Der Grund (2) : revisions to Assignment 2

I had taken a series of additional photographs for this assignment back in Spring, mainly following the tutor advice on including other people, different locations; so, much of the revision then focused on different grounds, perspectives but also doing a series of photographs with me and my father (my father being the son of the photographer of the initial set of photographs that inspired this project).

There are two main proposed changes:

  1. the photographs and their sequencing
  2. the material outcome

 

The photographs and their sequencing

The initial project was realised as an online flipbook, here.

Early on I marked the following as changes: if in book form as it:

  • remove: spread 12-13, 14-15, 26-27.
  • retake: 25 (colour cast can’t be post-processed); also on bed!
    >> don’t want to retake it; reducing saturation (-30) works quite well.

<< this responds to the tutor advice of it being too repetitive and laboured in its current form.

Looking through the sequence again, I am even tempted to remove than the initially marked spreads.

The photographs I chose to take in addition are the following:

… I will need to print these and then work on the sequencing with the earlier photographs (both archival and those that I took)

The material outcome

Initially I was keen on having a luminous, back-lit outcome for this, hence the online flipbook. But looking back at it, that preference was mainly my own rather than one grounded in this actual project. For the final resolution of the project I have settled on an actual album, either just a small 6×4 album, or, more likely a slightly larger album which allows for utilising the negative space on the page to reposition some of the historical images with current ones.

I am currently experimenting with a simple shop-bought album for this (which in its ordinariness seems fitting, rather than a handbound one).

 

 

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exercise 4_3: a meme

 

exercise: Taking inspiration from an image or idea you’ve researched, create your own photographic response to an internet meme. This may be something original, or your own interpretation of an existing meme. It might be funny or profound, but it should make people want to look at it and share it.

 

Having used Facebook rather extensively as interface for my final assignments, I over time sought out various meme pages and explored some of the forms in which memes are generated, repeated, altered, and circulated.

— What follows is a fairly narrow selection of the memes that interest me and the sites that post them. In that, many of them are political, are at points offensive, and at other points targeting a rather particular audience (like Freud Quotes, Shit Academics Say or Zlazloj.zizek, which is Slavoj Zizek extensive experiments in social media form). The other type of memes I was interested in are those that are ironic takes on both memes and the wider context of YOLO (you only live ones), these are the inspirobot.me and Vapid Daily.

Politics, narcissism and social media practice

Zlazloj.zizek, Zizek’s page (and numerous other pages like I would prefer not to, Disturbing Books, Freud Quotes seem all fairly closely interconnected, often reposting each others posts, so for many of the memes, there is a iteration and redundancy in my feed, which reinforces, repeats, reminds).

Zizek in particular explores the edges of taste, the futility of love (which I take to be an attack on current strands of feminist politics around care, self-care and a renewed focus on social reproduction) and above all the scope for narcissism in social media form. These two are examples of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both reference popular films (It and Fifty Shades of Grey), depict key stills from these and insert Zizek as protagonist: as monstrous clown Pennywise (who is very much to be feared) and as the subject of Christian Grey’s unconventional desire. In both these scenes, the meme works because it requires an audience’s familiarity with the plot development, the actuality of appropriate fear vis-a-vis Pennywise and that Grey’s desires are of sexual domination (and having a female submissive partner). The first, Pennywise, meme, subverts the plotline by altering the text (in written, not spoken form), the second one does so by inserting a new still, of Zizek in bed, sitting proud in front of a picture of Stalin.

The joke? The dangers of communism as spectre and Zizek as controversial character.

Bottom Leftist Memes does something rather different. It is one of the few pages on FB that I have encountered that explicitly discusses (gay and submissive) sex and desire within a left anarchist political context. Its content features often the page admin’s own graphic drawings, besides some reposting, some other memes and some political commentary. The posts for some time feature a text description of the images which is thoughtful, hilarious and a tech commentary on the inability of FB to provide appropriate text captioning for its image (i.e. there is a commentary about accessibility contained in these.

