While Safa's work is constructed from and reflects its basis in the digital programs Photoshop, Zbrush and Maya, my own work emerges as analogue drawing and the various mediums involved, simultaneously with the audio-visual recording of the drawing as it develops, and the recording's simple editing on iMovie after the event. While Safa's main representative video clip, even while a small section of a larger project, fast-frames several months' work, my own videos convey but a few moments of real- time. In both Safa's and my cases, the artwork is an integration of content and process, Safa's involving an extricable narrative that the process enables and supports, and my own some content that is brought in from outside, as it were, but is more an expression of the process by which it's engendered.

In Safa's narrative clip, a note is seen being used to buy a hotdog. As well as this, however, importantly for our greater project concerning perception, one sees the note being made and varied aspects of the complex process of making the scene on the computer, in practice, as also the work's narrative. A reason for this, if not the only one, is to convey the principle that digital 3D designing involves what, according to Safa writing academically (Tharib: 2021, p.1), can be an indefinite process of '...iteration and reiteration due to the ability to undo and redo changes', which may be considered a mode of drawing within digital designing – interpreting drawing in an expanded sense. 

With my own work, the present example concerns visualising a diagram based on, and that uniquely configures, Lacan's idea of how the psychic scopic drive concerns vision, the work itself being an example in practice.

Both Safa's and my work involve time. In Safa's case, the process that the main narrative video clip and the detail clips present, spans several months that are compressed into less than two minutes' viewing time, which is an extreme example of fast- frame. Within the animation involved, is indefinite number of stop-frames. My own work may be said to be an example of real-time, determined by my own experiential speed, which is ponderous. However, in both examples of work another more suppositional kind of time is involved, for which I defer to a Lacanian derivation of real, capitalised as Real, that on the psychodynamic unconscious plane concerns those aspects of life's experience that are ineffable, beyond comprehension in any terms; hence it will be argued that the artwork involves and projects three kinds of time: fast- time, Real- time, and stop- time. The factor of real- time that most determines my own work will be considered self-evident.           

"There are two main outputs of my work. The first being the actual graphic novel and the second being the process videos. The process videos have very much taken on a life of their own, however would not exist if there was not an over-arcing project. The use of 3D technology for this form of illustration is new, and as such has its own quirks. This in turn makes the process more interesting. That said there are elements that are difficult to show, such as planning. This is more a mental exercise than anything else. Here your videos, Mike, explore this side of the process using your voice."


A linked document – attached below – outlines three theories relevant to the practical commentary on the video clips, below. The theory in question relates to the question of fast- and stop- frame, and Real- time of the research presentation's title, from each of the philosopher Henri Bergson and the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, with brief mention of the work of psychoanalyst and painter Bracha Ettinger. Lacan is firstly referenced for his theory of the capitalized Other, which may be considered a superego edict applied to oneself and felt as if coming abstractly at one, occasionally identified in and as other people and events. Ettinger is mentioned for her theory of 'matrixial borderspace' that traces the beginning of sentient and psychic life to the third cycle of the pre-natal. Bergson is first referenced for his idea of the 'present image', which concerns the image in its more cursory aspect, in transition or, as it were, on the move. The second reference to Bergson concerns the fine distinction he draws between time and space in one's conception and understanding of duration, and a third Bergson reference is to his division of  sensory perception into states of 'clear' and 'confused'. The second reference to Lacan concerns his theory of the 'scopic drive' and the role of the gaze and 'psychic screen', which, on the psychic and non-visual level, obfuscates one's assumed clarity of the image. (Full citations included in document)         


Safa's intervention 2

"An interesting point here, in analogue forms the medium itself is exposed to elements outside of the artist's control. These could be scuffed marks on clay or damaged components. The wear and tear of the organic material may offer the artist inspirations or even add flavour to the work in ways digital technologies cannot."

