Can We Trust Our Gestures? – Exploring Shared Circuits between gestural performance performance and mental imagery in drawing practices

(Communication presented at the Drawing Research Network Conference 2012)

(School of Art and Design, Longhsborough University, United Kingdom, September 11, 2012.)

In 1644, a London physician called John Bulwer dedicated a book entirely on gesture. The book title was Chirologia or the Natural Language of the Hand. Besides the relatively indifference towards gestures that lead him to write about them, the book was the result of a belief that gestures showed a direct relationship between form and meaning, and were a privileged vehicle of knowledge of oneself and the other. Being a physician, Bulwer saw gestures also as symptoms of the modes through which body enacts the content of representation.

Although Bulwer thought gestures as deliberate elements that could be designed in choreographed presentations, his intuitions are closer to the responsive gestures usually engaged in drawing practices.

This paper will address these responsive gestures as embodied cognition in drawing, exploring the shared circuits between gestural performance and mental imagery in its practice.

Its theoretical ground can be traced in the gestural studies of David McNeill and its relevance for the comprehension of drawing cognitive processes. This framework is based on the function of images as a medium for thinking, and the ways through which gesture triggers or communicates the content of mental imagery that can’t be represented in other plans of expression, or those images the draughtsman thinks are hidden.

Based on a video recording of drawings being made in real time, the paper will explore the dichotomic relationship gestures maintain with conceptual and referential images.

Year 2012
Type Conference Proceeding
Publication Drawing Research Network Conference 2012 Proceedings
Publisher Longhsborough University
Local School of Art and Design, Longhsborough University
Language English