reflection on tutorial 5: m(e)use

The post that contains the tutor report already included a few reflections: notably about the mutability of the two most recent projects (and where they belong, as Timelines Assignment or as Parallel Project).

Here some more thoughts, reflections:

  • the timing for this module’s conclusion is the tightest I have ever worked with. It is not an easy way for me to work and yet I also see what is possible with such tightness and focus.
  • I often can work with good speed and focus, but usually on my own terms, not to some external deadline.
  • So: part 5 only speculates on a number of things, produces a rather narrow line of experimentation along the way; and still: I also feel this fits to where things are: there is a lot of material that I generated along the way of this module and it seems fitting to let this surface and make it explicit part of the work itself (the projects around the corridor, its spatial planes).
  • While we didn’t spend much time yet reviewing the overall module, some glimpses of such review have arisen already as I begin to chart and map out what L3 work can be and what remains to be concluded here and now, what can remain open, and what should be moved into the next modules.
  • In this sense, I feel that both Timelines assignment and Parallel Project (and indeed the Critical Review) encompass much in terms of focus, practice, themes and also voice) from earlier parts of the module and indeed serve as a focussing lens itself: around the form of engagement that I seek (a notion of playfulness which hovers between tension and enjoyment; the fleetingness of some of the interventions; the ordinariness of the materials; a moving across and within both digital and analog, which manifests in form but also in sensorial register; a seeking of openings, alternatives with and in the work; how it constitutes an extended field of drawing and thus indeed proposes an interdisciplinary practice).
  • The tightness of the schedule sharpens this strongly; and the recent suggestions of work to investigate (Rist, Palmer) have really helped with this and to allow for the broader themes to arise and articulate.
  • Doug generally asks a question to start with that lets me trace my process, a particular theme, and while I do so rather practically, this works well to draw out the bigger themes and links within and across. I have found this approach to the tutorials and the work itself incredibly helpful and insightful to trace and draw out key links across (which I often sense intuitively and make work with intuitively, but the extent to which these are contextually embedded and what they link back out to, is at the point of the tutorial not entirely clear yet, here the form of dialogue is really valuable).

Tutor report for assignment 5: m(e)use

On Wednesday, we have the final assignment-related tutorial. Much of the discussion has begun to look ahead and to discuss what constitutes an appropriate end point for this module but also what else remains within it.

Just before the tutorial I follow up the recommendations that is Katrina Palmers (2015) The loss adjusters (post to be written), which is really helpful for me to get a sense of how far I can go with an idea, what to apply for, aim for and also what scale some of my own work around narrative and audio can go.

Attached is the tutor report in full: Gesa Helms feedback_part_5_GH, I copy below the discussion note as it relates to the two pieces (parallel project and assignment 5) which in some way could form either of these two pieces. The discussion is really good as we begin to chart the trajectory of what it is that I have done: what sits as contribution, as common concern, approach, working practice across the module — this will be the focus for the final tutorial on Monday. The draft for the critical review needs some more revisions, but these are relatively minor, and our discussion in the main concerned which references I may remove and raise in future as part of Level 3.

I have written another post as reflection on this and talk more fully about it. But, I was really happy to see that my play thing that is m(e)use | use me had the intended effect, and even more so: Doug pointed out a series of characteristics which make it a good piece of work, fitting well within the wider concerns of the module, the parallel project and what I may do over the next modules.

Assignment 5 / m(e)use | use me

  • The work comes as a surprise, it has no instructions and is joyful and playful to encounter; Doug describes how he finds the statement ‘Use me’ as the second last ball he unfolds and feels vindicated in his approach of how to touch, handle, engage with the box.
  • Opening the box releases the smell of the printer ink and that is an important detail: how we assume that the digital doesn’t engage the sense, and here it works across and offers a strong sensation. The other one is the tactility of touching and handling the work > these analogue sensations are key and well foregrounded in how I resolve the ‘artist book’ and timeline.
  • This is a strong and tight piece of work. Does it sit like this on its own or how can it be developed further and upscaled? >> become part of the Parallel Project, the video work (i.e: what would be its final editing and subtext?
    • I introduce Fischli and Weiss and their room installation; if the office, the corridor could become a site, a room of ‘nonsensical’ office tools, processes, materials.
    • How about the noise of folding/unfolding, the smell as large-scale pieces?
    • I also mention Palmer’s Loss Adjusters as a good reference for how work can be resolved, how ambitious it can be and where it can go?


Parallel Project

  • The reprinting and degrading is key; similarly, and this is where it relates closely to the box: what are the sensations around this work. We discuss how it needs a digital form of presentation (as jpgs in a folder, to be opened individually) to work with the photo collage as at once analogue but then made strange and pushed into a digital space where it is not immediately clear what spatial planes are being constructed:
    • It is clear to Doug that I am playing with the viewer; that there are tricks going on and that that is quite enjoyable
    • Is the image that I present (key: hands on top of the tracing paper roll) spectral? Otherworldly? What reality does it construct?
    • The white balance of the four images have a significant effect on the success of each (3/ is least successful at the moment: too far apart);
    • The overlapping and breaking of edges create a stage and background; they heighten the performative aspect.
  • The work is successful as there is an ambiguity about the elements contained and if this is entirely playful, joyful or also otherwise – so, due to the referencing of the institution, the performance, my partial hiding/ reveal, the glow that arises from the cold white balance of the tracing paper cutout.
  • AP: to test different scale and transgression of frame in print; if possibly: do perform and record; if possible: print at large scale

Assignment 5: m(e)use

Part 5 asks for a drawing that needs an extended time to be completed and/or engages temporal dimensions in an unusual form for the viewer.

My submission for this part is a small handling collection of 11 inkjet prints plus one text document (instruction) printed on A4 photocopier paper, each crushed into a small ball and assembled (in no particular order, other than the instruction page sitting in one of the corners) in a clear plastic storage box.

The instruction/ statement for the project reads as follows:



– is a handling collection from the stationery cupboard

– presents in a clear plastic box 11 inkjet prints on photocopier paper and one instruction (this one)

– the images are not presented in any order, they are however presented as crumpled, scrunched up balls of paper

– an instruction would be to unfold them, one by one

– other instructions exist

– is a handling collection for the stationery cupboard


– boxed up, the images chronicle a series of interventions in an office space

– boxed up, the images reorganise that space while maintaining its form

– boxed up, the images give evidence to the spatial order of the office

use me


The titles is a play on the instruction ‘use me’, which is literal: handle me, unfold me, scrunch me up again; it is also metaphorical, as this project sits within the institutional space of work and overwork, it presents as previous submissions for this module as useable, made of ordinary materials found in an office; use me then can also read as submissive, libidinous instruction – m(e)use, reads as anagram, as muse, inspiration, and thus also seeks to transcend.

The timeline in this piece is a series of interventions within the office space (mainly a corridor, but also an individual office, a teaching lab) over the space of a year, twelve months. The timeline is also the time it takes to handle this submission: to take the paper balls out of the box, to unfold them. So, the viewing of the piece is made a bit difficult (if the images, the prints on each paper is considered the object). There is also, as in some of the previous work (Green, Hornet Tree) a question raised of engagement or not engagement: will a viewer become someone who handles, touches the object and thus activates it, or will they refrain from doing so (as in the loop and the delayed audio in earlier pieces, where viewers may simply exit).

This piece also presents a final testing ground for the parallel project. I will write more on this over the next couple of days.

A reflection of assessment criteria and a contextualisation of this work will also follow over the next few days.

I sent a copy of the piece to my tutor and below are some installation shots. My intent is to present the box to a few of my colleagues to test and experiment if it does indeed have some use value, but also as to what my role may be in working here and producing such work over such extended period of time.

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