reflection on parallel project and critical review

This post constitutes the final post concerning the durational course work of the parallel project and the critical review. They are completed last and discussed in tutorial 6.


Let’s reflect then:

Parallel project

— the material is presented here.

This changed, looking back from now, remarkably little. Yet: in the final weeks of the course it seemed to acquire an intensity that I didn’t quite foresee: the readings and practical work I have done around both ambiguity and interdisciplinarity seemed to offer a broadening and deepening of what the themes and approaches were that I took to this module. And while I know well how projects conclude, it nonetheless comes as surprise. It also allowed, notably through the review of the material that I submit for assessment (digitally and analogue) for a rather extensive survey of the past 16 months.

I am thrilled to see continuing and deepening lines across the module: from the early drawings and explorations around the filing cabinet — a void, a gap, but what on earth is this about?; the questions over what is performative in trying to photocopy some paper on an institutional printer; to the work I did at my parents’ place, The Hornet Tree, an insistence on particular materials and the dialogue with my father over ambiguity and divergence; and the box of m(e)use | use me that contains and spills out, sensorially in a number of ways, with crumpled paper from 12 months of small interventions in the corridor space and beyond.

So: while wondering whether any of this was drawing, I pushed at some boundaries, attended to them carefully, inquisitive, in text, spoken word, movement, gesture, with lenses, tracing paper, pens and some ink too.

The g-drive folder as outcome was the first to arrive and it seems fitting too for the kind of work that I have done: concise, to the point, as big as it needs to be — and I enjoyed the discussion we had in the final tutorial about this not being a lack of ambition but an interest in ambiguity but also whether significance lies in small, ordinary materials and gestures.

After assignment 3, Green, we talked about moving image material becoming more significant, how 5 could be an artist book in moving image form, how the parallel project could be moving image, and that my Critical Review would settle on Joan Jonas’s practice. Towards the module end (faster than I had planned), I lost a little sight of that video idea and so am grateful for Doug raising it again, notably through: my voice, the way how I would speak through the concerns of the Hornet Tree, how I would articulate and start a tutorial with ‘You know, I observed this, and then this, and then this and then that happened…’

So, here, then the parallel project indeed relates back and looks back to the module itself, it reorganises the materials and lets them become something else still. The video is not just a narration, an instruction; I begun to include the key clips – visual, and also found sound recordings – in the work to author it and let it unfold. In this sense, it draws on a number of sense and sensations. That it speaks out of the screen to ask the viewer to engage directly with some other materials is a good move, will it work? I appreciate how we attended to that in our discussions, and like how Doug observed that, without feedback, we don’t know if the silence and dark screen at the end of Hornet Tree is too long, and the viewer thus misses the key resolution — but: I wanted to try and test it, and so I went and did it. Same here.

In all this, I seem at one of the most exciting points in this rather extended degree course:  there is a literal voice, and in its clarity it also helps to articulate all those other voices that are involved in my art-making, an art-making that is visual, textual, increasingly dares to be performative; it takes in things I learned before: critical social theory; dialectics; a body/dreamwork coaching and counselling training; a dissatisfaction with academic publishing; a keenness on finding those other spaces and places that are never entirely utopian but offer a hunch, a first step from here to there. Onwards, right.


The Critical Review

— the material is presented here.

This is more straightforward: it is concise, a mere 2000 words, which I stretch just a little past an additional 10%. I made it simpler and simpler, the structure bears little resemblance to what I wanted to do. And yet: in the final phase of writing it became more complex again and I am pleased to see that it offers to condense a series of thoughts around transition/fragment; around spatial projections and constructions and around intermediality that will help me move further with my own work.

It is good also not have struggled to much with voice in this, some is a fairly informal narration that when it is important changes register to argue its case. It isn’t a difficult writing style for me and I feel in this format lies a way to move back into an academic register (albeit a different field to my original social science one) without having to lose some of the forms and modalities that I value from writing more associatively, fiction (albeit theory-heavy), if not to call it poetic.

Doug suggested in the last tutorial to add Katrina Palmer’s work to this review. In turn, I reframed the conclusions into resonances with my own work (which seems more fitting in any case), and yet: Palmer isn’t easily integrated. I sense I would need to re-structure much of the original focus to allow one other single work to surface so late on. So, in that sense, she remains for a different time and instead features in the reflections in the blog.

I really like what Jonas does – also the mythical stuff she does, even though I barely talked about it. I am thrilled that I chose to look at her work and a focus on the technical aspects around projection and transition were really well suited to unpack in detail what is going on in her work and why I think it works so well and what in it resonates and can work with my own work too.

parallel praxis (the parallel project)

This post presents the final outcome of my parallel project during Drawing 2.

The project ran indeed parallel throughout almost the entire module and lead to a series of enquiries and projects that ran concurrently, fed into different exercises and then too the assignments. It is concerned with my own body as drawing tool. Early explorations involved the photocopier performances or conversations which led to A photocopier Manual; the lens/ink/diffuser project is part of it too.

My presentation for assessment takes the parallel project as starting point for unpacking the course submission. It does so with a set of instructions (as indeed an early interest involved the extent to which instructions constitute drawing also).

I present the parallel project in visual and audio form: it concerns and makes use of my voice to guide and direct. Sometimes that voice also distracts, adds tangents, (like any good narration does). It is not a ‘making of’ instead, I was intent to produce another piece of work, not just one that works as a reflection or commentary (all the while, my writing does do that as a common form also). In this sense it is a movement (back and forth, yet: not back again) through the institutional corridor, its stairs, its exits and the spaces beyond yet linked, if only through our – first mine, then your – movement between them.

Parallel praxis, the work’s title, takes place in an extended site: an institutional corridor, a green below from it, another green away from it, as well as the garden of my parents, and your workspace, desk or similar. Parallel it is in a number of ways: it steals time, attention from assumed purposes and practices (of academic work); seeking openings and diversions – spatially, visually, practically. It is also parallel as durational form: running over the course of twelve months, the final assignment m(e)use | use me evidences both site and time span and rhythm. Thirdly, it explores – by means also of the Critical Review of Joan Jonas’ interdisciplinary practice (notably: Draw without Looking 2013), a late but significant find of Katrina Palmer’s voice/site/text and extended sculptural work End Matter (2015) and Sawdon & Marshall eds (2015) Drawing Ambiguity – the limits, boundaries and transgressions of what a contemporary drawing practice may contain: an instruction, a writing, a photocopier, crumpled paper, my feet, my voicebox, my breath, your hands.

In this, the body as drawing tool makes use of the sensorial, touch, movement, the scent of printing inks may also still linger. It does so across analogue and digital, or rather: networked forms (here, the early work, the Gap, was important to draw attention to that act of transferring, opening up, trying to bridge, maybe not quite succeeding, and yet being engaged in that process – a process that arguably lies at the heart of much interdisciplinary practice.

The final outcome is presented in two forms:

Firstly, a video Parallel Praxis, which is available through the vimeo player below.

Secondly, a single folder on the g-drive, entitled Parallel Project, it contains two jpg files, IMG_5050.jpg and IMG_5202.jpg – both files are photo collages, taken by iphone 7Plus and printed on my Canon inkjet printer (in a number of iterations). They contain cutouts and overlays, in a number of iterations.


These are the two file submitted separately, in order to anchor digital forms in the analogue and vice versa.

A separate blog post contains some final reflections on this project.

parallel project / parallel praxis: the things that I didn’t do.

This project has been running alongside for over a year. It started, and always assumed, that I and my body would be the drawing tool. The critical review was going to explore this alongside, in some sense in its negative: as an absence of human agency, control. The early notions of the gap (between the filing cabinets of Assignment 1, but clearly as it folded forward into a gap between analogue and digital, a gap between agency and chance, and a more general disjuncture, disarticulation) tried to anchor this parallel project in some way in its negative.

The corridor placements as a long-term practice of siting, of placing – a thing, and myself in the process; of removing this frequently, sometimes of having it removed, and towards the later stages of people, unknown to me still, siting it more prominently.

The photocopier performances and writing instructions of the same time took the self as drawing tool serious in an expanded field of drawing. It would be relatively late that Joan Jonas became the interdisciplinary artist to focus on in the critical review and whose practice became a clear anchor for articulating some of my own approaches (if less so as resonance in theme).

