I offer a/folder at various stages but then with a series of finished PDF to print zines in two crit group sessions and individually also. This below traces these and responses and reflections:
1/ OCAEU December tutor-led crit: a/folder PDFs to print (several, deposited with a series of Qs in a padlet ahead of the tutor-led session)It’s an interdisciplinary OCA student group, a mix of levels and disciplines, with possibly a sizeable number of textile students, a few native English speakers living elsewhere in Europe, age-wise I am in the younger half of the group.I ask for a slot, despite being on the organising team (there were however three spare slots still available and we needed to fill them). I prepare carefully a short set of posts, along with two pdfs and questions as to format, engagement invitation, actually content/process and upload these well ahead of the meeting,I am second to present, am asked to introduce the work, take one of my folded zines and show it on camera.I struggle with the distance and struggle to conceal my surprise that noone has printed these. I am offered that these are too intangible, as PDFs, while they know I make some wonderful work, this seems abstract. But also intimidating: the instructions for the PDF seem to be set out to make them fail, so they step away. I struggle with this: I didn’t at all anticipate that the first point ‘PRINT’ wasn’t enacted; nor that the PDF format would through people out entirely. I also struggle with not being too sarcastic at this point as to materiality.I am also asked what people would get back from it? I am surprised: here’s a free piece of artwork from me for you, and you ask what you will get from me for engaging with it? That that exchange would be conceived mean hadn’t occurred to me. What would people get back from going to a gallery? The tutor asked me to contextualise the work: who was I inspired by or was it my brainchild? That comment jarred similarly, and I brushed her off. Someone offered multiples and artist books.What it showed was the delicacy of exchange and distance: that the format shift moved it out of art object to critique; there was a sense of obligation, but also uncertainty over exchange, of being fearful of not getting it or failing. Interestingly, this all foreclosed the materiality of actually having a tactile hand-sized object that would move from my screen to your screen to your printer.
Follow-up 1: OCAEU cafe early January with three who were also at the crit.The two who were most sceptical as to the abstract nature of my work brought the work up again and we ended up talking through the PDF and the process: how big? can I fold this? The process was warm and interested, I was offered how my work is so full of integrity and very much my own work to which I stay true. But also: it seems just so much work at L3 (the two are in the final parts of L2 and considering whether to proceed or not). (I had hoped to find some more notes on this but I don’t seem to have any in writing nor audio).Oh, but what was interesting too was that I talked about my incredulity that the objects failed at the very first instruction: print. And that I struggled to process that and to stay involved. We talked further about distance, the haptic and materiality.
Follow-up 2: OCAEU exhibition group WIP (I circulated #6 drawing/machine as collaborative proposal to the 20 who are part of the exhibition project.We each prepared a slide for our WIP as part of this group project. I introduce mine and the idea behind engagement via a/folder. I preface the request being extensive (other projects involve a digital photo being sent; a couple of leaves collected and posted, a canvas received, dipped in water and returned). We use, for the presentations, the chat to offer comment, feedback, association to the themes the others present. I see the chat floating by and it almost in its entirety sits with expressions of commitment of contributing. I remember being surprised by this, as I was confident that one or no return at all would also be a good outcome and no sign of this not working.
Follow-up 3: the first drawing machine is offered: a FB post, an email and blog post. ‘This was such fun!’ — There is much more in this, and I will collect alongside further responses. The joy however: again, one who was most critical of the abstract nature of the object, and then it offered such enjoyment. I myself had forgotten the joy that resided in many of my earlier projects and also in the objects that I devised around Trafo and meadow. And here it returned as the first comment, along with two A3 tracing paper, a custom-made string, a set of notes and a bit of background about the tree who drew, a hundred year apple tree (cooking variety) somewhere in the vicinity of Kopenhagen.The FB group post yields yet more of : oh, this is exciting and an enticement to participate. Later, another email tumbles in requesting my postal address (while a windstill but dry day doesn’t move their pen currently all that much) — my two colleagues who worried about the intangibility of the PDF now made drawings to be posted to me.
2/ GSARD crit/making session: proposed #3 detach back in October as part of a first set of instructions for some collaborative work; then asked for a session in late January to navigate a refined #3 detach as shared project of the preceding four weeks.We use email and a shared google file for the collaborative work.As part of this process, I choreograph #3 detach on site, around the fir hide, make an audio file, a couple of photographs and other work is tumbling in on the google drive ahead of our meeting.I will report back.
3/ conversation with JW about a/folder zines and mail art circulationJW and I have been talking about our respective art, while one time being concurrent Drawing 2 students, over the years. She also contributed to my earlier request to make a viewing device. We caught up a little in late autumn and I asked her again about mail art, my PDF to print zines, she in turn is curious about what I will do after.We talk and then she turns to: ‘So, no one has given you feedback yet (I told her of 1/, before its further iteration occurred). She said: First, this isn’t a zine. I expect more pages and also: it doesn’t fold right, the printer edge muddles it and the text spills to the next page. If you had called this an activity sheet, I wouldn’t have minded but for me this is too scrappy. She also offers:
- if you want others to send you something, then it’s mail art
- how she introduced me elsewhere are a mix between walking artists and performance artist
And the most generous comment concerns participation, it develops following a recent show of a large piece of collaborative work, shown in a gallery space nearby, and she said it all very much reduced her to being a spectator. She continues as says that my work wasn’t private; that while I initiate it, it is collaborative; it’s very different to standing and looking at a photography. She ponders that she possesses the work, it’s quite private but she can then also decide to do more with it.I send her another PDF, Make a pocket, and ask if she is interested in exploring the instructions, the content of the not/zines. She says yes.
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