I worked from my previous work for ‘Body as Canvas‘ , the stage-box, appropriating a TV set and Serra’s hand through my painterly performance.
The question how to incorporate a narration into this work. But moreover the question, what narration could be, besides ‘telling a story’ in an entertaining or didactic manner. In my parallel research I looked at the works of Amy Sillman, Jutta Koether, and Jacqueline Humphries. My original idea derived from Richard Serra’s short video Hand Catching Lead (1968). My motivation derived from my subject matter of my personal project: medical imaging and the self, or in a wider sense, digital imaging versus embodied sense of reality and identity. All in context of visual culture. My work is an appropriation of efforts, as the original idea was an exploration of the visual culture and technology at that time (mid/late 1960s) resulting in a reduced stage performance. Could Serra’s as well as my work be considered as a visual commentary on memory (see Jan Verwoert and Vincent Pecoil) with an outlook on future possibilities?
What happened so far:
I could see my intital ‘Catch Paint Box‘ as a painterly enactment, in context of Rachel Russell’s appropriation of Guston’s The Studio. I worked further and with an extended version ‘Paint – Catch- Move’ (video 1), with more linear and non-linear camera, body and object movements. I posted in an hangout at a further developed stage for peer review. could be seen as a kind of narrative, linear in its temporal deployment, and with some phases or acts.
Video 1: Catch-Paint-Move (2:34min):
A narrative in moving images, painting in a painted stage, a multiple before and after
I could see how my enactment within the painted situation turned itself into a painterly gesture: My painted hand reached in and out, for meaning – quite literally. The surrounding context (painted TV set, painted laptop, physical environment of my studio) could work as layers of reality, depicted reality, illusion In summary, this would be already a before and after narrative as requested for this exercise. But somehow I was not satisfied with the result – not yet (although the video as work was perceived quite well by peers).
One key aspect was the reaching-out an through to break the ‘fourth wall’. Compared to the rather static scene of Russell’s The Studio, my ‘hand’ searched and extended. The hand as the tactile and gestural ‘tool’, quite in a sense of Douglas Gordon‘s The Divided Self. And it the aspect of a felt dissociation of my hand from my ‘outside’ body that makes Gordon’s work quite relevant. And in a wider sense I do wonder how much there is even a cultural sensibility of the vulnerable masculine body involved (with some notion of the vulnerability expressed John Coplans series of Self-Portraits (1985-87).
Hand and arms are performative subjects, also in still images, as I did notice in the ‘still’ portrait photography of Shirin Neshat, e.g. Stripped (1995). How could I develop this further? Be more ambiguous? Maybe, driven by my desire to re-make the physical enactment part of a flat painting. Similar to Paulo Rego installed various sceneries in her studio, just to make observational paintings? And to transform painted moving images back into still images. What could be gained by that?
Ideas for development:
I do wonder how my approach to narrative could inform further my parallel project. I looked at some other artists (Sara Naim, Alexa Wright and Jacqueline Humphries – see sep blog post): glitches, distortions, dislocations, fragmentations, and the mirror as body image.
From my various playing around with shapes, stencils, collages, paintings the following aspects seem to be intriguing:
- figure-ground relationship
- performative enactment inside the painting
- painting as backdrop for performance (as Clare Price’s IG performative diary)
- painting as disruptive element in images
- crossing boundaries between painting and digital reproduction
- fragmented visual information to disrupt narratives
- visual layering as aspects of memory and passage of time
My initial linear attempt (Fig. 1) – collaged reproduced paintings and still images, painted over:
Fig. 1: Sketchbook – narrative exploration – first attempts in discerning a narrative – a linear split in space
=> The top line a time based narrative of ‘pulling the narrative’. Visually, I find the juxtaposition of dark, enclosed area and the bottom right white, open area attractive. Also the apparently receding impression of the three ‘TV-sets’ in middle row seem to add some visual narrative. The right hand seem visually to advance from the background (with ambiguous white/black patterns).
