PhD Studio Intensive

The PhD Studio Intensive ran for a whole week, between 14-18 November 2016. Situated in a large shared space (just off of the main sculpture studio), participants were encouraged to work intensively to explore their own areas of practice, but within the context of a collective environ.

Led by Ian Dawson and Sunil Manghani, who themselves were collaborating in making sculptural works, the intensive week brought together a number of our practice-based researchers: Cheng-Chu Weng, Lucy Woollett, Tessa Atton, Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, Eria Nsubuga, Rebeca Font, Elham Soleimani Bavani, Sarvenaz Sohrabi, Yang Mei, Jane Birkin, Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jonty Lees. The areas of practice spanned widely, including graphics, installation, photography, painting, drawing sculpture, mixed media and social art practices. The studio was also visited by Gordon Hon, Victor Burgin, Daniel Cid, Jussi Parikka and Ryan Bishop over the course of the week, adding to the discursive and makerly dialogues that ran throughout.

The underlying approach to the workshop and the aim of bringing fellow practitioners together for a full week was to echo the Triangle Workshops set up by Anthony Caro and Robert Loder back in the early 1980s, which led to projects and partnerships in over 40 countries worldwide. It all began with an artists’ workshop in Upstate New York, in 1982, which brought together around 25 emerging and mid-career artists from the US, Canada and UK. They spent two weeks making work. In placing emphasis on the process of making work, rather than the product, the workshop provided time and space to explore new, independent work informed by the exchange of ideas and the sharing of knowledge and skills.

 

Comments from members of the group:

‘I enjoyed the Studio Intensive Week so much… I have returned full of¬†enthusiasm, energy and a thousand ideas inside my head. […]¬†I took with me, Eria’s feelings (the conversations I had with him about¬†politics and his country), Yang’s brushwork (and her calm), Elham’s line, the shadows¬†of Cheng-Chu, the invisible presence in Jane’s photos, Tess’s tenacity (and her¬†immense kindness), and an unforgettable presentation and discussion of my work¬†with everyone. I take all the comments and thoughts of that moment with me’ – Rebeca Font

‘I still keep thinking on the conversations and shared experiences that took place. It is very interesting to cohabit a space while being involved in practice-based work. Space becomes electrical somehow, with lots of interferences and thoughts sparking all around. Making practice public also exposes both bodies and ideas in a very different way, and in this sense I particularly enjoyed knowing you all in this non-seminar type of situation’ – Abelardo Gil-Fournier

‘…the Studio Week was very useful as it gave us the chance not only to create art but also to witness the creation of other art objects/projects by other artists. [It was a]¬†week to learn/create art, explore new techniques and materials and have interesting and inspiring dialogues with other artists’ – Elham Soleimani Bavani

‘Working with different researchers¬†from different cultures is really very interesting. We create our works with different themes. Because of our different cultures and backgrounds, we experience a¬†fusion and collision of ideas’ – Yang Mei

‘Time, space and other artists ‚Äď three luxuries that are rarely available concurrently ‚Äď were offered to us freely for a week. I greedily optimised this opportunity by turning a photographic negative into an installation and by working with other artists on different aspects of my larger project, all the while building relationships with the interesting and diverse group I am fortunate enough to be part of. An excellent week’ – Tessa Atton

‘I was quite uncertain at first about how to go forward with this kind of space. I was greatly inspired by the space and how everybody went around ‘conquering it’. I think Rebeca literally did that! And the Rotunda wacky race was great. Thanks Lucy and Noriko, and for the wonderful portrait Lucy. I enjoyed the work of everyone in the workshop even if i have not mentioned names.¬†A big thank-you to Ian for the great hand of support and for the space.¬† I hope to work in it again.¬†Thanks Sunil for leading by example and being part of the whole experience. I was inspired by that’ – Eria Nsubuga

It was the first time to see people’s working process rather than seeing the result of work. While we might have been slightly nervous working with each other, through sharing the studio space any apprehension seemed to disappear. Moreover, through giving each other support and feedback, a sense of learning from each other could be seen in this context, similar to the spirit to the former accounts of Black Mountain College. РCheng-Chu Weng

