A group from Gorwelion came into the gallery today. They looked at the exhibition and then participated in the Energy Gift Exchange, using each other as exchange partners. This group immediately identified with the movement and the emotional content of the exhibited work.
Some members of the group were hesitant to draw at first but by the end of the session everyone had participated. Comments on the experience included observations on how the process of drawing with the hand in the camera placed the group members in the present moment, which this group agreed is a preferable but difficult place to attain. They felt this was probably because the work required intense focus. It was noted how it ‘stopped you thinking’. This is perhaps an outcome of the right-brain shift, away from the language centred left-brain.
We also discussed alternative methods of drawing without either paper or technology – just by looking at the subject and tracing the observed movements onto the palm of the hand, or another surface, to make invisible drawings. This drew my attention to the central importance of the process, the embodied act of drawing, and made me reconsider the place of the physical outcome in terms of making a drawing, which then exists in its own right as an object.
I facilitate art workshops in ways that aims to immerse participants fully in a creative process; and I propose that an artwork of worth results from such an engagement. The quality of that artwork – whether it works or not in aesthetic terms, depends on the depth and quality of each participant’s engagement throughout the process as much as it rests with their skill with visual media. Furthermore, skill levels are developed and learnt during this engagement. This links creative processes intimately with learning processes. Drawings are complex combinations of expression, skill and meaning. They contain personal and universal codes of language simultaneously.
My role as facilitator is to gauge, direct and ensure the maximum engagement possible for each individual throughout the process of art making. If I do my job properly, engagement with the creative process will produce an outcome of value and worth by default. The artwork produced will be the expressive outcome of a meaningful engagement with the world in visual art terms.
The physical drawings then exist to reflect the process of engagement back to the viewer. The viewer has the opportunity to relive the act of drawing in reviewing drawings made in the Energy Gift Exchange.
Students of the School of Art have been assisting me with groups but had not yet tried the projection drawing. I offered them an opportunity to play, which they embraced. Tom, in the projection, moved in ways that demanded Jacks corresponding drawn response. Tom was performing the drawing he wanted to see by realizing the connection between the type, quality and place of his movements and the drawn outcome.
In the afternoon John Harvey joined me for a performative Energy Gift Exchange.
John is developing performances of sound artefacts – he generates sonic environments. Into this I projected my hand and drew his movements as he worked. We were both improvising and discovering ways to interact or to move in a call and response mode. It took time for us to enter each other’s energy and find the place of connection. John couldn’t see what I was producing so he was working on less external information and stimulus than I was.
I decided to try to work on two drawings and in two drawing modes simultaneously. With my right hand I continued to draw John’s movements from observation, while with my left hand I began to respond to and interact with the sonic artefacts John was producing. In practical terms I had to draw the sounds around the image of John making the ‘sounds’ appear to frame his figure. I discovered that in order to not simply switch between modes and hands, but to genuinely be doing both, I had to begin drawing with the right hand and eye co-ordinated responses and then introduce the left hand and listening. It was a struggle to maintain this simultaneous working, perhaps because I am unfamiliar with it. The difficulties I encountered when learning to play the piano after years of playing violin and flute is the closest experience I can equate it to. I was so used to reading a single line of music that to read two lines at once and play two different lines of music simultaneously was almost beyond my capacities. It was a struggle and one I didn’t successfully overcome despite many hours of practice. The effort to draw with two hands and in two modes was more successful but not continuously. I had to keep returning to the point of entry.
John and I discussed how the act of drawing shifts focus during enactment. My marks document how my eye moves across the subject, sometimes they trace the subjects’ physical presence, outline and/or movements, and sometimes they are pure energy lines – as the energy transmitted between the observed and observer is perceived in that moment.
John reported being able to sense this energy exchange even when he couldn’t see it. We discussed how a mirror or monitor to feedback to the performer what the drawing projection is doing might alter the experience for the performer.