Writing on Digital drawings
Experimental digital drawing have now for already many years constituted a kind of inspirational laboratory in relation to my 3-dimensional works in clay. It began as a main tool for me during my years of artistic research work at Denmark’s Design School from 2005 – to 2008. I have never thought of them as direct working drawings. Rather they make up a special mental space for me – a way to fill my visual consciousness with a lot of impossibilities – visions that needs filtering and slowly find their path towards an eventual physical execution in clay. Or not – thus remaining in their own pictorial universe on the sheet if printed out on paper.
I was never particularly interested in imagining my works through precise drawings. What regards my ceramic works they have always emerged out of a dialogue with the material and the form at the moment of making. A dance of the here and now – based on an idea, a vision. But I have always made sketches. Regrettably I am not very organised and have never used sketchbooks – they seem to scare me. So my innumerable drawings are all over on loose sheets and have overall functioned as ways to fixate ideas that often are pouring out of you to the paper, in a current that followingly needs a critical eye before deciding what to spend time on executing physically.
The digital drawings represent a new creative space for me ( they are mostly made using Illustrator, in a continous interchange between drawing directly with the touchpad and/or scanned, possibly photographed handmade sketches. Png’s/gif’s are transferred from the 3D programme ( Cinema 4D) or simply through photos ). This creative space is a place where I can develop my ornamental, graphic inclinations in a new language, which to a very large extent relies on and depends on the possibilities of the inherent tools in the programmes. I try to study and use these following very simple methods. I set up parameters that determine the visual output when I press the key. Then I change the parameters a bit – what happens if I keep copying a random figure. Or morf an oval with a defined dotted line? Where and how does an interesting configuration suddenly emerge. A new ornamental principle?
In this playing with the tools of the graphic programmes I feel a great freedom. I love working with completely simple, banal and downright insignificant occurrences. A line, quickly drawn up at random becomes the starting point of an elaboration which slowly develops in an organic process, where a small detail of the stroke suddenly achieves its own life through the repetition, f.inst by off-setting the line. Maybe this detail takes over the drawing entirely. A graphic figure, photographed instead of being drawn in the programme itself, will have a slight shadow in the photo, that in the further process becomes a strongly characterising feature of the digital drawing.
I am primarily looking for visual rhythm in these expressions. Dynamism and complexity. Spatial possibilities emerging by the wandering of the eye from pure plane expressions towards an increasing rhythmic and spatial complexity that never allows the gaze to rest, but incessantly brings new figurations to the retina of the viewer. As a kind of visual music – present and then gone in the next moment. Cannot be fully concretised. As with my three-dimensional works they are non-figurative in a specific manner. They form reminiscenses of something familiar but are not depicting it.
To myself the drawings also brings an opportunity to wonder and a lot of considerations about which possibilities there might be for transforming the expressions into clay. How would I go about it – not least technically? There’s no direct route but a transformation will happen primarily in accordance with the form-in-space and the material itself. I would like to stress this relationship, i.e. the distance between the mostly simple idea – the straightforward gesture of the hand – and the meticulous and long process of execution in clay and further to the firing. All an evolutionary process where control and direction of the idea is crucial for obtaining a good result.
The very character of the drawn line sometimes is my inspiration. A soft, thick line held together by a thin filigree structure wouldn’t be possible without the programme. Lightness and compactness. Geometric figures breaking organic sequences up into a flickering visual play. A jazzy improvisation. Flow and staccato in an inseparable rhythm. A vision - emerging in a special here and now between me and the programme.
In my ceramic enterprise the works are results of a year-long incorporation of knowledge and experience of direct bodily involvement with the material and the form. From which the energy of the work emanates, at best. In a constant challenging of what you already know and command. In my graphic work with the digital drawings I am always on the lookout for new rhytmic possibilities and constellations. Basic relationships of two-dimensionality are at play here – pictorial creation on the plane – and gets filtered through my many years of experience with clay and my subsequently integrated anchoring into the three-dimensional, physical presence along with the object in space.
The drawings are often created in a flow, where I keep circling around an observation. At times overstated: visual marks from a travel in India. My falling in love with Indian script, the ornamental rigour of the typography that meets you all over. From official graphic expressions to everyday advertising, monumental and colourful, painted up on small houses in the countryside. Which picture-landscapes could result from writing ’Hello India – Good-bye India’ in Hindi for a start and then set a process going of off-setting, tracing and like linear caresses. Stroke-weight and fill. Hard beats and whispering whiskers. Lightness and gravity. Bombastic clarity and subtle play with the contour.
Through the digital drawings the order of sequence can be inverted letting finished ceramic works become the beginning of new graphic visuals, which in turn later might open up doors to new expressions in the clay. To me, this complementarity is interesting. It reflects contemporary, basic everyday experiences of being able to be present in both physical and virtual space and effortlessly being able to alternate between them.
Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl