Our main focus in the last tutorial for assignment 6 was the review of my discerned assessment portfolio and supporting works. There was not much to change or adjust. During the tutorial I came to the conclusion that I will take out assignment 3 completely as they would not fit that well with the more recent body of works related to transformation, vulnerability, ambiguity, disconnecting, and transparency.
Overall, my tutor acknowledged that
have selected well and decided to omit pieces of work that do not enhance the body of work. Selection is a crucial part of an artists practice whether it is for exhibition, framing or assessment. This is an important skill in objective decision making to master at all levels and will stand you in good stead for future courses.
What made this successful? I can relate this to my self-reflection on what I want to do in my practice and how I would see my created works through this course from that viewpoint. Truly supportive, was here my latest reflective account, where I stated as title ‘Living through the skin of materiality’ and how medical imaging becomes materiality for transformation in my practice.
Part of my assignment 5 submission was work done for project 5.1 (cut.up words) that I translated from the visible written text to the invisible speech. I reworked it after our previous tutorial as I felt this would be an important part of my materiality and space negotiations. I omitted the written text completely and the resulting reworked version Disruptive Space using visual material from assignment 5 Be small turned out much more successful as my tutor responded to. I also see this short audio-video work as an extension of my parallel project; stage 4 – it will go into assessment as supporting material for assignment 5, to expand the experience of that work.
Also during the tutorial, I suggested to take the wall frieze Be Large, that was still in my studio space, a leftover from cutting out the individual pieces for assignment 5, and to crop a similar size work that would match the size of my assignment 5 installment for assessment (Fig. 1)
Fig. 1: Stefan513593 – P2SP – Assignment 5 and supporting work : ‘Be small’ and ‘Be Large’ (each 60 x 80 cm) // the visible work and the invisible absence – traces of process – a material process
We discussed the other items for submission (see assessment link) and agreed that as supporting work my work for part 3, a cut-put collage of my paintings of my painted enactment with a painted TV set, narrated through the gesture of my hand would be an important work to show. As this is only a photo documentation, the question is how to present (print out, scale, format etc.) Thanks to peer feedback and big thanks to Kate,, I am planning to make it as a leporello, embracing the tactility of folding and unfolding that appeared another important aspect in my practice (Fig 2)
Fig. 2: Disruptive Narratives’ – photo documentation of my gestural investigation of my gestures. A multiplicity of layered realities through painting, photographing, re-painting, printing, collage – a bodily interaction with space and inside the space of the work // still to be made into something to touch at assessment
My tutor highlighted once more the value of my sketchbooks, a way of interaction and experimentation that I loved doing since my very first drawing 1 course with OCA.
You sketchbooks will be an important aspect of your submission so make sure you include several that show the development of your project ideas and your experiments with materials.
Besides my submission we discussed briefly my parallel project with my tutor’s comment that it was well documented especially considering that mostly it was a collaborative work. I am curious to read what the assessment team will think about it. Otherwise, we discussed the content of it already, not to forget that my tutor was bodily present at Toynbee Studios, London – she just came for my project made with together with my collaborator Vicki. In am still stunned by this.
I reworked and edited-down ruthless based on out discussion during A5 tutorial. I felt all this makes sense, less informative and my tutor found it also a significant improvement compared to the revised draft before.
Conclusion at the end.
Overall, it seems I am right track. It is time and space now to prepare and ship my assessment submission. Still a lot to do and not really much time left. Nevertheless, I am quite pleased with myself that I actually made this happen to submit for November assessment. In the last weeks I was really not that convinced about meeting that important deadline. 22 months did pass, 22 months of working on and out exciting things. An intense course, but for me so rewarding. I should not forget that since the beginning, I actually had my first exhibition, followed by three more. I founded together with Emma, Jane and Peter the new OCA regional group Europe, that started out all in Switzerland. I took over the responsibility to relaunch the student-led magzine edge-zine through phases of finding peers willing and able to work together, and finally to get the first re-launch out into online publication (see edge-zine.com)
And last not least, I embraced the opportunity of the open call from the OCA program leaders Carla Rees and Caroline Wright to embark on an exciting NEw Music Collective / Fine Arts collaborative project and found in Vicki Downey an excellent sparring partner and we made this happen with a big life event at Toynbee Studios. London – what turned out the become my parallel project or this course, to be submitted for assessment.
