R1.1 Initial ideas (part 2)

I had started to post some of the concept maps which are part of this extensive part of first questions around ideas, review, mapping of existing work, theme, potential, weaknesses in an earlier post here, and now want to conclude this question with a reworked outline of my initial ideas. For this I referred to the statement of intent that formed the basis for the transition discussion in autumn (keeping its review and context and writing through ideas as they have emerged since then):

Initial Ideas and orientation

I would like to continue at the point where my recent module, Drawing 2 concluded (and am for this statement drawing on my earlier self-assessment with some reworking and expanding for what may lie ahead). The final projects (m(e)use|use me; the Hornet Tree, the Critical Review on an expanded field of drawing) as well as the realisation to the Parallel Project, Parallel Praxis, all begun to articulate a notion and practice of drawing in an expanded, interdisciplinary field. Here, drawing emerges as a set of enquiries, methods and processes in which performance, photography, writing, installation and more traditional drawing processes interact and mutually inform each other.

The parallel project indeed relates and looks back to the previous module itself, it reorganises the materials and lets them become something else still. The video is not merely a narration, an instruction; I begun to include the key clips – visual, and also found sound recordings – in the work to author it and let it unfold. In this sense, it draws on a number of senses and sensations, and indeed revolves around an exploration of a body (mine) as drawing tool, investigating the reaches of what constitutes an extended field of drawing. It speaks out of the screen to ask the viewer to engage directly with some other materials. With this, it resonates with both Joan Jonas’s and Katrina Palmers’s work: they engage, performatively, and in doing so make visible and audible that engagement between artist and audience, viewer, reader, interlocutor. Will it work? Does it fail? What happens instead? In this parallel project, there is a literal voice – mine – and in its clarity it also helps to articulate all those other voices that are involved in my art-making, an art-making  that is visual, textual, increasingly dares to be performative; it takes in things I learned before: critical social theory; dialectics; a body/dreamwork coaching and counselling training; a dissatisfaction with academic publishing; a keenness on finding those other spaces and places that are never entirely utopian but offer a hunch, a first step from here to there.

Besides the actual projects that constitute the body of work of Drawing 2, there is something also in the tools that I used and which for the assessment submission refigured as a portfolio without large sheets of paper but instead a series of folders and pouches that relate and point towards some of the digital parts (FB albums, e.g.). This process of working with materials that are common, and in some ways mimic office work processes was important and I feel it may also structure some of my future enquiries. It also deepened my engagement with a movement between digital and analogue (continuing from DI&C). It also continues with questions over what constitutes site, audience, work > explored in different ways and always with an exploration of this movement digital/analogue (initially: gap, agency, control (generative systems, drawing machines); then: what constitutes drawing; the kind of tools: office tools).

In this, and as a first step into Body of Work I have begun to explore the notion of hybridity (is that interdisciplinarity?) within an expanded drawing practice. For this purpose, I have started a series of investigations that take the questions and processes of these initial steps in Assignment 1 and explore their scope for an artistic practice: created and transposing concept maps; guide books etc. Also: having submitted and accepted a conference talk at that Society of Artistic Research conference in late March in Zurich around the work of the Gap and its wider relevance, I have begun to (a) explore further routes around this work (a void, a gap between two filing cabinets as a starting point towards investigating relationship, distance, agency and control as well as notions of a gap between analogue and digital processes within an institutional setting) and (b) the notion of a conference talk as performance, instruction, screening and thus to enquire into this particular format and modality, which I hope will be instructive for the further development of both BoW and Research.

The issues with regards to voice/ themes and practice that clarified during this final Level 2 module were:

  • humour and how I instigate processes that allow me to arrive at resolved pieces
  • the relationship to conceptual and intellectual concerns (institutional critique, production of space)
  • working across a range of media/approaches and finding ways to integrate them with each other and use that integration in innovative ways (photography, writing, performance, drawing)

It is then on the basis of these emerging working practices, conceptual concerns and emerging clarity and articulation of voice that I would like to approach Level 3. I find these first respective assignment pointers for Research and BoW useful in relation to review and investigate existing work to date (and have kept a good part of such review as context for articulating my first moves within Research). I also find some of the overlap but fairly little actual integration confusing, and it took me a while to make sense of the individual exercises and questions and how they do/ not relate between the two modules. As both first assignments are strongly focussed on planning ahead and specifying approaches, means, literatures I find myself hesitating: while I have a clear sense of direction I am at this moment wary of specifying this too far in advance as I generally review and refine on the basis of some work already done and articulate e.g. theory/concept post-practice (to feed into a new cycle). With this in mind, I have spend considerable time with some of the questions, have also reviewed some of the Level 2 pieces in some detail; but crucially, started to do a series of new investigations and enquiries to allow me to test some thoughts, refine these build in these. 

