[#2] About

Open the Gates, 2017-18

[…] is an online publication and peer reviewed platform for creative research realised in live, digital formats. For this second issue of […] the editors, Bettina Malcomess, Pervaiz Khan made an open call for creative work across a range of disciplines that responds to another call: open the gates. The digital editor, Tegan Bristow, has managed the overall realisation of the web design with the assistance of MA research candidates at the Wits School of Arts, Alana Blignaut and Andrea Hayes, alongside Riaan Pietersen an independent backend developer.

The theme, Open the Gates suggests an actual and metaphorical opening of new possibilities, new assemblages and relations within sites of knowledge production. The call asked for projects that re-imagine and re-think the manifestation of creative research within the framework of an online journal. Ellipses foregrounds questions of the creative act and the modes of representation and remediation necessary and possible in the spaces of contemporary knowledge production online.  Tangential to this thematic are questions of how creative research is measured, conceived and produced within the academy. An opening of the institutional gates and the boundaries of disciplines opens possibilities for the emergence of new and multiple languages, forms and modes of presentation.

This second edition of […] has focused on the realisation of original creative research work within the digital platform, as well as the translation of existing work into digital formats. A number of proposals were received from a range of artistic and academic practitioners and researchers, from which a selection of 6 projects was made.

The editorial process has involved a sustained conversation across technical, theoretical and artistic languages in order to arrive at a unique structure for each project. For existing work, the digital realisation has meant much more than documentation of an existing piece (be it performative, narrative or archival work) but a thinking that embeds the project’s form within the multiple logics of the online platform. The projects span work engaging directly with the education system and the archive as forms of embodied knowledge. Other works explore the possibilities of digital affect and audience.

Sumeya Gasa, Shameelah Khan and Dylan Valley’s Songs At The Gates looks at the after effects of the 2015/16 protests on students. It is the beginnings of a polyphonic repository providing an online space for ongoing reflection. This project sits in conversation with Thuli Gamedze’s Rethinking Education as Conversation, a digital iteration of the artist and writer’s physical mind mapping works, now unfolding on a digital wall, to ask urgent questions about the decolonisation of the higher education system. Jurgen Meekel’s Palinopsia /After Image interrogates presence and absence through the appearance and gradual disappearance of death mask-like images. This along with other pieces bear out the particularity of digital epistemologies and ontologies within the twin conditions of permanence and ephemerality. Here, Felix Kawitzky and Marianne Thesen Law’s Portal: the letters presents an archive for a disappearance, somewhere between a fiction and research project, the work brings together several collaborators who playfully stage the points at which the language of research as ‘search’ break down. Jacaranda Time: Diagrams of Collaboration, a collaboration between Cameron Harris, Mwenya Kabwe, Sonja Radebe and Tegan Bristow, also reflects the complexities of the translation of a live performance project into an interactive online archive. Jonathan Kane’s 60+: Queer Old Joburg works with material from the Gay and Lesbian Archive to present a kind of digital derive in a daring non-linear format that collapses the timeline, the collection, the interview and the map.

Each of these projects search for a language with which to manifest creative research by practicing a mode of what Irit Rogof terms ’embodied criticality’: ‘a state of duality … from which one cannot exit or gain a critical distance … the point of criticality is not to find an answer but rather to access a different mode of inhabitation … ‘. Embodied Criticality is thus compared by Rogof to a form of smuggling, of being both inside and outside. As part of this continual questioning of the place and value of creative research within the academy […] has, with the permission of peer reviewers (some of whom have chosen to remain anonymous) published peer reviews alongside projects. The replies of makers to peer reviews will in some cases also be visible, making transparent the normally opaque workings of academic processes of the valuation of creative research.

Ellipses edition II speaks to the exciting potential to rethink disciplinary boundaries within the arts, but also between arts and sciences. It attempts to explore and cross the divide between the physical and material space of artistic, musical and performative practices, critical theory and digital dissemination.

Editors: Bettina Malcomess, Pervaiz Khan and Tegan Bristow