sketchbook: Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street

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

i read Benjamin’s Haschisch in Marseille (though in English). i want to be annoyed at it and subsume it under that bourgeois bloke who meanders, flaneurs along, unguarded and naive, seeing universality in all he does.
of course i am not.
i never read much of Benjamin beyond the Berlin childhood and Mechanical reproduction (i think my younger self never considered herself bourgeois, cultured enough to be illuminated into the arcades). there is so much in his that i recognise as a well-known modality of my own, sans l’haschisch, the receptive introspection and the meaning that shifts along, tumbles forwards, connects out while being thoroughly with oneself (at once in fragment and complete). then there is the recording, the protocol, the account.
— there is also something incredibly tender at play, there is a curious affective touching that goes on, almost in passing. (and i am thinking of that loud pose that Springgay and Truman strike with their call for affect, which drowns out the above, or perhaps also doesn’t quite know what do with that that they can’t categorise/ identify as white settler self and his others).
i had, this morning, when i dreamt up the modality for the meeting, also figured the relational forms that i am tracing, holding and letting go in the moving-with that i am doing. it is quite different too from any of the participatory stuff and aims at a social, it may just be boring social geography after all. it needs that social, both to understand the violence (close and far) but also to conceive of the tenderness, the longing. it needs a little trippyness too, i know where i get mine from, Benjamin clearly described his.
(work in progress)

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sketchbook+: the line folds into Level 3

(as a placeholder in advance of Research tutorial 1).

— the piece of previous work that I have spent most time with over the past four weeks is the final work produced during Digital Image & Culture: the line, which I finalised as a tumblr site, and am currently in the process of re-publishing through facebook as a public album.

The line is also the piece on which my submission to the Walking Arts Network conference in Prespes, Greece, is based. So I am currently also in the process of writing a 3-4k word contribution for a conference publication as well as considering how it will present as a 15-min talk/presentation.

As part of the re-publishing process I am keeping an offline journal which I will move here at some point. There are some thoughts I have here right now in terms of how to proceed (and what can become part of Res or BoW and what is best kept aside).

Here some notes from this morning:

I have the strong sense that the line is crucial for moving forward. I want to test some of that with Rachael in our first tutorial today.
  • the line as fragmented space that is very much non-linear
  • the line as imaginary and anchor to the pieces articulated
  • the pieces articulated are diverse:
    • private chat
    • dreams/thoughts/fantasy
    • more functional notes and records
    • methodology concerns
    • fragments from other authors
  • there is no clear order as to how they are encountered: they are clearly not a singular line to be walked but multiplicity
There is much in here that is definitely about near space: about relational concepts and about performance.
The performance is in my voice but also in the conceal/reveal that is taking place
The current re-publishing through FB (as suggested at assessment) is testing some of that but also any relationship between audience and work/.

 

the————line as facebook album

— while reworking the line for a presentation in summer I am testing it out as a different format: a public facebook album, here:

https://www.facebook.com/gesa.helms.3/media_set?set=a.10215853324378587&type=3

edit:

— I am also suggesting to view via my timeline. If you are not friends with me, this will be easy, as there aren’t many public posts, if you are friends, you may have to scroll a little:

https://www.facebook.com/gesa.helms.3

Critical Reflection after Res A1

— the tab critical reflection acts as the hinge between the two courses (I have one here, as well as a private one as an evernote folder).

The research proposal is written, thought a fair bit longer than asked for (and it still only reviews key work/resources in 250 words).

I must admit the uncertainty over the relationship of requested tasks (what and how to review, write out, clarify, clarify further) and my own plans seems confusing still: I end up with a far too wide field when I pursue the instructions. It is generative of a lot of text and then wants a very brief text only. (I have no problem with the questions and tasks it asks: the reviews are useful; I think there is struggle is that the text is rather prescriptive in pursuit but offers no tools to tighten and focus: the proposal wants five themes addressed in 1000 words).

I have seen and 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).

While during A1 of BoW I was still exploring the extent to which I move anything that sits closer to academic involvements as actively a part of BoW (conference presentations, the concept maps etc), I have stepped somewhat away from this: I feel it would crowd out any visual/performative enquiries and enforce too much of an academic modality on these. I think this move will free BoW, possibly can be altered for SYP. It will however also mean that some of my current commitments in Spring and early Summer will sit additionally to the course work, likely slowing the coursework down.

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.

What follows below is a series of answers to some preliminary questions in Part 1 of Research, I will keep them here for future reference.

