Category : Part 3 – Prop, performance, stage

Project 3.5 – Ex. 3.4: Parallel Project – visual mapping

Working title: 


// Dislocated Image – Dislocating Self //


Ongoing interrogations   – a chronology 

// blog category ‘Parallel Project’ at: // 

// this information will be amended in a word doc – accessible at: chronology log (455 kB)

// sketchbook aka notebook pages for my parallel project – accessible at: sketchbook pdf (29 MB) (below figures are selected pages from this sketchbook)

My first visual thinking – mapping out

My interest: MRI as visual imaging technique informed by my bodily experience from a MRI scan (Bern, April 2018)

My inspiration – Museum Visits: Bruce Nauman ‘Composite Photo of Two Messes on the Studio Floor’ (1967) and Hito Steyerl ‘war games’, drones and visual simulation for remote attack

My question: Is MRI (or medical imaging technique) not a similar visual technique as satellite or drones? 

Mapping the territory:

Fig 1: Visual Mapping . areas of interest

Possible routes:

  • imaging as  mapping / seeing above and through / dislocation gaze and object // working with raw MRI images to translate them painterly


My second visual thinking – mapping out

My question: How does Baroque folds compare to MRI imaging technique?

Fig. 2: Exploring a Baroque’ness of MRI

Possible routes:

  • Applying the 6 traits of the Baroque to MRI and explore through painting folds and unfolds, MRI more as a metaphor than iconographic


My third visual thinking – mapping out

Fig. 4: a summary

Areas of difference:

  • Bodily / Senses / Auditory & Tactile / seeing with the body
  • iconographically: Aesthetics of MRI
  • indexical: medical gaze of decoding information
  • metaphorical: conditions of detecting, differentiating, constructing a visible
  • Baroque’ness : 6 traits of subverting dominance

My intermediate conclusion

My question/statement: Mapping as technique, MRI as mapping device

Collecting and mapping (classifying) ideas

Fig. 3: collection of ideas – 8 routes to move. MRI as mapping device.

Possible routes:

  • The Baroque sensibility
  1. The encapsulated brain
  2. The Sound image – a push vibration
  3. The slices abstraction
  4. ‘Still images’ as performative one hour lasting stillness, ref daguerreotype and the neck brace
  5. Performative-screen-translucent => Dissolution of boundaries
  6. ‘X-ray’ layers, a scanning sensibility 
  7. Figure / Ground discipline
  8. Resonance Music / Sound / Visuals => moving into my collaborative project with music student Vicky Downey


Fig 5: sketching directions



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Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage

  • Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage
  • Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage
  • Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage
  • Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage


a stage

staging performance

a screen of actions

acting through cutting space

a virtual in physical

reflective identity

a state of place 

placing in relationship.


Prior Reflection

The mirror as an object is rarely seen as such – similar to the surface of a painting – it is ‘within’ the mirror where the ‘image’ appears, invisible without, kind of affirmation of being. And one wondes whether that appearing image is inside or on the surface of the mirror, or just floating above?

The mirror took its stage already in the previous part of my course, as an object of fetishes on my ‘fetish wall’, a black mirror, one that I made earlier one for PoP1. First as a tool to discern tonal values – ended up as an object of identity..

Two other kind of mirrors were taking my attention: water reflections (as seen in one pic on Clare Price’s IG account), besides a reflection of the ‘invisible’ window also a spatial extension/expansion of the studio space into the painting. The other one relates to my personal project: the small viewing mirror inside the head coil of an MRI scanner (as experienced myself). The first as a visual device to reflect back the environment, the latter as a communication device between patient and operator . The first a painterly perspective, the latter perhaps more conceptual. The first seeing the ‘virtual’, the latter seeing the object for seeing.

virtual reflection – visual communication

Based on my previous works and my ideas for my assignment derived from my embodied enactment screen-box,  I am more intrigued to follow the fluid idea of reflection. The flatness, screen like, visually expanding into depth – as if looking behind the glass. For me, this resonates with how I do see medical imaging techniques. Interestingly, from a chemo-physical point of view glass has some characteristics of a liquid, a fluid state (Krämer, 2017). Overall, my main interest resides in the visual expanded space as a mediation of the separate physical spaces: the space with the mirror aka reflective surface located, the space the reflection is showing. Open question: where is the viewer?  (a question that was tackled differently in art history as my contextual research showed). And it is light that illuminates the surfaces and let us to discern shapes, forms, memories. 


Exploring staged spaces:

Building on the previous observed ‘staged’ reflections (as partly captured through video in Hand-Catch-Screen and Hand-Catch-Screen-Performance). I am interested to explore those moments of chance and interactions on surfaces

Stefan513593 - P3Ex4 - reflections - artefacts from project 3

Fig. 1: reflections – artefacts from project 3

I became more interested in the patterns inside, or behind the screen, especially when looking closely. The reflections (Fig. 1) through a plastic foil rather seen as an obtrusion, or as an interference like in one of sketchbook explorations? Wondering what will happen if I put more focus on the surface itself alongside the ‘bouncing back space’. To take the box with me? 

working from a flat box, a simple spray painted frame (stenciled) – a framing device, contained (Fig. 2).


Fig. 2: spray painted frame for staging: reference to my, flattened as a screen or painting (manila paper)


Some aspects I learned from experimenting:

  • reflective surfaces: playing with light
  • framing: playing with context and containment
  • layering: physical vs digital (and composites of both)
  • scaling & composing / placing
  • reflection: more than reflective images (‘mirror with no image’ – I feel some thoughts of Derrida coming in)




Stefan513593 - P3Ex4 - explorations - framing reflections - physical layering

Fig. 3: explorations – framing reflections – physical layering (plus digital added background frame)


Stefan513593 - P3Ex4 - explorations - framing reflections - digital layering

Fig. 4: explorations – framing reflections – digital layering (same images as in Fig. 2)


=> getting more concerns about the collaged hand, artefact and memory from work before. But necessary? Index of my interaction? Would gestural marks not be able to serve the same ‘purpose’? But it might be also a visual cue for the viewer to engage personally – versus my gestural marks just my own ‘narrative’? 