I use an example which isn’t sexually explicit, for others, go and visit the page.

The post reads:

CW discussion of violence; poorly drawn Nazi symbolism]
What are you getting so worked up about
.
.
.
[ Image description: Drawings of a person wearing a red swastika armband and heiling; a person with a 1488 forehead tattoo; a sharply-dressed guy with a suit and tie and a Pepe the Frog pin; a person wearing a KKK hood; somebody waving a Kekistan flag; some kid wearing a Pepe mask and holding an anime girl body pillow; and a guy wearing a red baseball cap that I was too lazy to write MAGA on but you know that’s what it’s supposed to be. Text reads: “Hahaha don’t you feel silly? 6 out of these 7 “quote-unquote” “”””NAZIS”””” are only joking, and only one of them would actually beat you to death with a baseball bat in real life. Have fun guessing which one! ]

 

 

 

 

Vapid inspirations and artificial intelligence

Vapid Daily is a page that composes and circulates vapid inspirational quotes (not) on a daily basis.

I only see these occasionally in my feed, their overblown visuals and the trashy font type generally make me smile, the text often is painfully accurate. They are clearly carefully constructed as such.

Late June I came across a bot that is designed to provide inspirational quotes, inspirobot.me . I came across it as there as a fair bit of media coverage as to the nonsensical, often offensive nature of its inspirational quotes, of getting it wrong how a meme, an inspiration works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I generated a few quotes here and there, and over the past fortnight started to do so more systematically, with a friend setting a shared facebook album to collect (via screenshot a few of these). The album is called bat rum (once), a word play on bot romance, as the aspect of romance, desire and social interaction was one that initially interested me most. With some of the memes being so offensive and rude, I soon set up a second, more private album called bot romance (the m files), m standing for misogyny, morals and mother (?). My friend and I would generally share our finds via messenger, I would often upload them to be shared with her and my friends. A comment a few days ago pointed to the narcissist, individualised, neoliberal logic of many of the quotes, but also that our posting was needing a trigger warning: you are about to be hit on the head with some neoliberal inspirational sledgehammer. This exchange led me to the following as GIF (though the format is strictly an MP4, a video, but it consists of two images, one a myriad of inspirobot images, too small to be read, yet relentless, the other one a simple phone drawing about the need to be inspired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ironically, while each of the inspirobot memes gets some likes, noone has liked my meme so far 😮 — or: perhaps not ironically but fairly fittingly.

 

Office at Night (2) : material and possibly outcomes [A1 / office at night revisions]

This post updates on the revisions of Assignment 1: Office at Night.

[UPDATED 8 September 2017 with decision on final form, see end of this post]

I now concluded the second round of image making for the Office at Night.

The first one consisted of meeting a colleague in her office, us jointly taking images while discussing a series of questions over office, work, night, desire. I then developed the images (made on iphone and Minox 35 mm film camera) to form both the manual and digital montages of assignment 1.

The final submission of the assignment is here; the tutor report for it here.

In my first submission I was deliberate as to the provisional status of the images: while impermanence was a deliberate aspect of the manual montages, which were just temporarily arranged in my notebook, while working in the coffee shop, it nonetheless wasn’t a formal resolution for this assignment yet.

During the first part of the course I also experimented with my own bedroom/office as a workspace that exceeds its boundaries. These images formed project Project 1_2: through a digital lens.

The main point of critique of the tutor report concerned the aesthetic qualities of the images: they did not engage, arrest, invite to concern oneself more with them:

You practice is very well informed, contextually, but to be honest, I don’t find that the formal outcome of either these approaches actually have aesthetic qualities that match their intellectual underpinning. Forgive me if this sounds trite or pedestrian, but my view is that artwork – in all forms – is presented to be engaged with, and it needs to be aesthetically enticing to do so effectively. I think this is particularly the case with your ‘manual montages’ – I think one needs to always ask the frank question, of whether anyone else is actually going to want to engage with a piece of one’s work.

