Russell Marshall and Phil Sawdon.
This article has been ‘drawn’ through collaboration between the parts identified in Table 1. As ‘parts’ we inhabit (distinct?) disciplinary spaces, that have some common elements, share terminology, have stereotypical external views to which we might or might not subscribe, yet have established a relationship that is becoming a common view.
It is possible to identify a significant level of common thinking, process, and application in the use of drawing across our and many other disciplines. However, the notion of different disciplines and their common use of drawing is an area of debate. In the context of drawing the use of disciplinary boundaries is an ‘ambiguous’ distinction.
The ‘common part’s’ experience of their disciplines supports definition and therefore a minimisation of ambiguity within drawing research. This is often seen as necessary to foster common understanding. In the context of drawing research, it may therefore seem appropriate to begin with a definition of drawing.
We, the common parts, recognise that if you can agree a definition then you might avoid talking at cross-purposes and misunderstanding. However, our view is that this is not possible in drawing. The process of trying to define drawing is, in fact, obstructive and that we should be brave enough not to try. If we agree that a definition will never be reached or acceptable to everyone (or enough people) then accepting a lack of definition, or ambiguity might avoid these issues.
The ambiguity of what drawing is, or what drawing can be, we propose as something to be celebrated. Alternatively, the cross purposes / misunderstanding may actually be beneficial or interesting (but possibly not as accessible).
This ambiguity presents an opportunity.
Drawing, once considered to sit wholly within a [sub-]boundary, clear and unbroken in a traditional view of drawing, now becomes perforated into a dashed delineation. This allows for an unfolding of these limits. The punctuation of this boundary, this line, with regular empty space presents a challenge, firstly to constrain an expanding field within the remit of drawing and secondly, to consider a position for drawing that wanders or weaves across and through this boundary.
The prefix ‘sub-’ can be freely attached to elements of any origin and is used to indicate ‘under,’ ‘below,’ ‘beneath’ identifies this boundary within a boundary as a hierarchical element within the disciplinary boundary, a supra- boundary?
The prefix ‘supra-’ meaning ‘above, over’ or ‘beyond the limits of, outside of’ confirms a hierarchical representation, a particular view of drawing within contemporary fine art practice that we recognise as an unfolding of these limits from sub- to supra- or from hypo- to hyper…drawing.
Our perspective on becoming is that (Hyper)drawing acknowledges where it is, and allows itself to be comfortable with what it is. From this position our view should then be forward, the opportunity in what can be as opposed to what is.
Drawing should explore this ambiguity through deliberately not addressing what is drawing or what drawing is. Indeed, what are the opportunities that arise if we are ambivalent to the answers to these questions, subvert the answers to these questions, or challenge the questions themselves?
Hyper-drawing as an ambiguous practice presents the prospect that a lack of a definition, a position of ambiguity, may be desirable within drawing practice [fine art]. We propose that a position of ambiguity (a lack of definition), is desirable. That a lack of definition is not only desirable, it is also a necessity. ■
Russell Marshall is a Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University (Loughborough Design School). He is a director of TRACEY: drawing and visualisation research and the co-editor of Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art and with Phil Sawdon the co-editor of Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art. Learn more about the Hyperdrawing project here.
Phil Sawdon is an Honorary Fellow at Loughborough University (School of the Arts). He is a director of TRACEY: drawing and visualisation research and the co-editor of Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art and with Russell Marshall the co-editor of Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art. You can follow him on his blog. Learn more about the Hyperdrawing project here.