Research 3 submission: Gathering data

I submitted my fieldwork submission to my Research tutor a few days ago. It is entirely contained in a word document, which effectively is my working draft for the overall dissertation.

Over the past two and a half months I reviewed my materials and processes by taking a new set of notes in my sketchbooks, proceeding iteratively; alongside, some of the material is actual practice and meant some of the works for BoW also developed further. I annotated further within evernote and last week decided to buy a license for Scrivener to use it for my writing process. It is aimed an novel writers, has a fuss-free interface and crucially allows for fragmentation into separate documents which then can be re-arranged; you can also keep all sorts of notes alongside. It was a good decision. While I have much experience of writing within word and enjoy it; this work is too sprawling and fragmented for the interface to work easily for me (i.e. not to worry that I will lose significant parts).

I made a shortened document for this post and upload the Introduction, Methodology and ‘case studies’ for the work, partly to help prepare for a meeting tomorrow. I.e. the document (copied into this post) isn’t complete but it gives a sense of the structuring of the essay as well as crucially presents the research practice that took place alongside the BoW and how I am currently thinking of presenting it for the Research module.

Three case studies:

  • verge/weed
  • the dream of the staircase; and
  • drawing/events

are written through as narratives and each link out to a padlet that displays still and moving image material of that strand.

There is a fourth set of work, Herz/Stein which will be woven through the whole dissertation.


The near space in an expanded field of drawing: interdisciplinarity, hybridity and contact

Gesa Helms DRAFT (for Research 3) 12 March 2020

I have started to assemble the whole document but really only to structure it. I have greyed the sections which aren’t that important and in black are the ones that I have now written: spelling out the purpose of the dissertation, its methodology and then, as key, presenting three case studies (with the BoW material presented in padlets for each) plus the structure for the overall dissertation. There is a second more traditional findings sections which I haven’t written through yet.

I would like to discuss the case studies, if the format and form works and what it raises. I would then move to complete a full draft as Res 4 before producing the work for BoW4 after.

(I currently don’t see the padlets being part of the BoW in their form; they exist for the purpose of the Research dissertation. In some sense, like the appendix they are an exemplar of the satellite objects).

1       Introduction

My Level 3 work on the Creative Arts pathway comprises a series of processes and enquiries relating to drawing/contact. It is interested in modality, site and practice of an expanded field of drawing that sets out with the body as initial drawing tool. In so doing, it situates itself in a relational practice that begins with a situated, embodied self and as such follows feminist concerns, taking both contemporary writers and earlier performance artists as inspiration.

Interested in contact implies a curiosity about the fabric that contributes to our articulations of corporeal selfhood (as author, subject and audience). At once immediate, sensorial, tactile it also asks wider questions concerning relationship and presence. These concerns around agency, voice, autonomy are at once informed by older materialisms (notably: a critical materialism of social praxis) and are curious about new materialisms and the constitution of the human body (also in its potential hybridity, one cyborg form or another).

1.1       Aim and objectives

Practically, I set out to pursue this programme in a series of investigations:

  • drawing/performance enquiries which are mainly focused on the self;


  • drawing/performance enquiries which are small scale, intimate and perhaps simply 1:1, either scripted and more formal or more spontaneous in nature.

By focusing on different self/audience parameters I seek to investigate the forms of contact, presence/absence in the kinds of near spaces that are productive and produced in drawing/performance, and, as a second step, explore them in a series of adjacent media and forms, folding forward and onward (Bedford, Schneider, Lepecki, all 2012).

1.2       The fantasy of linearity in a distributed field

This dissertation serves the purpose of a degree qualification component (40 credits at HE6), in this it has to address a series of objectives and its content is evaluated against a set of criteria to award it a mark. To allow me, the student and author, to progress to that mark, the coursebook offers, similar to other OCA courses a series of parts (five), each marked by a point of tutor contact, to arrive at a 5000 word essay in the appropriate structure and conventions.

At the same time it also is a document that marks the completion of more than ten years of (not very linear) engagement with the field of creative practice in a British Higher Education setting. This setting has changed much during those years, much to the better; and then it got a lot more expensive (as an English, fee-paying degree while I am as EU citizen a resident in Scotland where this degree would not cost me). But, to get back to the other purposes of the document (and you can sense, like I do, the pull to talk about the institutional framework governing this document’s existence): it completes my desire, intent and insistence of acquiring an understanding of first painting, then fine arts, then visual arts, then something that sits more contemporary, more interdisciplinary and concern-oriented. Since my last HE5 module I have come to understand my practice as creative arts in an expanded field of drawing. It allows for much.

Additionally, at the start of this module I was concluding a fixed-term part-time teaching role in the discipline, Human Geography, in which I undertook a PhD at the start of the millennium. As part of this I supervised eight undergraduate Honours dissertations, some of them employing approaches and questions not dissimilar to my own final year work.

This dissertation seeks to explore its substantive concerns in a form that is as much part of my creative practice as it has been part of my academic and professional skills for twenty years. In this it seeks to understand a written, textual form to perform, to present, to engage and participate in such practice of distributed drawing. It runs up against conventions and rules (like anything that is based in an institutional setting, or in fact is part of societal structures).

