Reflection on assessment criteria for assignment 2: a photocopier manual

This post reflects on the assessment criteria for the submission of assignment 2: a photocopier manual.

[I seem to struggle considerably, untangling the different elements of this project, so am currently presenting it as a single text]

Following the first tutorial feedback I proceeded with the range of sketches and observations around the office space that I had started the course with: they consist to a large extent of notes, short videos as well as some performative gestures and installations. They attempt to take serious the office environment (in tool and rationality) while also extending beyond it.

To do so, I devised a few of my own projects, and continued the corridor placement series too. Out of these interactions/ engagements, the photocopier/ printer unit emerged. I explored a range of possible avenues (duplicating, wrapping) but then settled on the image production unit, the photographic lens and photocopy plate and how to interact with this (notably because of one printer was routinely out of order and thus ‘interaction’ could not happen in the intended way).

In this, myself as drawing tool as performative gesture/ modality is more strongly foregrounded than before (and is part of the Parallel project).

Not all conversations/ performances are included (e.g. the paper jam is only recorded as part of the preparation); the ones I included are the ones that demonstrate an outcome in form of photocopied paper. As before, there is a systematic pursuit of the parameters as well as reflection and refinement of these throughout the series over 4-6 weeks, and then some final development in the days before submission.

The form of the submission is strongly related to the office environment, its modalities and its tools: in this sense the ringbinder and polypocket assemblage is deliberate in its insertion into the office environment and at once transcends it: it produces an anonymous and non-sensical tool: it is not a manual, you can’t follow it, or perhaps: if you follow it, you don’t end up with a copy, a true likeness of one document embodied in another and facilitated by the tool of the photocopier, its photographic unit and its copy plate.

The transposition of ‘photocopying’ to ‘performance’ to ‘conversation’ to ‘drawing’ presents a major insight for me in this submission: hence, the initial sketchbook instruction: ‘write out: does writing constitute drawing?’ makes not only the claim that writing constitutes drawing but enacts it (which allows the statement chain above to prove true in the other way also, from drawing to photocopying). It also connects out and into a wider body of conceptual artistic practice, which is already visible in the Copy Art of the 1960s and onwards: questions about immateriality, the absence of an art object as well as institutional critique.

This submission is situated within the Part 2: Material Properties. As much as with my drawing practice in Part 1, the ‘material’ of this part is relatively muted, insubstantial in the sense that it produces ‘flimsy’ objects and is largely constituted by a performative act. None of this is as such immaterial, yet: presence/absence hover throughout the project: its questions over the nature of an art work, an art practice but also very practically in the investigation of a functioning office tool, the role of the copy plate and the cover to exclude light, as both excess light and any distance between plate and object undo the process of producing a true copy of the original document.

A Photocopier Manual

A Photocopier Manual, as the project submitted as Assignment 2, Material Properties, presents a loose-leaf A4 folder which covers a series of discrete sections, each separated by a sheet of a photocopied instruction of ‘how to copy’ from the main drawing tool of this body of work: a Canon C5240i office colour printer.

Over the course of a couple of months I devised, conducted and recorded in various means a series of performances that centred on the C5240i, situated in my workplace, as well as my own home inkjet printer, a Canon MB5300. The performances notably worked with the photocopy plate and process, to a lesser extent they also included the printing process alone (printing captured images, on iPhone 7plus).

I consider these drawings as performances, more specifically: as conversations. I do so in order to foreground the interaction between human and photocopier, myself making a series of decisions to feed, alter and interact with the photographic unit of the photocopier.

Notably, the distinct sections, performances, interactions are as follows:

  1. Instruction to self and others (photographed, then printed, then copied notebook page)
  2. Feuer im Paradies (rubbing of book cover on tracing paper, photocopied and re-photocopied)
  3. Indexical tracing  (rubbing of MB5300 plate and surface on tracing paper, scans of the ongoing process, scans of the final state, photograph of the final state)
  4. Feeding and drawing (two line drawings of C5240i, one photograph of performance, one collage print)
    [I explore the actual machine in line, similar to the drawing of the filing cabinet here; and proceed by finding placements/positions between photocopier and myself, notably when feeding copies back into the paper tray]
  5. Blocking out (two photocopies)
    [tracing, and failing to do so, the translucency of my sketchbook: the photographic unit of the photocopier returns 100% opacity, no see through at all]
  6. Add and erase (three photocopies of one amended collage are altered with Tippex pen, then photocopied; one of the originally altered Tippex, and double-sided, collage is held against a glass and photographed)
    [following an invitation to participants in a study day to amend, alter a collage, I proceed by investigating what were originally mine, what others’ marks by taking away marks with a Tippex pen, only to find that the pen adds new marks, which show against the light but not through the photocopier.]
  7. The ringbinder concludes with a clear copy of ‘how to copy’ followed by a photograph of a found printer, broken, on the kerbside


The Manual is presented in a clear ringbinder with cover image (only denoting title and a document identification number, of an earlier journal article of mine, to give ownership and shift register, into the academic institutional space in which this is originates and is re-inserted into). Each sheet is a photocopy of the ‘originals’ as above and inserted into a polypocket for protection. The ringbinder format mimicks instruction manuals as well as allowing for amendments and additions. The backcover of the binder is a copy of a photograph which is taken of the 3 Indexical tracing performance while the photocopy unit produces a copy from the other direction.

With this format, identical copies of the ringbinder are placed next to the two main photocopiers of the office space, without any further explanation. As such, it becomes part of the Corridor Placement series that has been ongoing since September last year.

The following video shows the content of the ringbinder:


Alongside this assignment submission entry, the following blog posts are relevant:

The category preparatory work (a2) collates all preparatory work

The contextual influences for this work are notably

  • Copy Art/ Xerox Art (see post here)
  • There is a continuation of the theme of office spaces and office equipment going on
  • The role of performance in this work?
  • The parallel project as well as a first outline of the critical review also present contextual references for this work (see respective categories on the main menu, left hand side)

A reflection on the assessment criteria is in this post here.


Various issues to consider for further discussion/development.

  • I photocopy the whole set of ‘originals’ once through the C5240i; which means, they have been exposed all at least once under the same photographic unit.
  • With the participatory performance, I keep losing track around what constitutes original, what copy, and with which I should proceed. It is interesting and replays the issue about ownership. I end up with a complex set up on a large table to keep track of the relevant copies.
  • There are two Canon colour printer models in the department, I copy one set on one printer, then proceed to the other and find it copies somewhat darker. This points towards a number of variables and parameters that I have not investigated yet.
  • I decide to also feed the colour photographs (printed on the same printer) back through the photocopier (rather than printing them anew for each binder), it seems important to have the final set of sheets all having been through the photocopier process as such; is this good enough reason?


The task for this assignment consists of producing a drawing, or series of drawings which use the object of the drawing as drawing tool, i.e. a looking, referring back of object to method.