Saturday, 31 January 2009

First Thursday- my piece 'Private View' 5th February

Harriet Poole: Private View, 8-10.30pm

ok, so here's the flyer for the event at the playground art studio of red shoe films. I'm enjoying developing and adapting my MA and Duckie work to site in new contexts, new challenges are presented and new surprises happen. With my new structuring method of working within a score and allowing chance elements throughout, i want to see how this plays out in different contexts. Lucy's studio very much allows for play and experimentation so a good venue for this :)

this idea has developed from the more literal draft title i blogged about earlier of inside out outside in, to consider more the site, that there are other Private Views going on in and around Regent Studios that same night, and the whole public persona nature of the evening.

i'm still thinking very much about the ideas surrounding intimacy, and in this piece taking aspects of (in)visible exchange, my Nunnery piece (see MA blog) which took place in the functioning closet of an art gallery, (mops, toolboxes and all intact) and rather than being a side room to the edge of the gallery, being an everyday cupboard found in the studio and placed in the centre of the studio/gallery/event space. the cupboard itself perhaps being seen as an artwork, but then the den where you enter into some kind of other world?
See Nunnery photos below;

What changes, what stays the same, what are the acoustics like, will being in the thick of the noise of the Private view force extreme intimacy through closed in proximity, how will this affect the performative exchange that results? Will it be too much?
The idea being: A performative exchange. Can you be private in a private view? How much are you willing to let your guard down?

In questioning our relationship to photography, and not holding on to the moment, I am looking to use DSLR photography, fitting with a private view, and not mobile phone photography, akin more to the pub/club scene.

However, unlike (in) visible exchange and more like The Darkroom, in that there will be many unrehearsed elements working to a score not an embellished rehearsed story, and responding, at least initially, to the participant's stories not my own. I'm running through/setting up on wednesday but the provisional score I like is this;

Proposed outline of an encounter: the score
Set up: Cupboard with some usual contents inside on a shelf, plus cash box, torches. On top of the cupboard is an art portfolio with the artists' cv at the front, and a stand of the artist's postcards and comments book.

Initiator (Harriet Poole dressed up normally as a audience member of the studio) approaches a person in the studio. She has her DSLR around her neck.

HP talks about the private view event, whether they are an artist, general private view/art event type conversation with a stranger.

HP says, "Would you like to see my work, its called Private view." If yes, HP ask if she could have a photo with them. If yes, she asks someone to take a DSLR photo of her and the participant, if no, she moves on and starts another conversation from the beginning. HP plays back image and shows the participant the image. DSLR goes back round the photographer's neck.

HP takes them to the cupboard and climbs inside with the participant, turns on orange torch and hangs it in the cupboard on a hook in the ceiling. Shuts door.

HP asks them what they keep in their pocket/on their person, and if they’d like to share it.

They then talk about the item if they want to share, and HP may share an item too.

HP then gets out photographic paper from off the shelf in the cupboard, and asks the Participant to put their item on the paper. HP does the same if also told their story.

HP/participant then turns on the white torch light and exposes the photo paper.

HP gets out the cash box and key, puts it on the floor between them, and unlocks it.

HP asks the participant to put the image in the cash box.

They watch the image partially develop.

Performer then turns on out the DSLR and finds the photo of the two of them, and holds it over the image to kill it to black completely.The image of HP and the participant is reflected back in the developer.

HP then deletes the image in front of the participant. The DSLR goes back around HP's neck.

HP wraps/blots the image in a towel/flannel ?? and puts it in her handbag.

The two leave the cupboard, shutting the door firmly behind.

HP stands with participant in front of the top of the cupboard,and puts the photogram from her handbag into a small art portfolio which is on top of the cupboard, and offers the participant one of her artist postcards from the postcard stand. HP suggests it is put it in the participant’s pocket. HP indicates that the participant can leave a comment in the comments book if they so wish.

They are then back into the throws of the Private view/studio event.

The participant and HP leave one another.

Event starts again.

need to run through this with lucy red shoes and now think about tech set up...... :)

Postal Art Collective- The Art Department: The Second sketchbook

ok, so this is the sketchbook I am sharing with M. Franklin. like the photo-sketchbook i created and have sent off to share with E. Brass, M. Franklin has sent this for me to work on this month and to mail back by 25th February.

