Part One – Ex 1.0: Smallest to largest reach
Project 1: Body gesture – Smallest to largest reach
The coursemateral relates to this exercise as a ‘series of warm up exercises or a meditation of sorts’. What made me think of actually using this exercise as a daily meditation exercise. It demands my presence and my awareness of the act of drawing, it is a physical as well as sensual exercise. Could this relate to a kind of choreographic activity in space and time?
Therefore I wanted to explore further my awareness of the following aspects:
- my senses and my physical condition
- space and time and my movement under those conditions
- presence of my body and its relationship with the drawing surface and my drawing media
- my consciousness (contemplative, anxious, exhausted, excited etc.)
- being recorded, and possible impact on the way I draw
- rythm and breath
- quality of line
My tools and media:
I decided to work at my studio wall, an installation og plywood panel attached to the wall. A system that I use for my art therapy practice (an introduction video for those who are interested in how I work, german language). It works quite well for my art practice as I tend to work either at the wall or on the floor. I like to slighty flexible tension of the wooden panels. To work at an easel feels at time quite restrictive for me (space and posture)
I will explore various options of seperated and combined drawings by:
- Body restrictions: using my fingers only, plus my wrist, plus my lower arm, plus my upper arm/shoulder, right hand only, both hand, left hand only
- Size of support
I am going to set up a double camera system, one looking sideways at my arm and body movement, and the other looking at my hand, charcoal, and surface. I will record audio to capture the sound of my mark makings and my own body ‘sounds’.
Run #1: Finger – Hand – Arm – Body
separation of images – tracing paper (roll 70cm x 10 m) – no recording – no external sound – just intimacy of body movement – touching and listening, feeling my physical presence.
(click to open in lightbox)
Time spend on each: around 2-3 min
- Only my fingers: => feels restrictive, can’t move, thus playing with the limited freedom and the stick, circling around, small marks, light pressure, low forces, feels tight and my breath is heavier, sound of mark making low, hardly to hear
- Fingers and wrist => feels already like a relief, sound of mark making stronger as I can apply stronger forces and pressures, can feel another rhythm coming through, I can explore wider space, my breath slows down
- Fingers, wrist and lower arm: => gives me again more freedom, in more fluent strokes and body movements, embracing the entire support space, much stronger forces now, cleary hearable sound of pressure, need to be careful of not breaking the charcoal stick, feels ‘normal’ in my body movements, non-restrictive, I can breath normally
- Fingers, wrist and whole arm and shoulder: => most extension of my body movement, exceeding support space, stretching my body, feels physically relaxing, much longer and unrestricted marks, I can vary the pressure consciously, enjoying to get out of the limitations before. Sound of mark making reduces, larger body movement opposing to local forces (speed versus force – a physical ‘law’?)
Run #2: Finger – Hand – Arm – Body
Based on first run I decided to work now on a larger space , rolled paper fixed at the top and going down to the floor. Wanted to extend my spatial mark making.
no separation of images – drawing paper (roll 70cm x 10 m) – video-audio recording – no external sound – being conscious of recording – extending to upper body – embracing the entire space through my body movement – touching and listening, feeling my physical presence.