Reviewing your creative work

You’ve got two subject specialisms and two Level 3 courses (for now at least) and somehow you need to find a way to bring them all together as a coherent body of work. Think about the creative work you’re doing for Body of Work first.
1. Look back over the work you’ve just submitted to your tutor, consider their feedback and implement any changes that would improve the work. Now look at the work you’ve created so far for Body of Work and consider how it can relate to the work you’ll create in this course and vice versa. Identify a variety of ways in which the creative and written projects can interlink. Record your thoughts and explore a range of options. Will your creative work drive your written work or will it be the other way round? It doesn’t matter which it is, provided you are working to your strengths from each subject area.
  • I thinks the weighting is going to fairly equal: one informs the others and vice versa, I don’t want R to drive BoW, realistically, BoW will always be strongly informed by R; so 50:50 is a good aim
  • I don’t want BoW too be too intellectual, solely focused on academic means of interdisciplinarity: I had started to think about some of the hybrid forms between PPTs, diagrams and performative lectures but I don’t find this satisfying enough: it seems more of an institutional critique (and too trying, derivative a form for me to focus on solely). I will thus also not fold the talks at SAR or in Prespes into BoW but set them up as testing grounds for forms of R (and test the materials and how they can fold into other media formats).
  • Yet, what I had started to discuss as hybridity is important, and I think the works of HJ Giles and M Bleakley point towards something that then in Jones/ Heathfield eds 2012 is further explored: the performative as viral, activated in different forms and in different instantiations (their focus is strongly on history/memory but bears much significance to the questions that animate me).
  • I would like to use BoW as a lab/ experimentation ground for R and to use R to formulate questions/enquiries and then study/contextualise/push further the questions that BoW present as findings.
2. Now think about resources. Can any of the resources you’ve identified in Exercise 3 help you with your creative work? Make a plan of action for accessing these resources. Will you need to visit a specific location, collection, exhibition, practitioner, design group, artist collaboration, performance, installation, recital, reading or conference? Can you access a record of these resources online?
  • I am not so worried about particular resources and access just yet: most of what I identify is writing/ artworks for artists that are reasonably well documents/ accessible. This may change though and I started to attend to conferences, exhibitions and performances coming up. My plan is to see a reasonable amount of live performances (both live art/theatre but also more artistic) over the duration of the final modules to get a good sense of what is going on (and am well placed for this in Glasgow/Edinburgh)
  • I would like to set up/ test out my own materials/ processes fairly soon though: I am thinking of either a reading group, 1:1 private performances/meetings with artist colleagues, later some workshop/ more public settings >> I am not sure if this will create material for BoW or inform the R (perhaps it will do both)
Now identify what you’d like to achieve from your creative work in Body of Work and think how you could use your research project to help you achieve some of these goals
    Write down answers to the following questions:
  • I want to consolidate skills in …
    • performance and interdisciplinary work
    • drawing as in relation to the above and an expanded field
    • conceptual art making that attends to the phenomenological and the sensorial
  • I want to produce …
    • a body of work that speaks to my concern
    • a body of work that offers multiple entry and exit points as well as routes through
    • a body of work that uses a range of approaches that originate within photography and drawing and move beyond these in an interdisciplinary field
    • a body of work that is effective with time/space (duration, pace, rhythm, site, place and space and ourselves within it)
  • I want to promote my work to …
    • be recognised locally both for my academic/ facilitation work as well as contemporary art practice
    • be able to navigate art contexts further afield (UK, but also NL, DE) primarily through this BoW and an effective link to my Geog/facilitation self
  • I want to refine …
    • my understanding of an expanded field and contemporary performance approaches
    • an entry and presence around geographical debates within arts and a potential contribution
    • the analogue/digital
  • I want to explore …
    • intimate performance modalities (1:1)
    • the potential for solo performance
    • the role of audiences (present/absent, near/far)
    • moving registers across media forms (Jones/Heathfield)
  • I want to prove that …
    • production of space happens in intimacy/body-oriented performances; and discover more about the kind of space being produced in this
    • these spaces contain the potential to be utopian
    • and that they provide easy and accessible links to our understanding of drawing
  • I want to involve …
    • my self, my fear, my apprehension
    • my joy and laughter too
    • colleagues and strangers
    • earlier performances
    • writers and authors
  • I want to integrate …
    • most of the above works towards such aim.

 

Research A1: dissertation proposal

this post concludes assignment 1 of Research with the dissertation proposal. The work leading up to this is a set of questions and exchange with my tutor prior to this draft.

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

Research proposal for Creative Arts, Research
Gesa Helms | #492645
27 April 2019

This dissertation proposal seeks to support my Body of Work drawing/contact with an investigation into the kinds of relational spaces that are created in an expanded field of drawing. Here it begins with drawing as a performative practice and in turn seeks to understand performance as a drawing practice. If performance is centred on the body of the performer within a specific unfolding time frame – a presence, can we then be curious about the kinds of spaces this is productive of: relationally, sensorially and materially?

That such spaces exist in the present time also indicates that they may be past or anticipated, have a memory, an excess as well as an absence (performance art in art history presents precisely this dilemma). Jones & Heathfield’s (2012) edited collection centres on these kinds of presences and absences created, asking also how these by implication draw in a whole range of other media – such as photography, writing, drawing, re-performance, video – to access the live performance positing an important concern regarding interdisciplinarity and shifts in form, register and media.

Centring on the body of the performer and the experiential foregrounds both the material (older and newer materialism) as well as the sensorial (likely accessed through phenomenological means).

The Research dissertation will attend to:

(a) existing practices that engage with this

(b) a set of enquiries/ research questions that are driven through these and animate the dissertation as well as BoW.

  • how do these writers inform my enquiry?
  • how does contemporary performance practice do so?
  • what is there about what constitutes the work: the shifting of medium, register, encounter: how do we make contact within this?
  • who is the audience? subject/object? author?

See the PDF for the full proposal, its links to BoW and relevant key texts and resources: Research Proposal A1 Near Space

 

BoW: what i will be doing

Gesa Helms

5 April at 13:18 · 

Wednesday morning I say what it is that I will be doing:
– a series of performance pieces/ drawings
– a couple of workshop/event things and 
– some documentation of the above.

That is it. 
The spatial praxis/ production of space/ site-thing will be part of it as building out and up from the encounters that constitute each. It will be utopian in its concrete practice. Nothing more, nothing less (I would love to call it Beziehungsweise Revolution/ relationally: revolution, but that title is already taken, unfortunately).
The documentation will be either in book or in moving image form.
Each segment/ section will address or: can address a particular question/ enquiry.
I am uncertain if the talks will be part of it or generally merely context. I think that is part of the wider question of what constitutes the site/ the work, i.e., really: if we talk an expanded field of drawing, do we need to have a sense of what is not part of it? what is absent? outside? and, why would that be useful. In that sense, I will have a consideration of distance/closeness in this too, and at that point it loops back into the overall thematic of drawing/contact.

The first four events in drawing/contact are intimate and in hindsight, retrospect. I am testing how these relate to the theme and what they do medium/discipline-wise. I am trying not to be too wilful with them, to let them hover for as long as they need to. In some ways, these take inspiration from the events around the line, and reworking the line for the workshop in July into a photo essay and presentation will be great. The drawing/contact encounters are different though as they transgress media/ reach. They are possibly less concerned with secrets and veracity but more curious about the contact, the stuff enacted, where and when it reaches, etc.

