As I was away in France doing an artist residency until the end of October, my placement at Teesside Uni couldn't properly start till early November, and this first month has been all about finding my way around - lots of inductions to do in photography, printmaking, bookbinding, wood and metal working etc.
There are still a couple more inductions to go before Xmas break, but I've done enough now to begin some practical work. Below is the first thing I've made in fact - a tool for trimming 70mm film down to 60mm so I can spool it into rolls that fit medium format cameras. As objects go, it's not pretty... but it works! I've prepped 8 rolls of film to start with, just need to test expose and develop, see if the film stock is still OK and worth playing with somehow.
Before starting this AA2A placement, it really didn't occur to me that I might use it to do anything other than the project described in my application. But the inductions are introducing tools I've never had access to and, in some cases, never even heard of before - it's a bit like doing another foundation course, except that I'm much more interested and open to possibilites now than I remember being when I did my first one aged 18. Basically, I've barely begun but I'm having a really fantastic time!
Also this month I've spent as much time as possible in the university library, where there's a really interesting artist book collection. Whoever is responsible for acquisitions seems to have a particular thing for Georges Perec and other Oulipiens. I had heard of Oulipo before, but thought it an exclusively literary movement so hadn't really bothered to look into it. Finding a copy of the Oulipo Compendium and flicking through, I've discovered that there's a photography branch - Ouphopo - and other things, like this Raymond Queneau quote, describing the Oulipien as "a rat who builds the maze from which he sets out to escape," which pretty much sums up how I've been feeling about my lostness project!
The part of the artist book collection that I've started exploring is reference easily accessible off-the-shelf, but there's another bit locked away in a cabinet... I've met one of the librarians responsible for the collection and she's offered to open it for me. Just have to make an appointment.