Assignment 4: no | shadow | secrets

[this is the draft of the extended project which will be resolved as Assignment 5. As some of its content is still in process, I have sent a personal note directly to my tutor, which I will leave out here for the time being].

I am including the draft statement, a short summary on contextual influences, an outline of what I still see as work to be done, the reflection on the assessment criteria (see further down) as well as the following image files:

  • contact sheets for the currently considered full set of images
  • a series of full-size jpgs of both digital phone camera and MF analogue images
  • a couple of installation setups for how I see the work as being presented.

Contact sheets

(of the main section with image title; the two static sites – Whitworth Grasses and Partick Cross as layout suggestion):

A sample of printed images

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 Installation views (from eventual left to right: Partick Cross, Main section, Whitworth Grasses)


Draft statement

no | shadow | secrets (working title) presents as a sprawling, extending and expanding body of work of small-scale prints. It also is excessive: there is no space for all of the prints, so some remain, as a cache, to the side of it. It is indeterminate in a sense as it is installed on a wall space: the shapes and patterns of the prints can be recombined, leading to varied associations that the means of juxtaposition, proximity and distance between the various images make with each other. Nonetheless, the themes remain: it is about movement, about iteration and variation (maybe even about a Deleuzian repetition and difference), it is about an investigation of shadow shapes in various locations. Many images are of night-time movements: often on foot, along known urban routes, sometimes through car or train windows. The people that inform these images are referenced, none of them is visible (even though they may be present just outside the frame). Talking about the frame, the excessive abundance of no | shadow | secrets at the same time marks boundaries and edges: as subject matter, e.g. the roadworks along a long stretch of Oxford Road, but even more so of the photographic frame: with all its visibility, each image alludes simultaneously to what is left off, left out. The framing device and orientation of the environmental images, taken on both a digital phone as well as a medium format film camera, defy expectations of landscape vistas once these are rotated or cropped to a portrait orientation or indeed enframed by an egalitarian square (cf Fay Godwin). And still, and still: the (my) shadow remains, even if only moving through fleetingly; sometimes too, my feet.

This series is also attempting to translate experiences of online digital interactions (notably through a facebook feed and timeline, bounded to different privacy settings) into urban space. It traces and replicates its boundaries, its excess and abundance, its fleetingness, a number of transgressions, some disregard, some posing and posturing. Similarly, the production value of the images is on one level that of digital phone camera images, as jpgs often rather aggressively post-processed in camera which mingle with more considered, slower and carefully shot, selected and edited medium format analogue images.

Contextual influences:

Fay Godwin: square format for landscape photography
Vivian Sassen: UMBRA (shadows and book format with hiddne pockets); also interdisciplinary panel
Andy Warhol: Shadow series (notably those with diamond dust)
Ed Krasinski: Intervention in the Tate Liverpool show: a blue band linking disparate elements within a room; also: the shadows casts by mobiles
Tracy Emin’s My Bed
Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights
Calle, Goldin, Akerman as per Critical Essay

What is missing/ remains to be done:

  • decide on final set and post-process (notably MF images)
  • how to write about this? I would like to write a statement which takes the form of a short theory fiction piece (possibly moving along some of the images)
  • a screen print in 6×4 (possibly a simpler one than the shadows + movement blur in the one currently employed)
  • are there other forms of display/ installation? E.g., a book format, or a box?
  • elaborate the resonance of this vis-a-vis digital identities further, notably in relation to use of FB boundaries, publicness and privacy (but also: overwhelm, movement, non-linearity)

Reflection on Assessment criteria reflection

Demonstration of technical and visual skills (35%)

This is the most extensive and expansive body of work presented for this module so far. It developed over a series of months and started initially with fairly simple camera sketches and movement studies (phone camera). It developed from there as a continually expanding set of images and themes, revisited and refined with both the phone camera as well as then translated into MF analogue format. There are primarily two types of images: movement studies and stand-alone individually composed stills. The latter are in part part of small independent series (e.g. #aroseisaroseisaroseisarose; gallery shadows/ reflections, or from a series of winter lights decoration in the North German countryside); others are taken along familiar routes and refined over a series of walks and honing in on composition, the role of a variety of lights, and the presence of shadow shapes. The day-time images were devised after a study visit in an unknown location (Manchester, around the University) and then revisited with different camera and a more refined research agenda.