‘The studio week great¬†opportunity to push things forward in the practice¬†realm. Be it by creating work and projects through material, performative or dialogical processes. It was a great catalyst for discussion on socially engaged practice¬†for Noriko using the context of the school’s very own Brutalist Rotunda. An inside, outside space which will become the focus of further enquiries. Both past and present PhDs, Bevis and Jonty joined in and contributed to the conversation. I also spent some time painting Practice Portraits of Artists in process either in the act of making, thinking or talking about work. Thanks, ¬†It was great to work with everyone and get a dialogue going on about our practice’ – Lucy Woollett

Plastic Surgery

3D printing is now commonplace, and frequently referred to in popular discourse. Controversies arise with the 3D printing of illegal items, such as a working model of a gun, or utopian visions unfold with ideas of 3D printing buildings and aircraft. It is also the case that 3D printing is now increasingly affordable and accessible. However, unless you have had first hand experience of the production of 3D printing there remain many questions and quandaries. The second of the Re: Making seminars, under the title of¬†Plastic Surgery, sought to address this knowledge gap. The two day seminar was primarily led by Ian Dawson (who has many years of experience as a sculptor) and Chris Carter (who regularly teaches many sculptural techniques, including the use of 3D printing). But it was also a collaboration with Sunil Manghani, who introduced the two days and offered a specific ‘prompt’, bringing in plastic toys of¬†Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue.

The choice of these two figures was on the one hand simply for their associations as icons of ‚Äėplastic pop‚Äô. Manghani began by discussing notions of plasticity as it is used in the arts. The term ‘plastic arts’ is perhaps less used now. It refers of course to 3D¬†art, typically as sculpture or bas-relief, that is characterised by three dimensional modelling. However, as a plural term, it was often used to refer also to¬†visual art (as painting, sculpture, or film), and especially as a means to distinguish from ‘written’ art forms (as poetry or music). However, the relationship of plasticity and writing was asserted in the seminar through reference to Roland Barthes’ classic text Mythologies. Originally published in 1957, the book offers short essays on the newly emerging consumer culture, which, postwar, is beginning to grow rapidly, and not least due to new,¬†modernist technologies and processes including plastic. Indeed, one of the entry by Barthes is prompted by a plastics exhibition fair.

Despite having names of Greek shepherds (Polystyrene, Polyvinyl, Polyethylene), plastic ‚Ķ is in essence the stuff of alchemy. [‚Ķ] more than a substance, plastic is the very idea of its infinite transformation; as its everyday name indicates, it is ubiquity made visible. And it is this, in fact, which makes it a miraculous substance: a miracle is always a sudden transformation of nature. Plastic remains impregnated throughout with this wonder: it is less a thing than the trace of movement. [‚Ķ] In the hierarchy of the major poetic substances, it figures as a disgraced material ‚Ķ it embodies none of the genuine produce of the mineral world: foam, fibres, strata. It is a ‘shaped’ substance: whatever its final state, plastic keeps a flocculent appearance, something opaque, creamy and curdled, something powerless ever to achieve the triumphant smoothness of Nature. But what best reveals it for what it is is the sound it gives, at one hallow and flat; its noise is its undoing, as are its colours, for it seems capable of retaining only the most chemical-looking ones. [‚Ķ] Plastic is wholly swallowed up in the fact of being used: ultimately, objects will be invented for the sole pleasure of using them. The hierarchy of substances is abolished: a single one replaces them all: the whole world¬†can¬†be plasticised, and even life itself since, we are told, they are beginning to make plastic aortas. (Roland Barthes, ‘Plastic’ in¬†Mythologies).

It is not just the emergence of¬†plastic as a new material technology that is significant. Mythologies is a key text for the emergence and popularity of Semiology, or the science of the sign. Barthes’ innovation is to lift a concept related to language and linguistic and apply it not only to literature, but also popular culture. Everything is a ‘myth’ and ‘sign’ according to Barthes. As a cultural theory, semiotics, and later the notion of the Text (and intertextuality) thus opens up a whole new ‘plasticity’ of ‘reading’ culture and making meaning within it.

