Monday, September 27, 2010

Skype Date

Hi Liz and Rachel,

Hey, lets make a skype date for this week yah?
You gals have switched to daylight savings time right?
...10amNL = 9pmNZ or 9amNZ = 10pmNL.

Here are some times that are are good for Clare and I:
Monday 27, Tuesday 28 or Sunday 3 at your 8:30pmNZ (our 9:30am)
We could also do your Monday 4th 9am (our Sunday 10pm)
(We're not free our Wed-Friday mornings, or the whole day Saturday.)

I guess the best idea would be for you to meet together to call. I think there is some programme you can download to make skype "conference" calls, but I am not sure what it is....

Let us know what would work for you both.

Looking forward to seeing your smiling faces!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This post been growing over the last week as I have been addressing my initial thoughts about the proposition of the light-boxes, alongside considering the material that has been offered in the posts so far. That said, there may be a little back-track...

My early thoughts were that there might be room to treat the light-boxes sculpturally, to escape the 2-dimensional surfaces presented by not using image at all. One early thought was to use translucent surfaces instead, such as colored nylon coats/veils for the light-boxes which could light up. However, embedded in the type of space proposed by the physical parameters of the light-boxes lies a particular and compelling challenge to address and interrogate the ‘how’, rather than the ‘what’, of the image – that is, how the image can operate within that space. Which leads to questioning what kind of space is this?
"(4:56) ...there's a space I'm moving around in, and it's a hot space: its breathing, and imagining, and producing revolution, culture, passion. It's the same space as a video paused. It's the same space as the spoon section of the separated peanut butter-oil mix. These spaces ask us to bring us together for a second and let yourself groove... ...(6:29) Paused video is good for the soul, it's physical, it's a participation, so is mixing up the peanut butter." (See Marnie's post Squaring the Circle or Unusual Uses for Veggies / original track link here.)
In this respect I am really interested in pursuing this idea of the light-boxes as slithers within public space, as agents of interface between public and private as Rachel has articulated, along with Marnie’s suggestion of the shallow light-boxes as spaces which might present a subject-object relationship within the image and to the surrounding park context. I am also very interested in the way Hito Steryerl’s text describes the relationship between object and subject in a public way. So how could the light-box images work as spaces to ‘position’ object and subject within the image and between the image and the light box context? In answering this, in my mind, they could start operating as ‘sculptural’ propositions again.

David Maljkovic, After Giuseppe Sambito, 2009. Wiels 2010. Photo: Michael De Lausnay.

Marnie’s proposition of hyperbola and the flattened subject-object spaces in the Cotan still life’s reminded me of this work of Croatian artist David Maljkovic we saw recently within a group show at Wiels. The work consisted of five to six double-sided uniform 1.8m high cases each with a different arrangement of a mounted tube-light, a dried palm frond and a B&W solarised photograph of an simplified architectural model each from a unique angle. The title of the work references architect Giuseppe Sambito who designed the Italian pavilion in 1960 for the Zagreb Fair during a period of intensive modernist gentrification sixties and seventies in Yugoslavia. Maljkovic hints to the world fair-like values and execution of this developmental period within this work through the organization of objects within the physical space of the cases. Perhaps this is where it deviates from Cotan’s images, but for me, both these works share a similar space to the type of space the light-boxes as Marnie has suggested might propose for us… a platform, stage, shallow display case, notice board or (to link it with Rachel’s proposition of a character and narrative) literal TV spaces. Furthermore, Maljkovic’s work seems to critique how these world fair spaces sit within their urban contexts.

Could these works also be helpful or interesting in the way we might consider Marnie’s proposition to focus content of the 16 light-box faces to articulate the subject and object relationship with the immediate physical context of Courtenay Place? Could we approach the formal aspect of the double-sided light-boxes to serve as ‘deceptive mirrors’? Could these help canvas plurality of the ‘accurate fictions of self’ Rachel has proposed, especially given the nature of this potential collaborative process? I am thinking for example, pictorial elements that move/disappear from one side to another? Could the light-box images act like changing film/stage sets of the poster Rachel has mocked up?