Playing with light 

media used: day light, studio light, light beam from projector; frame paper, reflective materials, cut out pieces (see Ex 3.2); simple photoshop images (geometric shapes); recorded videos

Exploring performative reflections with my self-made devices (Fig. 5):

Stefan513593 - P3Ex4 - mirror devices

Fig. 5: mirror devices: top: perspex in with backside black gestural painting and silver painted backing (top right) – bottom:  left black mirror ontop of reflective foil, right perspex with black painted backside; all with studio light reflections and a self-image


I tried all kind of variations with the light beam, at daylight and at night, with reflective and non-reflective surfaces (Fig. 5). From all images I took, a selection of those that I find most intriguing in a painterly sense (Fig. 6).


Fig. 6: exploration – light; framing and staging reflections


… and a for most remarkable and unexpected video – in a sense a remake of a double reflective projection (by projecting the video Pull #02 onto reflective surfaces=- unframed. I made it rather by chance coincidence – intrigued by the unfolding ‘performance’ in-front of my eyes while searching for reflective patterns.

Video 1: Performance  – Unframed #01 (0.22 min)


=> there is a sense of dislocation, ‘unframing’ and at the same time a containment with an ambiguous sense of space and surfaces,  multiple physical surfaces together with the projection  I find the text from the protective sheet on the perspex fascinating, as it advances the text more than the reflection,  (painted black at the backside to act as a mirror for projection). My hand, flipping the physical book ‘Pull #02’, becomes an actor in the projection. fragmented and dislocated. I made another video, focusing more with a close up view on the high reflective surface and color creations (Performance  – Unframed #02). There is a strong sense of disruptive space, edges that perform in ambiguity. Is this working better in moving images or could this be translated into painting? If yes, a flat painting as illusion (as the video is about illusion) or as a sculptural painting to play with a more tactile sense of disruption? 

Overall, it is all the performative reflections through projection and light modulation – kind of prisma of white light splitting into all spectra colors (bringing once more to my attention the idea of spectrum in my research on Jaqueline Humphries and her ‘Black Light Paintings’)

Painting performance – reflective performances

I worked with my ‘tools’ (Fig. 5 & 6), observed and painted the staged performance in front me: projections as light performances, framed, unframed, and reframed. I decided to work on smaller scale, a watercolor pad of 24×17 cm and a bit larger of 28×35.6 cm. To focus on smaller areas, possibly with more close up views, inspired by the close up paintings of folds of Alison Watt (though her paintings are rather large scale). 

Staging Reflections #1 – #12 (click on image to see in lightbox view)

Fig. 7 – Fig.18:  all watercolor and black gouache on paper (24 x 17 cm)

I started with a warm-up exercise outdoors with placing my mirrors on the ground (#2-3) and to compare withe natural light reflection in the water of the canal (#1). Back in studio I explored the highly reflective foil as it laid on the ground (#4, #13) and continued with my staging with the earlier approach of projecting pre-recorded videos onto these surfaces, more or less direct, at oblique angle, or overlapping different planes (#5-#12, #14). 

At some stage, I was facing a much troubling phenomena of double image: kind of duck-rabbit illusion, a Gestalt, when one can see either one or the other, but not both images the same time. In my case, the patterns on the reflective surface and the reflected image. Where to look when to paint by observation? I found it quite hard to do so, as my painted surface never seem to reflect that phenomena (#14). Why is it so hard to make a duck-rabbit painting? It felt so frustrating – but on the other hand so exciting. An area I would love to explore further – without knowing how. In a similar way, I found it tremendously difficult to paint those multiple reflective surfaces: patterns projected, patterns physical on the surface (see Fig. 5), and patterns in-between (#4 and #10, #11). Eventually I decided to make first a line drawing of main highlight areas, to paint around, and only at the very end after the watercolor was dry to add some final color washes (#12).

I discovered how fascinating the disruption of the picture plane became when projecting the images not on one but on multiple staggered surfaces. My ‘fingers’ seem to cross boundaries and performing on multiple stages the same time (#6 – #9).

Staging Reflections #13 – #14 (click on image to see in lightbox view)

Fig. 19 – Fig. 19: all watercolor and black gouache on paper (28 x 35,6  cm)


At the end, I found that a more loose approach and gestural interpretation of observed reflections could be more successful, e.g. as I started to explore after #5 with the more freely painted version #6. To consider focused observation only as an intermediate step for my assignment work. 

I consider the more successful paintings: #6, #7, #8, #12, and #14. Mostly for the more intriguing space ambiguity and more convincing painted patterns as well as better range of tonal contrast.

Overall, I find my paintings of combination of abstract color patterns and figurative fingers intriguing. They seem to be more engaging, possibly due to the human body inclusion. An aspect the viewer can relate to first and continue deeper.

Reflection in context

With respect to the screen as mirror I feel reminded of my recent read in the British Library: Helen Chadwick’s book ‘Of Mutability’ (Chadwick, 2011 and James, 2017). She talked about her project based on photocopies and using the photocopier as a camera. Everything – and mostly her own naked body – was  placed onto the glass plate of the copier and those copies resulted in large composites, a mosaic of hundreds of pieces. Oval Court, 1986 was a result to this process work, inspired by Rococo sensibilities as ‘constructed fantasies’ (Racz, 2017). Chadwick described her intention that the audience should experience the work not as a ‘voyeur’, but through a ‘kind of mirror identification, where the symbolism and language were broken down ‘ (Racz, 2017:70).