— as they originated in a fleeting process and formed a documented record, I didn’t mind this criticism too much and found it fair. It also, over the following 18 months led to much investigation, reflection as to what I consider the underpinnings of my artistic practice, what role what kind of aesthetic plays in this and how to work towards resolutions that address both the the conceptual concerns and a visual realisations that matches these.

My immediate line of thought for this was three-fold:

a. to produce a series of considered still set up far more formally, possibly photographed on film again (and pursuing a few months later the acquisition of a medium-format camera) to allow for a -reembedding back into a slowed down, quietened context.

b. to investigate whether the stills and montages could themselves become part of my main working process, i.e. become the material that constitutes (or: re-constitutes) a notebook. I conducted a series of first printing experiments in disassembled journals to see if this was feasible, but stopped at this point.

c. to engage my interview partner in examining and rearranging the earlier images together to then document this second part in photography again.

In Summer 2016 I sent a single-use camera to another colleague and invited her to document, (inspired by the short set of pointers that I already used for the first conversation) to record anything around the theme, while I would do something similar for my own office at night, again also on a 35mm camera (though not single use but with fairly high-quality lens and a 3200 ISO film).

We then met again (10 months later), in her office/ bedroom and looked at the images, talked about the process, any themes arising while setting up over the course of a couple of hours and with a tripod and the medium-format camera (Kodak Ektar 100, i.e. saturated slow film) a series of stills, some of these featuring ourselves also. I choose to work with available light for this and fairly slow shutter speeds to make use of the narrow DoF of the camera.

On the basis of this second process, I can now envisage a series of revisions for the initial assignment:

  1. the submission of a single A3 print that consists of the diptych in my own bedroom/ office at night1_2 My office triptych.jpg
  2.  a series of images that are referencing the different offices, in which this project has been located:
    Office at Night Angela single1_2 My office triptychDIC_A1_montage1-2Office at Night Angela Diptych 1Office at Night Angela Diptych 2
    2017_08_062017_09_022017_09_032017_09_08— the main question for this approach: single images? combined images for Office at Night (A), and my own office, plus the single digital montage for the original Office at Night (H)?
  3. an artist book in the form of a reassembled notebook, with some printed pages, some text, empty pages and a set of the original source images to invite the viewer/reader to perform their own manual montages in this? [no marquette of this yet, but will reinsert this]
    — what role do the more formal montages play in this notebook? e.g., do they form a cover or back image, are they included as a print also?
    — is there a book per office? i.e. like a potential series?
    — is there scope to turn this into multiples? [e.g. by photocopying, inkjet printing, risograph or indeed screenprinting?This is the type of notebook I use, it is stitched and I in the past already disassembled them and rebound in different forms. It is slightly too large for the pages to go through my inkjet printer but the thinness of the paper is as such not a problem for the printer.
    It also contains a pouch in the back, which could easily take a series of 6×4 prints.IMG_20170731_123912.jpg

 

Final decision on format

Following further discussion and reflection, I arrived at the decision to print single images, fairly large (such as 10×10, or above; though 10×10 is possibly the print size limit for assessment submission – which I will need to check). These will be the following six images:

[I need to upload the current diptych as two single images]

Jeff Wall (1979) Picture for Women [A1/ office at night revisions]

— one of the references for exploring further what is contained in the material that formed the first assignment.

As my tutor points out: it is a retaking of Edouard Manet’s (1982) A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and its complex viewpoints. The multiplicity of the gaze is the one that my tutor picked up from the digital montages of the initial submission.

The Courtauld website points towards a series of themes: the bar as site for drinking and meeting prostitutes, described by a contemporary as ‘umixed joy’. The sternness of the central figures expression does not match that description (and also sits at odds with the bustle visible in the mirror behind her. Also: we, as viewer, stand in the place of a man depicted solely in reflection. That the reflection of his face and her back is skewed, shifted too far to the right, is one of the points for discussion.