Overall, not so satisfying and convincing, struggling with the linear aspect, too much of telling a story (?) , looking more for a non-story based narrative, more disruptive (embracing the bottom right corner in Fig. 1). At least, the top line could be cropped off (too illustrative).
A collection of ideas from the box, different backdrop (psychedelic?), crossing boundaries of staged reality and studio reality, pulling a narrative, collaged (Fig. 2).
Where is my hand?
What is it doing?
not me – not there
failure – fragmented
Fig. 2: sketchbook development
=> still having the bottom right corner separated visually.
a) Moving images expansion step 1:
Referring to my appropriation of Serra’s ‘Catching Hand’ , I was looking for how to include the falling objects besides being actual objects moving into the stage painting: perhaps a projection on a transparent layer, or the backdrop, making it impossible for my hand to catch – reflecting on the discrepancy between digital (projection) and analog (embodied performance) – and perhaps a different approach towards fragmented in-betweenness – Fig. 3:
Fig. 3: development -Sketchbook exploration of transparency and the multiple sides of reality – left collage painting without, right with painted plastic sheet (removable) – colors inspired by the projection artefacts (see video 2); quite opaque layer
and another one:
Fig. 4: development -Sketchbook exploration of transparency and the multiple sides of reality – left: initial painting with collage frame, center: mylar layer ontop and back view (oil paint), right: monotprint (decalcomania) of mylar painting on sketchbook page
=> I intentionally took the photographs with the reflections of my studio light, as it seems only through them the reality of the transparent mylar sheet became visible (present). I liked the monotype print. On the one hand a rather practical approach to take off some of the paint from the mylar. Otherwise, it creates a remote painting (at least a point of departure ) with some sense of visual depth and intriguing edges. Comparing with the initial underlying painting, it resembles it – with a more colorful gestural expression of movement.
Based on these ‘still’ sketchbook explorations, I went back to video recording my ‘painting enactment’ with an attempt in moving, performing images: staging, projection of playback recording, recording => concealing/revealing – is this a narrative? And still an open question of how sound/soundscape does work (or not)
Video 2: Hand – Catch – Screen (0:50 min) (password: visual) – edited from several videos taken:
=> I do consider this moving image as a further expansion on screen, projection, the digital and the analog. Video taken with my phone-camera. Experimenting with multiple realities (recording the projection of a video onto the box), screen (plastic foil in-front of the box), and artefact creation (hue shift, patterns)
I noticed several (digital, technology) artefacts:
- shifting screen pattern from manually tilting the projector downwards
- color hue shifts (glitches) moving downwards from the double recording (video-projection-video) at 0:44-0:50 min
- artefact from turning on the projector at 0:08- 0:09 min
- reflective glare from the projector – index and evidence of projection, of one reality; absent when foil is absent
I like the artefacts things – appears only during double projection-recording. I can related this to the projection doing a ‘painterly performance’ – either to keep it like that or to transform into informed paintings.
Some performing artefacts in a painterly sense do remind me of the monotype print I did before (see Fig. 4 – right).
Fig. 5: development – artefacts – a collaged mix of still images
….and some intriguing still images from video 2:
Fig. 6: development – still images HCS (Hand Catch Screen, video 2)
b) Moving images expansion step 2:
adding my hand – a performative enactment in space-in-between.
Video 3: Hand – Catch – Screen – Performance (2:32 min) – edited from several videos taken:
=> The projector casting a shadow of my hand and creating the artefact of color shifts (as observed in step 1) I zoomed in and out (as in my initial Catch-Paint-Box video) – breaking the fourth wall and adding context intentionally. The blackness brings me to the reference of movie theater experiences. The sequences kind of disruptive narrative? The falling objects seem so real, but are merely a recording of a projection. At 0:43 min there is a switch in the sequence: from dark to light stage. I like the click-sound (un-intentionally happening, the result of turning on the light). At 0:46 min another switch is happening: from light back to dark with a zoomed-out view alongside a switch of backdrop (colored to monochrome mural painting). At 1:24 my hand is appearing, kind of new act (in zoom-out view, with the artefact of light when turning on the projection). At 1:53 min, the backdrop changes back to the starting colored version.
The closing and opening of my hand reminded me of a pumping action, in sync or partly with the zoom.
Fig. 7: development . sketchbook; contactsheet of still images HCSP (Hand Catch Screen Performance, video 3) overpainted with gestural stripes responding to artefacts and glitches
=> I find that the overall picture as an assemblage does have a different appeal versus the individual images. Perhaps another way of narrative? As contact sheets do convey sot of documentary and evidence (if numbered) appeal from a photography practice.
I can discern a few aspects that I find intriguing and will develop further through painting:
- layering – opaque transparency (like J Humphries stencil paintings)
- artefacts (digital, analog glitches and the in-between – the invisible) and its colorful index
- dissociative hand – dislocation – manual interaction
- disruptive picture plane (see also Fig. 1)
- painting to perform, my hand in absence – the paint in presence – embracing serendipity
- A video as performing painting (‘Paint Catch Move‘, video 1)
- A series of still images as impression of a process and interaction (Fig. 7, derived from video 3)
Steps to do:
- A narrative of ‘pulling a narrative’ (Fig. 1, Fig. 8/9, and video 4)
- Ideas for installation (see below ‘Further development ideas’)
PULL: Pulling a Narrative
I was fascinated by the pulling approach through my hand, the hand as a handle like the handle of a jar in the narrative of Georg Simmel ‘Der Henkel (The Handle)’ (see my post Handle and the Box) that kept me inspired during part 2. May there be something to build around the hand, the handle, the pull, and the reaching out and in?
The ‘pull’ might be a one way of participatory action (with some reference to past victorian toys), a smaller format compared to the ‘walk’ as in Jutta Koether’s installations. And a pull could be seen bifold: pulling towards me or being pulled into.
Building a narrative:
Basically, to take still images from my various painting performance recordings and to arrange them in a different, visually appealing way. I noticed that at the end all kind of sequences might work, eventually settled with one (Fig 8):
Fig. 8: Pull – building a narrative (top row: selected sequence)
=> still not that coherent – perhaps to move on in the format of either a flip book or a one long sheet with interacting shapes and forms (a bit light Fig.1 – a landscape?)
Another idea for viewing as moving images (appropriating victorian toys): rotating cylinder, black with a peep hole to look through. I also have seen the idea of peeping recently at Helmhaus, Zurich – exhibition of contemporary Swiss artists: Doris Stauffer Patriarchalisches Panoptikum, 1975 – and resonating with the fairy series of Kate Aston, OCA photography student. Peeping as a feminist subvertive response, but what would take me away from my approach to in-between-ness of technology, imaging technique, and glitches.
Two forms of presenting my encounter with Serra and the screen surface (sketchbook epxlorations). Pulling the narrative – painted performance recorded and re-projected
Fig. 9: Pull – building a narrative – presentation formats (sketchbook explorations), left: pulling role, to pull and unfold downwards – right: small booklet in the center behind a black frame, to pull to the left and flip formats for distribution?
..and the pulling aka unfolding of the narrative (booklet – right in Fig.9):
Video 4: Pull #02 (0:28 min)
(see at top of post – featured video)
My other idea possibly more responding to the ‘still’-moments of a moving image. Initially, I was intrigued by Richard Serra’s (non-)catching hand. Through his repetitive action and due to his partly failure rising a desire to continue. One becomes over time more sensible to the small moments and deviations, like one becomes more sensible to the impact of the environment either in Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘White Paintings’ or in Jacqueline Humphries ‘Black Light Paintings’. Only through the double projection/recording of my process based approach, I became aware of the artefacts and glitches.
TIME: Sensibility to Time
Eventually, I decided that the efforts and deepness I will work further on this project will exceed the scope of this ‘exercise’. There, I will build and develop the work through painting further in my assignment work.