I can see a relationship between screen imagery as I explored in previous exercises, my bodily enactment and performative painting, and the media for viewing (mirror, glass plate, photocopier, water surfaces). Media that are informing the work and eventually do perform on its own, e.g. the projector beam and the TV-box.

framing – staging – screening – performing

Rather by coincidence I discovered the work of Penelope Umbrico in context of TV and reflective screens: found images of TV sets on TVs from Craigslist (2011). With a closer view she felt intrigued by the rather unintentionally depiction of context (room) when the owners took a snapshot for posting on Craigslist for sale (of the TV set). Later she posted her photographic images on the same platform for the same price as the former owner set it for the physical TV set. A loop from physical through virtual back to physical etc. She developed other works (all photographic reproductions) eg Broken Sets / Bad Display, 2011 with a colorful, rather painterly aesthetic appeal reminding me of Hito Steyerl’s short video ‘Strike’, 2010. The screen either as a rather passive reflector with an eerie element of revealing or as an active performative surface embracing serendipity. It feels as if the mirror, glass, a fluid medium with some liquid characteristics is looping back, to liquid crystals in the form of LCD displays. A whole territory for visual exploration as it was a major topic in the April 2018 issue of Journal of Visual Culture with some inspirational pictures of Esher Leslie, composites, at time with text as a kind of visual narrative (Candela ed al, 2018).

What does it give me? A deeper interest in exploring materiality and painterly performances of the boundary of a screen, in a wider context – getting excited to explore it with my hands on the paint. 

From above reflections and the question which ‘mirror’ to take, I will just continue with the flow of my explorations of my hand, the TV, the screen, and the projection. I will leave the water pool and head coil mirror aside, find them too literal right now.  They will come back if required – or not.

One other reference came to my mind looking at painting and projection: works of the artist Naomi Kremer called ‘Hybrid Paintings‘, e.g. Riverine, 2017-18, paintings with overlaid projection specifically made for each painting.

Another link that I find relevant related to reflective surfaces are some photography works of Sara Naim, very much resonating my my observations, e.g as sketched in no.12


  • Collaged pieces of human body, my hand versus gestural marks – both could serve the ‘purpose’ of index and my presence. Is one better than the other? Which narrative would unfold: mine or the viewer’s?
  • Performative reflections in a wider sense: projection and light modulations alongside disruptive space appearance. Something I find very intriguing to build on further.
  • Presence of human body parts seem to be more engaging.
  • Painting multiple reflective surfaces with reflected light and physical surface patterns seem to be like a duck-rabbit illusion, either one or the other, not both. Certainly, a skill I need to learn much better if I want to move further that direction. To look up artists who paint in such a manner.
  • Once more I experienced that to make paintings in series, party parallel, opens up doors to new knowledge and insight, new possible directions, and new sensibilities. My hand and my mind are involved in observing, painting, abstracting, and reflecting.



  • Candela, E., Cubitt, S., Dicker, B., Drew, B. and Leslie, E. (2018) ‘Liquid Crystals: A Roundtable’, In: Journal of Visual Culture, 17 (1)  pp. 22-67.
  • Chadwick, H. (2011) Helen Chadwick : of mutability, [Rev. rep.] ed. Edited by James, N. P. London: Cv Publications, c2011, c1989.
  • James, N. (2017) Helen Chadwick: Of Mutability (1989), Cv/Visual Arts Research series, [audible book], Cv Publications, 50.
  • Krämer, K. (2017) ‘Glass should be redefined as a liquid’, in: Chemistry World. [online].At: (Accessed on 28 Dec 2018).
  • Racz, I. (2017) ‘Helen Chadwick’s Of Mutability: process and postmodernism’, in: Journal of Visual Art Practice. [online]. 16(1), pp. 61-76, At: (Accessed on 08 Jan 2019).
  • Umbrico, P. (2011) TVs from Craigslist, [online], At: (Accessed 21 Dec 2018).
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Project 3.3 – Ex. 3.2: Before and After / Pulling a Narrative

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:

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - sketchbook - narrative explorations

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


Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - development

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: 

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - development - screen

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:

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - development - screen 2

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).


Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - development - artefacts

Fig. 5: development – artefacts – a collaged mix of still images


….and some intriguing still images from video 2:

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - development . contactsheet of still images HCS

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. 

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - development - sketchbook - contactsheet of still images HCSP

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
  • fragmentation
  • disruptive picture plane (see also Fig. 1)
  • painting to perform, my hand in absence – the paint in presence – embracing serendipity

Current stage:

  • 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:

  1. A narrative of ‘pulling a narrative’ (Fig. 1, Fig. 8/9, and video 4)
  2. Ideas for installation (see below ‘Further development ideas’)


Presentation format:


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):

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - Pull - building a narrative

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

Stefan513593 - P3Ex3 - Pull - building a narrative - presentation formats

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:  (Accessed on 20 Dec 2018).
  • The Third Line (2019) SARA NAIM – Building Blocks (January 16 – February 27, 2019), [online], At:  (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:;(Accessed on 20 Oct 2018).
  • Wright, A. (2017) Alter Ego,  [online video], At:  (Accessed on 16 Dec 2018).


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Peer review : Paint – Catch – Move (after Serra)

Paint – Catch – Move – An intermedia Box


asking for peer feedback on the following animation – an embodied painterly approach (at forum wide hangout)


Some ideas received:

(after the hangout and through other channels)

The overall feedback was that this was a powerful work with great potential through its “juxtaposition of the real and the digital, the organic and the constructed, colour and b&w, and the way these contrasts shifted and rearranged in a way that was uncanny, surreal and slightly unsettling” (Julia) . 