Nonetheless, I would like to introduce a few rules for this dissertation:

  1. it manages excess. Part of the enquiries into drawing/contact are abundant and inherently generative. They are small and inconsequential when taken on their own (at least sometimes) yet in toto accumulate to a distributed field that far exceeds 5000 words. There are appendixes, follow-up on questions and there are satellite objects.
  2. it presents in conventional linearity something that is far less linear in practice. Yet, for a textual document the practice of ‘reading on’ still presents a key approach to temporality, not unlike other time-based work. I can add loops, side notes and references for- and backwards, and still: you will scroll down or turn over. My theoretical contributions are for this presented as findings; my case studies are story-lets that open outwards (to other media, to existing or imaginary appendices).
  3. it budges up against its edges, seeks to subvert and step into the sidelines (knowing fine well the sidelines are as much part of the construct as the core itself). In this, it is dissatisfied with the institutional requirements. It tries to laugh at them but also takes them rather serious in its attempt to find gaps and little fissures to disappear into, to retrieve something from elsewhere or test where the citation convention can be made to serve other purposes.


. [omitting Literature review]


3.1 Methods of moving-with

The dissertation itself presents as artistic practice. It does so by moving-with a series of routes through the body of work and its enquiries. It is interested in the pursuit of movements in which contact arises in fleeting encounters. It is also interested in the materials engaged within these encounters and the kinds of spaces they are productive of.

As outlined in the introduction, the interest of the methodology is to practically — through a body of work — explore an expanded field of drawing (the shorthand I employ for an interdisciplinary practice) around the substantive concerns of moving-with, near space and drawing/contact.

The practical textual means of this dissertation draw on auto-ethnographic forms of enquiry in the social sciences and place them in relation to performative practices (mainly of self-directed enquiry, less so other human participants, though a few will feature). For this purpose, the body of the research material is presented in the form of three case studies which draw three lines (along with some further away animations) through the research field.

The three case studies are organised as loose assemblages: one, verge/weed presents a large substantive enquiry over a period of months; a second, drawing/contact events presents the initial enquiries and the concerns these raised for the articulation of research question, method and materials generated; the third one presents the final field site, an institutional staircase and explore this as the animating principle, the hinge around which most of the material can organise. This site also hovers between an actual, physical, site and a dream construction.

The core, or if I want to call it that: the heart, of the overall research is a series entitled Herz/Stein, heart/stone. Rather than presenting it as a separate case study, its work is woven right throughout the material of the dissertation to explore its relevance not merely as findings of the research but also as impulse, impetus, failure and excess.

In terms of exegesis of research practice and findings, the case study narratives present and link each to an online presentation space (as padlets) at this moment. A more traditional exegesis or analysis of findings is presented in the section ensuing the case studies. The approach taken for this consists of a review and analysis of sketchbooks and other materials and records (loose sheets, FB posts, evernote notes) in which I recorded, reviewed and more intuitively explored the emerging materials, their salience, potential and omissions. These currently consist of eight sketchbooks, three of which covering the production phases over autumn and winter, one of which consisting of review notes. The period of review took six weeks, during which some of the materials (notably Herz/Stein and drawing/events) were developed further still and in some case found resolutions. Alongside this review I also begun to explore the in-situ interventions in the staircase as potential exhibition site and developed a list of works to be produced as part of BoW4.

4        Drawing/contact in case studies

4.1       verge/weed

When does a series start? What marks its beginning?
Is it when I take the Bronica to the lochshore? When I load the film? When I say: next time I will bring the Bronica? The tenth time I stop and position the phone to take an exposure? The first time? When the grasses begin to grow? When the bindweed starts winding? verge/weed starts. It becomes a thing. I take the rolls and have them processed, one of them printed. I spend, much later, a day scanning. I make slideshows and posts (here, there, and the draft folder).

I dream of instructions. Of people watching. He does, watch. Sometimes there is a joke: step further, Gesa, just a little bit further still (into the verge, across, and eventually to tumble into the loch).

Other views filter in, prints veer off, find photocopy paper, a larger printer. The greenhouse. The bridge. Are they part of it? What is it? Is it staying on the path, exceeding it, recording the growing season (and this year’s lack of maintenance so that by August the cycle path has half disappeared.)

I depart. Live for a week on the other side of a bridge. Include the 700 mtrs walk across it. I travel again and find ourselves passing underneath a bridge, another and yet another.

I record more abundance. In close up, Shield Bugs nestle inside wild carrot flowers. They also nestles with each other. I watch, even stare.

I return, record some more and do one of the journeys again. By now, the season has changed, both here and there. The nettles are dying off the bindweed is exalted. The garden offers apples and walnuts, and my dad as eager participant. We finally perform, I record our veering, verging.

This record is merely remembered. It is written quickly. I may have omitted much. Will I retrofit, trace the medium changes across, the turns taken and the positions revisited.

4.2       Dreaming the staircase

I told him quickly of this dream. It doesn’t have an ending. I wake up before the ending, the destination. For weeks, months, I try and daydream a series of onwards developments. It is a desire dream. I don’t reach my destination within it and yet: it is totally within reach.

One day isn’t good. I depart, speechless, and exit, unplanned for, abruptly. I vaguely notice the interior construction that I am departing through. They walk overhead, I hear their voices. Outside I retrace my movement, my turns that have me exiting. I realise the movement is entirely congruous with the staircase movement in the dream itself. The dream starts with me doing the dishes, it follows with a suggestion, an invite, I fail to reach the invitation, or am I the one who gives up on it.