And besides all if that I moved across borders and countries. established in a new business, built my dedicated studio space. Time and space to meet the finish. Hopefully, begin December it will not turn me down (the assessment results)
Prepare submission, prepare the works, get it out to Barsnley
Relax – Breathe – Calm down
The full formative feedback with amended notes from my tutor is available at: PDF
(Total word count: 2528 // without direct quotes, footnotes, references: 2065)
Remark on tools
For my research, brainstorming, outlining, and writing my drafts I used the following tools – all with which I can work on my laptop and my tablet in sync, an important aspect for me when travelling:
Inspiration: for brainstorming, on the go, visual mapping, connecting and outlining
Scrivener: for writing and compiling essays, providing structure,
Endnote: reference database, with pdf and annotations and research notes accumulated, now also an archive of my studies
I do find them very supportive and helpful (although inspiration is the least stable one, not on a Mac, Windows is better). It gives me structure, quick access to information, and space to connect and to relate to. It might be not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am very positive to have found a robust and sustainable working approach. And all three are malleable enough that I can adjust if needed to my way of working.
Looking at my proposed assessment portfolio, it looks more convincing with regards to material choice. However, mostly earlier made work selected, do show some weaknesses related to edges and color. I decided to keep them as such as it is important to me to show the moment of creation, not changes or improvements made afterwards. My works do express a material sensibility and an intimate response to the unique features of chosen materials. Nevertheless, not all choices are equally successful or convincing, especially works made from earlier parts.
Quality of Outcome:
The more recent works are showing in a less illustrative and more engaging way the key aspects of transformation, materiality, dislocation. Here, I am more conscious about edges and balance between transparency and opaqueness. My main intention to respond to medical imaging, especially through my collaborative parallel project, moved towards to end more to an embodied aesthetic of materiality and skin. My revised draft of the critical reviewed showed too much, and to focus on simpler key aspects is equally relevant to my practical work. This can be seen in the development of earlier made works for this course.
Demonstration of Creativity:
I am very experimental and love to move laterally and to cross boundaries. My approach could be seen often more as inter-media art, e.g combination and juxtapositions of paintings, video, layering, sound, music, and/or speech. But my flow of intuitively making and creative outbursts needs some structure and focus. My collaboration on my parallel project was supportive as Vicky shared a structure and framework from her music background. My analytical skills as reflected in my revised critical review are quite good. What is missing at times is the capability or the next reflective step to reduce and focus.
I do approach my practice through a wide-open contextualization. I am also crossing boundaries of disciplines to pull from various perspectives. I am quite aware that this rather theoretical depth can be in my way in creating more resolved and visually engaging pieces. However, especially through my contextual notes for each assignment I demonstrated that I can be quite selective and focused, especially to allow more in-depth interrogations with art practitioners. Important aspect in my practice is to make connections, not only to the outer world and a wider cultural context, but also to my own works. My reflective account for this assignment reflects these connecting threads.
How medical imaging becomes materiality for transformation in my practice
Developing assignment 6 meant to look back at the body of work created during this course. To step back to see and discern whether there is a red thread, a theme, a common interest, showing through. Working intensively on a project could make one blind for relations and links.
Eventually, commonalities became clearer what I wrote in my artist statement, my contextual notes for assignment 5, and last not least what got revised in my final draft of the critical review:
Mapping this out in my sketchbook and trying to group or discern my diverse works, made it also easier to see some work not fitting well, some more from part 2 and part 3. Part 4 and Part 5 seemed to have followed a certain ‘logic of media’, a material approach and an embodied expression through art making. And I was quite surprised how much of my main interest already came through in part 1, though not that well-articulated, not yet expressed in a focused way.
Chaplin (Chaplin, 2005:8) mentioned in her essay how ‘perception and artistic expression are .. bodily affairs’ and, by quoting Langer, that the tactility of hands is the basis for aesthetic expression. In that sense, I can see now my ‘obsessive’ interaction and exploration of my touching hand in context of a bodily aesthetic expression, e.g. in my performative enactment video work Paint-Catch-Move (video, 2:34min, at: https://vimeo.com/306674208) . And perhaps as a ‘symbolic articulation’ of my way of not-knowing and seeking to understand.
My contextual notes for assignment 5 already mapped out how I want to continue in my practice. In relation to above aspects, it is mostly a continuation of the material interaction as a way of knowing and understanding. The features and the connotations of chosen materials and colors might have a wider cultural meaning, nevertheless, I want the works to speak or themselves, visually and opening up possible questions what it is that we might interpret a work in a certain way.
Furthermore, it is important for me to look at the in-between, between the visible and the invisible, the physical and the virtual, the outside and the inside. I am not satisfied with outer surfaces, I want to see not only behind or beyond, but also in-between. The surface has two sides, but it also has depth. It is that depth that I want to continue to explore through crossing boundaries and by embracing the moment of creation in itself.
Last not least, this assignment showed through my parallel project as collaboration, my critical review as enquiry and understanding what I am doing, and my discernment of my visual works, that it also about the expanded field of experience. For me painting is above all a spatial exploration, whether this results in digital audio-video works, in sculptural pieces, or more conventional flat physical works – my bodily experience of the space is what I want to share with the audience.
To have come to such an insight and focus is not what I expected at the beginning of this course. It was intense, many works were an attempt to interact, e.g. Object-Box’ shown at OCA showcase in London or trying to convey my bodily experience with the audience, e.g. the mentioned video Paint-Catch-Move. Today, I do see those as sketches on my way forward in exploring a more aesthetic and less didactic approach through materialized work.
On the other side, there is the sense of disruption and audience response. My parallel project was screened physically at Toynbee studios allowing the audience to immerse themselves in a visual soundscape. Viewing it online, as the assessment team would do as well, challenged notions of holding space, keeping attention, and allowing disruption to work effectively. Some felt it was too disruptive and too disconnected. How much disconnection and disruption is successful in art?
Looking forward, there are two media I didn’t explore deeply: sound and light. Not only due to time constraints, but also due to technology hurdles. I am hooked by sound conveying the invisible through non-linear perspectives. Sound is spatial and can create depth. My approach so far, was to combined visual and auditive spaces (e.g. the parallel project, ‘Cut-up words’). I feel this needs to get into a physical space, a gallery space. That means, I have to get to that point and space. Light is another tricky media. We see picture only due to light, but light is also performative as my lightbox installations trying to explore. Still a struggle to resolve, a quest to consolidate my body of work
(word count: 788)
 I am very happy that my tutor provided me recently with this article that is spot on with my concerns.
Time to look back, back on my works produced, time to fine all of them, displaced in various locations (do I sense my subject matter coming through as my way of living?). Also about my failures, the ‘real’ one, my struggles, but also my highlights. Last not least, all about my own practice and my development.
Areas of concern
Transformation: Materiality as touchable matter to interact and to respond to
Embodiment: From video-documenting my performance painting through interacting with the video-camera as audience and blurring perception of what is digitally produced and what is physically painted (both got photographic distributed online) towards video as space for motion and narratives layered as visible visual and invisible sound.
Interaction: failing through the ‘Object-Box’ as interactive art-game requiring overcoming hurdles and invitation to engage (kids are more direct here) towards having the audience inside the experience (expanded visual-auditive space)
Disruption: my interest in disrupting nearly everything, materials, meaning, borders, edges, narratives
Disruption: How much disruption and unsettling sensations are still successful? How much can I ‘throw’ at the audience? See parallel project? Moving images are possibly biased through cinematic connotation and displaced narratives?
Consolidation: How to develop all these further and to consolidate into my practice and a to create a more coherent body of work? I feel that I have to reduce my key aspects even further.
Context: How do I position myself in context of medical imaging as media culture? What do I offer? Or is this just a point of departure into something different?
Digital: How to incorporate digital images, especially composites from paintings with digital layers, into my body of work?
mapping my practice – mapping my context
Are there ways in which you could develop these further?
My best works and my strengths:
i would say that those of my works made during this course are most successful when they were exploring layering and materiality expression, and when they were able to convey a sense of vulnerability and fragmentation. Through crossing boundaries as a response to media culture at large, those works would embrace ambiguity and unsettling disruption.
How I want to develop it further
I feel more convinced that my practice is about disruption and dislocation exploring vulnerability through a material transformation
My reworked assignments / parallel project:
Assignment 1: kept, although edge could be bolder or with addition of discruptive layers, e.g. line
Assignment 2: not considered in portfolio, not coherent with my practice
Assignment 3: kept, but with addition of lightbox (to be discussed)
Assignment 4: reworked because of canvas stretcher and lost material
Assignment 5: kept as quite successful
Parallel Project: merged as subsection with idea from part 5, stage 3 only conceptual, stage 5 WIP
amended: for the sake of avoidance / self-plagiarism:
I do thank all who gave me their feedback and comments on my revised draft. The final draft is the current one
I am considering here the discussion on self-plagiarism at OCA discuss forum and input from OCA librarian Helen at: https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/should-i-publish-my-essays-on-my-blog/10737?) and the mitigating the minor risk that someone could reference this revised draft – what would apparently put me intro trouble, as I did not reference my revised draft in my final draft. Let the readers of this amended post reflect for themselves on what may be good online academic standard….