The choice of Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue is undoubtedly a playful one, but of course connects immediately with the both the ‘trace of movement’ and the hallow and the flat that Barthes refers to with plastic. Jackson was certainly much discussed for this ‘plastic surgery’ (including of course the controversial¬†debate about his skin tone). However, also, his music offers a means for his body to movement in ways that were not seen before (at least not in popular forms). His mooonwalking is the most obvious example, but more generally, his body is a highly fluid and yet sharp ‘medium’ through which he performed. As part of the seminar the video for his Smooth Criminal was screened, which includes a dramatic sequence in which he appears to lean forward beyond the realms of ordinary physics. The plastic model used for the seminar represents Michael Jackson from this video, and even comes complete with various re-attachable hands and feet and a ‘shadow’ stand that allows the figure to lean impossibly forward. The hard plastic of the figure offers a precision rendering of Jackson from his video, which in turn leant itself well to its reproduction through 3D scanning and clay moulding.

By contrast, a¬†more rubbery doll of Kylie Minogue provided a fairly poor reproduction of her image. Which, in this case, was meant to recall her look c.2001, much associated with her worldwide¬†hit ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head‘. The music critic Paul Morley has written a whole book around¬†this video, Words and Music, which begins by making a bold connection between Minogue and Alvin Lucier’s 1969 work ‘I’m Sitting in a Room‘. Morley fascination with Kylie is of a virtual and near-alien creature. In¬†¬†‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, she drives effortlessly towards¬†a Ballardian cityscape, the epitome of postmodern pop. During the seminar, a connection was also made to Allen Jones’ pop art, and particularly some of his drawings which develop his play of both bodies and clothes (and genders). Kylie Minogue perhaps represents the other side of digital pop music, with Michael Jackson representing last days of analogue music making. They become intro and outro of form of pop music that is ‘perfected’ by the late 1990s, to the point of sounding hallow and flat. ¬†An additional reason for the reference to Kylie Minogue came through Manghani’s drawing that was originally exhibited at the Practices of Research exhibition, and which was directly related to an entry he contributed to a¬†book reimagining Roland Barthes‚Äô¬†Mythologies (see more).¬†Thus, taken together, the kitsch dolls of Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue were adopted as ‚Äėmodels‚Äô to explore simultaneously both physical 3D rendering processes and conceptual understandings of plasticity as evoked by the fine arts and cultural critique.

As can be seen with the images included in this post, the seminar worked through a series of different techniques. It began with recording the figures through photographic and digital means for processing in 3D printing softwares. This was a lengthy process, but requiring relatively straightforward and even imprecise means to gain ‘data’ for the softwares to crunch. There is certainly an element of ‘blackbox’ as to how the softwares treat the various inputs to render a three-dimensional figure. However, the process of looking carefully at the models, experimenting with the cameras, lighting and angles prompted lots of discussion and speculation. Working with a sculptor, it was also possibly to think way beyond the narratives that can be played with the two iconic figures and rather consider material processes. It was soon agreed that we need not only to experiment with 3D digital technologies, but also more traditional clay and plastic moulding apparatus. Two very prominent ‘outcomes’ of the seminar were as follows:

an ability to ‘think’ through process and material. Ian Dawson’s insights into the various processes and possibilities soon eclipsed the initial theoretical consideration of the figures. While their was certainly a confluence of ideas, the need to keep making – to operate through iteration, as a means of¬†critical consideration – meant that the figures (and the processes we applied to them) became the¬†real force within our collaborative thinking. It became¬†necessary to try out different techniques and to have the opportunity to bring the various result together as quickly as possibly, which in turn¬†prompted further ideas. The speed with which you can mock-up objects through 3D printing is of course a boon to the sculptor’s methodology.

