About the Project

The project seeks to examine relationships between investigative procedures in sciences of conservation, archaeology and medicine and the experimental tools and ideas of Art. It centres on the exploratory and analytical activity of drawing, where overlapping concerns can be found, specifically in the researcher’s shared engagement with fugitive or delicate material. The project responds to recent concerns voiced over the introspective character of much contemporary drawing research (Garner 2008) and its interdisciplinary approach falls in stark opposition to the conventional understanding of drawing as a secretive, private, studio-centred dialogue between artist and page. Rather than simply asking that increasingly hackneyed question: “what is drawing?”, it interrogates the activities of researchers who share values with a particular form of studio practice (one concerned with damage, contact, delicacy, sensitivity, traces) to ask “what might drawing share?”. The development of forms of documentation which are rare, yet necessary, to enable critical debate (through raising awareness of studio decision-making in relation to the processes of other fields), aims to test a transferable model for cross-discipline knowledge exchange.

Garner, S. 'Towards a Critical Discourse in Drawing Research' in S. Garner (ed.) Writing On Drawing: Essays on Drawing Practice and Research, Bristol: Intellect, 2008, pp 15- 26.

Research Questions:

How might technologies, protocol, methods of handling borrowed from these scientific disciplines be translated into studio processes to result in new and innovative methods of drawing to articulate ideas of the delicate?

Can these methods and resultant images make visible otherwise hidden interdisciplinary connections?

Can this approach to studio practice be documented in such a way to develop and communicate a transferable model for interdisciplinary studio practice?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Murmuring after Hooke...

This new direction of the work stemmed from a desire to interrogate scale - it is scale that made the Patina works so particularly effective - and intricacy.

Returning to notes gathered in the medical case study visits, I began to reflect more closely on the processes of magnification, of microscopy to make the invisible visble.

This image draws on several sources :

  • Robert Hooke's Micrographia (1665) , scrutinising his images- how has he depicted the invisible/ minute?

ultrasound technology - images that depict depth in single layered slices, images resulting from hazy horzontal lines

archaeological scrunity - sytematic recording of detail

Impressed by Hooke's detail , and rendering of the minute, enlarging it via drawing to a visible level, I wante to take this further, to enlarge it behond the just visible, to a much more dominat scale. The image is worked in pencil - the tool of scietific note taking in the days before computers and still used in archaeological records. However, unlike the records of Hooke, my intention was not to render an visually 'realistic'record of the object; rather I wanted the image to unpick and explore the processes of image making in relation to a historical tradition of drawing and micrography. The idea was to build up an images as if it is in slices, acknowledgeing different depths and densities of layers - a depiction of multiple layers at one -like scanning electron micrograph technology, multple parts are built up to cohere to a 3d whole. The marks used are a uniform dash - akin to Hooke's marks and also the bads of ultrasound. However, unlike ultra sound images , the lines are not only horizontal - different directions denote different depths therefore the image is able to represent multiple'depths' in a single image ( unlike ultrasound). The drawing was made over a period of 4 days, sytematically marking out parts - laboured process which reflects a similar time needed to prepare certain material for viewing under a scanning electron microscope. The intended effect was to mimic the viewing process of microscopic viewing - from a distance it coheres into a believeable whole but as one gets closer it breaks down into its constiuent parts - much in the same way material presented on prepared slides does under increasing magnification of the microscope.

I found it interesting to observe that towards the end of the making process, when the projection was less needed, this multilayered focusing became a crucial part of making the drawing- would need to beable to view both the part and whole at once so found myself repeatedly shifting between two levels of focus. The process was also a physical one - as I repeatedly moved back and forward, my body and retina effectively became mimetic of the microscope.

In some ways I think there is an interesting dialogie here withthe arguments put forward by Hockney in his Secret Knowledge (2001) . In this thesis Hockney explores the use of drawing devices and optics by old masters. For him the camera lucida and optical devices were not about deskilling, they were a tool to enable greater acuracy at greater speeds. My use of optics, however, does nethier! The work strives neither for an 'accurate' or 'realistic' visual representation, or speed - it is necessarily laborously time consuming.

On reflection , then, it would seem that there is indeed potential here to explore and unravel processes of medical imaging in realtion to drawing practice and a historical tradition of drawing practice.

Where now? two thoughts - firstly - what happens when enlargement processes are reversed - made so somall that we really have to look and scrutinise with the naked eye - pushing the limits of visiblity ? can projections be made backwards? secondly - silverpoint . A drawing material associated with delicacy and particularly fine lines, intricate scale - what would happen if it was useon this large scale? I am especially drawn to this ideas given the uses of silver in both scanning micrography and imaging, and also early microphotographs. Moverover, it will fade and tarnish over time - a fleeting and ephemeral image.

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