Quality of outcome (20%)

As with a set of analogue images that I developed alongside the Critical Essay (These Summer Images, a selection of which was presented to the OCA study group in August 2016), this project developed out of a practice of taking photos, reflecting and refining these over an extended period of time until a coherent theme and purpose for the project had become clear. In doing so, I am building both on my experience on pursuing visual interests around lens-based formats: notably the availability of a high quality camera phone and the ability to operate within the specific requirements of a MF analogue camera. Pursuing these two route at the same time allowed me to bridge digital and analogue in a form that I initially explored in the Critical Essay but also which is resonant of my exploration of online digital identities (moving online and offline with material posted and explored within various boundaries of a Facebook timeline). Choosing the presentation format as a wall full of small scale prints that meander, conjoin and develop off of each other is a format that chimes well for these concerns: expansiveness, excess, cheap print (as in posting small size images on FB, often to be viewed on handheld devices). The forms in which I want to discuss the content of the project are still in draft form (and, due to the nature of the project) also subject to some form of veiling or boundary drawing. I hope to resolve these for the final form of the project.

Demonstration of creativity (25%)

The working process of creating and reflecting and refining a large series of work required a systematic going back and forth between materials as well as also trusting in my ability to do so, not to lose a sense of overview or purpose as well as being able to select the most successful images. That these work in a variety of groupings within the large set speaks to me to the success of that approach; the format of the images supports this and while I am proposing the main form of presentation to be a wall installation, I have given some initial thought to other formats and would like to explore these further still for the second part of the project

Context (20%)

Different to Assignment 1, this assignment is largely built out of the material that I was collecting and its subsequent reflection, refinement and repositioning. The sources that inspired me to pursue and explore (as well as dismiss, notably the angle on secrets) the emerging themes and their refinement are varied across the visual arts and constitute in my mind a strong and successful frame of reference for this project while noone dominates the work in such a way that this is a work in the spirit of artist x, or similar. I am aware that my blog has not reflected a large part of the exercises for this assignment and while I have explored the themes (notably Foucault’s work on the Panopticon but also his work on sexuality; and its relationship to more psychoanalytical work on desire; and the shaping of these by algorithms), these haven’t been written up yet.

Mark Wallinger Mark (Fruitmarket Gallery)

These are my notes from the OCA study visit to the exhibition (there is also a second site, DCA where more of his id paintings are shown, I will visit it this coming Monday, and will add the notes to this post)

  • automatic drawing, working simultaneously or, as per exhibition notes: one hand copies the other (one a presentation, the other a representation)
  • the effect of narrow constraints on a series: both I paintings and Id paitings are black acrylic on canvas, the former consisting of various forms/ type in which the letter ‘I’ can be written; the latter the same process throughout
    >> working in series, working fast, exploring what is in it
  • the I paintings as self portrait but very effectively questioning the I of the viewer: this is not about Wallinger but about the audience (relationship author/subject/viewer)
  • the I paintings as a transitional route that leads to the Id paintings as a fully resolved form
  • the scale of the Id paintings is twice his height (the canvas flipped round to paint the other half) and extends to his arm width; the I paintings are also related to his body height (I think the large ones are his body height).
  • Sleeper (2004): encaged, dangerous, lonely, filmed and viewed from the outside. It took him a few years to negotiate access to the Neue Nationalgallerie; he was living in Berlin at the time and felt pretty isolated. Note also: the bear as city symbol of marketing and image campaigns; sleeper as not activated terrorist cell.
  • I was and are really taken with the sense of quite and persisten interrogation and questioning in his work: the id paintings are stunning and when placed next to Yves Klein’s Anthropometry really exposes so much further the misogyny of the latter, while at the same time allow us to delve quite deep into sense of self, the subconscious and processes and actions in which these are constituted through the body and movement.

I am Innocent (2010) [wordpress doesn’t allow the upload of my own video, but here is another one):

  • really liking this for the effect of surface/ front only: the image is mirrored but with each rotation I expect to be able to see ‘behind’, that expectation is refuted every single time
  • he stares and stares
  • again, a title which is literally true (this is Velazquez’ painting of Pope Innocent) and probably a lie, given the subversiveness of the original painting and its animated copy.


According to Mark, the chair and vanishing point installation not only features chairs that my grandparents had, it also works, when you walk around, as a rather stunning refocusing of lines of sight (and power?) > it became something entirely different when I stood underneath the vanishing point, looking across the many varied chairs.

I will need to find out more about Orrery, a four-channel video installation of an oak tree across the seasons.

A4: site 1 trial sets

I have started to narrow down my selection for the assignment sets.

I find I am fairly slow working through this material, and for the past 10 days I have not looked at the images but instead worked with my notes, some other textual materials and begun to settle on ways in which text (what form? what register? what content) can accompany this material in its current form. I found this way of working was useful, even though it slowed me down beyond my current submission date.

So, tonight, I returned to the Lightroom sets and begun working through it. While there is a vast amount of source images, I don’t necessarily anticipate the various segments to include a large number each.

So, this is the site which chronologically started the series: Partick Cross and observations of my (divergent) shadows while waiting for the traffic light. This led to a series of movement studies (both in video and burst mode).

The boundedness on a sheet is arbitrary for this blog post: I see them sitting on a wall (and leading on and out of the other segments).

This is a selection of the images, in slightly different arrangments:

[I am conscious that my discussion of this project is rather piecemeal, I will likely have to go back to re-articulate, combine some of the research stage posts, yet for the time being it seems fitting to me]

Partick x trial sheet 1
Partick Cross arrangement 1
Partick x trial sheet 2
Partick Cross arrangement 2

Shadows in screenprint

I now went and did the introduction to screenprinting at the Edinburgh’s print studio again. I did this several years ago and then used the workshop for several months. From Warhol’s Shadows, I stuck with the idea of wanting to explore the extent to which I can work with direct markmaking (either drawn or otherwise) for aspects of this assignment.

I didn’t have much time to prepare a detailed image ahead of the course but brought several of the 6×4 prints along with me. The session involved printing a four layer print on A3 paper.

I initially tried to work with two small images (liking the pairing/triptychs on the wall) plus using a final layer to exceed the photograph’s frame (but couldn’t easily resolve the four later separation fast enough to get started on the printing).

I then developed this image fairly quickly from one of the gallery shadows of myself plus a blur from a car window in December.

I produced six prints; am pretty happy with a number of technical aspects: the ability to correctly plan for and adjust opacity and hue, decide on the layer order (first: green-blue, then reddish beige-grey, then dark black-green, then yellow-grey); to control the edges of each layer, align them effectively, attend to issues to do with registration and pulling the print correctly; using a scarf and photocopyer to create a photographic layer; and the overall image composition.

The scale is far wrong for what I would like to do: this needs to be small, much smaller, possibly really 10×15 cm.

It was interesting to explore the veiling, shadow, blur in one image — all are image elements that I am drawn to and employ a lot in my photography. Here, they are translated in rather different means in screenprint:

  • the crisp form of my body shape (as darkest value also takes on form of a shadow)
  • the reddish grey shadow (a pigment wash; I don’t think that edge works particularly well)
  • the overlaid blue-green darker shadow with a crisper edge (but possibly too rounded in outline)
  • the veiling top layer is both a shadow and a veil
  • the bottom element constitutes a blur and a see-through (I would have the dark top layer more open for another version, to allow for more blue to shine through).

Here is an annotated copy for the print:


I did initially want to pursue a yellow block as an excess layer (which was replaced by the textile veil in the final print), but didn’t have a sense this could be resolved for this print.


For the further development a couple of ideas:

  • add myself in the form of a screenprinted gallery shadow that repeats (in the same small size as the other photographs) in various places across the wall installation
  • produce a 2- or 3-image set on digital paper where one of the images is a screenprint added afterwards
  • can I add a screenprint layer to a photographic print? [I wanted to try this out over the weekend but didn’t have time] — they will easily print on top of fibre prints but I am unsure how they will react to coated paper
  • using a screenprint layer to exceeed the photographic frame, to add a monochrome (or at least: low chroma element).

I will go and start printing in the week after this and hopefully have a couple of images ready for the submission to my tutor at the end of that week.


Studio SMACK (2016) Paradise and Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (c1495-1505)


Seeing this animation first time a couple of weeks ago, the FB feed has reintroduced me, just as I had come back from my fielwork for taking analog images for the current assignment.

This time round, I looked more closely at Bosch’s original painting and some of its interpretations: earthly sin, the fall of (wo)man; notions of earthly pleasure or innocence, or in fact an ironic commentary on the Habsburg Empire’s pursuits of earthly delights.

What interests me in this?

  • the contemporary interpretation in format/medium as digital animation of one the key pieces in the Western art historical canon
  • the overflowing mess and abundance of the imagery, its animation and the inability to take it all in.
  • the theme of pleasure/desire

All these, in different forms are relevant to my current assignment work.

I ordered a recent publication on Bosch’s original work, mainly for the high quality reproductions of the details in the painting and a sense of current state of interpretation of this work which has been interpreted so vastly differently over time.

I will update this post with some more research details as they emerge.

Below a high resolution image of Bosch’s original work (source:



Viviane Sassen: UMBRA, The Shadow Panel Discussion

– Stephanie suggested this recent panel discussion, as part of Viviane Sassen’s current Umbra exhibition in Chicago in her comment on my first set of negatives.

“Viviane Sassen: UMBRA, The Shadow Panel discussion where experts from a variety of disciplines discussed ways in which the idea of the shadow figures into their professional practice. Mary Dougherty, Jungian psychoanalyst and art psychotherapist; Dr. Andrew Johnson, Vice President of Astronomy and Collections at the Adler Planetarium; Chicago-based author of Heartbreaker Maryse Meijer, and Myra Su, a narrative artist specializing in storytelling through puppetry and live theater, will join Sassen in a series of short presentations”

Watching it, I took a series of notes.