  • Struggle: ‘…. showing a constant struggle of catching that “good idea” to “make it work” ‘ (Marija) and idea of “my trying to catch onto an illusive idea he has in his head but it keeps slipping through his fingers. Then he catches one of these ideas but it is not what he he is looking for so he rejects it, only to retrieve it and try again to catch it” (Nuala)?
  • Failure: alongside frustration of my ” constant effort for little reward as it continuously slips through ..fingers” (Julia)
  • Reality: what if the withdrawing painted hand becomes unpainted? Surreal, breaking the fourth wall, and uncanny 
  • Contrast: black & white versus color –  context surrounding it, difference of ideas in my head?
  • Removal: moment of withdrawing my hand (B&w -> color, inside -> outside, acting -> getting on with things)
  • Elements of monotone, illusiveness
  • Painting: painted arm connotation of labor (e.g. coal or oil-smeared arm of a miner or other industrial worker), a nod to digital while retaining the painted and performance
  • Disruption: other memories of childhood experience of TV and puppet shows, the hand as dissociated, independent of me (outside the box), “behaving badly, uncontrollable” (Emma)
  • Context: Psychological element of mirroring, looking behind the scenes online, computers and devices what, connotation of ‘throwing’ pieces as Facebook ‘throw at us’ (Emma). It does remind me of ‘thing’ in the Addams Family
  • Recalibration, new moments, e.g. letting the hand inside – and remove myself; reminding me of the later Bruce Naumann videos in his studio
  • Technology: low-fi approach
  • References: Alexa Wright, e.g. Alter Ego?  Buster Keaton? Steve McQuinn?  – old silent movies from begin 20th century, drama of sound, music, and intermediate texts


  • How to incorporate further new, uncanny moments, unexpected, once the viewer got the idea? How to  build drama into the narrative? Is drama temporal or can it also be spatial, like intrinsic in a ‘static’ painting?
  • How to push painting and materiality alongside the virtual and digital further?
  • Improvements:  smoother transitions between takes

Interestingly, there were different opinions whether this work is to be considered as WIP for further elaboration, or already good as it is.

I do thank all for taking the time to look at my ‘moving’ images work and to respond with a wide variety of connotations


I do understand that this work plays very much with memories of the past of visual culture. relating to analog TV, puppet shows, performing puppeteers, childhood memories. The use of black&white has a strong connotation with analog films, and even silent movies. I think this might be an observation especially from photography students who do discern deeply when to use B&W photography due to its nostalgia appeal. 

I am glad that the difference and contrast between the inside (b&w, painted) and the outside (color, my body, my actions) came across strongly and as being a key aspect in the work. Also the clarity of digital versus physical reality. In that sense, I am pleased with the engagement.

More to think about, and relating to my actual moment of performance: the dissociative, independent aspect of what is acting/performing and what is behind, aside, in the ‘now’ reality. The physical, embodied aspect, versus the virtual, displaced, disembodied one. 

Next steps it to see how to bundle all of this, or just one aspect of it, into a narration. Thinking about visual only, or sound or music. And how embedded text (visual or verbal) could be considered, reflecting on the way silent movies developed drama. 

I find the works of Alexa Wright very fascinating and bookmarked for further reference.

Side note:

It happened that Peter posted on discuss forum his assignment work for the course ‘Moving Images’ that he developed through the entire course from idea, through screenplay towards filming. His subject matter was a conflict between mother and daughter, and I could learn a lot from how moving images as in film are developed for drama and  through temporal, visual cues. In my above video I worked a bit with zooming in and out, wondering how much film knowledge I need to have as a Fine Arts student for my practice (what is still not very clear how this looks like)


The body as part of the image – the embodied image – the narrative . An appropriation of Richard Serra

One previous work (audio-video – 3:23 min)

and a still image:

Stefan513593 - P3Ex2 Catch_Paint_Box - composite




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Project 3.2 – Ex. 3.1: Body as canvas

  • Project 3.2 – Ex. 3.1: Body as canvas
  • Project 3.2 – Ex. 3.1: Body as canvas
  • Project 3.2 – Ex. 3.1: Body as canvas

the process of enactment, appropriation and transformation through the restaging of an image using my own body – OCA coursematerial P2SP

At the beginning of this part, I reflected upon my recent works with taking as my starting point my installation work Walking Through Painting, capturing my body presence. How does my body, similar to the objects arranged, can act and perform in the same staged scene? Reflecting on my structural constellation works a sense of trans-verbal language. A question of objecthood and subject. I like the idea of participatory work.
The work still installed in my studio space – I wanted to put me inside of it, presence of my body compared to the absence of it in the original version. Enacting participation, though fragmented and more a memory of presence (Fig. 1). I was inspired by some works seen (various examples on the net: Liu Bolin or Natalie Fletcher or Johannes Stötter) where people get intentionally merged or blended with the background – stealth in military terms. Though, I find the mentioned works rather effect driven, or kitsch in the sense of focusing on mere effects versus process. Some works with ‘polka dots’ of the artist Yayoi Kusama are going in that direction but less blending, more merging and using repetition – asking the question what is object and subject.
Stefan513593 P3Ex2 The digital body

Fig. 1. The digital body in space, enacted in painting – painting sculpture (from part 2) with me walking through and digitally post-edit – layering – concealing, disappearing –  movement in still images 


=> These digital sketches based on my photographed sculptural painting might open another direction of what painting might be. What is materiality? What is paint? As if the acrylic paint from the objects turn into screen based color flooding the image, printed out and reproduced. I focused on hands and feet, more visible – the actors of the making?

It seems that my steps to get there are following an interesting process:

-> Sketchbook ideas -> making objects -> assembling objects -> painting objects -> painting a scenery from various viewpoints using digital sketches to support finding perspectives -> photographing and reproduction -> photographing my performance, enactment -> digital sketches to conceal and to merge -> to reproduce.

