Not/writing about Not/guiding a reader: clarity, reveal and conceal in the dissertation (>Research Folder)

In as much as this text approaches contact in different voices and positions, it also does so with varying levels of distance: some voices lean close, others intent on an arm’s length distance between one and another. Clarity is thus negotiated in a series of reveals and conceals, sometimes it is upfront and present, sometimes it skirts around the edges or hides in tangled matter (as excess or abundance)

(Introduction, Research dissertation)

I add towards the final edits this short note to the introduction of the dissertation. It concludes a long series of discussions between tutors and myself around clarity, reveal/conceal, excess and that notion of writing auto/fiction.

My research tutor carefully noted where I did not guide the reader and in Res 5 she writes:

R: There are also still some moments where you drop works or large theories into the text with very little framing which can cause a feeling of being lost in the text (this might be intentional? but equally you can consider how much you want to then frame that expectation for the reader?)

Some more footnoting or a more traditional glossary would help with this, as we discussed in the last tutorial

However, I also recognise this is an ongoing consideration for you in terms of the writing as practice and the idea of contact, distance and how sometimes you are holding your reader at arms length. Again the more you can make decisions about transparency and opacity in the style of the writing and make this deliberate with signposting the better. 

You outline the idea of voices clearly in your introduction and the typography of the text in some sections which is really helpful, and so you might want to do the same with the idea of clarity or what is revealed and what obscured?

Perhaps this connects to our discussion last time about managing excess, and the difficulties of cramming all the rich research you have done in the word count?- You do acknowledge this in the dissertation, but you might want to acknowledge the moments when this will impact the reader?

G: I seem to have been wholly resistant to that traditional glossary. Maybe it’s the fixing that happens through it, the solidity, that puts me off. Let me try for some key terms and add to the dissertation appendix. I mean: it’s not that difficult to excerpt from the blog post two sentences as to nomadism, right. 

As I said in my first email response to this feedback: I really like how you returned my investigation of care and maintenance to my readership. I think it’s my social scientist who is a little impatient with slow or ignorant readers and I need to have a conversation with her as to how serious she is in carrying this forward to her artistic writing practice. 

I think our conversation in the BoW5 tutorial that it is not a matter of handholding but perhaps merely naming the opacity, the distance (in a footnote, or in a glossary, now this is turning interesting for me), could be sufficient. And: importantly: that that investigation of clarity of approach will only benefit me for how to proceed beyond this.

(Research 5 report, written by tutor, with my commentary marked in document)

This blog post intends to expand on the relational construction of clarity, opacity in the written aspects of my work and also serve going forward to SYP.

Having begun in seriousness to work with personal family matter at the end of AOP meant to explore how to place into public private matter and how to make such private matter strange, performative while still holding and containing its frequency, resonance, content. I have experimented with different forms since (and DI&C, Drawing 2 and now, much less charged and more at ease, have done so also for L3). In all this, the original charge, impetus, motivation is contained and woven into the material, sometimes tightly, sometimes loosely.

For L3, and even more so once I moved towards the edge of the village, this has become much easier and discovering Laura Marks’ negotiation of the visual and the haptic has provided a tool, a methodology that allows for it to be considered artistic practice of serious subject matter.

The forms in which I seek contact are varied: directness, in your face, elliptical omission, shifting text and work along, inventing names, dates and locations while reporting truthfully on all else. In fact, so much of my observations are in fact literal to a fault: even the taste is the one I remembered, and yet a series of turning, shifting, removing and reordering turns pointed observation into matter than can be held and considered otherwise.

The other means in which I negotiate reveal/conceal is excess — in its positive connotations its richness, suppleness, abundance; yet easily it is also simply: too much. In all this muchness the important stuff can be included, can mingle and move while not sticking out all that much. The L3 work (PaR, written) sought and found forms to relate this back to site, audience and artist, and does so through a variety of surfaces, containers and means (glossaries, appendices, font type alignments, a simple visual surface which presents links and layers should one seek these, etc).

In this, care of the matter, the source, the relationships contained therein are a first priority; care for the readership or audience a second thought and one that I sometimes brush aside, even though the intent to make visible, negotiable, public is sincere and thus an audience, a public required nonetheless. Possibly the biggest learning for all of L3 so far has been how to become adept, confident and careful in modulating these relationships and forms. This is work in progress, this blog post situates the Research dissertation as such form and provides a base towards the engagement of SYP and an artistic practice beyond it.

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)

sketchbook: 2.12 ko-loop edit

I presented a short cut through the site/moving-with question to the art&environment group on Wednesday evening. For it, I had edited in iMovie+Powerpoint the set up to show the three pieces from the pavement walk in Kozani on one page.

— It was rough but functional. I knew that iMovie doesn’t allow a three-way split screen, and Powerpoint for Mac doesn’t allow to export as video slides with embedded video. So I finally opened the Premiere Pro and figured out how to split a screen and a few hours later, this is a more than functional sketch.

The audio is surprisingly generous of both clips and works well, also in interaction between them. I edited the ending a few times and this works for me at the moment.

I will review a bit further as to balance between the freedom of moving and the structural constraint.

sketchbook: thisconnection as bridge

for months i have been circling around her. like an elastic band i stretch the connection and at points then jump right onto some of her pages.
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i write a cryptic line in my summary and off i go again.
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this morning i pack all three and search.
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among other things i find:
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as i continue swimming i bodythink through the cosmos. through the work the living and the dying are doing for each other at this moment in time and any other. i had realised earlier this summer that my dad is going to teach me something vital. and here in this process with Achim i realise the work that is being done by us around to facilitate the movements between here and there and what each receives in this. i think i rarely felt so tender amongst it all.
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thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs (juliana spahr)
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it is the closing line of a longer thisconnection (men, women, roleplay, victims, essentialism)
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she will be the bridge across and away from the site. form content that connects while standing apart.
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in army of lovers, she and David Buuck investigate a plot of grassy wasteland between a few major roads.
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i have precisely such a plot. a pontoon bridge leads to it. all sorts of insignificant incidents take place. some are fantasy. a good part happens on speed. someone falls into the water and eighty-seven pelicans take off while the sparrows argue over the best spot to pig watch each morning. he who opens the kiosk at will and hides in dark corners within sells me an ice cream for €2.50. i think he made the price up. next time i check and i know he did. but he settled on it, having committed to a sun-worn board with lots of expensive ice cream (all cost €2.50). it sits next to the instant cameras,€20 for 2. how did the film develop?
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unrelatedly, i observe the verge. in mid-July on the abundant West Coast it is exuberant. i move along and record it. later i step into it and record some more. elsewhere in the village, the council spent money on controlling growth. it does so abundantly. i record eagerly and just wait for being approached by watchful neighbours (none so far).
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the specific connections this post makes are to Ag Achilleios as site and the bridge as site

I have an earlier short note also relating to Juliana Spahr here.

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/.