Joan Jonas (1976) I want to live in the country (and other romances)

This is the book I bought after seeing the Joan Jonas exhibition at the Tate Modern: it was easy to fit in my hand luggage but also, the 28min video work – the single subject of the book – , while not in the Tate exhibition seems highly relevant to my own interests and pursuits.

[this post is strictly non-linear; it also attends to series of different white balance when photographing sections of the book for reference]

The publisher (Afterall) gives its summary as:

In Joan Jonas’s 1976 video work I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances) the artist investigates a geography of displacement and irrefutable desires. The work veers constantly between two locations, the coastal landscape of rural Nova Scotia and a windowless New York City studio. Describing Jonas’s approach to video as a drawing tool, an endless mirror and a framing device, Susan Morgan takes us through the exterior and interior scenes that comprise this work and considers how Jonas has used performance and video since 1968 to explore ways of seeing, the inherent rhythms of ritual and the archetypal authority of objects and gestures.

> relevant are the intercutting of indoor/outdoor scenes, the combination of Super8 film (outdoor) with video (indoor), the staging of the indoor setting and the role of performance; the function of drawing tools and how video works as a drawing tool (which is something that arose in the last tutorial discussion).

The book structure is interesting: the middle section contains a set of colour stills (32 in total) of the video; the text is written as a long-form essay, interspersed with short sections which describe a number of interior and exterior scenes. I have another book in this series, One Work, which takes a single piece of work as basis for the whole book (it’s Jeff Wall’s Picture for Women), and really like the series proposition. The book covers a fair bit of ground: Jonas’s coming to video and performance, her early influences, notably her motivations, methodology and repeating and evolving interests. The cutting, the repeating, the mirroring, the use of voice, the doubling of herself in the frame as image and performer. Also, the wider field of video art as it develops as an accessible means to work with the temporality of film (and here, a closer reading of the relevant sections in Kittler will be useful to compare).

It discusses the importance of transitions between cuts, the role of fragments (how scene,  viewpoint, audio, sequencing relate directly or obliquely to each other in her films):

  • she continues how the video is constructed in relation to the set, the moving frame, the video frame , the frame of the glass table (within the scene), the space (ibid) — I think it is such careful attention to the fragment within and across that interests me (and also then: what does it produce, create, as after all: it leads to a single continuous role of film, screened in chronology, so a very definite unified object and piece of work).

It continuous (in the closing pages of the book) to talk about the role of audio, notably: music as drifting in and out in fragments and then the voiceover.

A quote by Yvonne Rainer (whom I know too little about) interrogates the desire of the audience of a narrative frame, a story – which in Jonas’s case is not linear.

Can an audience learn to abandon its narrative expectation once that expectation has been aroused by narrative elements in the work? What kinds of clues tell us, the audience, when to read an image – or a series of images – narratively, when to them parataxically and when to read them iconographically? What constitutes continuity in the movies and what kind of clue tells us to ‘begin again’? Why his urgency in our acculturated and suppurating brain that propels us to find connections between what we simultaneously see and hear, between what we have just seen and what we are about to see? What constitutes unity in film? Can the narrative and the other-than-narrative exist simultaneously in the same shot, creating a kind of strobe effect with regard to meaning? (p. 90f)

Morgan continues ‘Jonas delivers that strobe effect in I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances).

Drawing in John Cage, Jorge Luis Borges and Anna Halprin, Morgan closes with a final exterior scene (possibly the last scene of I want to:

p. 93

Short note by Jonas plus a series of film stills (Jonas 2007, 80ff)img_4248img_4250img_4251

More sections from Morgan 2006:

p. 13

> importance of video as accessible medium to work with the temporality of film; also: how TV became key in reworking and exploring the relationship between performer and audience.

> video as producing a sense of double reality: Jonas as image and as performer (and she explores this effect of doubling, mirroring, often through the use of a live video feed, the monitor in numerous of her earlier works)

> shyness and interest in performing.

Then, below:

The role of friendship circles as audience (similar to Nan Goldin’s Ballad): it was friends that were performed to and who critiqued the work. The art world as a workshop: to work for each other. I have the sense that some of the DiY education stuff and the current focus on friendship, sociability and care in contemporary artist-run spaces tries to recover some of that.

p. 59


The readings and interests of my father filter into the artwork too: a translation of a number of books by the Nearing’s were a frequent source of (re-)reading and discussion for alternative modes of living in my childhood.

p. 63

This and others as interrogation into the role video as medium/ methodology; also: how drawing enters the performance.

p. 72






Joan Jonas 2007 Timelines. Museu d’Art Contemporani Barcelona, Barcelona.