After my previous reflection with more focus on my collaboration with music student Vicki Downey, here my wider reflection on this works sits in my practice and the course ‘Studio Practice’ as such.
in key words
Fig. 1: Parallel Project – Reflection – key words
Some voices (permission to quote was received) – link to PDF
I very much appreciated the feedback on our work shared later by Caroline Wright, lead of the New Music Collective-Fine Arts collaborative project (together with Carla Rees):
I’m pleased the NMC/FA project was worthwhile. Collaboration can be challenging but it is very often incredibly revealing – to those involved to discover one’s own sense of self and way of working, and to better understand the content and communication in (and of) the work. Your collaborative work was, for me personally, an interesting example of how music/sound and visual material can create atmosphere, and how changes of tone and manner of communication can be enhanced or changed by experiencing work through different senses. Within collaboration, there are fascinating aspects around boundaries, of the work, of the ideas and of the two modes of realization, where do they extend to, overlap or synthesise. And where do the boundaries exist from the audience point of view. Sound can bleed beyond visuals and can be seen as a tool for segueing visual material, but it can also be so much more on top of this. I hope you continue to explore working in this way. – Caroline Wright, MA, PGCert HE Art & Design, SFHEA, Program Leader, Fine Art, post- and undergraduate, The Open College of the Arts
=> It very much enhances aspects of boundaries and transformation, of expansion of experience beyond the pure visual, aspects that I found became more and more important in my work since the beginning of this course related
Positive moments of our work:
The combination of visuals and music came across as powerful and uplifting the work to another level
The at times disruptive sequences were perceived as an integral part of the work
A change in atmosphere, from comfortable and curious, through disturbing and unsettling, to a relaxing and peaceful finish, was appreciated. Though, not for all it was working properly (especially those viewing it on smaller screens at home)
The incorporation of paintings and process paintings was considered as powerful and successful
A sense of failing and unresolved boundaries was recognized, for me a great feedback as such.
Reflecting on my tutor’s response to the third part as having some sense of ‘melancholy’ I can relate this back to one of my beginning of the work, the baroque and sense of temporal intensity, or as Michael Ann Holly described the ever changing and metamorphosis:
it [Baroque] dazzles and distorts in failing to represent the unrepresentable, baroque vision sublimely expresses the melancholy so characteristic of the period. – (Holly, 1996:92)
Questions to myself
How relevant are the discernible sections in the work?
=> Vicki and I found the sections as important to give structure, perhaps a reflection how structure was integral and supporting our distant collaboration work. Would a collaboration with both on site looking different? I am wondering whether independent sequences, installed on different screens in a gallery space, as body of work alongside possibly non moving images, could be more powerful? Each sequence in itself possible to be stretched more? A question of narrative in a work and a narrative in an exhibition space. I felt reminded of the exhibitions works of Jutta Koether (Four Seasons and the Seven Sacraments – paintings) and Bill Viola (Intimate Works, slow motion videos). Possibly, slower transitions with more coherence between section, e.g. as seen in Will Kendrick’s work That Hall Is Woven With Serpents Spines, 2018. From the peer feedback received, those who viewed the work through the provided vimeo link on flatscreen devices, it appeared that the three sequences were too much distinctive and possibly missing a motif or visual connection
How important are some visuals, e.g. face-in-sand for the work, as they are at times perceived conveying an obvious message related to cultural connotations?
=> I had another version as a process painting that I could replace the face-in-sand sequence with (Schaffeld, 2019b). However, I do wonder whether those cultural gestures do need to be considered purely as cliché – or whether in context of a work that one would consider ‘art’ could exactly challenge underlying assumptions? How didactic or obvious should or should not a work be? As Caroline Wright asks in her feedback, ‘where do the boundaries exist from the audience point of view?’
How relevant or didactic is the use of a title? Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI) was mostly placing the work as a response to MRI scan experience.
=> I could completely eliminate any reference to MRI, possibly to use a complete different text? Although, some didn’t bother at all with the title. Wearing a patient gown in the middle section seemed also be obvious, although wearing a black dress could put this section even more into other areas, e.g. computer games, tron-type. Apparently, single bits in the work came across as ‘obvious’, but would the entire narrative be as obvious? I got the sense that the viewers who picked on single obvious bits, didn’t consider the entire work as obvious – perhaps this made it so discruptive, unsettling, unclear of what it could be?
How relevant is the final part?
=> Idea was to get the audience back into the room, into the present after the quite unsettling middle section. Although, disruptive elements continued to play a role, the overall feedback related more to feel relieve, relaxed and with a sense of peace. In that sense, the final part was successful.
