10 Diary Entries [2010-12] (2013)

Simon Granell

About this exposition

This work is an exploration into a personal use of spoken language though a predefined process intended to mirror that of my painting practice. A similar process of self-imposed limitation is applied with the aim of suggesting both an autobiographical residue of my own thinking, and open up a potential dialogue for the reader. A series of ten quotations taken from a painting diary are paired with words and punctuation from a series of books that I own. This process has been repeated until all ten quotations have been paired, one word and punctuation mark at a time, creating lists of footnotes, the suggestion being that language has been acquired in this manner. The relationship between word and associated footnote becomes the source of play, frustration or familiarity. The intention is to demonstrate that this deterministic process far from being reductive in its effect, has resulted in the words being read either as part of a whole or reintegrated and reoriented into something new through a process of appropriation rather that engenderment. The hope is that this procedural limitation can act as a trigger for the reader to resequence and reconfigure the references through association and connection that might say something about them in terms of age, taste and perhaps even prejudice. While painting is the subject of the quotations, the implication is that this is constructed by material from another source. This has a distancing effect, which I hope has drawn some parallels with the process of making a painting itself. The footnotes have become detached for the quotations and are free to be re-cited, and act less to affirm or underline and more of leave a trace.
typeresearch exposition
last modified18/06/2013
share statusprivate
affiliationThe Arts University Bournemouth
licenseAll rights reserved
published inJournal for Artistic Research
portal issue3.

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45884 Jan 07 - Oct 08 Simon Granell Jan 07 - Oct 08 All rights reserved
45883 Jan 07 - Oct 08 Simon Granell Jan 07 - Oct 08 All rights reserved
45882 SimonGranell1 Simon Granell All rights reserved
45880 SimonGranell1 Simon Granell All rights reserved
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44944 Robot 1 Simon Granell Robot 1 All rights reserved
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44938 Bournemouth1 Simon Granell Bournemouth1 All rights reserved
44913 Jan 07 - Oct 08 Simon Granell Jan 07 - Oct 08 All rights reserved
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44908 100 x 100 (detail) copy Simon Granell Nov 07 - May 09 (detail) All rights reserved
44906 100 x 100 (detail) copy Simon Granell Nov 07 - May 09 (detail) All rights reserved
44904 100 x 100 (detail) copy simon granell Nov 07 - May 09 (detail) All rights reserved
44902 Sgranell Simon Granell Jan 07 - Oct 08 All rights reserved
44675 text template sgranellp1 All rights reserved
26268 pages template Simon Granell All rights reserved
26263 Untitled-1 Simon Granell All rights reserved
26247 Research background Simon Granell All rights reserved

comments: 4 (last entry by Erik Andersson - 18/06/2013 at 23:12)
Julie Harboe 18/06/2013 at 17:59

The contribution seems to address issues connected to the author’s practice of painting and delivers insight into the use of footnotes/references.


Referencing is part of the academic system and there is a need to reflect the characteristics and qualities of writing footnotes as part of the authoritative framing of knowledge production. In a first year art history course on scientific writing many decades ago we were told that there should be a minimum of 4 footnotes pro page in an article. Then the researcher could be sure that he/she would have a sound basis. Such nonsensical formalism is quite powerful and scientific texts without the footnotes to help establishing credibility are rare. References are handled different in the various disciplines, however as art and cultural historians dominate art theory in the art schools this form of referencing also seems to be adapted in artistic research and this invariably reflects on the context. Granell’s contribution clearly refers to the humanities’ footnote tradition.


Granell’s contribution is interesting because it makes something else happen between the texts (diary quotations) and related set of references. The latter may look like references, but they are not in the conventional sense. The connection between word or quotation and the references is not used in the same way as in the academic interaction. On the 10 pages we have a short text where each word and sign has been ascribed a “twin” in a book. The 10 text fragments (on each their page) have been connected to a number of books – the same number of books as the number of words, commas and punctuation marks. The longer the quotation, the more references. In the academic context the reference should secure and clarify the usage/choice of a given argument or information. Here, though the structure looks somewhat the same, it has both been swapped around (the footnotes are now “headnotes”) and all the little numbers next to the words “buzz” around disturbing the concentration of the relatively short text fragments. So something else happens, a new image and relation between quote and references is established.


In the layout each individual word reaches out to a reference, which – like the quotations – is also being read as part of an entity. The references function like choir of voices answering back to the quote. This represents a slight shift in the usual structure and it only makes real sense in this context, when constructed by a person who is serious about a statement, but not entangled or inhibited by the need to fulfill a certain convention or deliver credibility to a specific argument. The contribution functions as an independent interrogation into the system. On the other hand the material itself – the quotes and the references – are somewhat quiet or mainstream, this weakens expression.


The “issue” of footnotes and reference systems and paratextuality is relevant to all academic disciplines, as we are all trying to find a foothold in the data tsunami. Particularly in the arts and artistic research we are faced with the danger of too readily being swept along by academic conventions in order to satisfy external demands for standards rather than focus on the (more raw?) interaction of contents. Footnotes come in handy for a hookup, but they may actually also stand in the way of developing new modes of argumentation. This contribution is (implicitly?) an analysis that lets us see the construction from at a slightly different angle. The strength of this work is creating an aesthetic, structured but aleatoric (the titles are gathered according to the position of the books on the artists’ bookshelves) interaction between words/text and references (though it is interesting to see that some “difficult” words need their specific books).


Reflection on the “outsourcing” of the painting process has led Granell to this composition. The quotes from his diaries and the choice of books from his shelves are however slightly generic. It may be that any other “content” would have hidden the idea and have distracted us too much, but this may also be a question of temper.


The contribution is a form of art research, as it reaches beyond an art practice. It does not give the impression of being the result of a huge task. It may come closer to a statement in the context of research, part of a daily routine, than the actual research as a journey of (fierce) invention.


Reading Simon Granell’s 10 Diary entries initially made me feel like being invited to a seminar on Painting at Bletchley Park (the place for code breaking) led by Nicolson Baker (the author of The Mezzanine, a novel which also extends the usage of the footnote). Clicking and scrolling through contribution also made me impatient because the references were somehow too easy for me to associate with. I know of or have read too many of the books in the footnotes. Looking for meaning one is whisked back and forth between works of fiction by European (mainly male) authors and references to eastern and some western philosophy and a series of interesting books and reflections on art, performance and materiality.


The lack of real surprises made me search for some underlying current or element, which would contradict this straightforward profile. Still, I also realized how eager I was to play the game of going back and forth between the entries and the references looking for resonances between the authors, differentiations between the entries. Checking which books have gotten references to the full stops, which words would be difficult to find in books – and all the time wondering why I was doing this. Did I do it because of a sense of duty, or because it was interesting to play along? Was the high number of books of fiction and poetry decisive in attracting my attention to the game?


What would these references mean to students, who had not read Hughes and Platt, who are not familiar with “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” as a 70ies phenomenon? And how engaged is Granell in these references when they are just placed according to chance?


Manipulating the use of referencing is interesting and necessary. Footnotes are usually there to “distribute” responsibility and credibility into the academic peer-reviewed system. Like the buttresses of the gothic cathedral they take the pressure of the walls we are building, but they may also limit the construction. As this response implies Granell has set up an interesting mirror with his transparent design.


As a response to the practice of painting the contribution may be less efficient. Whereas the references can only imply a wild ocean of words behind a bulwark of titles one must assume that the end result of a painting process – as Granell shows in the appendix – still functions more directly at least in the analogue version.


It remains to be discussed if the contribution needed the online context. In order to review I took screenshots and printed them out (!). However, it seems clear that JAR is the right place for the work. It is a pleasant surprise to see how the contribution has improved decisively with reworking and that JAR’s framing facilitates such statements.


Jens Badura 18/06/2013 at 23:04

The exposition deals with the self-investigation of the sources that impacts on the creative process of the artist: through the exploration of his diary (that is supposed to represent a certain state of attention and status quo in the artistic process) selected diary-entries are connected to a complex system of inspiring sources – not only to realize an autobiographical research on the proper reference system but also as a strategy to question the problematic assumptions of the current debate on intellectual property through the exploration of the personal situation as a creator.


The approach could be understood as a concrete artistic proposition to take some claims of transtextuality for serious, to challenge it aesthetically and to interpret the own work as reflection of a complex cultural „atmosphere“ – through a combination of autobiographical self-investigation with a critical statement on the contemporary discussion on authorship etc.


More difficult is the concept of the exposition itself since it remains rather schematic and repetitive. Although the diary-model requires per se a certain repetitive structure, one could a imagine a more subtle and complex way to present the network of (contingent) thought- and creativity constitutive influences: this could be done for example through another layer of connection between the cited sources and, mainly also on a visual level that would allow to experience the dynamics of interference between the textual level and the artistic work.


Furthermore the exhibition might include other forms of articulation and investigation than only the word-by-word-connection between the diary entries and the sources. One could imagine a kind of “opening” of the related sourced towards a certain symbolic/aesthetic universe that offers new paths to investigate the author’s phantasmatic playground. This also could help to situate a bit more precisely the references given: by doing so the diary entries would be the “door” into an imaginary space that is not only indicated formally but becomes aesthetically accessible to the visitor.

Jan Svenungsson 18/06/2013 at 23:08

Below is a shortened and very slightly edited version of my initial comment on Simon Granell’s project. I have now had the opportunity to look at the project again, in its reworked form. The main difference is that the original brief introductory text has been replaced with a longer and more wide-ranging text. I rather enjoy reading this text and find it informative and interesting. It makes me want to see Granell’s paintings (of which I have no knowledge at all). Regarding my original task of assessing whether Granells project “10 Diary Entries (2010-12)” fulfill criteria to make it a worthwhile project of Artistic Research, I stand by my initial response, outlined below.


In my opinion, if Artistic Research is going to make any sense over time as an intellectual discipline and as a companion and dialogue partner to “free” art making, then one has to fight the tendency to make it into a meaningless free-for-all synonym for – art making.



In my opinion the submitted project does not fulfill criteria necessary to make it acceptable as a project of research. Any workable definition of “research” must include an ambition to produce some form of “new knowledge” which can be of use for others. New knowledge which can be shared.


“Ten Diary Entries1 [2010 - 2012]“ does not contain or produce any form of knowledge beyond the rather banal assertion that words are indeed not unique to one piece of text, but will reappear in other texts. This knowledge cannot be termed new.


In contrast to a project of research, or Artistic Research, a project of art production can make use of a deliberately dead-pan or even “dumb” attitude in order to achieve an effect on the viewer. It can even be a very effective strategy. In my own artistic work, I often use such methods. The great difference is, that a project of art production does not come with a responsibility to contain, in itself, some form of “new knowledge”. It can – indeed should – act as a provocation or a stimulant for the viewer to take care of this process him/herself.


To me, Simon Granell’s “Ten Diary Entries [2010 - 2012]” is a typical example of art production, and should be judged as such. It has an obvious aesthetic and conceptual value, which I enjoy. It makes you think, which is what art should do. However, I have been asked to judge its merit as a project of research, which means looking at the quality of (new) thinking which is proposed within the work – and that’s were we go wrong.


I do not accept the view that a project of art production and a project of artistic research are necessarily interchangeable. One project can indeed be relevant to both categories, but there is no guarantee for this.


If there is no correspondence between so-called Artistic Research and regular academic criteria for the conduct of research, then consequently there is no distinction between “traditional” forms of art-making and art-making going under the name of Artistic Research. The procedure is just one more of contemporary art’s myriad forms of ready-made practices and fictional word games. In “traditional” forms of art-making (i.e. all art making which doesn’t claim to be Artistic Research) there already exist a huge number of research related strategies, applied at the whim of the artist and not in order to confirm to pseudo-academic peer-review processes.


To me, Simon Granell’s project is one of art production. I have not been asked to assess it’s artistic qualities.
The project does not fit into any reasonable, self-aware definition of “Artistic Research” that I can agree with, for lack of ambition to produce new, shareable, knowledge.

Erik Andersson 18/06/2013 at 23:12

Final reflections on

Simon Granell – “10 Diary Entries [2010-12]” - 2013


I think Granell’s exposition is an interesting autobiographical piece. What makes the piece interesting is the choice of the rigid academic protocol for references, and then using it to produce a cascading exposé of the intellectual universe of himself as a painter. The almost physical presence of his private library brings out the smell of book-dust and the weight of the volumes. It also becomes a discursive portrait of the cultural heritage of those of us born in the 1960s. There is a certain snobbish flavour about the reference lists, since it also signals how very erudite and open-minded Mr Granell is, but that signal/flavour is not necessarily a bad thing.


The diary quotes as such are quite nice, swinging from searching thoughts on the aim of artistic struggle, to sweeping philosophical declarations. I take it as a manifestation of honesty that Granell doesn’t censor himself but let all the varieties of reflections that may develop or pop up in the studio be represented in the diary quotes.


I think the internet design of the exposition is good, simple, pedagogical and also serves the artistic dimension well. The non-linear chronological order of the diary entries is mysterious, however. One wonders why this particular order has been chosen.


Granell’s introductory text is instructive and thoughtful, and helps us understand how he arrived at this particular piece, its format and layout. A general warning to future artistic researchers (or artists) might perhaps be drawn from Granell’s use of the Jullien quote: Never declare what the audience will experience, because the experience will always be richer than your attempt to describe it. For I really think the piece is a rich experience well worth engaging in on its own merits. It is almost as if the appendix (one of Granell’s paintings) is diminishing the effect of the piece by tying my experience and thoughts to one specific instance of material colour. But then again, this is artistic research, and the appendix establishes a productive link to the painting process that the piece originates from, and points back to.

Gothenburg, 10 June 2013

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