Susan Morgan 2006 Joan Jonas: I want to live in the country (and other romances). Afterall: New York.

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.

Karen Barad (2003) Posthuman Performativity

Barad, K. (2003). Posthuman Performativity – Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Signs Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3), 801–831.

  • this the first full article of hers that I read; it is fairly old, predates most of her book publications
  • it is useful as it takes in the notion of performativity (and thus allows me to link agential realism/ non-human agency to performativity/ performance as practice).
  • thing to process is useful; so is inclusion of Bohr >> some of that necessarily seems to rely on having to hide the more useful stuff of critical materialism that also gets to this

<< this is part of a reading for a Summer School at BAK, basis vor aktuelle Kunst, Utrecht, which I will attend in mid-July.

 25 June 2018:

I am filling in some gaps (mapping out, crossing that stuff I left off in my theory chapter and how it relates to my facilitation work, my drawing practice too, to House, to Corridor), courtesy to summer school reading list:

“The move toward performative alternatives to representationalism shifts the focus from questions of correspondence between descriptions and reality (e.g., do they mirror nature or culture?) to matters of practices/ doings/actions. I would argue that these approaches also bring to the forefront important questions of ontology, materiality, and agency, while social constructivist approaches get caught up in the geometrical optics of reflection where, much like the infinite play of images between twofacing mirrors, the epistemological gets bounced back and forth, but nothing more is seen.” (802f)
Karen Barad (2003)

  • … this is fascinating as it goes right to the heart of what I ended up doing with social praxis and mediation; I am not convinced that her passionate evocation of process resolves some of the problems but it is fascinating to go back to the core processes from which I built up a research methodology… perhaps I should dig out a few of my never revised journal articles after all: (p. 823) “The ubiquitous pronouncements proclaiming that experience or the material world is “mediated” have offered precious little guidance about how to proceed. The notion of mediation has for too long stood in the way of a more thoroughgoing accounting of the empirical world. The reconceptualization of materiality offered here makes it possible to take the empirical world seriously once again, but this time with the understanding that the objective referent is phenomena, not the seeming “immediately given-ness” of the world.All bodies, not merely “human” bodies, come to matter through the world’s iterative intra-activity—its performativity.”
  • … I agree with her comment on the problem of mediation… it took me ages to find the everyday historians who did develop a politics and a research practice from this problematic…
  • — but similarly: she is too non-chalant in constructing an account whereby everyone assumes a Cartesian splitting apart to be how we construct an “‘immediate[ely] given-ness’ of the world”


These are the more extensive notes from the reference manager:

Notes: p.801: The ubiquitous puns on “matter” do not, alas, mark a rethinking of the key concepts (materiality and signification) and the relationship between them — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.801: How did language come to be more trustworthy than matter? — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

  • p.802: the point about reflection is useful and interesting >> relationship to photography, to coaching. does this also relate to critque? — Written 25 Jun 2018

p.802: during the nineteenth century Nietzsche warned against the mistaken tendency to take grammar too seriously: allowing linguistic structure to shape or determine our understanding of the world, believing that the subject and predicate structure of language reflects a prior ontological reality of substance and attribute. The belief that grammatical categories reflect the underlying structure of the world is a continuing seductive habit of mind worth questioning. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.802: Performativity, properly construed, is not an invitation to turn everything (including material bodies) into words; on the contrary, performativity is precisely a contestation of the excessive power granted to language to determine what is real. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.802: The move toward performative alternatives to representationalism shifts the focus from questions of correspondence between descriptions and reality (e.g., do they mirror nature or culture?) to matters of practices/ doings/actions. I would argue that these approaches also bring to the forefront important questions of ontology, materiality, and agency, while social constructivist approaches get caught up in the geometrical optics — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.803: of reflection where, much like the infinite play of images between twofacing mirrors, the epistemological gets bounced back and forth, but noth-ing more is seen. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.803: what is the difference between geometric and physical optics?

