Decomposition: An abstract process exploring gesture.

Making a gestural drawing is about implying a form. This takes a kind of resolve – a willingness to let yourself be misunderstood, to come across as simple-minded or incapable of a greater degree of articulation. But to imply something rather than to state it explicitly has a power of its own, which should not be overlooked. This power is clear in the political realm – take Lee Atwater’s polling methods, for example. A partisan “pollster” would ask an undecided voter for his or her opinion of a candidate. After their response, the pollster would say something like, “Would you still see that candidate favorably if you learned he was a child molester?” In this usage, the lack of explicitness is precisely the mechanism by which the statement’s purpose is achieved. It leaves something to the imagination. If the implication is well-crafted, its effect will not be random, but will tend to point the perceiver in a particular direction. In art, the use of implication serves a loftier purpose. It guides the imagination to a set of possible forms or meanings, a mindset or feel, without demanding a fixed interpretation or static notion. In this respect, the implication or gestural drawing is – to my way of seeing the world – quite truthful to the nature of phenomena. That is, even if we believe that an object holds a fixed nature within itself, we may never experience it as such. An object must always experienced in a particular circumstance of observation – from a certain angle, etc. So the relationship between the component manifestations of an object to the object itself is at best additive. But since the complete picture would be an infinite sum, no particular manifestation is resolutely indicative of the whole. In this sense, all representation must be a form of implication – an illusion to the universal through a selection of the particular. There is a distinct pleasure in viewing a gestural drawing that the most finely-polished painting cannot entirely evoke. Having the gaps filled for you can be quite disappointing. In a narrative such as The Da Vinci Code, the promise of a mind-blowing conspiracy is far more interesting than the conspiracy itself. Before the answer is revealed, the viewer imagines a great revelation that is too great to really imagine. Perhaps the goal of drawing should be to leave the viewer in that suspended state before the final revelation can cause its inevitable disappointment. With this in mind, I present my digital piece for this week…

Drawing Gesture Decomposition software:

Gesture Decomposition Software from PJH on Vimeo.

The artist should select a drawing duration (in seconds) and playback interval (in frames) before running the sketch. The artist must draw continuously for the entire duration. After the drawing period, the playback loop will begin. In the first iteration of the loop, the ends of each successive line segment will be formed by recorded positions that are one playback interval apart. In each iteration of the playback loop, the interval is decremented by one. In the final iteration, the playback will exactly reproduce the original drawing. As the playback interval decreases, the drawing gains definition and (in the case of the sample drawing provided above) looks increasingly like a wine glass.

Source code.

The Draw String: In an earlier version of this text, I had planned to discuss the notion of how the drawing utensil shapes the representation. I went in a different direction, but below I’ve decided to include my drawings for that project anyway.


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