Wednesday 16 September 2015

Considering the role of the journal within the search....

Page from Book 14.

As I have been obsessively collecting and compiling information over the past 18 months, the role of the journal within my enquiry has become ever more significant. I have been reflecting on the nature of the journal - it's physical characteristics and it also as a model of thinking and doing.

The form of the book - it continues through as well as disjuncts time. The turn of the page speaks of a frame ‘anew’ and yet is physically and sequentially connected to the page before and after. Through the binding it also connects through to pages further on in the journey.

So the journal becomes a passing and a puncture of time, as ideas, thoughts and references flow. The pages speak of continuation and development as well as being discrete idles - of correlation and distinction. In my journals I find a continual linking across, between, through and around ideas and key questions. Some return repeatedly, resurfacing and some are left to sit quietly in isolation, awaiting a threading connection to appear. Some become part of the accumulation and debris or overburden of the inquiry. A mullock heap of thinking, discarded, that may or may not be returned to and fossicked through for hidden gems later. Trying to make sense of my thinking through their physical structure and materiality I began by establishing an indexing system, of page numbers and book numbers, to continue my drawing through the pages of my thinking. The sequential format has allowed freedom of movement while also providing some kind of organizing structure. The possibilities expand when the book format becomes in essence an artefact of the journey. With the development of two artist books in May 2015 the traditional book format began to be tested. Different size and types of paper were combined using multiple bindings and interleaved folding to create a book to be navigated.

Artist Books June 2015

The drawings/books have to be built, expanding, unfolding, obscuring and revealing through the process of their making. They are drawings that need to be turned over, pages to be touched and negotiated. There is no predetermined direction, no front or back, beginning or end. You navigate your way through the drawings/books via action and interaction, you become part of the journey.

Fingers, hands and pages stained with intra-actions

Turning pages
Turning stories
Turning tides

The collection of my journals is precious - a working archive of searching and gathering. They are evidence and containment of something which is necessarily boundless. Their serial nature affords room for perpetuity while also giving some useful constraints to reign in the potential storm of idea generating and gathering. Their portability means that I can have them with me at all times, have them at hand as ideas emerge. They have become extensions of me, so much so that I feel anxious without them near, and fear their absence when unpredictably needed. When moving from one to the next, as they fill with the flotsam and jetsam of my search, there is a strange period where the gap between volumes, between old ideas and new remains tentatively felt. The letting go of old to new is fraught for the first few pages, until I feel secure enough to leave the previous tome behind and stride out with the new. For some days I carry both with me as I keep returning to what was before, to ensure my journey forward into the unthought, blank pages of the new.

“At the beginning of each book’s life, when its pages were still blank and its cover untitled, it was effectively a new ‘study’ - a clean white space awaiting a fresh project…deliberative, reflective work spaces, in which the recording and ordering of the past is as significant as the anticipation of the future.”1

“…Pre-laptop, pre-photoshop - mark the beginning of the end of the analogue era…collectively they represent an archival landmark.”2

“Although these pages - written, drawn, typed, torn, collected, collaged, pressed and painted - could be understood as autobiography, they are also workshops in which the planning, presentation and outcomes of each day’s endeavour was first carried out, reflected upon and finally stored…Like the journals of the 18th century British explorer Captain James Cook, they were made with the understanding, that some day they might be published and enjoyed by others as honest records of plans and events as they unfolded. Never simply humble notebooks, they are treasured books made to live between the shelf and the desk.”3

1 Jarman, D, Farthing, Stephen & Webb-Ingall, Edward 2013, Derek Jarman's sketchbooks, Thames & Hudson, London. p. 25.
2 Ibid. p. 25.
3 Ibid. p. 27.

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