I look at the actual staircase closely. I walked it for years. I noticed its grandeur but generally wouldn’t pay much attention. The turrets, on the other hand; the corridor, on my left hand; the occasional darkness. Once I begin to move-with the staircase, my body crosses effortlessly the edge between dreaming and waking. It is this movement that I trail, stalk until I can step effortlessly between one and the other, in the middle of that institution, while holding a conversation.

For months I return and observe, stand, watch; often talk or listen. I notice its participants, those who walk-with the staircase. I learn gossip. I find extra doors, hidden corners, the objects that make the staircase staircase.

Unexpectedly, just a couple of weeks in, my dream concludes. In practice. I find the two rooms that reside next to each other, the two fragments that suddenly relate to each other; and a movement ensues on the staircase that concludes both dream and desire.

The staircase, right at its top, has a Luke, or is it: die Luke, the hatch (I remain uncertain about its article, is its correlation to the living merely incidental?). I find it early and fantasise about its escape first. Intent to feed it back and to organise around it. In the end, I don’t quite remember: do we? organise around it? or does it remain a fantasy.

A wooden door invites me to push. I never did until recently. Inside it smells chalky, I am waiting for the cicadas on the other side to reward my response to Ancient Greek’s simple past.

In spite of its solidity, the staircase is movement. The principle animated. (not him, the Head, mind).

I try to squeeze it into a single post and a thirty minute conversation. Of course I fail, and yet I get another invitation which I follow suit.

The dream acquires a third act: a fantasy of its objects, me, the ones who view, walk and participate. It is, like the original, fun. We have fun.

Black heat / white heat. I stand and turn. Someone joins me: how can you bear that heat. Later, I take it to the picket and offer it as position, place to the one who complains about the cold. He smiles.

The filter for the staircase is dramatic cool. It mellows the gold decorations and pushes the contrast, I would say a little, it claims dramatically. Another site, further along the corridor owns vivid warm, doing so, it provides a step towards that forest that would eventually lead to the city of illusions. More commonsensically it leads to a filing cabinet.

We can, and once do depart, by flying down the far turret. At its base there is a plaster opening, beautifully peeled. Let me show you. We can quite possibly touch it, too.

4.3       Four events (and then some)

I start with these early on. First one, after my visit there are four. I don’t understand what they may be; they seem precious, special, extraordinary. In this, they are fleeting and insubstantial, of small things. I spend time letting them fold onwards in different means.

I try to talk about them and I falter. Not just once, repeatedly, over months. I set up meetings to falter over these and what I am doing.

The afternoon in Daserí marks a shift. I still falter but with what has happened the preceding day I become daring about the inconsequential things, or perhaps it is her company. We eat and we talk, we watch and we drive. Then we are silent for a bit.

For the first time I sense it is something. A tiny thing, merely. It hardly matters and nonetheless.

When I show him he says: you didn’t erase it, you just hid it, obfuscated it. It still remains.

In the meantime I produce a definite thing, a three layer video movement. It is all that I have done before: it is daring, scratchy, violent and confident. It has a heart too. Appropriately with a question mark, or should that be a semicolon.

Elsewhere, someone does die (while we saved a life before Daserí). The day of his death marks the day that I pick up something lost on a pavement on a cold night a few years before.
The conversation about it will conclude a few months later still, in an introduction, a meeting withheld, a space between us closed.

But, I shouldn’t mix methods, muddle enquiries, so let me change adjustment again.

(yet, seriously, I was observed drowning at the top of the staircase)

From then on I become curious over the insignificance and find it abundantly. I almost don’t need to pay attention and the encounters come to me. My recording changes in the process too, and it changes a third time when I start to review what I have done.

5       Discussing the findings

My research for this submission consists, besides the Introduction, Literature review and Methodology of two related substantive sections: firstly, the empirical ‘case studies’, which draw together three routes through the material under investigation, doing so creatively and linking to online resources. Secondly, this findings section in which I revisit the three conceptual tenets that inform the dissertation research around drawing/contact, moving-with and near space. It is followed by a Conclusion.

The findings present the methodological lens and process of investigating drawing/ contact over a period of almost eighteen months, in this the draw out some of the process of undertaking this project as well as drawing together findings as they emerged through the research and making process and investigate these vis-a-vis the initial questions and where relevant wider literature or other artistic processes.

5.1       Drawing/contact

5.2       moving-with

My proposal for the form of the dissertation to a large extent rests on my current writing practice and interests.

The concept of moving-with presents a development from Springgay & Trueman’s 2018 WalkingLab and their concept of walking-with within the wider field of walking arts. The material that forms drawing/contact is at once situated or perhaps rather: constitutive of an expanded field of drawing. In this however, it moves and it is not just the author or artist who moves, nor the participants but matter does too, across and between different terrains and spaces. It transverses too different modalities and registers. The movement is at once performative (like a drift, or like the practice of the flaneur are), yet, by shifting traditional terrains and moving towards concerns of networked presence and identities, it leaves ‘walking’ in its traditional sense behind. The material presented is keen to understand this moving across boundaries (of public, private; of analogue and digital) and does so as research practice.

5.3       Near-space

6 Conclusion



Herz/Stein 2 : stones/ stories

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

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

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



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

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


1 touch

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


2 contact

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


3 body in movement

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

site/event in drawing/contact, January 2020


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

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

body of work (3): synthesise: tutor report

I have a video tutorial for BoW (3) just before the holidays. Here is the report for it.

I took some time to let it sink in a little further: part of me wanted a clear steer of: this works, this doesn’t. I didn’t get that. What I got instead is a clear discussion of what constitutes my practice and how to proceed with that knowledge. The tutorial also returned to me the idea of rawness, directness, that I thought I had lost with the meek performative processes I had set in motion. It also moves, with the idea of a mobile, the satellite objects of work from the Research 2 tutorial into the actual work itself.

A good 2020 lies ahead. Hello, November assessment.

Here a brief overview of the topics discussed, see the report for full notes:

That Research articulates in its handbook effectively a social science dissertation project has helped to push me towards investigating research as practice and I find that I am in a productive process of making such research as practice. [During the tutorial this seemed to hover somewhat: I come away thinking of the dangers of merely employing creative methods for a social science project; much later I realise that this tension is productive and at the heart of what I am exploring as expanded field of drawing and a creative practice therein.]

There are four main fields of discussion for this tutorial:

  • What and who can I lean on for making work, i.e.: what is a productive context?
  • What constitutes the work/ practice?
  • What is the framework, or, as I name it as ‘animating principle’ that underpins and organises the work. Doug moves to call it cosmology.
  • What relationship am I forming with the viewer/ audience?


Gesa_Helms_of_Creative_Arts_L3_ BoW_Part_3_

BoW 3: synthesise :: reflection

Let me reflect: the challenge to move 4.5 months of work into a 1-hour slot. I feel the distance of this course this time more so than before. I am glad I did have a repeat task from Research 2 at this point and merely need to update.

I feel my work process is productive and generative; I can also narrate and explore this to others by now. I had one session last week where I folded the bannister on top of the staircase into another sketchbook while a meeting finished, people moved past. It remained okay to continue with the folding, only at one point I felt wondering if the work was insignificant. This was a key question for BoW 2, it lies with the subject matter and I have by now found ways to hold that and fold it back into the work.

I am surprised how many insights this process generates and what I am finding about drawing/contact and near space, and what other concepts are relevant to this.

By the time I had Research 2 tutorial I had dealt with my frustrations over the L3 challenges, they haven’t yet resurfaced and it seems fairly clear what lies ahead. I am enjoying the process of making work at this edge of an extended drawing practice, and wonder what my geographer is making of all this (I have ideas for a couple of research papers coming out of this, I find I am generating significant things in this process, but: is it good art?).

The material processes (mouldings) I am engaging in feel significant and exciting but I worry that they are merely basic sculptural techniques and not significant enough for what I am doing (see, significance). I had not expected to use photographic processes to the extent that I do, (both: phone and MF analogue); there are a series of traditional drawing processes and larger scale drawings that I want to produce as part of this too, I keep pushing them forward.

What is exciting in this process is that I begin to become confident with how to conceive and produce a complex and extended body of work: this work is fragmented, disparate, dislocated and to find a form to hold it and make it relate (with gaps, absences) to itself and others is becoming clearer to me — It is like understanding how books I love, e.g. Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en banlieue were actually made, something I begun to investigate for the line (in DI&C) but now have a better grasp.

I was planning on continuing with BoW 4 before turning to Research 3, and analysing all the material post-fact, but I wonder if I should work on Res 3 while doing BoW4 to have time to let them inform each other more fully.


body of work (3): synthesise

— okay, then. this single post contains the materials submitted as part of BoW (3): synthesise. It’s a bit of a challenge but let me try. it presents roughly four and a half months of work; I did a considerable review already as part of Research 2 in late October, and am glad I did so, as I have a series of sites (sketchbook, FB, here and notably evernote) which collect and collate. I feel I am very much in the middle of things, have started and pursued a series of routes around drawing/contact and while it’s time to step back and review/refine/focus, this feels quite a task.

This post mainly organises four parts:

  1. a series of projects and enquiries
  2. questions concerning the holding* form/ container of the overall body of work of L3
  3. a link to wider sketchbook and annotating materials
  4. a link to the more conceptual research questions and themes which link BoW with Research


1. Series of projects and enquiries

I am copying my notes on BoW here that I included as part of Research 2 and update them accordingly to offer a fuller and more up to date view of BoW.

Practically, I set out to pursue a programme around drawing/contact in a series of investigations:

a. drawing/performance enquiries which are mainly focused on the self; and

b. drawing/performance enquiries which are small scale, intimate and perhaps simply
1:1, either scripted and more formal or more spontaneous in nature.
By focusing on different self/audience parameters I seek to investigate the forms of contact, presence/absence in the kinds of near spaces that are productive and produced in drawing/performance, and, as a second step, explore them in a series of adjacent media and forms, folding forward and onward (Bedford, Schneider, Lepecki, all 2012).

c. I intent to attend to the recording and further circulation of these in the dissertation essay as well as possibly also a different form, perhaps as an audio-visual essay, a moving image collage or an artist publication.

Following on from BoW 2 in late July, the first questions for a work programme for part 3 concerned:

  • What constitutes source material and subject matter for this project? (see the two blog posts from 28 July and 4 August on each)

  • How are medium and material shifts achieved in these drawing/contact performances and events?

Following the investigation of what was source material I attended to my lens-based records and begun to read them as source material also, exploring them for a few short presentations along the ideas of contact/ moving-with and agency (human/non-human).

