SYP as practice as research

Where and when is the site, audience and work/ as early question (SYP 1):

In fact, it was phrased like this in July 2021:

Challenge of writing around the idea of SYP as exhibition. 

This is a functional project plan: how does my practice fit within that and where does it really push at the boundaries. 

For this plan, Rachel observes that the concern over audience is really the most interesting area to focus on it: Who is the audience and in what form does the work engage whom, how and where? The instructions and how to push the form between you and the audience; when do you want to be open and revealing; when quite closed and secretive. 

If this work is relational, it is concerned with various relationship forms: actants, matters; public, private, reveal and conceal. The concern of the engagement plan is the how and why, and it can be bristly. 

At the provocative end, Rachel suggests that I could argue that the material is in fact the audience, seeing the new materialist and post-humanist aspects of the work. 

(tutor report, SYP 1, July 2021)

And the active research process (also from SYP 1) concerns:

R: To raise a question: for you and others who work with site is the big question: where is the work? What is the work? And a lot of people will only ever see the documentation. There are the audio pieces too but they are of the site, don’t necessarily need to be experienced in site. 

Where is the site, where is the work, where is the audience? Is the engagement with you, the site the work and the question of how it works in proximity to the site. (27:00) 

These don’t fall all into each other: site, work, I, audience. 

It isn’t about near space but contextual distance; these aren’t the same but the distance is being negotiated within the work. 

The concept of a toolbox is helpful: I can pick it up; so perhaps a mobile: what constellation does it all have, how does it move. Some of the distance is structural but some is moved by wind. 

Also: role of time being slow and fast and what that does for proximity. 

(tutor report, SYP 1, July 2021)

These were the active questions; the engagement strands addressed these and so did the investigation around archiving and participation. 

Arguably too, the creation of new work processes (and the review of the bridging projects, Making Hay and Fir Hide,) investigated these also.

The site and any engagement is productive.

Once I establish a container (like Stromverteilen, as site, as practice or as method), I can infinitely explore it in numerous connections, the work, the site will be activated in these (possibly more or less successful). The work and the site then also become mobile: processes like a/folder (see a current reflection on this strand here), but even a social media practice of posting circulate the site and the work to different audiences, they fragment, reconstitute, remake and echo (some of these can be controlled but much also becomes involuntary, uncontrolled, perhaps even invisible, latent).

I centred all three engagement strands on these. And they yielded insight. 

Utilising the a/folders in a series of group settings was particularly insightful: they circulated in different ways ahead and prompted in one case a four-week group process of distributed engagement with them; one was tested in crit group and committed group setting (with a lot of criticism to start with), and then there were two that formed a key activity in the see (through) making workshops. In these, like in the first, extended process, the engagement was also very visible, in the case of the workshops even recorded with altered camera angles. And these were great. Excellent in fact. In particular the #12 a Kaleidoscope was almost magical at the making stage but then also when testing. The camera set ups provided fabulous views; and hearing also of how people tested the device and what they observed added another layer yet.

The see (through) series had two somewhat different modalities; the making workshops were possibly (besides the social media advertising) the most uncertain parts of my engagement : of testing art-making instruction when I know that I was particularly interested in the process rather than the object, wanting to foreground the group aspect in this. I was nervous how this would function in zoom and with my art that at the start of the a/folders received a fair bit criticism for being too intellectual and too abstract. 

I have written a longer reflection on access/engagement, notably in relation to the 2 making workshops is this separate post here).

The participation (in) archiving conversation followed a simple format: 3 short introductory presentations from the three speakers, a little response from each to each and then an opening of the conversation to all present. The presentations were concise and insightful, they were open too as to present our current engagement with and thinking about these matters. The conversation that followed from them was generous, engaged, exploratory and genuinely interested in dialogue and intellectual engagement. I remember coming away thinking that I didn’t have to make myself dumb. It yielded a number of new questions and concerns around archiving and participation while at the same time opening an existing conversation between the three of us out to a larger group and made our concerns and our engagement visible also. 

