Tag Archives: Performance

Project 5.1 – Ex5.1: Cut-up technique

Wondering what text of words to use? I wanted to take text with some relevance to my personal project, considering ‘cut-up’ technique as an analogue to my recent assignment 4 paintings related to skin: fragmentation, vulnerable, distorted, disruptive, unsettling

Text input:

Reflecting on practices of text related to MRI, one example is Nicoleta Colopelnic (2013) where she described her back MRI scan through poetry and gave the medical imagery an aesthetic appeal, I decided to build my words from various sources that seem meaningful to me and my parallel project (Fig. 1):

  1. a medical text on psychological effects of MRI scan (Westbrook and Talbot, 2019:350)
    => the rather technical tone related to a patient’s ‘non-compliance’ with the machine process reminds me of how strongly the body became disciplined through the medical instruments it themselves. The fear and different responses by the patients as a flaw to correct.
  2. a text on visual aesthetic perception and the brain (Cela-Conde ed al., 2004:6321)
    => how neo-Descartian the medical world became by trying to map not only the mind but also the sense for aesthetics 
  3. key words from peer feedback (see reflective blog post) on my inter-media collaborative work Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI) 
    => kind of verbal stimuli, different, falling onto me, what to make out of it?
  4. words from Vicki and me in resonance to MRI as subject matter, that until now didn’t go into the performed work from July 20th, 2019
    => how we came up with some freely associated words related to an MRI experience, un-discplined, un-mapped, chaotic. Those words are most closely to MRI poetry and I might use them explicitly for my further work.
  5. technical words from DICOM data of one MRI scan (screenshot from Horos)
Fig. 1: words from parallel project and feedback

Fig. 1: words from parallel project and feedback // check out the QR code to soundcloud file with spoken words


Techniques to cut-up and shuffle

I was trying to make non-sense out the the tons of words (how to reduce those? or is the amount of overload part of the work and the experience of it?). Considering the MRI machine and the machine coding process to deliver visual imagery to the human beings in-front of the operator screen, I felt inspired to use an automatic coding approach as well to shuffle and cut-up my various text inputs. Looking for online tools (line shuffle tools from Advameg. Inc.and Random Tools) and use of LingoJam (2019) tools for creation of type fonts, a visual encounter with the invisible text resulted in a nearly illegible sequence of words that I composed as a string of large letter pages, in total 93 pages !   that became my base material for following explorations

link to : PDF 

Video 1: more linear unsettling the entirely // Words cutup – sequence no 1(video, 1:33 min)


and as layered and double moving text-image (with the animated painting done earlier on for my parallel project, and a raw sequence that didn’t go into the final performative collaborative piece –  see my blog post at: Spin-off Idea: Gesture as Narrative)

Video 2: recent aesthetic distance// Words cutup – sequence no 2 (video, 2:31min)

Not knowing what to do with the massive amount of text not giving me any further insight in how to proceed further, I eventually printed and manually cut them in smaller pieces and to see whether my more visually and touching approach of collaging them together in a sketchbook could show a way forward.

Playing around with to structure :

  • to make connections – cut up my thinking (Fig. 2)
  • to make sense (Fig 3) 
  • to response through feeling and touching – ? (Fig. 4)

Slider view (Fig 2 – 4, click on one image to open in lightbox view):

Fig. 2: text and words - no1

Image 1 of 3

text and words - Making Connections - cut up my thinking

Intermediate results

Informed my previous playful selection of narrowing down the words (Fig. 2-4) I was curious to see how to use them in a collage way. I am more intrigued by the materiality and performative aspects of the resulting non-sense cut-ups, less about the process of making (Fig. 5)

Fig. 5: text and words - sketchbook // informed by language from my parallel project

Fig. 5: text and words – sketchbook // informed by language from my parallel project // left: latex and Tyvek plus words, center: non-sense cut up words behind the window, right: stretching words with parafilm


=> I was intrigued by the use of parafilm (or better PARAFILM® M) from some previous trials after reflecting on assignment 4 and alternatives to latex. Parafilm, material used in medical or chemical labs to close beakers and other containers, is translucent materials that can be painted on with acrylic paint. Due to its plasticity it is easily stretchable, an action that I wanted to continue exploring after assignment 4 in relationship to skin and medical matters. My exploration of Tyvek® (Fig.5, left) – a paper like material that can be cut open to expose the inner core and being used for protective and disposable clothing, e.g. in clinics,  is informed in a similar search for latex alternatives and materials with connotations with medical stuff. 

Exploring incision, stretching and other material matters. Slider view (Fig. 6 & 7), click on one image to open in lightbox view:

Fig. 5: collage 1

Image 1 of 2

exploring verbal and visual materiality // abduction - part - dominion - insane - gaze - rhythm - loneliness - mind - touching - sound - alien

=> I found the relationship between materiality and action an interesting aspect. stretching and transparency as two key elements involved in my work since part one.












Making collages, partly as an instruction partly as a declaration (slide show Fig. 7 – Fig 14;  click at the bottom right tiny arrow top open images in lightbox view):

=> this brought me back to some of my initial bar-codes, slicing experiments (see post). More an illustration, crossing boundaries with drawing and eventually creating ideas for painting. The series done in my A3 sketchbook, might be quite sketchy and illustrative, but I find the line between legible and illegible, between comprehsensible and non-comprehensible fascinating. It is a border that in case of QR codes can be easily crossed, with a rather digital result: yes / no – legible / illegible. This liminal space of making sense and getting insane sounds relevant.

=> the no.5 work is obviously as contained and unsuccessful as it was my work with paper chips for part 4. I kept it here for the sake of completion and as an idea. To develop it further I would reject the backing support paper and make it more sculptural, unframing and expanding the edges into the space of the viewer












Words as speech

I wanted to move away from visual, words to see, towards auditory, words to hear. Considering words as speech, intrigued by my experience of my collaborative project and of one project performed by a Anna, her husband and Naomi at Toynbee Studios, and informed by William S Burroughs practice and some artists examples from the Radio broadcast (Hollings, 2015)

the words from VIcki and me – spoken by me – unfiltered and raw (just with noise reduction and normalization filter, (audio, 0:57 min)) 


a) First attempt in taking my spoken words, apple various effect filters with Adobe Audition and re-mix as multi-track file. Creating a speech-scape, to be layered with visuals (audio, 0:29 min)

=> to soundscape partly distorted, interruptive, but good as a first speech-sketch

b) Second attempt my spoken words as a) re-shuffled, cut-up with Adobe Audition (audio, 1:08 min):


=> more flat as single track and no filters applied. However, the cut-up as a mix of chance and conscious decisions, percussive, repetitive towards the end. Wondering how this could be developed further. Speech felt now more as a plastic material to be transformed and modulated.

With this audio-soundscape sketched I am wondering how the words can be merged with visuals, feeling intrigued by Kentridge’s short moving images Breathe, Dissolve, Return (2008)  What would be the difference in experience versus my collaborative music work? Another approach to ‘feeling complicit’ with the materials. All about creating in-between spaces

c) Third attempt mixing various words (incl Vicki’s) spoken by me, cut-up, merged and re-shuffled with Adobe Audition (audio, x:xx min):

<  planned idea but skipped in order to move directly to the next step  >

d) Fourth attempt audio from my cut-up speech (second attempt) with ‘merged’ with the handwritten words amended and a painting on parafilm as process – multilayered in Adobe Premiere. Finally, I got to move away from iMovie and enjoyed the versatility and flexibility of Premiere, especially for layering (what became a nightmare in iMovie). 

Video 3: Cut up My Thinking // Words cutup – sequence no 4 (video-audio, 2:30 min)


=> After various attempts in recording the massive amount of text from video 1 in a linear way of reading (making a very long strip of small scale prints of the 93 pages) with either moving myself with the camera in front of the text frieze of – more successful – moving the text strip with a fixed camera. I was not that satisfied and convinced by the typed and printed text, thus I revisited my work in my sketchbook (see Fig. 2-4) and choose those ‘keywords’ to write them out on a similar small long strip of paper: text, written by my hand, more personal – another index of my being (writing and hand and pull). The moving strip itself reminded me of analog magnetic tape recording and cutting, quite as Burroughs mentioned it. It reminded me also of Jennifer West and her material usage of film tapes to paint on and to project them. In my case, an audio version of that. The layering process of physical and digital materials (experimented earlier on – see ‘my digital body in space’ from Project 3.2 – Ex. 3.1: Body as canvas and multilayered moving images ‘Performance unframed #2‘ from Project 3.4 – Ex. 3.3: The mirror as a stage .

Some aspect that I can find coming across in some of my works since part one are :






  • Using materials does matter: I found it intriguing to find some relationship between written or typed words on paper, on other materials, and the process of reading (in this case from left to right as by my own learned cultural convention). The performative video works with connotation to tape (magnetic tape recording of speech) as moving images.
  • I enjoyed the speech approach and using soundcloud – for its plasticity and to make it more malleable compared to written text. I do embrace more and more different senses to have a more immersed experience of a work. Definitely, something to look deeper into.
  • My last video 3 work and its preparation made me aware of how my body posture and gesture plays a role in the making and reception of the work. Moving with a video cam means to record my movement as well (I don’t have such fancy film maker motion reduction devices) while moving a strip with a fixed cam makes the strip movement (smaller gesture with the hand) a bodily experience with its traces left on the video. I intentionally kept those ‘non-professional’ motion traces, not only as index but also as awareness of the body in the work.
  • Informed by my collaborative work with music student Vicki I was intrigued by soundscape and now of speech-scapes an additional dimension to visual spaces. It brings me to multiple layer approaches that could be performed either live or as recording in a room. The works above are single perspective works, i.e what the viewer sees and what the viewer hears is coming from the same direction, mostly a computer or mobile flatscreen. In a physical gallery setting this could be disconnected and displaced, the speech, the sound coming from different directions, placing the viewer inside the work and not as an observing person alone. I like the idea of complementing visual that one looks at in one or the other direction and other senses exposed to different directions.
  • I find malleable materials with a plasticity quite relevant for my work and relating to my parallel project. Did my last assignment 4 looked at latex as a stretchable and fragmented skin pattern, I can see now that even words might be as malleable as such materials. I found in Parafilm M® a similar material that I could use for that. Stretchable fabrics, with incisions, might be another approach to look at.
  • Further development: 
    – I liked the developed idea of considering words as a plastic material, literally explored through stretching parafilm with words painted on it. Certainly more to discover with other materials, e.g. to cut out words from fabric or latex and to stretch them in similar way as I did with latex for assignment 4.
    – Words as speech acts brings me to the performative aspect of language. Speech as such is performative, compared to a more ‘still’ expression of non-verbal paintings.
    – Overall, I do believe that to work with the plasticity of words in context of my subject matter (medical imaging, skin, embodiment) would be the way forward.




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Collaboration as Parallel Project // P5.2 – Ex5.2: Reflective exercise (Part a)

collaborative project music fine art MRI

This was going a bit different than just a straight forward parallel project. The outcome was realised and performed aka screened in a private viewing event at Toynbee Studios, London E1 6AB on 20th July 2019 with the support of OCA (Caroline Wright and Carla Rees). The work consisted of an approx 10 min visual-music performative video created together with music student Vicki Downey.

Mindful-Resonance Interaction (video-audio, 09:45 min): 

as installed and screened at Toynbee Studios on 20th July 2019. A collaboration with music student Vicki Downey ()

Remark: in order to have the best experience of the work, it is recommended to listen to with good headphones with a frequency range down to <=20 Hz or with a good audio system that can convey very low pitches



Now, with the outcome accomplished, time to reflect on the work done and a reflection after the event including feedback from the audience and learnings from what I experienced from the other five projects presented.

About our collaboration

(see also Vicki’s reflection – under Reference)

When the call for a New Music-Fine Arts collaborative project was announced, I was thrilled. I pondered for quite some time about how to bring sound and painting together, having only experimented for myself with some animated images and recorded painting processes. I knew that I often take too much on my shoulders and at times all over the place. Therefore, I hoped that I could integrate the collaborative bit into my coursework, even hoping it could be part of my parallel project related to medical imaging and MRI and being presented for assessment (still to come) – and I got the go from my tutor under the condition it would be well documented. I was even more thrilled to hear in my first virtual meeting with music student Vicky Downey that she felt intrigued by the topic of MRI and was open minded to have our collaboration on this theme, somehow ‘directed’ by my parallel project. Since the start I felt an amazing resonance and trust between us.

Big challenge for me was how to create and get visuals, animated images or ‘still’ paintings into a piece of work that work together and are ‘synced’ with Vicki’s music. We discussed this and it occurred to me that non-perfect sync might be even a good idea. I never worked on any video or animated piece longer than 1 or 2 minutes, and mostly as recordings, but without the addition of extra-soundscapes. I was afraid that I have to spend a massive amount of time on learning film editing and post-production software, and that the results would look clumpy, rough and amateurish.  Or that awful transitions would damage the experience of our work. I put this concern away and was pleased that our discussion went along more or sensation and experience of visual and soundscapes.

I really enjoyed our collaboration that followed a mutual sequence, starting with talking through my initial idea and own experience of brain MRI, Vicki’s experience and ideas relating to MRI, and pulling together rough ideas on how MRI works, how it could be translated musically and visually, and some references to other artists.

In this flowing phase, I found it tremendously helpful to have Vicki as a remote partner, giving structure through her music pieces, that I could take up and inform my visuals. We refined and build a flow together later. I do thank Vicki for being in that sense more structured as me, as I tend to be rather experimental, at times chaotic and always embracing uncertainty. Also, I very much appreciated how Vicki took up points from our discussion through a few virtual meetings and more email exchanges (that I put all together in a separate doc) and played out and experimented freely. Fortunately, this didn’t put her off. 

I made a very rough first draft visual sequence midway that found good resonance with Vicki, and just before our big day made variations and eventually the night before the final cut. I was embracing uncertainty and considered certain de-synced transitions as a key element of the outcome and the experience. It was like a dialogue in three, between visuals, music and perception by the audience of both together. This also led to the fact that I could share a second version of a full visual sequence (a narrative?) with Vicki only the day before the event. However, I made some variations of sub-sequences that we reviewed remotely by texting together. A big thank to her for this late checking in and trust and openness.

Each of us created more ‚raw material’ that didn’t go into our final cut. We have more material that we could (and will) see how it could be used. This includes MRI footage in the work, voice and words, humming sound by string or by audience, and last not least how a live performance with people (us or other) could look like.

Overall, I very much appreciated the opportunity from OCA to work collaboratively with music, especially that it was Vicki who became my partner in ‚MRI-crime‘ (our work title ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’, that I made up in a moment of deep inspiration, is also a reflection on our collaboration based on openness and trust). I also found the inspirational and pragmatic Carla and Caroline very supportive and appreciated that both also made some work together. As a Fine Art student at level HE5, I feel inspired to explore further relationships between visual spaces and sound spaces, both key to our human understanding and knowledge of the world around us. This collaboration opened up new perspectives for me, and I can now even imaging in include voice/words into the work.


Reflection after the performance event 20th July 2019

We started the day in a wonderful venue at Toynbee Studios, six projects in pairs, three before and three after lunch. I was so thrilled hearing that my tutor will come, and for time reasons made us to schedule our bit as the last one of day.

Stefan513593 - NMU/FA Collaboration OCA - 20July2019

The day started with the fantastic impromptu Kym and Jason, who performed painting and music ad hoc, involving us as the audience by asking to roll a dice that would inform their performance. It was a good start with a lot of fun. I very much liked the vitality and spontaneity of the performance. Something, I could do envision for street art performance or any other public spaces as well. Will keep this in mind as it resonates with my art therapy practice as well. 

A slide show accompanied by live piano music followed by word and voices followed by Anne and Naomi (who was virtual present), with Anne’s husband joining in. I very much enjoyed her piece ‘hands’, written poem, sung along by Anne and her husband, we as audience were invited to sing along as well. I found it intriguing to include words and voice in a piece, something Vicki and I considered but not realized. Re audience voice, it appeared also in the piece performed later by Anna and Deborah, as well as by Emma and SarahJane.

The next project by Anna and Deborah was informed by Anna’s graduate show work on ‘one year in prison’ informed by letters of one prisoner. It sounded familiar to me, as my work with Vicki was also informed by my ideas of parallel project, though nothing was realized till that moment. Nevertheless, there work got a spin by the input of Deborah. The audience was once again invited to participate by creating a human wall (reference to the prison wall) and holding lace flags. Anna informed us that this bit was informed by her exchange with textile students. Their piece was an animated still photograph sequence with voice over by Anna and Deborah sitting on both side of the human wall. I took away the experience of space created in the room, through a layering of background screening, audience as object rather sculptural installation and the words and voices that pulled me as an ‘observer’ into a liminal space.

After lunch, the room became dark, as the three following projects were built around the screening experience accompanied by music and sound. It was interesting for me how the day was split into two parts (intentionally?). Caroline’s and Carla’s work was according to their information a rather short notice built together performative work. Carla was playing on her flute and creating a huge variety of sounds and Caroline played a gong, both playing in the back, between the screen and the audience seated. I was impressed by the experience of time and duration. At the beginning the transitions of stills were very slow, meditative, and the perception of space through layering was stunning. What started abstract moved on with zooming out perspectives and with more clarity on location and video sequences were included. The soundscapes created and experienced were intriguing. Compared to screen-based sequences only, as me and Vicki worked along on our piece, a double space created, the room of the performance was part of the work. A tension between what I see and what I hear, going through my body, being fully immersed. Time was standing still, and I did appreciate how long a piece can be (it was roughly 15 min long) with slow motion or even still.  Definitely, something for me to keep in mind.

The project just before our part, was done by Emma and SarahJane, a fast moving sequence build around original footage from an older Venus travel film related to the myth of the Sirens, accompanied by Emma’s music as a soundtrack, or a soundscape synced with the visuals. SarahJane had incredible technical knowledge how to apply filters to make visual effects. Most stunning was their rather improvised audience involvement through a voice choir accompanying the last sequence of an underwater siren sequence. Another fab example, how well the audience can be involved actively, and how improvisation actually works by just doing, being in the space, and feeling resonance among the people and the visuals or music.

The last bit was our work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction (MRI)’. I was quite nervous, checked with Vicki who was virtual present, sound systems, being concerned about the transmissions of very low pitches. We didn’t foresee any audience involvement or live performing things; it all was about the visual-music experience conveyed through projection and sound. We discussed before the duration of the black screen in the middle of the work just the night before. But having experienced the other works before I was not concerned at all. It is amazing how much space (visually and musically) can be hold when being in that space physically. An experience lacking completely when viewing online, screen based only. For me the big take away: one’s own body has to be in that space. How could embodiment be better explained? We received good feedback related to the photo-painting sequence and the narrative created, at times an disruptive, unstable sequence that worked well with the experience.

Overall, a fantastic day, full of creative energy. We all worked together very well. It was very worth for me to flying over. As one key aspect in my work is embodiment, best experience for me was the necessity of being in the space itself. Kind of summarizing what my parallel project was and is all about. The experience of MRI was a point of departure, it concluded in an experience of visual-sound-music-embodied space experience. I left the venue and the day encouraged and highly motivated and was following up with Vicki to share what I felt and experienced, and feedback received offline. This is another aspect of collaboration: sharing and involving.


About the development of the work ‘Mindful Resonance Interaction’

First, we agreed to start wide open, bringing each of us visual and musical sketches into the table aka into the cloud (a shared drive). This was quite a helpful approach, to have a place to share without talking directly to each other (Vicki is based in UK, I am based in Germany) and to get input of what the other had in mind. We discussed themes as body-mind binary opposites, sense of disembodiment inside the MRI machine, the hand outside the machine with the thumb on the emergency button, physical parameters e.g. proton spinning, Lamour frequency, precession, slicing, machine sounds, notation etc.  One reference I added to our discussion was Rasheed Newsome’s Shade Compositions (Furnace, 2017), a combination of stage performance, screening, and sound and voice – it was good to hear that this resonated with Vicki. I do believe that this idea of combining wall screening and stage performance followed through our collaboration. We diverted from this, perhaps more unconsciously mutual agreed on in resonance, it became clear that Vicki couldn’t attend in person. Therefore, we put the stage performance bit aside, and to make it digital only. Somehow, I didn’t feel it would make sense to perform on site/stage alone. 

I did pull from ideas created during my course, kind of spin off ideas informed my ideas about my parallel project. I maintained a dedicated sketchbook for my project, at the beginning it was rather focused around my brain MRI experience, other artist’s work informed by MRI, and my coursework ideas. It developed into a more focused exploration around our collaboration.

A next main phase started midway, when we agreed to structure our work around three parts: an emerging (informed by my reference of arriving in the clinic and before going inside the machine) , an inside the machine (with its percussive, pulsing sound and slicing effect relating to the visual imagery resulting from the process), and a final part that I referred to as Baroque, informed by MRA images of my brain vessels, we called it  ‘Brain Baroque’.

Concerning the Baroque: this is informed by my reading of Deleuze ‘Fold’ (brain as folded matter) and inspired by Helen Chadwick’s work ‘Oval Court’ and her interest in the Baroque, Rococco. I found it helpful to have midway Carla Rees supporting Vicki in finding her way into this theme that she took up and came back with stunning piece of music. 

Concerning uncertainty, I tend to push thinking about final piece away and still being very positive about the process and an outcome. I have to acknowledge that only quite late in the project phase I got some clarity on how things might evolve from my side. 

My first draft (Downey, Schaffeld, 2019b) based on the three part music provided by Vicki established for me a frame around emerging (my portrait with zooming into my eyes) , using original MRI footage and some of my sketchbook ideas to improvise on the idea of slicing alongside the organ sound from Vicki, using original MRA footage of my brain vessels (animated) for the ‘brain baroque’ music, and last taking my same portrait to fade away into blackness as end. 

I was not satisfied with couple of items, e.g., do I want to use original footage? Do I want to illustrate ‘slicing’ through animated movement of still images? how could we make a meaningful finish? I wanted to build in process work, i.e. painting process, and to replace photographs with paintings, all still to be created.

I found it was very helpful that we obtained a combined full piece of work, even in a very raw and sketchy way. It supported us to reflect in structure, on timing, on visual-music resonance. Without that overall impression, I doubt that we would have been able to establish the outcome we presented (see Schaffeld, 2019b).

Few main changes we made: to break the first part down into two sections (a slower and a more dynamic phase) and to break the third part also in two sections (allowing a smoother finish). Vicki came up with the idea of breathing, I related it to departing from the machine into nature. This really got my ideas flowing, to distant myself from rather illustrative visuals, and to relate more to the body. Some further reading done for my critical essay gave me ideas in faces, defacing, and touch and the body. The result was me drawing a sand with the water washing it away. This is what I do relate to the seacoast, for our work I had to improvise and to set up the ‘beach’ on our porch with sand and letting water from our rainwater container run over it to flush it away. All these connotations with drawing a face in sand and the sea informed the last section of our work.

I decided to start the  ‘Brain Baroque’ piece with the original animated footage (was too fascinating for us since the beginning), but merged it with a process painting of watercolor running down (in final piece it is ‘running’ up as I rotated it informed by the uplifting sound and uplifting evolvement of Baroque forms).

To replace my photographed portrait with a painting was the easier bit, and I think that the fact of Vicki being not physical present informed my decision to ask her for a portrait photo and to paint her as well. During the making next steps followed on each other and our two photographs turned into two portrait paintings that turned into one layered combined portrait followed by the first idea of zooming into the eye and into the brain. 

The last, the middle section was perhaps the hardest bit, as I not only questioned the use of original footage for that (too personal? too illustrative? ethics?) as well as the visuals as being just an illustration of the music or of my idea of ‘slicing’. A turning point for me was when I started to depart from being inside the MRI machine and focusing more on my embodiment, my reaction to sound when I was inside. Is music not creating a soundscape that we tend to take in us, triggering images, and last not least make us to move, to feel? What if I would perform not to the original footage but to Vicki’s music? A surrogate perhaps, but more real in the presence, informed by same phenomena of human embodiment. I think after making several performance during daylight and at night with UV light, fluorescent paint on my face, and a check pattern projected onto my body and the background wall (the  pattern was one of those moments of serendipity found during making of other works for my course, informing this project) I did know the music by heart.


Supporting Material



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Spin off play: Narrating a Gesture

Another spif-off idea from working on my assignment, playing with paper, paint, and stencils. Animation as narrative – painting as performance

A short animation video in nine still images (0:05 min)


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A3 – Time & Dissociation //

  • A3 – Time & Dissociation //
  • A3 – Time & Dissociation //
  • A3 – Time & Dissociation //

Based on my developing works (TIME-SCREEN I and TIME-SCREEN II as well as the spin-off idea), I decided to develop following aspects further:

  • gesture : the human presence and its dissociative (dis-)appearance 
  • frame / screen : the disruptive plane
  • projection / performance : the fragmented reality

I’ve noticed that visual elements can add strongly to a narrative created by the viewer (see peer feedback on performative moving image and on still paintings) . Also the gesture as the act of touch , but also of failure.

Some questions that I will address with my assignment:

  • How could these three elements be embedded into convincing work? 
  • How can I leverage and explore materiality to the extend to creating meaning and knowledge?
  • How could the painting support function as a carrier of meaning?
  • How could the viewer be engaged through an interactive or participatory co-creation act ?
  • How can my painting cross boundaries of abstract and figurative painting? 
  • How could the work push myself into new territories and knowing?

I found the following elements intriguing and supporting above questions:

  • material:
    – perspex, transparent layers for multiple viewpoints (screening, reflections, mirror, framing)
    light / projection: light as a painterly act for making visible (projection beam, projections of recorded observations, light transgressing translucent layers (perspex, oil or watercolor washes)
    stencil approach: playing with positive and negative shapes plus surrounding space 
    – acrylic transfer process: loss of information due to material imperfections and variations in control of process
  • gesture:
    – depiction of gesture: crossing, transgressing, interacting
    – gesture of making it: my presence, control, loss of control, failure, imperfections
  • frame:
    – enforcing and dissolving containment, being inside the frame or outside the frame, being framed by viewing experience
    – a possibly more interesting combination of painted areas and line (frame, gestural)

Layered painting

Screen gesture – ideas to push forward. Perspex plate in between two paintings, striations informed by double projection artefacts (Fig. 1 – 2 – with ideas no.1  – 4).

to open in lightbox view, click on the small arrow bottom right

=> no3: background with a higher quality in execution, more translucency, the painted hand on mylar perhaps with a more ‘fleeding’ character. How to embed surrounding light as performative ‘paint’?  I find the opaqueness, though using only translucent oil washes, as too dense, perhaps in a combination with more transparent layers more successful, being more informed with the light-induced screen performance.

Embracing coincidences

While making and laying out my ideas (Fig 1-2) I discovered a reflection of the studio light (Fig. 3), considering it as a light performance, and making a short video from my and my phone camera moving forward and backward (a bodily gesture). The image taken (Fig 3) was especially fascinating: one might get the idea as if the light reflection is hold between the two depicted hand gestures (negative and positive shape). What in itself might be just another visual element stipulating various responses.

Stefan513593 - A3 - screen gesture - scan as gesture?

Fig 3: Screen gesture – element of chance – layering and reflection – scan as gesture?; a combine: background layer, embodied reflection, negative and positive gesture


The up and down of the reflected light reminded me of a scanning process, like a scanner. The reflection becomes embodied, as only through by body gesture I can animate the painting and the light beam starts to scan up and down. The animation is not any longer through a time-based sequence of still images, but a still image animated by the viewer. I find this an fascinating idea and did wonder how this could be developed further. Therefore, I amended one of my initial questions above:

  • How could the viewer be engaged through performative reflection as interactive or participatory co-creation act ?

Nevertheless, I made a video as a juxtaposition of the performing reflected light on the painting and a recorded sequence from my open scanner, an interior view of the scanner: Scan as Gesture (0:05 min). 

This observation of chance made me reflect how relevant this could be for my parallel project: MRI as a process is physically more related to proton spins and impact of electro-magnetic fields, but is a also a slicing, or scanning process and it is often referred to as a MRI scan. A very fascinating discovery, reminding me also of Helen Chadwick‘s photocopier approach for her work ‘Of Mutability‘ and Oval Court, 1986. Kind of inside the machine, the scanner, not literally, more metaphorically, something to look deeper at in my parallel project.

A3-sketchbook - visual thinking 1

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Fig. 4: visual thinking 1 - sketchbook – developing ideas for execution; a multilayered approach

I do relate the application of paint in stripes to aspects of: striations (as experimented earlier in context of coding information, but also glitches), screening (the aspect of horizontal structure and patterns of image creation on screens, the way we read images and image-texts horizontally forward and return), and scanning (related to how we scan visual information, related to MRI scanner). In my sketchbook (Fig. 4) a mapping of my ideas for building the layered painting. And considering striations as one key element to explore through paint.

My plan for this assignment project is mostly informed by my previous Time & Screen paintings and especially above layered image with 6mm perspex plate (Fig. 3) and sketched down in my sketchbook (Fig.4). To work in parallel on the three (or more?) layers aka building blocks consisting of visual and color information informed by my previous works (enactment performance, video, paintings of screening and viewing) alongside the gesture as the entry portal to engage, to seek meaning, to find narratives etc:

  • Background: a more opaque painted screen, like a viewing screen, a pattern informed by my previous experiments 
  • Middle Ground: a layer in between the background and the gesture, not too opaque and not too transparent
  • Foreground: a cut out hand-gesture, painted, a moving appeal

I did work mostly with transparent materials (perspex, rhenalon, mylar) as these not only embrace a light infusing quality, also they would possibly act in a similar with performing reflective light as observed (Fig. 3), preferably in oil as oil washes are much more luminous than in acrylic.

Building blocks

Exploring ideas on materiality in trying to answer some of above questions, or better, to raise questions related those aspects (see Fig. 5 and 6) 

to open in lightbox view, click on the small arrow bottom right

What worked well: 

  • Working with acrylic paint directly onto perspex (with priming first with adhesive spray). It is a opaque and fast drying process.
  • Working with oil paint on mylar or rhenalon with striations (using a tool) creates luminous color patterns.
  • Acrylic transfer of acrylic paintings onto paper makes glossy, reflective smooth surfaces
  • Using thin striations provides quite a translucent appeal

What didn’t work: 

  • Acrylic transfer process on perspex: a disaster as apparently it needs on sheet of paper, and using two plastic sheets doesn’t allow the transfer to happen, even after two days waiting the acrylic adhesive is still wet between both layers.  I am not quite sure why, perhaps that the used acrylic adhesive need to dry and can do so only through porous structures. e.g. paper).  
  • Working with oil paint on perspex or rhenalon takes endless time (around two weeks +) till I could use if further. What makes the entire process with three layers aka building blocks a frustrating endeavour. What is one of the reasons that this assignment took so long. Working on mylar sheets is a bit faster, though the sheet is not transparent.

Conclusions so far

  • Although acrylic transfer onto perspex didn’t work as intended, I found the traces left on perspex (Fig. 8, left) intriguing, kind of artefacts created by chance and failure. Artefacts that resonate with the projection light artefacts observed earlier on.
  • Using acrylic paint as the background and backside of perspex plate
  • Using oil paint or acrylic paint for middle ground with variations of transparency. Considering Jaqueline Humphries (Ryan, 2018) exploration that thick opaque paint still can show through much of visual information from the background. Fig. 19 shows above Fig. 8 and a sketch from my sketchbook, the latter much denser
  • Using more striations and disruptive patterns between background and middle ground.
  • Embracing surprise and follow new ways when get stuck. seeking new territories
Stefan513593 - A3 - Time&Dissociation - opaque transparency

Fig 13: opaque transparency – left: oil paint on paper, right: acrylic transfer onto stenciled acrylic painting


Building together:

Based on my previous quick approaches to test the dialogue of two layers (Fig. 8 and 9) I felt encouraged to play with the paintings that worked (and why not also with those that didn’t work?)  and to see how it would resonate: 

First Run:  

Background: oil paint on mylar, middle ground: acrylic transfer on perspex- a failure), gesture: oil paint on paper and mylar 

Stefan513593 - A3 - Time&Dissociation - Build #1

Fig 14: A3 – Time&Dissociation – Build #1: left the building blocks, right two options of layering

With this first round it would be good to reflect on my initial questions: 

  • How could these three elements (gesture // frame – screen // projection – performance) be embedded into convincing work? 
    => through working with three layers
  • How can I leverage and explore materiality to the extend to creating meaning and knowledge?
    => by using transparent/translucent materials that could be associated with screen, masking, window, frame
  • How could the painting support function as a carrier of meaning?
    => This still need to be seen, mostly through the viewer’s engagement related to the portal of the gesture. I do think that a convincing visual result in good-high quality would be crucial. 
  • How could the viewer be engaged through performative reflection as interactive or participatory co-creation act
    => To be tested further when truly installed as one piece (the image taken in Fig. 10 was flat and at some distance as the background in oil was still wet). Though a opaque background may interfere with that?
  • How can my painting cross boundaries of abstract and figurative painting? 
    => through juxtaposition of figurative gesture and more formal abstract patterns
  • How could the work push myself into new territories and knowing?
    => To work with transparent materials is challenging. It not only opens technical challenges on how to paint or transfer paint on these surfaces, it also engages in a more complex way through the additional options of looking from the backside and/or the impact of surrounding lightening and reflections. Some might be more controlled, some others would need to stay in ambiguity waiting for the viewer’s response. I am wondering whether to keep my route of making broad stripes for the background is convincing enough, as I found that thinner stripes aka striations do convey a translucent (background shines through) as well a textured appeal (when using acrylic paint and transfer technique, see Fig 10)

In that sense, it seemed promising to continue with my explorations of variants:

Interaction with building blocks

Two examples from my selected five varieties, interacting, performing, still images of screen (aka surface) based layered painting.

to open in lightbox view, click on a thumbnail

  • Touching a Wall (acrylic and oil paint on perspex, rhenalon and mylar, 40 x 30 cm, framed: 45 x 35 cm)

=> I explored both sides of a painted perspex plate (reference to the initial wall structure seen in Serra’s video work and made into my ‘TV-Box’) with varieties of gesture above. One side of the perspex is painted with an acrylic transfer (yes, I tried it again , a pattern of striations, just traces left, as I found the scattered and randomised visual intriguing. Eventually, I selected the juxtaposed version of monochrome and color (Fig 22)

  • Breaking Through (acrylic paint on perspex and mylar, 40 x 30 cm, framed: 45 x 35 cm)

=> Here, I took my first run (Fig. 14) further by using the failure (perspex with traces from my trial with acrylic transfer), placing a painted rhenalon plate behind and a gesture painted on mylar in between. I explored different varieties and found that the black frame (reference to the black screen box) gives a strong supporting element to the work.

  • Discovery (Oil paint on rhenalon and mylar, 40 x 30 cm, between glass)

=> I started with a framed version as well. Eventually, I found without frame and just sandwiched the rhenalon and mylar layers between two glass plates as more convincing.

Final selection:

A series of 6 works (acrylic and oil paint, on perspex, rhenalon, mylar and paper (painting size approx 40 x 30 cm each, framed sizes 45 x 35 cm):

  • Breaking Through: acrylic paint on perspex and mylar (45 x 35 cm, painting 40 x 30 cm)
  • Reaching: acrylic paint on perspex and mylar (45 x 35 cm, painting 40 x 30 cm)
  • Getting Involved: acrylic and oil paint on perspex and rhenalon (40 x 30 cm)
  • Touching a Wall: acrylic and oil paint on perspex and mylar (40 x 30 cm)
  • Discovery: oil paint on rhenalon and mylar between glass (40 x 30 cm)
  • Human: oil and acrylic paint on paper, rhenalon (approx. 42 x 30 cm)

I decided to title the six works as a reflection of my response to the process of making and viewing. Also, I decided to group the six paintings according to their visual appearance and how they resonate as a group in itself. For that reason I separated Touching a Wall and Discovery from the frame and to embrace the perspex aka glass plate as the support, the work in itself – not contained in a frame.

Gallery view #1: Touching a Wall / Reaching

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Fig. 31: A3 - Time&Dissociation - Touching a Wall / Reaching

I was eager to test the luminance and possibility for background light. Luckily, I had the ‘TV.box’ from previous works ready and installed it as a lightbox with a small LED light at one of the openings. Therefore, I made additional photographs of five of my six selected works (Human (Fig. 33 had an opaque paper background)

Illumination – Appearing and Disappearing acts

With a view from the frontside, with light shining through the back. I took the photographs in a darkened room to ensure the light be more dominant. Idea for gallery installation. Some notion of backlightening, like computer or phone screens, images and pattern appearing, not touchable. And at the same time, information seems to get lost, the bright colors of the painted frontside, disappearing – like disappearing acts – performing with light.  

A3 - Time & Dissociation - Illumination #2

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Fig. 34: Illumination #2 - Breaking Through

=> I find it fascinating how the environment can be merged with what and how we perceive things. We are not completely independent, or innocent of the way we see. I felt reminded of Jaqueline Humphries ‘Black Paintings’ (she used neon paints) or of the participatory video works of Vincent Morriset. From above series, I find Getting Involved (Fig. 32 left) the least successful one. Though, it appears stronger with backlight (Fig. 36)


  • More clarity on material issues:
    – acrylic transfer onto perspex: need much more time to dry (could be accelerated with applied heat), similar with oil paint on perspex
    – acrylic paint in perspex: either with a primer or with adhesive mixed into to keep the dry paint on the surface
    – fixing paper onto perspex: either with adhesive of with photo mount
    – painting on perspex or rhenalon: it will keep a translucent appeal, washes are more differentiated, opaque paints are not completely opaque. I embraced that aspects in taken ‘illuminated’ photographs (Fig. 34-38)
  • More clarity on composition:
    – painted frame: a painted frame feels more contained, feeling isolated, less discruptive, less successful
    – frame around the painting:  seems to be more successful, letting the relationship between shapes and color be more active
  • Be pragmatic:
    – I was looking for the right striations and didn’t want to stick to one ‘comb-tool’. Thus, I did a self-made tool, cut from plastic. Luckily, I found also in our garage a tile comb-style spatula.
  • Play:
    – Embracing the works at hand, playing to find new compositions, visually more intriguing (see Fig. 15-30)
  • Installation:
    – Finding how a picture frame can support a visual strong expression, at times the frame seems contains too much (see Fig. 27-30 and 32)



From working on my assignment body I became much more aware on how I could see my explorations through moving images and painting in a complementary but also a different viewpoint on materiality as an object surrounding us:

Stefan513593-A3-table materiality

Table 1: Materiality (moving images and painting)

Eventually, I found a portal to see how to work with moving images and painting in the future, as both could be considered as a response to above mentioned topics. I would consider as the common denominator:


What I also become aware of as a common theme crossing both ‘media’ is the aspect of crossing boundaries of


I do feel more assured to continue working on those parallel aspect going beyond the notion of painting as an observational medium to depict projected and screened images (from a digital, discrete space). Furthermore, to consider moving images as an expansion of digital recording devices and painted surfaces. And the notion of illumination and light as source of obtaining meaning and knowledge is fascinating. 

Last not least, both ‘media’ can inform the other. Both have their own performative specificity due to material constraints aka opportunities.



  • NHS (2018) Overview MRI scan, At: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mri-scan/  (Accessed  21 March 2019).
  • Ryan, D. (2018) ‘Painting as event: An interview with Jacqueline Humphries’, In: Journal of Contemporary Painting, 4 (1)pp. 45 – 58.
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Screen & Dissociation // feeding my parallel project // ONE VIEW

This is my (parallel) development and reflection informed by my assignment work: Screen installation / Spatial gesture.

It occurred as kind of boredom-phenomena, related to the long drying and waiting times for my assignment work (TIME & DISSOCIATION) and inspired by my spin-off idea, I decided to develop it further – as one idea for my parallel project on medical imaging.

Overall, how projection could be considered as an intrinsic element of our viewing experience of screen based imagery: projection on walls as cinema screens, TV screens, computer monitor screens, or clinical viewing screens and any other framed images that defer meaning beyond its materiality. On the one hand, our body with its physical presence and on the other hand, the screen that is not what it suggests to be: a reality by framing attention.

And relating to my discourse with myself of  how digital and moving images : just a format of delivery as a distant learner or more than a collection of ‚moving ‚ still images ? Painting with paint on surfaces or painting in between spaces , virtual?

I felt it would possibly make more sense in context of medical imaging – the gestures as part of human interventions in clinics, as well as the body part that stretches outward beyond the MRI machine (as in my case with having a brain MRI scan).

Screen installation

Stefan513593 - A3 - screen gesture - ideas to oush forward 1

Fig. 1: screen gesture – ideas to push forward 1. Rhenalon plates, crossed, installed, gestural interaction


=> I find the sculptural aspect alongside the space to breath inspiring. The ambiguous sense of space something to elaborate further. A ‘simpler’ approach than the following ideas

When I placed that transparent work in-front of my blank computer screen , it seemed as if the gestural hands became more embedded in that ‘blank’ context (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2: Blank computer screen- blank context – embedding gestures; collaged gestures (left photograph – right painting, both laser prints)

I felt inspired to develop this further,, although I also felt that not much need to be done else. Questions of black versus colored striations (screen – projection artefacts) and whether the hands be painted flat or with some sculptural appeal. Or whether the installation of flat images (background, gestures) in space would be sufficient ambiguous to engage the viewer?

What resulting in applying various spatial settings (reminding me of the ‘painting in a round’ idea from part 2) , playing with gestures and screens (perspex, two sizes (30×21 split into half and for one side only), black acrylic spray painted perspex, painted and printed gestures):

Aspects that worked well:

  • Reflective feature of ‘black mirror’ (of gesture and environment)
  • A rather flying appeal on transparent surface
  • A narrative through the dialogue of two gestures
  • A mylar layer with cut out gesture with black background (Fig. 14)
  • High tonal contrast (Fig. 9 left)

What didn’t work:

  • Size and composition eg. Fig. 10
  • Additional complexity of white ground
  • Clarity of difference between various viewpoints
  • Low tonal contrast (Fig. 10 left)
  • Overall, robustness and quality of execution

Steps to develop it further: 

  • Better quality and robustness
  • Working with high tonal contrast, difference between b&w and intense but selective color 
  • Installing on support


Overall, I am intrigued by the bold appeal in space alongside the black screen as reflective matter. A dialogue between transparency and opaqueness, between revealing and concealing.

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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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Spin-off Idea: Screen installation as Gesture

  • Spin-off Idea: Screen installation as Gesture
  • Spin-off Idea: Screen installation as Gesture
  • Spin-off Idea: Screen installation as Gesture

After part 2 of my assignment development work I sketched down some further ideas of gesture and ambiguity  – informed by one of my previous works (Fig. 1). 


Stefan513593 A3 - gesture & ambiguity - sketchbook Fig. 1: Sketchbook – gesture and ambiguity. Can this be done on two surfaces? Both hands to be in-front as well as behind one surface? 


.. this led to an installation of two Rhenalon plates, crossing each other (Fig. 2)

Stefan513593 A3 - gesture & ambiguity - installation view / double screen Fig. 2: gesture & ambiguity – installation view / double screen. Different placements of cut-outs (painted hand). Background: painted ‘mural’ on paper, and yellow oil paint on surface


 … and eventually, I placed the transparent cross (Fig 2) in-front of my dark laptop screen, making several still images at different lights and merging them into a performative moving image:

Video: Ambiguous Screen Gesture (0:03 min)


This seemed a spin-off idea informing my parallel project on MRI and self. I modulated time- sequence and added a MRI machine sound: Ambiguous Screen Gesture MRI #3

With being intrigued by installation of transparent surfaces I had to try out one more projection.

Using a human scale perspex plate (180x50cm) and projecting my recorded light performance Hand-Catch-Screen-Performance, through it, at the right wall the images are displayed. My hand as an additional ‘life’ performance act distorting, interrupting the projection, adding more layers of reality and meaning to it.

Stefan513593 A3 - gesture & ambiguity - installation of projection - performance Fig 3: gesture & ambiguity – installation of projection – performance. Left: photograph of projected and performative imagery, right: sketch of installation set up (using a perspex plate, human scale)

=> With these two set-ups, I am wondering about scale, human size, got reminded once again about Jutta Koether’s body of work, and how the viewer, the audience can be involved, engaged in the narrative, the work itself.


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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 3.2 – 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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