The exposition involves the adaptation of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's logical square, to convey an idea of artistic research practice considered from the perspective of the human subject's position in its midst. As part of the discussion the author has used some evidence of a previous lecture presentation, integrating such material with that of a newer project concerning the visualization of a nightmare image of a phantom in a portal. The tools of the research are a hybrid form of writing that embroils fictional and academic modes as a language-based practice, and visual artistic practice. The author takes Lacan's idea of the confounding of any logical argument by automatic obfuscation of it by unconscious process, and imagines that he has an other to him as a subjective second voice. The question of voices is central to the research; the suggestion that one does speak to oneself in various ways simultaneously that may be fashioned as distinct and separate. It is argued that the research aspect of artistic practice involves just a section of Lacan's logical square, particularly concerning contingency. This orientation may call to question one's tendency to reason and find meaning from the necessary locus of inquiry from the vantage-point of the language-based Symbolic – of Lacan's three psychic structuring registers Imaginary, Symbolic, Real. The element of fiction provides a literary inclination whereby, while the artistic research speaks about itself as research and references a visual practice, the exposition could also be considered a language-based practice in its own right.
Published as part of: Michael Croft, 'Artist-author in Action and Reflection' in 'Practices of Phenomenological and Artistic Research', (eds.) Alex Arteaga, Emma Cocker, Erika Goble, Juha Himanka, Phenomenology & Practice, Volume 17 (2022), No. 1, ISSN 1913-4711
The question of responsibility is explored through drawing, specifically relating to a so-termed void space that ranges over a builder's yard and its immediate environment. The research is formatted as dated journal entries to show its chronological development, with the proviso that later stages may eclipse earlier stages, depending on their relevance. This looping, as it were, mimics the fact that the void space is best defined by the occasional circling of swifts, an observation that becomes a metaphor for how to try to articulate the space pictorially. Responsibility is referenced through theories of each of Levinas, Lacan and Foucault in relation to the Other, the latter of which is taken as the theoretical equivalent of void, but no less concerning responsibility. The author has drawn the site in such terms as locate the void in both the space that the site defines and a gap in the drawing process. This artistic effort is analogous demonstration of responsibility to that which is suggested by the theory. Responsibility is considered from the perspective of the personal and individual, automatically present in artistic commitment, in this case finding some explanation in theoretical thinking of the abstract notion of Other. The formatting of the process of attending to this theme and motif as research leads to a situation where drawing, as such, is but the predominantly visual tool alongside art writing, academic research, and graphic layout that provides live links to video clips and two explanatory texts.
The exposition is a presentation of work in progress, also involving reflective commentary, by two collaborators in a research project titled 'The Observation of Perception: considered through drawing', hosted by i2ADS Research Unit of the Fine Art Faculty of Porto University. The collaborators, a digital visual artist and an analogue-focused fine artist, are respectively involved in the research through visual story-telling and video, and drawing and its audio-visual recording. In the present circumstances, each of the works is considered through its video element specifically in relation to several manifestations of time. In the digital visual artist's case, time is formatted through and as fast-frame and stop-frame, and in the fine artist's case, real-time and a psychoanalytical inflection on real, often appearing in the literature capitalised as Real. The first author, who provides the written reflection, is the fine artist, while substantial visual work, a published paper, and some critical intervention is provided by the digital visual artist as a second author. The first author takes as a directive, aspects of the second author's paper, and reflectively critiques both his and his research collaborator's time-based work in their video manifestations. Theoretical references are to the digital visual artist collaborator Safa Tharib, the philosopher Henri Bergson and the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. The exposition ends with a question that emerges from the commentary, as to the applicability of the indexical signifier to consideration of digital as well as analogue practice.
This artistic research is a contribution to a larger research project titled ‘The Observation of Perception, considered through drawing’, hosted by i2ADS. The research begins with the hypothesis that perception can be diagrammed, in this case through and as a form of drawing that indicates how perception is for this investigator conceived and works in action. One of the two visual motifs of the work is also a meta-motif, in that as an action-camera placed over the eyes, it is the means by which the investigator records himself at work on the second main motif, which is his image as viewed in a circular hand-held mirror. The investigator approaches the initiative as a question of diagramming the self-same initiative, accepting whatever are its developed implications as the aesthetic of the work. Peirce's division of the diagram into elements of firstness and secondness, with the elusive recognition of diagram as an abstract entity before any communicative purpose, keys into a working practice that in any case veers towards the diagrammatic. The investigator's tendency to audio-visually record his working process has led him to a position where the logistics of the purpose paradoxically reveal the subjectivity – if not absurdity – of the self-same process. In this case, little by little, a contingent factor of a wart takes centre-stage as blind spot; at-once a torn hole within the drawing's material surface, the action camera as an illusory obstruction, and a factor that oscillates with and as the circular self-portrait. The presentation takes the viewer/reader through the process, largely perceptual, that is diagrammed on and as the artifactual outcome, the drawing.
The exposition concerns how aspects of perception, mainly visual but not excluding other senses, are encoded within the artist’s drawing-based practice. Such coding is increased due to the artist's use of speech and its recording to eventually produce textual transcripts, and video evidence of the process of drawing while drawing. More inclusively stated, the artist’s practice oscillates between visual and linguistic means, and analogue and digital methods. As research, the exposition questions where and how coding is implicit in the artist’s perception during his approach to his work. Such questioning is enabled by a split between the artist in his reflexive involvement presented as speech transcripts and supporting screenshots from the video recording, and his reflective observation on the content of the transcript as if made by another-person interlocutor. The exposition is presented as a textual introduction and conclusion, between which is access to the full audio-visual recording of the drawing process and a flip-book presentation of the transcript and interlocutor interventions. The exposition's main image is the artist's finished drawing.
A three-minute video, including title and credits, concerns a second re-working, in effect layer three, of a drawing that references incidental observation of the inside of a glass jar and additional materiality, such as an action camera worn in front of the eyes and how the jar is attached to the drawing’s surface to enable the process’s video recording. The audio concerns the counting of seconds while drawing and the prolonged intonation of the word RAUM, German for space. Each of these vocal elements directs and impacts on the drawing procedures, the latter of which are implemented with pencils designed for marking on non-porous surfaces such as plastic and glass, and erasure of such pencils on laminated white cardboard. The video fades in and out of the drawing at each of its three stages, two of which were from times prior to making the video, the last of the stages of which was up to the time of beginning the video. The video is also interspersed with scrolling typed indication of the various correspondences between the counting of time and phrases of spoken monologue, the latter of which has been divided into two audio layers through having been recorded onto both the camera’s microphone and an external voice recorder. At 1: 47mins of the video the content fades to a muted simple scroll-through animation of the completed drawing of the previous video content played back a number of times, which had been responded to through the layering of the drawing the same number of times across nine pieces of handmade paper, 51 x 36cm, in plastic-based pencils and acrylic paint. The video encapsulates the above-mentioned individual facets as a single entity that provides some comment on the diverse nature of time in the context of its experience in and as drawing.
Keywords: drawing; time; monologue; language; intonation