It might be just asking for moving images. But for now, I do refrain for spending too much time in making this happen. To work more around materiality, a physical flip-book might be something to look at in the future.

In-Between space – materiality and tactility 

The next step would be going the other way round -> using digital reproduction for painting / or for moving images -> endless repetition? what is the essence? The viewer lost in transmission, -lation, -forming? Physical versus virtual space , materiality of paint and reproductions, ontological question of ‘painting’.

I tested layering and fragmentation further in my sketchbook – not an end (Fig. 2) just a beginning – opening dimensions of multiplicity of figure and ground, and the idea of composing it together, a triptych?  A spatial installation? That would need more consideration for formal elements and relationship between outer and inner forms. Also the question of color choice, rate of merging, what stays visible, what not. I do feel that this staging was a good source for inspiration , to be inside my work, painting feels actually quite inspirational. 

Stefan513593 P3Ex2 The digital body, sketchbook collage

Fig. 2: The digital body – ideation, sketchbook collage, overpainted with gouache; left concealed – right revealed 

This work brings me to Clare Price and her IG photographs, with her in the studio space, in front of one of her painting, with painted stains, and with performative actions in the same scene.

Another thought crossed my mind when making it, reference to the title of the retrospective show of Bruce Nauman in Basel: ‘The Disappearing Acts’. I think I didn’t really got the meaning of it during my visit, but can relate to it through my work much more. And the header image of the MoMA exhibition (same after Basel) got me thinking in different terms – not the contrapposto and the classical proportional system of seven of the human figure, rather in context of fragmented layers, movement, and dislocation of part (what brings me back to my MRI project)

The course invites me to look at hands – wondering how relevant this might be and if my feet are more not relevant in my own art practice (see Fig.3)

Stefan513593_working with feet
Fig. 3: Working with feet (drawing, painting, traces): top left and center from part 1, bottom left from part 2, right from personal project drawing1

Feet do act – summary

Feet do act and present:

  • verbs: to stand, to connect, to act, to draw, to paint

On the other side, the hands are what is reaching out: to other people (shaking hands) or is used for art making (painting) and specifically what is the ‘tool’ that clients in my art therapy practice are using: to paint with the hands (Fig.4) 


Stefan513593_working with hands

Fig. 2: Working with Hands: Michelangelo, ‘Laundry’ Performative Painting from Part 1, my art therapy practice, Bruce Nauman ‘Untitled – Hand Circle’, 1996


Researching artists with a unique expression of ‘hands’ brings me to Richard Serra and his short video works Hands Tied, 1971  (03:30 min) with two performers tight at the wrist of one of their hands, twisting, shaking and untying eventually the knot and Hand Catching Lead, 1968 related to his work on House of Cards with heavy blocks of lead (UbuWeb) and – as the source of inspiration for Serra – the work Hand Movie, 1966 of Yvonne Rainer as one of the early attempts to explore video (iStéphane CERRI, 2017). I find Serra’s description on how he perceives his exploration in art quite insightful, as it allows a focus on the embodied relationship between subject and object:

I think the significance of the work is in its effort, not in its intentions. And that effort is a state of mind, an activity, an interaction with the world… – Richard Serra

Jenny Saville is another artist I feel inspirational.  Through her drawing and painterly exploration of figure in space and time I can sense a rhythm – alongside a focus on the supportive, and overall a very gestural expression of hands. As real material expression of skin (Gagosian Gallery, 2018) .

In context of my personal project I was more interested in clinic and medical related hand gestures. Reminding myself of what I did with my hands while being inside the MRI machine (or not doing). One example is the photograph on the blog post regarding Tabitha Moses (Walker Art Gallery, 2014) wearing her patient gown embroidered with fertility symbols while spending her time in trying to give life for a baby through IVF.

Feet do act and present – summary

  • verbs: to connect, to act, to support, to paint, to fold, to wrestle, to fasten, to rest
  • emotions & feelings: relax, anxious, nervous, peaceful, curious

The way artists make use of hands are diverse:

  • placing in center or off-center, repetition through multiple hands reflecting on motion, video to show hand in action, foreshortening to focus on hands, folded hands to express rest, hands as touch
  • action, movement, rest, intertwined 
  • line or shaded, bright or dark

I was wondering how I could appropriate my inside-the-MRI.machine experience, inspired by my above ‘Digital Body’ sketches (Fig. 1). I didn’t have a photograph of me inside the machine, thus decided to enact that moment and to stage myself: asking my assistant (my lovely wife Anja) to take photographs of my laying position, wearing a patient gown  (Fig. 5). Considering my hands and arm position, holding in one hand the emergency button (also enacted) and trying to relax, with close eyes as I did at that time, trying to overcome possible claustrophobic sensations (with the cage close to my head; here not enacted)

Stefan513593 -Body & Hands MRI

Fig. 5: Body & Hands MRI- photo credit: Inselspital Bern

Staging the Body

With further reflection on my initial experiments with crossing borders between the digital and the physical in relationship to painting, I decided to postpone further work on my ‘MRI hands’ and to look at the hopefully less complex appropriation of Richard Serra‘ s video work Hand Catching Lead, 1968 (Ubu). The for me intriguing elements (sketchbook explorations – Fig. 6):

  • Movement and performative action
  • Video as reproduction or documentation, but also a sense that the process of seeing is part of the work
  • The rather contained images, seen either on a TV set (as I’ve seen recently at Kunstmuseum Basel) or on a computer screen (video from Ubu webpage). The latter adding more layers: not only the frame of the screen, but also the frame of my computer screen with the video frame inside of it
  • The question of how the various layers could work together in a performative painting, not to copy merely Serra’s video art, but to add a contemporary twist to it (digital, video, screen, layers)
  • Paint as contextual material, at times even with a psychedelic touch
Stefan513593 - P3Ex2 Catch_Paint - sketchbook explorations

