Playbook Part 1 [Manifesto]

Playbook Part 1 [Manifesto]

These are the notes I took during the tutorial with Kimberly on the 28th of September. It has become now a kind of ‘Playbook’ (a repository of information to outline my practices’ clarity).  Over the next few days/weeks and for the duration of the Craobh Rua project I will dig deeper into these items 1-11 above and unpick them more to extend my own understanding of the work and what I can draw from it.

In this post I will try to demonstrate:

1. How I understand the physical outputs.

The things we make together link us, they generate bond, expressing the time spent together, ‘hands-on’. These co produced objects ‘tightens the space of relations’ (Bourriaud 2002). In the making space, the area of exchange creates outputs – these outputs are ‘the symbolic value of the “world” it suggests to us, and of human relations reflected by it.’ (Bourriaud, 2002). Essentially the physical outputs give form to our encounters.

Things Visual Response – Ritual Distance. Mixed Media on board. Susan Farrelly, 2020

I am my first viewer.

Iterations become version, versions become memory.
Experience is what lasts and informs understanding. My recent
works ‘On Motivation’ (Schaffeld, 2020a) turned into
‘performatives’ through my voice and ‘things’ (Schaffeld and
Farelly, 2020), a collaborative interaction with Susan
Farrelly, expanded visual spaces through her voice-over and my
bodily breathing sounds. Me, and Susan obtained understanding
through the spaces created and held: the virtual physical
distant space, the visual responsive space, the auditory
dislocated space, and a space in-between of trust and
understanding. I do relate this to my art therapy practice
where I create and hold a space between me and the client, a
relational space for possibilities and change. [Schaffeld 2020]

2. My slippage of role – how I understand it.

I make the relational objects. I connect them with an audience. I deliver the encounter as a project in the community. I show someone the relational objects, it is a request for gaze. Their gaze. There is a liminal space between that role where I request that you look at me and look at that, and the response that occurs where you do look at that. When you look at that, I can look at you – and the performative dialogue begins. Serge Daney’s thinking in Nicholas Bourriands’ book on Relational Aesthetics outlines it nicely, ‘all form is a face looking at me’ and that form can only come about from a meeting between two realities. These two realities manifest for me in my role as observed/observer. The output becomes a new form from the framework of that specific encounter in that specific cultural space. There is a point when I can disappear from gaze, the objects have taken agency for the intra-action. Intra-action understands agency as not an inherent property of an individual or human to be exercised, but as a dynamism of forces (Barad, 2007). I aspire perhaps to the role of conductor.

Rian and Relational Object #5 Craobh Rua

When I collaborate with other artists on individual projects there is a less predictable sense of role. In a recent collab with fellow OCA student Stefan Schaffeld we responded to each other, and each others work, documenting and exploring new spaces of dialogue. I have enjoyed the surprise, testing my usual choice of material – using sound and voice. I am invisible but I am heard. Link:

3. What do I do with the relational objects when I play with them – document it differently?

When I play with the relational objects I feel that the experience manifests as an adult role play of sorts. It is driven by a deep memory. The relationship I can have with these objects attempts (in that moment) to anchor me in this space. Shifting them in and around my body, placing them at certain points – stations. Emulating known and unknown cultural customs. Is it a contract? Or a stage set? Showcasing childhood memories ( I designed these for ‘the child’) and the objects formally arranged to evoke something. I find it best to document the event posthumously, after the event encounter. Where I was at that time, in that space, reflective and with words and diagrams in the small space of the notebook. It is an intimate recording that I do not yet understand.

4. How do I understand it then?

Initially they present as ‘fragment memories’: isolated bits of memory that lack full autobiographical context, and which may constitute nothing more than a feeling or an image.

Mapping Practice MA Yr 1

5. What am I making?

3D maps of a culturally specific experience, sensory memories as forms. They attempt to be portals. I draw with objects as I engage with them/perform with them.

