Drawing and Visualisation Research
TRACEY:  journal | space




  • Would you describe any of your drawings as fragmentary? How, and why?

    If drawing and seeing are fragmentary, what guides selection, interpretation and (re)construction?

    According to Bernice Rose (Allegories of Modernism, 1992): "In current practice the fragment is itself a mode…Dual readings are a continual theme, along with…the power of language, the sign, and allegory in unexpected places".

    Is this the reality of contemporary practice, or simply a Postmodernist interpretation? What are the characteristics of contemporary practice and how has it changed or is it changing?

    How is it that the process of drawing is able to pull together fragments of space, time and memory?

    Should notions of composition, inter-relatedness and 'pictorial balance' be taught to students?

    Is there anything original in drawing, or is everything borrowed (either consciously or unconsciously)?


  • Andrew Selby, September 2009 - home page

    The potential research theme of fragmentation is, of course, vast and expansive. It has been characterised by some naturally different and occasionally ambiguous interpretations of the call for papers, with a handful of those submitted (along with other artefacts and posters) better suited to TRACEY’s sister themes of Ambiguity, Mapping and Memory and Performance. However, the very sentiment of this observation might be argued goes naturally against the very concept of fragmentation that the editorial team were looking to explore by inviting responses to the theme.

    Beyond the simplistic definition of the fragment as something which can be part broken off, detached, isolated, or is in some way an incomplete part of something larger, the research questions posed in the call for submissions ask contributors to channel thoughts and notions through a multitude of possible vantage points, to interrogate what fragmentation could be understood to mean in the wider context of drawing. If fragmentation can indeed be exemplified as emerging from a definition of a remainder of an otherwise lost or destroyed whole, (being) broken or separated into fragments, the idea of fragmentation itself, by default, perhaps asks us to consider the theme in the context of the maker’s, creator’s, or others relationship to it.

    For instance, the qualities of the fragment and the very process of fragmentation itself takes on a different complexity when considered through the paradigm acts of the accidental and/or the intentional. To suggest that something has deliberately and knowingly been fragmented uncovers and reveals a core series of codes and conditions that have, or are continually being exercised to make that situation occur. At once, this act or intervention places it some distance to the situation that has happened unknowingly, randomly and without interference. Central to this idea is the relative proximity and spatial awareness of the creator and their audience, and invites us to consider whether they are compliant or detached in such a spectacle.

    For many of the contributions to this theme, the peer reviewers looked for instances where fragmentation was contextualised against the frameworks of time, space, interaction and observance – in other words, the relationship of the contributor to their own perspective of fragmentary acts. The fragmented view of the drawing landscape, as one which might be disparate, disjointed and blurred, could be argued to conform to the Post-Modernist view of the world, by questioning, dismantling and reshaping boundaries and seeping into new pockets of discovery. Largely the vast majority of the blind refereed submissions actively sought to embed this new knowledge through anchoring their research ideas, structures and evidence through such beliefs.

    Pleasingly, this call has met with varied responses from a wide range of contributors, from many countries and at different moments in their understanding of drawing as a research activity. Contributions explore themes such as the questioning of fractured and mediated memory (Craig Barber, Coventry University, UK), the practice-infused study of the possibilities of fragmented drawing as aurality (David Griffin, Glasgow School of Art, UK) and the reconstitution and reassignment of the European landscape tradition through reframing pictorial conventions to answer challenging topographical and cultural challenges (Prof. Ros McCulloch and Dr. Gordon James Brown, James Cook University, Australia). Alongside that, drawn contributions have varied in physical and emotional intensity, from the interdisciplinary approach to fragmentary performative and ritual drawings of the group Drawn Together (Maryclare Foá, Jane Grisewood, Birgitta Hosea and Carali McCall, University of the Arts, UK) to the harrowing and chilling experiences of the post- Hurricane Katrina devastation in New Orleans (Jeffrey Marshall, The New England Institute of Art, USA).

    Undoubtedly, there is scope in this theme to cast the net wider. TRACEY would wholeheartedly encourage contributions from the likes of architects, industrial engineers, computer scientists, botanists, archaeologists and social scientists to quantify, qualify, explain, interrogate and unearth the idea of fragmentation to a wider view of the world through the prism of drawing research – and this might be achieved as a starting point by considering the theme through the constructions of memory, dreaming and location, or through historical and archival properties, assimilation or, indeed, our relationships to these constructions.