Corridor breaks (January/February 2018)

Corridor breaks is a small series of drawings that I produced over a fortnight in late January/ early February. It arose directly out of the previous tutorial discussion over devising my own projects and creating these in series.

Here: to engage and alter with one photocopy of a drawing each lunch break.

I started this, quite quickly became interested in systematically pursuing the role of the ruler, a straight edge for overlaying, altering and extending the photocopied A4 page from my notebook.

On 7 February I started a part-time teaching post in this workplace. At that point I seem to have stopped having lunch breaks, the last drawing was made on 9 February.

(the Tippex alterations of April are in some sense a new project in a similar vein to this one).

Please see below a slideshow of the drawings, in chronological order (#1-#8) (most of them photographed on table or floor surfaces, the edge being deliberate). This slideshow also includes a series of initial corridor drawing from which I chose one to act as base drawing (first three drawings).

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Project 2.2 mark-making materials

To build up surfaces with whatever is at hand, but notably two differently coloured layers, then to work back into the lower layer.

 

— I am still on a rather minimal drawing mode, and realise that my investigation of the tippex pen and fluid acts in similar ways to the exercise instruction, so this post will draw the exploration together and spell out a bit further.

 

There are a couple of posts that reference the tippex project:

Markmaking, ownership and iteration:

https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/mark-making-ownership-and-iteration/

  • the project was simple in set up: as one of my photocopier sessions I compiled an A4 collage which consisted of a range of marks (a photograph, a line drawing, a notebook page of writing)
  • Rather than showing my current project at the OCASA-funded Photography in Scotland study day in March, I took 10 copies along and invited participants to alter these, and if they were happy for me to use them as found objects, to leave their doodles, several did.
  • Investigating the alterations I begun to notice that I was unsure what was original, what alteration and that was what intrigued me most to pursue
  • And similar to an earlier lunchtime project (add link), I made copies of two altered collages and over the next few days erased parts thereof with a tippex pen.

I then followed this up with:

Tippex on photocopies

https://investigatingdrawinggh.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/tippex-on-photocopies/

  • the action quite quickly led me to observe that rather than erasing I was creating new marks: very opaque once, arguably unbounded, but once held up against the light, they were distinct in their opacity
  • would the photocopier read these as new marks or as voids? My suspicion was the latter, remembering the unsuccessful attempt to show the see-through translucency of the sketchbook by means of the photocopy unit.

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This investigation into layers as differently authored, how they overlap and blur and how my memory becomes similarly blurred continued in the assembling of the assignment submission: what stages did I ought to go through to produce a consistent submission? photocopy all once? would I use a photocopy of the altered collage or the one with the tippex? Did this matter? For what statements and intentions would this be meaningful?

I am trying to turn this into a booklet, or perhaps: yet another sketchbook to alter again? I have scanned all the pages, not necessarily in the right order yet, see the attached PDF: 1936_001

 

Tippex on photocopies

Not knowing which were originally mine and which the new marks, I bought a Tippex pen and proceeded to eliminate marks on copies of two of the ‘found objects’ from the study day (I had briefly talked about this participatory conversation in an earlier post here).

Here an image on how two-sided tippexed sheet displays against light, and some sketchbook notes.

– the question of ownership (and a memory of who made marks) remains… notably: the process in which I forget my own marks, can’t quite remember them

– also: is tippex not really outdated as an office tool? who uses it?

Note, relatedly: the School office does not consider my office tools as theirs, they have virtually none of the things that I ask for.

Artists books (as performance)

In discussion (thank you, S.), I was pointed towards a few artists books that (a) directly relate to performative practices and (b) explore analog/digital intersections.

The two I looked at are

 

DOM (2016) by Julia Borissova.

DOM means both home/household in Russian as well as Document Object Model, the name for a structure of date in HTML. According to Borissova, the hybrid form of document/object is embedded in how the book functions, using Home as the model.

Here is a detailed look at the publication on her website.

 

Untitled (Weave) (2016) by Leah Mackin.

This small publication (12 pages) arises out of a performance at a photocopier, copying blank pages double-sided. It was part of a residency project, 2×3 A Generative Artwork Residency.

See the publication here.

 

>> both are insightful as to moving across that digital/analog divide and managing a physical printform (which isn’t unusual in any way: after all, producing art objects is pretty standard as contemporary practice); yet: their hybrid character of being functional (not) and designated as art object is fitting.

