Drawing Machines, week 2

Another catch-up post. Week 2’s assignment for Drawing Machines was as follows:

  1. Make 5 quick studies that explore gesture
  2. Create a digital piece that explores gesture
  3. Describe an abstract process that explores gesture

1. Gesture studies

More kitten portraits, of course.

Gesture drawing: Interrobang washing
Interrobang washing a difficult spot.

Gesture drawing: Ampersand hunching
Ampersand hunching, watching his brother do something more interesting but harder to draw.

Gesture drawing: Ampersand as Rhinoceros
Ampersand as a rhinoceros.

As I explained on Flickr,

Kittens are natural subjects for gesture drawings, as they tend not to hold a pose for more than a few seconds, except when they’re sleeping.

Today, Interrobang was fidgeting around a lot, scratching (yes, they have fleas; we are working on it), while Ampersand was stalking about moodily. I made more drawings of Interrobang than of Ampersand, but most of them came out looking like hairballs, so you don’t see them here.

2. Digital exploration of gesture

I didn’t want to be limited by my shitty command of Processing, nor did I want to pull an all-nighter programming something stupid for a class I was hoping to drop, so I chose to make my “digital” sketches in an analog way, using sesame seeds—sense 3, according to Merriam-Webster, “of, relating to, or using calculation . . . by discrete units.” Here’s my favorite of those sketches; click the image to see the other three, with some blather about process, on Flickr.

Digital Sesame: poured and raked

3. Description of abstract process exploring gesture

Your requisite bullshit for the week:

Abstract gesture

There are many meditative flow moments for me in baking cakes, and one of them is beating things into a batter with a mixer. As you’re watching the beater or beaters draw in a liquid, the pattern forms and reforms continuously. You can’t see the beater, the drawing tool, because it’s moving too fast, but you can see the path it makes—sort of. As fast as your eyes report it to your brain, the shape of the substance has changed. One part of the surface might remain unchanged for a few seconds longer than another, but eventually the movement reaches it, too, and sucks it in.

It’s mesmerizing, which is why it’s so easy to overbeat something—turn whipped cream into butter, beat egg whites into stiff instead of soft peaks, work the flour so much that the gluten stretches out and the cake becomes chewy instead of crumby. And then when you stop the beater, lifting the tool from the batter ruins the line of the pattern, breaking the smooth swirl you’ve spent all this time drawing.

The readings for this week were mostly incomprehensible, and they literally put me to sleep more than once. Insomniacs, please consider a dose of Avis or Michael Newman.

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