Workshop #2: “Optical and Haptic Drawing: Exploring Spatial Representation through the Senses.


Students participated in a series of exercises focusing on non-visual forms of perception to guide drawing. Initially, they used tactile sensations to understand and visualize objects without seeing them. In a subsequent activity, pairs collaborated with one describing an unseen object verbally while the other drew it, enhancing their descriptive and interpretive skills. Inspired by "Two Stage Transfer Drawing," another exercise had students communicate shapes and movements through touch, with one drawing on another's back, and the latter translating these sensations onto paper. These activities aimed at enriching sensory perception and communication in the creative process.



 Emphasize a bodily and sensorial dimension in understanding what surrounds us

  • Respond to sensory stimuli to better perceive the shapes of objects: feel, touch, perceive and represent.
  • Awakening to experience and interpretation in the representation process


Exercise 1) Seeing with the hands
For this first proposal, we asked the students to close their eyes and stretch out the palm of their dominant hand. Small objects were placed on it. As they discovered the object through tactile movements, they were also constructing a visual form. In this task, visual perceptions were replaced by tactile feedback that conveyed the gestures of the drawing.

Fig.2.1  Image of environment inside classroom and an Illustrative drawing created by one of the students Afonso Canas.

Exercise 2) Drawing from Description
In a second phase, the work was carried out in pairs, and verbal language was introduced. One colleague held an object with both hands and, without ever making eye contact with it, verbally described it to the other colleague, who, in turn, attempted to give it visibility through a drawing created within a specific time period. The objective of this exercise was to refine a set of tactile exploratory procedures in the recognition of an object and to develop linguistic synthesis for communication.

Fig.2.2. Image of the students inside the classroom and an Illustrative drawing created by one of the students Carolina Mendes.

Exercise 3) Drawing through Sensory Transfer
Inspired by the work "Two Stage Transfer Drawing" (Dennis Oppenheim and Erik, 1971), a drawing created through sensory transfer, we developed a proposal that stimulates a kinetic response from the students' sensory system. Each pair would be positioned in a line facing the wall where a sheet was fixed. The colleague furthest from the wall was given an object to draw with the opposite end of the pen on the back of the other colleague. In turn, this gesture was made visible by the other colleague, who, through pressure, movement, and directions, transferred the sensation's movement to the sheet attached to the wall, resulting in a particular form.

Fig.2.3.   Dennis Oppenheim, “Two stages transfer drawing” (1971) and a photo of an activity with two students.