Interesting how it's a moleskine which was my choice if i had worked with a blank book, as i love the pockets, i think i will start stashing secret things in there. i was excited by the cover, and panicky a little by its contents. i think this is going to be a good challenge for me as the work is very alien to my practice, although it does have photos in the mixed media. the first thoughts are returning to flickr (or is this just as I'm completely without idea and being lazy, OR should I see this as another photo-reading experiment?), i see barbed wire and autumn leaves, is there anything in any of this?;

flickr images from search here

the beauty of flickr is that you do get people's responses to images, through people leaving comments, and a dialogue thread sometimes between them, and captions people give to images, sometimes bizarre, sometimes perhaps, unnecessary as its quite visually obvious, although necessary for searches. can i make more of this flickr dialogue? shall i start exploring text? i used flickr comments to photos of graveside floral tributes in my stand up comedy act from July last year (see MA blog)

am also thinking of just simply collecting things i see in the envelope at the back and seeing if maybe there's a starting point there. maybe something, maybe nothing......material to use this month or in the other idea is to work through and document mini-tasks in this fab book; Guerilla Art, through looking it up I found this book about how to develop/wreck a sketchbook by the same author!! Wreck this journal
One to tell the Class monitors running this project!!!

UPDATED 8TH MARCH 2009: This sketchbook was requested by the class monitors to exchange for another so I did not work on this one (a relief to be honest as it wasn't very stimulating to respond to) has arrived and is a written ferrari diary...more to follow...

Friday, 30 January 2009

Postal Art Collective- The Art Department.....1955 family album- First interventions

Ok, so the intervention into sketchbook as site project begins.....the sketchbook is a 1955 family photo album (date inside cover), with missing photos. the photos presented in triangular corner mounts are of everyday family activities, eg bath time, in the garden...and with such events as christmas dinner and present unwrapping, and a few odd entries such as a budgie drinking from a glass of water on the dining table, a hand holding a pile of nails, a magazine stuck in the letter box. as the images cannot be brought to life in first person and have it could be said, been de-personalised, i.e. cannot be contextualised through someone who has a connection to the album, I decided that at first i didn't want to invent stories or meanings. maybe in subsequent interventions I will, but that i wanted to start by in part parallel their removal from context in a contemporary and impersonal way through looking at opportunities in an online gallery such as flickr. so..... I started typing in what i saw in the photos and these are the before and after results.....

So here's the first 'mark/intervention in the postal sketchbook project. I moved the third photo from left of budgie drinking from here;

to what was a blank double page spread here;

and from typing in 'budgie drinking' on flickr, found the inserted image in the photo below;

I considered many ideas about how to insert/change/personalise, and whether to give any context within the intervention about where it came from, eg writing web address on the back, but decided to leave it entirely open to ideas, and apart form shrinking to fit when printing it out on an inkjet printer, no image manipulation took place. This raises an interesting dialogue I hope for the artist who receives the sketchbook. Maybe they will consider: did I the artist, take the photo, why is there such a naff caption,(BOTTOMS UP!!) how does it read in amongst the other images, eg era, technology,what we take and record photos of.

Here's the second intervention- before;

And after.....

the original idea was to bring my own practice into the work- my cat crazed MA show, as there is a cat on the front on the magazine being posted, but decided to keep this intervention purely about least for the moment.... i post off this sketchbook to artist E. Brass, i am wondering what will come of the album , will the artist that receives it feel it is ok or inappropriate to physically manipulate the images, will they worry it is my personal album, will it resemble its current self at all, how will they add their mark/intervention.. if they completely destroyed or manipulated the photos how would i feel? we all have albums like these, is it really that impersonal? how does it feel intervening in what is actually a historical document.......hmmmm..... intriguing....i will receive the sketchbook back by February 25th so will post the photos of the outcome then. incidentally, it felt extremely important to document its journey through photographing it, i hope this process will give me something for my own work and i need to be able to 'let go' of the photographs in between, my moment with them as was has passed...and what will become of them will become.......... ;)

Is this the ultimate the moment of photography has passed, its' becoming something else, potentially entirely?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Postal Art Collective- The Art Department

