26 September 2011

"When I make a drawing, I labor."

"I can touch a letter. When I get it, I know immediately from whom it is and there is a presence of the person who did it. When something is removed from touch it has no reality for me. Email has no reality whatsoever. When you write with a typewriter… Acconci said once in a very beautiful little lecture that when you touch a letter (on the typewriter) the mechanics of the finger imprinting the letter on a white piece of paper—the white piece of paper is fragile—it might be and will be violated with the first letter you put on. In order to erase this letter you either have to destroy the paper or use the white out. But in a computer text you only have to push one button and the text is gone. Simply gone. I am fearful when I draw, when I write, because I have too much respect for the medium. When I make a drawing, I labor. It’s not easy."
-Raimund Abraham

Lebbeus Woods has been doing an ongoing series of posts about his trip with Raimund to La Tourette to have a discourse regarding architecture. The transcription is lengthy, and I have not read the whole yet. This particular quote is of interest to me. I like seeing the hand in drawings. It immediately communicates the imperfection and personality of the draft-person. There is something personal and mortal about the artifact. I recall a wall I once had in a bedroom long ago. It was exposed brick. One morning I noticed indentations in the brick. They were the marks of fingers imprinted into the wet clay made sometime in the 1860s. There is a kind of homeopathic quality to what Raimund describes - an aura left by the person even though the actual physical presence has been diluted 10,000 times.

Of course I can flip this argument around. Computer drawings are becoming more and more personal. Individual approaches are becoming more... individual. In my teaching I frequently say that drawing is not about the hand, it is about the mind. A drawing is a construction first in the mind. 

Still, I like to see the hand. A slight waver of line weight, a splatter of paint, construction lines, a change of mind. These are all traces of the life and history of a work, thus an extension of the individual.

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