Jeff Wall’s remaking of the bar scene moves the setting into either a classroom, a dance studio or another, not quite defined, space. Again, we can assume there is a mirror, through which we see the whole scene. In the dead centre of it, a large format camera. A woman to our left, a man, identified as Wall himself to the right, looking at the woman (or, perhaps more precisely, her back). We see it is nighttime: the window front in the back shows a dark outside, overhead are several bare light bulbs. The woman stands still, seems to look at herself in reflection (or indeed at us?), Walls seems to be suspended in a walking movement, is he holding something in his hand?

It is a place of activity, foremost: that of the making of a photograph; i.e. it is the workplace of a photographer (Wall), and still, what else is going here? Is she model? As women at that time in such a space would be. Knowing the origin in Manet’s painting, I realise that I am asking myself too as to what the sexual relationship between the two are. Is there one? Is my wondering intended?

Campany, in the short video clip about the book he published on this single work also relates Wall’s work to Hitchcock’s voyeurism, and outlines the circumstance that this was a large-scale back-lit gallery installation, not a photograph as print. Also: a single work, not a series or a body of work.

[I have ordered the book and will take a closer read of this, as I realise that the Office at Night will remain an ongoing project beyond the remits of this module and assignment

 

Facebook as research as part of digital identities

This posts spells out the key themes of enquiry I pursued for the digital identities section of this module (i.e. Assignment 4 & 5).

How and for what do I use FB?

Over the almost two years that I have been using FB frequently, and the past 10 months during which it became an explicit research tool for the lines of connection and disconnection between private and public, between biography, confession and fiction, and between various forms of material, media, registers, my use has changed. In part, this was clearly also due to FB’s own changes, notably the integration and disintegration between FB and messenger.

Over that period also messenger, which until then as a DM interface that I generally wouldn’t pay attention to moved decisively to be my DM tool of choice: notably due to its easy integration of GIFs and sticker packs it allows for a form of communication that is quick and media-rich, SMS or Whatsapp moved to much less important roles than they had played in previous years. It also mirrored a change in who would be frequent contacts and the preferred platform between us. So, for all intents and purposes, when I talk about FB here, I will also include the messenger app.

In terms of my own posts, around 50% consists of photos or videos (the latter only perhaps 5% of these posts); 30% are posts that provide links/ repost materials or comment on these, 20% are original writing pieces of myself. The latter almost exclusively only address Close Friends; perhaps half of the image posts goes to all friends, the other to minus acquaintances (also called good friends, which reduces the cohort by c40%); I reckon the reposts have a similar distribution between all friends or minus acquaintances. The boundaries between these last two groups are changeable, only recently I moved a fair number of good friends to acquaintances; while prior to that most art contacts would become good friends, most older, more infrequent or academic contacts would remain acquaintances. In general, good friends are those that I have a form of fairly frequent contact with (either offline or through online interactions).

The remainder of this post consists of four sections:

a. a summary of FB posts
b. FB timeline as sketchbook
c. the role of boundaries and differentiated publics in facebook (the ways of transgressing)
d. anxiety of absence / fear of missing out

 

 

 

 

a. summary of posts

The first foray into the relevance of FB for this module, I set up a collection of posts from my timeline to give a sense of themes and formats of discussion, and how the materials that form the basis for A4 and A5 circulated through FB

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.

These are collected in this blog post here

currently: 19 Feb – 8 March (possibly some before, some after?); perhaps a total of 7-10 posts.

b. as sketchbook

the section of this post that i am writing last, and yet the most frequently employed use of a FB post for me: i take it to test out thoughts, ideas in a form that push them a couple of steps further from noting in my journal: i do not only type them up but submit them to a limited public. in this sense, my FB timeline, certainly the section in which i limit publicness to  minus acquaintances or even more so, to close friends friends, applies a form of discipline to test what holds up of my thoughts. so, in many ways, one of the most frequent FB uses of mine is actually revisiting my on timeline and re-reading, retracing earlier posts. i don’t tend to alter them, i also don’t tend to hide from the timeline these written posts (while i frequently remove older photos, which after that will only live in their respective albums). what i however often do is that i amend, add, qualify or take further thoughts in earlier posts by adding comments. so, quite a few posts have acquired comments only by myself.

as a sketchbook, the publicness often does not work so much in others commenting online but the post providing a reference point in a face-to-face conversation. about half the people in my close friends list are people i meet often, so, for them (and us) the posting means that there is a topic, a particular perspective to consider, to refer to, to discuss, to amend or alter.