a material consistency of time and space, or even time-space. From an intuitive way of turning the figures around in your hand to wonder about them, it soon becomes apparent how all of the various techniques for re-making and testing¬†these figures operate through the means of rotation. The video at the top of this post shows the Kylie figure held (on the left) in the rotational moulder, which is a metal set of frames to allow rotation on all axis. On the right, she is shown rendered through 3D software, which again immediately provides the means to rotate in all directions. When a scan is first placed in the software there is no reverse to the image. We are familiar with a sheet of paper having both a front and back. In 3D software the image scan begins with no reverse. As you spin the object it simply disappears. In order to prepare for 3D printing it is necessarily build up the reverse. In a similar way when a mould is placed in the rotating metal frames the ‘object’ has no surface, it is merely outlines by the mould. Liquid plastic is poured in and rotated to gain a even coating, which then effectively gives the object its outside and inside. While all very simple to comprehend the two days of the seminar repeatedly foregrounded this principle and its consistency through many different processes.

 

 

Return to Re: Making

Writing as Making

For a final seminar of the autumn semester 2015, Writing as Making, we gathered for two days to work as a community of writers. Picking up from the Practices of Research exhibition that was held in 2014, which presented work of 16 PhD students and two members of staff, the idea for this seminar was again to acknowledge the diversity of research practices but also the fact that a written component must be submitted for all examined research, whether practice-based or not. As the rationale for Practices of Research put it:

Studio-based researchers in art and design work alongside those engaged in humanities and social science research, covering areas of art history, critical theory and curatorial practice, as well as the management and marketing of advertising, design, media, fashion, textiles and luxury branding. All researchers at the School are engaged in the critical making of new knowledge: each moving in and out of complex and disciplined modes of activity. Whether it is reading, writing, looking, making, coding, speaking, recording, and much else besides, each are forms of imaginative and critical engagement, developed and extended within the context of a collaborative and inter-disciplinary research community.

As a form of writing retreat, the primary aim of Writing as Making was to provide dedicated time to write, but also to share in the act of writing, and as such to reflect critically on various strategies. There were three main interventions. Firstly, all participants were asked to consider how at sentence level they pursue a form of critical writing. A simple technique used in schools known as PEA or PEE (Point, Evidence, Analysis, or Explanation) was put before everyone, in effect as a provocation, to question how both arguments and analysis are drawn out from the materials we are citing and synthesising. Like the writing through a stick of rock, are the points we wish to make working their way through each and every sentence. Is there an underlying coherence to our work?

A second intervention was¬†a typewriter. This was placed in the room on its own desk, with all participants encourage to take ‘time-out’ from their own work to experiment with this now defunct tool for writing and printing. As Friedrich Kittler suggests, ‘[r]eading functions as hallucinating a meaning between letters and lines’, and as corollary¬†to which the medium through which we write effects how we think (or ‘hallucinate’). According to Kittler, when philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche turned to using the typewriter his¬†prose ‘changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style’. Part of the change in style reflects the practicalities of using the device. As Emden suggests,¬†Nietzsche found¬†using the typewriter ‘more difficult than the piano, and long sentences were not much of an option’. With Nietzsche’s eyesight failing, the ability to ‘feel’ his way through writing was appealing, but arguably¬†the technology then has a profound impact on the status and nature of his philosophising. As¬†Kittler writes:

Neitzsche’s reasons for purchasing a typewriter were very different from those of his colleagues who wrote for entertainment purposes, such as Twain, Lindau, Amytor, Hart, Nansen, and so on. They all counted on increased speed and textual mass production; the half-blind, by contrast, turned from philosophy to literature, from rereasing to a pure, blind, and intransitive act of writing.

Quite aside from any romance we might now associate with the typewriter – as a signifier of a golden age of modernist writing and criticism – the clatter of the machine proved too much for some of the seminar participants. While individuals became quite engrossed in typing, the thud thud of the device meant others buried themselves in their headphones to listen privately to music as they worked.