The theme and interest is refined to some extent as for the Research to be an investigation into 

The site of Interdisciplinarity in Drawing Practice, 

and for the Body of Work a Theme of Significance being

Drawing/ Contact (Modality, Practice, Site)

With these two related themes, I would like to pursue and clarify the approach towards an embodied, sensorial and expanded field of drawing as artistic practice. There are a number of technical skills and approaches I am interested in: moving image/ video (possibly even 16mm film); darkroom techniques; screenprinting; performance; but none of these are fixed and I trust that the suitability of any of these will emerge in relation to the actual projects. Similarly, I am very interested in pursuing further my investigations into sites (interior/exterior) as well as movement between these. It may make sense to prepare and arrange for an actual site to serve as a field site for the Body of Work (and thus move it out of ongoing work arrangements).

Following the Concept Mapping (Q1.3), the most promising and salient themes that animate my interest are geographical and environmental following my investigations into the institutional corridor and an artistic practice that engages it: they concern site, direction, orientation, movement, exit; gaps, possibilities for other spaces that sit aside, elsewhere; and as such follow on from the Gap, Green and Parallel Praxis. Related to the production of space, these touch on questions of performance, the sensorial, institutional critique and the sensorial.

There is a continuous theme running throughout which concerns questions over copy, reproduction, repetition and difference, and, as it becomes clear in the later part of the module, this concerns both the surface, the background of the actual artwork as well as that it stretches beyond and outwards from it: what kind of space do we perceive, live, practice?

performance score: the gap, observed

i sit on the floor on the other side of the room: the centre of my body centred on the space between the two cabinets, black dress, leggings and shoes. my legs are crossed at my ankles. i breathe in, uncross my legs, sit them down, then cross them again. — end.

– this is observed by one person. from a number of positions and heights. first: behind the desk, seated; then, standing between desk and cabinets, leaning on them; standing right in front of the gap, facing me directly; then at the same location, kneeling down; sitting to the right or left of me, legs similarly stretched out; finally: standing in the doorframe, the door is ajar, my legs are visible but not the rest of me. the person moves slowly from position to position.

this happens without speaking. what the observer observes is up to them.

light: either ceiling light, preferably though natural lighting.

duration: approx 6 mins in total.

R1.2: getting started

The second of the initial questions concerns how to get organised, timelines, writing/ creating habits etc. I focus on my workflow and present an initial timeline for both Research and BoW, with the view to complete both by the end of 2019.

Workflow and process

I generally work with a mix of Papers as referencing database and more recently Books for epub. Besides this, a number of books exist on my bookshelves or in the University of Glasgow library to which I have access.
For the past six months I have started to use Evernote as research and planning tool and will continue to do so:

  • A large notebook is simply titled [untitled album] L3 work, which contains clipping and thoughts
  • A more general album [day thoughts] contains wider, course unspecific information
  • I set up more specific notebooks and move across when it becomes relevant
  • I tend to draft my blog posts in Evernote, move relevant photos from Photos in here too, which also means photograph handwritten notes and add to digital ones
  • I test much of my writing and thinking in limited Facebook publics, that has worked over the past 2 years well and is a good way to gauge how particular concepts, thoughts and writing notes function.
  • Once these are relevant, concluded I write a blog post
  • I also started to treat a section of the blog as a sketchbook — this comes out of the circumstance that much of my sketching happens digital and I want to recorded (I would like see if I can have these in a side column, separate strand within the blog)

My general manuscript writing interface has been Word, for all the academic texts I have written as well as the Geography PhD. I have now started to explore Scrivener as a tool to help me write longer text and use InDesign for layout work. With Scrivener I am interested in the flexibility that it offers and want to try to use it for a couple of texts that I am working on and I think the dissertation if it becomes a written document may function within that (with Papers, Books, Evernote as research surfaces as well as handwritten notes; InDesign for typesetting). My thought re format however is that I may end up producing a hybrid moving image work which will contain different format, such as a lecture style recording, some slide show with commentary plus perhaps original moving image works and stills. — I will revisit this thought in Assignment 2.

Proposed time line for Research and Body of Work

Spend considerable time in Spring and Summer to work on BoW, in that time refine the focus for Research, write the bulk of Research towards the end of the Summer (if it is a standard written work) – i.e. A4

Can the actual research be in the form of a series of performances/ experiments — largely auto-ethnographic but also testing forms of dialogue, relational encounters that arise from and relate back to the BoW i.e., there is actual empirical research here that sits at a hybrid form and links directly to the questions in the BoW? 

[the summary diagram on p. 8 of the course handbook seems to assume that there is original research taking place, which in part can be secondary literature but that seems only one of several angles and approaches]
If this is so, I envisage to conduct this also over the summer (depending on site, audience/ participation, this may need to be timed more carefully)

Timeline for Research:

  • A1: end of March
  • A2: end of June
  • A3: mid-August
  • A4: end of October
  • A5: end of November

How does this relate to BoW in terms of schedule?