Fig. 6: Sketchbook explorations – ‘hand catching’ – appropriation Richard Serra


My first painterly performance – painted hand, arm in front of painted background – without object to catch, yet (video, 0:05min – no audio)


Enacting Richard Serra

My performance in the box, a painterly interpretation of space and time:

My first attempt of making the TV box – painted background – collage with cut outs inkjet print photographed painted hand/arm (still images) – a painted performance in two acts:

Stefan513593 -P3Ex2 Catch-Paint-Box

Fig. 6: Catch-Paint-Move – TV Box


With the box made and ready to go, I decided to make two slits: at the top and at the bottom, so that I can put small objects (torn painted paper) top-down, hoping that with my performative hand either to catch them or they would fall through the bottom slit to the ground (gravity as my helper).

My approach reminded me of the work of Mona Hatoum Pull, 1995, an installation and life performance. What might have been perceived as a split installation of a video of the artist and a pigtail, was actually the artist herself seen through two openings. Pulling her hair meant to pull at her head (O’Reilly, 2009:60)

My painterly performance in the box – falling objects in the box – no hand to catch  (video, 1:28min – with audio)


My painterly performance in the box – catching falling objects in the box – failure to catch and breaking the 4th wall (video, 3:23min – with audio)


My feelings, sensations and thoughts during the performance:

  • where to look at? inside the box on my hand?  at my hand putting the objects in the top slit? looking at the camera screen to observe how I catch, or fail to do so? viewpoints that eventually made me dissociated from my inside-the-box-hand 
  • not attention to my hand made my hand feel dissociated from me, getting tired over time
  • catching objects in the same space I am present is different from catching objects in a box (split space)
  • with the the hand felt ‘hungry’, kind of saying to me: “feed me with more objects!”
  • reminding me of my failure performative paintings from part 1 : catching as and endless effort – till physical exhaustion (with some reference to Rashad Newsome’s Shade Compositions
  • interesting to view it again and to see how my other hand (the real hand?) is reaching for objects and reaching even inside the box from the outside, kind of breaking the fourth wall as related to modern ‘realistic’ theater, to overcome alienation of the audience from the actors, (see also my UVC post on that


Next stage would be to include more context: my viewing experience 

The framed catch-box:

two performative paintings with multiple frames (both photographic reproductions): 

  • still image from life performance (see videos above) as digital composite within painted frame (context) – Fig.7
  • life performance within the double framed box  – Fig. 8

Opening the question what is real, physical – what do we see or believe we see?



Stefan513593 - P3Ex2 Catch_Paint_Box - composite

Fig. 9: Catch-Paint-Move – framed box in a displaced world – digital composite of life performance

Stefan513593 - P3Ex2 Catch_Paint_Box - performance

Fig. 8: Catch-Paint-Move – framed box in a displaced world – life performance


This picture will challenge the viewer and the reader of this post:

What it real? What is physical? What is digital composite? What is painted? What is my body? What is virtual Can it be animated? Where is the action happening?

If I would play more with frames, breaking borders between the physical and the digital? From where would my hand enter the scene? And what if the ‘catching hand’ gets out of the frame and type on the keyboard? Completely surreal.

Reflection & Conclusion

  • It is amazing to experience how my viewing experience of a video work of Richard Serra from 1968 is been transformed into a different experience. It is less about Serra’s experience working with lead logs, or with the motion aspects of early video art. It turned out to be more a question of space, association and dissociation (my performing hand separate from my body and thoughts). Although the action of my hand is the same as Serra’s hand and the video camera looking at the same scene (hand catching objects), the overall appeal of the work is it obvious staging and appropriation with the touch of visible context (me reaching towards objects, inside the box, putting my hand inside the box and out of it etc.)
  • The original work certainly influenced my choice of color and background (black and white, brick wall, blacl TV set frame reminding of analog TV sets in museums). I put a more contemporary context around this memory and possibly nostalgic depiction through showing more context: part of me interacting with the performative box, and the painted frame around it depicting my laptop screen and material relating to how we look at moving images (digital, online, screen based) 
  • Enactment of body inside a painting, bringing the subject alongside the object(s)
  • Paint as combining or flattening elements (as I’ve noticed in some of my works during part 2) 
  • Movement – still images – motion and encounter – physical participation of the viewer with flip-book approach?
  • Line as one layer alongside painted areas to interact, to connect, to open up dialogue between both (as seen also in some of the works of Jenny Saville of Clare Price or Vincent Hawkins, or some of my sketchbook works for part 2). Line as activator – versus objects as actors?
  • Appropriation: Work of others or my own works? What is the difference?  This work was inspired by Serra’s video work Hand Catching Lead, 1968 and intentionally made through illusionary painting the work perceivable as some work from the past. Nevertheless, the act of enactment and visibility of context (breaking the fourth wall) places the viewer outside as well as inside the work. 
  • I enjoyed playing with space – the ambiguity what is inside and outside a frame. The questions what is framed? And what is painted and what is a digital composite (relating back to my starting point, Fig. 1)
  • The work opens up narratives with memories, memories and new narratives – the viewer as participatory agent.

Next steps:

I am coming back to my box approach and participatory works, inviting the audience to engage. Therefore, I can envision possible future installations:

  • Putting the box on a wall making it easier for the viewer to put her/his hand inside the box. Possibly to attach a black/white painted glove inside the box, so that each viewer’s hand turns into a staging of Serra’s ‘Hand Catching Lead’ still image
  • Screening a video with just falling objects inside the box, so that the viewer can try to catch the projected objects – and will certainly fail
  • Placing myself (relating to Mona Hatoum’s performative installation Pull, 1995) into a performative role, with my painted hand inside the box . Possibly, to disguise my presence through a wall, leaving just the box visible for the audience. They are invited to through objects through the top slit, my hand trying to catch.
  • More ideas to come …. 