Figure 2: Safa's work, screenshot set

ln this sequence of screenshots, Figure 4, we have a motif of the narrative isolated to show a process of subtle iterative modelling, again where the digital drawing on the head may be likened to incisions in wet clay. Safa's clip appears to shudder in the middle, which indicates change and decision-making within the process. In the still- frame screenshot, however, not subject to fast- frame, there's a different sense, the fuzzy transitional image appearing to indicate indistinct vision, or something registered at a distance or in passing. The digital result suggests simulation of several perceptual readings, but is not in itself perceptual. One might think of an image pressed into modulated grey plasticine and kneaded with one's fingers from side to side - but this calls to question the paucity of corporeal involvement in digital modelling. Arguably, one relies on memory, or one's skills of matching digital appearance to three-dimensional reality to achieve a simulation. This latter point may have bearing on what Safa (2021) refers to as a 'shapeless digital medium', where the consequent '...explorative study into something that is unknown' appeals mainly to the cerebral (p.2) – a discussion of soul and conscience through an appropriately rarified medium, while bodily matters are meanwhile satisfied by a burger. What compensates for the medium's lack of authentic corporeality is that the digital medium opens up iterative modes of working that '...may not have been possible before' (Ibid). One may be reminded, also, of the German painter Gerhard Richter's use of blurring of photo-realistically painted imagery, achieved by feathering a soft brush from side to side across still-wet paint. According to McCarthy (2011), blurring in Richter's painting concerns both '...memory, its degradation', and '...recalls camera movement and errors in printing' (para.5; 6). However, while such references are respectively cerebral and mechanical, their means of re-presentation are physical as well as visual for the artist and convey visceral and tangible qualities, and often even the smell of paint that's still available to the viewer, rather than the several stages of remove of digital simulation: arguably, this is the critical challenge that the digital medium presents itself.             

Figure 5: Safa's work, screenshot set

As we can see from the screenshots, Figure 5 – though not clearly without very alert attention in this extremely fast-moving section of video clip, the clothing of the model's body, the apron, delineates the corporeality as if the body were transparent, and Safa turns the model variously to make sure that the fitting, as it were, makes sense in all respects. Safa relies on a combination of perceptual skill, the noticing of the efficacy of the fit, and whatever is the range of digital tools involved in this stage in the process. The complexity of the procedures of getting there, however, are merely suggested rather than exposed by the fast speed of the frames. The video's viewer at this point may deduce the message: 'This is what it takes!' In general, in a set of video animations that we consider finished details, the variable speed stop- frame process of presentation may represent a response to the question of Bergson's (2001) multiplicity in unity for as long as one holds the unity of duration in mind (p.80). As Bergson (Ibid) has stated, such unity may be a simple act of mental consciousness. What I've done, by extracting screenshots from the videos, is to have butchered, as it were, a number of units that are otherwise orchestrated by Safa into a multiple unity. The Bergson reference (Ibid) has concerned the analogy of number for how time is 'irreducible' while one is thinking time, and unitised as countable points in space while being built – Safa's animated video pieces being ideally suited to this consideration – and then subject to divisibility again once the unit is of a fixed time-length (p.83). Digital technology allows us, as yet another aspect of iteration, to deconstruct such units, such as I've done with the present clip, to re-present them as points not in time but, as Bergson proposes, in space. While the above four frames indicate a passage of time in terms of how the model is increasingly dressed, the gaps between their rendering and re-placement in space is too great for such multiplicity to simultaneously constitute unity. Parallel to this iterative process, we see thumbnail inserts of Safa's 3rd-personing of himself as the creative agent of the work. Safa shows himself at work in thumbnail clips inside the main frame of his video, distanced by the camera that's stationed at some distance to his side, the results cordoned off as fast- frame video that's in dialogue with the iterative modelling, as if conveying the message: 'The guy in the thumbnails is me at work on the piece.' Safa's (2021) self-distancing from the work in this manner both positions him as an '...artefact in place of the subject' and in a sense justifies the statement that he makes as Tharib, that '...an auto-ethnographic approach... starts addressing the superficial details in place of the description' (p.3). While the narrative content, especially in the main referenced clip, is convincing enough, the 'details' take precedent in their sheer proliferation in the conjoined process narrative. If the process could be heard, then the zany soundtracks accompanying the videos is appropriate for the process's high-speed tempo. 

