Category Archives: Reflective journal

The Last Chapter in the History of the World

Summarises my view on artistic research perfectly….

Chapter 10 Nudities  ‘The Last Chapter in the History of the World’ – Agamben

“in the Marionette or in God”  von Kleist  (Agamben’s quote)

“The ways in which we do not know things are just as important and perhaps even more important  as the ways in which we know them. There are ways of not knowing…that lead to clumsiness and ugliness, but there are others – the unselfconsciousness of Kleists young man (this is a ref to on the puppet theatre) – whose completeness we never tire of admiring…

We could say what is most intimate and nourishing does not take the form of science but of grace and testimony..

Perhaps a zone of non-knowledge does not exist at all, perhaps only its gestures exist..

As Kleist understood so well, the relationship with a zone of non-knowledge is a dance”.


Critical evaluation

I began this course with an experimental studio practice based on photography, video and sound art.  My background as a scientist naturally led me to explore technical innovation in image making but at the same time left me in an unresolved relationship with much contemporary art practice.  I needed to find a way of working which both acknowledged my scientific background but also encouraged the deeper currents driving my artistic practice.

The research paper, and the extended reading and research around it, allowed me to develop an approach to intermedia that is both relevent to fine art and my own practice, with an emphasis on gesture and the phenomenological experience of the body in space.  This serves as a framework for navigating the complex landscape of contemporary art and also helps to link my work with contemporary philosophy and cultural ideas with which I have an affinity.  I have come to understand artistic research as a powerful tool within my practice but at the same time it is also a kind of dance,  between knowledge and non-knowledge (Agamben) and for me needs to be deployed with a light touch.

In my intermedial work I am now no longer thinking about discrete media but working more fluidly, attentive to the transitions and spaces between media.  A photograph may be conceived both as an image and a sculptural object for example, while a sculpture may be articulated both visually and sonically.

The experience of preparing for the final show has emphasised how essential it is for me to produce work for a particular context and not in isolation in the studio.   This seems to be a consequence of my approach to intermedia, in which people and spaces are intrinsic parts of the work.  As a result, as my approach has become more embodied I am also now more inclined to think collaboratively and performatively.

So after several years of studio practice, including this MA, I think I am now ready to initiate a new phase of working. My work is set to become more outward looking, collaborative and situated within a socially and critically engaged practice.

Reflective journal overview

At the begining of Unit 2 my project theme was re-established around the theme of liminality

the theme integrated the more theoretical aspects of my research paper in which I developed an approach to intermediality that draws from Giorgio Agamben’s gestural theory and introduced the concept of the intermedial gesture as a means of understanding the ways in which a variety of artists use intermediality  within their practice.

Andrew Farley MA Fine Art Camberwell Research paper FINAL 2017_10_24

Practically I needed to understand how to investigate liminality because the scope of this subject is potentially so broad.  Initially I started looking at how liminality might impact on my media practice which synergised with the theme of the research paper.

I realised that my studio practice was becoming limiting and I devised the idea of  liminal studio…

….as a kind of mobile studio on a threshold. I had the Dead House studio in mind, a liminal building (ex mortuary) in a liminal place, Chesil beach, a shingle spit separating the waters of the channel from the brackish water of the fleet lagoon.

I developed the idea of the liminal image…

…which is a combination of positive and negative images, either formed directly by projection on a screen, by chemical printing or digitally (blend modes in photography and video).  I was interested in the way images can be made to emerge or disappear using these kinds of combinations which are taken for granted in motion graphics.  This also linked with my reading around the negative in Unit 1.

I also conceived of structuring my moving image work around opposites in general and then thinking about the liminal zone in between;

positive-negative, macro-micro, motion-stillness, montage-blend, grey-colour, silence-sound.

Looking back I see this approach feeding through into all aspects of the final show.

My encounter with the exhibition The Boat is leaking. The Captain lied…

..inspired me to consider how radical intermedial combinations (in this case involving artists filmmakers and scenographers) extended the conception of intermediality far beyond the boundaries I had initially imagined.

Meanwhile William Forsyths idea of the choreographic object directed me to the idea of the animated object in a performative space

To compliment the media research I also undertook broader research on liminality  that led me to research beaches (location of the liminal studio) and ruins in more detail.

and finally to focus on ruins but extend this to include the performative role of the ragpicker…

and also the fragment..

The role of the ragpicker returned me to two artists who I had engaged with briefly, earlier  in Unit 1 –  Mark Bradford and Theaster Gates.

Their use of recycled materials and objects (readymades) renergised my interest in this way of working, as did their socially engaged practice.

Finally I returned to the intermedial gesture.  My research into puppetry (especially the work of Wael Shawky) and also von Kleist writing on marionettes

led me back to Agamben and Notes on Gesture, and also Calvino and Odradek where I started this blog.

This is a linking up of various apparently fragmentary themes of the reflective journal, starting with Calvino and Odradek, moving through Kleist to Agamben.

Finally, closely associated with Notes on Gesture, I discovered a chapter of Agamben in Nudities

This has served as my guiding text for artistic research later on Unit 2 and I suspect in the future – artistic research as a kind of dance between knowledge and non-knowledge.

Ragpickers and liminality

Following on from my interest in Mark Bradford I have started to read around the liminal figure of the ragpicker.


Chapt 1 Rubbish- Histories, Values, aesthetics

Ragpickers and Leftover Performances

‘But how does the ragpicker make the historical leftover perform? The ragpicker is a liminal figure, literally living at the fringes of society: in Paris, they resided in shanty towns on the edge of town as part of the community of zoniers (‘zone’-dwellers or those living in the transition space between the city and countryside)’

performative leftovers

‘The ragpicker, first, stands for the undoing of established historiography and the institutions that support it. Aleida Assmann has pointed out that the rubbish dump and the archive, while seemingly each other’s opposite, are inextricably connected. The limit between  the archive and the rubbish dump marks the limit between what is and is not deemed of cultural value, and for that reason, archive and rubbish heap ‘can be read as emblems and symptoms of cultural memory and forgetting’ (Assmann 2006: 384, my translation). Refuse is what the archive refuses. For Assmann an archive of rubbish would make ‘the invisible as such, namely the basic structures of the cultural production of value and non-value, visible’ .’

the ragpicker’s diligent archiving of waste is not only a symbol for challenging existing master narratives in cultural memory, but also for the undoing of the conditions of possibility that enabled these master narratives. As Philip Rosen wrote: ‘the only way to recover the elements excluded from conventional historiography is to reject its form and terms’ (Rosen 2001: 15).

The Archivist of Urban Waste- Zoe Leonard, Photographer as Rag-Picker

Aleatory encounters- a rumination on trash and new materialist ontologies

The Madrid Ragpicker Pio Baroja


Mark Bradford and Theaster Gates

Two artists who are becoming increasingly important for me, both of them have socially engaged practices and work with found materials.

I like the way Mark Bradford references Asger Jorn contra American abstraction, questioning the dominant historical discourse in painting.

Theaster Gates has more of a Duchampian gesture, redeploying objects and materials sometimes on a vast scale but always with a critical strategy.

What this opens up for me to an increasing extent

  • Use of found materials
  • Ready mades

An Artist_s Mythic Rebellion for the Venice Biennale – The New York Times

Three Artists Who Think Outside the Box – The New York Times

Theaster Gates: Using the Art Economy to Funnel Funds to Underserved Communities | Art for Sale | Artspace

Mark Bradford Maps the Suffering of Bodies

Mark Bradford interview white wall

Mark Bradford parkett