FB is however severely limited in this purpose: it is difficult to export (exporting means losing all comments and all media links embedded in a post), its search function is rather limited (i need to remember a word within the post, even hashtags are not found consistently but only reference a selection of the set that has the hashtag applied).

besides text posts, i use the posting photos (and less videos) functions a lot: even more so, once i had decided that instagram wasn’t working too well for me. so, there are some days in which i rather extensively will map, trace, narrate what i will do and see. i remain ambiguous for whose purposes that is: to assure my own presence, movement to myself? or what in there is also to show off, to affirm, to confirm, and at points confuse as to what it is that i am up to?

c. the role of boundaries and differentiated publics in facebook (the ways of transgressing)

as posted to Close Friends on 9 December 2016:
[altered as to a further name change; alteration of the list of off-topic subjects]

FB circles, in/out groups, confidentiality and off-limit items:

I have in two contexts now discussed in more detail the boundaries of my using my FB timeline as an online sketchbook or notebook.
One discussion involved two who have seen and often engaged with the posts of the past few months (both online and offline); the other one was with two where one of these is not on FB, the other has not been part of the group to which #pondpiecenotes and after posted to.

There are various issues that these two discussions raised for me. The first concern is about in/group out/group through these selective postings (notably: the selective enclosure of the particular audience. I had thought about this as to inclusion as being fairly easily undone on part of the reader: to overlook, to hide or to unfollow; the exclusion is more complex, notably when mutual friends are inside the audience, like posts or comments, which pushes notifications to their own friends’s feeds… which at once pierces my own attempts to bound who gets to see what I write; but also alerts mutual friends that possibly other conversations are going that they are not party too). There is more to this and I will likely return to it.
.
The second concern, which I considered in more detail yesterday, was raised as question if there are themes that are off-topic. My response was in several stages, and in hindsight I realise just how much I veil my responses. I responded as to how I proceed to judge if a post holds or not, so I generally move ahead in a series of steps and then assess my relationship to it and adjust, it’s rather practical and involved. It is also in some way true to my attitude towards a priori lists, which I do not find easy to take serious nor follow. I then also provided a positive inclusion list rather than one of exclusion.
.
However, yesterday I then arrived at my off-topic items, of which there are numerous. By refusing to acknowledge that they exist in the first place, I drew another layer of curtain over them to protect them once further. But, with the recent piercing of this list through the post about R., it may be worthwhile spelling some of these out:
.
Items that I have not written about nor intend to write about in posts:
– anything concerning current desires and involvements with people around the matters that I discuss;
– all posted accounts about my own experiences of (sexualised) violence were fairly contained in the transition between childhood/adolescence. I have not posted about any of my later encounters and relationships in which consent or violence were issues;
– …
– most of the items I write about I write about at a time that they are resolved: hence, even if I use present tense for several notes, they are not contemporary but usually an ex-post reflection.
.
Where these boundaries lie and how they manifest is at points and as I move along somewhat fluid. As for the fourth item about resolution, this became apparent in post #2 from a couple of days ago (R. in my flat and expectations of violence): I posted it initially at a point when I was really caught out by it, it was incredibly present and I didn’t know at the point of posting on how to move with it. I removed the post as it was too unresolved, and moved it into a discussion with a close friend. This had once before occurred in relation to a post after the US election: again, the post was raw in its upset and I felt too exposed with it on my timeline, I removed it and raised it once in a conversation, which was a much better place for it to be held.
.
That I exposed my relationship with R. unsettled me and made me revisit this list of ‘protected relationships, items, concerns’; I can trace the need for exposure around the sense that suddenly the violence seemed to be deposited in my flat and left with me as a secret (or rather: amidst the context of various secrets). It also sits in the line where I respond with my own violence in situations where I perceive myself to be under threat (as in an earlier post between aunt, mother and myself). As such, it sits in the effects of how my experiences of patriarchal violence are more often between women rather than men>woman. There were a couple of occasions where my intent to protect also similarly pierced or transgressed; and this isn’t helped with the setting of a networked form of notebook where transgression and blurring boundaries is pretty much design of the medium and intent.
.
I also realise that the form in which I discuss concerns reflects my intent to conceal and veil existing relationships and concerns: it follows some of the arrangements over anonymity that were in place in the coaching training: ‘you can talk about anything here as far as it affects you, your experience; as soon as you would need to use someone else’s name, you are outside your own experience and should refrain from raising it.’ It was a rule that people applied in different forms and often topic of conversation as to how to proceed. It also means that in consequence I started to talk rather a lot about myself, my own feelings, actions, sensations, signals, perceptions; and I have kept that format. It makes for a self-centred account, one seemingly (actually?) intent on defining, aligning, negotiating, one’s self. And yet, I don’t think I am all that much interested in my self but in the relationships it constructs with the world, how its constitution tells me something about the world, lets me experience the world and others. So, the auto-ethnographic accounting in some ways is a reflection on the need for secrecy and veiling. And I will carry that thought a little longer with me.
.
#digitalsecrets