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Project 3.1 – Ex 3.0: Object as a stand in for the body

  • Project 3.1 – Ex 3.0: Object as a stand in for the body
  • Project 3.1 – Ex 3.0: Object as a stand in for the body
  • Project 3.1 – Ex 3.0: Object as a stand in for the body

Clothing as a proxy body, sign for human presence or absence. 

How do I relate to clothing? What kind of clothes would resonate for me as an identifier? I was pondering the exploration of my suitcase aka object-box and my personal project. I decided to work around thoughts for my personal project (‘Medical imaging aka MRI and identity’), wanting to explore my own journey when I did my MRI inspection some months ago, kind of visual memory

The first thing that intrigued me when revisiting this is the ‘dresscode’ in clinics, also required when undergoing MRI: the patient gown (Fig. 1).  

MRI - dressed in a patient gown, image credit: Inselspital Bern

Fig. 1: MRI – dressed in a patient gown, image credit: Inselspital Bern

The skin that covers the body, but the back is open. A simple cloth, anonymous, concealing and also revealing. One had to undress in small booth on the corridor, leaving one own’s dress there (hanging, folded) and returning with the gown. A change – making it clear that from now on the person is a patient, part of the institution, a clear role, a function.

I talked through this with fellow student Alan, who works in a clinic, and he was willing to get hold of a gown, possibly also to make an image. Ideas of sharing across borders – and possibilities of collaborative work might surface.

The Patient Gown – Concealing – or …?

To move on, I looked online at those gowns, and with my own memory of the gown I wore. Moving on to remake, questions of size, scale and material?

Eventually, I turned to mylar and a human scale size with several connotations related to materiality: 

the idea of translucent material, is the body, or person concealed or revealed? Reference to my mental images of how I felt (and others’ possible as well), vulnerable, exposed.

  • the idea of smooth surface: is it a double skin, without external references? Blank, ‘innocent’, and behind could be quite different
  • Mylar is a material one uses for masking (airspray painting) , an material for a purpose, not for its own sake. 
  • Mylar, is not as flexible as fabric or paper, hard to fold, better to roll; when folded a crease is permanently made (not removable or to be flattened out), but easy to cut, and to tape; also easy to paint on with acrylic or oil paint (as checked in my previous explorations)
  • My remake from memory and online visuals is possibly a reference to how the patient gown and its relation in a clinic setting could be considered: anonymous, only half-way personal, replaceable? Makes me wonder how my different placements of the remade gown will work – different context, a double remove from clinic reality (1. remade, 2. context)


The remake was quickly done, made outside on a sunny wonderful fall day.

Stefan51353_P3_Ex1_patient gown in mylar

Fig. 2: Patient gown in mylar

Time and context:

After the making and laying it on the ground – ideas popped up of abandoned gown, lost, vulnerable? Not used as a gown – but what if that prop is a person? Reminds me how we connect belongings to a person self. What might the connotation trigger in the viewer’s mind? I haven’t asked.

Fig. 3 – 6:  The abandoned gown – each 42x 30cm (click on thumbnail to open the lightbox view)

To move away from a mere visual depiction in a quick painting and to include some connotated aspects is quite challenging. Do I perceive it the same way as others? Perhaps to upload for peer review and see…

Continuing with taking the made-gown up, putting it somewhere closer, more protected, leaning on a tree, looking from front and backview. Thinking about context (surrounding space, environment) and how shapes and line could work together. A start towards further abstraction (eg Fig. 9)

Fig. 7 – 10: The attached gown  – each 42x 30cm (click on thumbnail to open the lightbox view)

In Fig 8, I added later back in my studio tapes for cropping, giving a different appeal of the painting. On the other hand I find that additional layers, e.g. tapes might give also another layer of meaning. I experimented with more line markings as part of the composition, giving a more abstract appeal but also could be considered as a contained frame (Fig. 9).

With these two ‘scenarios’ or sensibilities, I started to experiment on site further with the idea of loss, abandoned – alongside a sense of fragmentation (displacement and disembodiment). I applied a stencil and partly a monotype technique that I explored in the previous part: abstraction and reduction. My starting point was Fig. 10 – the more abstracted backview, with ‘fleeing’ shapes.

Fig. 11 – 14: The fragmented gown – each 42x 30cm (click on thumbnail to open the lightbox view):

=> the repetitive placing and re-placing of a ‘gown-stencil’ allowed me to leave painted traces on the paper, to overcome a too representational and literal depiction of the scene in front of me, and to abstract connotated thoughts of fragmentation, memory and ‘fleeing’ shapes. What if the idea of vulnerability and stability are reversed? Fig. 13 (photo doesn’t show it) was an exploration of a movable paper, the support as ‘fleeing’, the shape of the gown static. Just abstract explorations. From these quickly done series, I find Fig. 12 the more interesting one, as it plays more with shapes, fragments, edges and (in-)stability.

Next scenery was placing the gown in my car. Having the car with me allowed me to take more stuff with, what allowed me to do above experiments.

Fig. 15 &16: The protected or cared for gown – each 42x 30cm (click on thumbnail to open the lightbox view):

=> Instead of my gouache, acrylic approach, I used oil paint sticks for the first one (Fig. 15). A more gestural and searching approach to the scene and the connotations of protected as well as vulnerable. The second one more a ‘protected’ perspective, relaxed and stable in the backseat of the car.I considered in the composition the interesting interplay between the gown and the head protection of the car. I am not so convinced by the contained central compositions. 

After the longer session outdoors I looked the other day at the domestic scenes.

Fig. 17 – 20:  The domestic gown as actor – each 42x 30cm (click on thumbnail to open the lightbox view):

=> quite different appeal. It seemed the gown took more presence. Lost at the front door outside, being a staged actor on the toilette, a narrative in itself between Fig. 18 & Fig, 19. After a long day, I out the gown mockup in the hallway, I was fascinated be the strong presence of it (Fig. 20). With a deeper viewpoint, making it more solid and dominant actor in the composition, more refined versus a rather sketchy background. I find the two last ones (Fig. 19, 20) more appealing for the bolder contrast. However, contrast in itself would give a different indication of a message.

With my explorations of the mockup ‘patient gown’ I was interested in exploring further ideas of fragmentation, memory, and instability. I decided to work in my A4 sketchbook rather gestural with a similar stencil and moving approach as I did in preparation for my large scale sculptural painting. and inspired by my on-site experiments (see Fig. 9, 11, and 12)

Fig. 21 – 24: slider images sketchbook – A4 (acrylic, gouache,  charcoal)

Stefan513593 - Part 3 - Ex1 - object for body - sketchbook 2
Fragmented prop #1 - sketchbook
Stefan513593 - Part 3 - Ex1 - object for body - sketchbook 3
Fragmented prop #2 - sketchbook
Stefan513593 - Part 3 - Ex1 - object for body - sketchbook 4
Fragmented prop #3 - sketchbook
Stefan513593 - Part 3 - Ex1 - object for body - sketchbook 5
Fragmented prop #4 - sketchbook

=> I was intrigued by the multiplicity of the shape. Reflecting back on my initial thoughts of the patient gown in a clinical setting, with the rather anonymous, at times displacing sensation of wearing it, I do feel that this might be developed further, possible ideas for my personal project.


  • A mockup clothing can have strong connotations of human presence. On the other hand it could be merely seen as an obsolete thing trashed or thrown away. Nevertheless, through learned patterns and beliefs the simple mockup has a certain power that reminds me of my research in fetishism in part two.
  • My chosen material (mylar) provided a rigid material that could stand. Partly flexible, it was at times more responsive, falling back to more stable structures, kind of memory not lost, not completely yet. 
  • The juxtaposition or assembly of multiple paintings (see slider on top of this post) does convey a sense of narrative, a time-based movement of the mockup as ‘actor’ – a journey.
  • Painting in a sketchy, loose way, strongly allows the visual exploration of ideas, resulting partly in some further experimental works (see Fig. 9, or Fig. 11-14)
  • Digging deeper into the relationship of the mockup and its placement in space allows to convey narratives (e.g. Fig. 18 & 19) and to convey a sense of emotional response. 

Working with color quickly:

  • I tend to mix the main local color beforehand on a palette. Being outdoors I prefer to use either tear-off palettes from coated paper or just milk-boxes, cut open as a rectangular shape (re-using trash). Mixing those local color beforehand allows me to loosen up in the following painting and to ensure that colors are not totally off. Painting and mixing no the go and on the support directly feels more direct and responsive.
    Overall, some preparation is quite useful, e.g. having my tools ready to go, knowing what is where. However, I do not like the meticulous preparation of each color as some suggest in instructional books. In the studio with more refined rendering of tone this might be more useful. Working quickly means for me to be present in the moment, be responsive to my embodied sensations, what I see, feel, hear, think. Not all elements that go into a quickly made sketch visible through the naked eye. Often, associations and connotations turn into painted strokes. And for that I prefer to mix directly on my support. 
  • Advantages:
    pre mixing: accuracy, more fluid painting without thinking about matching colors
    mixing directly on support: more gestural, expressive, responsive to the scene and my imagination, at times less constraining


Further reflection on other artists:

How paint can support meaning and interpretation:

  • Vincent van Gogh‘s A Pair of Shoes , 1886 one of his paintings of his time in Paris was and is often a trigger for wide psychological and symbolic interpretations. Apparently he stated once that ‘he bought old work shoes at a flea market. Then he walked through the mud in them until they were filthy. Only then did he feel they were interesting enough to paint’ (Van Gogh Museum). Here ‘worn-out’ would mean be exposed to a person, with an ordinary usage as a functional object. The gestural application of paint supports the sense of ‘crudeness’, of heavily used shoes, no precious objects to wear only a few times. I can see that he painted from life, just whatever captured his attention, a contextual and gestural expression of sight and sensations.
  • Philip Guston The Coat, 1977 is one of the works in series he made after his rather abstract painting and often called  “urban primitive.” (MoMA) The rather graphic, comic-style depiction with flat appearance could be seen on various levels, as a depiction of his coat and shoes, and as metaphor for his stance and personal position in the world around him.  Here the graphic, flat application of paint could possibly relate back to the identity of the artist himself and how he perceived the world. I can relate to this approach in the way I work, as part of my paintings are not visible elements but also a reflection on sensations and thoughts. 
  • Lisa Milroy’Shoes, 1985: repetition of similar shoes with a sense of difference in sameness. She painte them ‘neatly’ and in order, but a closer look reveals more disorder. They remind me of bugs or mussels. The overall picture seems like an encoded message, with some pairs conveying a sense of alphabet, words, language, e.g. the V shaoe appearing twice, but with some adjustments. For me a visual reflection on Deleuze’s conception of ‘Difference and Repetition’ (1968). The refined and repetitively and orderly application of paint could relate to the sense of collection and alienation (as missing context). Objects are becoming part of an assemblage, a different wholeness. Quite contrasting to van Gogh’s shoes as showing the individuality, Milroy’s shoes are missing nearly any individuality though the seem each to be different in appearance. I find that Milroy’s work are more of studio paintings, with prior reflection on composition and key aspects of how it might come across.



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