Project 2.1 – Ex 2.0: Collect / Make / Arrange

At the beginning of this part, I was struggling whether just to throw some items onto a table where I felt they have some commonalities? Or to take this further and makes this somehow meaningful for me? To take this rather as technical exercise or rather as a step towards a body of work guided by some ideas mentioned in the coursework? I eventually decided to follow my own sense and to let it be part of a longer journey exploring my body relationship with the space around me, with objects that can add something to it, and see how it all goes.

As mentioned in my conclusion on the research of ‘work-table / object-table‘  I can sense a personal dimension of my ‘work table’ and objects and how my travelling, the transportation of objects, and the temporal installation of ‘tables’ aka workplaces are not only a reflection of an unsteady life but also could be seen as a kind of portrait, identity. This idea is what I want to bring further with the first step in this part. Not-knowing where it will lead me towards, and possibly I will follow my unsteady movement and jump on another idea. At least: a start

I am travelling to other places and staying at times in hotels. The most mobile items do come with me, packed in bags or suitcases, transporting, unpacking – or better unloading – onto the nearest table – and repeat. Packed and transported as Declan Long described the wooden crates of Uri Aran for the Liverpool Biennial. If a visitor will visit my temporary table spaces, as Gabriel Orozco likes to do so, I wouldn’t know what the response would be. And I feel that not-knowing this makes it even more fascinating – or frustrating – for me to explore and to investigate my temporary place in transition. One sideline of this thought: whether I would explore a space or a place (relating to some discussions with fellow students) 

I am wondering how much my objects would tell about my identity, ‘my history and my preoccupations’ (Georges Perec). At times it reminds me what I can do with the objects, sketching, writing, like those imaginations described by Elizabeth Bishop in her landscapes.

Collect

I started with my idea of exploring my travelling as spatial and temporal movement alongside a sense of evidences of my presence as well of absence. It relates to art, drawing and painting tools, bags and what else I found relating to it. 

My table top – Evidence of spatial and temporal movement?

In my Swiss studio (part of the living room where the studio is taking over the ‘living’) I have an easel that I can rotate from vertical to fully horizontal position. I like to work on this ‘table’, standing, in front of the window. It is close to my art stuff. The only drawback, I can’t walk around easily, thus I need to displace it more to the center and clean up the area around. Already with some items thrown onto it: evidence of my travels (plastic bag, newspapers, cleaned plastic salad cup from take-away (perhaps better to keep it dirty for possible following paintings?). The other space of my working is the kitchen table with my writing, drawing, learning log (computer – absent in this image, but the mouse of present) and pebbles, found objects from the Aare river, I take always one with me. But there are also the other options, e.g. working on the floor, quite a habit as I like to work on the floor, in the middle of my art stuff, proximity and enclosure. And the fourth option I reflected on as part of my frequent travelling is the evidence of that: the suitcase or just a bagpack (see Fig. 1).

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktables - sketches

Fig. 1: Worktables – sketches – a) kitchen table with found pebbles, computer mouse index of blog; b) floor; c) horizontal easel, with thrown items as evidence of my travel; d) Suitcase: another evidence, but rather staged, what fits as well in a bagpack

And at times my working tools are just on a chair nearby (Fig. 2).

drawing tools

Fig. 2: drawing tools – no place but a chair, absence of organisation?

 

Preparing my ‘table’: 

A box, foldable, transportable. I want to take it with me when I am on the road or somewhere else. That I can look at it everyday, getting inspired, establishing a relationship, and perhaps let the objects perform. I have a starting point.

Working with and on my table, collecting further, and it started to change. It started with items related to what I use on my travels (pebbles, dog poop bag, bubble-wrap, packaging materials, used plastic bag – Fig. 3).

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - progress #1

Fig. 3: ‘What I use on my travels’

What unites my objects and what drew me to them?

My travel, my presence and absence in one place and the other. A temporal aspect of working. A space, nearly virtual as the information in a computer, covering all places together, as I work on the same subject, the same coursework, but miles away from where I worked one day before. How can my table be stable? How can it be fixed in space? I was searching for other evidences of my travelling, eg. tickets, tags. And noticed that so many things related to travel are now in my smartphone, should I print them out just for the sake of showing evidence? I rather tend to the non-visibility of these items, visible on demand only, another temporality:

temporality, absence, instability, virtual, space, visibility, identity (?)