In this, then, the line, the Gap, and the wider corridor thematic are aufgehoben in the best dialectical sense: they are concluded and superseded into a qualitatively new question (I remember how for each time that aufheben needed translation I was stuck, as stuck as I am now as there is no equivalent in English).

sketchbook: secrets along the public and the private

Gesa Helms

6 April at 11:37 · 

secrets, along the private and the public.
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– the person who keeps calling to say that they know where Katrin Konert’s body is buried. they then hang up.
– the judge who places the burden of naming undercover cops on the women they deceived into intimate relationships
– the initiation secrets of the Hermit Triad of O.T.O. (sex magic)
– the book that I leave with my dad, which talks of how nostalgia for 1945-55 worked in reverse: it became darker as it receded into the past, what was being left out from the narration, then and now.
.
with these, i turn to the notes when i started rewriting the line. it is less a rewriting that i did in autumn but a new iteration: so much new material assembled as i tried out if i wanted to write fiction. then the dying and leaving started in earnest and i only now loop back.
.
i do not want to revise the work but i want to edit it anew. to see if a stronger focus is beneficial for it. but also: how do these images, which are after all still, not moving, hold up next to a written narrative. if i push the the temporal unfolding entirely to the viewer, reader and no longer let it animate through my voice. the line around secrets is reworked when i post this to facebook, as public album, having practiced already with […]
.
i am such a slow worker with all these secrets. sometimes i worry that my life simply won’t be long enough for it all. in all this, we are firmly in surplus time, with both of them: it is fun, easy, joyful. we tell stories that are surplus and are having a good time with them. i love what i learned about the train station in Celle, of my mother’s routes through the biggest town she ever had a daily routine in. how on the next day she would fill in the gaps and connections between her teenage self, my teenage self and our contemporary selves right across the town, by foot and in the car. my dad was eager to learn about what we had seen and so i promised him to show him in summer, when i travel back from Macedonia.1 commentLikeShow More ReactionsCommentShare

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Gesa Helms this is one of the strongest pieces that i wrote in autumn, it is rather different to anything in the line, it puts the fragmentation right into the text and connects a number of themes and relationships through the movement along Gt Wester Rd (and, hey, my notetaking processes hold, it seems: i find things again)
.
i sit invisibly in the dark window. the phone tracks my motions but not much else. i disappeared. again, never for long, each disappearance is an in-breath. yesterday and today i move back and forth. not quite rocking my upper body back and forth while sat on a chair, it bears resonance, witness. to other, i am doing chores, tracking apps and delivery routes.

earlier, i made my bed. i dress it in the new star-like dark blue grey cotton-weave. underneath: fluffy summer clouds. i crawl underneath and float, i can’t stop touching. it persists all night. i am sure i have found material form for her photos of me in cocoon. the night is warm, the space between my breasts collects sweat.

that night i kill. i am killed that night. i flee while moving downwards on material, structures that i do not understand. it doesn’t suffice: i am found. a large man with a wide red face and loud laughter. i wonder how the delicate structure still holds him. how can it. the structure is luminous and made for myself and yet, there is he and the other and they hunt. i swing my body up on the shelf above me and run, back through a field of high grass. someone, they, someone, different moves up behind. i reach the end and turn. this is my field i shout indignant. i have tended to it, it is not yet ready to unfold and i chase along. i realise it won’t suffice. it will not be enough.

i enter the room, he sits in front of me, a naked torso, his body turned away from me. i make the phone call. yes, i found him. it is him. michael. he turns around and i look into a mirror. but no mistake: i am michael. momentarily, the connection is interrupted. beeeep. beeeep. the familiar sound when she drives between one checkpoint and another. i briefly imagine her seeing the lights: on hilltops, bright and fortified, in the valleys, weaker, sparser, under siege.
.
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the path is a trail along beech and oak trees. it is a familiar route: out from the village I lived in as a small child, northwards. we have been often but not in a long time. the path is windy, narrow, we are a few. we come upon a group, at the centre a young woman, her face turned towards us, them, the world. they pour a substance over her, her face unmoved. she dies of the substance that solidifies her face. she, beautiful. we shouldn’t have seen.

i leave early to keep talking. her voice is breathless as she tells me how the day before the Anschluss, the people were dusting off little flags with swastikas and how they screamed themselves hoarse at his sight that 12 March 1938. then her voice breaks. i know that sound through the speakerphone as well as she knows mine. i try to think: do i remember her face with tears. i do not. when i see her face is the one that laughs. and when you laugh, i laugh too. always. beeep. beeep. she wants to call back and i will be at the subway soon. my face is wet the rain strong, it mixes with my tears. einen dicken kuss, beszede.

i return home and remember that my dirty linen from now on colour-coordinates my library. 

am i ugly.Edit or delete this

sketchbook: research performance Mark Bleakley How we handle things

14 April noon – 16.30 Rhubaba, Edinburgh

my notes:

i stop outside the gallery and watch in.

air round my head, i watch them move and their actions mingle with reflections

sensing and trailing, tracing past the effect of the thermoplastic 

he invites me then she does

it is so warm and nice to the touch

we chat while i set the material on her waist standing up and just letting the patch drop

the sound is harsh and so different to the warmth, pliability of the material

she balances the piece from the waist on her face, then her knee, i photograph her walking away

she stands earlier next to me and i feel her presence, she holds out a piece and a smile,

i briefly think about taking it, then, shy, i don’t

i gonna put this right to your neck, is this okay? yes, it is quite hot i hear him steadying his breath

the next photo is after it has set 

pressed against the body or against other objects: how much pressure do you apply?

being invited to join, i am possibly the only one they didn’t know. the choreographer comments on my beautiful participation in the kitchen space

can you help me and hold that until it sets? i film a little, later i hear them giggling.