I have recently joined an art collective, The Art Department, creating a sketchbook postally over the next 6 months. I don't know the artists I am directly collaborating with, only an initial and surname to send it on to. I hate working with a blank canvas approach, have never got on with using a sketchbook, (me I'm more of a notebooker), its not me, so initially thought it a little daunting. I eventually thought it to be a great opportunity to really explore how others' read and respond to images artistically. Here's my 'sketchbook' above, untouched. As I am constantly questioning photography, and continuing from my MA investigations into how we use and read photographs, and the removal/reinvention of its context, I decided to take as my brief how I work as site-responsive live artist, to respond to the notion of sketchbook as a site. I found a 1950s family photo album on ebay discarded for unknown reasons, it is not of significance to whoever wanted to sell it. I'm thinking back to the Tratchenberg Family slide show players who have been a significant inspiration to my work and who bring new identities to strangers lives through performing with found slides from car boot sales- the result is calamity, non-sensical, with a heavily vintage flavour. So..... this is the beginning, 12 entries will be made......below is more about the project, I like the idea of working to a set of rules, fits with my current thinking like using a score for actions in my practice.


The Art Department

Homework Project

Participants’ acceptance form
I would like to take part in ‘The Homework Project’ as described below:

The project operates on a monthly cycle and begins on January 1st 2009. The collective is organised in a postal circle by the class monitors.

All members are to provide a sketchbook – the only criterion is that it must be able to fit through a letterbox, otherwise the format it takes is open to individual interpretation.

Between the 1st of each month and the 25th members are asked to make a minimum of one ‘mark’ in the sketchbook they have. Consider the word ‘mark’ in the broadest of senses: a drawing / intervention / response / record etc.

You may make as many ‘marks’ as you wish in the sketchbook while you have it. If the sketchbook finishes during this time please send the completed book to the class monitors and purchase a new sketchbook to continue the project in.

On the 25th (or nearest possible date) post the sketchbook to the next member in the circle – this ensures that the sketchbook will be with them for the 1st of the next month.

Ownership is collective until the first meeting in 6 months. If at the first meeting we choose to discontinue the project all original sketchbooks are to be returned to their owners with the ‘marks’ made by others.

Changes to circumstances during the initial six months:
If you need to leave the collective during the initial six month period or you need to discuss other issues around the project, contact the class monitors.

The class monitors:
Self-appointed Art Department ‘class monitors’ are Elinor Brass and Tanya Paget who have developed the initial idea. They will oversee the initial project.

Review date: July 2009

I understand that by taking part in ‘The Homework Project’ I am also becoming a member of the visual arts collective; “The Art Department’.
Print: Harriet Poole
Date: 6/1/09
*This should be the postal address that you wish to receive your sketchbooks at.

Monday, 19 January 2009

East London- First Thursday 5th February show

work in progress following site visit last wednesday for insideout/outsidein @ Life is Animated, 5th February 2009, part of East london's First Thursday,73A Regent studios, 8 Andrews Road, Hackney, E8 4QN. This photo-encounter invites you to sit inside a box with me oblivious to a studio full of people looking at art or just drinking.What we might just say or discover, or not, the awkwardness, the imposed. Trial variant of The Darkroom: what happens when the darkroom is not in a private location, it is in fact a cupboard, in the middle of a room,with a private view going on around it and live music and performance. bringing together two strangers within a box, to unearth/turn inside the contents of their pockets,and expose the objects to the act of photography. two people hiding themselves away from the hubub beyond, the cliche of the private view of the public facade you present, versus the private self that you may or may not expose inside the box. a very sketchy idea to start 2009...hmmmm a seed to plant and let grow a little :) time to explore the whole concept of 'box' and maybe some interplays on words.....

the theme of this month was very much artists that work with animation and participation. first thoughts were for projecting on the outside what was on the inside but am having trouble working out the concept involving a projection, and why I would want to go down that route when i never document the encounters due to their private nature.doh.but i always love the virtual versus actual. mobile phones again like The Darkroom, maybe this time a video of me with the participant? Durationally killing the black and white photo. how about me asking the participant what they think of the private view as a video? and this public reality then used internally to kill the image once talked about what's in our pockets? OR this mobile phone image is the only means to expose the image and then gone.

Projection- a fragmented reality projecting outwards? of me only?
Perhaps this part is another event. my N96 does link up to a projector which is exciting.

test runs in situ on 25th january and 4th february. do i need another performer? run the event durationally 9-11pm? how will it feel being even closer to the participant than ever before; enhanced forced intimacy? these photos are of the lived in studio, room to be transformed for the event; cinematic screening, live performances, music.

other artists taking part;
Pia Borg screening her 10 min animated film (on loop) "Palimpsest"
Helen Schoene Performance and animation (7 mins, on twice 9pm and 10pm)
New Eakapong Rungruangkul: Filmed Performance/ Stills

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer Frequency and Volume

This show at the barbican in the curve gallery is described on their website as;

"Working at the crossroads between architecture, sculpture and performance, the Mexico-born, Canada-based artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is well known for developing large-scale installations in public spaces. His work encourages both social interaction and audience participation through the deployment of new technologies."

i really liked the way you as you walked around creating huge shadows tracked by the digital signal, you could 'play' the analogue stations though movement of your body. you became extremely self aware, your elongated presence and those migrating around you too, giant and looming across the curved wall. seeing the technology piled up in a glass windowed room and the mast at the edge was a bonus especially as i like process as performance, or in this case, as performance installation. slightly too sci-fi hollywood blockbuster in the red target but controlling sound like this very clever, through a system of mirrors and the layering of slight delay on the overlapping digital projection and real time shadow. good freebie. shame the barbican bar isn't quite so free :(

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

SPRINT Festival proposal

This is the proposal submitted to SPRINT, the Camden People's Theatre event June 2009

Harriet Poole: Live Participatory Photography:
The Darkroom (or name adapted to site)

Preferred space: Starting in the bar/foyer/populated area moving to a small private, light tight space, and then back to bar/foyer. Small, light tight closet/office/bathroom/shed type space or small space that can be made light tight and into a photographic darkroom. Ideally around 8 foot by 3 feet but can adapt to space given. Using an existing working room with side bench or shelf as found would be particularly ideal (moving some items if necessary to accommodate myself and participant) e.g. mops, buckets, screwdrivers, old equipment etc welcome in the space. If two small rooms could be found, there could be a performance installation of the photogram relics. If the space(s) were more ‘behind the scenes’ or away from black-box theatre, this would be ideal, I have responded to sites such as redundant factory/warehouses rich with history situating my work in amongst other performance events.

Duration of work: Durational, intimate performance for one at a time (approximately 10 minutes per encounter) There could, and ideally would, be multiple encounters happening simultaneously. Ideally happening on a busy night, people socialising, waiting for a show, or after a show. Could also work on a pre-booked basis with an usher entirely in a given room, I have worked in this way before. A visit would be good to determine this and make the piece entirely site-responsive, maybe drawing connections with my other work such as shed (see

The number of artists involved: One (myself) or more (performers only). If taking place during a busy event around the area with a ‘found’ audience, I work with a score allowing for individual and fluid happenings around that and have worked with more than one performer having their own one-to-ones.

Description of the work (provisional, pending site visit): In The Darkroom, people are approached in the bar/foyer and asked if they would like to go to the darkroom. Using a mobile phone camera, the image of the strangers together in the foyer/bar is taken by another person in the bar, and then the performer and participant move to the private room in red light. Stories are told in the private room through objects from their pockets, the objects as a trigger for finding and sharing a human connection: for example, from the ordinariness of a train ticket they could talk about the funeral that it enabled the person to attend. The last person that was phoned and shouldn’t have been. The objects are laid onto photographic paper and exposed and developed- they surface momentarily through a photogrammed memory of the object but are not then fixed. The closet idea is about referencing those tucked away spaces maybe under the stairs, amateur darkroom in the attic, child’s den, inventors quiet paradise to be able to sit and consider one’s thoughts, make new discoveries, or share secrets. The fleeting exchange of memories between two strangers is, as is the problem with photography, of the moment that has passed. This performance thus culminates in marking this fact through the death of the photographs created, the mobile phone image’s light kills the photogram and is deleted. This denotes the end of a period of togetherness as two strangers then leave one another and the performer and the participant return to the foyer/bar.

The Darkroom has been developed from (in)visible exchange, the above piece is based on my Duckie show and could, I would hope develop further with SPRINT; elements have always been quite different. My work explores theories in the work of Roland Barthes and Tino Sehgal, the first for his theories of the ‘mortality’ of the paper based photograph as an ‘impossible’ record of ‘now,’ and the latter for the fleeting materiality of his art works. I work with principles of non-matrixed theatre and audience participation through the subversion of time/lens based media practices. I experiment with pushing the temporal nature of performance through marrying with the temporal nature of photography, placing the process of image making intrinsically at the heart of an intimate performative experience.

Technical: Creating a staged light tight darkroom providing own equipment being small darkroom (box) tray, photographic developer, photographic paper, red safety lights, blackout.
Ability to lock door or shut it very firmly so light tight.
Depending on room set up as to whether would need a bench or a table and depending on the height of these- chairs or stools or standing- I can arrange these where necessary.
Access to water nearby and electrical sockets in the room or very nearby.
If possible I would like to view the room in advance of the event so I can plan for the right materials, and any slight adaptations to the performance if layout of room etc dictates.
Please note- I have a lot of experience in constructing make-shift darkrooms if the above sounds horrendously off putting- and I am able to do it myself. There is no Enlarger or other traditional darkroom equipment, processing troughs etc, but would put down suitable protective sheeting as applicable. Depending on how much black out was required would dictate how long I would need to set up; if time is short I could get assistance.

Should hear by end of February whether successful or not....

Friday, 2 January 2009

new year update......and live stream video and gillian wearing confessions

phew am back- long time no blog! a period of digestion and reflection post MA and what last year has given me, early seeds of revised and new projects (posts to follow shortly,) writing proposals, and thinking about both the independent and interrelated possibilities for artist-educator me. speaking to many people lecturing/teaching/ working in education who also find it is often incredibly inspiring and rewarding personally and professionally: for me currently, giving lots of ways of bringing my MA and post MA practice to young people, redefining the curricula to more visibly include socially engaged participatory practice, interdisciplinary art, live art. new projects to be piloted, strategies, initiatives both within the visual arts department and whole school, i'm lucky to be in a school which embraces change and taking risks.mid January, am meeting with the local council setting up site-specific installation and live art projects in derelict buildings for my students. it would be great if to the future this avenue could also allow artist-educator projects too. i work with recent graduates and practitioners who also wish to continue to practice but finding the time and head space is difficult, but so necessary for personal satisfaction, and growth and also to be delivering a contemporary curriculum. i'm lucky at least that i work part-time and this last few months have been re-adjusting to this and this year i feel to become more work-art life balanced: when am i an artist and when am i an artist-educator? stricter timetabling myself this year. i really enjoy being both but in my constantly thirsty and enquiring mind i need to find a way to balance and switch between it better:) work......The Darkroom @ duckie started something intriguing for me about using my mobile phone camera (N73) purposefully as part of the whole act of photography and the club nature of taking photos in this way, deleting the image later to maintain the temporality ethos to my work. this work was only experienced by the performer (myself or laura bean) and the participant. is there an opportunity, or indeed is it appropriate for a wider audience?

lots to be playing around with my new N96 phone have found it has lots of possibilities- see above this bambuser and also movino app is intriguing me(this boiled egg action is not a piece of work just a test!!) in terms of temporality of my work however, yes live streaming from the phone via bluetooth to web is exciting but how about the fact that it stores for playback the footage,is it just like when i deleted the camera photo in The darkroom? i go online and delete it? how could this or would it work? the mediated performance, where and why is the audience both physically local and online global? how does this challenge the intimate encounter- what is broadcast, audio and visual, anonymity? thinking gillian wearing, confess all on video although this work was made for the gallery, video projection as installation and not online. or would this be a live feed from one arena to another locally and NOT online? two "sheds," two confessional boxes like the walkie talkies in shed ?? what is gained and lost from being physically in one another's company as opposed to mediated- honesty? need to look back at paul sermon in telematic dreaming

my one-to-one work has increasingly become at times, about confessions to a stranger, things you may not say to someone you know. in duckie i spoke to a couple of participants, through the trigger of a train ticket, about my blood father's memorial in october, some things which i haven't told even my closest friends. i have been wondering why i did this. one thing i think was in immersing myself in my MA i detached myself from those closest to me, did not take on board his death at all during my MA (and am working though only now) and my work became a way of still maintaining intimacy in my life. for me this was the truth. for others and what they told me? truth, embellished, utter fiction? back to lyn gardner's post, in the theatrical confession box i looked at last year on my MA blog;

"Lyn Gardner in, In the theatrical confession box, Guardian arts blog (June 08) writing about recent trends in intimate performance, “….what a great number of these performances are exploring is not intimacy, but the illusion of intimacy and the loneliness of a world where communication is easy but real intimacy very hard. But I wonder about the ethical issues around such performances, particularly when they are set up in such a way that the power lies entirely with the performers and the risk seems to lie entirely with the audience."

did i have power and were the participants at risk? does this lie in more of the fact that this work was non-matrixed and therefore not a "performance" oh god, in knots now......;) need to process this.

in conclusion for all of this current thinking, questioning the private/public fact/fictional nature of my work, how does diversifying the areas of photography and video further facilitate this?