>> I also value, besides the contemporaneity of these projects the fact that, unlike that High modernist canon of Xerox Art it is not merely male artists, (partly a banal observation, and still).

 

These are not going to be part of the current assignment but may be relevant for future projects/ assignments, the parallel project and the review too.

 

Gushing about Donald Judd’s Specific Objects (on Facebook)

I read up on my art history a little: the move to objects, objections and institutions (i.e. mid-1960s).
Of course, Donald Judd figures large. The excerpt I read omits the ones that beside him do these new ‘three-dimensional objects’ that are neither painting nor sculpture, and come across this treasure trove of grandiosity… imagine this: before Judd noone ever placed an object on the floor. [the world of high modernism male white artists and critics was such a fun place, seriously!]

Now: let me find that Kevin Bacon lamb hugging still from I love Dick again. Making Dick in the image of Judd was an ingenious move, I need to watch it again and do hope there will be a sequel.

Here, the Judd Foundation on ‘specific objects’ (if you like lists, you will love this one!):

Not sculpture or painting, Judd called these new objects “Specific Objects.” Characterizing the qualities of this new work in a 1965 essay of the same title, Judd assessed the importance of the paintings of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still in the development of three-dimensional work and references the work of his contemporaries, such as Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, and Claes Oldenburg, among others, as examples of this new kind of art. As Judd wrote in his last published essay of 1993:

Before the right angle and its predecessor, all ‘sculpture’ was placed on a pedestal…Nothing had ever been placed directly on the floor….Since now it is common for work to be placed anywhere in a room, it is impossible for people to understand that placement on the floor and the absence of a pedestal were inventions. I invented them.

Three-Dimensional Works in Metal
Donald Judd rejected established terms for describing his work, particularly his three-dimensional works of art. Rather than referring to his work as sculpture, Judd developed a series of terms to describe the various forms he developed over time.

Floor Piece
A floor piece is a freestanding Judd work that rests directly on the floor without a pedestal, and at a considerable distance from other works of art. A floor piece may consist of one single structure or multiple units with a defined spatial relationship that as a whole comprises the work of art.

Wall Piece
A wall piece consists of one single unit or multiple units, usually rectangular in shape, hanging on the wall. These works are often referred to using terms that relate to their structure or orientation (i.e., single unit or multiple unit “stacks,” “wall units,” horizontal wall pieces, progressions, bullnose, or “meter boxes”) or place of fabrication (Enameled aluminum wall pieces, first made by Swiss fabricator Lehni and subsequently by other fabricators, are often referred to as “Swiss pieces”).

Fabrication Stamp
To identify Judd works in metal, most of which were untitled, a combination of fabricator’s name and date was used on shop records as follows: Fabricator YY-##. For example, Bernstein 91-02 would indicate the second work of art ordered in the year 1991. When speaking with Judd Foundation staff or a conservator about a Judd work, this number should be provided as a reference.

https://juddfoundation.org/artist/art/objects/

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WIP Photocopier Manual (A2)

I assembled a folder containing the ‘conversations’ for the OCA study day on 10 March.

I did a short video sequencing the pages in the folder; then only briefly introduced the work and let people look at the folder. I also had prepared a single A4 sheet of a collage of some of the conversations and invited people to doodle, modify, scribble on this paper, to either leave for me to use as found object or to take away (I wrote about this in a separate post).

The video is here:

 

Questions for concluding:

  • what is the binding format as well as materiality of the ‘manual’?
    • lever arch file, hardbacked
    • spiral binding with either cardboard or clear plastic cover
    • each page in sleeves? shiny, distanced, more rigid
    • each page as is 80gsm copypaper, no cover/sleeve.
  • how to separate out the conversations?
    • at the moment I have used individual (not repeat) experiments with the ‘how to copy’ instruction, which works quite well; the main question for me is: do I want a single sheet repeating or individual/unique ones?
  • Is there a role for not-scanned lens-based images? some of the intricacies of the notebook do not reproduce in the scanner: it is designed to eliminate see-through; one of the conversations documents this; but some of the importances also resides in the see-through materiality of the notebook. How to respond to this?
  • Who is my audience?
    • if this is an alternative photocopier manual, do I place a copy each next to the photocopiers in the department?
    • >> would this then place the manual within the series of corridor placements? What would be the implications? Notably: authorship.
  • What about the malfunctioning, not working photocopier? Is there a way to include this? I, so far haven’t done the performance that imitates the paper jam.
  • Is there a role for text in the manual? Do I want to use captioning, narration, instruction, in this?

 

There is a whole series of conceptual questions arising from this: the role of performance, the role of myself as mediator, interlocutor; the theme of the gap has emerged again: between digital/analog; between human/machine; between control/absence of control.

Mark-making: ownership and iteration

I made a collage of a number of instances around the Conversations with a photocopier, printed these ten times and took to the OCA Study day.

I briefly introduced the current assignment, along with the first version of the Manual as outcome, and invited people to interact with a copy of the collage: if they were to leave it for me, I would treat it as found object, similarly, they could take it away.

  • filling in
  • extending
  • overlaying
  • two added their own text, one retraced text.
  • one provided a folding instruction to proceed and fill with water
  • one tore elements off and placed them to the side

The most interesting observation for me was the following:

I struggle to see which marks are mine, which ones are theirs, in particular when they used pencil marks or a biro; the collage itself was rather heavily marked, and in almost every sheet I look at, I would identify different marks as base marks to the ones that were added.

 

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two examples of adding and layering
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as at times before, I rephotograph under ceiling light and add another shadow.

 

To develop this: 

Use an eraser, Tippex to take away marks (not from the original but from a copy again): adding/ removing on photocopies works differently as the toner ink is arguably permanent.

Plate covers (conversations with a photocopier #2)

The next drawing/ performance follows on from the circulation between paper tray and cover plate of the previous post.

I lift the cover of my home inkjet printer/photocopier and cover the copy plate and its surroundings with a sheet of approximately A3 tracing paper. (I attached the paper with tape around the edges to reduce movement).

I begin to trace the surfaces, they are mostly even, a couple of ridges stick out.

Discovering an idea of communication/ interaction of the drawing and the machine, and myself facilitating it in the earlier drawing, I want to explore that further (and in some ways thus utilising the key element of copy art: the interaction between object and copy plate).

I decide to hit the photocopy (b/w) button several times during the drawing. I photograph  how the light beam moves through, so effectively produce two records of the same drawing.

img_1547.jpg
the copier copying the plate while I photograph it doing so

With the light moving across the plate, I wonder if I can influence what it records if I follow with my hands and/or the pencil the moving light. I produce a few prints of this.

I complete the rubbing, take another photograph and then print a few of the edges of the drawing.

The process lasts approximately one hour.

tracing/chasing the light lead to those blurry zigzag marks on the right hand side; my hand records on top right.

tracing the edges of the finished drawing; on the left the left hand side moved onto the plate; on the right, the front edge is moved onto the plate

>> the marks record on the tracing paper as negative: both masking tape and fingers block out light and those record as light, not dark marks

img_1548.jpg
The finished drawing, before moving of the plate

 

Thoughts:

  • these are clearly processes by which I get the copier to record itself and thus sit in the remit of the assignment itself
  • the indexical marks: is there something about the aesthetics in these or am I purely interested in process/ concepts; i.e.: do I need to be concerned if this is a well composed, well executed drawing?
  • I record input/output of the photocopier, provide a circle to feed one output back into it as input. So, it is not quite a drawing machine, but my role is relatively restrained >> this touches on the questions of how much/how little control do I want to have over what is produced.
  • The relationality of machine/myself; rubbing/photocopy is interesting and unexpected: it is a familiar theme of mine but I hadn’t foreseen this arising here. It holds considerable interest for me.

 

I am not sure what comes next, but I feel these two drawing processes have set me up quite well for the assignment itself.

Feuer im Paradies (conversations with a photocopier #1)

the exchanges last weekend with fellow students pointed me both towards a further exploration of indexicality but also the idea of a performance element.

I discussed in detail the idea of a performing the paper jam in one hangout — the key questions circled around

a. what is the intention? do I become the blinking light, the printer? do I want to communicate with some audience?

b. what is the outcome? – the idea to discard blank coloured sheets of paper behind me as ‘I’ ‘blink’ in orange raised the question whether the outcome is the pattern of discarded paper, or merely my hand/body performing the stand-in for the communicative LED light on the printer panel.