… 

Lucy asks me if she can cast me and i say yes. she casts my thumb and we wonder about transfer

responding to the movement impulse and to the pressure…

… the body gesture that makes the piece fall; the reaction to it falling, the sound of it falling

… 

towards the end of cycle 2 many more people arrive, at start of 3 we are just under 20. the performers now whisper and it seems to have moved towards watching. before it was quite playful and a joint thing, now it is a performance with an audience.


cycle 3: more forceful; they ask each other if one can push. bodies get entangled. at 2:35 they interact with audience again casting underneath a body: different to putting something on somebody. he leans into it and the woman who stood up didn’t quite intend to touch his stomach. he falls down and off, Katie and her investigate the leftover cast .

casting Lucy’s forehead. you can give me more, she leans into it further they go to the ground, his hand moves forward and the cast sticks on it through a series of upward movements. it falls when he falls to the ground a second time. .

is that too hot?

yes but it is too late now

sorry, i do that 

Discussion with Florence Peake and Robbie Synge

everyone to pick a cast and sit with it as if it was your lover who doesn’t like their shape? let’s recast
how we handle things how things handle us
Robbie Synge   — being isolated in Highlands and probing materials as what they can offer Florence Peake   — clay as medium, object as argument against fascism 
Relational space: clay is very responsive as it responds Florence: empathy objects and psychic readings constantly in contact with some material; focus attention on that and making it object of enquiry
sculptural time and the need during the performance to yield to the temporality of the material. you could see that making the timing 
sitting with the object as if it was your lover. it really wasn’t, i wouldn’t.
i have mine recast as my left fist. it feels so good as it sets and first lets my hand move then begins to restrict it. what is the object, what inside or outside
Rite as boundary blurring and not sure what is what; codependency with people but how about with objects? transference taking place; you ask people to touch your bare chest, heaven forbid, the object is leaving a memory
Florence: i really want to have been cast with them and i didn’t have that yet. i was even holding my hand out once, come to me; and it’s nice to sit with that desire. The intimacy of their size and shape is fascinating; while frustration with scale

sketchbook: HJ Giles Drone

i went and saw a play last night. i open to write this post but then open messenger first and write a message. then i move back here.
i see so little live art. yet, if i want to do too i need to know it a little better.
besides a drone with a camera that was first watching the screen and then turned and projected us, the audience to the screen, it featured a loop pedal and a filing cabinet. they stuck their head into the filing cabinet, straddling their body atop and talking into the cabinet. i loved that. it was perfect.
the drone had a mother who told her early to smile, smile, smile. she got a new workplace, a breakdown, the watched rhinos as a protection scheme, then got a cat.
all the while, we would forget that her job was to carry bombs.
the themes repeated and the registers kept changing. i had seen their work before, it was largely angry work; this was angry too, and sly, and funny and seductive.
the drone wore a long silver dress, tried some sequined fine shoes for some part but was generally barefooted. i found myself keeping staring at her rather beautiful nipples (and delighted in the disobedience of not showing nipples in the UK).
— that shifting of body, narrative, register and object/subject was so well done. i really liked that. i had hoped for that and it was really good.
we had some good show before and after conversation too.
more of these things.

image 1: the obedient smiling daughter
image 2 and 3: she acquires a new work place, from the head inside the filing cabinet she too quickly, too painfully proceeds to whimpering on the floor, begging to quit work.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, night, concert and indoor
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sketchbook: FB: writing doubt

possibly unsurprisingly, i rather like this rather certain piece of writing doubt:

Esther Leslie’s beautiful essay on Fortini, Benjamin and Brecht is now available for everyone to read:

“Contradiction is life. Change is what is valued. Fixity of positions, certitude has no political, or living, efficacy. Dialogue is what matters – to be heard and to hear. Contradiction is in the world. Contradiction is in our minds. Contradiction is between us. That is political. Beginning again, because of all these contradictions, because contradicting is political, because the last effort did not work, did not find its audience, or found one but could not speak to it, only at it, or because there was a level of doubt that it was the right moment, and it remains doubtful that it was the right way. At least that question needs to be posed of what one does. Otherwise there is only assertion, versus belief, and all the sins of political activism from voluntarism to tailism to hectoring to the seeding of confusion to determinism to being stranded between theory and practice. We might call it being non-dogmatic. “

PATREON.COM
Official Post from Salvage Magazine: I will present my ideas as theses, in recognition of the fragmented and poetic modes of the men I discuss. And, too, as reflection of the central idea here, that of doubt – aiming at a certain non-definitive articulation, the wish to leave something uncompleted…
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sketchbook: Pawel Jaszczuk: High Fashion

these are quite some images. they are about ten years old, from Japan (Tokyo?), when a Polish photographer scours the streets on his bike every night to find officer workers (all male) who fell asleep on the street. apparently common, apparently only transgressive (the sleep, the photo) for me, you, not them, not their fellow workers.

PAWELJASZCZUK.COM
In the street is a man. He must be a man because he looks like a man and is dressed like a man. But he is lacking somehow: too tired and crumpled: the buttons of his suit wrongly fastened; the creases too far extended and the bag he carries,…

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sketchbook: the line as conference presentation.

I submitted and have had it now accepted, this abstract to a conference in early July in Norther Greece. The conference is organised by a walking arts networks. I am uncertain yet as to the format of the presentation (I assume: 20 mins long), yet I know that they want a written contribution in advance.

While I still need to attend to some practicalities, I am keen on going and I think that is likely to happen. Following the SAR conference I realised that this is a good format for me (as it was in the past).

The idea that underpins this proposal is to turn the current tumblr site into a photo essay. I also think that I, in this process, re-organise the tumblr site into a facebook album (public).

My interest in the presentation/written contribution is to explore some of the methodological and conceptual aspects between walking as practice/methodology, the subject matter and the site of its presentation/publication.

I am posting this here, as the line is one of the significant earlier pieces of my coursework (from DI&C), and just now as I begin to explore the format of performances/events for BoW, the stories and videos of the earlier project came back into focus.