A series which begun half-articulated in June concerning the wild verges along a path and lochside location became articulated in a MF camera series to explore proximity, nearness and camera/viewer position in this context. There are, roughly, two substantive themes in here:

  • moving-with: edges, agency and transgressions

  • verge/weed (and a variety of investigations)

Verge/weed (narrow field) (first version)

One theme that did emerge rather strongly (and which I actively pursued further through my involvement with the Art/Environment group) is that of the environmental within it, the non- human, the relationships within/across.
In all this, there was still a sense of failure, or rather: a curiosity why the idea of intimacy and performance remained so difficult; and why in turn the subject matter seemed fleeting, small and inconsequential.

The idea of nearness and proximity came also into focus in a series of further investigations (these build on the earlier proposed drawing/contact events that formed the focus in BoW 2):

a. Herz/stein

The thin-papered book formats which developed out of two interests. Firstly, the visual see-through of my sketchbooks, the idea that material, notes in proximity to each other bleed and shine through. And, secondly, the hesitancy to make explicit some of the more intimate observations and events and to be curious if they can be narrated as flicker book (if not graphic novel) to make them present without explicating too much.

Herz/Stein:: flicker/tracing books

b. peripheral vision in close-up

So much of traditional visual art is premised on the illusion of space that it creates. Here, crucially, distance is a key function: if we move too close to an object, the conventions of perspective expose themselves as the artificial thinking device that they are and we discover our eyes ’seeing’ in rather different ways. I wanted to explore this by stepping in and close and trying to trace thereby myself amongst it (the distance denotes by the curves my peripheral vision produces).

marginal vision (or: is this peripheral?)

c. stepping into the verge: touching

Eventually, I devised a series of small, solo, then 1:1 moving-with performances to record. Over a few days I stepped into the verge, walked towards and reached out to a single apple, then had my dad observe me doing the latter and us to pick some apples further out of reach still and lastly, a plan to walk across recently fallen walnuts turned the stepping out/ across into a horizontal reach of each of us dislodging walnuts.

d. Die Luke

It started primarily as a case study/ site to explore and pursue a complex set of spatial dynamics. I took and take various positions and draw, observe, but also chat and gossip. The enquiry is one of routes, movements across a complex set of institutional stairs and pathways. It seeks openings and has begun to investigate the objects within the staircase, notably: bannister and radiator. I have a strong sense of what further investigations are relevant here, and how the spatial construct may also operate as a framing device for the overall work itself (routes/alternatives/positions). There are ideas for a participatory zine interaction with those who move through this space.

Die Luke (first take)

Die Luke (hatch):: zine/process idea

Interestingly, it also served as an easy site to investigate materiality/shifts and contact: I took a series of mouldings and rubbings of materials, attempted to transfer the structural features into my sketchbook.

ban/n/ister (two parts)

phone, encased

e. Kaleidoscopes

An early observation and digital plaything last winter recurred and became a point of investigation of viewpoint, paper folding, and limited inside/outside vision. I developed this further to provide a simple instruction for an open participatory performance, and hope to expand on this.

kaleidoscope / revisited

Kaleidoscope:: participatory process

2. Holding* form/ container: what animates and holds this overall body of work

Possibly quite close to the early question as to who is audience, what is the relationship to the audience, this question of how this extended body of work can be held (and presented) has remained throughout the project and it was one concern that became a little clearer during this part.

I am proposing to use a dream fragment and its complex spatial arrangements and movements as a loose framework to orientate the materials. In my mind, this sits conceptually well with ideas about near space, contact but also a seeking of alternatives, other spaces within this work.

Practically, I am not sure yet what this means, there are still a series of processes than I want to test that can practically perform such role (GIS, excel spreadsheets, geolocation).

This post explores these question more fully to the point that I have reached so far:

holding* / form

3. Sketchbooks (here and elsewhere)

Following on from D2, I had set up this L3 work more fully at the start to encompass the range of materials and sites that constitute my working materials and practices now.

I feel fairly confident that the material included on the blog under the sketchbook tag gives a good view over both range and depth of my working process.

Furthermore, there are extensive visual and textual notes assembled in Photos, evernote,  and sketchbook and FB, these in themselves also form small series and investigations, I haven’t pulled them together for this assignment (as I didn’t do with the moving image materials, part of which I presented as various PKs for small group crits) — I feel this material is there, it’s productive and needs some investigation.

I also have fairly extended notes on evernote for each project/enquiry of BoW. For my lens-based materials, I have been using Photos rather than Lightroom as catalogue. I only work with Lr or Ps at the point of post-processing.

Screenshot 2019-12-16 at 12.04.27

Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.13.05Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.11.39Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.11.25

4. Critical reflections and linking to Research questions

For Research 2 and now for BoW 3 I revisited the concept map for the overall project, the questions around my theme have been tested to a considerable extent and are to be developed further beyond the next BoW assignment. This material will then in turn provide the research material and data for Res 3.


Furthermore, I created for Research 2 a list of items for a glossary:

Screenshot 2019-10-26 at 21.06.07

In reviewing for this submission the materials and processes that are gathering, I begin to have a strong sense of the questions this work investigates and drawings that it produces.

The themes for these will be more fully investigated as part of Research 3 and 4, but I want to list them here now:

  • material and register shifts (between and across analogue and digital);
  • smallness of things;
  • peripheral (vision)*;
  • moving-with as the process;
  • and near space.