Further development ideas – Invitation for Participation
I do consider my work more as a visual ideation than as finished work Although, I was encouraged by peer feedback on my video Catch-Paint-Move as a work in itself, already ambigous enough, perhaps to be further developed with some ‘unexpected’. I developed it further towards – once again – more interactive, participatory sketches (Fig. 9 and to illustrate it through the video Pull #02)
However, I have a feeling that related to installation there could or need to be more. A combination of moving images (performative video) and still images (ass seen with Amy Sillman or Jutta Koether) in the same space for exhibition seems relevant for me.
Possibly, the ‘real’ narrative is happening in the space between, the space the viewer enters when going physically through an exhibition, engaging and interacting with works on display. This will trigger ideas, embrace individual experience of the viewer resulting in a new narrative, making sense process. I do embrace Jutta Koether’s approach in her series Seasons and Sacraments, as if a certain relationship with know past moments, stories, are one important aspect of the body of work. An invitation for participation.
I will consider this through my deeper painting approach in my assignment work as well as to see how it can inform my parallel project.
- Working in series became the result of performative actions and a constant exploration of new ways of looking at things. My setup with a staged box and my hand as the protagonist in a virtual untold story informed my selection of images. The recordings informed my still images – and vice versa
- As my narrative is built more around disruptive visual cues and not on ‘telling a story’ in a linear fashion, my working process evolved in a similar way. At times rather chaotic, back and forth, between performative action in/on a painted stage and exploring images in a painterly approach.
- The question what a painting is became more open-ended by my approach: a layering of multiple realities: Serra’s video work, my painted hand and appropriation of Serra’s video, my unpainted hand, inside and outside a staged TV-box, the autonomous performance of my hand, the artefacts of digital and analog technology as means of virtual imagery. The latter possibly as technology performing for me.
- I was not so convinced by ‘telling a story’ through a series of paintings. It has a touch of didactic approach, more narrowing down than opening up. Therefore, I decided to move along a non-story, non-linear approach in creating a visual narrative. Embracing materiality and visual artefacts as a reflection on contemporary life conditions in a digital and multi-imagery based world.
- Moving images versus still images aka paintings: still an open question, the latter perhaps more open in the situation of an installation with the viewer as narrator walking around and to build a narrative in that very moment. Hard to test in distant learning environment in my studio.
- I am aware that the colored painted background in yellow, blue may not be the best and conscious choice of colors. However, I found that the brighter colors (informed by the blueish black of the used gouache paint) with yellow as a ‘light emitting’ hue alongside the rather psychedelic curved stripes do work in this context of a backdrop.
- I consciously focused my approach in this exercise on the ‘TV-set’ part, excluding the painted laptop from it. I felt the disruptive narrative through the double projection and interaction of figurative (hand) and abstract shapes (backdrop, artefacts) would be more successful and less complex. I felt that the first works better in the format of a performative video and less as a series of still images.
- Overall, this exercise took much longer than initially thought. Therefore, I decided to continue further working on this in my assignment work (color creation through technological artefacts, in-between realities and the flat screen as a vehicle similar to a flat painting, close up views, more performative aspects of painting).
- Derrien, M., Ihler-Meyer, S., Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean and Musée Régional d’Art Contemporain Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée (2018) Flatland/Abstractions narratives. Status.
- Romdane, S. B. (2018) ‘Syrian Artist Sara Naim Doesn’t Believe in Borders – The 30-year-old uses abstract photography to question life’, in: Mille. [online]. At: http://www.milleworld.com/syrian-artist-sara-naim/ (Accessed on 20 Dec 2018).
- The Third Line (2019) SARA NAIM – Building Blocks (January 16 – February 27, 2019), [online], At: https://madmimi.com/p/40ed6d (Accessed 20 Dec 2018). Dubai: The Third Line, .
- Verwoert, J. (2007) ‘Living with Ghosts: From Appropriation to Invocation in Contemporary Art.’, in: Art & Research. [online]. 1, At: http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v1n2/verwoert.html;(Accessed on 20 Oct 2018).
- Wright, A. (2017) Alter Ego, [online video], At: https://vimeo.com/212579581 (Accessed on 16 Dec 2018).