Integrated drawing and painting

I have my formed habits of art working; integrated drawing and painting, and an oscillation between academic and creative writing. This, in any project, is a given: I feel I cannot and should not compromise in this respect, while accommodating natural degrees of modification and development over time, place and space. I have by now a body of material relating to the ancestry project that is itself developmental, in that strange if often experienced-as-uncomfortable state of becoming, which relates to the interim process basis of art-working in whatever medium and reflects the process of life itself. For this reason, soon after starting the project I became interested in how cells grow and, while thinking of my own few near-ancestors, by the microbiome, the beneficial growth of bacteria that we primarily gain from our mothers in the pre-natal period but accommodate from those around us who are significantly involved with our post-natal care (Ball, 2020, p.141). In a not unrelated psychoanalytical context, Ettinger’s theory of the ‘matrixial’ concerns a significant connectivity between oneself and one’s mother, pre-natal, which continues into adulthood and throughout life, and contributes to one’s unconscious involvement with others. As a result of this early response to the project, I have a small set of drawn family members accommodating coffee-staining on corrugated cardboard that I associate with terrain, especially that of Africa, which is the cradle of the human species extending back some 200,000 years (New Scientist, 2022, p.97), and the origin of coffee in the 15th century, Figure 1.

An idea of cellular growth

Coffee as a primary medium through its staining capacity both mutates, which is more typical of cell culture, and migrates, which is more typical of human geographical movement. I also, therefore, have an idea of cellular growth, through the analogy of interaction and fragmentation of text relevant to the topic of microbiome spread across a coffee-stained paper ground, Figure 2.

While continuation of the drawing has necessitated hiding this detail, I have brought it back to an extent, and as such it is an important contributory factor to Ricoeur’s ‘narrative identity’ (cited above); the story I tell to myself in my journey through the work, Figure 8.


Distanciation and other: implications of distance in an ancestry DNA project


According to a recent ancestry DNA test conducted by i3S (Institute of Investigation and Innovation in Health, Porto University), my genetic GPS is Germany, even though I, and my family for as long as I have known, are British. That said, I have lived and worked outside the UK since 1998. The point is, however, that while distances across time can be geographical, inasmuch as humans are involved one can add to this such distances’ subjective effect. By subjective, I myself am placed as a sentient being amidst my physical actions and movements, and in part such sentience impacts on and determine the latter. Keeping with this idea of genetic ancestry, only 0.5 % of me is Neanderthal, a species which is considered to have become extinct some 30,000 years ago, but not before interbreeding with Homo sapiens who first left Africa at some 65,000 years (New Scientist, 2021, p.101). Spatial and temporal distance is involved in this mapping to a complex extent, considered through a lens – writing and visual artwork – that distances me from what is otherwise self-reference not so much by the content but by the two combined mediums. Yet this question of distance is paradoxical, since the medium is at-once a separator and a binder. 


Insofar as distance can concern one’s own intrinsic sense of subject within the work, Ricoeur (1992) suggests that ‘selfhood implies otherness to such an intimate degree that one cannot be thought of without the other; that instead one passes into the other…’ (p.3), and proposes a movement between the two notions, personal and public, in the form of ‘narrative identity’ (pp.118-9). ‘Narrative identity’ is the volatile component, as it were; a speculative idea that defuses the question of self with a more mobile notion that can key into and out of overly self-identification. Narrative can as well be constructed, as if one were the chief fictitious protagonist of one’s own novel. Further to this idea of the compound sense of self and other, Ricoeur (2008) terms the ‘dialectical counterpart to the notion of belonging’ ‘distanciation’ (p.32). This has implications concerning the text and, by implication, other creative mediums. Ricoeur states: 


…to understand is to understand oneself in front of the text…. …of exposing ourselves to the text and receiving from it an enlarged self, which would be the proposed existence corresponding in the most suitable way to the world proposed’. (2008, p.84)


The efficacy of the Ricoeur reference is due to its concern with the phenomenology of the text (hermeneutics), when text figures substantially in the DNA ancestry project and in my artistic practice in general, and of course as this article itself.


The ancestral DNA reading – any such reading applied to anyone of us – in a sense performs ‘distanciation’. Here one is, determined through biological evidence, yet simultaneously alienated by inhuman statistics and, in my case, a geographically distant genetic GPS. While one may naturally be curious as to one’s ancient origins and lineage through the millennia, forms of art-working make it possible to displace oneself into, arguably, a more engaging example of ‘distanciation’ and so distance oneself from bio-technologically derived content. The following discussion concerns the implications of distance in the research question through more intimate sense of involvement in and as the medium of its exploration. 

What I have

An example of distanciation

While working on the project I suffered a prolapsed disc in my low back. Staring from a firm-mattress single sofa-bed towards a pair of light curtains drawn across a large glass wooden-framed door at daybreak, an undulating shaft of light that reflects the shape of the curtains that projects onto the top underside of the wooden frame reminds me of my spinal condition. The vertical shaft of light that appears where the curtains don’t quite overlap in the middle equally suggests to me umbilical cord, Figure 4.

This may be considered an instance of ‘distanciation’ where, albeit unknown to the sketch’s viewer except via the above mention, I see myself simultaneously both distanced, in normal circumstances, and subjectively drawn towards and into this image. The coalescing of the two motifs, horizontal undulating light and its vertical projected dimension, and its association with spine, is now on the drawing in its present state at the precise time of writing, shown here as a detail, and has yet to be further re-worked, Figure 5. 

The use of Golding's novel in relation to the question of ancestral DNA

How and why is there a shift, a non-specific distance between the two views? It is in this space that I would hope that the artist intervenes, just as one pulls forward aspects of the past and, in so doing, makes an ellipse of what was in-between, seeing it presented to one to think about in the moment as if it were future time. Lacan (2006) suggests something like this when he states of the glance: ‘’The time for comprehending can be reduced to the instant of the glance, but this glance can include in its instant all the time needed for comprehending’ (p.168). (This idea of an instant expanded laterally for whatever time it takes, seems to me to define the kind of focus required of drawing.)   


By this point in the present article’s text I have moved with an action camera placed over my eyes to respond to the as-yet unfinished drawing in terms of other – or at least having this question of other as displacement of me to the location of my genetic GPS, and to explain as best I can, unrehearsed, how it plays out in the present visual-material terms. The now-edited video clip’s gaps are discernible as momentary transitions, which of course prompts the question, suggested by missing distances: What was taken out? One problem – and reason for the editing – is that the inside-me, as it were, overrides the external-me with the mostly infernal and involuntary enunciation of speech. The drawing, at least in its state at the present time, mimics such incoherence, the latter not completely but as an obfuscating factor with which artists in and through their subjectivity have to work.

I tend to equate the obfuscating enunciation of speech to the opacity of language, yet there is a difference here between something that is the result of involuntary disfluency and the creative use of language as, in Golding’s case, to convey not only Lok and Fa’s difficulties with what they’re seeing for the first time, but also the fact that they think and communicate through ‘picture’. While we might argue that we all have recourse to mental pictures, this seems to be Golding’s metaphor for the fact that language had not substantially developed among the Neanderthal species – although Golding attributes to them a keen sense of smell – whereas they find themselves listening to language used in a far more advanced state among the Homo sapiens, which is congruent with the latter’s development of more diverse skills. (What the Neanderthals lack in comparison, however, is in a sense compensated by the fact that everything in and of their environment is alive in the animistic sense.) In visual-material practice there are similar issues: while the video clip shows my relatively crude and uncoordinated use of materials that are in themselves crude, its pictures are okay to the internal-me; for example, in how I describe the interaction between the vertical shaft of light and the spine in the video: 


This, is actually similar in a way to the space . . . that occurs between the shaft of light and the spine. It also happens to have a point. I’m very interested in this space this gap, this gap . . . between time and space and meaning. It’s a void in the, err, drawing, but there’s something about this . . . which . . . in visual-material terms–– this is somehow, to do with the inside, subjective, and-um, external, aspects of myself, in relation to, drawing in relation to the project . . . in relation to, the siting of me, at a point, geographically, in Europe, which is quite other, to where I was born and brought up. 

