Working and Research

The images and texts here concern my working throughout the third term of the MLitt course at Glasgow School of Art

↑↑Initial experiments, picking up on mark making exercises that have been a feature of my working throughout the year so far. This form of working was accessible to me at home during the lockdown, so it seemed sensible to go down this route.
I started with ink and brush mark making, scanned in, edited in Adobe and then either created as JPEG files or printed out. I began to incorporate text, shift the scale and also work with colour overlay. ↑↑

↑↑More inkjet experiments, working again with the brush marks and compositions. ↑↑

L-R Semblance, Minimalluminal and Infinty X Infinity Pool

↑↑Using colour overlays onto pieces of collage and found imagery, the purpose of which was to both shift my collage and image making, and also begin to find a visual way of representing ideas explored in the previous terms. That work concerned the Divisible Auditoriums book and enacting site specific responses to the methods it contained. Here, I was attempting to create ways of presenting that same response, but in flattened form.↑↑

Front and reverse view of Shopping for Gelded Futures– inkjet on reconstructed shopping bag

↑↑Not entirely satisfied with a flattened working, I tried to find ways to rebuild from those forms. The result, again using the inkjet printer, was this piece, which carries on one side a diagram of a knight’s armour, and on the other the disorganised slogan GELDED FUTURES. The word gelded relates usually to a male, however it appears in Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale in relation to the daughters of Antigonus (Dympna Callaghan, A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare 2016 Wiley/Blackwell pg 242)↑↑

The Learning Agreement

Responding to the framework of the New Forms of Living cross-school open call, I want to reflect on my artistic responses to the ideas of the Divisible Auditorium while exploring the potential for prospective responses to those same ideas, as a way to try and address or answer some the challenges of the move towards a new physicality in shared spaces.

Adapting to the new forms of studio practice, the works will largely exist as proposals. However in considering the range of my normal working method up until this point, I will focus on one aspect of that range, image making and print exercises, as partial realisations of any proposed response. The facility for these exercises is available to me and they will also feed back in to the presentation of my broader ideas and responses, the aim being to enrich them. 

I want to use this time to reflect on the unrealised Belfast project, The Occasional Man, and give consideration to it, and collaboration as a working method, within art historical contexts. Points of interest will concern gesamtkunstwerk, and notions of collaboration within Modernism. A particular point of interest is the Gerrit Reitveld/Truss Schröder House in Utrecht, both for its form and for the necessary revisioning of it as collaborative.  

I also see this as a way to begin uniting what I’ve viewed as thus far disparate strands of working, finding, at last, the language that describes what I do and, to this extent, I will therefore (hopefully) achieve something of the aspirations I set myself at the outset of the course.

The Panopticon

“there are no disorders, no thefts, no coalitions, none of those distractions that slow down the rate of work, make it less perfect or cause accidents. The crowd, a compact mass, a locus of multiple exchanges, individualities merging together, a collective effect, is abolished and replaced by a collection of separated individualities. From the point of view of the guardian… a multiplicity that can be numbered and supervised; from the point of view of the inmates, by a sequestered and observed solitude.”

This comes from Foucault’s Panopticism in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison and I thought it was interesting in thinking about how we as a peer group or cohort were now operating- it seemed to describe the smash and fragmentation of the group at the moment of the great disruption. It also comes up in The Webcam as an Emerging Cinematic Medium by Paula Albuquerque (Amsterdam University Press 2018), the reading of which formed part of my attempt to foreground some of the New Ways in broader conceptual discussions.

Further Research

I found this book, both as part of my attempt to look more broadly at the type of work I make but also its possibilities, needing inspiration much. It covers (via Archigram and Utopie etc) the role of print technology developments, mass media and how these, in being used by the avant-garde, in turn affected the type of architecture they promoted. Interestingly, Jacques Tati’s film Playtime (1967) gets a mention, and it crops up in various other articles and books, notably Comedic Modernism by Malcolm Turvey. The set in particular is of interest to me, all the more so as it was born of necessity. With limited funds, Tati built an office set that could be altered and filmed from different angles to give the impression of a series of different spaces.

Other reading includes this article from The New Yorker, which includes a passage about “vernacular devices…the lines, barriers that individuals improvise from whatever’s at hand- plexiglass walls, shower curtains, or taped together garbage bags that protect cashiers. Hula hoops help children stay apart in parks, and athletic trainers are using scaffolding as group pullup bars.”

I like these ideas of improvisation, and it reflects in part of an application I started in which applicants are asked for a one sentence description of their practice, I arrived at the following: “I create ambiguous cues to action that, through human scale and a mock functionality, eke out a reimagined potential within a given site or context.” This, with the montage work I have been looking at, begins to help me see a possible route to realising some of what I set out in the Learning Agreement, around partial realisations of responses to the New Forms of Living open call and the Divisible Auditoriums work.

↑↑Trying to create more of a relationship between the print outs and the space, as a continuation from the template set by the Gelded Futures piece. This also an attempt at a more experimental use of my resources- the printer and the room.
There is perhaps something in the division between the flat and the round, but it is a bit thin at this point and needs pushing.↑↑

Rietveld Schröder House

This book, a recommendation from the artist Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell, surveys Gerrit Rietveld and Truss Schröder’s house from 1924 in Utrecht. The place has been of some interest mainly on account of the link to the ideas laid out in the Divisible Auditoriums booklet, that is a functional flexibility and divisible physicality in architecture space. The aesthetic appeal is strong, but I also think its interesting to see how the necessity of that form of living space is today manifested, in home offices, bedroom studio spaces, kitchen classrooms etc. The un-aesthetic element of these interventions pointing to the improvised nature of our responses to the current situation, is an interesting counterpoint to an expression such as Schröder’s house.

More Making

↑↑Life through brown paper apparel Inkjet on reconstructed brown paper bag.↑↑

Looking at the idea of cues, and finding equivalents that are not so anchored to a specific physical/built environment contexts. I printed dotted lines for eye holes, the idea being a person would cut them out and use the bag thusly. This also follows a tutorial in which the idea of the bags as a vehicle for propagating my concept was discussed. The artist Eugenio Dittborn was suggested as someone who’s work might be of interest.

I like the mobility of this form, the possibility of the work creating new dialogue in different contexts, and to a certain extent that being out of my hands. Further discussions during the tutorial brought up the presence of anticipation within my work, the cues are dormant until activated and there is some ambivalence about if they will be activated and to what extent those possible outcomes match my intentions- this links in a way to the idea of threshold that was discussed in an earlier tutorial.

Other People’s Faces

↑↑ Other People’s Faces ↑↑

Following a discussion in the penultimate tutorial, it was put to me that actually getting the work out there into different contexts and in the realm of different audiences (as opposed to this being theoretical or merely implied) would be worth pursuing, or would create a progression. It is after all the mechanism that interests me- the potential activation by an audience. I’m going to offer a limited number of the bags for distribution, Face Hole on one side, Eye Holes on the other, and see what happens.


“…practitioners remade [their] expressions in an effort to respond to a contemporary landscape that was, in the moment of its unfolding, both urgent and bewildering…while they remained committed to portraying the world accurately, they often did so in order to argue for its transformation and, by extension, to imagine alternatives to the conditions they recorded…they understood that collective survival necessitated speculation that might prefigure new forms of community and relatedness.”

from Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary Culture After 1945 Sara Blair, Joseph Entin & Franny Nudelman