Figure 8: Screenshots from video clip of Mike's earlier work to show a spot on the back of hand, in relation to tips of pencils

The two screenshots, Figure 8, serve to show a fixed relation over these moments of drawing, between the top of the white pencil and a spot on the back of my hand. This was from a year before this presentation’s referenced diagram drawing. While the spot was innocuous at that time, by the time of the screenshots below I had placed a flesh-tinted plaster over it because it had by then appeared to be a wart – starve them of air, people suggest, although I still hadn’t taken this especially seriously. Such bodily intrusion, however – a type of contingency – into a consciously cerebral activity is much welcomed. In Lacanian theory (1999) the original Freudian-based castration theory, which Lacan terms Phallic castration, is what he describes as '...the pivotal or extreme point for what is enunciated as the cause of desire' (p.94). If we can shelve the apparent maleness of the aspect of the theory that foregrounds the Phallus, which, arguably successfully, is now challenged by Ettinger (2020), the process of psychoanalysis overcomes the analysand's psychic resistance towards the clues of recognition in and as the object a surrogate cause of desire, because the '...analytic experience stops not writing it', in which '...resides the apex of what I have called contingency' (Lacan: 1999, p.94). What I want from this is the idea that one looks for expository contingents, and regardless of whether one finds them or not in Lacanian terms, follows possibilities that occur in mysteriously compelling encounters with objects. 

Again, Figure 10, unless having viewed and listened to the above-left video clip, as much as can be sensed is that the fingers of the hand that had indicated the downwards and forwards movement of the point on the image have now moved upwards towards an encircled eye on a profile human head, left screenshot, then appear to have moved along the right directing axis to the left of the pictorialised diagram on the right screenshot, and are indicating some sort of beginning of the projection of the point on the image. The video clips reflexively also speak the situation, while simultaneously drawing with paint, whereas the present text not merely reports the situation, but this in relation only to two pairs of stop- time screenshots, the in-between of each shot of each pair of which is an indefinite gap in time. I'd like to be able to say that I'm reflecting on the experience reproduced in the video through reference only to two pairs of screenshots, but these paragraphs are descriptive only, rather than phenomenological. There's something nonetheless satisfying even in trying to explain what's contained in and can be deduced from the screenshot pairs.  

The left screenshot, Figure 11, shows how and as what image the projection downwards on the plane and forwards into space culminates. The right screenshot shows from what the image is derived; a self-portrait view into a small handheld mirror, and including the hand holding the mirror, the circle of which, and the person of whom, one might construe as being the combination of circle and yellow profile image in the previous left screenshot. The point in the middle of what I've described in respect particularly of the uppermost left pictorialised diagrammatic image, may not be understood to be the self-same representation of the self-portrait image in the mirror. If one could fold the projection back between the image, behind which is the starting point of the gaze, and the subject, terminating as the yellow self-portrait profile, one would see and sense that what travels through and from the point in the image is this mirrored face. Something else, however, which complicates the question that the image presents, is that I'm wearing a small black object in front of my face, which itself has a point, best considered as a red dot – although that is not actually it – in the immediately above left screenshot. The object is actually an action camera that records the situation, in a sense the superego Other recording my every move, the point of which is the lens.          

Safa's intervention 4

"I wonder if here we could compare the point of views of the process. In your videos the camera is generally in first person, while in mine I sometimes have a third person video as well as a screen view. This also relates to how the audio works differently in our videos. You have your voice expressing your thinking, while I have a song expressing the mood."


Safa's intervention 5

"Where the benefits of using a digital medium especially 3D digital graphics are in the iteration of process. While tradition forms force the artist to commit design choices early on, digital methods do not. In Figure 16 the sequence can be changed drastically, characters can be framed differently, the shots can be made wider and this process can it iterated until the best possible outcome is achieved. While there are advantages to this approach there are caveats. Digital 3D methods require some degree of setting up, artistic feedback is not immediate. Characters and backgrounds have to be designed, modelled and textured. Any one frame can take weeks to setup."

