Project 3 – Drawing machines

Aim: Push the concept of marks as a tracery of movement to its logical conclusion by making marks incidental to your own movement.

Method: Find something which moves and attach a drawing medium to it so that it creates a drawing by itself. You might use a remote control car, a clock face, a door which is opened regularly. Develop this automatic drawings using source from from your sketchbook or simply by responding to what you find as you experiment. Not carefully what happens when youshift the drawing from automatically produced marks to considered ones.



Reflection : Drawing machines

Rebecca Horn more than showing and constructing her drawing machines, she is also a performer and a video and installation artist. Her work explores and experiment with almost all senses using sounds, textures, vision and even smell. Works such as ‘Pencil mask’ in 1972 and ‘Fingers Extensions’ in 1974 explore mark marking with tools that extends from the body, where the human act has no much control of the outcome artwork. Through experimenting ways of drawing with a variety of materials and constructing machines to do so, her work includes the performance of drawing concepts. I think Rebecca Horn shows certainty in her ideas, she shows the possibilities that leads to different levels of drawings. Maybe her work with ‘drawing machines’ intended  to explore the human ability of losing control of something they had so much control constructing but when in action it acts itself , and the results are to be contemplated and to be accepted. Another reason could be the fact that due to the ilness in her young age, she was unable to leave the hospital bed and felt very lonely. Drawing machines came from many ideas she had while there, uncapable of express herself using her body freely.  It resulted in creating extensions of her body to reach out what she couldn’t at the time. A way of connecting through that extensions. Her work although using machines is very emotional.

Trying to construct my own drawing machine took imagination, planning, trial and finally action. The most focused part of it is investigating my idea, looking for tools to construct it, put all the tools into place, test and get ready to experiment. The outcome of it was simply watch it, being suprised by the result, accept the outcome without interfering with it. I think my experiment was very basic and simple. It gave me just a little bit of insight in what Rebecca Horn does. I enjoyed reading about her work and exploring her method in my own way. I still like the feeling of my hands and fingers on the paper/canvas when I draw. I am not a technical person, I am not interested and not skilful at all in inventing or constructing machines. My joy comes from the organic, the mess, the feeling drawing and painting gives me in a more unplanned and natural way.


Project 4 – An emotional reponse

Aim: This project is in some ways the antithesis of the previous one. last time, you used an object to draw ‘for’ you; this time you will allow your own emotional responses to direct your physical mark-making.

Method: Take 10 pieces of card and give them to friends. Ask them to write down a characteristic of someone in a novel or newspaper article in the  first person. Ask them to choose something which might engender an emotional or physical response. Examples might be ‘I killed 15 women’ or ‘I won the lottery’ or ‘ I feel nervous at parties’.

Ask someone to sit for you as a model. Every 10 minutes ask them to read from one of the cards. If you don’t have access to a model, make a self portrait or simply imbue another object, chair perhaps – with these qualities.



Cards sentences:

  1. I am getting old and no one wants to marry me anymore
  2. Follow me if you are a good one!
  3. Who wants money?? I will give you a lot money!!!
  4. Don’t use your bedroom for work unless you are a prostitute
  5. I am going to have a baby!!
  6. I like to eat human flesh even though I know it is wrong
  7. I won the lottery today!!
  8. I killed my baby!!
  9. I am not afraid of death but I am in no hurry to die
  10. I turned myself into a fly and I can’t turn it back now

Reflection : An emotional response

I am usually very emotional when it comes to make art. What I draw, how I draw and the colours I use is a reflection of how I am feeling. This exercise I thought would be a  very natural thing to me. Sometimes, I would pick up a card and nothing would change the way I was drawing my self portrait. Sometimes, depending on what card I picked up, I really tried to feel the meaning of the sentence and it triggered in me, feelings and I wanted to express on my portrait. The first thing that came out when a feeling arised was to use my hands. It definetely expresses a lot of how the sentence affected me. I tried to respond with a facial  expressions as well , which changed many times during the exercise. I can easly emotionally respond my state of mind on my mark making. I let it flow, I let my hands take its course and the result I think could be quite interesting. I think my cards sayings did not have a big impact in me, except the ones: ‘ I eat human flesh and I killed my baby’. My emotional reaction when I am drawing can’t be predicted, it comes without a warning, feeling and emotions just appears when I least expected and it can be seen in some of my art. This project made me feel mechanical and was not natural as I read instructions before performing it. I couldn’t let it naturally flow because I knew how it supposed to be conducted. This project could be great if I could just send an emotional response I had in a few pieces of artwork I have done the last year. Drawings I did in the middle of the night, or anytime when I was feeling sad, angry or frustrated for any reason. I think the objective is the same but the result is more real.

Contextual focus point: Erade De Kooning 


Erased De Kooning – 1953 by Robert Rauschenberg

Looking at the piece online is tricky. I definetely cannot see the marks of the erased drawing and I am sure there are some. Nevertheless, it is a difficult piece to express  any feelings to be honest. After researching about Robert Rauschenberg’s  reason to Erase a De Kooning it then started to make more sense. First it is important to consider the time it happened: 1953. Abstract Expressionism came during a period of political instability in Europe and America was suffering culturally and economically.  Abstract Expressionism dealt with that time, depicting emotions, abstraction,experimentation, exploring the subconscious .Robert Rauschenberg was a painter and sculptor and in 1951 he started a series of monochromatic painting called : ‘white paintings’ – basically canvas completely covered in  white. Between 1952-1954 he worked on ‘Black paintings ‘ and then ‘red paintings’.  “Erased De Kooning” in my opinion was an extension of what he was creating at the time. Rauschenberg was a conceptual/experimental artist, his project was clearly explained to De Kooning who surprisingly agreed with it. Opposite that what might could sound an act of ‘vandalism’ or ‘an scandal’ at the time, Rauschenberg needed a piece from someone that  even if he erased , it would continue to be  a piece of art. The drawing De Kooning gave to Rauschenberg was done in charcoal, oil painting and pencil and it took him a month to erased everything. It could be said he really worked on it. I think this work was a collaboration art and what Robert Rauschenberg did was ahead of his time because today, art is accepted in all shapes, forms and concepts.