The ambivalence of the typewriter in the room (and the wild sheets of paper that came out of it) relates well to the writer, Walter Benjamin, who became the third intervention for the seminar. In his¬†One Way Street, published in 1928, Benjamin argues, in a section titled ‘Teaching Aid’, that the typewriter ‚Äėwill alienate the hand of the man of letters from the pen only when the precision of typographic forms has directly entered the conception of his books. One might suppose that new systems with more variable typefaces would then be needed. They will replace the pliancy of the hand with the innervation of commanding fingers.‚Äô However, it is in the section shortly after this, ‘Post No Bills’, that gave impetus for a collaborative¬†outcome of the seminar. In this section, Benjamin offers ‚ÄėThe Writer‚Äôs Technique in Thirteen Theses‚Äô. All participants were invited to contribute an entry for a new version, or re-making of this text. What emerged was a highly eclectic set of thoughts and missives. Of course, unlike the authoritative (even pompous) voice of single author, as in the case of Benjamin, the new text presents a much more heterogenous and fragmentary set of voices. It is also a much more immediate text, like a diary digest of the two day seminar marked out as¬†concrete poetry, and which in fact we did choose (against Benjamin’s wishes?) to display¬†as a bill poster for the Re: Making exhibition. Click on the image image to download a PDF version of the wall poster. As a document it¬†quickly reveals writing as practice, as a working and re-working of texts in pursuit of new thoughts, images and confluences

 

 

 

References

Benjamin, W (1997) One-Way Street, trans. by Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter. Verso.

Emden, C. (2005) Nietzsche On Language, Consciousness, And The Body. University of Illinois Press.

Kittler, F. A. (1999) Gramophone, Film, Typewriter trans. by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Standford University Press

 

Return to Re: Making

Re: Making

Re: Making
L4 Gallery, Southampton
13 February to 8 March, 2016

‚Äė‚Ķwhat of the artists, the makers, how do they make decisions? ‚Ķnow an artist is as likely to atomise or extrude or draw, print, wear or perform with objects as part of an adaptable practice. And since art has been transformed into aesthetic communication it is no longer traditions but messages that count‚Ķ‚Äô¬†– Ian Dawson,¬†Making Contemporary Sculpture, 2012, p.9

‚ÄėI don’t think it makes sense to untangle the picture (as material) from the image (as immaterial). [‚Ķ] Somehow we get snagged by a desire, an objet petit ‚Äėan‚Äô, to theorise the image as a singularity, rather than reimagining and enacting theory around its multiplicity.‚Äô¬†– Sunil Manghani, ‘Images: An Imaginary Problem’, 2011, p.228.

This exhibition documents three PhD seminars that each ran between 2-3 days¬†at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. Underlying Re:Making¬†is a consideration of what it means to make and re-make ideas, objects and processes. Each¬†seminar¬†centred around¬†key prompts or challenges for collaborative engagement, but without necessarily stipulating required outcomes. Instead the sessions were¬†intended as a open spaces to explore and experiment. Working together we can observe and draw upon the range of decisions we each seem to make intuitively as we approach the ‚Äėresearch‚Äô in hand.¬†In part¬†a response to Ian Dawson‚Äôs suggestion from a previous¬†seminar, the aim was to work together, and intensively, to question what it is we do and think when making, writing and researching.¬†Taken as a whole,¬†Re: Making asserts we might need to make before we think as much as we think before we make.

Prompts were provided to explore different modalities of making as follows:

  • Reading Room was the re-creation of an exhibition of artists‚Äô books that had originally shown in India. The artworks were brought into dialogue with the School‚Äôs own collection so reframing and re-tracing thoughts, beliefs and emotions within the boundaries of a book and the cultures in which they circulate. In this case a 3-day seminar ran between Wednesday 28 and Friday 30¬†October 2015, with the Private View of the¬†exhibition held in the evening of the final day. See more…
  • Plastic Surgery (held on¬†Tuesday 10 and¬†Wednesday 11 November 2015) took two icons of ‚Äėplastic pop‚Äô, Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue, as ‚Äėmodels‚Äô to explore simultaneously both physical 3D rendering processes and conceptual understandings of plasticity as evoked by the fine arts and cultural critique. Taken together, Re: Making asserts we might need to make before we think as much as we think before we make. See more…
  • Writing as Making was a study retreat for dedicated time to write, to share in the act of writing, and to reflect critically on various strategies. The seminar was held on¬†Wednesday 9 and¬†Thursday 10 December 2015.¬†One outcome was a re-making of Walter Benajmin‚Äôs ‚ÄėThe Writer‚Äôs Technique in Thirteen Theses‚Äô, which quickly reveals writing as practice, as a working and re-working of texts in pursuit of new thoughts, images and confluences. See more…

