Angela Eames/preface

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Seeing Drawing launch exhibition 2001:

Joining the Dots: Catalogue preface - Angela Eames

Prodding and probing

I am arguing in the last resort, in favour of the sinking of technique to a level of consciousness where it can confront man, for art as revealed truth, not as significant form, and technique as the instrument of its exposition. Roger Hilton - Night Letters

Many artists and designers will say that in order to be able to see one must draw, or that the doing of drawing enables seeing. Feeling, thinking, doing and seeing (what has been done as well as what is being done) are intrinsic and central to drawing. If one were to take a metre ruler, calibrated from 0 to 100 centimetres, 99.9 centimetres of that ruler could be considered as drawing and the remaining 0.1 centimetres as the moment when what has been done or the work, becomes finite. Drawing is the means of thinking visually, the to'ing and fro'ing of forming - the means through which one thinks, makes, breaks and then thinks and makes again until the end of the ruler is reached. It is the beginning of work and might sometimes be realised as the end or as a work in itself. As such it is as critical to the future as it has been in the past. When artists and designers embark on new work the reasons for doing so are various. Work in the main stems from previous work, often dissatisfaction with a piece, or the idea that it might be done differently. The stimuli for new work may come from other sources; everyday reflection, the want to find out what is there, the need to explore possibilities, the desire for play, even a need to dispel boredom. Those working in the design world might have commissions thrust upon them with the added constraints of time and economics. Although formally outcomes may appear visually different, the approach to work is consistent. Both artists and designers have something to do. This having something to do is usually followed by possible ideas as to how to do it and in turn the how to do it is governed by a sense of appropriateness which depends on what is being done. Within this working process chance, accident, strategy, formulation and the inevitable spanner of personal idiosyncrasy sit side by side. When entering the technological domain we discover that just as in the material world, there are ways of doing, or programs, which enable appropriate modes of working and there are those, which do not. Appropriateness of means and method remain as ever an issue. Visual practice is predicated on the fact that new technologies can and perhaps should be used to discover the undiscovered. These ten artists and designers have something in common - they advocate a spirit of adventure and each has an aim to make technologies work for them. In doing so, they raise issues pertinent to all areas of visual practice, technological development and ultimately drawing as the beginning of visual conjecture. What is new work that is inherently out of sight? How can we recognise that which has not yet been seen? As human beings we assimilate our sensory experiences, we act out a form of simulated existence as part of a complex survival strategy and we intuitively learn how to cope in the world. We deploy eye/hand/foot/brain in response to what could be called object-interference (life-forms, buildings, objects, still and moving). Exposure to different ways of seeing, or seeing differently, requires risk-taking. As the technology train hurtles on unabated, providing ever faster, ever cheaper and ever easier means of solving problems and producing visual imagery, artists and designers face the very real problem of whether to simply keep up with it or to put themselves in the driving seat. Does form follow function or form follow program? Creative people have no desire to strap themselves to the front of the technology train. They may wish to slow down, get off or at times to travel even faster but they would insist on having the choice of direction. Constraints are inevitable and challenging but acceptance of the computer simply as a more convenient tool encourages the notion that one makes work facilitated by technique alone. Artists have never had problems using, adapting or sometimes even inventing tools as and when the need occurs. The electronic realm is just another step along the path of curiosity and invention - but it is a step, which might allow us to engage with other aspects of space and time. The computer allows us another view of our world and new experiences but it is an experiential and experimental approach to work, an acceptance of the necessity of risk and failure and the subjugation of technique, which will allow those steps to go somewhere. The unexpected, the surprising and the seemingly impossible can be revealed through drawing. The making, placing and erasing of marks or moments of actuality can give form to the imagination, two, three and four dimensionally. Visual thought has led us to the electronic realm, which continues to discharge us with responsibility and solicit our attention. Drawing as visual thinking, unconstrained by means or method, is a means of prodding and probing, doing and undoing, glimpsing and finally seeing reality, if and when one were ever to reach the end of that ruler.

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