  • what role does Kittler play for this? — Written 25 Jun 2018

p.803: Moving away from the representationalist trap of geometrical optics, I shift the focus to physical optics, to questions of diffraction rather than reflection. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.803: Like the diffraction patterns illuminating the indefinite nature of boundaries—displaying shadows in “light” regions and bright spots in “dark” regions—the relation of the social and the scientific is a relation of “exteriority within.” — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.803: intraactivity. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.804: Representationalism has received significant challenge from feminists, poststructuralists, postcolonial critics, and queer theorists. The names of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler are frequently associated with such questioning. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.805: Ian Hacking’s Representing and Intervening (1983) brought the question of the limitations of representationalist thinking about the nature of science to the forefront. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.805: Rouse (1996) has pointed out that these adversarial positions have more in common than their proponents acknowledge. Indeed, they share representationalist assumptions that foster such endless debates: both scientific realists and social constructivists believe that scientific knowledge (in its multiple representational forms such as theoretical concepts, graphs, — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.806: particle tracks, photographic images) mediates our access to the material world; where they differ is on the question of referent, whether scientific knowledge represents things in the world as they really are (i.e., “Nature”) or “objects” that are the product of social activities (i.e., “Culture”), but both groups subscribe to representationalism. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.806: Representationalism is so deeply entrenched within Western culture that it has taken on a commonsense appeal. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.806: With Democritus’s atomic theory emerges the possibility of a gap between representations and represented—“appearance” makes its first appearance.  — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.806: Rouse identifies representationalism as a Cartesian by-product—a particularly inconspicuous consequence of the Cartesian division between “internal” and “external” that breaks along the line of the knowing subject.  — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.808: In this article, I propose a specifically posthumanist notion of performativity—one that incorporates important material and discursive, social and scientific, human and nonhuman, and natural and cultural factors. A posthumanist account calls into question the givenness of the differential categories of “human” and “nonhuman,” examining the practices through which these differential boundaries are stabilized and destabilized.9 Donna Haraway’s scholarly opus—from primates to cyborgs to companion species—epitomizes this point. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.808: Foucault’s analytic of power links discursive practices to the materiality of the body. However, his account is constrained by several important factors that severely limit the potential of his analysis and Butler’s performative elaboration, thereby forestalling an understanding of precisely how discursive practices produce material bodies — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.808: This notion of posthumanism differs from Pickering’s idiosyncratic assignment of a “posthumanist space [as] a space in which the human actors are still there but now inextricably entangled with the nonhuman, no longer at the center of the action calling the shots” (26). However, the decentering of the human is but one element of posthumanism. (Note that Pickering’s notion of “entanglement” is explicitly epistemological, not ontological. What is at issue for him in dubbing his account “posthumanist” is the fact that it is attentive to the mutual accommodation, or responsiveness, of human and nonhuman agents.) — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.809: If Foucault, in queering Marx, positions the body as the locus of productive forces, the site where the large-scale organization of power links up with local practices, then it would seem that any robust theory of the materialization of bodies would necessarily take account of how the body’s materiality—for example, its anatomy and physiology—and other material forces actively matter to the processes of materialization. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.809: On the other hand, Foucault does not tell us in what way the biological and the historical are “bound together” such that one is not consecutive to the other. What is it about the materiality of bodies that makes it susceptible to the enactment of biological and historical forces simultaneously? — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.809: For all Foucault’s emphasis on the political anatomy of disciplinary power, he too fails to offer an account of the body’s historicity in which its very materiality plays an active role in the workings of power. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.809: This deficiency is importantly related to hisfailure to theorize the relationship between “discursive” and “nondiscursive” practices — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.810: As materialist feminist theorist Rosemary Hennessey insists in offering her critique of Foucault, “a rigorous materialist theory of the body cannot stop with the assertion that the body is always discursively constructed. It also needs to explain how the discursive construction of the body is related to nondiscursive practices in ways that vary widely from one social formation to another” (1993, 46). — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.810: What is needed is a robust account of the materialization of all bodies—“human” and “nonhuman”—and the material-discursive practices by which their differential constitutions are marked. This will require an understanding of the nature of the relationship between discursive practices and material phenomena, an accounting of “nonhuman” as well as “human” forms of agency, and an understanding of the precise causal nature of productive practices that takes account of the fullness of matter’s implication in its ongoing historicity. My contribution toward the development of such an understanding is based on a philosophical account that I have been calling “agential realism.” — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.811: My more limited goal in this article is to use the notion of performativity as a diffraction grating for reading important insights from feminist and queer studies and science studies through one another while simultaneously proposing a materialist and posthumanist reworking of the notion of performativity. This entails a reworking of the familiar notions of discursive practices, materialization, agency, and causality, among others. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.812: Thingification—the turning of relations into “things,” “entities,” “relata”—infects much of the way we understand the world and our relationship to it.15 Why do we think that the existence of relations requires relata? — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.813: Bohr’s philosophy-physics (the two were inseparable for him) poses a radical challenge not only to Newtonian physics but also to Cartesian epistemology and its representationalist triadic structure of words, knowers, and things. Crucially, in a stunning reversal of his intellectual forefather’s schema, Bohr rejects the atomistic metaphysics that takes “things” as ontologically basic entities. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.813:  For Bohr, things do not have inherently determinate boundaries or properties, and words do not have inherently determinate meanings. Bohr also calls into question the related Cartesian belief in the inherent distinction between subject and object, and knower and known. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.814: Unfortunately, Bohr does not explore crucial ontological dimensions of his insights but rather focuses on their epistemological import. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.814: This account refuses the representationalist fixation on “words” and “things” and the problematic of their relationality, advocating instead a causal relationship between specific exclusionary practices embodied as specific material configurations of the world (i.e., discursive practices/(con)figurations rather than “words”) and specific material phenomena (i.e., relations rather than “things”). This causal relationship between the apparatuses of bodily production and the phenomena produced is one of “agential intra-action.” — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

