Looking at Drawing: A Discourse on Vision in Drawing Practice

Contemporary image making operates within a profoundly visual culture; the increasing proliferation of images and computer vision technology offer opportunities to re-examine notions of looking. Historically, drawing has contributed to a discourse on vision, functioning as a form of visual thinking that allows us to challenge established ways of doing and imagine new possibilities. Digital technology has implications for traditional drawing processes and how we comprehend physicality, raising questions about the body in the act of making and our encounter with the Other. Throughout the twentieth century avant-garde artists developed strategies to expand the field of drawing practice, often working with procedures that isolate vision to articulate broader psychological and philosophical issues. Discourse on vision supports an understanding of Self and Other in drawing practice; looking while drawing, looking at drawings, and looking at the Other through drawing. As such this research acknowledges and extends a history of drawing practice which uses vision to deconstruct notions of representation and perception.

This paper examines the theme of ‘interference’ as a methodology of making. It will discuss a series of portraits produced with eye tracking software, constructed entirely from the recorded gaze path of the viewer. This strategy actively removes the ‘artist’s hand’ from the eye/brain/hand loop in order to resituate the role of vision and that of the spectator in drawing practice.