(05: 13 – 6: 10mins, of the 07: 15min. video clip)


The video clip, while reporting on aspects of the drawing’s crudeness, does so in terms that are more shareable; the external-me. Video, however, brings an other into the midst, a sense of mirroring that feels uncomfortable to me, and may respectively be considered an alienating instrument from the perspective of those who are substantially attuned to the analogic basis of still-image drawings and paintings and a relief to those who need the more objective criteria that can be provided by verbal or written explanation. This is not, of course, how drawing and painting works, and I myself am very aware of the difference between video and how I have used it to report on, comparable to how I found and spoke about a gap, a void space, between the aforementioned vertical shaft of light and the curve of the spine in the drawing. The imploded rectangular image of the action camera as I see it while using it in front of my eyes to record, the chance location of one of the camera images of which confers with the white dot that I have intended as the genetic GPS, and the chance movement of a brown mark across the circumscribed void space, are similarly incongruous, yet, like the Neanderthal Lok’s feelings towards what he sees of Homo sapiens for the first time, are fascinating, Fig 7.

(The Appendix includes a photo of this completed drawing, Figure 9)


For the past two years I have maintained an email exchange with the Vienna-based British artist and academic Derek Pigrum. Throughout this correspondence we have shared and tested explanations of theoretical interests in a format that may be termed remote – however well our friendship has developed through this means – and is in this sense distanced. While such an exchange is not, therefore, indicative of ‘distanciation’, occasionally the shared writing is inflective of the Ricoeur definition cited above.   


An example of such correspondence may be that while writing this article Pigrum sent me an email conveying two not unrelated references. The first of the references is in response to a comment of mine in my prior email to Pigrum concerning the tiny Oa in Golding’s story, which belongs to a Neanderthal girl called Liku and, when she lays this ambiguous phenomenon down on the ground of a cave, gives it the feminine pronoun. Pigrum (personal communication, August 6, 2023) states: ‘The thing the little girl named female and the fact of the passing down only through the female line [reference to my mention of the female mitochondrial DNA( mtDNA)] suggest to me the very last lines of Goethe’s Faust where he mentions ‘the Mothers’ or the place we all return to until it is time for us to pass into another body. The second of Pigrum’s references is actually a quote by Walter Benjamin from Blanqui in his (Benjamin’s) Arcades project, where in the context of the concept of eternal return, and the repetition in nature of a limited number of ‘heavenly bodies’, Pigrum (personal communication, 6 August, 2023, citing Benjamin), conveys Benjamin’s Blanqui quote to me: 


“So each heavenly body whatever it might be exists in infinite number in time and space, not only in one of its aspects but as it is at each second of its existence, from birth to death… The earth is one of these heavenly bodies. Every human being is thus eternal at every second of his or her existence”. 


My reply to Pigrum (personal communication, August 7, 2023):


On both counts, I like the idea of the dynamic point; that eternal return has somehow to do with this point of eternal fixation…. I’m relating this idea of point to how the shaft of light, like a spine, meets also at the coccyx of the spine that’s now in my drawing. But it does also credit my intention to stay with the genetic GPS and its centring on Germany….


Such exchange has prompted me to consider that the suggestion of eternity in a point, formally, conceptually, symbolically, may also imply infinite spreading outwards; that eternity has and is an aura. In Golding’s The Inheritors, there are at least two references supporting this idea. (Golding, 2021, p.105): ‘And because he was one of the people, tied to them with a thousand invisible strings, his fear was for the people’. While the idea of ‘a thousand invisible strings’ here concerns place and time, the connection’s invisibility suggests another more cosmic force at work. Golding also writes:


There were the smells of many men and women and children and, finally, most obscurely but none the less powerfully, there was the smell compounded of many that had sunk beneath the threshold of separate identification into the smell of extreme age. (2021, p.190)


The idea of the compounding of smell into that of ‘extreme age’ suggests the at-once bringing together of many bodies, the millennia back in time of the referenced people, and the idea of the infinitude of human life as a concept. However, Lok represents such sheer expansiveness as a corporeal and symbolic point, to which the Blanqui quote also alludes, if one rationalises it as slightly more earthbound than celestial. 