But I was moving away from the mere idea of what I actually put in my bags for travelling, and stepped into a different awareness of the surrounding items. As if it was seeking for new purposes, but still a playful exploration (Fig. 4)

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - progress #2

Fig. 4: ‘What I use on my travels and more’

I became aware that the more items were on the table I was already somehow arranging them, spatial play of displacing things, making space for other items, shifting, moving, turning around. 

of transition, of transport, of studio, disposal, to dispose, to transport, to use, to sketch, to re-use, to roll, to fill, to bundle, to arrange, to stretch, to build, to construct, to play, to move, to shift, to turn

Adding items to the table turned into a spatial exploration of my surrounding space. . Some are more waste or recycled items, packaging material (some association with me upcoming move?), plastic containers, water bottles (nourishment?) (photo Fig. 5) 

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - progress #3

Fig. 5: …with what is in my direct environment

 

… and fur from our cat, reclaimed the last time I was at home in the North, not knowing what to do with it, collected items for future needs. Added more items – packaging items, waste. My travel items moved more into the background (Fig. 6):

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - progress #4

Fig. 6: .. with more what is in my direct environment

 

With my increasing curiosity and interaction with the objects of my direct environment, I started to pick and to play with chosen items, and placing them on my table. Scrap items, of no further use, waste, to re-use as part of art.

availability, scrap, packaging, memories, waste, dysfunction, curiosity 

Make

Richard Serra claimed that for him ‘drawing is a verb’ (see my earlier post) and made up a list of verbs (84) and contexts (24).  

My list ‘of’ and ‘to’ (context and verbs)

Context : of temporality, of absence, of instability, of space, of transition, of transportation, of studio, of disposal, of memory, of relocation, of memories, of dysfunction, of curiosity 

Verbs : to make visible, to explore, to identity, to make available, to use, to make functioning, to pack, to scrap, to dispose, to waste, to transport, to sketch, to re-use, to roll, to fill, to bundle, to arrange, to stretch, to build, to construct, to play, to combine, to move, to shift, to turn, to grasp

I noticed that this list goes on and one, I can add the more I explore. My exploration of the uniqueness of each item lead me to an awareness how I can manipulate them (manipulate = to modify with my hands), the shape, the form, the gesture.

My making of objects:

The more I put myself into relationship with objects collected so far and first made objects I found new verbs and context, following an impulse to work with the objects:

to paint, to relate, to cut, to glue, to tape, to fold, to select

My table moved further away from my travel items –  more waste, a waste table – what we waste as society, plastic. With some items from home (cat fur), packaging material,  intrigued by shapes –  and my idea that I can paint on it.  I became more aware of shapes, graphics, and colors:  some black, some green from plastic filling foam, and red from dog poop bag,  empty milk containers with blue and red – mirrored in the plastic water bottle. It seemed red and blue are becoming the dominant colors.

Therefore, I painted some objects blue, and red to relate them to the color used in the plastic bottles. I painted a cardboard black, with a cut window, and glued a newspaper to the back, somehow relating to a sense of window and virtual space (working in virtual space on my iPad). Just rough sketches to explore further.

 

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - made objects

Fig. 7: Made objects: a selective choice of readymades – painted cardboard (black screen? open window?), folds, pebbles, threads, spacers (milk box), foam material-on thread, painted napkin, paint&folds, cat fur-rubber band; to be used, moving from dysfunction to function

 

Arrange

Do I arrange? My most essential items go into tiny plastic boxes (pencils), between my sketchbooks, or just onto the nearest available table. And in between into the suitcase for transportation. There are also some books I read while travelling. I do have in both places (my two residences) a corner as my studio. I do not take everything with me all the time, thus some items are redundant, double, at times I take the same item twice with me and missing it then in one place; all about coordination and organization.

Possibilities:

This was my initial thought that turned into something else after collecting more, exploring my direct studio environment and making some objects. My table became crowded (Fig. 8)

a) Arranging on open table:

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - progress #5

Fig. 8: making space

At that point I came back to my idea at the beginning. To make a table that I can take with me, foldable, transportable. I had to speed up as I would travel again and stay couple of weeks in hotel. Assemble everything in a box. I found a box and even another one that could it into the first box (Fig. 9). I tried to fit the second one into the first, had to cut a bit off and eventually felt that it doesn’t quite fit. Thus to make it fit is another action I was exploring. Reminded me a bit of my folding experience for assignment 1, failure and a feeling of anger as it would not ‘behave’ as I wanted it.

to fit

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - box

Fig. 9: Box – nesting box: a way to take all objects with me

 

c) Idea of the transportable box:

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - progress #6

Fig. 10: Idea of a transportable table – a box , alongside painted items relfecting color scheme of milk and water bottles

 

 

c) Performative Arrangement – Arranging the box

I travelled with my ‘object-table-box’ and made the following images in a hotel room

– as a still image sequence:

– as moving images: see at the top of this post

a few more box arrangements:

Stefan513593 - Ex.2.0 - Worktable - arrange

Fig. 11: Box arrangements

I could sense a certain sequence and two levels of arrangement:

  • The sequence of packing and unpacking the box:
    => More of a control, structure, ritual. I repeated the sequence several times (in the video just one way shown). Control and repetition as key elements that I carried over from part 1.
  • The arrangement of the objects in the box:
    => During packing and unpacking I followed my intuition but also a logic of available space. What fits where. Certainly wth a greater level of chance involved. The unpacking, unfolding reminded me of unpacking a picknick basket. 

Open question, how to discern a final arrangement? I would like to keep it rather performative, in transition, temporal – as reflection of my travelling, not through indexical objects, but rather through the nature of my work.


Everything on my table, my objects, in the box – it reminds me of a mix of the video work that I’ve seen in the recent exhibition of Bianca Baldi Zero Latitude2014. I could finally related to her work and understood why it attracted me in the first place: a notion of the work as transportable item unfolding quite literally another reality. My association of picknick basket came once again to my mind. And I could see how that exhibition was making sense overall, at smaller scale, but truly a spatial experience of performing objects.

I could see how my approach also relates to Marcel Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise  His smaller scale work as collection that unfolds ready-mades to the viewer through physical engagement (although the museum as place of conservation doesn’t allow any longer the constant use of the work) and possibly to Joseph Beuys, e.g. Fat Battery, 1963. All rather conceptual approaches compared with Uri Aran’s work table of found pieces.  I don’t know where it will lead me to. A question about visual context crossed my mind. Baldi took a pure white as background, reminiscence of the White Cube?, free of context. To follow that path or to have a surrounding space as visual context? Or to use the surrounding space as the negative space to explore absence? I am still thinking of the virtual world that turns into a black screen when switched off (computer, ipad). I’m just enjoying the relationship between me and the box, and the objects inside the box. 

 

Reflection:

I started with an idea of objects related to my frequent travelling. What I put in my suitcase of bag, items related to sketching and my coursework. Thinking about my various places here and there, temporal places. Items I have to transport from one to the other place. And how I work and related to other through the virtual online world, through the materiality of my computer, ipad, or phone. Once switched off it turns into a black surface.

For me the fascinating part started when I did actually explore the table in creation, put myself into a relationship with the objects and started to collect at times quite dysfunctional items, found objects in my studio and direct environment. The making of rather simple objects move towards another level of abstraction, or better non-representational level. I could feel a close relationship with the objects. Therefore, not abstract in a Platonic sense of an idea, but rather as a very material and tangible interaction.

My idea of transportable objects turned into a transportable assemblage. A Duchamp boîte, a readymade. Allowing various arrangements through interaction and play. A box easy to take with me. 

How to build on that and how this will inform my paintings is the other question to be addressed in the following steps. I started to paint a few made-objects as a response to other objects (plastic bottles) and a sense of the void (black screen of ipad, computer). I am not sure whether I did this too early or whether this will work out at all. 

I collected various materials with different properties. I haven’t yet looked at it in more depth, an aspect to catch up with further investigation in my sketchbook. And certainly the performative arrangement need more attention and visual exploration. Therefore, I can’t say at this moment if this will be the right approach. I will out this on for peer review and see how others would react to it.

What works so far, is the transportable and foldable box. I like the way space is extended, and objects are unfolding into space. An element of revealing and concealing that resonates with my work from part one. What also works it the physical interaction with the objects. Through the a more controlled outer structure the inner structure becomes more flexible. What could change is content. Overall, I would like to explore more the transitional and temporal nature through my work.

 

Related Posts
Project 1.1 – Ex 1.0: Smallest to largest reach
Project 1.5 – Ex 1.4: Contextual Focus – Considering Painting

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