How does my work sit in relationship to painting?
=> Some parts of the work are video recordings of my live performance (with painted face) and of painting as process. Some other parts, eg. face-in-the-sand could be considered as drawing? Leaving a human trace in nature, though ephemeral in its existence? I do consider painting as an interrogation of color and space. Trying to expand this notion, I went to digital and sound spaces that could bring the audience into a physical embodied encounter with the work (with reference to Vincent Morisset)
How did my personal project evolve, which decisions did I take to move forward?
=> Since part one I was intrigued by crossing boundaries and expanding conventional notions of what painting could be. I very much like the process approach alongside a blurriness between materials, including blurring boundaries between digital and physical matter. I embraced more and more the materiality in itself and how actions as pulling and stretching do impact performance, understanding and visual expression. Starting out rather literally with pulling and stretching, the parallel project lifted those aspects up to a metaphorical level: stretching connotations and understanding of sections that made up for a disruptive narrative. Further, I do embrace ambiguity as a key elements, leaving space for the audience to response with their own experience and stories, there is not one way right or wrong. Also there is no misunderstanding as one could often hear from conceptual artists that the audience could mis-interpret the work (question of intelligence and decoding competence?).
What did inform my work as it stands today, and where there comprises to be taken due to the collaborative aspect? => Mostly, I was inspired by works of Bruce Nauman and Hito Steyerl, artists of different generations embracing their contemporary technologies and imaging techniques to explore space, understanding of material, and experiencing ambiguity. Further, the entire area of medical imaging technique is certainly informing my work and the way I do see the key elements as written down in the featured image above. I find those sensibilities of media technology as one can experienced either through medical imaging or through popular media culture do inform the vulnerability and forces I apply on materiality.
To make my parallel project as a collaborative project might be a risk that I take (what is mine and what is not mine). But I do believe that one always makes work in collaboration, even if it is ‘merely’ informed by peer or tutor feedback. My collaboration forced me to work more structured and to response what is there (in this case the music pieces created by Vicki). Music is abstract, and it informs abstract ideas – being transformed by my hands with material matters turning into visual imagery.
What are my key learnings throughout the development of my personal project?
=> I found the collaboration a stunning experience. We worked for four months on it, quite effectively (considering that I started this course more than one and half year ago), and in resonance. It felt as if our collaboration was another metaphor for MRI process.
How would I want to develop my work further? Deeper or different directions?
= Overall, I do think that the work is too loaded with a complex narrative. Three to four distinctive parts bundled into one audio-work. Considering gallery spaces, I would rather split the apart, make it into three to four screenings, possibly in three joined rooms to allow and add the movement of the audience to be part of the work and its experience. I am very much intrigued by the layering of sensual channels, visual and auditory at least. Other senses, as touch (through walking through) and smell or taste could be explored additionally. However, I am with Merleau-Ponty who stated that all senses are linked to each other in the phenomenological encounter with the and in the world.
– Transformation – Crossing Boundaries –
– Disrupting narrative –
– Vulnerability –Fragmentation – Material Reality –
I find as if I am coming not more and more to a core of what I want. Part of it seems to me quite autobiographic, although not spoken out explicitly, only through visual imagers and spaces that exceed the sense of sight alone. It seems to resonate what I partly described in my short ‘journey’ for #OCAstories . Big part of what I want to do relates to the psychological dimension of human life as I do experience intersubjectively with my clients/patients in art therapy.
Overall, I can now discern a few aspects that are important for my work as an emerging artist:
transformation of material,
crossing boundaries of single perspectives and material reality,
disrupting narratives through juxtaposition and contrast,
showing vulnerability and fragmentation
Actions to develop the work
First, to make a distinctive and slower version (either with cut-up voice-scape, see example) or with the organ part alone
Second, more visually coherent, yet disruptive transitions.
Third, a plan for presenting the work for assessment incl ideas of room spaces.
Featured image: digital composite of painting and writing out key elements relevant to my practice
Outline of my argumentation, based on my earlier brainstorming and draft outline around the subject of medical imaging / MRI and art. Especially, considering more the work for my parallel project and assignment 4 works around materiality of paint as malleable and vibrant as skin through which the gaze is intruding onto us.
