Reflection on assignment 3: Green tutorial

[the written tutor report is still being finalised, I will add a link to it asap]

When I submitted the assignment I wrote a note that it felt riskier than previous ones: the brevity and medium gave me that sense.

The tutorial was immensely useful and helpful in unpacking that sense but also spending some time to examine what is contained in the work, where it may be heading, what are tricky parts and what deserves further investigation.

A point we kept returning to was a sense of playfulness and inventiveness – initially, that the methodology that I have begun to devise for myself in the investigation of the institutional space allowed for both and also facilitated a way to investigate difficult aspects (by having tools to fall back on); and later though, the advice or cautious commentary was that I should give my tests more space, more room to breathe, that they  (such as the post 1/7) warranted more space, attention to allow for more play and invention. This was an interesting loop, and I didn’t find it easy initially. It took a couple of iterations until I felt I was able to unpack what was substantively, as subject matter, in the project (the limitations of the corridor, questions over hardworking, conduct and whether I have a place there) that was at once also limiting and restricting play and invention, hemming the project in, making parts of it feel claustrophobic. — If anything, I generally feel that I play and invent rather well in my work, so it was so curious to hear this as advice, but then of course it made perfect sense as to what was the nature of the work that I investigated.

— I also figured out how the ‘stumbling upon’ the video snippet and deciding to work with this present a subversion of play, a trickster figure to go one step further with remove, to present a sideways move, and it’s fitting.

We spent considerable time unpicking and tracing the series of moving image material that I presented and that was great: it was really useful to hear back what was present in the work; the biggest insight possibly around the Ken Burns effect of wip: green (moving image and sound); I completely had not realised that this anticipated the pendulum movement in the final submission (just as an effect, a cliche); that the use of the audio also undid the  cliche of the effect was also good to discuss.

I had the sense that the moving image material is significant (as medium but also a physical movement) and it was good to explore potential avenues where this can go: that the assignment piece works as a piece but also can be taken further: as part of a bigger installation, as part of a longer video (after all: while there is a release, an ease, it is also a loop, what happens if I let the loop become unstuck?). — That this may become the Parallel Project, but also that the artist book of Part 5 can be a moving image work is intriguing, and despite the learning that I will need to do (so much time at the computer again), it feels really fitting as to where to go with this material.

The tests and experiments that I did not conduct on other green will become the starting point for Part 4, Environmental interventions, and should provide a fairly smooth base, transition, as I have been attending to a fair part of that course part already.

We discussed timelines for assessment, Doug raised the November one as possibility, having checked timelines and work commitments, I think a completion in November is more feasible — I do want to heed his advice of running with the momentum that I currently have built up (I know I sometimes hunker down too much with projects), so possibly completing 4 and 5 before October would be good. And I am getting excited about Level 3 moving into reach.

 

Changes to assignment submission:

The only change that I currently can see myself making is to rename it from swivel green to Green (Am I working hard enough)

 

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project 3_3: drawing machines

this project has intrigued me more so than others, but I also felt stuck for some time.

I came across ADA, the kinetic sculpture/ drawing machine by Karina Smigla-Bobinski:

 

— I love this, this is perfect as an analogue kinetic machine, how it is animated and I really like the scale, the bounce.

 

I also wanted to do something that uses my own boding as drawing machine, thought about putting something in my shoes; remembered how I used my keys to marks a surface of encaustic wax and later fill this with differently coloured wax. Two days ago I finally realised that I could use my dress pockets and create a little envelope with some graphite or charcoal ends to rub off as I move, the pocket moves, the envelope moves (I think the inspiration was a raspberry that had fallen into my pocket and stained my mobile phone).

I took a loose double-page of my sketchbook, folded it and placed a short piece of thick graphite stick and a small piece of compressed charcoal in it. I carried it for about ten hours, moved about, went to an Alexander session, went shopping, set at my desk, on my bed, slept, at times heard the paper rustle, at times surprised myself went my hands reached into my pockets, wasn’t sure if I should add other things to that left pocket (I didn’t). I had a peek after six hours and realised that I was in the process of producing my pocket’s Rorschach Test: a mirror image of marks, amidst many folds.

When I take it out, I decide to place it on white paper and photograph, in detail and at an angle.

This was brief and fascinating: I am surprised how many marks there are, but also that the folds are more dominant (I hadn’t anticipated that, also, that of course the some folds were intentional: I placed them, others were part of the machine process too.). This can be repeated: with other markmaking tools, or precisely the same; to record what I am doing purposefully and where the pocket envelope just travels along; I could ask others to drawing machine for me.