The abstract for the conference is:

the line: walking with shadows, no secrets

the body of work at the centre of this photo essay is a series of video pieces in which encounters are reframed, recentred. they take place on street corners, in parks, at dusk, at lunch time. they also take place in private chats, in facebook posts, and thus circulate in iterations and revisions across a networked public. in doing, so they trace notions of veracity, transparency and secrecy. their gossiping nature is at once a insistence that something, someone happened. but also speak to the power of silence and our attempts to comply and subvert at once.the work is produced through a walking methodology — night and evening routes both known and unfamiliar and repositioned by digital circulation. the starting point is arbitrary, some run concurrently, the end point unknown. the proposal consists of a critical reflection of the artistic methodology that underpins this project and how through its form as online collection it rearticulates the idea of urban walking. it also is intent to explore further the sense of authorship and readership for this work, to make an argument for a diverse public in which this work is situated.the work itself, also by drawing on other forms of auto-fiction, theoretical fiction (Kapil, Calle, Krauss), explores – cautiously, not quite in sight – the role of desire, pursuit, sexual agency within the context of familial violence. Doing so, it is interested in the reconstitution of public and private not merely in the circulation of the work but also in its very production: what happens to a private self when it becomes public: in urban space, in an audio-visual body of work.

Thoughts on how to develop this further:

the proposal is for a photo essay. this is rather specific already and I think will work.  << it is not about writing prose/ fiction but about reflecting, contextualising and making visible the methodology/ conceptual concerns of the piece of work
I think sitting down and starting to structure this accordingly should be good >> which of the videos/images and which texts?  also: the boundary draft already has some of the texts from this, so what happens if I start building from that on?

There are some literature questions:

  • is there a concept of walking digitally?
  • about transferring movement/walking from analogue to digital?

augmented reality; documentation as themes as far as a quick scan reveals. https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/383150/
audio walks as methodology:
Easter Rising sites in Dublin https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/JD-03-2017-0031
Katrina Palmer project
digital artwork as outcome: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/2459/
knowledge production as epistemic walking (not sure though how useful, only read the abstract) https://estudogeral.sib.uc.pt/handle/10316/36340
https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1111&context=docam
De Certeau’s metaphoric walk >> making walking rhetoric. Is there something in there about how that translation is also occurring with move to digital? — in papers as PDF
Jeff Rice 2012: Digital Detroit — in papers as PDF

sketchbook: four events (drawing/contact)

event may not be the right word; it may be encounter, meeting, contact. — bear with me.

the first was rather momentous in my encounters of strangers, in the woods, while in conversation with my mother, while being nominally sixteen, while roaming woods on my own, while being not from here. it was so extraordinary, and yet however so long anticipated that it pierced my conception of what was going on.

it sowed an idea of what ‘performance’, ‘expanded field of drawing’, ‘set of experiments’ for BoW may look like; i found another one that similarly important and since then two more happened.

they are 1:1 encounters in different contextual settings: (1) a door to a concert hall while exiting a large meeting; (2) a car stopping while i cross the roads between two tracks in the woods; (3) my mother showing me a corner in the train station where she would as a teenager wait before going home after school; (4) and my friend inviting me to try the garden gate of abandoned flats.

two of them (the first two, one hand touching one shoulder, then the other another while leaving a conference; and the encounter on the road) i pursued a little further, in different directions. i have the sense there are more openings within them; the latter two still only exist in record.

if drawing is about contact, an expanded field of drawing, a relational construct and a space as well as a possible absence (see my concept map), then these are the questions i can ask of these encounters. until now i would generally just play with them in writing and rewriting, posting them in facebook, narrating them and seeing what resides in them verbally. this is the first attempt to use other means.

for (2) i was recording a drawing alongside the roadside demarcation by video when i heard the car behind me braking, stopping and then he asked. all that got recorded. i tell my mother later. then i post it; then i start typing on my mother’s father’s typewriter. i write three scenarios over a few occasions and reframe the account on pages of scrap paper. the drawing is typewriter ink on my dad’s scrap paper.

i am posting all three sets in complete and chronological order as they currently are:

for (1) i begin with writing out the event, then beginning to sketch the choreography, the movement of bodies out of the concert hall, the brief meeting inside the entrance door and the moving on; later i rephotograph the see-through in the sketchbook:

— for (4–abandoned garden) i have a couple of photo sketches, and it may remain with these. for (3–train station hall) i have only a memory so far.

what interests me:

  • contact: encounters, brief, random, that stick with me, that are significant, that contain movement: a coming and going; a boundary negotiated.
  • the don’t exist in actual form but are translated, mediated, pushed along
  • in that sense they also contain an absence, a negotiation of that
  • they are each rather geographical, i mean: they are productive of space as a body/relational concept and presence.
  • they are also performative (clarify what i mean with that)
  • all are personally significant, they are intimate in one form or another, i make them public.

sketchbook: notes from the session at SAR conference.

I present my 10 mins talk on Casual Gaps on the third day of the conference, in the morning.

I have a first recording of the talk as a video here:

Performance/ enquiry:

  • on the first day I start with feeling out of place, quite intimidated: as if my project isn’t big and significant and academic enough
  • later in the day I see the first talk that is a performance only, and see that that is how my own contribution functions
  • in the morning I am curious about networks and interloping, my place within it.
  • when I arrive at the session, the facilitator, other speaker and I have a good discussion, I say a little about the previous facilitations and we discuss our format
  • then I talk about my work context, of having been keen to keep the research out of it but find myself struggling for recognition, at this point the facilitator tells me who she knows in Glasgow: my PhD supervisor and last year’s line manager. I laugh as I realise that the corridor will loop backward.
  • I have not been able to unhook it from its context, the piece of institutional critique moves on as it exists and while it may not actually feed forward to my former line manager, it may just do so.
  • this connections intrigues me and it is the one, alongside ‘I did my PhD first and then art later, which is different to most of you in the room’, marks my starting point. And naming both makes it easy to set off with the presentation and to give it space and movement.
  • I enjoy moving through it, I pause, watch the audience and centre myself.
  • After, I step to the side, the first speaker joins me at the front, is the target of most questions and we discuss a series of points together.
  • Over lunch and the afternoon I meet a few people who tell me that they enjoyed it. There is no more detailed feedback than that.
  • After the closing round, I tell my fellow presenter how much I enjoyed having been with her in a session. To me the consideration of placing the two together was great to witness. We hug. Then talk for some while with the facilitator, I leave soon after.