  • p.814: This is interesting as it unsettles the whole language of academic critique/ epistemology — Written 25 Jun 2018

p.814: According to Bohr, theoretical concepts (e.g., “position” and “momentum”) are not ideational in character but rather are specific physical arrangements.18 For example, the notion of “position” cannot be presumed to be a well-defined abstract concept, nor can it be presumed to be an inherent attribute of independently existing objects. Rather, “position” only has meaning when a rigid apparatus with fixed parts is used (e.g., a ruler is nailed to a fixed table in the laboratory, thereby establishing a fixed frame of reference for specifying “position”). — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.815: Therefore, according to Bohr, the primary epistemological unit is not independent objects with inherent boundaries and properties but rather phenomena. On my agential realist elaboration, phenomena do not merely mark the epistemological inseparability of “observer” and “observed”; rather, phenomena are the ontological inseparability of agentially intra-acting “components.”  — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.815: That is, phenomena are ontologically primitive relations—relations without preexisting relata.20 — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.815: In other words, relata do not preexist relations; rather, relatawithin-phenomena emerge through specific intra-actions. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.816: Importantly, apparatuses are themselves phenomena. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.817: This ongoing flow of agency through which “part” of the world makes itself differentially intelligible to another “part” of the world and through which local causal structures, boundaries, and properties are stabilized and destabilized does not take place in space and time but in the making of spacetime itself. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.818: Discursive practices are often confused with linguistic expression, and meaning is often thought to be a property of words. Hence, discursive practices and meanings are said to be peculiarly human phenomena. But if this were true, how would it be possible to take account of the boundarymaking practices by which the differential constitution of “humans” and “nonhumans” are enacted?  — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.818: Meaning is not a property of individual words or groups of words.Meaning is neither intralinguistically conferred nor extralinguistically re-ferenced. Semantic contentfulness is not achieved through the thoughtsor performances of individual agents but rather through particular dis-cursive practices. With the inspiration of Bohr’s insights, it would also betempting to add the following agential realist points: meaning is not ideational but rather specific material (re)configurings of the world, and se-mantic indeterminacy, like ontological indeterminacy, is only locally re-solvable through specific intra-actions. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.819: Discourse is not a synonym for language.24 — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.819: Foucault’s account of discursive practices has some provocative resonances (and some fruitful dissonances) with Bohr’s account of apparatuses and the role they play in the material production of bodies and meanings. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.820: apparatuses are the exclusionary practices of mattering through which intelligibility and materiality are constituted. Apparatuses are material (re)configurings/discursive practices that produce material phenomena in their discursively differentiated becoming. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.821: Matter, like meaning, is not an individually articulated or static entity. Matter is not little bits of nature, or a blank slate, surface, or site passively awaiting signification; nor is it an uncontested ground for scientific, feminist, or Marxist theories. Matter is not a support, location, referent, or source of sustainability for discourse. Matter is not immutable or passive. It does not require the mark of an external force like culture or history to complete it. Matter is always already an ongoing historicity.26 — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.821: In her critique of constructivism within feminist theory Judith Butler puts forward an account of materialization that seeks to acknowledge these important points. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.822: On an agential realist account, matter does not refer to a fixed substance; rather, matter is substance in its intra-active becoming—not a thing, but a doing, a congealing of agency. Matter is a stabilizing and destabilizing process of iterative intra-activity. Phenomena—the smallest material units (relational “atoms”)—come to matter through this process of ongoing intra-activity. That is, matter refers to the materiality/materialization of phenomena, not to an inherent fixed property of abstract independently existing objects of Newtonian physics (the modernist realization of the Democritean dream of atoms and the void). — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.822: Matter is not simply “a kind of citationality” (Butler 1993, 15), the surface effect of human bodies, or the end product of linguistic or discursive acts. Material constraints and exclusions and the material dimensions of regulatory practices are important factors in the process of materialization. The dynamics of intra-activity entails matter as an active “agent” in its ongoing materialization. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.822: Boundary-making practices, that is, discursive practices, are fully implicated in the dynamics of intra-activity through which phenomena come to matter. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.823: The ubiquitous pronouncements proclaiming that experience or the material world is “mediated” have offered precious little guidance about how to proceed. The notion of mediation has for too long stood in the way of a more thoroughgoing accounting of the empirical world. The reconceptualization of materiality offered here makes it possible to take the empirical world seriously once again, but this time with the understanding that the objective referent is phenomena, not the seeming “immediately given-ness” of the world.All bodies, not merely “human” bodies, come to matter through the world’s iterative intra-activity—its performativity. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.824: Theories that focus exclusively on the materialization of “human” bodies miss the crucial point that the very practices by which the differential boundaries of the “human” and the “nonhuman” are drawn are always already implicated in particular materializations. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.824: Agential intra-actions are causal enactments. Recall that an agential cut effects a local separability of different “component parts” of the phenomenon, one of which (“the cause”) expresses itself in effecting and marking the other (“the effect”) — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.824: Either way, what is important about causal intraactions is the fact that marks are left on bodies. Objectivity means being accountable to marks on bodies. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.825: On the other hand, if there is no preexistent nature, then it behooves those who advocate such a theory to explain how it is that culture can materially produce that from which it is allegedly ontologically distinct, namely nature. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

