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A PDF-to-print zine as engagement for Creative Arts: Gesa Helms’ A/Folder: an instructive glossary thumb

A PDF-to-print zine as engagement for Creative Arts: Gesa Helms’ A/Folder: an instructive glossary

This blog explores a distributed and self-printed form of engagement in my recently completed Creative Arts practice. A/Folder: an instructive glossary is a downloadable PDF-to-print zine. Each zine offers a prompt, a set of instructions, a method to explore. I want to unpack a little what this form allows for in terms of engagement as key modality of Sustain your Practice, and, should you be interested, invite you along.

From Drawing 2 onwards my artistic practice centred increasingly on site-based work with my body as drawing tool in an expanded (and mobile) field of drawing. Its interest in process-based explorations as well as research allowed me to explore practice-as-research including drawing, writing, photography and performance (see this blog https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/creative-arts/practice-as-research-and-research-as-practice-the-creative-arts-work-of-stage-3-student-gesa-helms/). Seeking initially to explore drawing, performance and participation as and in contact (near, a little further away), the focus shifted during the pandemic to become For Cover (my BoW portfolio here), a site-based installation and performance based on contact media and almost no one else. The focus on relational, interactive work returned in the closing part of my degree as my tutor, Rachel Smith, encouraged me to follow SYP in 

(…) its seriousness of identifying, articulating and seeking who and where the audience is and how to interact with the work: taking engagement very serious.

(Meeting notes, Stage 3 blog, https://resbowgh.wordpress.com/2021/07/13/sustain-your-practice-opening-moves/)

A/Folder seeks to make my own work mobile: to distribute the site by means of a PDF to print, so that (a) part of the work actually travels (the instruction, the actual zine), and (b) it allows the audience, reader, participant to enact, explore or divert some of this work elsewhere, in a different time, with different means. In this, it becomes an expanding library, perhaps archive, and a toolbox to explore. It covers digital and analogue distance and invites contact. 

Many of the currently 12 zines have formed part of group activities (the ones distributed more anonymously on social media have not so far created returns; a few individual enquiries also emerged): zines were as part of my existing GSARD crit group, #3 detach and #5 Make a pocket; #6 drawing/machine for the OCAEU Wånder Wide Web residency and exhibition project; and #11 Make a pocket x drawing/machine and #12 a Kaleidoscope in the three see (through) events I organised in early Spring, also as part of my SYP ). Before, I had tested the modality of the zine form: what was needed for people to take control of the instruction? How to facilitate the return? I realised I needed to modulate clearly and carefully my level of engagement, details of instruction but also how well direct or vague instructions were received (or disregarded) or when they would bristle.

Image credit: photographic diptych of Outside a pen jiggles!, an installation record of the #6 drawing/machine process, along with the instructions for this zine. Outside a pen jiggles! also includes an ambient audio and can be accessed at the Wånder Wide Web site
Image credit: collage of different kaleidoscopes and screens created during see (through) 3: contextual distance event, 21 March 2022, using #12 a Kaleidoscope

Please visit A/Folder: an instructive glossary for more examples, for downloads and an extended invitation to participate in one way or another. 

Asking, Where and when is the work and the audience? allowed me to focus on the relational nature of my work: at a distance, while also offering tactile, shareable aspects of my work (an instruction, an invitation, a printed then folded sheet in your office). While my Body of Work discovered how sound, often my voice, and narration can facilitate access and immersion in a digital space, this expandable PDF library makes both method and research of a site-based work mobile.

Instructions and scores have formed the basis for much conceptual art, like Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings or musical and visual scores in the wider Fluxus movement. I first encountered them both in writing and contemporary walking arts-based work, the glossary I developed as part of my Research pointed towards a further development. Current examples include Tawnya Selene Renelle’s (2022) Prompts (see publisher’s site here for more info) or the WalkCreate (2022) Walkbook: Recipes for walking and wellbeing (downloadable here). 

If you are curious about my methods and the engagement process of the A/Folder series, visit the padlet and download one of the zines to explore, enact and possibly return. #8 Go to the meadow is particular favourite of mine and it travels rather well (you can directly download it from this g-drive folder here) . 

My Stage 3 blog is at: https://resbowgh.wordpress.com and I can be contacted via Instagram @draw___lena. If you are interested in hearing my conversation with tutor Rachel Smith about the practice-as-research methodology in my Stage 3 work, see this recent blog here https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/creative-arts/practice-as-research-and-research-as-practice-the-creative-arts-work-of-stage-3-student-gesa-helms/

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Posted by author: Gesa Helms
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