First off: I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary range of presenters, their varied styles and contributions. I thought that was really special in expanding on Sassen’s work (which I only looked up at a point throughout the discussion).

Some notes:

  • Myra Su’s demonstration of shadow puppetry, notably working with a projector. She contends that colours is also shadow; that the more opaque something is, the clearer it becomes.
  • Mary Dougherty, a Jungian analyst and art therapists, gives an excellent introduction into Jung’s concept of the shadow for personal development.
  • Andrew Johnson examines the role of shadow for solar eclipses
  • Maryse Meijer reads a children’s book about a school anxious first day at school and then a short story she wrote about a shadow house.

I have a strong sense that the psycho-dynamic aspect of shadow work is significant in this body of work.

I also sense that my upcoming venture into screenprinting will provide something further into the role of shadows: possibly the presentation on shadow puppetry and the role of colour in this will provide insight.

I have ordered Sassen’s Prestel edition of Umbra to explore this further. I am not overly familiar with her work, and while I am aware of a fair bit of her fashion photography, her more conceptual work is largely unknown to me. The Umbra series on her website is rather formal in utilising coloured perspex/glass, sand and her hands; but probably will present an interesting and very different aspect on the role of shadows. Hers are stark, strong, clearly delineated, occur in broad daylight. Mine are more transient, murky, hardly discernible on a nighttime. I think these distinctions will help me.

There is something in the interdisciplinarity of the panel that pulls me in considerably. I would almost like to provide such disparate aspects for this work: to draw in different elements and install them around a theme (rather than fully integrate).

Contextual FB discussions relating to Assignment 4

Facebook posts relating to this assignment which can sit in this blog’s public (amending as I go along).

A first outline as to some themes relating to online/offline; public/private for this project are in this previous post.

tonight’s discussion of public boundaries:
– Gesa, it looks like you’re unfolding and doing much more on important things on FB
– Hm… that is in part because you’re back in my close friends list, I had removed you for the past six months and you are now included again.
– Ah… okay….
An hour later:
– But, Gesa, something has changed nonetheless
– Okay then.

k. priceless…in so many dimensions…
Gesa Helms
Gesa Helmshahaha, you mean Mastercard would not be my friend here?
Gesa Helms
Gesa Helmsoh… i told him your comment re hair/dress too, so he wasn’t all wrong 😉
k. hahahahaa…i read it and if you don’t know who the OTHER is, it has so many layers…it’s like a crime scene…i would continue to read the book or play …
Gesa Helms
Gesa Helmshehehe… let me consider the crime then… good idea…

Here are some of the text fragments from the first third of Gilligan’s Birth of Pleasure that I am considering as coming into the #noshadows work.
I am not sure they will feature as actual texts in this but in some sense help me organise/select/focus the work.
They are still fairly sprawling. They also help me refocusing the notion of ‘secrets’ in this.
I remain very taken with her retelling of Cupid, Psyche and Pleasure; but my usual hesitation to work explicitly with art h…

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she told me about the pockets. how everyone was now afraid of what may be in those pockets. in their pockets. the pockets you may not quite know if they were there or not. and if they did exist, what would they conceal. what weapons would they hide. what hands would they keep warm. how would you know.

I am not quite sure what I titled this as: it was a room in cheap accommodation in north London at some point in Spring 2010. It was a single bedroom, shared bathrooms and very noisy heating pipes. I stayed for about a week there, the nearest tube was Mornington Crescent. In the kitchen, there were women from all over the world, many doing some kind of training course, many doing cheap work, many of them stayed far longer than that week.
The print is essentially a monotype, I scored cardboard, can’t quite remember how I did the yellow layer but it was similarly improvised, I pulled a single print of it only, the cardboard would have given me possibly another five before it would have come undone.
I will stay in the same beige hotel as I did a couple of months ago; somewhat reluctantly so, somewhat curious. It is close to the park, offers a single room where I can leave my camera gear, the hostel would have been similarly expensive for the night in question and added 50mins walk in either direction with gear.
And, then there is of course the part of me that is intensely curious why that room was rather weird the first time round. Now I have a few 6×6 exposures to test that out in more detail (all on Ektar, so it will produce highly saturated beiges).


Gesa Helms hahaha… of course these individual posts function very much like a digital shadow: they come, they go; they are not visible from many angles (in many feeds) but in others they are. So, as much as I dislike the limited depository function of my timeline (all the deletions; i generally search by the most unusual expression that I use for any post, which means I need to remember the phrasing I use for a post in the first place), the fleetingness is rather apt…