assignment submission 4: hornet tree

This post assembles the recording of an in situ installation, the hornet tree, which took place in the first week of August. It is, in some way still temporary: I am not certain as to what constitutes the actual piece of work, as I described in an earlier post about the status of recording the performance/ installation and examining the status of the various types of records, here.

My sense is that the work will be presented on a web page, which collates a series of records plus statement. Unfortunately, my own website (in which I could have easily added a page in a suitable layout) crashed last weekend and I haven’t had time to rebuild it yet. So, for the time being, this post serves as my assignment submission, in order of material it contains:

  • the elements of the submission
    • a video, the hornet tree (1)
    • a typed manuscript of the audio recording for hornet tree (1)
    • the translation of the manuscript text
    • two diptychs of photographic stills
    • a second performance of the installation (hornet tree (2)) and
    • three draft versions of a suitable statement,
  • a written description of the envisaged web page layout as well as
  • some background links to contextual work and the reflection of assessment criteria.

The submission


The manuscript translates as:

apple tree (1)

Well. It doesn’t work like this at all. There is no way. If you had a frame it could possibly work. But like this, it’s all really skewed.

The paper is far too wide at the bottom, and then you leaned the poles against the tree really crookedly. The poles themselves are also completely bent. 

Well. I am really sorry but I can’t offer you anything here. Everything is really bent and crooked. And with the paper you aren’t able to achieve any kind of tension across it. Well. If you had some cloth, it could possibly work, but like this. 

Well. I really don’t know about it at all.

It doesn’t work like this. I am sorry but I can’t help you.

apple tree (2)

Ah. This is what it looks like now? That is interesting. You can see all those things in this. Well. I only see that it is all really skewed and that there is this big gap and that there is no tension at all. Oh, look: there is a hornet. Well, yes: the shadows are really diverse and now it is moving. But sure, you make art. For me it is only a skewed frame. Well, if we would tense it properly on its edges. It is like the Schrebergaertner [the obsessive, tidy, controlled German allotment owner] and the one who does organic gardening. Fascinating. Tell me again what you want to do with this. And you think the tracing paper is the right material for it.

apple tree (3)

Oh, yes, now you can see the wind.



A second video recorded an 8 minute sequence in which I interact with the screen itself. Rather than pulling out the different sequences, I am including the whole video at this moment and point towards: a. the setup; b. the swapping of sides; c. the pushing upwards of the screen; d. the closing sequence.

Three possible statements:

162 grams of opaque paper lean against two branches of an old apple tree. the tree bears some fruit. the tree is full of insect life: wasps, hover flies, hornets to harvest that early glut of small yellow apples.
what separates one from the other? what is light, what is dark? what is visible, what is obscured?
a screen to call attention to what is in front acts, when the sun stands in the right place, as a lens to show what is behind.
at 9.02 am the sun disappears behind the screen, at 9.37am it rises above it. in the process, the tree shape shifts: its shadow arms move and tangle with the moving sun. later on in the day, the screen falls flat, milky. from the other side it seems to melt into the horizon line, extend it downwards.
my father and i converse about the screen. he, concerned with its righteousness, i intrigued with its multiplicity. in the course of our conversation, he catches the moving sun, the hornets in front and behind and the wind. 162 grams of paper move in the wind. easily so.
vision, obscured by 162 grams of paper, it affords us a different view. a shadow play, if we catch the sun right.
sound, amplified as we step closer. it becomes vision too, in front and behind the screen: a swarm of hornets to savour the ripening apples.
sound, recorded in type and re-spoken. it narrates a concern, a singularity that turns into an observation of all else that it is also. an opening into an ‘and also’ not an ‘either/or’
a movement captured in vision and sound; practiced and repeated, it removes the screen, affords a view beyond, removes the obstacle, the shadow play.
this work enacts a screen, a temporary divider. in doing so, it creates a front and a back. an in front and a behind. gathers and concentrates our gaze. the tree turns into mere shadow, in different levels of depths, shifting as the sun moves. the lightness of the paper and its fixture create opening, folds. the lightness of the paper also catches in the wind, slightly first, more so later. this is a conversation piece: its central characters: the tree, the hornets that delight on the ripening apples, 162g of tracing paper, two wooden poles, the sun, the wind, my father and I as we converse about the screen’s righteousness and its multiplicity. it comes to an end, is repeated. we have practiced this a number of times.

Envisaged web page layout

– a full page set up, it starts with a large version of the video, hornet tree (1);
– followed by the manuscript,
– then a two column arrangement with the two diptychs on the left hand side, small a/v players for the short segments on the right.
– depending on the length of each column, the statement would sit underneath the two diptychs;
– finally: the translation of the manuscript

Contextual work and Reflection

— unlike the previous assessment, I have for this one not created a separate menu item as ‘preparation’, instead, all preparatory work is included under coursework, part 4 (in order to avoid duplication).
Contextual influences follow on from the previous assignment, and also include Joan Jonas’s work (notably: Lines in the Sand (2002), Double Lunar Rabbits (2010)); the discussion about the role of the screen in mediating (Dewdney, A (2012) Curating the photographic image in networked culture. In: Lister, M (ed) The photographic image in digital culture. London: Routledge, 2nd edition, pp. 95-112).
Curating the digital networked image in Lister ed ; one of Laida Lertxundi’s 16mm films, Words Planets, that I saw at Tramway earlier in the summer (but haven’t written up as a post). Also: Kittler’s typewriter as tool.
Reflections on assessment related criteria are as follows:
This work is developed from a series of investigations that moved forward from the previous assignment, which itself was already an environmental intervention. I pursued experiments further as suggested, in a number of lines; I also scaled up, made bigger and explored as such the importance of scale, proximity of an environmental intervention. The means of doing so remain simple: tracing paper, again, acting as a divider; and then utilising position, wind, sun, the tree. As before, I am making use of unfolding events: I had observed the screen toppling a couple of times as I was fixing the camera to a post; then set this up and waited for it to occur again. I also wanted to make further use of voice, audio. The theme of the conversation: what constitutes an art work, and what constitutes a good working practice at once is a family theme but also one that is included in the previous assignment and the wider considerations around the parallel project: about control, agency, a gap, and my body as tool within this. Re-recording this and using the original German makes it strange at once, and foregrounds the unfolding audio alongside the visual. Here, the editing and the spacing of the audio sequences are key. The first video is recorded as once, the editing consists of the audio recording and layering.
Key for this work is a question of the relationship between recording and in-situ event; here the idea to present the work as composed of different elements attempts to draw it out, present the different aspects to it. Besides the sense of what is the work, there is also a question as to who is the audience: myself and my parents as known viewers, those who encounter its recorded form, those who pass by on the road to view the screen from there, above the hedge.
I am pleased about the inclusion of different elements in this work, of also having remained with it until it became another thing: toppled over by the wind, and feel I have found in the interaction between the fragile paper screen and the elements of sun and wind a resonance to the discussion that my father and I have over order, discipline and multiplicity and chance.