Five Veils (Pearl, Amber, Rose, Indigo and Violet) Clare Noonan, 2009-10

Above are a set images have been visually occupying my practice since mid last year. They are a set of postcard images I put together with coloured light-gel overlays to suggest a pane separating viewer/author and geographic landscape. I became interested in collecting these images as one of the few, consistent instances of outdoor photography which use portrait orientation. Given the tradition of portraiture and image making, these compositional anomalies become personified for me. As my research last year progressed into early New Zealand outdoor landscape photography, producing signs of a male-dominated field, these images stuck with me - I discovered later, I had overlooked a small silhouette of a woman at the bottom of the third image.

I wanted to share these as they came to mind before we started talking about the potential of collaborating on this project - in particular I was interested in how they might share a common ground with recent Liz's series of singlets based around the 'Man Alone' trope, sporting the slogans 'Man Alone', 'Women Together' and 'I Am'? I am still interested what these might offer into the mix within the curatorial context, and to the relationships between subject and object, lens and context.

Specifically, I am interested how the collapse of the pictorial space between author, frame and subject plays out through the use of the word 'veils' to describe and reference mechanisms between or pictorial elements within the depicted landscape. For example: the image's relationship between the subject of the waterfall; the camera lens or safe-light panel in-between; and the obscured pictorial content outside of the frame; and the flattening of these onto the same picture plane. I am thinking in particular about Barthes' articulation in Camera Lucida (Ch.4-6) of the changing roles, in his terms, of ‘operator’, ‘spectrum’ and ‘spectator’ throughout the process of taking and viewing a photograph. Could Barthes' take be helpful alongside Steryerl’s text, and Rachel’s binoculars and fictions of self? On that note, I shall sign off with a few of his words:
“It can happen that I am observed without knowing it, and again I cannot speak of this experience, since I have determined to be guided by the consciousness of my feelings. But very often (too often, to my taste) I have been photographed and knew it. Now, once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of "posing," I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image. This transformation is an active one: I feel that the Photograph creates my body or mortifies it,…” (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, pp.10-11).

Some additional notes:
Regards the collaborative potential for this project, I've been interested in the potential for the these 16 light-box faces to operate as a whole for a while (whether it be individual parts/images tied to the coherent whole or one whole work etc.) and proposition of working collaboratively seems to me like a good opportunity to do so. I also think that presenting a collaborative work together publicly is a very solidified gesture to address the curatorial context of gender and identity in itself, and furthermore, am excited about the potential to produce a particular yet accountable gesture within the public realm through such a discursive process.
Also, in continuing discussion of the project title, I’m liking a line in Rachel’s post ‘where it might be taking the left hand of darkness’.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beatrice Krill

I feel some momentum... Or perhaps some curiosity... building...

Who is this Beatrice?

And as the sea roared 2009

binoculars are her weapon...of today

So much great stuff in your post Marnie:

I love the hyperbola perception applied to Cotan's paintings - and really love the photograph that you and Clare produced - it really taps into image as object infused with many voices/tricks/intimacies - a very evocative staged fiction, if you will. I guess Hito S would relate it to a 'bruising' that leads to curious kinds of tangibility.

I'm certainly open to pushing the public address potential of these light-boxes works in relation to contemporary homosexuality, and in a way I haven't perhaps done before. I think the tangents and stories in these posts are generative in relation to how the public address might function - it's scope, too.

I really enjoyed reading the piece by Hito Steyerl Marnie, especially in the possibilities suggested:

‘This would mean participating in the material of the image as well as in the desires and forces it accumulates.’

‘The contemporary opium of the masses – an apparently private property that simultaneously invites and resists foreclosure’

I thought I'd include an excerpt from a piece I recently wrote for Enjoy about Lee Kit's exhibition/residency. Kit's work opened up some interesting things for me in terms of the readymade/everyday

