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process notes

This is an ongoing project during which I plan to use all the things in my studio to make a series of 300 (or so) improvised sculptures. I've used a randomiser to allocate these things to groups. These will form the material components of each work. The things in my studio are mostly fragments and pieces of material left over from previous works: tiny square beads, scraps of wood, textile offcuts, unfinished experiments, plastic bags, cardboard boxes used as packaging, assorted strange things (a dead moth, a banana skin, a crash barrier).

I've previously drawn and described all of these things in Fragments of a Method and made a digital archive of them, BitParts.

As I proceed I'm noting thoughts emerging from this process.

This idea is not yet fully formed. As the work develops I'll share images and notes here and on instagram @el_fink

process notes

How do you check if you're doing what you think you're doing?

I had good, well-articulated thoughts on the way to the studio, but I lost them by the time I got here.


I'd like to take not being serious more seriously


random allocation messes with the default position


connect, overlap


Problem: too much thinking, not enough doing. Solution: thinkdothinkdothinkdo

Move around. It helps to see things differently.

To make space, you might have to move something out of the way. That thing might be you.

A goal: to keep using a notebook until I get to the end

What if you could make something good from all your mistakes?

Try using what you have before getting something new

Once you've identified the problem, ask "what can I do about this?" Then try something. If that doesn't work try something else.




I think (know) I'm addicted to my phone


To opt out of a system, do you have to be part of it in the first place?


I get distracted by trying to do too many things at one time. Nothing gets finished (what is finished?)


So, what kind of art do you make?


Infect it with other worlds


My practice relies on leaving things lying around randomly and changing this random lying-aroundness frequently, so a part might accidentally end up next to something unexpected, which might be generative. I guess this might be how evolution happens, by things infecting each other rather than being contained.


What values does the work model?

Begin by defining the territory. Draw a line around it to make it a thing


I tend to be very general, except when I'm being too specific


Be direct and indirect, simultaneously


Make a 5 minute sculpture.


Certainty is a theoretical condition.


I spend a lot of time preparing for events that may not happen.


Can a thing be about a system? Why? Why not?


Things don't always happen the way they're supposed to


My swype keyboard is slowly becoming less accurate. This is the opposite of what's supposed to happen. Maybe my use of language is diverging from average.


how to challenge fixity


Does the structure fit the work or does the work fit the structure?


We have a (pivotal) conversation about not being concerned about “finishing”, but rather presenting an exploration with potential for development.


I question whether experimental sculptures can belong on ordinary structures.


Things proceed incrementally. They are relative, rather than absolute. (Try something, try something else).


In my imagination things always fit together seamlessly. Gaps are almost always unintended consequences. This is a flaw with my imagination, not with reality.


Sometimes it is necessary to start again. This could be because circumstances change; the existing approach becomes unworkable, inappropriate or irrelevant; or you learn something you didn’t know when you began.

A thought on alternatives. At some stage you will commit to an option. This doesn’t mean it’s the right option, or best option. It just means it’s the option you chose.


Many of my wood remnants break. This could be because:

1. I get them from the scrap bin, where they may have been discarded by someone else because they contained knots or splits

2. I bought a piece of wood that was a second

3. I am heavy handed (slightly clumsy)

4. I try to confirm durability or breakability as I go by submitting the materials to stress

5. It is a reality of wood that it has knots and splits which don’t withstand stress

6. I work in a state of near chaos a lot of the time and the mess means things get knocked over easily

7. I am human


Edges, borders, categories, parameters (and therefore gaps), are chosen and imposed. They could equally have been otherwise.


You have to stop somewhere, in the same way that you have to start somewhere.

It is difficult to resist the urge to smooth edges and replicate “successful” experiments. (I wonder if this will happen anyway, a tendency to average.)


(A thought on how I end up with the results I do). There is a flaw in my system. The flaw is me.


I didn’t collect notes the way I initially planned. I realised that in order to explain a process it is necessary to relate all stages, rather than produce smooth, shiny outcomes. (This seemed obvious after the fact)


Initially I attempted to impose order and structure on my project and stifled it completely. The imposed structure left no space to experiment.


The ‘winging-it’ method is actually not winging it at all. It is application of all the knowledge collected from many different practical experiences which may not relate directly to the matter at hand but have definite (or possible) parallels.


I want to reframe gaps as space for movement, re-configuring, re-thinking and trying new approaches.


I have to keep reminding myself that in this project it is ok (or maybe even important) to not know where I’m going.

I could probably be safer with tools and equipment sometimes.


Experiments, life, infect each other.


Sometimes I am overly cautious about crossing the road.


Alternating between chaos and order. Clear space helps me think, whilst a huge mess seems to be one of the conditions for my creative process. It gives a lot to look for order in.


Sometimes the seemingly most ordinary experiments yield the most unexpected results. Unexpected results are a good outcome. They make me question what I thought I knew.

Loose plans are important so there is somewhere to start, and tools and materials to start with.

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