What is in the interpretation: is this the unconscious? is there meaning? does machines produce meaning? or is it solely the author who looks back and feels happier if she knows there is a meaning, a point to it?

img_3478img_3481img_3479img_3480

 

research point: abstract expressionists

Clement Greenberg (1939) Avantgarde and kitsch on how good painters draw cause, bad ones effect and how the subjective has become acceptable; Pollock wanting to paint his emotions rather than illustrate them.

Hans Namuth made this film about Pollock (Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth 1951). — It is a pretty stunning piece of work: angles, narrations, audio and how he works with shadow, light, see-through (he gets Pollock to paint on glass, filming from underneath).

 

— I haven’t looked at Abstract Expressionism for some time; it’s so blokey; but it is also so wrapped up in US-American soft power and Cold War that I am hesitant as to its claims of innovation.

And still, I always enjoyed the marks that dripping paint made, the various approaches of seeking beyond the art form that is expressed in it.

The statement about painting emotions not illustrate them: I am not sure if this holds? It assumes a clear break between presentation and representation: that a painting can be not at all process but just illustration. I wonder if that radical break has not occurred too long ago now for me to fathom a statement where an absence of emotion/intent/voice seems even possible. Yet, I wondered too, if Pollock saw the process, the how of moving, dripping, drawing as equivalence to his emotions or whether the dripped marks became an equivalence of him.

At this moment, I am more interested in Namuth’s film, and the youtube clip as object itself:

There are some film stills below, but the whole film is replete with transfer: film roll noise, the studio recording audio superimposed to the outdoor drawing; transfer of paint onto glass and we see the sky behind, the failed transfer of Pollock loosing contact with his first painting on glass and starting again, then the shudder of the film screening, various digital glitches and the decay in compression for the youtube clip itself… this is fascinating as transfer (and a questioning of the assumed directness of Pollock’s marks that are arguably at the centre of it all).

I read up on Hans Namuth who worked in Paris, covered part of the Spanish Civil War, joined the French Foreign Legion (after having been interred as German national at the start of WWII), eventually fled to the US. He photographed Pollock extensively, they eventually fell out rather spectacularly (which is intriguing, and seems to have led to a major artistic crisis in Pollock):

In November 1950, Namuth and Pollock’s relationship came to an abrupt conclusion. After coming in from the cold-weather shoot of the glass painting, Pollock, who had been treated in the 1930s for alcoholism,[7] poured himself a tumbler of bourbon whiskey after supposedly having been sober for two years.[6] An argument between Namuth and Pollock ensued with each calling the other a “phony”, culminating in Pollock overturning a table of food and dinnerware in front of several guests.[6] From then on, Pollock reverted to a more figure-oriented style of painting, leading some to say that Namuth’s sessions robbed Pollock of his rawness and made Pollock come to feel disingenuous about doing things for the camera that he had originally done spontaneously.[6] Art critic Jonathan Jones suggests that by filming Pollock, Namuth “broke the myth of trance” and by framing Pollock’s work in the larger surrounding landscape, destroyed Pollock’s view that his paintings were boundless.[7] Jeffrey Potter, a close friend of Pollock’s, described Namuth as commanding, frequently telling Pollock when to start and stop painting.[9] According to Potter, Pollock “felt what was happening was phony.”[7] Namuth himself describes Pollock as being “very nervous and very self-conscious” of the filming at the time, but less so when Pollock discussed it in a later interview.[2] 

(Wikipedia entry on Hans Namuth)

Contextual Focus Point: Rauschenberg’s (1953) Erased de de Kooning

A good reproduction of the artwork and the context is here; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also investigate with digitally enhanced infrared imaging techniques the original drawing at the heart of Rauschenberg’s work, here.

Thoughts at first sight, then reading and some more notes.

I have known of this work and what it involved for several years. I think I may have walked past it even once in 2005. I always felt it was enough to know that this was art but not needing to see it. I kept wondering how de Kooning felt about it and it’s interesting to read that Rauschenberg admired de Kooning and the latter agreed to this. It sits for me in the context of much conceptual and minimalist art that followed, but of course that art followed considerably later, this is early, more alike to Newman and Motherwell.

I use erasure a lot for my drawings, but of course this is creating ART out of someone else’s art being erased. This is different: there no more building up.

Some of my photography peers work with memory and found images, family albums, old negatives, there is removal, cutting away, re-arranging. John Stezaker’s work also comes to mind: but these are generally about removing parts, not removing the whole. In some sense, Rauschenberg also removed only parts: the paper remained and he devised a rather referential way of mounting and framing the art work: it was definitely about creating something new through the process, and then erasure, the eraser, is merely another creative tool to produce, to create.

