Notes from my 6th residency at Sawatari Gallery

July 28, 2017

Here I am on the first evening of my sixth residency at Nakanojo. Staying behind Miyataya again this time. I feel more prepared and adjusted this time around knowing my routine. On my way up to Nakanojo, I realised how routine the commute to and from Nakanojo is. I pack my clothes and supplies on Thursday night, get up early on Friday and catch the 9:14 train to Omiya, use the restroom, hop on the Takasaki Line to Takasaki. I have twenty minutes, so I stop by the convenience store to pick up lunch and then use the restroom after the rush. I catch the Agatsuma Line train and do some drawing before arriving in Nakanojo. On the way to Sawatari Gallery, I ask to stop at the convenience store for liquids before arriving at Sawatari Gallery. I eat lunch and then grab the keys for the place behind Miyataya and then get to work. I did change things up a bit this time. I took a break around 4 pm to drop off my luggage at the place behind Miyataya and then packed my bag with a change of clothes so I could take a shower after dinner at Yoshinoya.

I arrived at Sawatari Gallery today and everything was just the way that I left it. I think that people who have come to see the space during my studio work have assumed that the layout on the wall was part of the exhibition. This became evident during the write up of the visit by the Nakanojo Tourism Association and then by Tobe-san who dropped me off today. In any case, I had a brief look at the installation and it seemed a bit sparse, which is probably just a response to I have been hearing this past week.

In any case, I set off to work by attaching the remaining Drawing Cells onto acrylic pipes and it took me a while to get back into the swing of rolling the museum gel and began putting the acrylic disc base on those eight left over Drawing Cells. Once I finished with those I moved on to the ones that were installed in the space last time. One of the things that I noticed was the museum gel was oozing down the acrylic pipes which got me worried that the bond between the Drawing Cell and pipe was weakened, but after a whole afternoon of working with them, I think they are fine.

In attaching the acrylic disc base, I think that the 6 cm diameter base is perfect for the Drawing Cells. They are individually much more stable, although not completely impervious to toppling over. I also realise that a fallen Drawing Cell also tends to have the connections between the pipe and discs slide and move away from centre. In any case, I finished about 100 Drawing Cells and I am quite happy with the way then look. I am starting to think about mounting the Drawing Cells that are not attached to the acrylic pipes with one of the 2 mm acrylic discs to raise them slightly above the ground. That should be easy enough to do and I have enough acrylic discs as I ended up ordering enough discs to cover all 249 Drawing Cells although only 211 Drawing Cells are attached to acrylic pipes.

I should be able to finish attaching the rest of the Drawing Cells to the acrylic disc base by the lunchtime tomorrow and I can start to pull off the blue sheets and begin laying out the final installation shape.

I wish I had managed to print out the photographs that I took during my last visit of the tentative arrangements of the Drawing Cells, but I managed to retrieve them on my iPad so I can use that as a guide for the starting point for the final installation.

July 29, 2017

I spent all morning and the early part of the afternoon attaching the acrylic disc base to the rest of the Drawing Cells which took me to about 12:30 pm. I started to remove the blue sheets from the gallery floor and began the provisional layout of the installation.

I did stop to have lunch with Kobayashi-san for about an hour. I tried to connect the Drawing Cells with the cracks and nodes in the floor. In the beginning, I tried to follow the original layout that I created last time. But as I proceeded with pulling away the blue sheets one by one, I used the original layout as a starting point but intuitively connected the drawings and the cracks. In the middle of the process, I took a break to see the progress of Kobayashi-san’s work as well as make a brief stop to say hello to another artist, Guy, who has a space a bit more up the hill from Kobayashi-san’s location. Afterwards, I made a final push to remove all the blue sheets and get a provisional layout of the installation in place. I am certain that the layout is going to change a little bit over the next two days as I try and figure out the best way for people to manoeuvre in the space as well as the refine the relationship between the Daily Drawings.

While I was finishing up the provisional layout, I also began laying out the spacing for the frames that will hold a series of the Daily Drawings made while in Nakanojo/Sawatari. I had originally envisioned 30 drawings (10 for each wall), but then I realised the back wall was not as wide as the two side walls and I have enough frames (27 total) for the installation. The tasks that need to be done for that part of the installation is to prepare each of the frames for hanging with staples and fishing line. I also need to sequence a series of 27 Daily Drawings that I will bring on my final visit to Nakanojo which I have decided will be three weeks from this visit. I am planning to come here from August 21 – 23 to finish everything up.

July 30, 2017

One of the things that I forgot to mention from my studio work last night is that the museum gel is not a fixed substance i.e. it does not harden, so is subject to slow, imperceptible movements in the minutes scale, but once a day passes, you can see how the substance moves to level itself off. I noticed yesterday that a few of the acrylic bases seemed to be off centre, but I did not think that I attached them off centre, but I did not think much of it until this morning when I saw that once of the Drawing Cells that was attached just to the acrylic base looked tilted. I picked up the Drawing Cell and saw that the base disc moved off centre to compensate for the slant of the floor.

The other experiment that I did yesterday was to affix a piece of the museum gel to the bottom of one of the acrylic disc bases and then attached it to the concrete floor. Initially, the adhesion was not very stable and I took the wait and see approach. When I walked into the studio this morning, the acrylic pipe became detached from the acrylic disc base which was extremely difficult to remove. The disc and concrete floor was firmly attached with the museum gel, but the only problem with this fact was that the museum gel left a large stain on the concrete floor which could not be removed.

As a result, I will have to nix the museum gel as a means for attaching the pipes to the floor. It looks like I am going to have to do some research and find an adhesive, yet removable silicone based material to further secure the Drawing Cells to the floor.

I also did a bit of a walk around through the installation to get feel of how people might navigate through the space and also look for tight spots which might be susceptible to visitors bumping into the Drawing Cells. I also made a few adjustments to the arrangement of the Drawing Cells trying to create more relationships between drawings made on the same day of the week. I think the process of refining the relationships could go on for a long time, but since I have the time and I am hoping to use what I learn from this installation in future projects, then I am just going to keep making adjustments in the hopes of new discoveries.

The major task for the day was to prepare the frames for the Daily Drawings made in Nakanojo/Sawatari. I managed to finish preparing the frames by stapling fishing line to the back of the frame and tie a secure knot on the back. I also measured out the wall spacing and hung all 27 frames on the walls with a blank sheet of A5 paper on the wall and started taking documentation photographs.

I also confirmed the dates for my final residency at Nakanojo which will be three weeks from this residency. I do not think it will take more than two days, but I do want to be sure, so I booked two nights just in case.

These are the tasks that I foresee on my last visit.

Check on the durability of the Drawing Cells after three weeks
Insert the Daily Drawings into the frames.
Bring air duster to remove dirt from the frames
Remove the Post It tabs from all the Drawing Cells (may be done before I leave tomorrow)
Affix the Drawing Cells to the concrete floor
Sweep the floor
Set up some white/grey tape for Do Not Enter Areas
Clean the windows in the front and back of the gallery.
Sweep the entrance way
Take the remaining supplies back to Tokyo
Contact the Nakanojo staff to remove the desk, chair, stool, and garbage and store the ladder which was found in the basement

Kind of hard to believe that the end is very much in sight.

Okay back to the gallery for another couple hours, maybe some drawings even.

Back after dinner, and I went back up to the gallery and when through all the Drawing Cells and set them more exactly on the cracks and nodes. Also the shape of the three clusters changed a bit to open up the walkways. I took photographs of all the clusters and then was at a bit of a loss as to where to go next. I decided to continue pushing towards completing the installation and removed all the Post It tabs from the Drawing Cells and in the process mapped out the Drawing Cells which was a fortunate accident since it will allow me to draw connections between the drawings made over the last six months.

Tomorrow will be very low key. I am pretty tired after a long day and I do not anticipate doing much more tomorrow. More photo documentation, especially with the possibility of the sun coming out tomorrow.

July 31, 2017

I headed up to the gallery before heading to breakfast and as it was finally sunny for the first time in my visit this time, I took a bunch of photographs in the morning light which had some nice reflections onto the gallery walls.

After breakfast, a shower, and checking out, I came back to the gallery space to discover three of the Drawing Cells had toppled over. As it turns out the Museum Gel has its many positive points, but one of the downsides is the fact that it does not solidify, but rather slowly creeps along to levelness.

I pulled the three fallen Drawing Cells and placed them on the desk while trying to troubleshoot the issue. The floor of the gallery is definitely not level in all places and especially in the cracks and nodes. The ones that came falling down were probably placed on a non-level surface allowing the gel to creep on the bottom and top of the pipe. Also, it was the taller Drawing Cells that seem prone to toppling over, so I think it is a combination of those factors. In any case, I did an inspection of all the acrylic disc bases to see if any other pipes had moved significantly away from the centre and tried to move them slightly to a more visibly level surface. For my last visit, add to the list.

My mini-level
The acrylic bond solution (needs to be purchased from Tokyo Hands)

I made the repairs on the three fallen Drawing Cells and replaced them back into the installation and doing my best to find a level surface.

As I was uploading images onto Instagram, another one of the taller Drawing Cells near the back of the gallery fell over. I suspect it was not that the floor was not level, but the wind that toppled it over.

So here are important factors in keeping the Drawing Cells upright. Levelness of the floor, height of the acrylic pipe, and significant wind.

Not much else to do today, but I will basically hang out in the gallery and monitor the individual works for any additional problems.  As it turns out, seven Drawing Cells toppled over, but all by noon.  I readjusted their locations and listened to podcasts while staring at the installation to check for any leaning Drawing Cells.  Between noon and the time I left Sawatari Gallery around 3:30 pm, no additional Drawings Cells toppled over.  Looking forward to seeing the installation in three weeks to determine what kind of preventative measures I will need to take.

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