d. anxiety of absence and fear of missing out

one of the most intriguing and vexing aspects of the FB related activity is a realisation of just how quickly the platform has become affectively effective: it draws me in, it wants me to spend time, to look at my things, at those of my friends. it even is successful in me seeking likes, affective approval, engagement and in my retrospective questioning if i misstepped, misjudged, transgressed unduly.

below is a post that i drafted but never posted after i one tried to exit the platform (rather unsuccessfully) in mid-March:

[undated, possibly first week of April]
[unposted]

[I was reading a post about grief on E.’s timeline: it was about shipwrecks, the love that preceeded each shipwreck and the scars they will leave. it had something also about the 100ft waves that engulf you, that turn 80ft waves, that become more infrequent, that you may discern at a distance about to engulf you.
so, that Friday i saw such a wave coming ahead. it gave me about 12 hours notice. i told A. how i felt tender and triggered again. about the usual stuff. about stuff that i wanted to write about and yet wasn’t sure what the form of writing about was going to be and what site was there to be for writing about.
… a series of observations of the theme of sexual violence that I omit here … These three threads mingled with three incidences in my own life, when I was 17, 27 and 36. They seek attention, if not resolution. And I wasn’t trusting myself in how I was using my timeline or FB more generally at that moment in time.

So I departed, alongside no caffeine, no cigarettes and no food. I had the sense that no FB and no nicotine would be the hardest, but strangely, the cigarettes didn’t concern me, the absence of caffeine gave me a headache a couple of times over the week that I was fasting, a little breakfast tea took care of it. What however didn’t work at all was the FB absence, by Monday morning I was missing the sticker packs, I was missing the photos going back and forth in one conversation. By Tuesday I was beginning to realise that so much of my current work meshes with my FB timeline and my saved links, that I went to look things up. Furthermore, I had on the way to a different office encountered the homeless person who was just found dead outside one of the shop windows; it was one of the few deaths I have come into contact with unexpectedly and it threw the overwhelm that the FB feed sometimes presents me with right next to my body walking through town, so the FB absence seemed to not serve that purpose of distance and detachment.