  • p.825: blue: check out and clarify — Written 25 Jun 2018

p.825: Agential separability presents an alternative to these unsatisfactory options.31 It postulates a sense of “exteriority within,” one that rejects the previous geometries and opens up a much larger space that is more appropriately thought of as a changing topology.32 — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.825: Agential separability presents an alternative to these unsatisfactory options.31 It postulates a sense of “exteriority within,” one that rejects the previous geometries and opens up a much larger space that is more appropriately thought of as a changing topology.32 — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.825: Geometry is concerned with shapes and sizes (this is true even of the non-Euclidean varieties, such as geometries built on curved surfaces like spheres rather than on flat planes), whereas topology investigates questions of connectivity and boundaries. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.826: Intra-actions always entail particular exclusions, and exclusions foreclose any possibility of determinism, providing the condition of an open future.35 Therefore, intra-actions are constraining but not determining. That is, intra-activity is neither a matter of strict determinism nor unconstrained freedom. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.826: A posthumanist formulation of performativity makes evident the importance of taking account of “human,” “nonhuman,” and “cyborgian” forms of agency (indeed all such material-discursive forms).  — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.827: Can we identify the limits and constraints, if not the grounds, of discourse-knowledge in its productivity? But despite its substance, in the end, according to many contemporary attempts at its salvation, it is not matter that reels in the unruliness of infinite possibilities; rather, it is the very existence of finitude that gets defined as matter. Caught once again looking at mirrors, it is either the face of transcendence or our own image. It is as if there are no alternative ways to conceptualize matter: the only options seem to be the na ̈ıvete ́ of empiricism or the same old narcissistic bedtime stories. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.828: On an agential realist account of technoscientific practices, the “knower” does not stand in a relation of absolute externality to the natural world being investigated—there is no such exterior observational point.36 — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.828: Others have made this point as well, e.g., Haraway 1991; Kirby 1997; Rouse 2002; and Bohr. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018

p.829: Onto-epistem-ology—the study of practices of knowing in being—is probably a better way to think about the kind of understandings that are needed to come to terms with how specific intra-actions matter. — Highlighted 25 Jun 2018



corridor: to reach, to orientate

Corridor: to reach/ to orientate

When is a site not a site?

When there is nothing on it?

What constitutes “nothing”?

Something that was or never was?¹




What does it mean to live one’s life as orientated?²

The corridor is entered through a door facing east, after a few steps it turns 90 degrees right and follows on. A step up, a step down, it winds a little to the left, then right, another step (or two) then you find yourself in front of a fire-proof door.

It orientates: myself as I walk along (do I merely pretend to be purposeful right now); my colleagues who sit behind doors: some ajar, one wide open. Some closed. It is wrong to assume a closed door means an absence. It often doesn’t.

Does it facilitate orientation? I first said yes. Not merely my own self when moving but primarily others: I hear them. I realise that they hear me too. Even a whisper. I am no longer certain, but instead tempted to say that I am being orientated.

To ascertain orientation, I attempted an inbetween and tape a 4×4 print on the first step. I and other step across it numerous times. I, in turn, wait for the inbetween to be removed.

Site is best viewed from points in between.³



The key I receive is for a different door. A single narrow staircase leads to me now. Few people take it. Often noone. This simplifies the sound (within and without).






The ripple effect: The best way to know a site is to move out from it in varying radiuses. When the ripples subside into the surface, or into the depths, it fades.¹

Something takes its place when the site recedes. Something takes its place when I move not merely out but away.

If I maintain that Green is in relationship with Corridor (it is simply by means of Outside: take a door, walk down —as fast as you can, the turret (either) and exit. stop. Maybe your head spins a little if you did the descend right — and other Green with Green (the antagonist, the field (which merely pretends to be uncultured but on closer inspection has picnic benches and mowed paths).

What can I say about Corridor through other Green?



1 Lucy Lippard (2005) Around the Corner: a Photo Essay in: Burns, C. J., & Kahn, A. (eds). Site Matters: Design Concepts, Histories, and Strategies . New York and London: Routledge, pp. 1-18, p. 1.

2 Sara Ahmed (2006). QUEER PHENOMENOLOGY (pp. 1–235). Durham and London: Duke University Press, p. 1.

3 Carol Burns & Andrea Kahn (2005) Introduction in: Burns, C. J., & Kahn, A. (eds) Site Matters: Design Concepts, Histories, and Strategies (pp. 1–371). New York and London: Routledge, vii-xxix, p. xxiii.

Drawing Ambiguity (2015) Introduction

— this was one of the recommendations from the last tutorial and I have been reading the Introduction along with a couple of other chapters so far. The introduction stands out for me for a number of reasons, here are some of my excerpted notes on it (the page numbers do not refer to the printed book but a manuscript on

a. the ubiquity of drawing gestures: what in this is accidental, what purposeful, but in particular what is the status of a drawing: part working out, part worked out; part private, part public.

b. the relationship between drawing marks and writing

c. immediacy and mediation take place at once and rely on each other; similarly: it always involves bodily gestures (however these are mediated)

d. the emphasis of the production of knowledge in the process of drawing: of working things out, of seeking agency (see in relation to the gap between digital/analog, it also being a gap concerning agency)

e. the discussion of how this alters, shifts, remains in the context of networked images: the role of the screen as interface (and again: what is mediating, what is being mediated)


Horton, D. (2015). Drawing Ambiguity: Introduction. In R. Marshall & P. Sawdon (Eds.), Drawing Ambiguity (IB Taurus Press, pp. 1–11). London.

Notes: p.2: The very fact that we all draw opens up another ambiguous space, that between the private and the public; between the intimate actions of reflection and ‘working out’ and the calculated production of images made to be seen. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.2: And even when drawings are made to be seen, there can be something about the directness and private nature of the act of drawing that allows artists to give free reign to fantasy, or give vent to unspoken desires, or simply to reveal other more innocent or mundane thought processes, that makes us feel that we are looking over their shoulders, privy to their intimate thoughts. We have been invited in to another’s world, given room to make our own sense of what is going on in it. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p. 2: And in another twist of the ambiguous relationship between language and the visual, when the articulation or expression takes place through writing, we are back to drawing again – because, in the form of drawing we call writing, words are never independent of gesture.2”

Footnote 2: At least since synthetic cubism introduced fragments of type into the picture plane, it has been commonplace for written language to function as a compositional element in art works. By the 1960’s it was not uncommon for language to be the subject matter of art, and indeed its matter – the material from which it might solely be made. Language as art had to wait for the twentieth century, but as drawing it is as old as the earliest writing. To write by hand is, unavoidably, to draw. The conceptual separation between the two grows with our familiarity with any given written language, but all we have all experienced ‘drawing’ writing when we first learn to lay down the strokes of an unfamiliar form, whether as a child first writing ‘a, b, c’, or, for example, as an unfamiliar adult learning to write Arabic or Chinese characters. Capturing or reproducing a letter-form with a line is arguably no different to capturing or reproducing any other form with a line. The arbitrary connection between the shape of a line and a vocal sound is culturally defined and becomes fixed only up to a point, leaving room for considerable variations in spelling and pronunciation. Similarly, the meaning we attach to other kinds of line that function for their makers (the ‘drawers’ of the lines) as approximations of their visual experiences of the world around them (or even as attempts to create new visual experiences in the world) leave an ambiguous space in which new meanings are made.