Language functions at times in Lee Kit’s work as a border territory. Language borders abstraction; it touches the personal; it bites into the airtight. Language is important to the act of thinking, which one could say helps a person distinguish responsible action from obedient action . These border companionships that language lit up in Kit’s work and exhibition could be seen to operate as staged fictions. These fictions entailed tangible responsibilities, and though it is unusual to think of fictions compelling philosophies of action – this was a key part of the terrain that Kit’s work underscored.
The viewer and artist in good faith undertake the fictions of the (Ready-made) Everyday. The title of Kit’s exhibition is apt here. It suggests that the potential for individuals to live a life or series of lives, short or long, and yet rich and full, is contingent on the ability to think in time with others, for the absence of thought leads to disaster. It is the exhausted un-thoughtful life that is worth resigning from. The thoughtful 2-second life takes place in the border territory of the ‘Ready-made’ and the ‘Everyday’.
After the exhibition closed, Kit asked people he had just met, or didn’t know, to take his works away with them, and to store them, display them, possess them and sometimes, after a short time, give them away again. Kit’s gesture connected again with the as yet un-disclosed 2-second life, which can be seen to be less about usurping the future for its benefit or warning it of the past, and more about thinking the 2-second life into existence.

Marnie, I've taken up some of your ideas - perhaps a little too literally - but I liked the idea of working with the staged fiction of a film/movie - weaving in the binocular booklet colours and some imagery and putting Beatrice Krill in the protagonist/driver's seat. I worked up an imagined poster for the film, integrating the value of the light box location to operate as sign/ad/image/text:

I've also attached some original images from the Binocular booklet for you all to preview. I can post more if you're interested in following this line of inquiry - I'd be quite interested in perusing works which utilize this booklet. There are some excellent situational drawings of people using binoculars for different activities which I will try and post in the next few days.

I really like the idea of somehow incorporating perforations/holes in the images. Here is a link to a short film by Jeff Keen that feels inspirational:


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lightbox and label specs

Light box dimensions

Light box glass: h x w 2655mm x 1055mm

White border: 45mm all round

Image needs to allow: 15mm all round for overlap for install

Glass – border + overlap = image size: hxw - 2595mm x 995mm

The council has even provided a mini mock-up of the lightboxes to test images on.

Labels are constructed from 2 sheets of 6mm Acrylic (1x clear and 1x opal). Labels are printed on photographic paper (C type, wet prints, not inkjet) at DPOD.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Squaring the Circle or Unusual Uses for Veggies

1. These two paintings are by Spanish painter Juan Sanchez Cotan (1561 - 1627). They are part of a series of 'kitchen pictures' that I have been reading about lately in a essay called "Rhopography" by Norman Bryson that was part of a collection of four essays about still life painting that he published under the title "Looking at the Overlooked" in 2002.

The initial reason I thought about this project in relation to these was I made a formal connection between the kind of collapsed depth of the composition in the paintings and the almost abstract physical space of the light boxes. I think I am trying to get an idea about what kind of spaces these lightboxes are -- they are photographic spaces, but also closely connected to the way high-profile advertising appears in the streets of Wellington. Their materials, configuration and established role as art spaces I guess skews the advertising connotation slightly, but perhaps it is still a space where promotion, text and image are swiveling together.

Bryson talks about these paintings as having a surplus of appearance (beyond realism -- he calls it hyperreality) that sits in opposition to the established power structures demonstrated in narrative painting (the presence of the heroic figure and the strict journey the eye is commanded to take through the painting). The critique in these works are firstly located in the subject matter, and secondly in the manner in which they are painted. But these do not sit outside the rarefied realm of painting completely, they are the necessary counter-compliment to narrative painting. Kind of like how Dan du Bern used to joke (perhaps still does) when asked what kind of art he made, would reply "Organic Art".

But.... I want to connect these paintings to your poem Rachel. Not that I am suggesting Cotan's level of intimacy with vegetables (!), although I do spend much of my life in the kitchen, more that I am thinking about forms of visibility, or legibility, or realism when trying to speak about intimacy. Perhaps for these paintings the vegetables (through colours, textures and lines) become material metaphors for a certain kind of touching -- kind of how your words work in your poem. They get stacked, paced and layered on top of each other with the forms and the meanings all leaning on each other. Words facing each other. Bryson talks about the curves in Cotan's paintings as being hyperbolas:

"In relation to the quince, the cabbage appears to come forward slightly; the melon is further forward than the quince, the melon slice projects out beyond the ledge, and the cucumber overhangs it still further. The arc is therefore not on the same plane as its co-ordinates, it curves in three dimensions: it is a true hyperbola, of the type produced when a cone is viewed in oblique section"

