Drawing as a medium of research
Eight A4 works, two A3 works, and one A0 work. Various media on paper, 8-11/2015.
The objective of this series was to explore the kangaroo skull visually, and subsequently to use my exploration of its visual form – the shapes, planes, tones, and lines that make the skull identifiable as such – as a vehicle for exploration of the skull’s roles/functions and how they are revealed through the skull’s appearance, reflecting my interest in it as a scientific object.
My treatment of the skull as part of a larger whole, with the absent rest of that ‘whole’ (the full body of a kangaroo) being equally as important as the present skull, was an idea borrowed from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s essay ‘November 28, 1947: How Do You Make Yourself A Body Without Organs?’. Deleuze and Guattari entertain Antonin Artaud and William S. Burroughs’ lamentations of the body: that it is ‘scandalously inefficient,’ flawed, variously ‘hypochondriac,’ ‘paranoid,’ ‘schizo,’ ‘drugged,’ or ‘masochist,’ and never truly successful. As such, Deleuze and Guattari suggest that a beneficial process of self-exploration is to ‘dismantle the self,’ to discover the ‘body without organs’ by rejecting the typically ‘stratified’ body. By imaging the skull on a large scale, gradually, I explored it both as a series of independent parts, and as its own whole ‘body’. This process prompted me to reflect upon concepts of totality, and of the different ways in which parts become one: as planes atop each other, or fitted together like puzzle pieces, etc., informed by Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of those phenomena in their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus.
I was eager to work using ink, water, and an open medium after visiting ‘Our spirits lie in the water,’ a collection of Indigenous Australian artworks at the Art Gallery of NSW. As a European I feel as though I can appreciate Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander artworks only as a cultural outsider, and would find any direct appropriation of their visuals or techniques morally objectionable. I can, however, empathise with those artists via our shared curiosity as to the infinite ways water can be mimicked through images. By applying ink to a watery surface, although the water soon evaporates, the pattern of the ink left behind still evidences it. This technique ensures that my project is as much about the water that isn’t visible as it is the ink that is visible, mirroring the way my project is as much about the absent kangaroo body as it is about its present skull.