  • A1: end of February
  • A2: end of April
  • A3: end of July
  • A4: early October
  • A5: end of December

R1.3: Identifying resources

For the Research module, the first step is to send the responses to three sets of questions to my tutor, to get a response and on the basis of this to write a 1000 word research proposal which narrows down and refines the first 3 questions.

This is my first list of resources (Question 3), a brief note on how they relate and how to negotiate access (which may not be relevant to how the Research/dissertation will unfold).

For the actual submission of A1, a further refinement happens on the back of some initial feedback.

Exercise 3: Identify resources 


Relevant artistic work

  • Joan Jonas
  • Drawing Ambiguity
  • Sophie Calle
  • Aperture / Performance
  • Amelia Jones et al (eds) 

Written work:

  • Juliana Spahr thisconnections, The Transformation
  • Bhanu Kapil
  • Chris Kraus
  • Katrina Palmer

Interdisciplinarity/ mutability and technology of form/process (possibly simply: methodology)

  • Hilevaara/Orley eds
  • Stephanie Springgay
  • Donna Haraway 
  • Kristin Ross/ Bini Adamczak
  • Friedrich Kittler

>> some of this also concerns: The body/ the sensorial: agency/ control and the post-human

Space, site (utopian, phenomenological)

  • Ursula LeGuin
  • Gordon Matta Clark
  • Noemie Goudal
  • Henri Lefebvre
  • Site as method: Lucy Lippard
  • Sarah Ahmed on orientation

     << many of these overlap and filter into other of these rough headings.

Skim read

Reading Springgay and co-authors and following up Cultural studies <-> Critical methodologies; I wonder if I can work through this material with an interest in methodology as artistic practice that operates interdisciplinarily. I.e., to take the doing of the BoW to enquire into the how and use this to open a space across the different media forms and possibly also explore how this space is utopian/ relates to the institution?
The gap as the opening, entry point for this. Hilevaara/Orley’s introduction and practice of folding as question and first marker.

Gatekeepers and other access

These seems to concern primary research for the dissertation more so than what I anticipate this piece of work to currently be: an academic discussion of existing literature and research that relates to my Body of Work. Yet: I can also see that it may make sense to identify either practitioners or researchers to contact; to possibly conduct some interviews, a focus group or similar. I will spend more time on these considerations when they arise.  Otherwise: access to library materials through UCA and UofG; to galleries and archives as they are publicly accessible or bookable by appointment.

sketchbook: Juliana Spahr’s thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs

— I read Spahr’s collection of two long poems from 2004 (and written after 9 September 2011 and then from late November 2002 to late March 2003) at some point last year and keep returning in thoughts back to it. I read quite a bit of her writing at that point and am taking with form and subject matter, an environmental concern that decentres at once human agency/ perspective and also articulates a political concern running through it.

I am not sure yet for what, but I feel that her writing will be important for what I am doing.

The collection of thisconnection is available online here.

I haven’t quite figured out what/ how much I want to repost here, so this post may simply become a collecting point for a number of comments on it.

4 February 2019:

  • there is something in the ritualistic building up, then building out, then reversing which really works for me. also: the visualisation of what sentient negative space is like and how it builds a connection (which then is both lovely and doomed)
  • what Spahr does is exploring sentient negative space. how it connects and is animated. her negative space is of course not empty: it is air, a particular mix of elements, sustaining life on earth. 
    the fairly simple structure of the long poem allows for repetition, a stepping aside and into a haze, a sense of knowing how to proceed, to arrive at a simple and devastating final line (which of course is not final, as she picks up again at the point at which she realises that the US will invade Iraq she continues)

v2 of expectation will etc.

i had written and posted the material within this in a different order. it wasn’t just text 1, text 2, image, text 3. but text 2, image, text 3. text 1 just remained placed but not published.

i wanted to convey that non-linearity in the PDF too and set up an InDesign version of it; it iterates now, there are probably more variations that are meaningful within it, and there is more attention to font type and placement to be paid, but this works as another sketch.

if you can set your PDF viewer to view it as two-page spread, that will be perfect (it’s a5 size if you want to print it)

— text 1 exists as a photocopy work, folded once and pushed into the gap. as such it is an object in its own right also. it may just be separate from this book form though.

sketchbook: wax stain

i make copies of one of the pieces that i made around the gap and negative space to proceed to use wax pastels, linseed oil and graphite so as to stain and smudge (it’s a process that keeps intriguing me, see here as part of Drawing 2, here a sketchbook page from several years ago)

— i trace the edges here, not to too much success, so it is less these pieces that i am wanting to record but:

A few days later i look at the notebook and see that of course the red pastel got everywhere: it has dried up where smudged but it is so intense that it smudges and moves to other pages effortlessly. it does so more so than many other medium, there is something in the idea of movement, diffusion (contamination comes also to mind but that too pejorative)