Of related interest, see also:

  • Drawing Together¬† – a¬†participatory outdoor drawing event, co-orangised by Cheng-Chu Weng and Sunil Manghani. The event was held on¬†Saturday 17 October 2015,¬†11am ‚Äď 1pm at the Discovery Centre, in Winchester and was part of the wider programming for¬†10 Days, Winchester‚Äôs¬†¬†biennial, interdisciplinary, arts festival.¬†Through the medium of chalk and shadows Drawing Together sought to bring people together in a shared act of drawing. Visitors to the Discovery Centre were¬†invited to draw together as a means to draw each other¬†together if only fleetingly, just as our shadows are mere fleeting images of ourselves.¬†See More‚Ķ
  • Practices of Research – as a precursor to the Re: Making seminars, a collaborative¬†exhibition,¬†Image-Text-Object: Practices of Research, was held at the L4 Gallery in early 2014. The exhibition presented the work of 16 PhD students and two members of staff from Winchester School of Art (WSA). Taken together the works offered a series of images, texts and objects, helping to think about different ways of seeing, thinking, writing and making. See More…

Drawing Together

Cheng-Chu Weng is a PhD candidate at Winchester School of Art, undertaking studio-based research concerned with shadows, the body and space. In this post she recounts her undertaking of an outdoor participatory drawing event, Drawing Together, which was part of 10 Days 2015 CHALK, Winchester’s biennial, interdisciplinary, arts festival.

Drawing Together¬†was devised as a¬†participatory outdoor drawing event. Co-orangised by Cheng-Chu Weng and Sunil Manghani, the event was held on¬†Saturday 17 October 2015,¬†11am ‚Äď 1pm at the Discovery Centre, in Winchester. The event was part of the wider programming for 10 Days, Winchester’s¬†¬†biennial, interdisciplinary, arts festival. The event was advertised as follows:

Through the medium of chalk and shadows Drawing Together brings people together in a shared act of drawing. Visitors to the Discovery Centre are invited to draw together as a means to draw ourselves together if only fleetingly, just as our shadows are mere fleeting images of ourselves. This act of drawing upon the ground of the city in which we live and work is intended to mark a temporary reflection of ourselves as individuals and as a community.

The theme of the biennale was ‘chalk’. Thus,¬†Drawing Together sought to¬†make explicit use of chalk as its¬†medium, along with shadows. The drawing of shadows, which are fleeting, ephemeral phenomena also relate to the ethereal mists of Winchester, borne of its chalk geology.

As an artist living in Winchester city, my aim was¬†to engage with local people, beyond my studio at the School. My fine art practice begins in painting, but has now developed through installation works. I explore phenomenological readings of vision as embodied space: How people look, feel, and experience not just things, but emotions and memories. The phenomenon of the shadow is central to my practice, as it evokes questions about how we define the boundaries of our bodies and identities. What, for example, do we claim to be inside and outside of an outline? In Drawing Together, my aim was to ¬†invite, demonstrate and direct people to mark out their shadows with chalk. This act of drawing upon the ‚Äėground‚Äô of the city itself in which we live was¬†intended to mark a temporary reflection of ourselves as individuals and as a community. (The plan was hold the event on the paved area immediately in front of the Centre’s entrance, but the weather was in fact quite poor, particularly the light levels on the day, which hampered the aim to draw shadows from natural light. We managed a short period outside, but in the main we had to move inside the Discovery Centre and work with artificial lighting).