This all poses a series of reflections on the larger project plan for SYP but of course also for the next steps once this module has ended. Please see the respective posts for these.

Critical reflection of relationship between BoW and Research

I have always worked these two in tandem, submitting them throughout by alternating them. By Research 3 (March 2020) it was becoming clear that Research itself was creating art objects and works (the padlets and the glossary first) and that thus the BoW was in objecthood disarticulating from the research enquiry. Significant was the moment when I discovered I was going to do an actual research project, first considered as auto-ethnography, the writing auto or theory fiction, at the point of eventual conclusion the research shifted towards a creative arts practice-as-research, PaR, the writing an exegesis with elements of creative writing but likely fairly consistent with a PaR-based complementary writing (Robin Nelson) approach: it enabled me to integrate my former academic research self more fully within an artistic context, making the researcher part of the artist and part of my artistic voice. Understanding the significance of PaR as creative practice was important here also to realise what kind of art I am interested in making (and also what less so), that my art was process-based, yet finding material objects (in analogue or digital) as resolution was something I did know before embarking on Level 3, the extent to which an active enquiry was part of the process was something I honed and refined. The status of art works was somewhat fleeting, abundant, slight at the point Lockdown 1 happened in the UK and I lost the institutional staircase site as research and installation venue just before I felt the research cycle was concluded. I had devised a series of interventions into that site (albeit I submitted these for Research 3 and not BoW4) which were however never realised. The next step was to fold these into a mobile walking loop outside to take account of contact restrictions and to develop the fictional elements of drawing/contact, near-space and moving-with further in summer 2020. These were abandoned when I moved to German due to my father’s stroke and then staying due to his poor health and looming travel restrictions from September 2020 onwards.The work I made during those months was first and foremost practical: to occupy myself and find ways of processing that was happening. I quickly realised how the methodology of making (cyanotype contacts prints outside of moving and slight leaves and other plant matter) was fully situated and articulated within the drawing/contact framework: I had in fact had the chemistry I had bought in early summer sent over to use here and not there. The work became extensive, vast, a new site emerged, a transformer station to enquiry into and perform-with. At this point the research methodology was fairly well-articulated and as it was holding along the main parameters of drawing/contact and its questions (body as drawing tool, relational contact, materialisations of these), I decided to keep this methodological focus of the research and to keep what was the original work as case studies, to develop them as research objects, and to more fully articulate the findings, insights and conceptual relevance of these for the dissertation, while making a rather analogue and material BoW alongside.In the BoW 4 tutorial (February 2021), Stromverteilen as site (the transformer station) turned entire work rather than case study and I developed a portfolio where Stromverteilen would house and contain the earlier processes and sites. The extent to which this was straightforward and helped refine further the key processes of drawing/contact and its enquiries (many of these articulated through the Herz/Stein process) but also helped develop a site that was fictitious yet physical, that was accessible and offered routes towards other sites, to dreams from earlier was fascinating. It helped then decide on the autumn works to become four covers to become For Cover as BoW submission, sited and linked in an environmental context and translated also into a digital portfolio that uses audio narration to allow for access, intimacy and some immersion. At the point of module conclusion (at the time limit of 24 months + 6 months extension), there exists a whole series of live drawing processes which I initially had intended to turn towards a final ‘drawing’ for BoW, to encompass the entire site, but which I then realised where actual research processes, the BoW complete with For Covers. I have the sense I needed to test and move further with these drawings to come to the realisation of how Im Walde, Walnut tree and Trafodecken constitute the work and how they can be sited to activate each other, the site and make the objects also accessible for viewers (and perhaps participants).

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)

distance/proximity (after Res 2)

18/11

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

Here

Facebook

little inlay

messenger

whatsapp

wordpress

Instagram

email

sketchbook

 

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

 

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