I watch a short clip on Rauschenberg narrating the time he went to de Kooning and remember how much I liked Rauschenberg’s humour in the work in Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin which I would see quite frequently; I google Twombly & Rauschenberg and get various stories about great men among friends until I find a piece that questions the narrative of masculinity in this group of post-war male artists, arguing instead for sexual fluidity and queerness and asking why this is not acknowledged in the great narration of post-war abstract expressionism. Instead: we get stories of young men wanting to kill their idols, of competition and the question whether Rauschenberg would not have done better becoming the greatest Abstract Expressionist rather than destroying them.

I like the de Kooning piece: its emptiness is full of traces. It is conventional as art work in may ways: the framing, gilding, titling. I also like the trickster and humour in it.

 

 

reflection on assessment criteria for assignment 3

Here the reflection on the assessment criteria for Assignment 3 / Green.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills
Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

On the basis of the last tutorial and the discussion over direction and pursuit of projects to explore work processes and materials, I felt confident to set up enquiries, but more so than before to record them and to become a bit more systematic in recording, and asking questions as to where to go next.

One of the key interest was to observe points of change/ development: a new template, a new mark and how these can be harnessed further; for this part, more so than before, I worked also with written text (both as reading and as writing): these were both arts-based as well as geographical/architectural. On the basis of the last tutorial I attended to the difference between purely generative/ self-confined systems and post-humanism compared to identifying a bit more about my own work process, which is generative but relies quite heavily on phenomenological signals and sensations to pursue and re-orientate. These figure with more confidence than before.

I attended too to the questions over what is a process-oriented work process, what is a material and finished outcome (so, while none in here is done to be first and foremost beautiful, it nonetheless functions in compositional terms).

The discussion of medium-specificity of lens-based and drawing was useful and also meant I was investigating more closely as how lens-based (here, almost exclusively iphone 7Plus in still and moving image) informs and pushes on and repositions the drawn mark (both on support but also as an extended performance).

I used a range of materials, supports as well as approaches. The final outcome, a short video produced in iMovie features many of these as both object but also as process: drawn marks on my skin, on the tracing paper as well as slowing down and cutting, reversing of the 2s long clip.

Quality of Outcome
Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment. Conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

The work is presented simply, on Vimeo. The title, Swivel Green, may be too whimsical – I am tempted to call it ‘Did I work hard enough for this?’ to reference the institutional context of the Corridor in which this work originates, the question over work identities and a distancing from these, but also to reference some anxiety of production process of this video, which after, while sitting at the end of a long and multi-sited process of investigation, was recorded accidentally and ‘found’ on my phone after the session. Saying this, I am however also confident that it presents a good and fitting outcome for the part on Materiality and Gesture: it includes key elements of the brief: rhythm, gesture, movement, repetition (both of the hand, the body that authors the camera, the post-production, but also what is visually recorded, what is in view); it also includes audio: the natural recording during the clip as well as a screech, glitch, which became part of the horizon sequence.

Demonstration of Creativity
Imagination, experimentation, invention, Development of a personal voice.

This feels riskier still compared with the previous two submissions: part of this is explained in the previous paragraph, but also that I seem to move further away still from my initial understanding of Drawing. And still, I feel this is clearly a drawing for the reasons I outline above. The process by which I arrive at this submission is extensive, and rigorous, it employs three (possibly four, if I include performance) media forms: drawing, lens-based still and moving image work as well as writing. That I include written material, not in the final submission but at a key development stage (Corridor: to reach, to orientate), which works as a creative piece of writing that also speaks towards an academic literature is a key achievement in my mind: it helps to inform the piece of work conceptually but actually also doesn’t overload it. The exploration is process-driven and strongly phenomenological: I attend to the sights, sounds, sensations of the sites, explore these in marks (on paper, in camera, in sound, in written, as movement), and let them propel me and the work onwards — I did so across three sites: the original institutional corridor, from which I felt a conflict at work ejected me; downstairs to the institutional green (a rigorously maintained lawn), later to a semi-naturalised grass meadow (other green). In this, I also felt that I discovered and pursued a form of institutional critique in the form of a drawing process: it explores questions of discipline, bounding, excess, flatness, verticality, distance and departure in a process that is directive but also iterative (testing and trying out again). In the final form, which I did not anticipate but clearly allowed to emerge, these questions are contained but in a different medium yet again (a moving image clip that is not staged). — The process still feels rather fresh, so I may be overexcited and overconfident on the value of this outcome but at this moment I feel it presents a conclusion which I possibly could not have arrived at with a more contrived/pursued process.

In this, this work repositions the initial proposal around a Critical Review on Generative Systems towards something more performative, agentic — all the while giving chance quite a prominent place in this submission. It also takes forward the questions over the body as drawing tool for the parallel project.

Context
Reflection, research (evidenced in learning logs). Critical thinking (evidenced in critical review).