The question in reply, of the animal-human hybrid, as to where the shades-wearer is going with his remark is in a sense the consideration of the place of process in relation to mediums, which is implicit in Safa’s main video clip and runs through this presentation. The characters could not have known that this would be a consequence of their exchange, nor me at the time of placing those two frames as the presentation’s frontispiece, but it’s an example of how one can pick up on possibilities beneath one’s conscious awareness, without needing to branch off into the domain of the psychodynamic unconscious – although I’m doing this very thing in and through my own artwork. It almost becomes a question of debate between: 'What you see is what you get!' and; 'What you don’t know that you know!'  While Safa’s declared advantage of his digital methodology is that it enables him to tweak and iterate without loss of content, my own is a fascination with the question that something might lie beneath the surface, the object a as a ‘blind spot’ (Žižek: 2006, p.17) that, try as one may, cannot be realised. Again, to sidestep the psychoanalytical interpretation, and suitably for me in my desire to diagram, angle, Hansen (2016) cites the philosopher and semiotician Charles Sanders Peirce when he states of the first and foremost character of the diagram: ‘’…Firstness, cannot be directly known, or intuited, and is always at an unbridgeable remove from any direct access’ (p.49). In the context of diagram, citing the semiotics of Peirce, Hansen (Ibid) refers to a ‘Firstness’ of ‘diagrammatic appearance’, becoming a ‘Secondness’ as and when it is ‘…actualized in particular existent qualities or experience’ (p.46). Firstness in a sense, therefore, implies abstraction, which can easily be a quality of any analogue medium that exposes, first and foremost, its indexical signifier character: pencils make dots when they fall on their points, ink bleeds and runs, charcoal smudges, etc. Interestingly, Safa’s video clips simulate analogue characteristics, particularly as evidenced in Figures 4 and 6, above, but where, it might be appropriate to ask, is the digital medium’s abstract signifier basis, divorced from the digital artist’s intention, through the medium, to deliver content? It might be argued that Safa’s position in relation to the diagram – to consider his work in some sense a manifestation – is to overcome ‘firstness’ to obtain ‘secondness’, but then we open up the question of the extent to which digital modes of working can embody phenomenological experience. Where Tharib comes close to this consideration in his paper (2021), in his mention of auto-ethnography, he places this potentially phenomenological position in the domain of ‘artefact’ over ‘subject' (p.3).   



Two closing frames relating to animated video clip, linked below, by Safa Tharib, from his ongoing work, Clockmills Drive, that serve to open the following practice presentation 


The greater research to which this presentation relates, titled 'The Observation of Perception; considered through drawing', is hosted by i2ADS Research Unit of the Fine Art Faculty of Porto University, Porto, Portugal. While such research is conducted by several investigators, the current presentation involves a section of a larger on-going project by the digital visual artist Safa Tharib, and a drawing work as yet unfinished by the fine artist Michael Croft (myself). The following is an exposition of details of work in progress by each of us, due to a degree of comparison that can be drawn in terms of the research presentations' title, which concerns video that variously conveys interests in matters of perception either implicit in, or articulated through drawing. For purposes of the perception research, drawing as the tool of the investigation is interpreted in an expanded sense, to include traditional, experimental, time-based, 2D and 3D analogue and digital modes of practice, and writing. Drawing may also be transferred from an initiating purpose to the visual-material support of theoretical inquiry and explanation, rather in the terms by which the current presentation of research is formatted. 


The work of the digital visual artist Safa Tharib has prompted this presentation of artistic research, more than my own work, and with such an opening statement I suggest that there will be two voices, mine of which will mainly provide the narration, and Safa's voice that will be through and as the referenced artwork, and with some intervening reactive comment addressed to me. While Safa works in digital 3D graphics, I work in analogue drawing while using video to record and comment on my drawing method. More than this, however, the medium of stop-frame re-presentation of video reconstitutes drawing, the greater purpose of which, concerning Safa's and my research, is to observe perception in action through and as drawing. While action implicit in perception does not necessarily involve overt physical movement, humans share the belief that mind and body and its sensory experiences do move through time. The animation technique of linking still frames side by side and, by the same token, creating pauses, constitutes the illusion of a time-basis of Safa’s work, and I here represent my own work as video clips of myself drawing in, as it were, real-time. The title’s capitalising and italicising of Real, however, alludes to an altogether different understanding of real, of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. While the research presentation infers interest in stop-motion, its emphasis will be on various ways in which both Safa's and my work represents and embodies time. The through and as is, itself, a consideration, because the artwork can both represent an idea and be that self-same idea. Safa's main representative video clip is a conjoined narrative concerning content and process, where one is made more aware of process in a medium that usually suppresses such awareness, and my own video clip should convey a sense of process being the content of the drawing of which it's a recording. The theory that I'll reference in support of a proposition that aspects of Safa's and my videos are informative of perception – mainly visual but not excluding other sensory domains – is phenomenological, but also includes the psychoanalytical theory of Lacan. In both cases, such theory acknowledges and elucidates the question of the human subject situated within any creative work's midst. I mean by this that the language of the medium, working approximately in the semiotic terms by which language itself works, at-once reflects its maker's concerns and gives shape to such concerns through the dialogue that takes place, both consciously and unconsciously, between oneself and one's work.            