2. I made this image with Clare earlier this year -- there is a much larger series that this one is part of. It was in my studio, and we used a mirror and a quite precarious set-up with the both of us balancing behind a curtain, with the camera and our hands sticking out from holes in the fabric. When we had found a place for our visible hands, one of us would hold the curtain up while the other focussed the camera and pressed the shutter. It is interesting for me to think about what it takes to make pictures, the completely non-everyday processes that I construct to turn a situation into something that is visible only as an image. Perhaps these images could be "accurate fictions" as you speak about them Rachel? Actually this reminds me of a text by the German artist Hito Steryerl, it was published on e-flux, and you can read it here. It is not a super heavy or particularly thorough text -- but when I read it I felt like she was articulating a political relationship with images that I had been trying to speak of in relation to my own work.

Perhaps this could be a helpful read in terms of what this project could mean for us as a group -- and especially in relation to your questions Mary-Jane. As a way to start approaching your question about how (and indeed to what point of visibility) this project addresses contemporary homosexuality, I think that being a woman, being gay, being a feminist, being from New Zealand, these things all form a place, or a set of conditions, that I speak from as an artist. But I am wary of the point where these conditions then become causal ie. that I say these things, this way, to these people because I am gay or feminist, or from New Zealand (I think this is connected to how Hito defines representation). Part of what makes what I say, and to whom, have potential -- a wayward potential -- is that every time I speak or make work, I participate in articulating what an embodiment of these conditions could do. But I also believe very strongly in moments when a collective position of feminism, for example, materialises. In a way this project, as it stands now -- with the four of us --, is already articulating a community of gay women, so the question would be is this a generative juncture to work from (as I think we are already working within)? What would it mean for us to articulate this in public space?

My intuition with this would be to let our collaboration and the resulting work lead the way here. I can only speak about my own work, but I feel like questions of gender and sexuality are increasingly appearing as legible threads in my work -- in particular, in relation to performative modes of writing, image making and installation. I don't necessarily see my work as having a gay agenda, but more personally that there are binaries of gender and sexuality where I see and desire ambiguities.

I like the way you describe your work Rachel, as burying clues and revealing opacity's, as I feel like a certain shifting, shuffling and shadowing could make a nice nest. But I also wonder about maintaining a direct mode of address within the work -- I would like to approach these spaces as public platforms, and be able to make a series of works that use this component of the site quite explicitly.

3. This is one of the works Marie Shannon showed in the light boxes in 2009 under the title Love Notes. I really like the way with these works that the notes are addressed to someone, from someone, but the position in public space stretches (but does no rupture) the intimacy of the message out towards the public. I have an impulse to somehow break the photographic surface of the light boxes -- perhaps by making images that have holes in them, or using them as objects located and negotiated in space and duration -- like you suggested Rachel with text on one side and images on the other for example, or use them as indicators of something happening elsewhere.

In terms of this collaboration that we are embarking on across the time/space continuum, I am really enthusiastic about making it work, but I do think that we need to factor in the distance we are working across into our process -- it would be pretty difficult to try and develop a project pretending that it does not exist. With this in mind, the blog is a place to discuss ideas, but we also need to make a space and give time for the articulations of making, testing and experimenting (a kind of studio I guess). How can we go about this making as also a collaborative mode of conversation? Mmmm. What specific kind of collaboration would be interesting for this project? Recently, I made a documentary film with a group of artists. One of the artists had worked professionally on films before, so he kind of plonked us into "official" film making roles -- based very loosely on what we perceived to be our skill base (this worked in some senses and disastrously in others!). It was super interesting to be part of a structure intended to be about efficiency of production and specialisation but, because we were all artists and fumbling to fill our roles, the production process and final film took some unusual detours.

I wonder if we could somehow take the structure of collective production (from television, for example) and work towards a project that worked with the space of images and narrative. We could work on, for example, a television show, or a bio-pick about mystery novel writer, giving ourselves production roles and a series of narrative or stylistic constraints to work within. I am really attracted to this idea Rachel, that you have a fictional character that you can then test ideas with, and I can imagine this as a really fascinating place to play-out (and also to somehow expose the mechanism of representing) these accurate fictions of self. Perhaps the final project could take a fragmentary approach to the possibilities of a collective production process -- for example, we just produce the publicity for the film, or the script for the pilot of the television show; there are scripts that are impossible to make into films, music scores that are more true without the accompanying film, and film-stills that are really photographs. Perhaps we could work with/around the binocular book you are working from Rachel?