>> this also speaks and relates back to Kittler’s argument how the typewriter radically alter our understanding of writing as set in blocks rather than in handwritten form.

p.3: My focus here is on a viewer’s interpretation of, for example, a drawing, and the meaning that might be made of its relation to the wider world — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.3: Another perspective might emphasise the reflexiveness or otherwise of the maker of the drawing in relation to her intention (or lack of one), and the extent to which the making is considered, planned or known. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

<< examining different perspectives and engagements with the drawing.

p.3: [Leszek] Kolakowski suggests that inconsistency is, ‘an awareness of the contradictions in this world’, and, ‘a consciously sustained reserve of uncertainty’.3 — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

<< this quote references similar Marxist arguments about being contradictory in a contradictory world (not sure: Benjamin, Adorno, Brecht?)

p.3: But by impelling us to interpret situations for ourselves, — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.4: encouraging us to grapple conceptually with ideas, systems and contexts, it can be intriguing and rewarding, allowing us a deeper and more personal relationship with the meaningsoffered by exactly those ideas and systems and their contexts. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.4: Drawing combines the effect of immediacy (in a reciprocal relation of hand and eye) with the fact of its mediation (the use of the hand, or its disembodied digital equivalent, to materialise an image). — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.4: What might it mean to draw in the Internet age? — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.4: Avant-garde impulses of the last century, such as fragmentation, collage and chance procedures, have been fused with the technologies of the present, resulting in an expanded field for twenty-first-century drawing. Not bound exclusively to the surface of a substrate, it continually morphs from the manual to the digitised, from printed page to web page, from studio and gallery to screen and street, from private to published, and from social space to virtual space. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.5: Whether in the digital context referred to already, or in its older and more obviously manual manifestations, drawing exists at an interface: the interface of an idea and its representation; of the hand and the trace of its action; and of the image and its viewer. This interface is a place with its own autonomy, its own ability to generate new results and consequences, essentially an area in which choices are made, not a simple and transparent site, but a fertile nexus, ripe with ambiguities. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

<< that is where the drawing is productive; it is also open, vulnerable. What questions does this raise for the idea of ‘success’? what is the role of experimentation, rejection, refinement?

p.6: The idea that the window is transparent but passive (you merely need to look through it to see the information contained in the space behind it), whereas the door is opaque and requires you to be active (it conceals the information in the space behind it until you open the door to access it), is really useful for understanding those differences. The idea of the screen adds another dimension to this, perhaps, through its double meaning involving both visibility and invisibility – a screen is a thing behind which something might be concealed, but also a thing that you can project something onto. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

From the DIC essay on public/private, here Dewdney (2012) on the role of the TV screen:

For Dewdney (2012, 100) the key change of the status of the networked photographic image lies in its relationship to the TV monitor, notably,‘[u]p until this moment the ontology of photography, largely taken to be discrete and technical, has been the guarantor of the coherence of the individual subject, whilst the ontology of television has been the guarantor of the coherence of the existence of public space. It is the distinction between public and private, interior and exterior, held in place by the general representational system, which is now in a crisis produced by networked behaviours, globalized modes of production and transcultural subjects.’If the biggest change lies in the circulation of images and less so its modes of production, we need to ask how such anticipated circulation along re-configured public/private boundaries already impacts on the intent and procedures of conceptualising images (and thus becomes effective long before the image then circulates). I will do so by outlining a series of implications as they relate to the relational triangle of the networked image.

p.6: The relationship between the visual and conceptual interface of the screen (the interface of eye and mind with the visual information projected on it and the digital data hidden behind it) and the physical or manual interface of the keyboard and mouse or the touch-screen (the interface of the body with the mechanical manipulation required to activate and access digital information) demonstrates that the body is always central to the process  — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.6: sfumato was one of the four canonical drawing and painting modes of the Renaissance (the other three being cangiante, chiaroscuro and unione). Sfumato comes from the Italian sfumare, ‘to tone down’ or literally, ‘to evaporate like smoke’. — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.7: To return to the notion of the interface, further layers of ambiguity are uncovered if we reflect on the relationship between the surface on which these drawn marks are made and the succession of other surfaces that might in turn support it. Georges Perec reflects metaphorically on this in his Species of Spaces when he muses: I put a picture up on a wall. Then I forget there is a wall. … The wall is no longer what delimits and defines the place where I live, that which separates it from the other places where other people live. It is nothing more than a support for the picture. But I also forget the picture. I no longer look at it. I no longer know how to look at it. I have put the picture on the wall so as to forget there was a wall, but in forgetting the wall, I forget the picture too. There are pictures because there are walls. We have to be able to forget there are walls, and have found no better way to do that than pictures. Pictures efface walls. But walls kill pictures.8 — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