As part of this submission I am asked to outline ambitions and work plan for the remainder of BoW. This post attempts to do so.

Finally, this post reflects on the submitted assignment.


holding* / form

A container (!) post to trace the outer edges of this extended BoW.

The notion of excess, abundance is part of this work (and rose most clearly so far in the discussion with my Research tutor). Here, the written dissertation incorporates forms of glossary, appendix, additional materials, see Res report 2. A current phrase is satellite objects of the work.

In BoW this has arisen at points over conclusion and presentation: how does this work sit and enact a publicness. Much of this will be eventually resolved in SYP, yet: for BoW this remains relevant as it concerns site and access of the work and more conceptually: the internal mechanics, the animation, the organising forms of it.

An early concept was that of assemblage (raised in BoW tutorial 1); I hold it for a while, it is right in terms of the looseness, openness it suggests. I hesitate as it pushes the work firmly within Actor-Network-Theory and for my academic self the concept is too heavily laden already.

In this line of thought I remember how I conceived of the dialectics in my PhD work as internal relations and a fragmented and contradictory totality. Settling and explicating the latter was significant. It is too academic for what I am after now, and I also don’t want to get embroiled in quite such an extent in historical/critical materialist debates.

The concept maps from last winter explore much of this and are due an update. I also have a series of posts and notes that address a holding form in practice, some assembled in this earlier post.

I have the sense that the dream construction which led me to the staircase as case study site is a good organising frame. It is complex, open, it moves, it denotes an elsewhere, it allows me to drop various project strands and investigations into it. It is animated.

I use as concept for this set of questions for the body of work the tag of ‘holding’; holding space or creating a container for a work to take place within is a concept I use in my facilitation practice. It may be a gesture, pose and practice that can be utilised for this work (container, in turn, is too rigid, too closed as concept).

— I don’t feel I need to clarify much further yet. There are a series of investigations about to start, and to continue, which will clarify and test this aspect further: investigating excel/GIS as relational practice across analogue/digital; exploring geolocation a bit further as to how it can link and envision various sites on/offline (imaginary, experienced, conceived) and further work in the staircase itself.

marginal vision (or: is this peripheral?)

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

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


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

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[insert sketches]

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

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

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

Three wagging dog tails, just observed:

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Ambition/ Onwards (as part of BoW 3)

I am in the middle of things and things are good. Turning seriously towards BoW and not worrying too much about Research a couple of months ago was a good decision and definitely addressed some of my concerns around Level 3.

For the past fortnight I have begun to draw together the various strands of work that are part of BoW 3 and effectively present a live and ongoing research lab. They are not completed, and this is what is keeping me from closing and submitting the next assignment. I am confident I have plenty of work that works and that supports my aims with this Body of Work. I feel also really strongly the pull to keep folding onwards.

So, the coursework wants a review of my ambition and workplan for the remaining two assignments. I am a bit hesitant to do that in a detailed way but, I want to use this post to articulate that what I already know about the BoW and want I want to aim for until the conclusion of the module.

My plan is to complete Research and Body of Work in early summer, ready for submission for the November assessment; and to complete SYP for the March 2021 assessment event.

I would first and foremost want this work to exist in a variegated, expanded form that holds both in analogue and digital a series of investigations into the constitution of near space in the context of drawing/ contact. With drawing/contact I identify medium (expanded field of drawing) and modality (small-scale, intimate, interested in the relational constitution of such spaces).

There are five themes that unpack from this aim:

  • material and register shifts (between and across analogue and digital);
  • smallness of things;
  • peripheral (vision)*;
  • moving-with as the process;
  • and near space.

I reviewed the state of BoW before submitting Res 2 in late October, and updated and expanded this for this current submission.

*I add as fifth, and yet: maybe it sits below; it also isn’t entirely about vision: it’s about position and relationship between things, possibly the point at which a heuristic device (this time: perspective in vision) is unravelled as that: a device, a construct, while the actual experience is a different one.

Some of the work has by now a clear sense of form to it (notably: the MF images of verge/weed); others have emerging and shifting formats (two participatory projects involving zine-type exchanges, Kaleidoscope and Die Luke (Hatch)); the Herz/Stein flicker/process books; and the earlier events around drawing/contacts have a series of expressions also. Besides this, a whole number of objects and processes begun to emerge that are ready to become part of something larger.

I have also begun to explore the forms and formats of assemblage, holding form for the overall form (and would like to make this part of the discussion for the tutorial of BoW 3).

I am not submitting a revised concept map for BoW but on revisiting the version from July 2019, I discover that I am right at the centre of exploring the substantive question on the right hand side of the map and have a series of processes and projects that fill in the medium/ format questions of the top left. I hadn’t revisited the map for some time and it was exciting to see just how far the enquiry is live and maturing (and will be the subject of Research 3).

I have begun to investigate more seriously the idea of material and register shifts and want to expand this further to include also:

  • MF imagery in b/w
  • typewriter
  • more considered photocopier drawings from sketchbooks etc.
  • Kaleidoscope and Die Luke as participatory/ performative events
  • possibly a group performance/event
  • a series of drawings at different scales originating from d/c events
  • excel spreadsheets and relational tables in GIS (to articulate across geographical spaces and sketchbooks, written formats)
  • any on-site/ locational means of linking geographical spaces and digital means?