Project 2 : Experimenting with mark-making

Aim: This project continues the theme of focusing attention on your own physicality and opening up your method to new ways of moving

Method: Set up a reasonably large still life, for example two or three chairs piled together. Make yourself some drawing tools by attaching pencils or pieces of charcoal to the ends of bamboo cane or similar. Place a large sheet of paper on the floor and try to draw your subject using these super elongated pencils. You will have less controll but you may find that little movements you make have big results as they are magnified by the canes. This will lead to a very sensitive responsive mark. Even if you struggle to get an accurate representation of your subject, you will have a super accurate representation of your own struggle.


Reflection :  Experimenting with mark-making:

I was suprised with the fact that it was not a bad drawing. I used a broom stick with a distance of around 1.50m between where I was holding and the medium and yet I could capture the lines and my coordination wasn’t very affected by the method. I didn’t feel like I broke the relationship between my brain and the marks I was making. It was more  informative lines. In a way it is good not being able to add many detalis or being accurate in lines but in images as a whole. I like the simplicity of it and how I still managed to depicted the whole view I had from my set up large still life. I think laying the paper on the floor made things easier and I use my foot to hold the paper at some parts where I want to stretch some lines but the paper would wrinkle a bit. I used a very  fine paper I buy here in Malaysia, called  ‘Mah-jong’ paper. It is used to place the tiles of the game, similar to domino. It is cheap and the size is about 80cmx80cm, a great size to draw big scale drawing on the floor. I think the result of this project is good. If I had the chance, I would like to extend the distance between my hand the drawing medium, maybe draw from top of a ladder since I my coordination seemed to be not too affected by the distance of the broom stick. I can say that my experience in this project is losing control and I feels as if I was sending a message from my hands to a far end to deliver the movements I was doing.

Research Point: ‘The abstract Expressionists’

The abstract Expressionists use of gesture was caught up with notions of authenticity and even of prity of intent. The influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote in his article ‘Avant Garde and Kitch’ in 1939 about the good artist painting ’cause’ and the bad artist painting ‘effect’. He also tas about what he describes as ‘the inflections of the personal’ becoming a legitimate subject. For example, the artist Jackson Pollock talked about wanting to paint from his emotions, not to illustrate them. What is your response to these comments?

Clement Greenberg became an art critic in a very unique time for art when he published  Avant-Garde and Kitsch in 1939 for the Partisan press. He was living in America, New York when the world was under wars and issues and art had been influenced, as fascist war rolling over Europe,’culture’ had been appropriated by the totalitarian powers of the Soviet Union, Germany and Italy. Artists had to find ways in communicating with the public with a certain amount of freedom they could use to express themselves. The public was largely illiterate about art due to limitations imposed. Greenberg basically defined ‘Avant-Garde’ as a ‘superior consciousness’ associate with a minority of intellectuals who were able to understand and had the time to be trained in what  concepts of art was. Concepts which included experimentation, the medium acting itself, techniques that were formed, flatness and abstraction. He believed it would bring art value for a long term in  culture. In contrast ‘Kitsch” was the popular art, mass consumption, profitable activities associated with the proletariat, non intellectuals  who still had a thirst for some sort of a medium for culture but highly influenced by capitalism. Avant-Garde was purposeful  beauty  and Kitsch accidental beauty. 

For Avant-Garde public, Jackson Pollock technique and paintings were appreciated as it was not only about ‘splattering and dripping’ painting on canvas, he had total control of it. He had it purposely planned even if it was unconsciously done.   

Project 1 -Drawing blind

Aim: This project should make you very aware of how your brain works when you’re drawing –  by changing the sense that you’re translating into physical movement from sight to touch. As you will see, translating the visual processing of three dimensions into a physical movement sesigned to leave a trace on two dimensions, which in turn may give the illusion the three dimensions, is a hightly sophisticated process.

Method: Choose a smallish object you know well, preferably sometihng with a fairly distinctive shape. Position it on a table with a sketchpad next to it. Put your pencil in the middle of your sketchpad then close your eyes. Reach out for your object an feel it; as you do this, make a record of what you feel on your sketchpad with your pencil. Feel free to take a peek and reposition your pencil at any time, but do so as little as possible. Make several studies until you feel that you’ve arrived at something interesting.


Reflection :  Drawing blind 

The touch in this project completely replaced the lack of sight. I constantly felt every line, texture, shape and curves of the object. I tried in different scales and first with pencil and after with graffiti which gave me even a better understanding as I was drawing while feeling the object. More I drew, more I could record some details and texture. I like the results of lines and I think considering my eyes closed, the final drawings were quite close to the real object. I first drew a shell and after a pencil sharpener. I took this exercise a bit further and tried some self-portraits which I first observed myself in a mirror for a few minutes, then I closed my eyes and drew without taking much the pencil off the paper. I find the result really interesting. It really intrigued me working mostly from memory with the self-portrait and by touching the object. I think it worked well, I would try with different and more intricate objects but I couldn’t find anything else at home. The shell worked quite well but the drawing from the pencil sharpener is more interesting.