Along with the question over self as drawing tool, the question of site continued to be raised, it was rarely uncontentious: accessibility to the filing cabinets an early manifestation; a secrecy over the corridor placements ensued; when I appeared in a contractual work role in the corridor all of this practice seemed to have come to an end; at some point my contractual role seemed to do so too.

So: myself as drawing tool is something, someone, an entity, that moves, changes site, location, departs, returns, reconfigures. The tracing paper as tool, medium, prop became increasingly important once it started to figure from assignment 3 onwards and inform a series of small projects.

A site-specific ceiling, wall and floor-covering installation of hopscotch in the corridor and a related video projection did not materialise. But see some notes on it here.

In tutorial 5 we discussed two further avenues, besides the one that I did pursue (changing scale, white balance and background of printed collages, here).

a. drawing on the inkjet prints

  • I didn’t. I printed them out but then really didn’t quite have the energy to open this new avenue; I didn’t like the materiality this was going to open up

b. myself being the subject of some on-site documentation

  • I discussed this one with a few people; I wanted to ask my artist friend but assumed she was going to be busy. I then, on Thursday asked a friend and colleague if he would. Well: I didn’t really ask, I said that I may want to do this; but at that point the interest of standing in the department and being recorded of doing so held little interest. It really didn’t seem important; and it didn’t seem the right way to conclude this: I did not feel I needed that documented present to conclude the project.

So, instead: I have removed myself and the project entirely from the corridor and the actual spaces of the institution. That decision arose initially out of a conflict in May; it still holds and is good: the freedom that comes with the manipulation of the prints is considerable and at this stage of the project important. It is elsewhere, offers a different praxis, a parallel praxis. There are numerous strands and threads across the analogue and the digital in this whole body of work across the module. Here, the conclusion of this parallel project as two digital jpgs in an online folder seems apt, fitting. It presents a resting point while also pointing forward to what the kind of enquiry that I have opened up can become.


There is a whole thread of investigations about what constitutes the artwork, what marks an absence in this module. This post also contributes to it.


refinement: parallel project

Following the last tutorial, I printed out different sizes and also altered the white balance of the weakest of the collages, I also chose another background.

I also, following the tutorial, have a sense that Parallel Praxis is a suitable title for it.

For reference: this is the image which worked the least (due to folding of overlay and a too high contrast of white balance:


I deliberately pushed a number of concepts within the collage: size, rotation, perspective of lens, direct sunlight. These have resulted in the following images:


— of these I do like the first one with the low perspective as well as the one in which the background image is rotated once. The direct light on the last one definitely doesn’t work; I am not sure the humour of the cutout being so small in the two previous ones is right.

I also took two more restrained ones, trying to emulate the success of the earlier three:img_5190img_5196

Both of these work and I have the sense there are a couple of good sets within these:

The complete contact sheet is like this:

screen shot 2018-09-23 at 16.52.12

Three sets I explored are these:

screen shot 2018-09-23 at 17.13.46screen shot 2018-09-23 at 17.09.46screen shot 2018-09-23 at 17.14.26

screen shot 2018-09-23 at 17.15.18

— I currently feel that the smallest set, 3, is the most successful. With four or five images it starts to appear gimmicky. I will see what the discussion tomorrow yields.

Katrina Palmer (2015) End Matter

This a recommendation from tutorial 4, in relation to the Hornet Tree; we discuss it in tutorial 5 (and it is included in the tutor report).

Here an interview with the artist:

I really enjoy the form and presentation; I think the project is great to see as level of ambition and what is possible with my fiction/narratives, how these can be developed.

The theme of loss and adjusting for loss on Portland as quarry, hollowed out island is fascinating. I see how my own stories are very different to hers which are historical stories, almost ghost tales; I like the irreverence with which she breaks conventions and introduces contemporary concerns but also a whole range of meta-physical questions (via Hegel) to her invented site of the Loss Adjusters’ Office. That this office features a number of photocopiers, the sensuality (a constant hum, some warmth) of these as one way of coping with the task of adjusting loss, is quite ingenious and intrigues me no end; similar: her way of writing herself into these unstable stories and timelines.