– The last two of these already concern the wider question of presentational form and the connections/ relationships between different spatial constructs on/offline and what happens in their production.

These then also relate to the attempt to explore the role of dream and/or utopian spaces in this work.

Quite a few of these directly link to Research and most of the investigations that I undertake in BoW are directly relevant to how the empirical part of Research is constituted.

The medium/ form question that possibly sits most across the two modules is the role of writing/ listing/ annotating as medium. There is a whole set of notes and some more developed pieces of short writing that I consider part of BoW but they also can become part of Research (notably, the discussions of satellite objects of the dissertation, the role of the glossary, an appendix or similar are relevant here)

Herz/Stein:: flicker/tracing books

They each relate to a drawing/contact event. I write about them in evernote and in my sketchbooks but nowhere online.

They develop out of tracing and moving pages, a curiosity how an event translates successively into mark. This translation involves much editing over a series of stages after the drawing.






I made a talk-through the idea and books here:


(there are a few more events to process in this form; should I consider it strong enough — I like how it allows me to move important events into this project; am I concerned that noone knows them?)

Kaleidoscope:: participatory process

This was the first of the three participatory processes I developed during BoW3. It also arose out of discussions around mail art and exchange projects. I had explored the ideas of folding and constructing viewing devices out of simple A4 print outs of verge/weed and to investigate that what was on view inside/outside of the device.

From this, the idea emerged to let others explore what can be constructed, seen, viewed, and recorded with such a simple device.

I sent/ gave three of these to a friend each, with a brief and open description. I also didn’t specify the way of how they show me their record. I hope to have received a couple of these back early in the new year and would like to make this process bigger (possibly also involving others who I do not know).

I decided to give a different image to each of them (and in that way to fold verge/weed into this process).


Die Luke (hatch):: zine/process idea

I started three interactive/performative processes during BoW 3:

  • Kaleidoscope
  • wild herbarium (autumn 2019 edition); and
  • Die Luke (hatch)

This post concerns the latter and presents a draft idea for a self-print zine, folding instruction (1 page A4, double-sided) and an invitation to a little hide and seek investigation, and potential follow-up.

The idea is to make a single, two-sided zine for participants to print out and fold and to investigate their familiar surroundings to find some locations, to record some associations and to invite to show/share with me.

It follows ideas around un/familiar in day-to-day spaces and ideas of escapes or stepping into elsewhere (though one of the images currently doesn’t offer an escape, but literally, warmth).

The zine construction is as follows:


The images I want to use are either drawn/photographs (and possibly overlaid on previously photocopied templates):


The instruction would be simple:

Find Die Luke and elsewhere

Record associations, observations

Do you want to share them? show me?

struggling for words :: Ωθησατε / Ξέρω

posted a revised and shorted version of this on FB [almost titled]
Gesa Helms added 12 new photos.
3 hrs · (4 October 2019)
Ωθησατε / Ξέρω (struggling for words)
stalling with a lack of site, an inability on my part to be soft and porous enough at the current time
[this is the section that is aka my Brexit shite]
Ωθησατε / push! / google pretends that I am pushed.
I know / Ξέρω
der Rest / το υπόλοιπο (I am thinking of Perec’s Oulipo)
Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or Oulipo,
xthes / gestern
αλληλεγγύη / Solidarity
ερωτευμένη / in love
exodos going to/ from.
κανένασ / κάπειοσ noone someone anyone
pretty doll (not us)
xorto / grass
eating worlds, doors, oak and wood.
Θάνατοσ στο φασισμό
κρι κρι
die Gebuehr η προμήθεια (της τράπεζας), η χρέωση, το τέλος
the plum that fell onto the car. P. is likely to know that word
here it is: κορόμηλο / wild plum (google briefly assumes fairy, Jutta and I later bake a Zwetschgenkuchen, δαμασκηνόπιτα )
τουσ πελικάνουσ μου, Pelikans too (with questions of ownership).
what sites and narratives do these sit against?
there is also something that I struggle to learn verbs from German (and little words), they are too fragmented for me to make sense and too distant from my day-to-day thoughts to register in this way.
there is also something about the digital form of learning is not tactile enough, it doesn’t stick this way. I go through loops and loops of words that float past meaninglessly.
this is not (yet) the glossary for Research.
[there is a visual order to this, FB ignores it in upload]

ban/n/ister (two parts)

Over the past month I have experimented with taking foldings/moldings off some objects in the staircase: leaves and protrusions of the radiator along with some single folds of handrail, ironworks and some rubbings too of floor marks.

It follows the idea of indexicality and contact. But also a curiosity around memory and medium shift. What remains, what lingers, what gets lost. Effectively too: what is the thing about indexicality.

It is the most literal end of my interest in contact.

  1. folding the bannister into a sketchbook. i move along one stretch, leave a blank page between each.
  2. option a: fold back into the 2d space of the sketchbook as explored with a few single molds earlier
  3. option b: to preserve by dipping in hot wax, encasing the indexical link.


1. folding bannister into sketchbook


2. option a: fold back into the 2d space of the sketchbook:



3. option b: to preserve by dipping in hot wax

— I decide, after a few tests of dipping the sketchbook pages to dip each of the folded pages into melted beeswax for the entirety of the book:

The resulting object is explored and a little discussed in this video:


There are a series of significant things in here:


The dip/not dip process is messy and leaves the interspersed blank pages as messy. I think they will need to be removed/ altered for the object to work as object.