Institutional aspects:

  • I misjudge whom this conference and society is for: it is almost exclusively people working at art schools; >> this is where artistic research happens and needs to happen as they become integrated into HE funding systems. 
  • I encountered SAR through EB and the journal, but only by looking at the institutional members do I realise that it is of course art schools.
  • As many artists and practitioners do PhD research, this changes the composition and with PhD by practice, the material engaged with and presented is rather different to any other academic disciplines.
  • Thus, the contributions are either more performative: the actual research practices, or more traditionally academic in reflections
  • The proviso to propose contributions that pose questions was sincere and extremely useful; so was the dialogical idea; the resilience to do ‘proper academic work’ is however strong and many panels operate in different ways to the initially proposed format.
  • Art school posts are seen as highly desirable within the arts, so the institutional critique of them is minimal; IC is reserved to museums and galleries, not to the art school, I have the sense (institutions of critique replaces institutional critique). 
  • In this, the discipline is distinct to e.g. Business Schools, Sociology, Education or Anthropology by not turning the light back onto the institution
  • This is where my contribution meets the audience.
  • I can see clearly why they were interested in the contribution, how they gathered it with my co-presenter’s talk and the one that was absent. But for the audience it was problematic (wasn’t it?).

The actual feedback I get was rather minimal,

  • H., the black professor of dance, starts with having a question, wanting to complement me for touching him intellectually, while the first talk touched him emotionally, and on the surface these two talks could’t be more different but they clearly related. He admires my enthusiasm and asks: what was the passion that led you away from the institution. – I talk about my PhD, about discovering other processes, private spaces and didn’t want to submit to the boredom/exhaustion of another 35 years of that job
  • The second keynote speaker asks me towards the end if I now feel different about the space, if I have come to love that gap? – I talk about the office inhabitant’s envy of my leaving; I talk about the complexity of what HE currently is, how I would like it to be different but as it isn’t, it is also okay to leave again. I also talk about the strike and how that affected workplace identities.
  • The facilitator asks two questions, the second one is one about class, about who gets up and climbs on trees (she and her pals always did that). And similarly: who transgresses institutionally.
  • I think her first comment was about how she hates her office, and how curious it is to find this at the focus of attention.

The session format: 

  • fifteen minutes each and a short question after, but then an open discussion.
  • The first presenter moves to the front and then sits down, I at some point become to lean on the wall to the side of the facilitator
  • quite quickly I sense a huge interest in the first topic, Urutau’s actions and the wider political context, I am pleased with that, and also pleased for it to take the main role: the conference is so white and rather far away from the political, that this is great to see and place upfront.
  • She is far more connected and known than I am, is from Brazil and a middle-class background with extensive institutional support. So, individually we sit different in class and professional positioning; in wider terms, however, hers needs and deserves far more visibility and I concur. I don’t reply to points that I could have replied; I direct the conversation to her, I also take it as an open conversation about wider issues and happily take part in that.
  • I don’t move towards my final slide with questions, as the first talk didn’t include any.
  • At the end of the session, everyone who stays behind does so to talk with her; I also do so and that is fine; we move upwards to lunch, meet some others and sit downs in a group of seven and discuss good things, well: difficult things, the backlash in Brazil, the coup, the violence, 
  • Over the day, some people comment more on how they liked my talk, but don’t go into specifics. One woman who had stayed behind at lunch, W., and I talk towards the end about SAR’s white privilege to call absence a lack of quality, and she comments on how nice it was to see my enthusiasm.
  • The enthusiasm comments confuses me — I say so to H. on the way to lunch and he said: well, it was everywhere in your body, you were bursting with it. Did he take my nerves for enthusiasm? I discuss with it later. I remain a bit confused.

>> I didn’t realise that I would be interloping with this presentation. I thought I would bring a project and some questions. I didn’t foresee that institutional critique would be active in the presentation as such. It almost drew a blank and found no other. The concession about hating one’s own office and the question if I now feel different about the space (do I love it now?) are the only indication of something happening. I have little sense if the project is considered sound and significant. And, I think this is what I had thought I would be able to ascertain with the presentation: if this was a good enquiry, a good artistic research project.
Yet, I also see this as artistic practice: it is a doing, the modality and site are ones demarcated as research. And, yet, it seeks not institutional validation (neither in Geography nor in the Arts). So, if it doesn’t seek it, why do I feel confused of not getting it?
I learn much about artistic practice in these two days. Which is excellent. I see where my work fits in, where it doesn’t fit (and doesn’t need to). I also get a series of ideas of how to proceed, what productive forms of practice are to develop this. 

sketchbook: Take this Waltz (2011, Sarah Polley) and Europe, she Loves (Jan Gassmann, 2016)

Gesa Helms

10 hrs · 

i watched two films which were quite different about love. Europe, she loves and Take this Waltz.
Both work in the transitions. Both are harsh on romantic love. Take this Waltz is a little bit too much early morning light meets ditzy Michelle, and yet, I love the cuts, the lingering. It has one of the nicest scenes of desire in a cafe I have watched in a long time. And then this: Music kills the radio star on my favourite fairground attraction. Then the lights go on. It closes with her going there again, by herself, in the end. Europe, she loves ends with the woman from Seville driving towards France, the one from Thessaloniki going to Italy.

Europe, she loves in full length here: 

<< both are flawed in different ways; Europe is too leery I find: both on the women’s bodies but also on the centre (a German filmmaker) watching the poor periphery; and, I really dislike Seth Rogen, the tweeness of their couple desires. Yet: keeping hold of the transitions. Take this Waltz has good lines to this effect: Margot talking about her niece as a newborn sometimes, possibly just stepping into the same inexplicable melancholy that she also falls into once in a while; her sister, drunkenly, much later calling her out on: lives just have gaps, that is just what is, but it doesn’t mean you should go about filling them.

