Drawing Machines, week 1

Doing some catch-up documentation, here. I was finally allowed to replace this class with Mashups on Monday, but I thought I might as well post my work from the first month, since, you know, I did it and all.

The assignments for week 1 were,

  1. Make 3 drawings that explore line & contour according the instructions given in the Nicolaides reading.
  2. Photograph an image that explores line & contour.
  3. Describe an abstract process that explores line & contour.

1. Contour Drawings, sort of

First, a drawing that doesn’t look like anything at all:
Contour drawing: bike helmet, chain, and lock
It’s a blind contour drawing of my bike chain and lock, curled up inside my helmet. The great thing about blind contour drawing is that the more it ends up looking like a dog’s breakfast, the more certain you can be that you didn’t cheat.

You should be able to tell what this is.
Contour drawing: hand

And here’s a gesture drawing of one of my kittens, Ampersand, fidgeting:
Gesture drawing: Ampersand fidgeting
The instructions for gesture drawing came right after those for contour drawing, and our assignment said to “explore line & contour,” which I thought encompassed both. Didn’t realize we were supposed to do three blind contour drawings. Anyway, kittens are cute.

2. Photograph exploring line & contour

Geometric Composition with Interrobang
I sewed some cat beds, and while I was planning out the construction, my other kitten, Interrobang, came over to investigate. I didn’t take this photo for the class, but I thought it matched the assignment pretty well.

3. Abstract process exploring line & contour

Our reading for the first week included Walter Benjamin’s “Painting, or Signs and Marks” (from Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913–1926), which read as if Benjamin not only had never painted or drawn anything in his life, but also had never seen any such phenomena. I’m not a big fan of Benjamin, as you may recall, if you’ve been following along. It was bullshit, and it annoyed me, but I tried to read it with an open mind; at least there was some chance of comprehending it, as was not the case with the reading from Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, also assigned for that week. But reading Klee’s sketchbook was like looking at someone else’s presentation slides—if you’re doing it right, the slides probably won’t be self-explanatory.

The following was my attempt at a reasonably earnest response to the reading.

If you want to get really abstract, the act of reading can be said to explore line and contour. We follow a line of thought (or try to, as when reading Walter Benjamin). Sometimes it leads into another line, adding to the overall impression, the contour of the idea being expressed. Other times it winds inward and fades out, like the line you draw when following a crease that gradually loses depth—a fold in the palm of your hand, for instance. The idea peters out, and you are left in the middle, unsure of how it relates to the whole. At one end the idea is attached; at the other, it floats free—though it’s still contained within the external contour, the outline, of the idea.

Your understanding of the text is like your understanding of this drawing. You can see at a glance that it is meant to be a hand, though if you look at any smaller portion of the drawing, the contours may not line up and lead to one another in the way your brain is used to making sense of them.

Tagged in Flickr with “bullshit.”

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