’t really get it initially, then when I do I don’t find time and by then the most exciting messy sockets are already tidied up. So there exists only one afternoon of hastily drawn sockets and wires in the front porch, drawn from outside. They can be worked further, I can also draw the box with the distribution switches (I am sure there is a technical term for this) or the newly fixed sockets) (This was around the time that Hayley Locke did a couple of workshops around Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, I somehow fantasise of using the cutout shapes for the quickly drawn sketches).

Originell/Verboten (as part of Stromverteilen)

The Trafo sits right at the edge of the village and is adjacent to one of the most popular walking routes out of the village and into the woods. So, most days, there is a frequent stream of dog walkers and walkers (as frequent as in a village of 270 people allows for). I don’t recognise most of the people, they don’t recognise me, over the weeks I however start talking to a few of them, and meet a few I knew from 30 years ago. This definitely becomes a thing once I start sitting on top of the transformer and once I place the first blanket on top. For several of them it takes a few iterations until they ask.

One woman laughs and says: That is original, I have never seen anything like that. I reply: You should try, it’s quite comfortable. — It’s the kind of exchange that I remember as typical, it is a little forward, a little aggressive (the next time she asks: are you bored again?), but also curious. On the third occasion, I have the blanket laid out on the lawn next to it, she steps next to me and says: now I want to have a look at it too, C. (my neighbour from the other side of the village, who observed me from the window front a few days before and enquired who I was and didn’t recognise me) said this was looking really interesting. It takes me to that point to remember that that initial put down hides interest, is the typical kind of conversation opening where I am from.

Another woman finally comes up to check where I am going (I pass her frequently in the village, after a while we started talking, my mother fills me in on the conflict they had with each other some time ago). Now she knows.

The moving onto the transformer as grown woman, the standing on top of it steps aside and outside what is acceptable along that path and in that village. I am conscious of that, I decide not to be concerned, my being here for such extended period of time is enough out of normal for me in any case; that this is simply another environmental art process is routine for me, but not for the village edge.

More recently the conversations concern my role: so, what is this? Art. Ah okay, you mean you earn money with this? Another: You do this professionally? As a hobby? It’s the money earning which is the first item of contention every single time in these more recent conversations.

In the Moving Image workshop in November I say something about the audience: that it is not for the village, and yet the village sees it, engages with it, so what would this look like if the village was an audience?

This process comes to a culmination on Tuesday when I take the blankets up to the station to photograph and explore a couple of lines ahead of the submission. I play for a couple of hours, place them inside the neighbour’s fence, go home for lunch and return a couple of hours later. I. who I talk to while he renovates arrives at the same time and walks towards me: ‘You were wanted earlier. The guys who maintain the transformer asked for who the one was who was sticking up things, placing things on top. You know it’s not allowed. They asked if I knew who was doing this. I said yes, and that I wasn’t going to tell them. So I need to tell you now. Did you stick something up there?’ I laugh, yes, three months ago. He: It’s not allowed. I reply, there is nothing there, so what. He insists and seemingly has forgotten what he observed me doing there for months.

I wonder if it’s the same men who fitted the new distribution box in December. They left the house without electricity on a teaching day. I dared to ask them about timelines, I wasn’t sure if I was too forward or not but 10 mins before my appointment the electricity was back on.

— This story belongs here too, along with a voice memo I sent to my friend in IL for the first time from the site while I waited on the sun to appear on Tuesday. It’s all quiet, noone around, the sound of the memo is all spacious and I talk through the site but also talk through the UK, my distance, the ideas I have for work here, I get upset, a different neighbour appears, he stood with headphones nearby for a while I realise, I also realise he witnessed my displaced distress.

(This one has no visuals, possibly a soundtrack, it can be written more tightly as a storyline though).

Stromverteilen series

I find a transformer station, clamber atop and discover the 1.50 mtrs elevation (and my body’s ability to pull my self up) are joyous. I return and experiment:

  • a collage double spied from the distance
  • a white tracing paper blanket becomes 2 iterations of marking and recording needles, wind, rain, sun and sleet for 14+days leading up to mid-Winter (Trafodecken)
  • a few other items mingle

I take the resulting blankets to a kitchen space, an analogue zoom background and earlier this week back to the site to explore their potential to act as installation screens and as objects in situ.

I also make the transformer and my movement the subject of a short video piece (two channel): Stromverteilen (Parcours).

It rests here for the time being. The video works as a piece, I can also see the blankets acting as an installation site which houses the two video channels. The on site installations struggle to work, even when the sun hits them right. They result in a few good photographs, but I don’t think it’s photographs that I am after. The idea of screen (and backlighting, either by the sun or striplighting) remains but is not yet realised. Eventually, after I gave up with cold hands and clouds, the sun hits the spot and I right at the end throw one blanket into the tree and it’s pretty, delicate with the branches tracing and catching the light. It’s also too random to worry about right now.

(initially I called the whole site, the transition between village and wood, Stromverteilen, started this padlet here, there are a number of other strands in this too, e.g. the faulty electricity wiring nearby, but I pause these right now and let them recede into the sketchbook material).

This post assembles four strands of works within this series, the video the most resolved, the others point towards key processes and the object status is still somewhat uncertain.

I present the four strands, some additional visual documentation and the present a series of observations to be taken forward and into Research.

Works in this series

At this point I tentatively propose:

  1. Stromverteilen (Parcours)
  2. Trafodecken (transformer blankets)
  3. Sorge/Strom [care/flow] (small scale processes and fluff originating within this process): https://close-open.net/2021/01/28/sorge-strom-as-part-of-stromverteilen/
  4. Originell/Verboten [original/forbidden] (talking around while standing on the transformer): https://close-open.net/2021/01/28/originell-verboten-as-part-of-stromverteilen/

This post contains the materials for 1. and 2., the two others are held in separate blog posts.

1. Stromverteilen (Parcours) as video work (probably two channel rather than this combined video. (see some earlier drafts as spart of the Moving Image workshop with Garry Clarkson in November/December).

2. Trafodecken: Key objects and insights from this process

Insights (also relevant for Research):

A series of observations of the recorded materials and the investigations over the process of making the blankets:

  1. The detailed marks that trace needles and rain (as well as some light) on the blankets, for some of the time I keep records as to what is marked when; over the duration the repetition of needles on top and underneath as well as of Copic ink dripped into any puddles are the most persistent features of both the blankets. The second blanket also is frottaged as soon as it is laid out: I use a thick soft graphite to trace the surface. I was eager to do this right away, but the first blanket proved too fascinating in its pristine surface to mark immediately, then I discovered that insects were moving on its surface, the rubbing would have harmed them.
    For the eventually resulting object, the graphite blanket is stark and heavy, the one without much much lighter and translucent.
    The wind and rain soften and weaken the paper, a thick 110gsm tracing paper, the first blanket process comes to an end when I realise the paper is disintegrating and tearing; I close the second process at the point that I leave the village for a week. Both blankets were laid out for a long fortnight leading up to mid-Winter.
    I roll the first blanket up for about a week of high winds.
    Both blankets pull apart in the middle and reveal a gap, right at the end of 2 I place some cyanotype underneath to print this opening.
    I experiment with how I fix the paper on the short sides: I use light string, adjust, readjust.
  2. I go most days, often twice a day. For a large part of the process my work seems maintenance, care even: to check, adjust, tug in. The processes of intervening and tracing take a backseat. Many days I don’t add any marks apart from those to adjust and reposition the papers.
  3. I add a few other objects, sometimes stuff that accidentally has found its way onto the surface, sometimes objects I find on the way that seem relevant. I also a few times take print out from photographs of the process back to the site and place them, some get reworked, some get blown off and placed back in.
    One process is a visual narrative (two photographs placed side-by-side), they stay for several weeks longer, eventually acquire some moss and at the point that they are blown off into the grass nearby, I take them home.
  4. I observe insects, larger ones, mainly smaller ones moving on top of the blankets and mingling with my marks. I records some of them with a handheld iphone, later with a tripod. I am fascinated by the movement they add to the cumulative marks. That I move frequently on top of the blankets too is a resonance, mirroring of the insects and joyful.
  5. Late, after the final documenting in late January I realise the most frequent images document the function of the blanket as peripheral vision and/or kaleidoscope; I photograph the flat top against the wooded background. It’s the spatial construction of this that interests me and that I document and arrange and trace.
    In this, the process adds understanding to how space is constructed, how illusion is achieved and what the process yields for different viewpoints and plays with figure/ground and scale. It’s a similar process that I pursued in the staircase site and it speaks to my interests around utopian spaces, doors to elsewhere and the quotidian, small processes facilitating these.
    Employing the blankets as screen is twofold here: a screen to acts as opaque background, as delimiter, but also a screen as translucent as employing shadow play and filtering the sunlight and objects to the back.
  6. The work around the transformer station is also a movement work, something I call for Research moving-with: The walk up to it, the ‘commute’ from one village side to the other, stepping away, stepping out on the meadow, and then the parcour of pulling myself up on to the station, of sitting, squatting and of jumping down. Furthermore, I have GPS mapping records of my first walk there and a number of subsequent ones. I wonder if this is a separate theme within this series.

These will be the lines of enquiry to pursue further (either within in BoW or to move them to Research). The question of scale for the blankets remains key: there is a sense that the blanket is both screen but also detail, possibly for the latter to be deconstructed and reassembled in book form or similar.

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.