The second idea revolved around earlier thoughts on wrapping/rubbing (see again the same post as linked above).  We discussed what constitutes my interest in indexicality, the shape and form (i.e. the external delimitations of the object, regardless almost of its functionality).

I pursued the idea of wrapping/rubbing fairly simply by taking a hardcover book with embossed title and wrapping it in tracing paper and rubbing the edges and surfaces.

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rubbing of Feuer im Paradies by Catherine Gaskell, c. A3 in size (3b pencil)
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the tracing paper adopts the shape of the book itself
img_1549
the original acquires some graphite marks in the process

The tracing paper tore easily, but also accepted the book form easily, the embossing easily transferred and so did the cloth surface. (and I wonder what happens to a softcover, even surface: does this mean the new object/book no longer has a title?).

I carefully transported the rubbing to the departmental photocopier and proceeded to copy.

I tried both open and closed covered — all on A3 (which is a fairly brown recycled paper), and then overlaid and overprinted in a variety of iterations.

The most interesting one is v7 (middle, bottom row), initially closed cover, then open cover, printing over the first copy and the printed side of an earlier printed sheet placed on top >> it shows the edges of both tracing paper and second sheet plus transfers the light flooding of the bent tracing paper in the middle section (the middle vertical section of intense blacks).

The overexposure and the depth of fields are easily effective and interact also with earlier prints..

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original, flattened and then a straight copy (closed lid) and various processes of copying with open and closed lid but also feeding a copy back through the machine
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v7 closed lid copy, then reprinted with open lid and tracing paper covered with a face down copy of open lid print
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edges in v7: of tracing paper, of cover piece
img_1544
various transfer marks: of cover sheet edge, of the folds in the tracing paper (small white scratches), then marks (grids) that the copier adds

>> I was conscious of the interaction between the copy plate and the bottom tray which initially held blank paper, then was loaded with printed copies. There was a process of me providing an alternative feeding system to the copier. A different flow of paper to the one usually applied, a circular movement.

>> In that sense, I felt I was in fact facilitating a performance of the subject/object

>> This piece points me towards the circularity, the copier copying itself, with my facilitation, but also something about the relationship between plate and tray and myself. I think that is more interesting to me than the mere wrapping/tracing of form.

So, in a sense I am moving from outer edges to inner workings of the machine.

Next step:

Copy art / Xerox art (1960-c1990)

if I am interested in the photocopier as office tool and drawing object/subject, I really cannot not look at Copy Art of the 1960s to c1990 >> I had known of it before, seen some pieces as well as also always understood it to be somewhere a field that was demarcated by

  • mail art (cheap, circulates with ease, part of its purpose is this circulation)
  • DiY/ self-organised forms of practice
  • a predecessor to digital art, digital technology
  • art in the age of mechanical reproduction (Benjamin), and a wider field of reproduction, printing and printmaking processes

An initial survey yields a few projects and artists, and, possibly not surprisingly, with the 1960s and 1970s thoroughly being canonised by art history these days, also a surprising number of fairly recent exhibitions (mainly group) of copy art (e.g. Xerography at Firstsite, Colchester in 2013).

In an overview of the field in the late 1980s, John Walker observes

What appeals to artists and designers about the copying process? Artists can reproduce existing images (or details of them) selected from the cornucopia of pictures supplied by the mass media simply and cheaply but exact duplication is rarely their aim. What interests them more are the opportunities for montage, distortion and transformation. In this respect any degradation of the image during copying or recopying is an advantage not a disadvantage. Artists can reduce or enlarge images and modulate their original colours schemes by changing the hue and tone settings on the machine.

Furthermore, in terms of the photographic process at play, it is notably the placing of bodies and 3D objects on the glass surface to be captured within a very shallow depth of field which provides a particular form of process:

Artists can also place their bodies on the machine and copy parts of them. Three-dimensional objects placed on the document glass of the machine are reproduced in a distorted fashion because of the machine’s shallow depth of field. In short, the artistic potential of the technology depends upon ways of exploiting it that tend to stretch its normal operations and commercial functions. (ibid)

I don’t think the photocopier as medium is my primary interest but clearly, I am interested in utilising it, pushing material through it, feeding it, receiving an object that it outputs, and yet: the copy art movement has made the potential of the commercial photocopier quite clear, explored it, appropriated it, and then moved on.

