Tag Archives: body

Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2: Exploring Form

  • Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2:  Exploring Form
  • Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2:  Exploring Form
  • Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2:  Exploring Form
  • Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2:  Exploring Form
  • Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2:  Exploring Form
  • Project 4.2 – Ex 4.2:  Exploring Form

Traditionally, paint is considered a material to be used to create illusive shapes onto flat surfaces – as a surface application even when applied to sculptural object. Paint, especially through its characteristics of color and tone, creates perceptual forms and spaces. Good example for space creation are the works of Katharina Grosse. She considered earlier on that paint had to be solid with a material density before she moved on towards very thin, spray painted, rather translucent color application (Art21, 2015). This conception challenges the distinction between surface and corporeality, 2d and 3D objects. It reminds me similar to the dilemma of whether a point has a spatial extension or not, and whether a line would not also has an extension into the second dimension, making the line rather a flat extending surface.

However one wants to see it (mathematically or visually), it relates to human perception of color in space. One way to free paint from this perceptual constraint, is to make it a solid structure unconstrained from y supporting surface. A question I looked at in previous exercise on canvas. Nevertheless, also that structure will have an outer surface we perceive and an inner core that is concealed and provides structure. 


I decided to explore various painting materials:

  • acrylic paint: the material I had most previous experience with 
  • plaster: a material I discovered in previous exercise (quite experimental)
  • latex: a material I didn’t have any experience with yet and suggested by my tutor

1) Acrylic Paint

a) automatic application:

While pondering how to apply the paint on a temporary surface, I decided to check out a rather automatic approach of skin application (Fig. 1): a spinning found plastic cup with some holes at the bottom (already there) , suspended from the ceiling, adding two colored acrylic paint inside, and manually spinning

Fig. 1: Acrylic paint - an automatic application // WIP

Fig. 1: Acrylic paint – an automatic application // WIP – when gravity is not in favor of making


=> This didn’t went well at all. Thus, quite a failure: Either the paint didn’t come out or too much. Nevertheless, I kept the painted surface to dry and to peel it off , with a more interesting result as thin layer (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2: Acrylic auto paint A // a picture

Fig. 2: Acrylic auto paint A // a picture


=> A thin layer, but stable enough to separate from the plastic sheet underneath. It reminded me of Rorschach blots and partly of a distorted image of a brain. Although, I might be biased through my parallel project to see ‘brain-images’ all over the place .

Next step was to move away from ‘automatic’ paint application to manual one. In order to keep some elements of chance and with the hope of creating interesting patterns, I was searching for different plastic materials that I could use as temporary support: plastic packaging materials as bubble wrap (Fig. 2)

B) manual application:

Inspired by my parallel project work and some MRI images of the blood vessels in the brain (so called angiography) , I decided to use a red-color mix of acrylic paint.

Fig. 3: Acrylic paint - manual application using found plastic materials as support - WIP

Fig. 3: Acrylic paint – manual application using found plastic materials as support – WIP; used support: top and bottom left – flat plastic sheet, top and bottom right – thick and thin bubble wrap


=> I was curious to see how the material could be separated from the support. I was unpatient, and thus spoiled partly some areas. Had to wait longer, till results became clearer. Too precious works , protected and conserved as an archive (Fig. 4). Am I a fetish collector? 

Fig. 4: Acrylic paint B // archive

Fig. 4: Acrylic paint B // archive


The interwoven mesh of flexible acrylic paint, more flexible than opaque solid acrylic paint layer, made me wonder how it could be used, bended, applied differently than just laying onto another flat surface. I I got reminded of my veil ideas from previous exercise: unveiling to reveal the interior objects as expressed by Holtzmann Kevles (1997:3). In this case to veil in order to conceal, but failing to do so (Fig. 5) – or just another fetish object, installed to be looked at (Fig. 5 – center)

Fig. 5: Acrylic paint B // installation

Fig. 5: Acrylic paint B // installation; triggering narratives and cultural connotations


Excited by the varieties of visual material expression,, especially informed by my open mesh strands (Fig. 5 center) I decided to move further away from the one flat and solid opaque paint-skin towards reduction of dimensions: making a flat area into line. 

c) paint as line

How could paint as material be used as a painted line? (Fig. 6)

Fig. 6: Acrylic paint C // as line

Fig. 6: Acrylic paint C // as line; drawing , installation, and containing

=> the acrylic paint, not any longer a flat skin, a solid line. Not easy to bend, with some resistance, but still: a line painting with dry paint, drying not after painting, but before painting. Found this transformation intriguing. Color and paint resembling more of drawing in space. I tried to install it on an empty stretcher, just suspending and expanding. This reminded me afterwards of the puddle paintings of Ian Davenport.  I placed the strand across an empty jar, and lastly out them in and closed the lid. Containing and conserving, another approach of archive. An previous object. Does it remind me of those medical jars with preserved, dissected organs and other at times morbid curiosities that one could have see in various medical museums, e.g. here? Catherine told me during our visit at British Museum that those jars are not disclosed openly to the public any longer. It also reminds me of Helen Chadwick’s late and unfinished project ‘Cameo’, 1995. And in different, more homely context, it could relate to preserves (of fresh produce).

Some cultural take-aways at this stage:

A relationship: paint as a material with a surface, a skin, like human skin, a material with body, like a human body, fragmented, distorted, disciplined through my interactions and exposed to the gaze of the viewer (incl my own) , like medical gaze and the idea of fluent boundaries between medical imaging, the medical gaze, and media technologies and visual culture at large.

Interestingly, my experiments with paint skin did also show that paint is not only a surface, it is also a density. Although one can not look beyond the opaque surface, one could envision that it would look similar: uniform paint. Paint is pigment and binder (besides other minor additives). The binder makes it solid and stable. Therefore, I was wondering how the binder can not also be a paint, a material as such. 

I decided to work with plaster, stripped of the fabric as used in previous exercise in the form as plaster bandage, and to see how it can be colored and used.

2) Plaster

To make a solid form, a sculptural form, one uses plaster. A fast drying material, mixed with water, and why now with acrylic paint. I wanted to make the skin from previous acrylic paint application thicker, more solid (Fig 7)

Fig. 7: plaster paint D // failure or a fragment?

Fig. 7: plaster paint D // failure or a fragment? – inspired by brain images, slices of a flattened disciplinary interaction


=> It turned out to be less simple as expected. I could have foreseen the brittleness of plaster, although trying to mix with with acrylic paint and even with some liquid hide glue didn’t help much: a failure as the ‘plaster skin’ resisted to be taken off. My drawing with paint onto the still wet plaster surface was inspired by MRI images of my brain and a drawing I did at the Drawing Room at the British Museum (see blog post): ‘After Deacon / informed by my MRI project‘. I had to transfer carefully from one to another surface and eventually decided to place it between to perspex plates (Fig. 7 right). This kind of installation was a reference to the way the Visual Human Project was created and established: the MRI imagery had to be mapped against a physical point of reference – cryogen slicing of a dead human body (National Library of Medicine, 2019).

Fig. 8a - a solid block of plaster and latex - failure as creation

Fig. 8a – a solid block of plaster and latex – failure as creation

I felt inspired by those disc images, sliced disks as sliced matter, and considering the vulnerable features of plaster. And  informed by a preliminary failing test to add latex into plaster: resulting into an immediate solidification and creation of a solid block – Fig 8a.

What to do with that? To make a more careful ‘arrangement’ of material matter on a support, to see how both material possibly could work together in a different way, resulting in a process of transformation (Fig. 8) .

What started out as uniform wet painted shape, changed during the drying process: latex turned yellowish, plaster dries and contracted, the materials separated from each other  – fragmentation as result. It became brittle and the latex parts started to separate even more. Fig. 8 right shows the ‘installed’ fragmented disk – partly with kind of playdough appeal 


Fig. 8: plaster paint D2 // fragmentation of matter

Fig. 8: plaster paint D2 // fragmentation of matter


I concluded my plaster experiments and decided to explore latex as material alone. Latex as the most flexible, stretchable material, loaded with various cultural connotations: latex gloves as medical protection (what is replaced more to nitrile gloves currently due to latex allergic reactions), and mostly (when I asked others what the relate with latex) latex as erotic fetish material. A second skin, applied to the human body (I can’t imagine how people can stand the unique dry latex smell) . It seems, that material as skin has various connotations, and I am wondering how the latex skin in a double sense could work further for my project.

3) Latex

Starting with some simple colored latex applcation (Fig. 9)

Fig. 9: latex paint // another kind of fragmentation - vulnerable to touch

Fig. 9: latex paint // another kind of fragmentation – vulnerable to touch; right: recto and verso


=> just to see that after peeling of, latex turns into a sticky material, collapsing, sticking together, nearly impossible to get it flat again. I took the form the material had chosen, to install it fix on a paper, with the idea of making at the backside a small window, to peak through – on the one hand a stripping of context of the full form, one the other hand it could be referred to the erotic material connotation: a peak-show. In context of my medical imaging project, I could see the backside view also kind of medical gaze, and stripping of the subject (the patient) as a living human being. Like at surgery, when a blanket is concealing the patient and revealing only a sterile entrance into the body’s interior.

Latex can be disciplined as well – applying baby powder when peeling of from the support. The paint-skin turned into a ‘carpet’ (Fig. 10)

Fig. 10: latex paint no2

Fig. 10: latex paint no2; recto and verso


I wanted to play more with the skin idea and to see what else I could do with the ‘freed’ material: installing, modulating, manipulating.

4) Beyond skin-peeling

I was trying to create something new with the most flexible skin-paint approach: latex (Fig. 11)

Fig. 11: latex goes sculptural

Fig. 11: latex goes sculptural – a dialogue with mesh wire – adaptation and disciplining


=> by using a metal wire, I was able to form the skin . or to quote Lisa Cartwright (1995): to ‘discipline’ the skin – into a flat image. Latex is an opaque material and I was trying to get a sense of ‘transparency’ through the use of the thin wire (the one used to stabilise plaster sculptures)

I got even more reminded of the notion of ‘disciplining’ when I was exploring latex paint skin to the limits, by stretching. Here the traditional canvas stretcher came handy, though I used another found wooden rack (Fig. 12)

Fig. 12: stretching the skin

Fig. 12: stretching the skin


=> With this approach I started to think how this could be pushed further for my assignment work: stretching the skin in reference to the human transparent skin exposed to the medical gaze. The dividing line as a focal point. Can this line be further stretched?



  • Big challenge: drying time of thicker paint, with or without binder, especially at current ambient weather conditions. Would like to get something drying quickly like plaster but keeping a flexibility. I can appreciate why Benglis used a strong, solid mesh construction for her pour painting, e.g. For Carl Andre, 1970. 
  • How to free the paint from its support?  That is the challenge – my curiosity, unpatience, and deadlines are challenging my approach. Should I wait longer or cleaner results, or should I embrace the fragility and vulnerability of half-wet paint as a learning in itself? Perhaps, new aspects could come up. My above experiments are reflecting this process of failure.
  • Key phenomena or actions explored and ‘discovered’: 
    – Vulnerability: unstable materials, e.g. plaster or partly also acrylic paint, resisting a peeling-of, breaking as intrinsic feature, creating new ideas?
    – Fragmenting: through breaking, incoherence, non-suitable material combinations (e.g. plaster plus latex)
    – Stretching: acrylic paint skin less , latex paint skin more, a stretching to flatten and distort the picture plane
    – Disciplining: Stretching and framing, installing on wire, or other objects – a disguise and a distortion
  • Material alongside the way I manipulate, discipline, and install it, can trigger various narratives and cultural connotations inside the viewer’s mind (see Fig. 5).
  • On a wider level, I can see a relationship between paint as material with a surface, a skin and the human body with the skin.  It can be fragmented, distorted, disciplined through my interactions and exposed to the gaze of the viewer (incl my own) , like medical gaze and the idea of fluent boundaries between medical imaging, the medical gaze, and media technologies and visual culture at large.
  • Latex as material for second skin: a double sense meaning towards human skin, and towards paint as skin.
  • Next steps: to explore deeper stretching and disciplining of paint skin. metaphor for human body, human skin as surface? Can possibly see some relationship with my parallel project: under the skin – transparent and permeable skin





  • Art21 (2015) Katharina Grosse: Painting with Color | Art21 “Extended Play”,[online], At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBfPMGS7XPo(Accessed on 29 Aug 2018).
  • Cartwright, L. (1995) Screening the Body : Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Holtzmann Kevles, B. (1997) Naked to the Bone : Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
  • National Library of Medicine (2019) The Visible Human Project®, At: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/research/visible/visible_human.html  (Accessed  02 May 2019).
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Critical Review – Draft Outline

Establishing my chosen area of research

Medical imaging techniques as MRI scans do support various aspects informing artists to explore and embrace this technology, as:

  • an intrusive medical gaze below the skin
  • a post-modern multiplicity of viewpoints of reality
  • an aesthetic image through a contemporary representation
  • an embodied encounter with the invisible
  • a rhythm and sound informing subjective experience
  • a notational system of visual information (catalog)

Framing my Critical Review

In order to get a visual grip on my critical review by embracing my own experience in life, my art practice my interest, as well as other artist’s practices and the wider context of the theme that interests me (MRI scan as medical imaging technique in a post-modern world), I brainstormed and mapped out all ideas and thoughts and the interlinks between those in a visual map:

Brainstorm visual map (as pdf): a map that is relevant for my critical review as well as for my parallel project:

21 Stefan513593-P2SP-critical_review_brainstorm

I developed my question  over time (see further below and eventually came up with the following working question for my critical review (embracing art practices, materiality, medical imaging, and visual culture theories) and settled for now with the following statement-question:


Ambiguity, the disembodied self, and the performativity
in medical imaging and art


Outline & Structure

very early and rough state – as pdf

20 Stefan513593-P2SP-Critical Review_first_outline

I am aware that the topic is still quite broad, and I will most certainly funnel it down to specifics, e.g. how MRI process can inform art practices inspired by Helen Chadwick’s work ‘Of Mutability’ .

Question to me regarding the course material about ‘What have you learnt and how has/or might this research impact on your own work in the future?’ => to write in first or third person?


Earlier evolution of my question

July 2018: with reference to Bruce Nauman and Hito Steyerl: 
Medical Imaging technique as contemporary visual mapping approach

Nov 2018: with ref Silvia Casini, earlier MRI artists: 
MRI as Medical Imaging technique and the sense of self and identity

Jan 2019: with reference to Gail Weiss, Mark Johnson, and Juhani Pallassmaa:
How MRI can support an understanding of dissolution of boundaries and the body image

Feb 2019: by embracing the possibility to incorporate sound / music through my collaborative project:
How the embodied encounter creates meaning

March 2019: drafted version to work from:
Perception of an disembodied self in medical imaging techniques as MRI
The medical gaze and the disembodied self, variations of perspective in MRI and art.
Ambiguity, the disembodied self, and the performativity in medical imaging and art


Earlier ideas – informing my critical review and parallel project

How do I find a focused question related to materiality and artist practices that would resonate with my work during this course as well my ideas for my parallel project? 

(sources: Schaffeld, 2018a – e) 

  • Layered images:
    – as disruption of ‘one’ picture plane, through fragmentation a reflection on identity ref artists: Jaqueline Humphries, Helen Chadwick)
  • Imaging (medical) techniques:
    – as a mean of understanding of what we don’t know, painting as a mean of revealing questions of the un-known (ref artists: Hito Steyerl, Bruce Nauman, Helen Chadwick)
    – How the conception of the body image is being impacted by medical imaging techniques? 
    – How medical imaging techniques expand the human vision and gaze? (ref artists: Annie Cattrell, Elizabeth Jameson, Chris Drury, Michael Hopkins, Paula Crown, Angela Palmer, Karen Ingram, Katharine Dowson, Susan Aldworth)
    – MRI as medical imaging technique and how we try to make sense of visual information in finding a Self and identity (ref Silvia Casini, Lisa Cartwright, Liz Orton)
  • Sound:
    – How to explore noise and sound as part of an embodied work?
  • Disruption:
    – not only picture plane but also a disruption of inside-outside, internal-external (ref artists: 
  • Repetition & process:
    – scrolling back and forth, a continuous approach of seeking meaning and reason
  • Control & gesture:
    – what is in my control and what is external controlled? Who provides meaning? What can paint doing to mirror this?
  • Foldings & unfolding:
    – to make visible and still not revealing, not the surface, not inside, no location, an unknown origin (ref artists: Sam Gilliam, Sophia Starling, Frank Stella, Katharina Grosse, Alison Watt)
    – How the brain could be seen as a visual of folding and unfolding, and the fold as a form of expression, a Gestaltung, an infinite line of inflection(ref: Deleuze ‘The Fold – Leibniz and the Baroque’)
  • Embodiment:
    – a personal multisensorial experience, like paint – color, smell, touch, sound (ref artists: xx)
    – an embodied spatial encounter with light, color and in relationship (ref. Helen Chadwick)
    – Choreographic elements in contemporary art as a performative expression of body images and self
    – Performative painting (Jutta Koether, Mona Hatoum, Robert Rauschenberg)
  • Coding & Decoding:
    – information with concealed, hidden meaning, visual information
    – fragmenting, disrupting, scattering, scanning – devices to code and transform visual information
  • Painting in a digital world:
    – Expanding painting through light and screen based materials
    – Exploring contemporary materials of reflection (e.g. perspex)
    – Moving images, video, and light as expanded field of painting
  •  Materiality:
    – How can a materialised painting be considered as a critical reflection on current life?
    – How physical material could be transformed through painting as a performative act?
    – Light as material
  • Participation:
    – How to overcome conventions of viewing paintings through the viewer’s participation?
    – How to invite the viewer as co-author of meaning and narratives?


Featured image: Schaffeld, S.J. (2019) Digital composite


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A3 – TIME & SCREEN – Part II – mapping territory

  • A3 – TIME & SCREEN – Part II – mapping territory
  • A3 – TIME & SCREEN – Part II – mapping territory

In my first round in developing my assignment work (Time-Screen – Part I) I explored the process of my initial box-performance as a painterly enactment and the subsequent recording and projecting images that eventually led to screen-based artefacts that reminded me of performative elements in itself, similar to my ‘dissociative’ hand.

What worked well

  • use of washes, abstraction. disruptive frames, engagement through presence of the hand, stencil approach, variety in responses

What didn’t work well?

  • containment, partly color choices, partly execution (quality of result), sequence of layering, use of space

I was hoping that I would overcome my barriers by doing and making more paintings, to overcome my self-conscious concerns of being overtly illustrative and making deprived paintings. Pondering the question of hand or no hand, abstract or not abstract. Perhaps, better to be inspired by Amy Sillmann or Cecily Brown, who transformed the question figurative-abstract. Nevertheless, I am wondering how I could possibly embedd more ‘gesture’ into my work.

I decided to explore four main areas:

Screen  –  Frame  –  Gesture  –  Projection

.. with a closer look at:

  • Gesture of the hand: a narrative part of a painting
  • Spaces: space to breath, space to open, a portal
  • Visual depth: how to establish a deeper impression (more translucent)
  • Ambiguity: resulting in more differentiating responses? (see no. 2)
  • Re-framing:  as I explored in Ex.3.3 , to expand support constraints 
  • Performance: moving more towards painting as performance, perhaps as a dialogue with my body, my hand.
  • Fragments/Stencils: using more stencil technique versus collage 

I highlighted two aspects (ambiguity and space) as I felt that both could combine the four areas. Based on my first visual mapping, I started to map out visually these possible areas for development, sketching down my thoughts and ideas helping me to stay sane and to propel my further work in a more structured way (slder)

 Visual Mapping : Frame – Projection – Screen – Gesture (slider Fig 1-3)

A3 - sketchbook - visual mapping 1-2

Image 1 of 3

Fig. 1: A3 - sketchbook - visual mapping 1-2

Eventually, I started to realise that one overall subject is crossing the boundaries of the four elements (frame, projection, screen, gesture):


in space – ambiguous

..a time based process of presence & absence. I felt strongly reminded of some past works I made and that are now in exhibitions (see my website), although the context and subject matter were completely different. And I am wondering whether the overall theme of dissociation is now becoming more autobiographic (one of my ‘secrets’)

With these maps I explored my ‘territory’ , trying to separate the aspects and to see what could come up as new thoughts and knowledge.

Expansion – Performing – Re-Staging

remark: click on each image to enlarge, to comment, to share

A / FRAME: The framed gesture - a stencil projection

Fig. 4 – Fig. 6: (oil paint, collage on paper; 35.6 x 28 cm / 30 x 42 cm 

=> Fig. 3 inspired by my spray painted frame used during project 3.4 , using a found metal foil as reflective surface, playing with what is painted and what is reflected image, shadows, presence, absence. Fig 4 as a monotype approach of a screen-like plastic foil, overpainted with a frame and engaging with it performative through a collaged cut-out hand, with dissolving spaces.  With reminiscence to Serra’s ‘Catching Hand’, Fig. 5 inspired partly by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, as I looked at it during my previous investigation on hands (Project 3.2). This gesture might be even trigger a stronger response of the viewer as two hand are reaching out. and with past memories surfacing at the same time.

Overall, this series plays even more with the hand, the gesture and the viewer. As the peer review showed the viewer as human being feels more engaged and emotionally connected when a human part is present. Not though indexical evidence, but rather literally as a recognisable element (relates also to the fact that people do see more often faces in ambiguous abstract patterns than other figures)


I decided to skip PROJECTION as a separate aspect, because I looked at it quite intensively before: see videos Performance – Unframed #01 and Performance – Unframed #02 . Both vides might be works in themselves, narrative, painterly projections, like me earlier performative video Paint-Catch-Move

C / SCREEN: Reflective evidence  - 

Fig. 7 – Fig. 9: (oil paint, collage on paper; each 35.5 x 51 cm)

=> working with reflective materials, using flexible materials (Fig. 6 – 8) to imprint a ‘screen’ into oil paint, layering of multiple steps/frames (Fig. 6), and transfer a silver painted layer on plastic (Fig. 7, used before as the backside of a self-made mirror) onto the support, an alternative way of using reflective surfaces literally as in Fig. 3. All transfer processes of a materialised screens, disruptive surfaces, only party transferred, revealing its materiality. At times, I felt reminded of the plastic foil I used in part 1 for my Laundry painting.

In this series I like the material aspect of layers and screens: either as embedded textures (Fig. 6-8) or transferred surfaces (Fig. 7). What is normally hidden (e.g. mirror, glass) and with the reflected image as the more dominant image. became now the dominant element. A view I explored, and struggled with,  through my observational reflective mirror paintings in project 3.4

D / GESTURE: The dissociated hand 

Fig. 10 – Fig. 15: oil paint on mylar, collage on paper, acrylic paint; each 35.6 x 28 cm); 3 on white, 3 on colored paper 

=> I used a cut-out ‘hand’ shape as a stencil in some of my previous paintings. Therefore, I took this approach further and thinking to de-contextualise  my overpainted stencils by eliminating the painting around: the tool to become the work. As if my hand was removed from the stage-box alongside its traces/memories of past performance. Trying to re-contextualizise it with white and different colored backgrounds. What works better? What less? Would it be better to see both sides of it? Replacing paper with transparent paper or perspex?

Overall, I find those reduced or focused works intriguing. The reduction to the main aspect, the hand, and all the screening and projection or images, slices of surfaces not any longer as a collage but intrinsically embedded in one piece. The simple toned background just as a support. I felt reminded of my art therapy practice when painting metaphors, e.g. for symptoms or barriers, and the background simply painted in one color – just to allow the viewer’s eye to see even more clearly the figure. The ground as a receding layer.  Fig. 11 and Fig. 12 possibly the more successful ones – a more or less colored version of striations. I feel as if a cycle is closing, a return from my early sketches on striations, the screening, the artefacts of color, and the gestural hand.

Last not least, I was trying to loosely interpret the gesture and the dissociative hand through a composite of transfer and oil paint (taking some reference to a older series of mine: Geologic Sensibility):

Dissociation: The submersed gesture 

Fig. 16 – Fig. 18: oil paint and collage on paper, acrylic transfer; each 35.5 x 51 cm

This are rather free and loose interpretations, keeping the gesture through the figurative ‘hand’-stencil alongside free gestural downwards flowing thinned oil paint. The right hand in Fig. 15. the left hand in Fig. 16, and the one in Fig 17 are collaged cut-outs, the right hand in Fig. 16 is acrylic transfer – a technique I find more intriguing as it is deeper embedded in the picture plane, and the peeling off results often in fragmented images. 

At the end I added striation marks with a comb tool. And depending on the orientation of the support (above all downwards as painted) one could associate the gesture with ‘drowning’, ‘reaching out’, ‘crying for help’, or whatever would cross the viewers’ mind. 

Overall, I like the reduced and dislocated appeal of this series. Although, I find them a bit too ‘noisy’ as if too much paint is concealing the image. Fig. 17 through it simpler expression perhaps more successful. The idea of playing with transfer, painted, stencils and negative shapes is good to develop further, painted context need to be more focused.



  • The viewer’s hand, and the idea of the hand inside the paintings as a reflection, possibly even the hand of the viewer. How could this work? wth mirrors opposite the hanging painting? Through enclosures? So that only the hand can engage with the painting? 
  • good to notice that some of my past experiments with different techniques came to merge with my works, e.g. decalcomania, acrylic transfer of inkjet prints. At that time more trying to learn techniques, now serving a visual purpose
  • What I liked:
    – spray paints and stencils – delivering visual depth and spaces, a ground dialogue of shapes and gesture, an element of dissolving 
    – edges: playing with edges with reference to the ‘dissociative edge’, the moment of revealing and concealing both at the same time (a Gestalt phenomena?)
    -color and shapes: 
    – adding gestures: adding engaging, triggering narratives without telling a story
    – serendipity : appearance of patterns through chance
    – the tool to become the work
    – striations: patterns of color, separation and meta-picture, a returning theme
  • Compared with the first part of my assignment development (A3 – TIME & SCREEN – PART I: DEVELOPING IDEAS) with rather observational paintings from projected, recorded performances (more or less abstract), I explored in this second part certain aspects that I discerned from my previous paintings: Frame, Screen, Projection, Gesture and a resulting theme of dissociation.  It seems to me as if the individual parts are performing on their own. The first series ‘Frame’ within the initial constrains. the second series dislocating the frame and the screen as independent actors, the fourth series ‘Gesture’ as a fully dissociative stand-alone gesture informed by the prior process of projection. and the fifth series ‘Dissociation’ as being in a new context. 

Now, it is time to consolidate and make my final series of works for assignment submission. Although I find the various paintings intriguing and possible worth to repeat with variations as a series, I will focus now on the simple gesture alongside a more material based idea of screen and frame. The separated hand felt quite strong and I am wondering how I could push this further. The main question I would like to address in my final work:

How to take the gesture of the hand
an acting hand
informed by viewing as process
of screen based imagery? 


My works for departure will be:

Stefan513593-A3- paintings to push forward

Fig. 19: A3- paintings to push forward



  • 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.
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A3 – TIME & SCREEN – Part I: Developing ideas

My assignment work is a development of what I started with in projects 2 and 3 – see blog entry on narrative. Fascinated by the video work of Richard Serra ‘Hand Catching Lead’ (1968) and the repetitive action as kind of failure, rising a desire to continue.  Over time, I became more sensible to the small moments, deviations, and the material expressions, like one becomes more sensible to the impact of the environment. An aspect that played a role e.g. in Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘White Paintings’ or in Jacqueline Humphries’ ‘Black Light Paintings’.

I appropriated, enacted, staged, recorded, projected, and played with the space and surfaces – in a sense observing the performative elements appearing with a higher awareness to still-images, moments of glimpses, artefacts, interactions. Only through a double projection/recording of my process based approach, I became aware of appearing artefacts and glitches. 


TIME: A Sensibility


Eventually, I decided that with the efforts I already put into it, alongside my attachment to my sculptural TV-box as my stage for flat screen performances, and a desire to look deeper, I will continue. 

Derived from my Pull series  I defined a few still images for further development.

Fig. 1 – Fig. 7: Slider of seven still images from moving images: Hand-Catch-Screen and Hand-Catch-Screen-Performance)

my hand - my body
in-front of a wall
trying to catch  - something
Fig. 1
my hand and the TV-set
inside or outside
dislocated - dissociated
a part and apart from
the world
Fig. 2
my hand 
real or a projection?
a timeless moment
Fig. 3
the performing screen
a moment in time
an object?
Fig. 4
the screen
glitch in-between
where is it safe?
Fig. 5
reaching through
two worlds
where to be?
crossing reflections
staying fragmented
Fig. 6
invisible - visible
disappearing act
glooming existence
where am I?
Fig. 7


There were some aspects that attracted my attention: 

dislocation (inside, outside)   –  dissociation (hand from body)  
disruptive planes (collage, juxtaposition, combines)  –  fragmentation (close up view)
layering (all together)

After my previous explorations of embodied enactment through a painted stage (similar to Rachel Russell) I became more fascinated by these still imagery – embracing technology driven artefacts and glitches through a double recording-projection with the painted prop (TV box) as the stage for performance.

My question to me:
– What happened virtually ‘on stage’ as a performance (color creation through projection), could this be transformed through painting, painting to perform?
– How can my experience of my dissociated hand be part of that performative painting?

Important for me, to warm-up through painting. Based on my previous making experiences, to embrace what will happen during the making.

Representation & Interpretation

A series of paintings from above still images. An observational effort of representing? Perhaps more of placing my bodily experience onto a surface. And partly an interpretation.

Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation no1

Fig. 8: Representation and Interpretation no1 – acrylic paint and collage (30x40cm canvas paper); an early experiment with decalcomania, framing, and collage; dialogue hand – paint


Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation no1

Fig. 9: Representation and Interpretation no1 – acrylic and oil paint, collage (35.5x51cm cold press paper); a more elaborated experiment with oil paint washes, layering, framing, and collage; expanding the frame and sense of dissociation (hand inside and outside the frame), shifting layers.


Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation no2

Fig. 10: Representation and Interpretation no2 – acrylic and oil paint, collage (30x40cm canvas paper); a more elaborated layered painting, closer up, getting inside the frame (aka box), sensible to artefacts as performing elements, starting to move towards abstraction in itself. A sense of touching the invisible.


I found these three examples possible too representative, informed by the still ‘painterly images’ – and too deprived? I felt as if they are just that: representations, and not enough performative paintings. Would this be different? I wanted to loosen up more, distancing myself from the ‘original’ virtual still images, and to review possible approaches of interpretation.  Nevertheless, I find Fig, 10 the more successful, a more coherent color palette, a more balanced composition as well. From Fig. 9 I take the dissociative aspect of the hand inside and outside further, from Fig. 8 a stronger tonal contrast and an apparently advancing hand. Also that one has a more disruptive framing aspect. To overcome or to embrace the rectangular constraint of the support?

Scaling up and further development

Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation - prep

Fig. 11: Interpretation – prep – ground in acrylic paint (50 x 60 cm board)

I started off with making background paintings on board in acrylic paint, and reminiscence to Richard Serra’s video work with the mural behind – as I created my initial ‘TV-set‘ as well (Fig. 11)

.. and to layer over multiple thin washes in oil paint, trying not to become too opaque as my model is light –  infused, no object color. I took the ideas once again from my previous pull narrative and chosen still images (Fig 6 – in slider above). I found it often more inspiring to develop further from a pre-painted support, often abstract, to shape from that ground the figures, to let the next layers appear from the ground.


Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation no4

Fig. 12: Representation and Interpretation no4 – acrylic and oil paint (50x60cm board); oil washes brushed and physically rubbed into the surface;  a box or a frame on the wall? reaching across or inside? Advancing, inviting?


At this point of time, I was wondering how much my hand need to be present and represented in the painting? Otherwise, my hand was (and is) the actor in the performative enactment (see above) but I felt that my hand in painting need to perform its own ‘performative action’. Nevertheless, in this painting (Fig. 12) the hand has also a life and behaviour in itself. 

I decided to continue with ‘handless’ paintings, so to speak, to get my hand back to paint.- and to let it disappear in the act of painting. 


Transformation ‘Disappearing Acts’

I borrowed this title from Bruce Nauman retrospective, a show that made a long-lasting impression on me. And also the origin for my parallel project with the use of today’s imaging technologies in mapping and exploring other areas. 


Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation no5

Fig. 13: Representation and Interpretation no5 – acrylic and oil paint (50x60cm board); washes, the collaged hand a temporary layer, to be peeled off; focusing on the striations created on the surface (and inside my TV box maquette) as artefacts from double projection.


The hands still there, as stencils, and disappearing, to be peeled off.  I was still not satisfied with the result. Perhaps the color combination not convincing, perhaps the hand as such not knowing what to do there.

I wanted to get rid of the hand completely – and let the paint perform in itself (Fig 14)

Stefan513593 - A3 - Representation and Interpretation no6

Fig. 14: Representation and Interpretation no6 – acrylic and oil paint (50x60cm board); abstraction of surface reflections – the box, the frame partly there (top and bottom), my hand disappeared form the picture plane, only its’ index as the artist hand could be concluded. More opaque elements appear.


At this stage, I became more aware of the materiality and the tools. Comparing my initial performative enactment and video recording alongside the technological artefacts and glitches, I was wondering whether paint and the space around me could act and perform more freely, unmediated, going beyond past representations towards future possibilities. I got reminded of the works from Julie Mehretu and Jaqueline Humphries , who started off with representational imagery but exceeded and cross-layered those in order to bring forward new works. Both have in common a combination of structural and gestural elements. 

Intermediate reflection

  • I decided for the title TIMESCREEN as it could invite the viewer (and first me) to reflect on the word and to emerge with the painting. To see behind and at the same time to consider each still image as a work in itself. 
  • Some of above paintings do convey a certain narrative, like Fig. 12 with the hand crossing edges. Possibly, that the ‘real’ narrative is happening in the space in-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 in my assignment work and parallel project.
  • I do consider this assignment work as a deeper reflection on my exploration of the body and the screen. In project 3 I looked at the narrative through moving images and ‘pulling a narrative’ from it. Here I approached the moments of artefacts and glitches in relationship with my body interaction, with my hand as the mean to paint but also as the mean to take a handle, to grasp, to understand through making. Not so much in a symbolic way rather as a mediator for performative painting.
  • The question what a painting is became more open-ended by my approach: a layering of multiple realities: Serra’s video work, my appropriation of it, my painted and unpainted hand, inside and outside, a staged TV-box, the autonomous performance of my hand. Also artefacts of digital and analog technology as means of virtual imagery –  performing for me.
  • My painting approach:
    – I explored various technique: decalcomania (monotype), stencil technique, collage, layering, and textured paint versus washes.
    – I did work still within certain constraints: the contained shape of the support and the flatness of painting
    – So far I did not work sculptural as it was the main painting aspect in my enactments wth the TV-box, and I did not work outside the support constraints. Considering my motive and aspiration I am wondering whether these approaches could support more successful the elements of dissociation, fragmentation and disruption without being illustrative or merely effect based as a trope. Concerning constraints and picture planes I am still intrigued by my video recording of reflective projection (Performance – Unframed #01) Possibly, that I am struggling once again with the question which medium is more successful: moving images or painting, or how moving images can be considered as an expanded field of painting. Certainly a question to be discussed with my tutor during next tutorial.
  • An overall struggle with the figurative element of my performing hand: to picture it, to let it perform through painting, to get rid of completely, or to embrace as an element that adds meaning, a human body part more engaging?

I modified the last three paintings (Fig. 12, 13, 14) a bit further and put the paintings up for a crit, a vcrit event organized by the regional group Europe under the lead of tutor Jayne Taylor: 

SHOWCASE: Time & Screen – VCrit

The vcrit was an in interesting experience as I asked for responses without providing information on the prior process: no information on appropriating Richard Serra, nor on my performative enactment in a painted TVBox, neither my double projected color artefacts as a technology driven performance informing my  paintings. Though some participants knew where I was coming from.

Next steps:

  • To consider gesture of hand as narrative part of a painting
  • To work more with spaces, space to breath, space to open, a portal
  • To work more with visual depth
  • To work with ambiguity as this would results in more differentiating responses (see no. 2)
  • To consider re-framing as I explored in Ex.3.3 and to expand support constraints 
  • To move further towards painting as performance, perhaps as dialogue with my body, my hand.
  • To consider more stencil rather than collage approach by keeping visual depth



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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 TV.box-frame, 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 TV.box.frame 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: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/glass-should-be-redefined-as-a-liquid/3008199.article (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: https://doi.org/10.1080/14702029.2016.1206442 (Accessed on 08 Jan 2019).
  • Umbrico, P. (2011) TVs from Craigslist, [online], At: http://www.penelopeumbrico.net/index.php/tvs-from-craigslist/ (Accessed 21 Dec 2018).
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Project 3.3: Narratives – Visual Inspirations / Dislocation – Fragmentation

Ideas from visual inspirations:

I do wonder how my approach for project 3.3. (the Narrative) could inform further my parallel project. More by coincidence, I discovered the work of the Syrian artist Sara Naim, consisting of photographic sculptures as abstract objects. For her current series Building Blocks , on show in Dubai at The Third Line gallery, Naim used scientific technology,  Scanning Electron Microscopy, to capture the cellular structure of mundane objects (jasmine, soil and Aleppo soap) and through magnifying the images, revealing a sense of visual complexity. The large scale works are mounted on wood or plexiglass. She embraces glitches and distortion, fragmentation and interferences due to the use of digital technology, elements that I do feel relevant in my current direction, reminding me also of the most recent works of Jacqueline Humphries. The press release relates her work to ‘the imperfection of memory and thus of human nature.’  (The Third Line, 2019) and in her own words:

‘A glitch distances the viewer through its abstraction, but also unearths the inherent structure of a digital file’s expectation and miscommunication.’ – Sara Naim (Romdane, 2018)

It comes back to glitches and distortions as I was playing with some ideas since part 2: encoded visual information, void of context, fragmented, and with a sense of technological glitch (bar codes, video, QR codes, medical imaging etc.). One is never really in control of full information, of getting close to what is concealed. And a narrative that can evolve from the space between signifiers and visual sensations? Memory that can trigger narratives in the viewer’s mind?  Disruptive narratives. I do not see my work to be developed further in a sequential manner like a storyboard or telling a story (as my video above). I am more interested in searching ways of visual information that builds on various elements, signifiers, fragmented collages etc. A complexity and ambiguity that would invite the viewer to bring subjective narratives to the work – and the space in between. And that plays with the structures, the shapes around in a kind of dialogue. 

Another direction I can relate to is the performative work ‘Alter Ego‘ by Alexa Wright, brought to my attention during the recent peer review hangout. Wright studied Fine Arts and is now more interested in photography, video and sound installations. Her performative and participatory work explores the sense of being outside of oneself alongside a loss of control on one’s own identity, like the hand outside of my body, inside or outside the stage box. Through digital capture-technology a mirror image of a sitter of being overlayed with a 3D face structure, but contrasting to a flat mirror where the reflection is the same image of the sitter’s body actions, in ‘Alter Ego’ the mirror image is taken over a ‘life’ by its own. Quite a dissociative aspect, where what one might think is part of the body, turns out to be something different, with a strong uncanny sensation. There seems to occur a dialogue between the digital imagery and the sitter? What reminds me of the human-like robots – to overcome the ‘uncanny valley’ (Masahiro Mori, 1970). In my case it is not about a mirror image and a sitter, but my dissociative hand and my ‘outside-the-box-body’. 

Overall, I like to notions of layering, ambiguity, and dislocated forms, as I explored in my sketchbook (Fig 1):


Stefan513593 - sketchbook - dislocation and fragmentation

Fig 1: Sketchbook – dislocation and fragmentation

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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 3.2: Becoming an image

Stefan513593 - Body and Image - self portraits from POP1
Before looking deeper into some artists’ works and their writing, I do wonder how I perceive body and image as of today.
The body as a vulnerable physical matter protected through a skin. Skin as I explored in previous exercise, not as clothing surrounding us in a cultural environment, but as the human skin – when naked we expose ourselves to vulnerability, physical and conceptual –  or even metaphorical. My previous works do reflect somehow this sensibility through it translucent materiality. 
How does our body reflect what we are? Is the body a self, our identity? Some reflection – using the ‘Inspiration‘ app while travelling. I took some reference to a past exhibition visit in 2016 in Zurich on self-portraits ‘Me/Not Me‘ .
visual mapping of what I know - mapping on the go

Fig. 1: visual mapping of what I know – mapping ‘on the go’


The painterly human body

to paint with = brush
   to paint on = canvas
   to paint of = object
   to paint through = performance
Being reminded of my ‘body as brush’ paintings during PoP1 as an expansion of self-portrait, made with gouache ‘ The Eyes of the Skin‘ (Schaffeld, 2016 – see featured image) – the title as reference to the book The Eyes of the Skin (2005) by Juhani Pallasmaa.
My thoughts wandering around the skin and identity, something that resonates well in the work of Boo Ritson. And body and skin reminds me strongly of touch, possibly the most intimate human sensation. Reminding me of my past exhibition visit in Basel Prière de toucher, 2016. From touching the skin to belief – reminiscence to ‘Emblemata’ and allegorical subject of the five senses in 16th and 17th century art – touching as a haptic process and experience for the blind, up to scratching the skin like a sculptural material, quite a violent act (reminding me of the symptoms of some borderline people). At the exposure of body and skin to pain and violent interventions brings me to Ana Mendieta, and even more to the performative works of Marina Abramovic and to a lesser extent to Carolee Schneeman. In found the book ‘The Body in Contemporary Art’ (O’Relly, 2009), now more fascinating for me than some time ago, with one example of Daniel Joseph Martinez Self Portrait #9  (p.182) putting his hand deep inside his stomach (manipulated photographs) – appropriating Gustave Moreau Prometheus ,1868 – what brings me possibly closer to my personal project of inside-out, the skin and the inner parts, the body and identity. 
It also reminds me of the video work ‘Pickelporno‘ by Pipilotta Rist, on that I wrote my final assignment essay for UVC, an intimate close-up view on skin and the human body at sexual intercourse transformed into psychedelic landscapes and eruption of colors. 
I found incidentally the works of the artist Yasumusa Morimura, quite close to works if Cindy Sherman or Gillian Wearing.  He stages himself in historical scenes, using appropriation through enactment as a tool to challenge
‘What is history? What is historical truth? – Yasumasa Morimura 
He started in 1985 with making self-portraits using prosthetics and cosmetics as sets assuming a role of figures that signify more than themselves (Hiji, 2018) And as a non-Western, asian man he subverts tropes and concepts of masculinity and femininity, e.g the concept of the “male gaze” .
Cindy Sherman uses her own body, make-up, prosthetics, costume and props to speak about issues around the depiction of women in society and culture. In the OCA discuss forum a current thread is about self – portrait in photography, the anxiety and the unease that comes along with making self-portraits photographs (considering self-portrait in the conventional sense of making a reproduction of one own’s head, face or body). Staging a self through a maskerade could be seen as just another selfie-persona, but could be also seen as a sensibility to draw attention to conventions we often take for granted.

The Make up Body

The artist Boo Ritson (b. 1969) merges conventional classifications of painting, sculpture, performance and photography, the final work as object though is a photograph of a sitter covered with thick paint and photographed when paint was still wet. Apparently, she had only 20min to take the photograph after painting before it dried (Davies, 2011). At first one might see these works just as body-paintings, as a make-up for a party or just for fun. I felt reminded of the video work Art Make Up, 1967 of Bruce Nauman (Tramontin, 2016) seen at the retrospective in Basel: a painterly exploration of the self, with the painted surface taken over a deferred meaning.

‘I’m not a photographer; I’m an artist who uses photography. In its raw state, my work can only be seen by me and the people I work with, so photography is essential. I can’t show my work without it.’ – Boo Ritson (Benedictus, 2007)

I am wondering whether she takes herself the photographs or does work with the photographer Andy Crawford ?(Davies, 2011) A question of copyright and ownership? Or the photographer as the assistant to execute, hired by RItson? So, not truly a collaboration? Topics, I discussed in April with Caroline Wright during London Study Day.

Her work is informed by or appropriating of American road movies.  Her series ‘Back Road Journey’s is considered by the artist as ‘unfinished’ pieces, models painted in white and halfway painted in color, reminiscence of the blank canvas (Aesthetica, 2009). The process she applied reminds me also of some works by Helen Chadwick, e.g. her ‘Wreath to pleasure’ series, photographs of living materials, decaying over time.

The paint could be considered as a skin, enclosing or concealing the layer, the body below (Saatchi Gallery). It reminds me of the plaster masks that we made at school, casted with tissues of plaster put onto the face with holes for eyes, mouth, and nose to breath, waiting till it is roughly dry and tearing if off: masks as the skin peeled off, masks to paint and to manipulate dislocated, displaced on a table, kind of externalization of what is part of oneself.  It is mentioned that she used household paint, I am pondering health topics (did she applied a protective layer underneath?). 

Raising questions what is art, what is the object of art (the final photograph? the process of painting the sitter? 

We do not see the sitter but the character they have become.- Source: davidrisleygallery.com 

The photographs do convey a creepy sense for me, reminding me of the ‘uncanny valley’, a term coined by Masahiro Mori in 1970 relating to the creation of robots with human appearance. The sensation one could have when it is not clear whether the figure in front of one is artificial or human, e.g a prosthetic hand (Schaffeld, 2017). And like the prosthetic hand Ritson’s photographed painted models seem to reside somehow between the painted skin and the human sitter. 

‘The ‘Cast’ are the people that the people I know could be, if they weren’t the people I know. They give the work its texture, like the characters in a film’. – Boo Ritson (Saatchi)

Besides the blur between disciplines, Ritson’s work also questions the relationship between the sitter, her as the painter and the paint. What does the sitter adds to the work? Does Ritson knows anything about them, and is this even relevant at all? The paint can be seen as an additional skin, a layer of closing, though it conveys more a sense of enclosure, encapsulation. Is the sitter free to escape? The ‘overpainted’ persons get a sense of fragility, like porcelain, I think due to the glossy shin of the wet paint. On the other hand, the persons are being portrait and archived forever through their masks, they will live further, even after the sitter’s death.

In other series, e.g. ‘D is for Donut‘, 2011, Ritson places the models in context, a landscape environment, adding more layers, making the painted models look more vivid, e.g Bear Creek, Alabama (Davies, 2011) or Prairie View, Texas

A slightly different approach takes Rachel Russell with her either painted models series (with context) or her performative painting (2012) as enactment of Philip Gustons’ painting, The Studio, 1969. I find it fascinating how well she translated Guston’s hues and composition into her space. Just an interesting aspect, that she didn’t appropriated Guston’s meta-picture, the painting inside the painting. In her performative painting she paints a different subject. It reminds of Levine’s work, appropriating a work in a different context, the image as such just a background ‘noise’.

Take-away and questions

  • Photography as documentation painting (resonates with some of my earlier approaches)
  • Making photographs of a work as a job of hiring a photographer, as an assistant? The reproduction bear Ritson’s name, or not? 
  • Portraiture: more about the artist or the sitter? Ritson’s work seems to sit in-between, void of personality of the sitter, and still with an uncanny sense of presence.
  • Paint as skin, as material to encapsulate, to conceal. But also to reveal new meaning, to add another deferred layer in a literal sense. The Body as skin, the skin as paint, the paint as concealing and dislocating – aspects that do intrigue me
  • Appropriation of past works, or of identities, or of context – a question to be considered and looked at deeper



  • Featured image: Paitings and photographs of me and my body imprints, done as part of daily parallel project during PoP1 (c)SJSchaffeld, 2016


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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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Part Three – Preliminary Thoughts

Stefan513593 - Ex 2.5 - Making - space

I feel that this part will take me from my previous explorations of objects as actors back to the human presence (or absence) the relationship of the human body in painting, either as a staged (body as canvas) subject-object or as a point of reference in an anthropomorphic sense. Considering my constellation works that inspired me it seems as if the interaction of the person in arranging things will come into play, Not as the ‘invisible’ guiding hand, but as the acting hand. Touch, movement, and positioning.  

So far, I walked through and around my works (e.g. Walking Through Painting), looked at them top down (e. g. ‘Cut-out collages’ on horizontal table) or through, was engaged with them at a unique object-relationship (see featured image). Now, the question, how to incorporate either my body, another human body or a proxy of human body inside the work. How can the human body be represented beyond traditionally figurative paintings?  Another more intriguing way would be to find new perspectives on how I do interact actually with my works – or how they perform on me, guiding me, a dialogue? How could the viewer actually be involved through participation? The latter was a key aspect in my last assignment work Object-Box.

Elements to explore further are: 

  • Performative aspects of objects – and how the viewer is engaged
  • Objects and images of objects acting as proxy bodies  an anthropomorphic dimension of human presence or absence
  • Body painting – the body as a tool (see part one) or the body as the support? or even as the performative support? Wondering wether the body can be the paint and the support….
  • Ideas, objects, images and processes: relationship between them through appropriation, enactment, transformation and memory.
  • Narratives: creating a narrative through a visual sequence (can a still image not already convey a narrative?) and how a visual disruption could create a nonlinear narrative – more to ponder
  • Mirror and reflection: How a reflective surface or a framed view can rupture the pictorial space 

One open question would be how narrative can play a deeper role in abstract art or whether the depticted subject as in history paintings is the point of reference. I think that during part two with my cut-out collage animations I added a temporal layer to the still images. Are still images enough to convey a narrative or does it need the element of time to express a narrative? It reminds me of the old battle between spatial (as painting or sculpture) and temporal arts (as poetry of cinema) as described by G. Lessing in ‘The New Laocoon’ (1767). I explored partly in the previous two parts filmic elements, more in the sense of moving images. Not so much, yet, with inclusion of sound. It brings me back to my last course unit UVC and my last assignment essay on video installations (see here), and the work of Bill Viola and his work The Greeting, 1995 that was inspired by Jacopo Pontormo’s painting (1528-29) and acts through its extreme slow motion (1:10) and transformation as a contemporary dynamic narrative, enforcing the psychological aspect of the encounter.

The starting point for me – as it is still available in my studio space – to get interacted with my Walking Through Painting, to capture my presence, and to see how this could be worked into another work. Also, how my body, similar to the objects arranged, can act and perform in the same staged scene. What would get really close to other structural constellation works with having people to represent absent people, things, abstract ideas. It is the human who gets into touch with a scene through a trans-verbal language. And a person is re-arranging till it fits all, the things and the representatives. How to embed this into a piece of (art)work? As a reference or as a process in itself? For me it is the ‘things in itself’ that perform at different levels. The viewer would be the visitor to engage with – question whether the viewer would be allowed to arrange, as I invited them with my Object-Box.

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