<< such excellent section about what Perec’s work can do in the context of what I am doing; also: in relation to interior spaces!

p.8: This blur, as a visual metaphor for ambiguity, is also central to the long history of argument about art and science — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

p.8: As all these examples suggest, looking at the role of ambiguity across different disciplines is therefore a way of considering the relationship between them. Meaning is seldom revealed explicitly — Highlighted 22 Jun 2018

Erika DeFreitass’s Mourning Gestures

— her work is about pre-mourning, anticipatory grief over loss (of her mother). she is a performance artist and ten years ago started to work with her mother as subject. one of the things she has done is the photograph of herself under a blanket sitting next to her mother on a sofa, she then proceeded to use clay to mould the gaps between their bodies, to make visible that separation…. while undecided how this works for me aesthetically i really like her use of exploration and gesture and how she moves across media.

loss was never at the fore of my mind over the assignment 1 work, the gap. it always stood for something more related, more connected, mysterious and rather tangible: it was an up, rather than a low, for which it stood.

“In the past our bodies had become so present,” DeFreitas says of her previous work with her mother, “and with this new work [at Y+] I was really interested in making that which isn’t present, present.” Arranged around the gallery is the aura appeared a few minutes before(2018), a series of clay molds of the negative space between her own body and her mother’s. The sculptures themselves look like bone, with some parts smooth and others rugged, as if aged. The negative space between bodies is turned into an object, marking time and occupying space. Here, an absence becomes a presence.

Over 10 years earlier, right there, between here and over there (2007) took on a very different approach to these molds. Rather than enveloping her mother to eliminate the negative space between them as she has done in the photo series, DeFreitas chose instead to solidify this irrevocable gap. Created while sitting next to each other, the pieces of clay were placed in the middle of different parts of their bodies, such as their limbs, and subsequently shaped to contour the area between them. When made physical, the gap invited the audience to witness the shape of the bond she shares with her mother. This tactile approach to memorialization imparts that, no matter how close one is to another person, there will always remain a physical separation.

Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (gaps in translation)

But what we take for our sense perception has to be fabricated first. The domination and the connection of technical media presuppose a particular kind of coincidence, in Lacan’s terms: something had to stop not writing itself. Long before the electrification of the media, that is, even before their electronic end, there were modest, merely mechanical apparatuses. Those apparatuses could neither amplify nor transmit, but they could still store data for our sense perception: there was the silent movie for sights and Edison’s phonograph for sounds.
(Note that Edison’s apparatus-in contrast to Berliner’s later gramophone disk could also be used for the recording of sound.)

— I have been reading Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter for the past couple of months, following Doug’s recommendation of it for my conceptual background to the Gap; I found I struggle with the text more than with others and realise once I look around it that it was an original publication in German, translated into English. The text sits ajar, besides, or perhaps: it hovers, in a way that trips me up. I have a sense that some of the register did go amiss in the translation? I am having a similar sensation when reading Ranciere’s Proletarian Nights and again, I feel there is something I am not getting. The English text is missing an element, shaved off by the translation, it leave the resonance of a gap still but not enough to reassemble. I am quite tempted to order the original German too to read alongside to get a sense of what is going on.

Here an earlier translation of part of the book for October.


Definition ‘Generative Art’

This, from a 2016 residencies projects (in which Leah Mackin, whose Untitled (Weave) I talk about here, took part).

Powers and White chose to focus their project on generative art, an ideal medium to create conversation about the nature and meaning of art. The term refers to any art practice that employs the use of an autonomous system, including a computer algorithm or a machine. As such, generative art upends many of our usual expectations of art. Generative artists focus on the process, rather than the result, and the artist’s role is to create a system that can generate art spontaneously over time. As White describes it, generative art, “doesn’t look a certain way, it’s not made with particular material. It’s more about an open-ended question: What happens when you give over part of the control to a system?”

As Powers notes, the entire framework of 2×3 could be seen as a generative arts project. Metaphorically, the exhibition itself is the “system” he and White are employing, with the control given to the artists, who have no restrictions or requirements imposed on their work. However, strictly speaking, the system at play in 2×3 is the photocopier and the artists will have an opportunity to explore and develop art using this system during the course of their mini-residencies. Artists involved in the generative art movement have been using photocopiers in their work since the movement’s inception, most notably Sonia Landy Sheridan, who founded the Generative Systems program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970.



I think Mackin’s projects are going to be very useful to understand where the autonomous system resides and what roles a human has in this.

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.

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