The map of Germany as visible in the two versions in the drawing in the state shown in Figure 6 is in plan view and perspectival elevation, the genetic GPS in the latter pointed to by the vertical shaft of light of the curtains and the coccyx of the spine, both of which are implied in the horizontal undulation of light above the curtains. Ettinger’s theory of the Matrix and Metramorphosis not so much contradict but range contiguously with the predominant psychoanalytical theory of Freud and Lacan. While Lacanian theory points to, and has as its point as the symbolic Phallus and the symbolic Father, Ettinger’s matrixial is first experienced by the pre-natal embryo in the third term of a pregnancy as the simultaneous within and without of the mother, of the earliest and primitive beginnings of an at-once ‘I’ and ‘non-I’ (Ettinger, 2020, p.126). The matrixial is from then on expansive in an, albeit limited sense, connecting oneself to significant others into the post-natal and onwards through adulthood. Ettinger, however, equates this matrixial movement not to the pre-linguistic Imaginary of Lacan’s three structural psychic registers, Imaginary, Symbolic, Real, but to a pre-linguistic Symbolic, during a time before gender differentiation and subject to a continuity of experience through adulthood as identification with the feminine of the mother, no matter what one’s gender. 


I am applying this idea of psychological terrain, as it were, to that of mtDNA; female DNA that is passed only from woman to daughter, beginning with the earliest recorded hominin fossil in Africa some 3.2 million years ago, a girl who came to be called Lucy (New Scientist, 2022, pp.31-2). While ancestral DNA is a topic of significance to the entire globe and many millennia of time and space, where the female gene, as opposed to the male Y chromosome, provides biologists the greater evidence – which is itself a global matrix – Ettinger’s matrixial is significant just in the present psychic life of an individual and in relation to the others within one’s immediate community. However, given that I invest a sense of self in my visual practice anyway, in this instance through a few prompts from the ancestral DNA test, the smaller matrix extends via the human subject – in this case the internal-me in relation to a movement towards externalisation of an idea – and the far larger matrix contracts according to my focus on but a modicum of its potential for exploration. 

In the context of discussion of the difference between the Latin route of the term God and the Hebrew equivalent, AHIH, Ettinger (2020) equates the former with the question of ‘being’ only, and the latter with an understanding of being that also encompasses ‘becoming’ (pp.136-7). This is interesting in relation to Pigrum’s reference (cited above) to Blanqui’s understanding of human’s eternality that can have as its metaphor the point, which can therefore also accommodate the idea of becoming, a future time, and physical movement. Further in the same context, Ettinger (2020), through the metaphor of ‘migration’, has referred to three kinds of exile: ‘…“inverted exiles” a migration to an unknown desired destination’; ‘…“return” for migrations towards a known destination’; ‘…“exile” for movements of expulsion… abandonment of the desired place…’ (p.135). Across time, place, and space, one can imagine that mothers and daughters will have been variously subject to all three types of migration in their lineage down to oneself in the here-and-now, albeit for one’s brief time on earth. 


While the text that constitutes the present article is of course itself open to hermeneutical analysis, a more apparent example for such consideration would be either transcription of speech – such as the short instance above – and the relatively more enunciated language of emails, however academic their content, the latter especially when their addressee is a friend. What follows by way of example, is my email addressed to Pigrum (personal communication, August 13, 2023) that was the first iteration of what I explain, above, of Ettinger’s interpretation of becoming:


I've been encouraged to write this partly through reading… Ettinger on the meaning of the name God in the book of Exodus. Ettinger contrasts the Latin, Greek, French and English meaning of the term AHIH, which is Hebrew for God, as it occurs in Exodus, and means 'I am', with the Hebrew meaning, 'I will be/become', the latter of which infers the idea of future and movement, rather than the static now. Then Ettinger (2020) states: 'AHIH ASHER AHIH [Ettinger translates it as 'I am that I am', or 'I am that is'] is a future departure leading to another future departure with no resting point or destination. It indicates a movement of desire with no objective, no destination. Any fantasy that occupies the place of the object of desire of the first I will be/become, is expelled by the second I will be/become. The repetition itself traces a chain of future distances, and thereby evacuates any fantasy objects'.... Being and becoming, although coinciding in Hebrew, are incompatible in French and English' (pp.136-7). This last sentence seems to in part answer why Lacan critiques philosophy from the point of view of being, since in his theory becoming is by far the more important condition….