6. What does it mean?

When I make these 3D maps, and sensory memories as forms, the forms become relational objects when they encounter audience. Relational objects in a space for encounter – encounter as an opportunity for dialogue. Dialogue as making, and an opportunity to co create. Co Creation as an embodiment of intra-action. And the cycle (ritual) can repeat to produce new iterations of the work. Aspiring to an enrichment of my practice and finding a new energy to propel me forward.

Labyrinth Mat with Hands, MA Year 2

” If students are not able to transform their lived experiences into knowledge and to use the already acquired knowledge as a process to unveil new knowledge, they will never be able to participate rigorously in a dialogue as a process of learning and knowing. ” [Freire, 2005]

7. If I recontextualise the relational objects what is extracted from the making/meaning?

Space informs the narrative of the work. When the physical project has ended I want to take the relational objects to other spaces and analyse what happens differently. What changes in the narrative.

8. If there is new conversation what do I want from it?

New possibilities and ways of working. To expand the idea beyond the confines of 1 project. Fresh perspectives.

9. What are the dualities/multiplicities of the objects?

See item 7 above – to be continued in Playbook Part 2. A community of objects/objects in the community. Tactile, visual. Conceptual and analogue. To be looked at, to be sat upon to be activated by touch.

10. How does meaning shift in spaces with different historical layers of environment.

To be examined more, and continued in Playbook Part 2. A thought occurs to me, the stones of Dowth were there to worship. A place to honour something. I do not intend the relational objects to be worshiped, their sole function is to honour the audience in being fit for purpose. Aesthetically it’s possible to admire them but ultimately they gain their own agency when engaged through intra-action.

11. Is the work culturally site specific?

Muirheavna Mor, Dundalk Co. Louth

Yes. Culture affects an artwork by proving a social context against which the work can be defined. All artworks are, to some extent, the products of their culture, and they can reflect certain prevailing assumptions and beliefs.  The cultural geography of where I live and work informs my artwork. The relational objects for the Craobh Rua project are rooted in the visual Neolithic language of Dowth, the virtual space of my MA (TYB Project) and community of Muirheavna Mor, Dundalk. Is the work trying to embody notions of ‘place-making’. (Yes, when the ancient Celts of 3200BC strategically placed large stones on the site, the intention was to place make. The soft fabric forms of the relational objects echo a stone circle, a temporary place, making space to play in the community house).

The connection between the great raths and cairns and the gods is never really forgotten…No one can peruse this ancient literature without seeing clearly the genesis of the Irish gods: violent heroes, passing, through the imagination and through the region of poetic representation, into the world of the supernatural…” (Standish O’Grady, Early Bardic Literature, 1879)

The drawing of children digitally printed on fabric. Drawn by children for children.

Attention is focused on the ways in which symbols, rituals, behaviour and everyday social practices result in a shared set or sets of meanings that are, to greater or lesser degrees, place-specific. Thus a geographic perspective has become central to the cultural-studies project more widely (Grossberg et al., 1992). [McDowell, 1994]

Compiling this Playbook has created (a clarity and) an action list for me. To document my own interactions with the relational objects, explore new cultural sites to situate the objects and unravel the cultural geography further. Only then will I gain a deeper understanding of the potential narratives and multiple perspectives possible within the work, hopefully moving practice forward in the process. … be continued.


Bourriaud, N (2002) Relational Aesthetics, France, Les Presses du reel.

Friere, P (2005) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York, Continium Publishing

McDowell L. (1994) The Transformation of Cultural Geography. In: Gregory D., Martin R., Smith G. (eds) Human Geography. Palgrave, London. [Accessed 2nd October 2020]

Schaffeld, S [2020] Interacting and Understanding. (PDF Page 15) [Accessed on 2nd October 2020] and Vimeo link: [Accessed 29th Sept 2020] [Accessed 30th September 2020]

On Dowth passage tomb.