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?

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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 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.

 

 

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]

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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.

Stephen Graham (2016) Vertical

Graham, S. (2016). Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers (pp. 1–401). London: Verso.

  • I am amazed at how loose the structure is: it is just an assemblage and there is something rather curious about that.
  • the introduction makes much of Steyerl’s (2011) piece on Verticality and falling.
>> there is something in the orientation around these phenomenology concepts which is intriguing and can work very well for how I want to write through my institutional critique.
So:  Verticality comes into Green over the insight that the other green is vertical: it has three obvious dimensions, and the height seems more prominent than the other two.
>> for Green, which is flat, this means people walk across, their walking across is mostly transgressive (except for the celebratory modes of graduation ceremony); they struggle to maintain gravity, they add verticality to flat green.
>> other Green can allow for verticality and I can actually imagine hiding within; the shadow movement does constitute an adding of not one but two extra dimension (shade plus verticality)
What does this mean for the Corridor?
>> Graham makes the argument that of course the human body is vertical too; (and as Tacita Dean observes in the film about Film (2011) that the one thing that fits into a portrait orientation is the human body, and that she was sure she wasn’t going to use it.
28 June 2018
“Vertical and other spatial metaphors literally work to constitute and reconstitute social power: they both derive directly from the physical and phenomenological experience of social life and actively influence how people perceive and shape the social and political world.
It thus matters hugely that human life for able-bodied humans involves a perpetual struggle to maintain vertical stance to maintain the senses of the heavy human head against incessant gravity. It matters, too, that death, illness and defeat are always symbolised in humans by a lower bodily stature and, eventually, by succumbing into the very ground itself.”
Notes From: Stephen Graham. “Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers.” iBooks. (Introduction)
28 June 2018
“Gravity is important because effort and resources are continually required to move, stand or build upwards against it.”
Notes From: Stephen Graham. “Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers.” iBooks.

John Gerrard’s (2017) Western Flag

i saw John Gerrard’s Western Flag (Spindletop, Texas) yesterday for the first time and really liked it on so many levels but didn’t quite know yet what to do with it… it works as commentary on both nationalism and environmental destruction.

last night i thought alongside it and came back to James Turrell’s environmental works with light—i think it was a question of scale for me (i took Western Flag as site specific, hadn’t realised that it is a complex digital interface that animates the environment as feed around Gerrard’s smoke billowing flag pole); it was also a question of creation/annihilation too (it is something that returns as question more and more).
— as often with Land Art it is also one about grandiosity (of self, other, nature, cosmos), i have a good sense where my own stuff sits amidst this, it is more Swamp than Spiral Jetty or Roden Crater, and still: socialising Turrell’s works for rich dudes post-revolution would be high on my list.

 

shadows on other green

— this is one of the ideas that keeps persisting as to the assignment piece:

to construct something around the shadows of other green — and as such use the shadows of the corridor (the unspoken, the unseen) and the actual shadows that initially drew me to Green to provide the link across the three sites.

The shadows are other green as not too complex:

The main cast shadow is that of a low sun marking the mowed paths and their edges. Some of these curve, the shadow grows as the sun gets closer to the horizon line.

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The other shadows are the ones that I cast, explored further in the one earlier video sketch:

but there were a couple more too:

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  • crucially, the shadows exists on this green and as obvious as they are due to three factors (compared with Green):
    • the height of the grasses (a lack of maintenance
    • the existence of the mowed paths (i.e. a maintenance regime)
    • the absence of a building structure surrounding it and which for Green is the one that casts more dominant shadows

>> these factors are valuable to investigate further in terms of the institutional critique element; I am uncertain though as of the medium for such investigation: text? drawing? performance? video? all of these?

The submission for assignment 2 consisted of a series of performances which I held together in a single piece of work; is the submission for this of a similar nature? A series of objects that relate to each other? How do I want to present these?

My main next step is as follows:

Take the tracing paper from the office to other Green and employ it for the drawing, tracing of the grasses, their movement, the shadows and my own presence; i.e. to expand the lens/diffuser/ink setup into the expanded field of the corridor site.

If I want to trace the shadows, I will work with the light behind me, will also cast shadow and thus will at once have a situation as in event 2 of the first post on lens/diffuser/ink; but also be present in it as my own shadow (similar as the video above).

>> this work isn’t to sound, yet it is very clearly rhythmic: it takes pattern (wind movement, my movement and the grasses and shadows as visual patterns, though static),  at the moment I feel that that would be close enough inside the assignment parameters to hold.

project 3_1: drawing blind

i had employed this method quite a few years ago to good effect: it marked the opening exercise of a week-long summer school course at ECA on mixed media; and marked the beginning of a much more sustained understanding of how to explore, edit and progress drawing as research.

[I will look out those drawings and add here too]

The object back then was a moving assemblage or various studio accessories (wiring, soft cloth etc.), I hung it from the easel and kept animating it and translated those marks (and reworked these over the week).

For this project here I wanted to use the tool that I have used much before: the Moleskine  notebook (used). I was curious how I would feel such simple, flat object.

I used A2 and mechanical pencil, which added the detail that I would need to stop to release more lead from time to time.

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  • what do I draw? It feels so soft around the edges, fuzzy, fluffy even. and then is there the expanse of the pages, leading to the centre fold, there are some A4 pages extending the book itself, the mechanical pencil stuck into the middle, the slightly rougher cover, I can’t really feel the binding.
  • there is a rhythm to this too: when I turn a page, when I trace and try to match the expanse of a page, across to the outer edges and round again
  • I quite quickly feel full, even overwhelmed by the sensations in my left hand and want to mimic, imitate these with my right.
  • I do two iterations, briefly look at the first before I start the second but only after both look more closely:
    • the marks seems similar to the wind marks on the grasses
    • I can see the rhythm; the softness is not quite there: most of the marks are relatively similarly strong across the page
    • I see the round top of the mechanical pencil clearly in both
    • I enjoy how I used the whole A2 to draw a not-quite A4 book
    • the turning of the pages is visible too and I am pleased with that
    • there is a sense that it is a flat object, and yet that it is animated too

lens/ink/diffuser (self-initiated project)

This is the project enquiry that arose from the previous tutorial: of how to take further the idea of myself as drawing tool as well as the scope of performance as drawing as it arose within the Manual for a photocopier (A2) and the emerging Parallel Project.

The idea was to consider the window pane as lens, tracing paper as diffuser and myself as ink.

Event 1: In the first instance I went to the large window site in which I had originally explored this as part of the tipp-ex drawings. I produced two drawings, which I then moved to a notice board inside my office.

Event 2: In a second instance I begun to explore the small window opening in my own office and begun to trace the opening (here no direct sunshine fell on the window, so the copying was more indirect, subdued):

The images in the slide show are in chronological order (and contain three drawings, two from event 1, one from event two).

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For event 1 I found myself tracing myself numerous times, often unsucessfully so; I also like the start contrast of the light against the tracing paper and how it showed up the varied nature of the glass itself; I found some paper lying on the window sill and employed it within the set up. A colleague passed by who offered to try and set up the light table (which sits in the corner of the teaching lab in which I did this), her interest changed a little when she discovered that I was doing my own research, not work for the school.

Moving the two drawings to the notice board in the room and fixing them with pins revealed their translucency: how they negotiated the many previous pinning of materials now gone from the board.

For event 2 I used the same tracing paper role, fixed it with tape above the window opening and begun to trace the marks behind, which were this time far more subdued due to the lack of direct sun. The opening was interesting as mark though.

I begun to ask myself what makes me ink and what can my self as ink be; as primarily I am still the one who holds a pen; so I am not ink as such but artist, mark-maker. I tried to take this further by producing a drawing of the setup, not just framing photographs of it; by drawing the setup and placing this within the setup I felt I was stepping outside the author role but producing something that again becomes part of the setup itself.

Myself as ink: does this mean I am limited to indexicality: to trace what I find? Perhaps choose this pen or that, this pressure or iteration over that? Of course it also still remains eyes and hand coordination.

>> part of that is unsatisfactory; although I do like the delicate marks that are left on the paper, their unintelligibility once they are removed from the site itself; I also liked the being observed doing this unintelligible action; and then, in my office alone, to be doing this in secret. The photographs I produce of this seem successful and work best for me.

>> what interested me most was the context on both occasions, the stuff I would discover during the process; and how these could be engaged with as part of each performance/event.

I left the final set up: closed window with paper still taped in the office when I left in Wednesday lunchtime.

Introducing: other green (1)

these are a series of drawings I did on other green – the site itself is a little bit further explored in a piece of writing that connects three sites (Corridor, Green, Other Green) as well as a brief video clip.

— Green, the first outdoor site is a site of institutional lawn, with a rigorous maintenance regime, it is flat, square (about 50×50 mts), and discussed and explored in these two posts, one a collection of drawings, one a video with sound.

Besides knowing and recording Other Green casually over the past 18 months, I spent three visits last weekend to draw and photograph/video aspects of it.

The site is on a hillslope, has varied and high grasses which now, in late June are in heavy bloom, it features two sites with two picnice tables each, has three entrances and a moderate maintenance regime in which a circular walk along with routes to the entrances is mowed down (and so are the areas of the picnic tables).

I draw with simple supports again: A3 photocopier paper taped to a large piece of plastic sheeting, the mechanical pencil, a 6B pencil, an eraser. I took other media with me but didn’t use them. I spent a couple of hours each time, developing a series of sketches; later to photograph and set up a couple of short video recordings.

The key drawings are here:

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  • what interested me was the lightness of grass and the force and repetition of the wind. — I may want to check out which grasses they are but they are each distinct, also distinct in movement.
  • the first two drawings (blue hue, tightly cropped) are of one small view, the other two when sitting high and overlooking almost the whole meadow.
  • there are accompanying videos to this two, as well as a clip where the drawing on support gets animated by the wind.

>> questions are:

  • what is the relationship between movement and structure?
  • what is the role between representational mark and observation? — I realise that I almost tried to create a taxonomy of drawing marks to relate to type of grass and type of movement
  • these drawings were rhythmic; very different in that to the ones about Green, which were much more constrained: or rather: I transgressed the constrained of the green by drawing over and across; here: the structure itself was already excessive.

The differences between the sites are extensive:

  • entirely different types of grasses; of ground, of layout
  • the key difference that I realised is one of verticality: other green is tall and through its height it becomes diverse, flexible, animated, responsive.
  • both are managed but very differently so
  • both are in considerable use by people (and designed to be so)

As with my writing on the Corridor, I went to some reading around Verticality (Stephen Graham, Hito Steyerl, Eyal Weizman), some preliminary thoughts are:

Vertical and other spatial metaphors literally work to constitute and reconstitute social power: they both derive directly from the physical and phenomenological experience of social life and actively influence how people perceive and shape the social and political world.
It thus matters hugely that human life for able-bodied humans involves a perpetual struggle to maintain vertical stance to maintain the senses of the heavy human head against incessant gravity. It matters, too, that death, illness and defeat are always symbolised in humans by a lower bodily stature and, eventually, by succumbing into the very ground itself.”
 Notes From: Stephen Graham. “Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers.” iBooks. (Introduction)
>> there is something in the orientation around these phenomenology concepts which is intriguing and can work very well for how I want to write through my institutional critique.
So:  Verticality comes into Green over the insight that the other green is vertical: it has three obvious dimensions, and the height seems more prominent than the other two.
>> for Green, which is flat, this means people walk across, their walking across is mostly transgressive (except for the celebratory modes of graduation ceremony); they struggle to maintain gravity, they add verticality to flat green.
>> other Green can allow for verticality and I can actually imagine hiding within; the shadow movement does constitute an adding of not one but two extra dimension (shade plus verticality)
What does this mean for the Corridor? (corridor is mainly characterised by its walls and doors, then by the sounds of people being situated within, moving along)
>> Graham makes the argument that of course the human body is vertical too; (and as Tacita Dean observes in the film about Film (2011) that the one thing that fits into a portrait orientation is the human body, and that she was sure she wasn’t going to use it.