Mubi has the habit of hitting play when I open the computer again, so I tend to head the closing credits from the night before early in the morning. I read on a little more and this is a nice write-up of what is good about Take this Waltz: it is ordinary about what we keep with ourselves when we move on, who we remain, what we seeks. https://mubi.com/…/take-this-waltz-then-move-on…

— this describes the opening scene, and we only discover right throughout at the end who the man is that walks by (but, we could have known: it is Seth who cooks in in her first home, not her). 

Sarah Polley’s most pronounced statement in regard to this uncouthness is the scene at the beginning and ending of the film. Margot is cooking at a stove (echoes of her husband) in her new apartment and she sits down in front of it and stares about, while she wonders, thinks, regrets?—we don’t know—just as Daniel (the one she leaves her husband for)wanders in, unfocused, and stares out the kitchen window, though at the end she eventually goes and hugs him, from behind. How can we understand love, loss, need, and other feelings? The images of an actress silently displaying a mix of feelings is the statement, which might only be a catch-22 leading to the cliché, life is hard.

… Wiki writes about her regretting leaving Lou/Seth — she might, but what happens in the last 10 minutes is a time forward piece that moves her and Daniel into a place similar to where she and Lou were, and thus demarcates a lack/ a loss/ a need unfulfilled (that then gets called out by her sister in the scene I mention above).

this is the early scene that tells us that it is about ‘missing connections’, it is a sweet unpicking of one’s own curious anxiety of ‘inbetweens’; Daniel later tells her he may have the same, his conclusion is to move away a few days later:

Research A1: responses (and more thoughts) on the first preliminary questions

the coursework asks for a set of initial questions to be answered and sent to the tutor before proceeding to the Research proposal proper.

I received the responses a while ago, then completed A1 for BoW (which covered a fairly similar ground) and am now returning to the research proposal.

Rachel responded to the post here in a generous and helpful manner (I am leaving out a few procedural discussions from our exchange):

I think I can understand some of your frustration with linearity and literalness, and hope that you can hold onto your anxiety of being a good student as the linearity of research, practice, and study rarely happen as they are presented. For myself, this is part of my own practice research interest in the Deleuze and Guatarri’s rhizomatic interconnectedness, and also the entangled cut together-apart of new materialism. 

Trust that there will be moments of overlap as well as moments of separateness between the body of work and the research, and that though they will often develop as a hybrid, they will also be separated for clarity of explanation and academic format. 

The photographs of the mind maps and concept maps are great to demonstrate your thinking visually, though they are a little hard to read in places, (I imagine they are too large to scan?) 

I also wonder if the concept maps perhaps seem to relate more to your practice than the research concerns? I imagine if this is the case it is because, as you have identified, at this early stage things seem so closely interwoven? Mapping the theorists and writers as well as their concerns in amongst your own concepts as you start to plan the areas of interest for your written work will help you to keep tightening your approach and focus.

In your post, course instructions/literalness you write: 

the Research/ dissertation then underpins some of this a research form that can explore conceptual forms, moves and potentiality; I hope that it will concern ideas of production of space/ site; utopian forms of hybridity and how this relates to institutional critique’.

I think it will help you to write more about what you understand by these terms, and how you are intending on using some them to clarify your intentions for the research. Also try to use the writers/theorists you have included to help situate your research in more detail. It will also help to start to identify the specific texts you are interested in from the writers you identify in your list of resources. 

As you move into the next section before assignment 1 you will be able to spend some time honing your research question and what it will entail. This will help you to think about the focused direction of the research and how it will sit in relation to your body of work.

My response was as follows:

Hi Rachel — many thanks for sending this and for providing such thoughtful response. This is really helpful, also in how to differentiate out Research and BoW at this stage. Yes: you are right, the concept maps are largely about the BoW focus (and I assume the Research will then peel off and focus in on one area where theoretical/conceptual support for the BoW is required). Yes, I completely agree re the poor readability of the maps themselves: they are done in graphite on grey paper, are fairly large (60x100cm or so), and I will see if I want to transfer them for a different format.Thank you for picking out that one sentence — and I will spend some time unpacking this (part of it comes down to my geography shorthand; another part also possibly that I am finding a good way to deal with my previous academic work, without it letting drown out the artistic practice). 
I will spend the time between now and submission of A1 with clarifying/ focussing on some of the writing aspects and what line through the theory/argument I consider as fruitful (while attending to what I may want to keep as options); I am quite good at keeping on to my anxiety and will make a point to get round to Deleuze/Guatarri — my own work was a critical materialism (the left-section of the Frankfurt School, Alfred Schmidt, Horkheimer; then Foucault and Lefebvre), which never valued non-linearity all that much but had a good grasp of overall messiness and how internal relations of dialectics can help us engage with that societal mess. 

To take at this point:

  • the productiveness of anxiety: holding on to it to stay engage; not so much that it blocks you but it propels you on and forward
  • I value that she is doing a PhD and while I haven’t looked at Deleuze/Guattari, they have always been on my list and it will be good to become more involved.
  • the circularity and iteration of the process will be productive (I know how to do that and have employed that as strategy for some time)
  • there is a real sense of being able to bring in my previous academic work and feed it through the artistic processes without overwhelming them. this is really exciting and something I had hoped to achieve over the past few years (when I re-established an honorary affiliation with my old department in order to pursue precisely this).

sketchbook: Mysterious Skin (2004)

Gesa Helms added a post to the album close/open.