Photograph: Ruby Chan

The process of engaging with local people through using chalks, lights and shadows prompted the action of tracing shadows. The following rubric was provided:

  1. Use chalk provided to trace the outline of the shadows of people around you as they form on the paved area outside of the Discovery Centre. Feel free to trace as many shadows as you like and do not worry about lines overlapping.
  2. Provide your name and address to the event organizers if you wish to receive a postcard of the finished work.
  3. Please feel free to post your own photos and videos of the drawing as it develops. Use hashtag #chalkshadows for Twitter and Instagram and/or post comments to the Facebook

Projects and artworks with a¬†social dimension at their core have become increasingly common. However, any social artwork reveals not just collaborative efforts, but also what it means to be individual within a group.¬†Drawing Together similarly played with the boundary between individual and collective. However, as a convenor of the project, what was particularly revealing was how the process of persuading¬†visitors to draw shadow and make marks is not an easy job. It requires a good deal of skill in communication. This was¬†a challenge for me. I am used to producing works individually, working in the studio environment which is tailored to making. In this environment there is a form of internal dialogue.¬†It is a¬†matter of¬†experiencing¬†objects as a form of¬†non-verbal communication.¬†Thus, aside from the event happening on the day, the underlying challenge to running a social community-orientated project – even one that on the surface seems very simple – is the lengthy process of organising and communicating with collaborators and the festival¬†organisers. As a maker, I realise this is equally a part of making the ‘work’. However,¬†it is really the¬†participants on the day who bring the work into being. Once people have been invited to act, the situation changes; everyone can become an artist, as befits Joseph Beuys‚Äô concept of Social sculpture. In this case, it was interesting to note, when comparing the two drawing surfaces, the pavement (outside of the Discovery Centre) and the boards (inside of the Discovery Centre), people found it much easier to be persuaded to draw on the pavement. There is a practical reason perhaps, since¬†they do not need to take off shoes and need not worry about making a mess. To mark a person‚Äôs shadow on the pavement is more straightforward, and may even draw upon¬†the participant‚Äôs memories of playing on the pavement, such as marking out hopscotch in a school playground etc.

The use of social media was suggested to participants, to allow the project to engage not just materially but also virtually. Images circulated on the day, and the final collaborative ‘drawing’ from the day was photographed and printed in a limited set of postcards (and sent out to all those who participated). However, the relationship between the participants, object (chalk) and surface or support (the ground, drawing boards) was the real ‘event’ of the project. Here we might think of Martin Heidegger’s concept of intentionality, the idea of the object within the subject intention, as Joel Smith explains: ‘Equipment is ready-to-hand, and this means that it is¬†ready to use,¬†handy, or¬†available. The readiness-to-hand of equipment is its manipulability in our dealings with it’ (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Drawing Together, in the end, was about the experience of the body – and indeed bodies – in using chalk as a means to trace our shadows. Ultimately this is an impossible task, but one we feel is nonetheless ‘ready to hand’. It was heartening to see people spent time to engage with the project. I am grateful to my collaborator, Sunil Manghani, and the Biennale organisers, Sophie and Jane, for¬†helping to¬†make Drawing Together happen. A big thanks also to Elham, Sarvenaz, Ruby and James for helping out on the¬†day.

See also Re: Making

 

Practices of Research

ITO_flyer

Image-Text-Object: Practices of Research
10 February – 16 March 2014
L4 Gallery, Southampton
Download Artists’ Statements [PDF]

The exhibition, Image-Text-Object: Practices of Research, was held at the L4 Gallery space in Hartley Library (University of Southampton). The exhibition presented the work of 16 PhD students and two members of staff from Winchester School of Art (WSA). Taken together the works offered a series of images, texts and objects, helping to think about different ways of seeing, thinking, writing and making. The School is dedicated to the exploration of diverse practices and creative research methods. Studio-based researchers in art and design work alongside those engaged in humanities and social science research, covering areas of art history, critical theory and curatorial practice, as well as the management and marketing of advertising, design, media, fashion, textiles and luxury branding. All researchers at the School are engaged in the critical making of new knowledge: each moving in and out of complex and disciplined modes of activity. Whether it is reading, writing, looking, making, coding, speaking, recording, and much else besides, each are forms of imaginative and critical engagement, developed and extended within the context of a collaborative and inter-disciplinary research community.

See also: Re: Making