contextual distance in the padlet portfolio

In my crit group on 2/10 I offered my For Cover portfolio for a crit (I had last put some work, a mix of padlets and the instructions materials, to the group in early Spring this year). I had asked alongside two questions: how about archiving and how about engaging? We talk for a bit over an hour and I take notes. I copy these notes here and want to draw out a number of points as to the questions over contextual distance, what constitutes the work and where the work is. 

The discussion quickly moves towards the platform, padlet, and how much everyone hates it: how clunky and intrusive it is, how it stands in the way of the work; but then really, how it mediates (my words) and poses those questions of navigation and access, of ensuring completeness or the worry that something may be missed.

There is the argument that it scaffolds the work too much..

Much after the discussion, where I am still surprised by the force of some of the dislike being put forward, I realise that the notes also tell me something different:

  • that the work is rather beautiful
  • that the distance to the work becomes uncomfortable to endure
  • that the work and the site cannot be touched while the work implies it should, could, perhaps even ought to
  • and then there is the wider sense of how padlet as corporate platform seeks to manage and facilitate that distance: of becoming more and more corporate; of inviting us to add more and more; of presenting every changing interfaces and post modalities to remind us of innovation
  • so the platform is an intrusive mediator: of wanting to be known for itself, not just an invisible interpreter
  • it also points (this image contravened against our policy) to the fact that it can and does remove items it dislikes (without notification, without recourse, without me knowing what the item actually was); so my presence and the works presence remains precarious: it may disappear sooner than even my institutional access disappears.

I come away thinking that padlet may after all be the right platform for this work if the work is interested in that distance (see SYP tutor report 1).

I also come away thinking that the work is effective here to encourage access to the audience’s emotional registers around longing (and its frustration of lack of access)

So, the work is present but somewhat out of reach. There is an institutional frame that governs part of this, it catches some of the frustrations.

PS: distance (none at all)

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

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

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

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

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

distance/contact (after BoW4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

touch and intimacy at a distance

close/open comes to my mind, the title I gave this site before it was a site and a body of work.

I am spending time with the small tactile objects of this work, both Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse, turning them left and right, exploring well-tested processes and some other tangents to see what form of a tactility, touch and thus closeness I can achieve with them. First in my own hand (not so difficult), then possibly in yours (far more difficult).

Considering this an exhibition with audience participation always introduces the distance of a gallery site, however unconventional. Contact restrictions and sites closed add to this. These limitations notwithstanding, my work has also always worked with closeness and intimacy at a distance, often through social media posts, through audio messages and through touch screens. The viewing and listening experiences often one of a single person and their device. The sound and the handheld device the means for such proximity.

Yet, I remain uncertain if this will do as sensory means for the kind of objects that both Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse are: stones, paper, yarn, shells. Their touch and the sensation of their weight, shape and surface in one’s hand does not work through a device. Can I narrate these?

The padlets are attempts to bridge such gap and to provide a visual narration through the objects. It’s an effort of translation, transfer, and yet the outcome holds in a number of ways.

In any case, in advance of a series of discussion around my tactile objects, touch and handling, here two sets of images by way of collating what objects there are:

First, the experiments for the walnut shells (cyanotype exposure of the inside; bleach+tone with walnut ink; wrapping; staining with ink inside the shell; tracing the opening with ink and graphite).

The objects created with the cyanotype, bleach and tone are delicate strip, the paper almost undone through the iterative working. They are delicate objects, perhaps suited to a light box but also not quite for handling.

Is the handling just a fantasy? Is there just a trace of the touch contained in these?

A similar gallery for the Herz/Stein processes is this one (I left them in Glasgow, had the original stones and yarn and elastic almost sent three times, today I take a new ball of red sock wool to the edge of the wood and begin to wrap stone, stick and cone):

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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