Some of audio production is less interesting to me: it seems too polished with echo effects, I take issue with the actual voices; but these are smaller concerns.

That the project is available at a distance is great. I order End Matter, the small book publication and read it quickly. Again: some of the production choices are a little forced but also kind of work well for me in terms of her ambition and what she tries to achieve as a fictional, almost metaphysical narrative that is strongly conceptual and at once sensorial, sensual even.

The site which hosts the overall project and the audio files is here.

The bookworks publication page, here.

— I will return to this, no doubt

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

parallel project thoughts:

I have been working in parallel both for the A5 submission and the parallel project. They seemed a bit variable, for which part the work was going to be. I explored, as timelines, a rather complex installation within the link corridor of the institution, which would consist of a video projection of the videos here; a ceiling and a floor tracing paper installation which featured a game of hopscotch. It didn’t quite come together in a sense but it led me to the following demonstration, which also includes a 40 minutes audio recording about the drawing work within and beyond the institutional space with a colleague and friend.


— I demonstrated the ink/lens/diffuser project and seemed to have myself inserted into the departmental space in a different form altogether.

I went and explored this, first as printout/ collage:


I think this idea will constitute the parallel project: it seems to fit on many levels. It also seems to fit in terms of questions over presence or absence. I like the first and last one of them best, chromatically, but also how it transcends the frame.

My suggestions for taking this further are:

a. to experiment with print scale — this is A4, it can possibly be different, both in terms of the cutout and the overall dimension: much smaller, but also: what about a life-size print

b. do I want to stand and perform this in situ and have it recorded with a camera?



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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timelines: two simple observations

— of course all moving image material primarily works with the temporal within the visual/auditory, so, per se: a video clip will address this part’s remit of exploring different uses, processes and practices around temporal dimensions within a drawing (see early thoughts on this final part here).

There are two recent clips that I took (one a set up small performance; the other one an observed occurrence), which however get to some of my interests in this.

The first one uses the focusing capability of the tracing paper to move from opaque to transfer not of shadow but of hue (which happens when contact between two materials is made). It uses my finger as the orchestrating device to achieve this.

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tracing paper as focussing lens

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The second one observes a shadow of a young child playing hopscotch, just at the margins of the frame:


Drawing in both of these is achieved rather differently, the second one is a strong shadow cast by a lunchtime sun; the former the slow movement of my finger pushing the tracing paper against my dress, until it focusses in on it and transfer the image and hue, it then releases again. Both are a single sequence, the second more easily looped (and indeed, the child played for a considerable time before and after this video); there is something about pace and rhythm in both of them that fascinates me and speaks not only to the course section but also the wider questions around the parallel project: of body as drawing machine, of different sites/ scales in which this can be enacted; on the question of control too.

[untitled album] Facebook sketchbook: excerpt

[ this is the third post in a series of posts pulling together the role and sites of my sketchbooks for this module. The previous posts are here:

Experiments and Sketchbooks for this module

sketchbooks for this module: process and circulation]

My main sketchbook for this module consists of a facebook album, [untitled album], which contains 300+ posts since the start of the module. The posts are often image-based, with stills, and over the course of the module also around 50+ video clips. They experiment with juxtaposition of images, text/images, they are performative in front of the lens, with the image edge, but also in terms of the writing and the juxtaposition of text/image. A small number of the posts are referencing other people’s texts, a few exhibitions; a small number of posts also are reflective in the sense that I condense previous work, reconsider where it can go next. Publishing it to a small-ish audience (around 60 people) has been useful as a way for me testing relationships within the material itself, but also positions around audience, around voice/position.

For assessment, this material will be presented as a PDF to the assessors. As the material also contains sometimes extensive discussion with others, I will not move it out of the Facebook container.

Below however a few screenshots of the material (as the easiest way to move it into the wordpress environment) — they are in chronological order and from the early part of the module (around Assignment 1, the gap):

Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.01.19Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.01.33Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.01.50Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.07Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.22Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.34Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.42Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.51Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.03.03Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.03.48Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.03.55Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.04.09