This was going a bit different than just a straight forward parallel project. The outcome was realised and performed aka screened in a private viewing event at Toynbee Studios, London E1 6AB on 20th July 2019 with the support of OCA (Caroline Wright and Carla Rees). The work consisted of an approx 10 min visual-music performative video created together with music student Vicki Downey.
as installed and screened at Toynbee Studios on 20th July 2019. A collaboration with music student Vicki Downey ()
Remark: in order to have the best experience of the work, it is recommended to listen to with good headphones with a frequency range down to <=20 Hz or with a good audio system that can convey very low pitches
Now, with the outcome accomplished, time to reflect on the work done and a reflection after the event including feedback from the audience and learnings from what I experienced from the other five projects presented.
About our collaboration
(see also Vicki’s reflection – under Reference)
When the call for a New Music-Fine Arts collaborative project was announced, I was thrilled. I pondered for quite some time about how to bring sound and painting together, having only experimented for myself with some animated images and recorded painting processes. I knew that I often take too much on my shoulders and at times all over the place. Therefore, I hoped that I could integrate the collaborative bit into my coursework, even hoping it could be part of my parallel project related to medical imaging and MRI and being presented for assessment (still to come) – and I got the go from my tutor under the condition it would be well documented. I was even more thrilled to hear in my first virtual meeting with music student Vicky Downey that she felt intrigued by the topic of MRI and was open minded to have our collaboration on this theme, somehow ‘directed’ by my parallel project. Since the start I felt an amazing resonance and trust between us.
Big challenge for me was how to create and get visuals, animated images or ‘still’ paintings into a piece of work that work together and are ‘synced’ with Vicki’s music. We discussed this and it occurred to me that non-perfect sync might be even a good idea. I never worked on any video or animated piece longer than 1 or 2 minutes, and mostly as recordings, but without the addition of extra-soundscapes. I was afraid that I have to spend a massive amount of time on learning film editing and post-production software, and that the results would look clumpy, rough and amateurish. Or that awful transitions would damage the experience of our work. I put this concern away and was pleased that our discussion went along more or sensation and experience of visual and soundscapes.
I really enjoyed our collaboration that followed a mutual sequence, starting with talking through my initial idea and own experience of brain MRI, Vicki’s experience and ideas relating to MRI, and pulling together rough ideas on how MRI works, how it could be translated musically and visually, and some references to other artists.
In this flowing phase, I found it tremendously helpful to have Vicki as a remote partner, giving structure through her music pieces, that I could take up and inform my visuals. We refined and build a flow together later. I do thank Vicki for being in that sense more structured as me, as I tend to be rather experimental, at times chaotic and always embracing uncertainty. Also, I very much appreciated how Vicki took up points from our discussion through a few virtual meetings and more email exchanges (that I put all together in a separate doc) and played out and experimented freely. Fortunately, this didn’t put her off.
I made a very rough first draft visual sequence midway that found good resonance with Vicki, and just before our big day made variations and eventually the night before the final cut. I was embracing uncertainty and considered certain de-synced transitions as a key element of the outcome and the experience. It was like a dialogue in three, between visuals, music and perception by the audience of both together. This also led to the fact that I could share a second version of a full visual sequence (a narrative?) with Vicki only the day before the event. However, I made some variations of sub-sequences that we reviewed remotely by texting together. A big thank to her for this late checking in and trust and openness.
Each of us created more ‚raw material’ that didn’t go into our final cut. We have more material that we could (and will) see how it could be used. This includes MRI footage in the work, voice and words, humming sound by string or by audience, and last not least how a live performance with people (us or other) could look like.
Overall, I very much appreciated the opportunity from OCA to work collaboratively with music, especially that it was Vicki who became my partner in ‚MRI-crime‘ (our work title ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’, that I made up in a moment of deep inspiration, is also a reflection on our collaboration based on openness and trust). I also found the inspirational and pragmatic Carla and Caroline very supportive and appreciated that both also made some work together. As a Fine Art student at level HE5, I feel inspired to explore further relationships between visual spaces and sound spaces, both key to our human understanding and knowledge of the world around us. This collaboration opened up new perspectives for me, and I can now even imaging in include voice/words into the work.
Reflection after the performance event 20th July 2019
We started the day in a wonderful venue at Toynbee Studios, six projects in pairs, three before and three after lunch. I was so thrilled hearing that my tutor will come, and for time reasons made us to schedule our bit as the last one of day.
The day started with the fantastic impromptu Kym and Jason, who performed painting and music ad hoc, involving us as the audience by asking to roll a dice that would inform their performance. It was a good start with a lot of fun. I very much liked the vitality and spontaneity of the performance. Something, I could do envision for street art performance or any other public spaces as well. Will keep this in mind as it resonates with my art therapy practice as well.