So, there remains something in the utility past an art form status, i.e., a redundant artistic movement? that resonates with some of the earlier discussions around the filing cabinet of Assignment 1.

The photocopiers under investigation are digital ones, they are Cannon (I know: as one always jams and needs frequent attention by the Cannon engineer), but I know still relatively little of the process of reproduction so far but also what remains as a potential for degradation. The interaction between object, glass plate, lens > as in dark shadows and shallow depth of field remain however and present a key characteristic, along the process of feeding empty paper as well as an object (paper or otherwise) to be copied.

Four projects and artists I looked at more closely:

Photocopy Cha Cha (Choreography for Photocopy Machine), Chel White, animation (1991)

This is quite possibly the most aestheticised of the four projects: it does copy art as medium to produce a highly visual and sensuous animation of objects and bodies placed on top of the photocopier. It reminds me of some of the early rhythm analysis choreography of Dada, such as Hans Richter’s films.
<< this is much less what interests me in the photocopier, and still: of course, this is very much how it has been used as a medium, so it would be silly to dismiss its aesthetic potential outright.

The Xerox Book

edited by Seth Siegelaub & John Wendler (1968); presenting an exhibition in book form (and thus also being book art). The artists contained in the book are Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Douglas Huebler, Robert Morris and Lawrence Weiner.

There are single pages on the MoMA site here; there is a full scan of the book available here, and one of the authors, John Wendler, talks about it, and shows parts of it in this youtube clip:

 

Each artist provides 25 pages, the intent was initially to reproduce the book by xerox copy but this proved financially unviable and so the 450 copies are produced as offset print.

<< the projects are expansive, generative over the 25 pages each; e.g. Carl Andre kept adding a square object for each page.

<< Lawrence Weiner’s contribution intrigues me most when initially encountering the book: it is an instruction to the audience. Just a day before I had written out an instruction for the photocopier in my notebook, wondering if an instruction constitutes a piece of work, and under what conditions?

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Wall Notes (1968-1982), Sonia Landy Sheridan.

This was the first I encountered and unfortunately found very little information on it, besides this reference in a brief article by David Liss (1995):

American Sonia Landy Sheridan is one of the most important and internationally recognized figures in the development of Copy Art. In l968 she was hired by the 3M Company as an artist-in- residence for the purpose of developing their colour-in-colourmachine for commercial, graphic and artistic flexibility. She began teaching the first course in the medium she refers to as “generative systems” at the Art Institute of Chicago. Sheridan’s work in this exhibition, Wall Notes (1968-82) is a large and complex four-panel document of various photocopy techniques, accompanied by detailed notes on the process. It reads like the personal pages of an artist’s sketchbook, revealing Sheridan’s techno-friendly approach to the creative proccess and its relationship to art, science and technology. Her extensive repertoire of technical innovations include experiments which involve the control of time and light exposures, resulting in the stretching and compressing of an image.

Her website provides some works of the period as well as an image but little more.

<< what intrigued me was the instructive nature of this project, its attention to process but also then how particular work processes move into an artistic register.

<< Generative systems as module on a teaching programme sounds great — this is about drawing machines (and I will keep a note for the later part of the course) but also about the question of what constitutes art – more of this in the next project.

Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art (1966), Mel Bochner

Four identical folders each including 100 photocopied pages of studio notes, drawings, diagrams, on four plinths.

There is a fairly extensive documentation of the installation set up as well as the content on Bochner’s website here.

<< this as well as the Xerox book is a fairly considered ‘men in suits’ affair, as such is it just an extension of high form Modernism masculinity; evidence of particular circles and networks? Where are the counterpoints in feminist art for this?

<< the blurring between work and art in this is intriguing, and of course part of a much wider movement of the time >> the questions of appropriation and cooption are relevant

<< what is in here to move further away from drawing still? how about writing, an office work routine as a drawing? Bochner’s title is instructive for this, I feel.

References

David Liss (1995) Photocopy Art: who were its pioneers, Artfocus 56, https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/eppp-archive/100/205/301/ic/cdc/waic/dissertation/daliss_copy.htm, accessed 1 March 2018

John Walker (2006/ 1989) Copy This! A historical perspective on the use of photocopier in art. Reprint in Plagiary, 1, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.5240451.0001.003, accessed 1/March 2018