Exhibited July-August 2010, c3 Contemporary Art Space, The Abbotsford Convent
And Dec 2010-Jan 2011, The Siemens-RMIT Fine Art Scholarship Awards, RMIT Gallery
remote control drawing pen, 20 metre paper roll, coloured felt tip pens, rulers, set-squares, spirit level, sticky tape
The drawing was made during the 3 week exhibition period, on a 20 metre roll of paper with my remote control drawing pen. The pen is difficult to control, and generally produces chaotic marks. My friend Natalie McQuade wrote on her yellow typewriter at different times during the show, see Subject to change without notice.
Living in these times of extreme rationalism, where science and technology define our existence, I wonder about things that can’t easily be explained or controlled by rational logic. For example, the deep unruly impulses that drive us. Things we are barely aware of, yet find expression in our behaviour, decisions and interactions. Although we project an image of control, in reality we are messy unpredictable beings with no control over anything. Eventually we die.
So what is this drawing about? To start with I’m not sure that it is a drawing. To me it’s more a trace of a past physical movement. The remains of what was and can no longer be. It conceals the manufacture of its existence, and masquerades as a finished discrete object. But the physical limits of the paper are arbitrary. It appears to be separate from the floor and the walls, but is it?
Before I started this work I experienced my usual bouts of frustration, procrastination and anxiety about not having an idea. My self doubt took over for a while. I did not want to draw in the conventional sense, ie. idea, studies, planning, drafting, pencil, paper, subject, object, style, finished work etc. So what was I to do?
At this time I was reading a lot about process art in relation to drawing, particularly work done by American artists in the late sixties. Artists such as Mel Boucher, Nancy Grossman, Eva Hesse, Robert Smithson and Richard Tuttle. Among other things, these artists were questioning traditional art making practices and the whole concept of the finished object as constituting the work of art. Much of their work was transient or contingent on the act of making rather than the end result. This fascinated me.
So I decided to buy a very large roll of paper and start making marks, without any specific outcome in mind. I wanted to be present to the act of drawing rather than transfixed by an envisioned outcome. I set the following parameters:
- I would draw with my remote drawing pen (which I invented in 2006)
- I would make it up as I went along
- I would try to do the opposite of what my instincts were telling me