The comment I make within the email in its last sentence concerning Lacan’s critique of philosophy has been in mind due to some reading from several months ago. In his Seminar XIX, …or Worse, Lacan (2018) discusses the difference between the One as being and the One of repetition (p.116). According to Badiou (2018) on this question of critique of philosophy, Lacan challenges being as used in the philosophical sense by thinking (p.140). Badiou (2018) states: ‘…in Lacan’s eyes… there is thinking only where there is a local absence of being’ (pp.61-2). This is given that thinking is associated with becoming. I am therefore drawing a link between Ricoeur’s ‘distanciation’, of which the above is an approximate example in textual practice, when movement within the self concerns what he terms, as cited above, ‘narrative identity’, and the philosophical notion of becoming. It is, however, significant for the latter concept and my recourse to theory for what I myself have had to say in the article, that these have mostly been from the domain of theoretical psychoanalysis rather than philosophy. (One’s visual practice considered in its on-going state as process, is automatically more suited to the idea of becoming than being.) 


Badiou, A. (2018)  Lacan Anti-philosophy 3. Columbia University Press

Ball, P. (2020) How to Grow a Human: Redesigning Cells and Redesigning Life. William Collins

Ettinger, B. (2020) Matrixial Subjectivity, Aesthetics, Ethics Volume 1 1990-2000. Palgrave Macmillan

Golding, W. (2021) The Inheritors. Faber and Faber

Lacan, J. (2006) Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. Norton

Lacan (2018) …or Worse The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XIX. Polity Press

New Scientist (2022) Human Origins: 7 million years and counting. John Murray Press

Ricoeur, P. (1994) Oneself as Another. University of Chicago Press

Ricoeur, P. (2008) From Text to Action. Continuum



Names, phrases and their syllables

I also have the idea of the phrase Out of Africa and the name Neanderthal, split into their respective syllables, written onto index cards and strewn randomly onto the aforementioned paper ground, highlighting where syllables of each come into contact with imagery of a hand ranging a Petri dish (a small clear glass or plastic tray used for growing cells) over the index cards, Figure 3a/b.

The visual-material and conceptual distance of these motifs construed as metaphors from one another, the short physical distance of their source from where I am working on the drawing, their subjective relationship to me, and the idea of erectness of spine that, millennia ago, began to define the human species, are all potentially material of that which, as it were, distanciates. As an artist, one comes at times unbearably close to one’s subjectivity while striving to cultivate a dispassionate mode of, and which consistently enables, investigation. ‘Distanciation’ and other  are philosophical and/or psychoanalytical terms that can be enlightening of the afore-suggested paradox.


The tracking of the project as text and image

Apart from this, I have the tracking of the project as text and image on a template of the Research Catalogue. The RC is its own complex medium, with and onto which one can variously post and develop research. 


A reading of a novel

What underpins both the visual-material work, some of which is referenced above, and the writing, is a reading of William Golding’s (2021) novel The Inheritors, concerning the mutual discovery of a small family of Neanderthals and a group of Homo sapiens, and their incomprehension mixed with terror, resulting in devastation though not complete extinction of the Neanderthals. While the novel’s textual basis equates it with the written aspect of the project, and is therefore more easily referenced on the RC, Golding’s vivid descriptions and metaphors are influencing my approach to the visual work. The term other is used by Golding to name the incredulity of the Neanderthal main character, Lok, towards his first sightings of Homo sapiens – and of the Homo sapiens towards the Neanderthals only once (2020, p.242), although with several references to them as devil (Golding, 2020, pp.242; 244-7) 