This seems interesting to me... perhaps awful to you!?

I am very excited to see how our discussion progresses. And totally looking forward to our skype date. I think Clare mentioned that I am going to be in NZ in October, so we can talk over skype about how we can use the time with three of us together.

I hope you are all well. I have discovered my dream motivational tune (perfect for a studio lull). Turn it up loud: here.

tolerances in alignment

I’m planning to produce some works for our two week exchange around this phrase ‘tolerances in alignment’ which comes from this 1950s booklet called ‘Binoculars and how to choose them’. I’m also keen to follow on from ‘inverted’ drawings I’ve been doing as seen on my temporary blog/noticeboard The things that Rachel O’Neill did – I need to try this inverted drawing business out on the mini lightbox and see how they go but I like the print phenomenon that is black line turning into white/coloured space – simple but effective perhaps as far as the lightbox backlighting goes. Could work with a range of marks from fine line to woodcut to human/animal/vegetable silhouette/curvature…

I have a narrative in mind for the drawings which draws on, reworks and somewhat fictionalises what’s going on in the binocular booklet – its language and technical drawings - emphasising what I think will be some invention story of a ‘happening lense’* (*name subject to change), which accelerates tolerances and alignments – a central character or two will drive the narrative. I have a character called Beatrice Krill who could be a good trial subject for the ‘happening lense’.

This projected work isn’t much collaborative in nature I realise but thought I’d put it out there and it might lead to discussion/directions when we skype.

Also interested in thinking about the scale of the boxes – where the viewers eye line will be – how to draw viewers closer and where needed maximise long distance effect. The boxes also seem to work in pairs – due to fan-like pattern of layout in the square. Any way we could torque this in an interesting way?

How might we arrange images that face the road or the pedestrian area for example?

Random thoughts here – text on the street side/image on the footpath side? Text/image interlocking? Guess I’m thinking about how we create the undulations Marnie first mentioned – would be great to get at this in the content as well as the formal flow of the works and how we want them to read…

Curatorial brief:
For me it’s important to have a way of describing this project so that it’s true to our wider practices and also that we’re not ‘generalising’ who the audiences are. It’s also important for me that the project brief doesn’t suggest we are coming up with a new (by default as emerging artists) ‘description’ of homosexuality, definition of glbt culture or map of the Homo landscape. In this sense I know what I don’t want it to be so hope to do some thinking with you all about what it could reveal when the project traverses into language.
Personally I don’t usually align my work with blockbuster tags such as feminist, or lesbian, or queer. This isn’t because I’m not prepared to talk, given the time and space, about the work in relation to these things. For me, it’s more that the work itself is directed at burying clues, and revealing opacity's around how a viewer chooses to motivate or make inactive their (identity, but more like their accurate fictions of self) or my accurate fictions of self (if at all) in relation to public/private concepts, declarations, modesties, fears, hopes and facts/fictions etc.
What are your thoughts – want to be overt, less overt than overt, slightly a little bit overt, kinda…yes?

I'd like to find some way of using the notion of 'accurate fictions of self ' in relation to this brief...there is this literary genre which is the most popular published form in the US at the moment called Creative Non-Fiction which basically translates as 'accurate story' + 'style' - this informs how I imagine what an accurate fiction might be - how it might behave...where it might be taking the left hand of darkness...

Some curatorial thoughts

'Interlocking Girl Circles' could be a great alternative title to this project...?

And just to throw some other general thoughts and questions out there.

As we have entered this project under the loving mantle of homosexuality, should the project address contemporary homosexuality? How might it do that? As text? As subtext? Does that help generate aesthetics/imagery?

The idea of collaboration has come up. Is that realistic? Possible given distance isn't looking our way?

It would be good to know what/how you are all thinking etc. In general how best to progress this project?

Could we all post about this rather than comment? It's annoying the comments stay buried a click behind - I have tried to change the settings but without any luck...