The process (both stages: initial fold, then dipping) is useful and works: it is performative and works across a whole range of senses: sounds, touch, smell and movement, as well as performative presence.

As part of my test, before proceeding with the whole sketchbook, I dip an empty page of my current sketchbook, then proceed to write in it. It almost seems that this process/ transformation is more significant still:


I also accidentally, and to my horror, create another encased object: my phone fell into the tub with the hot wax. I retrieve and recover. It curiously records part of the rescue. I post this video in a separate post.

distance/proximity (after Res 2)


The tiredness when approaching the staircase seems to indicate an edge. I go often, then divert, pause, gather perspective, go or don’t go. Divert.

Sometimes, when I go I am fascinated by the openness of my discoveries.

The fallen ceiling seems to change things. It is so complex and elaborate. Both in what it reveals about the construction age and method of the once ceiling. But also as to how to safeguard the site and the passers-by.

It seems to want to take its own place within this.

I giggle when I realise that M had been talking about his fear of replication: of the halogen ceiling light and various cracks across. And, above all, L was away and would be no help.

The tiredness seems method. As much as the failure in the peripheral vision is.

Are there places where I cannot stand? That I cannot take.


Black heat

White heat


The tiredness follows me here too.

I feel it. I can actually see it with my eyes struggling to focus.

That edge of the site has bled into my physical ageing process.

I am becoming that edge.


And so does the peripheral vision

It is the moment when I catch myself chasing thoughts and scenarios, so vividly and then so utterly out of reach.

It is a process I have known all my life. That inbetween waking and sleeping space where I and all seems to be altogether different. It is so present and yet also always just out of reach.


Sometimes we trick ourselves into recognising each other.


Depositing scraps is one way of approaching this.

The other is not paying attention at all

(until it comes to you)

And if you ignore it further still it will eventually shout right at your face.

In full view.


The various sites of scrap



little inlay








Here: inside different notes and notebooks. don’t miss a single one.



schemata/ dream logics

[one of the posts exploring the organising forms, principles, and escape routes in BoW]

the route into the staircase, aka Die Luke, was a dream during summer and its complex staircase arrangement and spatial layout. I sought spaces that could serve as sketching/ research base for it.

recently, I drew the spatial dynamics of the dream itself, and think the idea of a schemata may take me somewhere:


one of my most recent sessions with the staircase led to this schema (photocopied, printed and layed out on a coffee table surface):


Then, this morning, I find this schema by the curb, ready for waste disposal:


Research 2: tutor report

Here the notes about the second Research tutorial (the submission material and reflection are in these posts).

The tutorial started with and addressed some of the concerns I had about the research module, usefully at a point when I practically had also moved to resolve the frustrations by making work.

I include the key substantive points of the discussion here, there full report is attached.

The glossary: satellite objects
From this we quickly turned towards the glossary as vehicle and the field it opens out and up. So, the glossary in its terms but also in how it potentially relates to the visual material offers an important and exciting route into exploring nearness, distance and contact. At the same time, the glossary is (at least initially) additional to the academic text of the dissertation, is an appendix.
Rachel begun talking about it as satellite objects to the dissertation text and to then use the requirements of the dissertation to facilitate a (written) ‘body of work’ that consists of a series of other objects. This would at once fulfil the rules, address the institutional requirements but also allow to break them.
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.
Rachel then mentioned Janet Cardiff’s audio walks (on entirely different subject matter) for the work to be encountered within and outside the gallery.

Relational tables within GIS and the links between analogue/digital
The second main substantive part of the tutorial concerned a meeting I had the day before with a Geography colleague of mine who works with GIS as artistic practice. I had asked to meet with him to consider some of the issues around site, on/offline and connectedness/ fragmentation within the various emerging strands of my BoW. He suggested to explore two things: the relational tables in which GIS stores hierarchical information and thus reorders/ categorises space; and secondly, to explore the ways in which one can draw within an Excel spreadsheet.
I have added the reference and link at the end
I mentioned the usual, fairly straightforward applications of siting and fixing narrative and event within GPS coordinates and that I raised my interest in indexicality (within lens-based practices, but more so around e.g. the work of Anna Barribal) as possibly a better way to explore the connections across (possibly also to consider fleetingness, and the concerns about drawing/contact, in ways the fixing/siting doesn’t generally allow for).

Diagramming my work and its relevant literature
The one thing Rachel would have liked to have seen in my submission are some diagrams about literature and themes. And I realised that, while I have the diagrams about the BoW, the substantive themes, I haven’t expanded these to include the contextual/research work. AP: to do this as part of Research 3
Here, and at other points, the tutorial was inspiring as at times it seemed it provided itself a methodology of how to move within this particular enquiry and the relevant media forms. Rachel mentioned the significance of exploring hybridity and how important it is as contemporary feminist practice of enquiry, and how in turn it then brings with it the difficulty of articulating within a contemporary arts context that still remains media-specific.

Gesa Helms 492645 Research A2

satellite objects make love

she liked. (a lot) (and as if liking was important).
her geek got fully piqued when i told her of the relational tables that GIS produces. she: go, go, go (near, and far and explore that distance).
of the glossary she made satellite objects.
i went, predictably to here. (it kind of returns it to drawing/contact, if Brexit wasn’t a thing).

the original song from the album transformer… lou reed satellite of love