Research Question: 16th August 2016
Practice Based Research
How does drawing as a live action inform the relationship between object and body?
What is trace in this research process?
Also…. Using this table – how is scale impacting on the uncanny presence?
I have found out that most of my physical gesture / position with a table in some way mimic of a table – placing myself in a quadruped-like position on all fours. Sometimes I do this with knees bent, but I am drawn to being in a legs straight / knees locked position (like a yoga down-dog style). I enjoy the sensation of back and leg extension. The table suggests the placing of hands and feet ‘at four corners. If my body is close to the table this also pushes my face forward to the table top – inviting me to further explore the dimensions of the table through touch of my face- my eye lash. I see the table in very close proximity, noticing the trace of dust, the scratches in the wood, the stains in the varnish. Lifting and carrying become a feature. With this small table I am able to lift the object entirely, to tuck it under my arm or into my body. I can lift it comfortably with one hand.
The image of the quadrupedal position throws up a problem for me as it brings to mind Allen Jone’s women as table in Table (1969). This along with his other fetishized images of women as furniture prompted a feminist backlash against the overt objectification of the woman which was parodied in Helen Chadwick’s performance works.
“[…] the imagery of capitalism, in which the alluring female body did not act as a sign for its owner’s own sexuality, but only as it existed for the male sexual imagination”.
Natalie Ferris in Allen Jones and the Masquerade of the Feminine
Does my physicality with these domestic objects in some way also explore a capitalist regime where the sexual and gender identity are still only constructed through and for the male consumer? I contest my own suggestion here. I think that the on all fours position for me is indicative of something more playful, more childlike. The four legs is animal-like. Is this another uncanny mechanism to allude to a less human, less ‘animate’ form? Is the uncanniness appearing when a binary of human/ non human is broken down?
The act of drawing around the object and my body further promotes an awareness of the movement of exploring, climbing around and moving the table. I find that the line becomes a delineation of both the place of the table/ body and of the shadow of the table/ body. As such the lines are confused and do not indicate where the mark traces the position of the actual object or of the shadow of the object. As such there is a blurring of the tracing of presence and effect of presence (blocking light). In the resulting drawing the actual presence of the object and the effect of the object are rendered with similar lines. Lines overlap lines as I have moved myself and the table. The scope of this movement has been in response to the dimensions of the paper on the floor, the presence of sunlight through the window and the field of vision of the camera. These semi-conscious restrictions are placed on the action. The restrictions promote returning movements, repeated overlapping of lines and rotation of the body and table.
This is a small table and perhaps appears at first to be miniature. But it is a ‘full size’ table in the sense that it is not a toy. It functions in the home with ‘proper’ use. This is an ‘occasional’ table. It currently functions as a side table in my living room, placed in a corner adjacent to a small sofa, and is the place for a small lamp. It is a table I have inherited from my family and it was made by my granddad so probably dates to the 1960’s. The splayed legs and laminated wood top perhaps also suggest a 60’s style. The table has removable, screw-in legs and because of this has been convenient to travel and move house with since I first left home.
However, in the practice-based research action imagery the table does appear diminutive, and perhaps toy. The action therefore promotes a shift in thinking or understanding of the object – is it ‘real’ or is it an ‘imitation’ of a table? It draws into question the functionality of the object and in turn I suggest the naming of the object as ‘table’.
I arrive at a sense of tracing – that the small table is a ‘trace’ of the larger dining table. The small table, the body in a four-leg shape, the outline on the paper – these are as Derrida might suggest, original and not original. They are both inscribed and absence of their originating form. By that I mean that they echo something previous, and are also something in themselves. I feel that this is essence of ‘disturbance’ in the research action that evokes the uncanny. The trace object/ activity draws attention to - as trace- to the subject/ artist/ female. The play of human and object marks a ‘shift’, a shudder where comfortable reading and understanding are disturbed or displaced. I relate this disturbance back to the uncanny – uncanniness being the ‘feeling’, the experience of disturbance.