Safa's three videos

Main narrative clip

Showing the programs accessed interactively, the making of a twenty-dollar bill, and the making of a character who then goes on to use the bill to buy a hotdog from a vendor 

Mike's two video details from a longer clip

Safa's intervention 1


The viewer/reader can choose whether or not to read such theory, which can be accessed before, after or between reading the exposition's commentary.

Some references in the comment on practice will, however, be on the basis that there has been some interest in the theory.

(Click for PDF then click for full screen)

Figure 1: Screenshots from Safa's present referenced work

The above two screenshots, Figure 3, indicate a left-to-right sequential reading of the narrative, in much the way that video runs along. Such movement is interposed with a centrifugal dynamic, the staging of the action of which affects the delaying of time in the moment. This is also helped by the framing of the space by the characters. We see this in both screenshots, along with analogue sketch drawing onto the screen, the purpose of which will presumably be to suggest moments before or after, or alternatively to the present configuration. While whatever is suggested will concern time, as Bergson has stated (2001) of successive moments, the 'aggregate' of the moments forms in 'space' (p.80). While questions of space and time suggested by the imagery, respectively modelled and sketched, are here held in the balance, as it were, like the impending exchange of bill and hotdog, Bergson (Ibid) has proposed that such multiple events achieve their synthesis in the perceiver's mind as an act of 'consciousness'. Debatably, one brings to the necessity of reading the signs laid out in the screenshots a sentient faculty that relates to all sensory modes of consciousness, whether in real-life situations or pictorial graphics. In this sense, while the term 'soul' may at this stage be too contentious, the shades-wearing customer's suggestion that whatever they're talking about is a matter of 'conscience' does bring the question of personal morality into the reading of the screenshots: in other words: 'To what extent am I interested in this, or prepared to be interested?'              




Figure 4: Safa's work, screenshot set

Safa's intervention 3

"Honestly, this comes down to how I represent myself online or any public facing image/video. I like to be somewhat hidden behind the work. Hence the mask or just showing my hands. This further translates to a lack of voice. The comparison of speed between your work and mine is evident, while your slower videos give further insights into the work conducted in the moment such as the consideration of the line. My work quickly moves to the overall picture."

Figure 6: Safa's work, screenshot set

The horizontal band displacement shown in Figure 6 morphs the hotdog vendor into a fragmented aerial view that's to become him at his stall. Interestingly, what's happened through my aligning screenshots is for the toolbars to have suggested a sense of location of the process in similar terms to how the viewer is about be taken down into the content narrative, the seller's location. The actual clip is moving too fast to sense more than a sudden centrifugal pull into the location, whereas in the joined screenshots as multiple – again, the question of the extent to which digital video animation can truly present 'multiplicity in unity', or whether one is experiencing a simulation.    

Figure 7: Safa's work, screenshot set

The difference between these two images in Figure 7 is merely the highlighting that appears on the arm and face of the right image in the manner of drawn marks that may indicate the basis of re-working, when Safa is seen holding a digital pen. Apart from this, the comparison between Safa and the modelled figure suggests the mimetic impulse; not exactly necessarily to make like oneself, but to understand human representation according to how much one feels one could occupy, as it were, the representation's shoes. This idea of projective embodiment has a phenomenological basis, whether generative of analogue or digital practice. The white marks made on the image are much as one might make in an analogue version, trying to feel into the form to get as convincing an appearance as possible. What's telling about this relates to Tharib's (2021) point about the 'auto-ethnographic approach' being concerned with 'superficial details' rather than 'description' (p.3). This is a polemical statement in relation to the inferred reflexivity of involvement of auto-ethnicity, in its indication that increase of involvement is concerned with superficiality of detail, which in the present screenshots is the surface of the skin. This reading is strengthened by Safa's view, in the thumbnails, away from the emerging image and towards the medium and its tools rather than in the vicinity of the gesture that the hotdog vendor makes towards whoever is in front of him who occupies a reciprocally human space. I would suggest that '...positioning the artefact in place of the subject' (Ibid., p.3) in the present context means the digital medium and its range of possibilities, rather than the video animation in its propensity to expose virtual imagery that simulates analogue practice. The main narrative clip is of course a video animation virtual artefact, but its conjoined narrative communicates in respect of medium, tools and process. This is not to say that Safa's entire work will support such an idea.      

