Traces of the absent : mapping loss through the act of looking in observational drawing

2017-02-22T03:17:36Z (GMT) by Perry, Kirsten
This practice-based research explores the act of looking in the drawing process, through notions of absence, index and trace. The investigation is grounded in an effort to deconstruct the inter-relationship of eye-mindhand in the activity of drawing, in order to isolate and examine sight. This strategy removes 'the artist's hand', and its associations with the body and subjectivity from the drawing process; to explore vision as an active process mediated by both the mind and the body. Using eye tracking technology as a drawing tool, these methods plot the path of the gaze as the artist views the human subject. The resulting drawings map the saccadic movements of the eye, revealing vision as a subjective and selective process, which it will be argued - implies a subsequent gap or loss in what we see. This loss is further extended in the drawn mark, as the index or trace of the artist's body which is now absent. The exegesis frames the research methodologies and outcomes in relation to the central thematic concerns of absence, index and trace. This document is intended to support and contextualise the studio practice, through a discourse on vision from various scientific and cultural perspectives, and the work of others in the field who examine issues of perception through an engagement with the body in the drawing process. The research outcomes comprise two groups of eye tracking drawings. The first a series of portraits exploring the connections between vision and absence; and a second series of gestural drawings, which register the movements of the eye as the trace of the body.