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Lines of movement, points of stillness: drawing and the figuration of bodies

MacDonald, Juliet (2011) Lines of movement, points of stillness: drawing and the figuration of bodies. In: Bodies in Movement: Intersecting Discourses of Materiality in the Sciences and the Arts, 28-29 May 2011, University of Edinburgh. (Unpublished)

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This paper develops one aspect of my PhD thesis. The research project, which I briefly summarise, is an investigation into drawing as a process of enquiry, and a consideration of its figurative operations as knowledge-making. The primary method and object of this practice-based study is the manual/visual practice of ‘observational drawing’. The drawings conducted are descriptions of bodies and embodied experience, and the fluency of bodily action and sensory experience in the act of drawing is central to the investigation of corporeality that underpins the research. The thesis calls on Merleau-Ponty’s description of the chiasmic relation between seeing and being seen, and on feminist understandings of the volatility of matter.

Initially drawings were of still bodies – posed models or animal corpses – allowing a concentration on particularity and physiognomy but denying the shifts and changes that take place over time even in comparative stillness. Subsequent drawings attempted to figure moving bodies, responding to changes of position, to fleeting glimpses, to trajectories and perceived intentionality. My presentation includes a number of drawings, my own and those of other practitioners, to illustrate the difference between these two approaches to the drawing and perception of bodies.

I summarise the tendency within current art discourse to characterise drawing by its provisionality, and to regard the drawn mark as a direct means of making visible a gesture, an instant record of bodily movement. Drawing seems to offer an immediacy and fluidity to the figuration of bodies in movement. However, my research also addresses the inherited apparatus of my drawing practice, passed down through academic discourse. I will discus the way in which the tropes of hand and eye as human attributes of control and judgment continue to inhabit the practice of observational drawing and affect its knowledge outcomes.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: drawing corporeality movement bodies face materiality
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture > Creative Interdisciplinary Research Centre
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Juliet Macdonald
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2011 13:42
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 11:11


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