Figure 9: Screenshots from Mike's present referenced work

Figure 10: Mike's work, screenshot set

Figure 11: Mike's work, screenshot set

Figure 13: Showing an action camera and a diagram of an imploded view of it as seen when wearing the goggles with camera attached

If we chase the hole, initially it’s in the torn ink – just noticeable in the above left frame, Figure 15 – then it’s at the end of the twisting and pictorially forwards projecting funnel – shown in the sketch diagram, middle frame, Figure 15. (The right frame, Figure 15, shows the diagram drawing at an earlier state, where the three-dimensional diagram, now turned two-dimensional image, is in three overlaps gradually turning forwards.) At the near end of the projection/funnel will be the circular mirror bearing my self-portrait image. Then the hole is also the worn action camera, and the lens is yet another instance of the hole, and then it’s the end of the projection at the subject end of the relationship gaze – subject as the side-elevation left-to-right directional termination. These are my various attempts to chart and play with an idea of the torn hole as a metaphor for the object a. The object a is the Real- time object. What now excites me about this, as visual-material artifice for a psychical possibility, is that I find myself even wearing the hole on the back of my hand – that my placing and tracking of the hole in the diagram has had, all along, a bodily manifestation! How to figure this into the diagram, as the latter continues to evolve, will be a next new strategy for the work.       


Safa’s and my work involves, respectively, digital and analogue mediums. Arguably, the relationship between still- and moving-image in Safa’s work is closer than that of my own work, mainly because Safa works apparently only in the digital domain even when sketching character ideas, as we see in Figure 3, above.  If one could speak of graininess in the digital context, then the same grain runs throughout all modes of iteration. Behind the scenes, literally and as undsiclosed aspects of process, are the algorithms that make digital graphic expression possible. With my work, while the video recordings are of algorithmic structure, the actual artwork is within the limits of traditional mediums, even while taking on the question of coding of diagrams. Safa, however, in his academic role as Tharib, does suggest the equality of digital in relation to analogue mediums through the advantage of the process of iteration that does not lead to the destruction of previous layers of process. Tharib states (2021):


 ‘…the lack of physical form digital mediums has presents us with a fluid mode of working that can be constantly tweaked and iterated on at nearly very stage… …due to the ability to undo and redo changes. This is opposed to the more rigid forms that analogue mediums take wherein, iteration is destructive with each change working on top of a previous state without the ability to go back’. (p.1) 


Since Tharib considers that analogue mediums are more ‘rigid’, digital and analogue artists will have to agree to disagree on this point, although I would myself agree to an extent that one can, in analogue working methods, unfortunately lose valuable possibilities and material in a continual process of layering and cancelling out. Returning to the closing remark of Safa’s character, the shades-wearing customer, in the visual frames that open this presentation, the question of mediums and one’s commitment to them can be a matter of ‘conscience’. 







Two further closing frames relating to Safa's animated video clip from his ongoing workClockmills Drive 

Fast- and Stop- frame, and Real- time:

Video's comment on matters of observation of perception considered through drawing

Video clip 1

Showing and telling the development of a diagram as image, screen, object and projection

The screenshots, Figure 1, show static images for indefinite scrutiny by the present screen's viewer, of a digital world interfaced by digital means, as Safa would have viewed a sequence that's fast- framed to the point of an idea of perception replacing one's perceptual faculty. The rapid animated sequence seems to say: 'I'd have been turning the image in space to see how the modelling is, like so. You get the point!' 'Reflective questioning' (Tharib: 2021, p.1) within the process, the fast-frame rendering of which provides an example of Bergson's (2004) afore-quoted 'present image' (p.28), that's truly cursory, is compressed into the sheer speed of movement, resulting in the viewer's having to fall back on a conceptualised aggregate image of what's going on – in this instant. Otherwise, what's apparent in these still-frames that read as 'represented image' (Ibid, p.28) is the modelling basis in a digitally autonomous mode of drawing – of the geometricized contours underpinning fleshy form. In analogue practice one could imagine such contours scored into the still-wet terracotta clay, or pressed into the clay more organically as thumbprints, the edges of the impressions naturally causing contours. While the direction of light might in Safa's digital version be more selectively chosen, in analogue modelling one would of course intuitively make use of whatever natural light's available, or have adequate or specialist artificial light.      

In the screenshots, Figure 2, hidden in the speed of the animated sequence and in a sense not meant to be noticed except by the surreptitious intervention of pause and slide, one sees what Safa (2021) means by '...a fluid mode of working that can be constantly tweaked and iterated on at nearly every stage of production if not every stage' (p.1). Here, fluidity may mean versatility, when the process is conducive to constant reflection rather than any more reflexive mode of working, as when Safa (Ibid) cites several authors on reflective practice (p.3). Where this point in Safa's paper gets very interesting for me is when, in the context of '...positioning the artefact in place of the subject, he refers to an 'auto-ethnographic approach'. In the above screenshots I'm presenting how the hand is held up as such an artefact, that may be considered to replace the subject, the better to scrutinise a point of detail and tweak its iteration, as if a surgeon were showing a patient where an incision would need to be made in their dysfunctional hand to recover movement. Coincidentally, I tend to use Dermatograph pencils for drawing, which are also traditionally what surgeons use for marking prospective bodily incisions. The movement indicated in the implied gap of time between the screenshot pair is the unnatural separation of what Bergson (2004) has described as the obligation of the 'present image' to ...act through every one of its points...' (p.28); if this were true of the sequence at this stage in the process. We see, instead, a mode of scrutiny; Bergson's (2001) mode of 'clear' and 'impersonal' of perception that – one may still consider even in this digital and arguably more pragmatic approach to practice – emerges from the 'confused', which Bergson has suggested is inevitable, because once confusion is arrested (to use Bergson's term) its basis in movement is negated (p.129). Confusion is in this sense not intended to be negative, but arguably does not lend itself to a process that simulates movement through a continuously iterated still-frame mode of practice. In this sense Bergson's (2001) point that you cannot divide a 'homogeneous medium' is relevant, since when you do, you cease getting time as pure duration but intervals of space (p.87).        


Figure 3: Safa's work, screenshot set

'The idea of shapelessness in the medium corresponds with the pursuit of an explorative study into something that is unknown.'

(Tharib, 2021: 2). Safa is writing here about 'shapeless digital mediums', but I'd like to match this question of unknown with what the Lacanian orientated philosopher Slavoj Žižek (2006) – and Lacan before him (2016: p.70) – terms the 'blind spot' (p.17), which is the mysterious something, the object a, in the object that's unconsciously known but cannot be seen. Lacan (1999) provides an example of the type, of the object a, through the example of the enshrouding of the monk with the love of the habit. Lacan states: '...what lies underneath the habit, what we call the body, is perhaps but the remainder (reste) I call the object a. What holds the image together is a remainder' (p.6). Despite the complexity of this term in Lacanian theory, the object a, as I see it – given that it's not a visible thing – is an obtuse linguistic abstraction for one's compulsion towards particular instances of the unfathomable. If this is a curiosity, one goes through one's artistic practice wondering if this or that, which one encounters, is perhaps it, despite the odds against, in one's mind. Itthis, or that, the drawing towards one, is in such cases a special drawing towards. The screenshots below are from a piece of my own work prior to the work in question shown in my video clips, above, which merely serve to indicate a point of origin of a possibility, point here being taken literally as well as ideationally.    

In Figure 9, the first of a set of screenshots of my own work, I'm conflating time as we experience it passing as our individual consciousness, of both my two video clips with the idea of a Lacanian focused Real- time. What's visible here in the screenshots is a diagram, unclear of what, as yet and if ever, that has developed pictorially to achieve a degree of image status, where I'm pointing to a point on it, in the left frame, and following what has been an indication with arrows of the point's projection forwards in the pictorial implications of space. To know more of what this pair of screenshots is about will have meant watching and listening to the above left video clip in advance. However, the other point of showing these particular screenshots concerns the evidence of the plaster that now covers the spot on my hand, visible in the previous set of screenshots. It might now be asked whether what one knows is under the plaster, in whatever condition, has any connection to the point indicated on, also in and underneath, the image in the left screenshot. I'd like to suggest that the coincidence of the points is a mock-up of a contingency, where the idea of pictorializing a diagram has now taken on a new dimension.  

Figure 12: Mike's work, screenshot set

Figure 14: A three-dimensional diagram of the imploded rectangle of action camera + the Lacan theorised psychic screen represented as undulating plastic, and left - right projection of Gaze-to-Subject represented as a red straw   

Figure 15: Left frame, earlier state of the Diagramming Perception drawing; middle frame, enlarged marginalia sketch diagram of the imploded rectangle image rotating + projection through it of the Gaze-Subject projection/funnel; later state, still unfinished, of the Diagramming Perception drawing     

Figure 16: The complete three page section of Clockmills Drive



Bergson, H. (2001) Time and Free Will. New York: Dover

Bergson, H. (2004) Matter and Memory. New York: Dover

Ettinger, B. (2020) Matrixial Subjectivity, Aesthetics, Ethics, Volume 1 1990-2000. (Ed., Griselda Pollock) London: Palgrave MacMillan

Hansen, M, B, N. (2016) ‘Appearance In-Itself, Data-Propogation, and External Relationality: Towards a Realist Phenomenology of Firstness'. Back issue: ZMK Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung 7/1/2016: Disappearance 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.28937/1000106454

Lacan, J. (2016) The Sinthome (Seminar XXIII). Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA, USA: Polity

Lacan, J. (1999) On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge (Seminar XX). New York: Norton

McCarthy, T. 'Blurred visionary: Gerhard Richter's photo-paintings'. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/sep/22/gerhard-richter-tate-retrospective-panorama (Accessed 14 March, 2022)

Tharib, S. (2021) 'Approaches to Digital Visual Arts Through Design Iteration'. Academia Letters, Article 676. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL676.

Žižek, S. (2006) The Parallax View. Cambridge. MA, USA: The MIT Press

Video clip 2

Showing and telling the development of an optically imploded rectangle of action camera as image

Video detail 1

Showing the modelling of the head of the hotdog seller and its fit with the body 

In Figure 12, the present, of Bergson's (2004) 'present image' (p.28), is the sight of myself, to me, of delineating the left side of a black band twice with each of orange and white, as shown in the two horizontal pairs. We can see the plaster still mysteriously on the back of my hand, and we can compare subtle changes in paint accumulation, image and hand position, and light reflection, in what is a stop- frame sequence. Each screenshot of the horizontal pairs will be spaced by just a few seconds, and each pair spaced for a longer period, due to the change of colour and purpose. Interesting that I've reflexively referred to the time intervals with the verb space, conferring with Bergson's (2001) insight that it's '...only as space that such intervals can be counted...' (p.87). The imploded rectangle of the action camera, the aforementioned black band, is an optical, illusory image that I see from behind and looking from either side, while its small black-box format is worn over my eyes; the tool that, by recording, makes the process available to see after the event, but in real- time, to both the viewer and me, but at the time of the real- time is not only seen by me, but constitutes the principle image that I can never get away from.   

In pitching into the explanation, I’m also receding back in time to earlier stages of the diagramming work to the motif of the imploded rectangle of the action camera as shown in Figure 13, in relation to a hole that got torn at the middle point of a side-elevation view of the rectangle painted in black ink on the work’s fragile tablecloth paper ground. The reader doesn’t need to be especially clear of this earlier stage of the work; suffice it to say that a hole appeared in an image that I’d requisitioned as metaphorically an object a, the hole being metaphorical of the projection through the image of the object a’s origin in the gaze. This story’s been giving me the basis of what I’m trying to develop as a pictorialised diagrammatic drawing.

The image painted onto the tablecloth paper in black ink, through which a hole appeared in the middle, plus its obfuscation by a psychically determined screen – following Lacan’s theory – gave me the idea to construct the image as a kind of three-dimensional diagram, Figure 14. The hole through the image, which I considered standing for the aperture of axis of the object a from the gaze behind the image to the Subject, I represented by a red straw that passes through the corrugation of the diagram’s corrugated cardboard basis. It’s the straw, in effect, that opens out and becomes the mirrored self-portrait/action camera image. The narrowness of diameter of the actual straw can now easily also stand for the wart.  

Video detail 2

Showing the dressing of the hotdog seller in an apron, then cutting to him behind his stand