As an artist, my interest is in material and tactile engagement, intimacy, the relationships we have with objects and people, more specifically, in drawing’s capacity to embody these experiences. An interest in how we how we can see the invisible or render an unseen feeling tangible has led me in the past to work with medical researchers, archaeologists and costumes curators and conservators.
That this would be fruitful was based on an assumption that drawing can be a process of looking, noticing evaluating, empathising and of working out, in other words, drawing enables us to ‘see’. (we have already cited Ruskin’s idea that ‘sight is more important than drawing’).
This led me to question what this type of seeing might share with other research professionals that are required to look closely, examine and handle material objects. And how, though analogy, might forms of drawing be developed that transcribe, record and communicate these different material experiences.
Drawing can also be a form of touching. As Tony Godfrey writes:
‘Whenever two objects or two materials meet...evidence of their meeting is left behind. To examine such drawings is to excavate, to muse over activity in the past. They present us with the archaeology of acts of touching’.
From the drawn mark we can interpret gesture or touch and in this is read subjectivity of the drawer.
If we accept this, and it is reasonable to do so since the weight of a mark, its speed, pressure, direction can be gleaned from the drawing, it follows that an experiential encounter can be embodied in a drawing. So drawing can present us with a record of touching and given drawing is ultimately a medium of analogy, the type of ‘touching’ used in a drawing can mimic or echo a touch seen or felt in life.
So what do I get from drawing in other ‘terrains’?
|Drawing with syringe|
Some benefits are obvious, such as straightforward borrowing of materials or tools – drawing on litmus paper or the archival tissue used to store garments, drawing with a syringe.
|Learning to use ultrasound|
Then there is specific knowledge about a subject which can suggest how a subject might be depicted, for instance learning how to operate an ultrasound machine and how the image is derived from reflected sound waves informed the making of drawings which reflect light.
|Refelctive drawing of interior of garments made after spending time learning about ultrasound imaging|
|Drawing made on archival tissue then waxed|
|Scrutiny of historical garments|
|Patina Intimates, invisible drawing grease on paper|