Thursday, January 21, 2010

drawing conclusions

drawing is very, very central to the way i work because it can be blown up, taken apart, given to another person to execute, put in a computer, redrawn as if the computer thought of your drawing in the first place, shrunk back down to a tiny sketch, turned into a digital can just keep on pushing it.

it's like this infinite machine, which is very hard to do with almost anything else, even with a painting. a painting becomes a very static fixed thing, but a drawing -- you can make it 3-dimensional, you can make it flat, you can turn it into a sphere, you can keep pushing and pushing and pushing it because all it is is information. it's just a bunch of marks once you really understand that. you're really just an arm. the drawing's already been made -- you're just transcribing it.
the above quote is from art:21 (which i highly recommend if you're at all interested in contemporary art - and even if you're not), season 3's episode about the theme of structure in [contemporary] artists' work. in this instance it is matthew ritchie speaking about his installations/drawings. wonderful.

one of my working definitions for drawing, and art in general, is that it is "a machine for generating meaning". that presupposes an ability (or opportunity?) to translate something across media, bearing in mind, of course, that the content and reception of that work/ image/ text will shift as you do so. it also suggests that the work is propositional, malleable, notational and provisional. which means that i can't be so attached to the work that i can't or won't explore other options for how it is presented. and that means remaining open to possibility.


Anonymous said...


Did I ever show you this link?

readers and contributors needed..


techne said...

what do you mean, "readers and contributors needed"?

Jack said...

A machine, eh?
Interesting implications for Borgmann's critique of technology in social application...
Is the word "machine" used in a way that's distinct from "tool"? I.e., is the "machine" working in some way independent of the artist that would be impossible for a "tool"?

techne said...

hmmm. well, the etymology of "machine" (as far as is concerned) has the root *magh meaning "to be able, to have power" and *maghana, or "to enable". further, the root words of "technology" involve the ideas of making, weaving, building - and that root meaning seems to straddle numerous cultures.

i did a quick drive-by of borgmann's stuff and i find him interesting, especially his tension between technology and religion. personally, i find technology's instrumentality interesting, and the way it expresses a user's morality. which is why i enjoy mcluhan, postman, ong, et al.

that being said, i'm not sure about the difference between machine, tool, device, instrument, etc., but i do think that if the artist has built his device well, it will have a good degree of effectiveness in generating meaning. it must, in fact can't help but, operate independent of the artist. if the work needs explaining, there's something missing - though the question is whether it is the artist's fault or the viewer/ reader's responsibility.