Drawing: an ambiguous practice
conference contributionposted on 09.04.2010 by Phil Sawdon, Russell Marshall
Any type of content contributed to an academic conference, such as papers, presentations, lectures or proceedings.
Is a lack of a definition, a position of ambiguity, desirable in response to the question: what is drawing? This paper presents a view taken from two traditionally distinct fields: art and design; design and technology. This view is formed through the research collaboration and co-editorship of TRACEY: the journal of contemporary drawing, and the pedagogical development of a Masters programme in visualisation by the authors. This view is that a lack of definition is not only desirable, it is also a necessity. Our position is that the ambiguity that inevitably stems from a lack of definition forms a strategy that enables and sustains drawing research. Our collaborative experience is that drawing research is framed by assumptions that are embedded within art and design; design and technology. Historically, these fields have developed particular views about what drawing is, or what drawing is not. This paper will attempt to break down these assumptions from the place and space that evolves through the authors’ ongoing experience of collaboration. From this place and space we will argue that there are a number of art / design categories of practice and research that ultimately describe something that is bounded (area / volume). These overlap, intersect, and perhaps like some long standing boundary war, vie for ownership of each other’s domains. Drawing could be seen as one of these domains. However, we will argue that drawing is unbounded, that there is no ‘expanded field’, and that drawing’s ubiquity necessitates a lack of definition, a position of ambiguity. A boundary can change over time for many reasons: a diverted water course, or a wooden fence that moves slightly every time it is replaced. The reason for such changes is rarely recorded and can lead to disputes (RICS, 2009).