So, rather than a week or two, I managed to stay away for 36 hours only; FB was still sending me emails over stuff that it was wanting me to look at, notably messages. It was continously stoking my anxiety over missing out, being out of reach. It was curious to see how effectively it would feed that, and I realise that while addiction isn’t too often an issue for me, this was quite hard, harder than I thought. And nonetheless, those 36 hours were long enough for me not too feel those waves crushing down on me quite so hard; by the time I was starting to look at FB again, without posting, the need to expose and proclaim had passed somewhat too. I hadn’t sat down to write about the 3×3 of above in a different format yet.]
<< not posted.

at some point in June FB introduces a new feature in its gamification of posting (as it has done for some time about checking in, reviewing page content etc.), it now congratulated me that i had posted 88 continuous days, and: that my friends were responding. I got mortified: what? had I posted every single day since that 36 hrs departure? it took me about another week for reaching a day of not posting.

 

Assignment 5 : the line

This post contains

a/ a link to the assignment work
b/ a discussion of the statement, theme, purpose and methodology of the work
c/ the reflection on the assessment criteria (updating previous reflections for Assignment 4)

the line

the final work for assignment five is this website, consisting of 35 video clips and a series of static pages which provide statement, references, and methodology of the project.

https://the———————–line.tumblr.com/

 

statement, theme, purpose and methodology

1/ the line

He told me to draw a line, to stick to the line. Make transparent what is here and what is beyond.
I could hear in his voice that this division works for him.
It is never one that I would have much confidence nor trust in.
Yes, if this is about boundaries, then let me pick the line carefully, and in abiding by it, let me move – similarly carefully – across my own boundary.

 

2/ no shadow secrets

this work is not about my secrets

it is, possibly, about other people’s secrets
I sometimes think that these, other people’s secrets, are mine
this can confuse
it can be violent

are secrets like shadows
do they show in bright light
do they show at night
do they move

a grey sky does not cast a single shadow
all the same, my shadow remains

 

Statement one in fact is a note taken after the tutorial with my module tutor when we explored the boundaries of this work, i.e., what would need to be named, how, in what ways; and thus also, what would remain implicit, hidden, denied. Statement two was an early piece of writing about this work, at a point when I still called the work no | shadow | secrets. It alludes to the confusion over what was at stake in a series of images that I found myself collecting during the autumn and winter past. It also alluded to the situatedness of these images to auto-biographical events, confusions over these events and a seeking of finding a ground for this kind of work to stand on. Such ground was pursued rather literally: many of the early images would feature my feet as well as the shadows that I caught myself casting in a number of urban street crossing. This formed the first research thread for the work: a body of work around Andy Warhol’s Shadow screenprints that I encountered in Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery in mid-December. They conjoined with a series of evening and nighttime walks along two routes, one very familiar to me in Glasgow’s West End, the other, very unfamiliar to me along Oxford Road in Manchester and into Rushholme, where I had booked a hotel room for a single night en route to my parents in Northern Germany the next day. Over the following months I revisited these two routes as well as two specific sites, Partick Cross and the central flagpole in Whitworth Park, just outside the Gallery where I had encountered the screenprints. These sites and routes became the means by which I investigated my presences in urban spaces and which over time also were juxtaposed with a similar investigation in an online format, Facebook’s timeline and feed. In both online/offline settings I explored issues around boundary constructions, familiarity, visibility, absence, transgression and questions over self, presence and desire, along a present threat of violence.

Along with the production of a series of lens-based materials (in moving image, phone camera as well as MF analogue form), these sites and movements were investigated in text, mostly written (across a series of registers: personal messages, small-public posts, large public posts, personal offline journaling). These written materials were combined with earlier journal notes from myself about events that took place in Berlin between 2008 and 2009 as well as with extensive readings of other writers who used formats of autobiographic fiction writing, theory fiction, performance and the confessional. Writers here were in particular Chris Krauss, Sophie Calle and Bhanu Kapil.

These written materials also feature a series of others, my friends, confidantes, imagined others who in various ways, sometimes closely, sometimes at a distance took part of the project and who informed both visual and written materials. These written materials are in themselves thus a body of artistic work that explores the limits of working with personal subject matter, rendering this subject matter performative, fictitious, introducing doubt over veracity while ringing true, alluding to a series of affective moments and encounters that explore, radiate outwards and attempt a resonance – within this online space, within and across the urban spaces, within the reader, the passerby.