[this is from two edited FB posts]

19 mins · 

Mysterious Skin (2004, dir. Gregg Araki) was entirely different to what i thought it was going to be: i thought it was going to be queer teenage angst and a bit of road kill (i obviously went with the upbeat film poster).
there is some incredible stuff contained in it, and in the narration of things. it is on the surface strictly chronological: the events are dated; there are two narrative voices, each clearly distinct from the other. 
i don’t quite know how: maybe my own events in front of the screen account for my utter disorientation (i started watching over dinner, then paused to talk with A, then resumed) but i had no clue that Neil and Brian were at the same event. i also did not realise how Brian came to sit in his house’s basement with a nosebleed. 
it was only when Brian went to meet the girl in a neighbouring town from TV who had more than 20 alien abductions, that i realised that maybe all alien abductions were trauma phantasmagorias of people being sexually abused. — in her case it was surely the father looming in the background.
the way the story splits apart from the event, or even how the event is disjointed already is incredible. it sets up two of the known and distinct responses to severe sexual trauma: one, where the abuse is enframed in a groomed relationships that marks the child as special, the story is told of an 8-year old boy who tells himself that he pursued the coach, was in love (sexually), and lost, after that summer, the biggest love of his life. we see in memory only his memories of joy, laughter and curiosity. it is only when Brian seeks out the boy from his dreams of alien abduction and the missing five hours that summer night that we see a photo of the minor league team of that year and a deeply deeply unhappy and withdrawn Neil, whom we hadn’t seen in his own memory narrations at all.
— the violence that enters Brian and Neil’s lives is entirely differently articulated: Neil becomes a prostitute from age 15 onwards in small town Kansas in the mid-1980s, the physical abuse he obtains by some of this punters doesn’t register until his friends point to the bruises on his body, genitals. For Brian it is nosebleeds and blackouts, a father ashamed of his weak son and a barely functioning self that makes it into early adulthood.
it is Neil’s friend Eric, left devastated by Neil’s departure to NYC, who then meets and befriends Brian. Eric found one night, when returning the pot Neil had offered (along with some VHS porn if he wanted to jerk off), the audio tapes the coach had made of Neil and him and understands. He also points to the baseball shoes that the aliens in Brian’s drawings wear. Brian has no clue but persists and insists, becomes slowly of this world, and then meets on Christmas Eve Neil. Neil takes him to the house, shows him places and begins to tell the story. it is no longer a story of infatuation of the event when the game was called off due to rain, Brian’s mother and father didn’t pick him up ,but instead the coach took him to his house with Neil. 

This is one of the most astoundingly told stories of childhood sexual abuse. It is in the splitting of event and narratives, of agency and of unknowing that is so incredibly well done.
As the two boys never meet until the last scene, the impact of that abuse on both unfolds along two distinct trajectories. 
How these are brought together and held in the final scene is incredible. For once the youtube comments are astounding. I am not sure I can watch the closing scene again but I want to watch the beginning again: how Gregg Araki allows the event to rupture narration, integrity of self for the two young boys and us watching.

The film is incredible as to how dissociation works, how ruptures emerge in narrative and memory, how support structures move into place to facilitate living on, how the noise in the background is never quite right, how easy it is to miss the noise though as what else could there be. It is that which moves me in the film and which is wonderfully captured and retold, held, shown. 
I will never look at stories of alien abduction in quite the same light.
.
There is something incredibly inspiring in this movie: in being able to work with such material and to do so so tenderly and unflinching at the same time. 

Gesa Helms (Christmas Eve 1991) is the clip with the final scene. — one of the boys believes he was abducted by aliens, and then he makes a friend and it becomes of this world. The final camera and narration is stunning, i almost didn’t make it though.Edit or delete this

Gesa Helms that scene is amazing in terms of the relationship between these two young men who had not met in ten years; the knowing and the courage and the tenderness that plays out in that living room (while both of them had told themselves entirely different stories of that summer when they were 8) is so well done. and then there are carol singers at the front door of this strange house, they start to sing and the camera moves further and further up above that sofa lit with a single light source, where the one with a black hole instead of a heart comforts the alien abductee.Edit or delete this

BoW 1: tutor report

I had the first video tutorial following my earlier submitted proposal. It had seemed ages that I discussed actual coursework and so this was good: to ground the work since Summer and to articulate the forward.

In early December, following the progression discussion I almost agreed to a new tutoring arrangement and on Wednesday I realised that it was good to take what seemed the more risk-adverse approach and ask for continuity in Doug remaining my tutor for BoW. It was easy to revisit ground but also to begin to tap out what is all new: in approach, in intent, in relationship.

We spent a good part on mapping forward but also designating the endpoint for BoW and where the final module, Sustain Your Practice will become the realisation of the the Body of Work. So: I will end with a series of drafts, a pilot, or similar to then be finalised in the third module.

It was right for me to start with sketchbook work, to start drawing out what I want to keep from before as method, process, form. Doug brought up a good phrase that I want to use: to take the philosophies that I investigated and developed in Drawing 2 and develop them further – the gap, the expanded field of drawing, the ideas around performativity, instruction, the sensorial and relationships; of institutional critique; how it links to academic practice.

— that the sketchbook work is working, alongside what I have started to do with the gap again is reassuring (also: how I represent it digitally on the blog/IG). We discuss some of it in a fair bit of detail and it’s as always so useful to get some reflections put back at me.

So, attached is the PDF of a report. It is reasonably sparse at this stage but I am also very clear what comes next as ‘gather and manifest’, end of April for this is a bit ambitious but I will see.

Tutor is right to ask for a bit more clarity over scope: what will you do. — I kind of know what it is but I am reluctant to put words to it. So, here some bullet points (am I shooting or being shot at?):

To clarify what the process for BoW would be:

  • A series of performances, experiments
  • To be experimental and artistic (out there; think Yoko Ono and Mathew Barney’s early performances): let it be raw
  • Take forward where you concluded with Parallel Praxis:
    • A particular space/place (e.g. Jonas’s work takes place in a site, is brought together there)
    • Digital/analogue
    • Multi/ or inter-disciplinary
    • Performance
  • What is the relationship with the audience? (for Beckett that is key)
  • For BoW to end up with a series of drafts, a pilot or similar; for SYP then to take that and present it in final form

We conclude (along with stating it a few times as we went on): I should feel quite excited about what has been and what lies ahead. I am indeed.

The PDF, now: