constant conversations

Still shot taken from "Quatermass and the Pit" (1967)


This module is an excellent start to the year, it has generated quite a bit of work from me and given me many new ideas to go forward with that i would not necessarily have thought of on my own. As a group we have investigated in different ways, traveled deeper and discovered hidden zones of inquiry not usually accessed individually.

I have made new friends and i would work together with any of my group in the future, i really hope they feel the same way about me.

I do believe that our group was blessed in many ways; we were calm, we all respected each other, there were no ego problems and we are all creative, reliable and authentic. In fact we had many laughs on the way, this has been a very good humored, positive and enriching experience.

I do feel that as the only group that had to work internationally we were given both an extra challenge and an opportunity. It has not been easy but we managed through innovation, to successfully navigate the boundaries of culture and language. We were confident in appointing Haiyun our colleague in Shenzen whose first language is Mandarin, the important assignment of editing our visual presentation.

Although our focus changed during the the collaboration, we have proven we can work together to solve complex problems. As a group we are strong enough to apply critical thinking to most anything we would put our collective energy into and get results.

Even as at the eleventh hour when we encountered the sublime and very contemporary contradictions of software, hardware and human capacity, all cycling out of synch, we held firm. We had to compromise our planned and rehearsed live performance for the presentation, sadly the exquisite sound design crafted by Sam would drop out as soon as one of us began to speak from another channel in Teams. The solution was to pre record, a disappointment for us as we relished the prospect of the inherent imperfection a dynamic live event could induce.

Same Same, But Different...

After our tutorial 17/01/22, our collaboration changed tack and we have picked up a fresh breeze. The theme remains the same, essentially perfection/ imperfection, a celebration of collaboration, but we will simplify things and involve the audience. This was bound to happen as we have quite a large amount of material to somehow cohesively present, it was always our intention, to have a large lump of stone to chip away at. The time has come, we have reduced and consolidated our presentation thus:

  1. Soundscape begins

I have recorded sounds for Sam to edit into the design, including footsteps from the sea, across the sand, over the shingle and rocks, onto grass and through sloppy mud. The basis for this comes from both the "trudge" movies of Hungarian Director Bela Tarr, for example Satantango, 1994:

And the material sublime of the world as interrogated in films by Andrei Tarkovsky, like Stalker, 1979.

But most importantly, my footsteps from Abermawr towards Granston follow the known path of the unknown sailor; whose body was found on the beach and subsequently buried at St Catherine's Church in 1916.
I have also recorded myself slapping paint onto a substrate Sean Scully style to convey the communication of making:

  1. Suggestions for audience to participate during the video

There will be suggestions throughout for the audience to participate - my suggestion is "hold your breath".

  1. Video consists mainly of very slow fade cold colours gradually becoming warmer.
    Likened to the group on first meeting, cool, then gradually warming to each other.

  2. Within the fading colours there will be quick glitch images of work we have done.
    We will each select the most appropriate visual from our work to be included as a quasi subliminal to perhaps influence the conscious or unconscious of the audience. It is not important for the images to be necessarily recognised, by the audience, the salience lies in what the glimpses may suggest to the imagination.

  3. The colours will have a slight chilling, then back to warm.
    Like the group cardio vascular, with each pulse the de-oxygenated blood becomes oxygenated once again.

  4. Over the video we will read our written pieces.

Ruth has chosen Welsh (not her first language) so we begin close at home, next is Sam in English, then me (further from home) in German, followed by Ankur in Hindi, to Haiyun's Mandarin (from the other side of the world), pen ultimately Alice negotiating English backwards (cyclic return?), finally as an encore we repeat our parts all at once in a cacophony of voice.

I practiced my German text (below in the tasks section) by using it to complete a Bob and Roberta Smith type text based artwork. Hopefully i will be able to give a word perfect live rendition at the presentation. (

I will whisper my spoken part, as per some of the narration in David Lynch's film "Dune",1984; it could lend an eeriness to our sublime.

Berlin Graffiti.mp4

Practicing my German - Berlin Graffiti

I haven spoken German in over 20 years conversationally.

Each line took about 15 minutes to complete, but this was a a great way to break the complex language down and conquer the pronunciation and intonation.

Additionally through this methodical, slow making i have ended up with a rather striking idea for a future artwork.

My Interpretations

I have attempted to change the structure of the collaborative self portraits; i first combined them in Photoshop to see how they might fit together in one piece. The fracturing of the representation in this way introduces tension and causes significant change the aesthetic.

I thought about metaxis and emergence and how successful as a group we have embraced collaboration and broken with habitual thinking.

Each of us has attempted the tasks set with enthusiasm and i would like to respond to this as a "celebration of collaboration".

I reduced the original work into monochrome and then inverted for printing as cyanotype or screen from acetate. Repetition and reproduction should also force degradation and further changes to the traditional portraits that i began with.

Below is my second attempt at deciphering the self portraits as physical collage. In both of my combinations have tried to balance elements from all the self portraits and work with a compositional structure, i am particularly struck by how the "Mondrain" shapes of Sam's portrait somehow underpin and disrupt simultaneously.

I have again simplified the work into monochrome and then inverted for printing.

I would like to incorporate this technique of combining several portraits into one piece within my own practice.

I have noticed that my self portraits vary considerably, perhaps by bringing several together in this way i may arrive at a deeper more authentic truth. It is certainly worth trying.

During the acousmatic seminar i used my writing pad and biro to draw with my eyes wide shut, until my pen broke in any case.

But after about 20 minutes scribbling i did end up with this web like work.

I have adjusted, inverted and printed as cyanotypes.

I include these as i think they kind of convey the randomness of connections we make in our group, there is a beauty in haphazardry and chance.


Timelapse prepping the studio!

Green. (2001). The third hand collaboration in art from conceptualism to postmodernism. University of Minnesota Press.

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"Artists appear in their art, voluntarily placing themselves center stage in self-portraits but also at the margins of all their other works, constructing themselves through brush marks, in signature style, by individual preferences, and through repeated motifs—in short, from the intersection of subjectivity with medium. As a basic tenet of connoisseurship, this seems obvious, but there are degrees of self-conscious intention that complicate this process, especially during the latter half of the twentieth century, for many artists have thought carefully about the way they code themselves into their art, manipulating the way they appear. This is not to suggest that artists are narcissistic, or that they are necessarily even interested in the politics of identity; rather, artists have always conceded and exploited the inevitability of implicit self-representation. Artists are thieves in the attic: They far from innocently try out different, sometimes almost forgotten identities in the chaotically organized attic of history, rummaging in dusty, dark rooms where variations of authorial identity are stored away from view. " (2001, p.9)

Set Tasks

Since our tutorial, we have unsurprisingly changed tack again, Cath advised us to collaborate outside our usual pathways more and mix it up. So we have all set our fellow collaborators tasks based on our own pathways that they should complete. This serves to mix it all up first before attempting to bring it together at the end.

Task 1. Make a self portrait (send to Mark)

I will send out a self portrait to the group as a starting point.

My fellow collaborators will send me their self portraits, exciting!







Task 2. Use thread or rope to wrap around something (send to Ruth)
"I am working with the concept of the line being the differential between the perfect and imperfect.

As we weave and the lines of warp and weft intersect each other so we create another web, with each intersection so we create tension, forces coming together to embody life. The weaving of lines of fibre to create cloth is the beginning of the development of a future. As each line intersects the other across the width of the loom so there is mutual opposition followed by a negotiation, who dominates, who allows preference. Through the consultation is reached a collaboration, a coming together of differing yarns to create a whole. The intersections of the lines form an imperfect perfection." Ruth Petersen

I have literally dug out my “yarn”, nice complementary going on with the colours there, helpful doggo demonstrating scale. Now I gotta find me some trees to wrap!!!

Ok, so spent an exhausting afternoon tying this tree down with mooring ropes, it’s going nowhere now!!!

The world of man clinging to the earth.

Or a fusion of east and west, i found some significant meanings for ropes around trees:

After showing my daughter Hazel (who is studying sustainable design) the roped trees, she suggested that i look at the work of Sheila Hicks:

We are now planning a road trip to see the show later this year:

7 APRIL – 25 SEPTEMBER 2022 SHEILA HICKS: "Off Grid" The Hepworth Wakefield, England

I see these ropes as staged interventions in visual purity.

It has given me some other ideas, of bondage, or being bound. I would like to wrap a human form completely in rope as a kind of "mummy", could this be a super hero/ villain or a spook/ eerie? I have some Action Men from a previous project i may practice on with string, i also have a couple of shop window manikins if i decide to go larger.

Or even binding up cars or public or commercial space...

Task 3. make an audio recording of a percussive beat (send to Sam)

"To use digital music production as an example, for instance when one is programming a percussion section, we as music producers avoid programming these parts too perfectly, as this can sound lifeless, robotic and ultimately boring. Instead we employ a tool that adds subtle errors and chaos into the part, adding interest through imperfection. It's very appropriate then that this tools name is a Humaniser." Sam

I have recorded myself on drums, extremely sloppy, I hope Sam can sample the best bits, I am very rusty, haven’t practised in ages, you can see the dust all over the kit!!

Please be kind Sam!! I have my moments but I do keep dropping the beat!!

I have fairly decent levels on the Tascam recording and I used a clapper in case we need to synch that with video footage from the phone.


Task 4. illustrate a famous character from a book (send to Alice)

Mine is based on the perception of objective reality. I love astronomy and am inspired by the vastness of space. It is, in a word, sublime – and falls under the concept of the natural and astronomical sublime. It gives us size in the expanse of space, and it is the perception of the unknown that fascinates me.

Perception is always a representation of reality reconstructed by our brain.

In essence – the imagination is sublime." Alice

(No prizes for guessing my character below!)

Task 5. take a picture of a car or vehicle that means something to you and explain why. (send to Ankur)

Just sketch/photograph or google search any car (Yours or neighbors ) you like and seek for the reasons you like it.

Silent but violent.

This is my full electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf. I love this car as not only does it save me money, it also saves the environment, and it will burn off any BMW that cares to chance their luck!!!

Pinhole app on iphone XR

Task 6. Study Haiyun’s Venn Diagram and follow her instructions to write something in your chosen language (send to Haiyun)

Philosophy of Carl Gustav Jung.
My motivation to translate this from English back to its original German stems from repetition and reproduction; do the words change meanings, do the meanings change words as they are processed?

This is an excerpt of my own writing with quotes, translated from:

Hyde, Maggie, et al. (2015) Introducing Jung. Icon.

Whitmont, Edward C. (1991) The Symbolic Quest: Basic Concepts of Analytical Psychology. Princeton University Press.

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“Wie sind Archetypen in unseren menschlichen Erfahrungen bekannt? Sie haben keine materielle Existenz und enthüllen sich als bloße Bilder.” Zum Beispiel zeigen sich bestimmte Stereotypen als unbewusste kollektive Realität. Der Archetyp selbst kann nur in seinem unbewussten Sein wahrgenommen werden, aber die Abbildung des Archetyps wird bewusst gesehen und bestimmt wie es wahrgenommen wird; ob verdeckt oder offenbart.

Um Jung’s analytische Psychologie verstehen zu können, es ist äußerst wichtig zu wissen was er unter der Psyche versteht. Sie wird als “das Ganze unseres Seins, bewusst und unbewusst” beschrieben. Jung beweist, dass die unbewussten Funktionen das bewusste kompensieren. Zum Beispiel:

“Starke emotionale Reaktionen können ein Indikator dafür sein, dass unbewusstes versucht an unser Bewusstsein zu gelangen, was sich nur als etwas externalisiertes darstellt, oder als eine Projektion auf andere. Es ist nicht der andere den wir lieben oder hassen, aber ein Teil unser selbst auf sie oder ihn projiziert.

Jung teilt die Psyche in zwei Attitüden auf: extrovertiert und introvertiert, und stellt vier Funktionen da, gruppiert in gegensätzliche Paare: Fühlen und Denken, Intuition und Empfindung.

Weiterhin beschreibt Jung vier archetypische Typen die als Paare funktionieren. Das erste dieser Paare sind das Ego und der Schatten. Das Ego beschrieben als der Sinn und die Identität, der Schatten bildet die dunkle Seite, welches das Ego sich bemüht zu verstecken. Jung sieht das Ego nicht als das Selbst, damit argumentierend dass das Ego welches sich mit den Selbst einrichtet, somit überhöht und aufgeblasen, seinen Schatten über andere werfen kann und diese als Gegner bewerten kann. Dieses gemeinsame aus Ego und Schatten kann in jeder Massenbewegung wiedergefunden werden.

Das zweite Paar sind die Persona und das seelische Abbild. Das Ego bezieht sich auf die bewusste Persona oder die Fassade die wir für die Gesellschaft aufrecht erhalten. Es gibt für jegliche Situationen eine dafür passend zugeschnittene Persona. Jedoch, existiert die dominate Persona welche auf unseren funktionierenden Typen basiert ist, sie kommt natürlich. “Die unbewusste Seite der Persona, ist das Seelenbild (...) repräsentiert durch das gegensätzliche Geschlecht des Individuums”.

“Es ist von größter Wichtigkeit, dass das Ego in der Welt des Bewusstseins verankert wird, und dass das Bewusstsein durch eine genaue Anpassung verstärkt wird. Dafür sind gewisse Tugenden wie Aufmerksamkeit, Bewusstsein, Geduld, usw., von großer Wichtigkeit für die Moral, sowie akkurate Beobachtungen der Symptomatologie des unbewussten und die objektive Selbstkritik die Werte der Intellektuellen Seite bilden.

Was Jung später entdeckt, ist das gegenseitige stillschweigende Einverständnis. “Auf der Suche nach einem Objektiven Gesetz, fand er die Subjektive Psyche des Betrachters in einer anscheinend Objektiven Materie”. In anderen Worten, Begebenheiten dienen dazu Beobachter anlzuocken was sie zu Komplizen macht, welche teils ihre eigene Spiegelbilder sehen und teils das was sie erwarten oder sehen möchten.

Hackman. (2011). Collaborative intelligence using teams to solve hard problems (1st edition). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Hackman describes the 6 "enabling conditions" that foster a good collaborative team:

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"It is like a garden: A plant is more likely to prosper when the seed is good, the soil is fertile, water is plentiful, and the sun shines frequently. None of those conditions, by itself, guarantees healthy development of the plant. But together they increase the chances of a favorable outcome. It is the same with teams. Real team (Chapter 4): Real work teams are intact social systems whose members work together to achieve a common purpose. They have clear boundaries that distinguish members from nonmembers. They work interdependently to generate a product for which members have collective, rather than individual, accountability. And they have at least moderate stability, which gives members time to learn how to work well together. Compelling purpose (Chapter 5): A compelling purpose energizes team members, orients them toward their collective objective, and fully engages their talents. Purpose has high priority when establishing a team because so many other design decisions depend on it—how the team is structured, the kinds of organizational supports that are needed, and the type of coaching by team leaders that will be most helpful. Right people (Chapter 6): Well-composed teams have the right number and mix of members, each of whom has both task expertise and skill in working collaboratively with others. And they are as small and diverse as possible—large size and excessive homogeneity of membership can cripple even teams that otherwise are quite well designed. Clear norms of conduct (Chapter 7): Norms of conduct specify what behaviors are, and are not, acceptable in a team. Having clear, well enforced norms greatly reduces the amount of time a team must spend actively managing member behavior. The best norms promote continuous scanning of the performance situation and the deployment of work strategies that are well tuned to the special features of the team’s task and situation. Supportive organizational context (Chapter 8): Even teams that are properly structured and supported sometimes founder because they cannot obtain the organizational supports they need to perform well. Having the material resources needed to carry out the work is, of course, essential. But beyond that, team performance is facilitated when (1) the reward system provides recognition and positive consequences for excellent team performance, (2) the information system provides the team with the data and the information-processing tools members need to plan and execute their work, and (3) the organization’s educational system makes available to the team any technical or educational assistance members may require. Team-focused coaching (Chapter 9): Competent and well-timed team coaching can help a team minimize its exposure to process losses and increase the chances that it will operate in ways that generate synergistic process gains. But even highly competent coaching is likely to be futile when the other enabling conditions are not in place, or when the team is not at a stage of its life cycle when members are ready to receive it. That is why coaching, as important as it can be in fostering competent teamwork, comes last in the list of enabling conditions." (2011, p 44)

Perfection - Imperfection

By the end of our early group meeting on 11/01/22 we had decided to change tack in order to challenge ourselves more; we will pursue something on our own and bring this together under the banner of "perfection/ imperfection". This is now the theme we have as a group decided upon for our collaborative dialogue and pitch this to our tutor Cath the same afternoon.

The starting point for my contribution was ignited by Haiyun's reference to Lacan. I have read some of Lacan's mirror theory and this connected with something i had come across while reading Deleuze and Guittari; "The aim of painting has always been the deterritorialization of faces and landscapes, either by a reactivation of corporeality, or by a liberation of lines or colors, or both at the same time. There are many becomings-animal, becomings-woman, and becomings-child in painting." Combining these two ideas brought me to consider self portraiture as a way into the collaboration, i thought of Jung and his four archetypal figures that work in pairs; ego/ shadow = purpose/ identity and persona/ soul image = masks/ unconsciousness. I often draw self portraits to practice doing something immediate and i have recently begun painting self portrait studies; my imperfect imperfections. I am using 2 mirrors in order to see myself from a profile angle, i never give myself longer than half an hour to complete one. No 2 paintings are ever the same, in fact they could easily be other people or even by other people, my drawing skills are imperfect.

Becoming imperceptible

Becoming indiscernible

Becoming impersonal

I have been studying the work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, his suggestions, economy of brush stroke, light and dark and planes of the head.

Ormiston, Rosalind. (2012) The Life and Works of Rembrandt. Hermes House

"Over 75 self portraits of Rembrandt, a combination of drawings, etchings, and paintings, are in existence today, including three paintings made in the last year of his life. He painted portraits of himself more than any artist of his era" (p.48)

I am clearly not an accomplished portraitist by any means and this is a challenge for me.

Leader, Darian, and Judy Groves. (2013) Introducing Lacan: a Graphic Guide. Icon.

Self portraits make me think of Lacan and his Mirror theories; the following text i had researched for an essay a couple of years ago. The mention of Lacan in our group meeting caused me to search for this work and see how it applied to the task in hand:

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The famous case of Aimee, who stabbed a celebrated Parisian actress, this analysis contained in his 1932 thesis showed many traits of what was to feature in his later work, “how personality could extend beyond the limits of the body and be constituted within a complex social network” (2013, Leader, p13)

Construction of the ego “For example, the motifs of mirrored images, telepathic communication, observation and external persecution so common in paranoia may be understood as fundamental building blocks in the construction of the ego.”(p 28) “The truth of the ego emerges precisely in madness” (cited by Leader p 28) “In our day to day relations with other people, we are unaware of these criteria, even if many works of art, notably those of Dali, try to capture this idea” (p29) human knowledge is essentially paranoiac “Although Lacan’s theory of the image at this date is often explained in terms of the influence of surrealism […] Lacan often returned to the notion of the mirror phase to reformulate it […] There is no one theory of the mirror phase in Lacan’s work but several” (p29)

The Ideal, “an identification which is both beyond and in a sense prior to the identification with the image: a symbolic identification with a signifying element [...] Lacan calls this an identification with the ideal […] This ideal is not conscious”( p44) rather an unconsciously incorporated self fulfilling prophecy that is out of the control or comprehension of the individual.

Lacan explained that speech itself suggests an Other, a place both inside and outside the speaker where language is heard and understood, giving the subject of the speech symbolic identity.

“To the symbolic and imaginary, Lacan adds the category of the Real” or what he calls the “three registers of human reality”(cited p61) simply put the Real is whatever is not symbolised; everyday objects have signification, the real represents that which is outside our reality or perceptions.

Lacan distinguishes the ego as imaginary and the subject as symbolic. Symbolic compositions that are not consciously recognised can influence the individual and the wider society.

As Lacan describes in his famous Graph of Desire, children do not understand language from birth, it takes time connecting meaning to imposed signifiers. But there are still some things that are not understood which Lacan calls the desire of the Other. “The desire of the other is not an abstract issue for the child but a burning question” this is existential and what Lacan refers to as the Phantasy and it assures a kind of identity for the child where the signifier has been unsuccessful.

“Language does not provide us with a proper identity; the words we use are used by other people […] they are alienating” (p127) words are the property of the Other. As words do not define our being the Phantasy linking the subject and the object, helps guide the child through the unconscious recognitions encountered in life.

Lacan’s theory of transference advanced the concept that we carry knowledge we do not necessarily understand, this indicates that there is an intended subject that is supposed to the knowledge and therefore it can be transferred. But Lacan found another side to this; “the more transference works in the direction of the opening up of the unconscious, the more material it produces, the more the object will emerge to block and obstruct this production!” (p138)

Lacan went on to study Jouissance, a sort of masochistic suffering caused by overstimulation that the unconscious finds satisfying. This links to repetition and the compulsion of people making bad decisions over and over again.

Personal Presentation

For the 10/01/22 group 4 meeting i prepared this short presentation over the weekend for my teammates to help explain where i might fit into the collaboration.


Shooting Script

  • Introduction in my lair; laser printer, vinyl plotter, scanning, theory library.
    My interests; philosophy, painting, photography, printing, environmental and social justice.

  • Darkroom, film developing and printing.
    Building pinhole cameras, experimental photography and processing, NV goggles.

  • Main studio space; type of work - painting, collage, materials, relief printing, screen printing, cyanotype, encaustic, plastic.
    Artist and film library.
    Genres - Landscape, figurative, abstract, installation, working from my own previous ephemera.

Brief Background

I guess I am considered part of generation X, so I’m an old geezer now.

I dropped out of education early to travel by inter rail through Europe.

Ended up squatting in West Berlin right on the infamous wall for a few years, having a great time playing in various chaotic punk bands.

I had a variety of jobs mainly working on film sets and did a stint for the UN driving humanitarian aid during the Bosnian war.

I wangled a place at film school in Denmark (during the glorious years when Brits could live, study and work in 27 countries).

Took up SCUBA diving and eventually became a commercial diver at fort William in Scotland.

This was so I could combine my knowledge of film making and become an, at the time sought after, underwater camera operator.

Which gave me the opportunity to work as a freelancer travelling to exciting places like South America and South Africa.

I moved back to the UK and started my own successful media and diving related businesses which I managed for about 2 decades before a serious back injury caused me to abandon them.

Hence now throwing myself back into education.

Below are a few examples of work from my BA portfolio:

Relational Aesthetics

Combining street art and recycling

Further to our Tactic workshop of using printing to stimulate dialogue between communities, i had another idea to combine something i have already been working on; to build machines for recycling plastic.

But perhaps the process could be broken down and further collaboration instigated; plastic needs to be collected, cleaned, sorted before processing.

There are empty business locations around Swansea, perhaps it could be possible to secure a location for the purpose of establishing a plastic collection and sorting unit that could be operated by some of the homeless people we engage with.

Plastic sorting and cleaning is a relatively easy process to learn that does not require much in the way of machinery. "Starter kits" for all processing are available from Precious Plastics here:

There is already a company in Swansea producing items from recycled plastic:, it would be worth making contact to find if there is any synergy between us.

This tactic could work on many levels;

  1. Recycling waste, good for the environment

  2. Giving homeless people a mission and self worth, good for society.

  3. Using otherwise empty premises, good for the local economy.

Along the lines of Superflex we could prepare a manual for other teams to replicate and improve the tactic which may go to help relieve some of the problems we are currently facing.

Bourriaud, Pleasance, S., Woods, F., & Copeland, M. (2002). Relational aesthetics. Presses du Réel.

"These days, communications are plunging human contacts into monitored areas that divide the social bond up into (quite) different products. Artistic activity, for its part strives to achieve modest connections, open up (one or two) obstructed passages, and connect levels of reality kept apart from one another." (2002, p. 8)

"For anything that cannot be marketed will inevitably vanish. Before long, it will not be possible to maintain relationships between people outside these trading areas." (p. 9)


  1. General term describing a set of objects presented as part of a narrative known as art history. This narrative draws upon the critical genealogy and discusses the issues raised by these objects, by way of three subsets: painting, sculpture, architecture.

  2. Nowadays, the word “art” seems to be no more than a semantic leftover of this narrative, whose more accurate definition would read as follows: Art is an activity consisting in producing relationships with the world with the help of signs, forms, actions and objects." (2002, p. 107)

Flash Mobs

My first ideas for a collaboration were to try to work with something along the lines of a flash mob, or somehow turn that on its head: - Night Watch, Rembrandt