Purposefully, the material can be encountered in different sequences, paths, routes. The material, even though heavily edited down, is still excessive: it exceeds its own boundaries in more than one sense: the videos auto-loop so if left on, the voices will overlay each other, engage, obscure each other. It is unlikely that someone will listen to all files in succession (which succession?), so each encounter is likely to produce a different distributed narrative and a different sense of the images that go along such narrative.

The extent to which this work concerns Digital Identities, the overall theme of the concluding final assignments of DIC is at once immediate and at a distance:

It is at a distance since the body of work is visually, on its surface, but also in its means of production, concerned with urban spaces, it is a form of street photography, however one which largely omits people from the frame of the camera. It is furthermore produced in part with an analogue medium-format camera. At the same time, however, the conceptual concern being one about boundaries, boundedness, visibility, secrecy and desire is one that at once retraces questsions over contemporary subjecthood – which of course is a subjecthood that is intrinsically linked, or perhaps more accurately: constituted through a networked set of social relations, a networked sense of self (often media-rich, contextualized and hyperlinked). Furthermore, the second immediate concern of this work with digital identities lies in its mode of circulation, and even further: production. Here, I am particularly thinking about the textual material, but also the images: all that is contained in this project has existed in public before: on my Facebook timeline, thus also other people’s feeds, in private messenger chats. In this sense, it explores in draft and in practice questions over boundedness, veracity, performativity in the very medium in which digital identities circulate today.

For the purpose of this project, the page ‘methodology’ collates those video clips which in particular speak to and explicate these concerns over how the work is constituted through a notion of digital identity and publicness.

Reflection on the assessment criteria

– I have taken the original reflection from Assignment four and amended (deleted/ added in blue)

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. The majority of the images were taken during Winter, a final site visit in May added a few daytime, Spring images to the set. These in turn serve to heighten the evening/nighttime mood of the majority of the images.

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. The final selection of form for this project changed significantly from Assignment 4 as well as the initial tutor feedback (mainly due to a discussion at the OCASA-funded study day in early May): I chose to narrow down the number of images from >100 to 35, and, in order to articulate the role of written/spoken material, present these as single video clips of a still image with an audio narration. Each clip exists independently from each other, can be accessed on a dedicated website in any order (a similar form of openness of the material as the wall installation initially allowed for). This final form however allows for a stronger framing of the images without forcing the reader to also read the textual material. Choosing such web-based presentation form also fully embeds the material within its original form of circulation in a social media feed: here, as before with the materials, the audience would encounter the material on an individual basis (either through a handheld device, the Tumblr app or on a larger laptop/desk-based computer screen; ideally with headphones); this in turn also articulates some of the themes in the work that are concerned with intimacy, proximity, disclosure, the confessional and the performative, its veiling and punctual reveal.

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. I have decided, as part of Assignment five for the final form to be a website containing a series of video clips and a few static pages which situate the statement of the work, its references and its methodology. In its final form, this lens-based project has moved to integrate other media forms: notably video as well as an exploration of using spoken word (across a series of registers, such as transcribing messenger messeges, narrating fiction, discussing theory, exploring Facebook functionality); in doing so, I believe that I have found a form that speaks robust and clearly to the material (in image and text) as well as the themes contained within this form.

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.

At the beginning of Assignment 5, I explored a number of photo books in terms of their potential to provide a non-linear form of storytelling, these will be useful for future work and in some way have also informed my choice for the final format of this work. In its current form, I have the sense that this work situates itself in some of the work that explores circles of friendship, their desires, questions over boundary and excess, the veiling of these and seeks to articulate these in a non-linear form. The most obvious work that does come to mind (albeit in a rather different set of images) is Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency and its early life as an everchanging slideshow, shown to her friends.