A slide show accompanied by live piano music followed by word and voices followed by Anne and Naomi (who was virtual present), with Anne’s husband joining in. I very much enjoyed her piece ‘hands’, written poem, sung along by Anne and her husband, we as audience were invited to sing along as well. I found it intriguing to include words and voice in a piece, something Vicki and I considered but not realized. Re audience voice, it appeared also in the piece performed later by Anna and Deborah, as well as by Emma and SarahJane.
The next project by Anna and Deborah was informed by Anna’s graduate show work on ‘one year in prison’ informed by letters of one prisoner. It sounded familiar to me, as my work with Vicki was also informed by my ideas of parallel project, though nothing was realized till that moment. Nevertheless, there work got a spin by the input of Deborah. The audience was once again invited to participate by creating a human wall (reference to the prison wall) and holding lace flags. Anna informed us that this bit was informed by her exchange with textile students. Their piece was an animated still photograph sequence with voice over by Anna and Deborah sitting on both side of the human wall. I took away the experience of space created in the room, through a layering of background screening, audience as object rather sculptural installation and the words and voices that pulled me as an ‘observer’ into a liminal space.
After lunch, the room became dark, as the three following projects were built around the screening experience accompanied by music and sound. It was interesting for me how the day was split into two parts (intentionally?). Caroline’s and Carla’s work was according to their information a rather short notice built together performative work. Carla was playing on her flute and creating a huge variety of sounds and Caroline played a gong, both playing in the back, between the screen and the audience seated. I was impressed by the experience of time and duration. At the beginning the transitions of stills were very slow, meditative, and the perception of space through layering was stunning. What started abstract moved on with zooming out perspectives and with more clarity on location and video sequences were included. The soundscapes created and experienced were intriguing. Compared to screen-based sequences only, as me and Vicki worked along on our piece, a double space created, the room of the performance was part of the work. A tension between what I see and what I hear, going through my body, being fully immersed. Time was standing still, and I did appreciate how long a piece can be (it was roughly 15 min long) with slow motion or even still. Definitely, something for me to keep in mind.
The project just before our part, was done by Emma and SarahJane, a fast moving sequence build around original footage from an older Venus travel film related to the myth of the Sirens, accompanied by Emma’s music as a soundtrack, or a soundscape synced with the visuals. SarahJane had incredible technical knowledge how to apply filters to make visual effects. Most stunning was their rather improvised audience involvement through a voice choir accompanying the last sequence of an underwater siren sequence. Another fab example, how well the audience can be involved actively, and how improvisation actually works by just doing, being in the space, and feeling resonance among the people and the visuals or music.
The last bit was our work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’. I was quite nervous, checked with Vicki who was virtual present, sound systems, being concerned about the transmissions of very low pitches. We didn’t foresee any audience involvement or live performing things; it all was about the visual-music experience conveyed through projection and sound. We discussed before the duration of the black screen in the middle of the work just the night before. But having experienced the other works before I was not concerned at all. It is amazing how much space (visually and musically) can be hold when being in that space physically. An experience lacking completely when viewing online, screen based only. For me the big take away: one’s own body has to be in that space. How could embodiment be better explained? We received good feedback related to the photo-painting sequence and the narrative created, at times an disruptive, unstable sequence that worked well with the experience.
Overall, a fantastic day, full of creative energy. We all worked together very well. It was very worth for me to flying over. As one key aspect in my work is embodiment, best experience for me was the necessity of being in the space itself. Kind of summarizing what my parallel project was and is all about. The experience of MRI was a point of departure, it concluded in an experience of visual-sound-music-embodied space experience. I left the venue and the day encouraged and highly motivated and was following up with Vicki to share what I felt and experienced, and feedback received offline. This is another aspect of collaboration: sharing and involving.
About the development of the work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction’
First, we agreed to start wide open, bringing each of us visual and musical sketches into the table aka into the cloud (a shared drive). This was quite a helpful approach, to have a place to share without talking directly to each other (Vicki is based in UK, I am based in Germany) and to get input of what the other had in mind. We discussed themes as body-mind binary opposites, sense of disembodiment inside the MRI machine, the hand outside the machine with the thumb on the emergency button, physical parameters e.g. proton spinning, Lamour frequency, precession, slicing, machine sounds, notation etc. One reference I added to our discussion was Rasheed Newsome’s Shade Compositions (Furnace, 2017), a combination of stage performance, screening, and sound and voice – it was good to hear that this resonated with Vicki. I do believe that this idea of combining wall screening and stage performance followed through our collaboration. We diverted from this, perhaps more unconsciously mutual agreed on in resonance, it became clear that Vicki couldn’t attend in person. Therefore, we put the stage performance bit aside, and to make it digital only. Somehow, I didn’t feel it would make sense to perform on site/stage alone.