Slow motion 1:4: total lenght 40min (recorded session 10 min)
Time spend on each: around 10 min
- Fingers: limted space, direct in front of me, proximity, playing around, seeking for max spatial extension, I am relaxed, enjoying what appears, learning to apply various pressures,
- Fingers and wrist: had to keep my elbow in order not to get ‘freed’ to early, different kind of marks, stronger forces, circles, my breath follows my body movement, more rhythmic strokes, repetition to get into the ‘zone’, intuitely changing directions, exploring, a bit more distance to the surface, ‘pendula’ movement, a back and force of body movement leaving intermittent marks
- Fingers, wrist and lower arm: extending space, larger strokes, longer duration of sound, less interruptive, repetition and finding the spatial limits, hard to stop at elbow, seeking for further spatial extension, normal breath, in the ‘zone’, my mark making is getting into a medidative state, longer pendula amplitude, long continous marks
- Fingers, wrist and whole arm and shoulder: further extension, nomal breath, changing mark makings, exploring with vertical and horizonal marks the max space, intense breathing, going back to smaller marks, kind of finding my space again and seeking more relaxing moments
- + full body movement: vertical extension, squat down, my body is bending and follows the movement of my hand to allow longer strokes, max spatial extension, sound is becoming intermittend again, my breath follows how I move (bottom or top), very long continous marks
- Two hands: synchronuous action, conscious control, less mediative, more presence and awareness of what appears on the paper,
- Sustaining activity for longer time: changing marks and direction, more exploratory, shifting between body movements, from full body, shoulder, arm and hand extension, working more on the space of the paper as an image, becoming more conscious about space and time and my mark making, more control. At a certain point I am aware of what is possible and the work takes its own turn and life,
Run #3: Finger – Wrist – Lower Arm – Whole Arm
separation of images by restriction (finger, +wrist, +lower arm, +whole arm) – tracing paper (roll 70cm x 10 m) – video-audio recording with two cameras (one on body, one on surface and stick) – no external sound – being less conscious of recording – sensing the limited space with finger, wrist and lower arm movement – embracing the larger space enabled with shoulder movement – touching and listening, feeling my physical presence.
A) sideways camera looking at my arm and body movement:
I decided to play this one with fast speed (4:1) as I felt it gives a better understanding on my body movement. I was not so much concerned about my mark making and sound here, as this would be looked at in more detail in the second ‘surface’ camera.
Fast speed 4:1 – total lenght 6:38 min (recorded session 30 min) – in sequential steps by restriction plus the intermediate image
- Fingers (one and two hands): showing the free play with fingers and charcoal stick, like a dance over the surface
- Fingers and wrist: holding my elbow to restrict myself, free play, connected fingers and wrist movement, scratching and stretching, like playing a music instrument
- Fingers, wrist and lower arm: softer tone, larger movement, kind of conduction an orchestra
- Fingers, wrist and whole arm and shoulder: long strokes, swimming, painting a wall, or walldecoration, nordic skiing, slamming
B) ‘Surface’ camera looking at my mark making, the surface and the sound:
normal speed – to listen to sound and mark making – total lenght 30 min
(the first two sequences are without audio, as I forgot to switch on the mic)
- Fingers (one and two hands – no sound): exploring, playful mark making, lighter touch, partly dancing over the surface, proximity body-surface, lenght of stick influences mark making
- Fingers and wrist (no sound): intermittent movement, more seeking for space, staring to explore repetive larger shapes (eg circle), more awareness of my connected movement, synchronous movement with two hands, speed changes, awareness of forces and pressure. Straight, curved, dashed markings, more sensible versus more expressive markings.
- Fingers, wrist and lower arm: squeezing, scratching sound, at times like old door opens, symmetry
- Fingers, wrist and whole arm and shoulder: longer strokes, long pendula amplitude, train rails, dancing on surface space, some idea of three dimensional extension, smooth sound, interrupted by shorter intervalls, staccato, painting a wall, tearing off (e.g. paper), at times explosive sounds,
=> not all sequential movements are totally restricted, e.g. at times my fingers only were joined with some wrist movement, hard to separate
C) ‘Surface’ camera in three details:
slow speed – to watch arm movement and emergence of marks – total lenght 5 min
=> wall, paper roll from top down, charcoal stick, aware of my moves, feeling my movement in my body, concentration, hard to sustain, small to large moves, video recording, my consciousness about being recorded, repetition, with time some patterns in my movement. My marks are following my body movement.
I find the sound of the slow speed video just remarkable, deeper tone, stronger impact, resonates quite well to me with the forces of marks applied.
I was also trying to make a stop motion(5s intervall, the 5s peep-tone was quite disturbing. Have to see other ways of still images-motion. There is a certain calmness as well as some drama involved. Interested how I could build further on that.
Sequence of layers: four / three / two / one
(click to open in lightbox)
Run #4: Daily routine: 2 Minutes – a physical warm-up
I started to look at how to make this exercise sustainable and its relation to ‘warm up’ and ‘meditation’ made me wonder whether I could use it literally as that, a daily routine to warm me up, a kind of rest point in my daily life.
From the experiences above and in order to keep size controllable and surface not to dense, I decided to work for 2 minutes on a roll of tracing paper (7cm x 10m). not sure whether to lay all image over each other at the end or not
(click to open in lightbox)
Eventually, I switched to normal paper roll (70cm x 10m). Main reason, that I decided it would be better to shows the images individually, as well as a video (details tbd). I will work on this ‘parallel’ warm up project in a another blog post, daily to be updated with new indexical ‘imprints’ of my routine. I also started to record after each ‘warm up’ my thoughts, sensations, feelings.
Some ideas of titles: 30×2 (for 30 days 2 minutes) / 10m (for gesture drawing on 10 m roll) / 2min spatial gesture / something that links time (day) with space (10m)
=> blog post: Extended Project Body Gesture
- The restrictions of spatial extensions by using fingers only or plus wrist, lower arm, whole arm or even whole body are somehow a dialogue between feeling restrictive (typically at the start) and embracing such boundaries (after some time). Howevere, a total restriction on one part only was quite challenging and at times my wrist joined in the movement of my fingers. To fix my elbow helped partly.
- The forces and pressures I can apply depends on my spatial restrictions and getting stronger the more I can include my whole body in the movement of mark making, Body movements follows over time my mark makings.
- My forces made the charcoal stick crush, too brittle material for such density.
- To have more space available means not only to explore further, to make various body movements, but also to be more conscious on where I do what
- With some time and especially with repetition of marks, e.g. circles and vertical strokes, brings me into a ‘zone’ of regular breathing and relaxed body movement.
- At times I can associate my movements with dance or play, it is a joyful exploration of my spatial and temporal movement
- The sound of my charcoal stick:
– scratching, screaming, pulsing, evoking memories of door knocking, hammering, flowing, softening, association of tearing apart
- The sound of the slow speed motion (1:4) is remarkable as for me it provides a deeper impact and resonates quite well with the way the marks are applied. More to build on?
- Focusing on my body movement only (see run #3A) made me aware of all kind of associations, among them musical and sportive body movement.
- Sustainability: as mentioned in the specific runs, I felt somehow challenged between short and longer duration. using only fingers and wrist is an exhaustive activity that I couldn’t sustain for longer time. I noticed tha with more freedom, changing body posture and spatial extensions, I am more able to sustain for a longer time. Also repetitive similar mark making brings me into a mediative and relaxing zone that let me forget time. Thus, more sustainable. Overall, I do sense there is a dialogue ongoing between short forceful interventions, longer repetitive sequences, and sequences of larger spatial exploration.
- My decision of make 2 min warm up exercises for longer time duration (weeks) is based on not filling too much space and my exploration of the first moments of getting into that zone. Nevertheless, it might happen that with more routine I might extend this to other works. So far, I feel that the temporal and spatial restriction would enable me to work more effectively afterwards.
- I am wondering about the impact of flat versus 3D spaces. Like in dance my body moves in space. Would there be a way to record and track my spatial-temporal movement in open space? It reminds me of the very first exercise in drawing 1 with temporal mark making and my experiments with light traces.
- As mentioned above I am going to make a daily routine of 2min ‘warm-up’ exercise and will follow up in a separate post.
- I do wonder how my further research on Julie Mehretu, Shein Wei, Tony Orrico and others will inform my body gestures.
- I am interested in following up more on choreographic elements through painting/drawing. Fellow photography student SarahJane who work in dance performace before and with whom I worked recently on a collaborative project and who worked on a collaborative project for Oxford House ‘Nexus’ as part of her ‘Self&Other’ assignment in that area, might be a source for inspiration.
- I will see whether I can already built up something for my assignment work.
- I find it quite exciting how motion in three aspects is been applied: motion of my body in space and time, motion of marks across surface, and motion in time-elapse video. Makes me wonder how I could include this further in my painting and studio approach. Are there artists who work like that?