I have been working at finding a workflow around note-taking, discussing material and recording it for some time, and for this part I feel I have found a way to publish the directly relevant posts in a way that was useful and practical. So, by the time I was writing the assignment post, the references were already there and accessible. The process now consists of Papers3 as reference manager, Evernote as my main notetaking app, I discuss and try out most things on FB, and then the wordpress blog itself. Instagram works as digital sketchbook, longer videos are uploaded to vimeo.

The context for this is also written work – original essays by artists such as Hito Steyerl, some art criticism by people like Lucy Lippard and more standard academic texts such as Stephen Graham’s work on Verticality, Friedhelm Kittler’s Gramophone et al. While I haven’t written it up, Tacita Dean’s (2011) Film was really useful, so was John Gerrard’s Western Flag (2017) and Erica Scourti and Monica Espinosa’s sound installations (2018).

set of work today (1/7) and preceding notes as to assignment piece

This is the write-up of the drawing session from which the assignment piece originates (see assignment submission post here).

From the previous work on Other Green I returned with tracing paper and a couple of questions:

  • does the path and its shadow cast can be made to work in relationship to the actual Corridor? i.e., is there something in the direction of movement that translates across?
  • is the tracing paper an effective tool on this site? there is no window pane, no building structure, yet: what can function as part of lens/ink/diffuser here?

I used the same tools: mechanical pencil, Copic pens, graphite sticks in various thickness.

I went in the morning (while I knew from the previous visits that the evening time 7-8.20pm was most productive as to the shades. So, now the sun would be fairly high and yet, I wanted to understand the site a bit better at mid-day too. The grass was so high that the path edges were quiet highly pronounced and functioned to explore not just the edge but the shade too.

I did two drawing/installations: one lying the tracing paper flat, tracing and eventually piercing the surface to let some of the plants come through; the second was a vertical installation, trying to make use of the sun and the shadows.

The media I had brought were limited in their use: the marks really faint, in particular the graphite marks so as I didn’t have much resist behind, underneath to work with — this was an interesting observation and will yield more, I have the sense.

I took photos and videos too. At some point I realised that the camera was behaving a little differently but as I was working in very bright light, I didn’t investigate but kept recording things half-blind.

I finished after a couple of hours when I realised I had been rather persistently bitten by a horsefly right across my legs. I packed up, retreated and sat down inside to investigate the materials.

img_3441

I found that I had recorded numerous accidental videos and that from early on all the stills had recorded as live photos, i.e. recording 1.5s moving image on either side of the shutter release. So: I have a lot of very short moving image material alongside the longer images.

Sharing, uploading the live format (which is .mov format, but gets exported, shared generally as .jgp) wasn’t straightforward, I spent several hours to investigate integration with FB, IG as well as onto WordPress (the latter not allowing .mov uploads on its free sites but .gif). Here some of the experiments (the video workarounds to get material on this blog are rather tedious–I route them through IG or vimeo).

Below is a series of shots from the session. I really like their movement and the developing investigation: upright/flat; closer/further. Yet, the hightlight are two short clips which flip and alter the view between tracing paper, myself and horizon line. They are rhythmic, once looped and amended, slowed down. They speak perfectly in my mind to the transferral and movement between the three sites of this investigation: Corridor, Green, other Green — of flatness, boundary and the verticality of the final site.

They are drawings as to the gestural movement of the camera; they register light/shadow and line; they show tracing paper and notebook; they show my physical self as the agent of the drawing but also as being drawn on by the shadow cast on the leg.

Here are a few of the recorded live photos along with a couple of the videos:

Drawing one (horizontal):

A longer and more expansive overview of the set up:

A number of close-ups as live photos (GIFs here):

field_2field_3field_4field_1

 

Drawing 2 (vertical)

The second site as video (the paper at point still unmarked)

A post shared by lena draws (@draw___lena) on

I took a number of live photos again, this is the only one I processed for upload via IG (here, the paper is now marked):

A post shared by lena draws (@draw___lena) on

 

— it strikes me that there are a number of further processes and investigations to undertake here, on Other Green and I am interested in pursuing this a little further.

test – various means of including live photos

  1. posted via IG story:

https://www.instagram.com/stories/draw___lena/

[will probably disappear after 24 hrs, doesn’t embed in post]

 

2. standard upload via WordPress [the file is .mov, so I suspect it doesn’t work with free WP account >> it just uploads as single still .jpg]

img_3426

3. exported looped file from Photos on iphone to Mac and then imported in Ps to convert to GIF:

field_1.gif

— this works and means the image loop isn’t dependant on the viewers device but I can control it through the GIF upload.

the process of conversion in Ps is described here.