I did pull from ideas created during my course, kind of spin off ideas informed my ideas about my parallel project. I maintained a dedicated sketchbook for my project, at the beginning it was rather focused around my brain MRI experience, other artist’s work informed by MRI, and my coursework ideas. It developed into a more focused exploration around our collaboration.
A next main phase started midway, when we agreed to structure our work around three parts: an emerging (informed by my reference of arriving in the clinic and before going inside the machine) , an inside the machine (with its percussive, pulsing sound and slicing effect relating to the visual imagery resulting from the process), and a final part that I referred to as Baroque, informed by MRA images of my brain vessels, we called it ‘Brain Baroque’.
Concerning the Baroque: this is informed by my reading of Deleuze ‘Fold’ (brain as folded matter) and inspired by Helen Chadwick’s work ‘Oval Court’ and her interest in the Baroque, Rococco. I found it helpful to have midway Carla Rees supporting Vicki in finding her way into this theme that she took up and came back with stunning piece of music.
Concerning uncertainty, I tend to push thinking about final piece away and still being very positive about the process and an outcome. I have to acknowledge that only quite late in the project phase I got some clarity on how things might evolve from my side.
My first draft (Downey, Schaffeld, 2019b) based on the three part music provided by Vicki established for me a frame around emerging (my portrait with zooming into my eyes) , using original MRI footage and some of my sketchbook ideas to improvise on the idea of slicing alongside the organ sound from Vicki, using original MRA footage of my brain vessels (animated) for the ‘brain baroque’ music, and last taking my same portrait to fade away into blackness as end.
I was not satisfied with couple of items, e.g., do I want to use original footage? Do I want to illustrate ‘slicing’ through animated movement of still images? how could we make a meaningful finish? I wanted to build in process work, i.e. painting process, and to replace photographs with paintings, all still to be created.
I found it was very helpful that we obtained a combined full piece of work, even in a very raw and sketchy way. It supported us to reflect in structure, on timing, on visual-music resonance. Without that overall impression, I doubt that we would have been able to establish the outcome we presented (see Schaffeld, 2019b).
Few main changes we made: to break the first part down into two sections (a slower and a more dynamic phase) and to break the third part also in two sections (allowing a smoother finish). Vicki came up with the idea of breathing, I related it to departing from the machine into nature. This really got my ideas flowing, to distant myself from rather illustrative visuals, and to relate more to the body. Some further reading done for my critical essay gave me ideas in faces, defacing, and touch and the body. The result was me drawing a sand with the water washing it away. This is what I do relate to the seacoast, for our work I had to improvise and to set up the ‘beach’ on our porch with sand and letting water from our rainwater container run over it to flush it away. All these connotations with drawing a face in sand and the sea informed the last section of our work.
I decided to start the ‘Brain Baroque’ piece with the original animated footage (was too fascinating for us since the beginning), but merged it with a process painting of watercolor running down (in final piece it is ‘running’ up as I rotated it informed by the uplifting sound and uplifting evolvement of Baroque forms).
To replace my photographed portrait with a painting was the easier bit, and I think that the fact of Vicki being not physical present informed my decision to ask her for a portrait photo and to paint her as well. During the making next steps followed on each other and our two photographs turned into two portrait paintings that turned into one layered combined portrait followed by the first idea of zooming into the eye and into the brain.
The last, the middle section was perhaps the hardest bit, as I not only questioned the use of original footage for that (too personal? too illustrative? ethics?) as well as the visuals as being just an illustration of the music or of my idea of ‘slicing’. A turning point for me was when I started to depart from being inside the MRI machine and focusing more on my embodiment, my reaction to sound when I was inside. Is music not creating a soundscape that we tend to take in us, triggering images, and last not least make us to move, to feel? What if I would perform not to the original footage but to Vicki’s music? A surrogate perhaps, but more real in the presence, informed by same phenomena of human embodiment. I think after making several performance during daylight and at night with UV light, fluorescent paint on my face, and a check pattern projected onto my body and the background wall (the pattern was one of those moments of serendipity found during making of other works for my course, informing this project) I did know the music by heart.
I am a Visual Artist studying towards a BA(hons) in Fine Art. My main interest resides in the psychological dimension of human life in daily encounters as an ambiguous temporal-spatial continuum. This is my learning log.
My artist site: https://www.stefanschaffeld.com