The other and subjectivity

The other, in Lacanian psychoanalytical terms, is the split-off and alienating specular or mirror self-reflection that nonetheless, and of more significance precisely because of this kind of distance, contributes to the formation of oneself as one’s own subject during what Lacan (2006) in an early paper called the ‘mirror stage’ (pp.75-81). Distance, in the above-suggested terms, therefore concerns the conflation of geographical space, place and time with subjectivity, explored through art working for the duration that these concerns are relevant in the mode of research. If and when the research is complete, or at least presented as a few defining works, much of the content of the research will be of little or no consequence. Distance in this respect involves staying paradoxically near, in the sense of maintaining, the momentum of the research indefinitely. ‘Distanciation’ has in this regard a different inflection, not as oneself confronted by the text – or any approximate equivalent – so much as a paradoxical submersion in and distance from the work in and as process.  Capturing artistic research in process, in and as becoming, the stretched distance between start and its prospective finish that has an oscillating central dynamic, is of more interest to me than achieving resolved work. 

Golding’s first publication of The Inheritors in 1955 happens to be the year of my birth, I first read it in my late teens, the copy I am now reading was printed in 2021, and this year in which it is again relevant to me is 2023. The Neanderthal group in the novel, struggling with an encounter with early humans, will be set at its latest 40,000 years ago – since, according to the New Scientist (2022), after then Neanderthals would most likely have become extinct (p.73). In the here-and-now, so to speak, I am articulating an engagement with my ancestral DNA test result through drawing-based artwork with recourse to stretching very far backwards in time and imagining a fictional situation as factual. The lassitude offered by the embroiling of fiction and fact, however, keys into the necessity of distance between whatever is the content of one’s work and its visual-material means of conception while, again paradoxically, requiring full and intimate cooperation between both. Surely this at-once distance and proximity is what Ricoeur means by ‘distanciation’, and is what one feels, from the vantage of the present, when thinking back to one’s distant past. Golding’s novel, read in the context of the ancestry project, bridges this gap in a number of ways.


The idea in Lacan’s (2006) ‘dialectic of identification with the other’, the ‘specular image’, is that one’s mirror view during infancy holds the split-off aspect of oneself that inherits significant others’ intentions for one (pp.76-7); a mandate to constant striving, in a sense, that is both deeply imbued – because it is oneself in the mirror – and constitutionally alienating. This said, I prefer not to develop this argument theoretically on this occasion, but stay closer to the experiential; for example, the difference one notices in others’ views in the mirror, exceptional to one’s own, given that one can only accept a permanently inverted view of oneself. I feel it fitting, in this respect, that the genetic GPS distances me from my origins in the UK to that of another country, in this case in central Europe. There are several references of Golding’s Neanderthal character, Lok, in The Inheritors, to ‘the other’ and its split character. (Golding, 2021, p.75): ‘He [Lok] was beginning to know the other without understanding how it was that he knew’. How often has one felt this about one’s relationship to one’s artwork! (Golding, 2021, p.146): ‘Now, more clearly than ever before there were two Loks, outside and inside’. While there is of course always a social motive to one’s art practice, the process is more likely to be driven internally. (Golding, 2021, p.160): ‘…outside Lok… insisted on listening for danger’. In art practice this is rather like one’s looking for theoretical explanation that merely serves to shore up one’s uncertainty. (Golding, 2021, p.181): ‘the knowledge was something like that sense of extreme peril that outside-Lok had shared with her [Lok’s companion, Fa] earlier; but this was for inside-Lok and he had no room for it’. I would like to suggest that this is tantamount to satiation of knowledge; that one must limit and specify in relation to one’s practice, even if on a case-by-case basis. My brother has remarked that my ancestry DNA reading is quite different to what his daughter knows of her own DNA reading, and a friend feels that mid-Germany just isn’t me. Somehow, however, the geographical and cultural difference between my known immediate origin in the UK and that statistics places me somewhere else in Europe is comforting – like a good fictional read – as much as disturbing. The inside-me can come through in the fact that I have charted the drape of light between the joins of the curtain, which I liken to an umbilical cord, and a human spine whose coccyx ends at the point of the genetic GPS, as shown above in Figure 5. 


Spine comes into Lok’s ‘pictures’ of Homo sapiens – since the Neanderthals seek to understand in terms of pictures, and, inter-subjectively, to what extent their pictures among their group confer. On this occasion the importance of ‘picture’ is implied by its lack of availability (Golding, 2021, p.149): ‘It was as though something that Lok could not see were supporting them, holding up their heads, thrusting them slowly and irresistibly forward. Lok knew that if he were as thin as they, he would be dead already’. For aesthetic reasons when painting and drawing, it is often good practice to seek to defy gravity, just as in terms of physical posture it is good practice to think up with one’s body rather than down. In a more recent state of the drawing, the map of Germany is shown in both plan view and elevation, between which is an indeterminate movement, Figure 6.

The last chapter of Golding’s novel, which is the only insight one receives of the situation viewed from the Homo sapiens’ perspective, reads as a resolution of the opacity of language, as it were, that has filtered the Neanderthals’ sense of intrusion into their world. This is similar to what one aims to achieve through art writing about one’s own visual-material work. However, when such writing intervenes in work-in-another-medium’s process, as opposed to being about results, there is a contiguous relationship similarly to Ettinger’s matrixial theory that I have suggested pulls across the theory of Lacan. The present article’s placing in the context of the Research Catalogue does itself concern process, insofar as artistic research tends to orientate as the latter. Distance is arguably less distant for the artist in relation to their practice as research and far more distant in relation to their finished work than any other viewer of such work. While the so-termed ‘new one’ by the Neanderthals of a baby in their family is termed the ‘devil’ by the Homo sapiens, Golding (2021) provides a hint of reciprocity between the Neanderthal baby and its Homo sapien carer when he states: ‘Hesitating, half-ashamed, with that same frightened laughter, she bent her head, cradled him with her arms and shut her eyes’ (p.244). This hint of reciprocity – in my case the Neanderthal in me that is a mere 0.5% – is arguably what I have referred to above as the ‘paradoxical’ of how the medium/s through which I work both separate and bind. It is also, referring back to the Ricoeur citation in the Introduction, the greater magnanimity of the self of ‘…the proposed existence corresponding in the most suitable way to the world proposed’. Isn’t this also what one strives to do in art practice approached as research, initially for oneself in this more personal interim arena, but, through more consciously focused attention to such research’s structuring, make available to the viewer/reader as an exposition that results in some enlargement of self? ‘Existence’ is one’s own as felt, and the ‘world’ is the other to which one reaches out with one’s proposal, given that in personal subjective terms the other is also oneself. The analogy of the research basis of visual-material art practice to the distance between start and finish of a novel, with Ricoeur’s idea of ‘distanciation’ – which after all concerns reading as a temporal activity – applied to the question of process, is here through a fictional example that is informative of a world to which a starting set of abstract statistics allude.

Fig 1: Near-ancestor set, coffee stain, ink, acrylic paint, gesso primer on corrugated cardboard, each around 50 x 36cm, 2023 © Michael Croft

Fig 4: Sketch of curtains, coffee stain, ink, plastic crayon, pencil on paper, 35.5 x 27.5, 2023 © Michael Croft   

Fig 6: Large drawing unfinished state, ink, acrylic paint, index cards on tablecloth paper, oil paint on clear-plastic overlay, 100 x 123cm, 2023 © Michael Croft

Fig 2: Large drawing unfinished state, ink, acrylic paint, index cards on tablecloth paper, 100 x 123cm, 2023 © Michael Croft

Fig 3a/b: Large drawing unfinished state, ink, acrylic paint, index cards on tablecloth paper, 100 x 123cm + Detail of a later stage, variable dimensions, 2023 © Michael Croft 

Fig 7: Screenshot of video clip at 05: 55min, 2023 © Michael Croft

Fig 8: Detail of large drawing unfinished state, ink, acrylic paint, index cards on tablecloth paper, oil paint on clear-plastic overlay, variable dimensions  © Michael Croft

Fig 5: Detail of large drawing unfinished state, ink, acrylic paint, index cards on tablecloth paper, variable dimensions, 2023 © Michael Croft 

Fig 9: Out- of- Af- ri- ca- / Ne- an- der- thal finished large drawing, ink, acrylic paint, index cards on tablecloth paper, oil paint on clear-plastic overlay, 100 x 123cm, 2023 © Michael Croft

Video clip of several minutes of the drawing's process (07.15min)