Aim: Push the concept of marks as a tracery of movement to its logical conclusion by making marks incidental to your own movement.
Method: Utilising something that moves by attaching a drawing medium to it so that it creates a drawing by itself. Develop these automatic drawings using source material from your sketchbook or simply by responding to what you find as you experiment. Note carefully what happens when you shift the drawing from automatically produced marks to considered ones.
Reflection: Research Rebecca Horn’s drawing machines and make notes in your log about them. What do you think Rebecca Horn was trying to find out or express by making the machines? How does the element of control affect the feel of the drawing? In your own composite drawings, which marks do you prefer and why?
Below are the images produced by utilising drawing machines or utilising something to initiate an uncontrolled mark.
A3 copier paper with oil pastel
Loose oil pastels were placed on a sheet with another sheet on top to secure the sheet and pastels together. A loose ply board was placed on top and then the board was moved randomly in all directions fopr several minutes and then the shhet of paper extracted. The images above are those produced.
A3 copier paper with oil pastel
Loose graphite and oil pastel shavings were shaken onto a sheet of paper, this was placed in a doorway with another sheet on top. As some-one entred or exied the door then would stand ond on the sheet compressing and grinding in the loose material.
Oil pastels were bound to a couple of small sponges with elastic bands. This was then attached to eccentric attachment of an electric drill. Then on lowish speed the drill was run back and forth over the sheet of paper producing multi-coloured random marks.
Image : A3 cartridge paper with oil pastel
Above Image : A3 cartridge paper with graphite
A bamboo stick approx 7 foot long was loosely suspended from a rotary washing line. At the tip of the bamboo stick a graphite stick was attached. Under this arrangement was placed an A3 sheet on a board. When the washing line moved the graphite stick would be dragged across the paper leaing a mark. Over time these marks build up.
Th rotary line was moved by the action of the breeze / wind through the garden. Sometimes the graphite stick would bounce on the paper other times it was slowly dragged a centimetre back and forth.
In my garage I built a small apparatus to produce marks based upon the action of a pendulum.
The pendulum was made of two lengths of string to produce two elements into the pendulum swing. A pendulum swing is influence based upon the length of the pendulum. In the simple diagram of the arrangement the swing from left to right will pivot from the point of the V-string. Swinging to and fro it will pivot from the two upper points of the swing. These lengths can be varied if desired to produce a different swing.
Setting the pendulum to swing it will settle into a rough figure of eight or an infinity symbol Ꚙ pattern.
Attached to the end of the pendulum was a pot of watered paint which dribbled paint to trace the path of the pendulum swing. There were a few teething problems setting the orifice of the dribbling paint and having it stop and start every few seconds. I eventually concluded that the paint pot was pulling a vacuum as the paint was dispensed. I was able to overcome this for a more consistent flow by making a couple of holes in the paint pot.
Needless to say that both the garage and I were covered in paint by the end of the day.
The paper utilised for all of the images was brown wrapping paper approx 1 ½ times A1.
Brown wrapping paper approx A3 with graphite and oil pastel
Cartridge paper A3 with graphite and oil pastel. Compressed air from bottle sprayed PVA, then scattering graphite and oil pastel shavings on the wet PVA
Note carefully what happens when you shift the drawing from automatically produced marks to considered ones.
It is possible to influence to some degree the patterns produced. This can be done by what you select to produce the drawing, the medium selected to apply and the ground and material onto which the marks are made,, along with colours and if the machine is not powered how you start it, with a small or large push.
Top some degree all the art produced autonomously will have some influences of its ‘creator’. Once you step away from automatically producing the marks to more deliberate of influenced marks, then a pattern of mark, colour or some regularity is introduced.
Alongside is one of the machine produced drawings I produced. Here there is a regularity of mark in much of the piece. This is influenced by the laws of physics as they is a direct collation been the two lengths of string which make up the pendulum used to move the application point of the marks.
Research Rebecca Horn’s drawing machines and make notes in your log about them.
Images below are screen shots from youtube videos.
1 Performance art – work produced at Harvard in front of audience. Rebecca Horn – Flying Books Under Black Rain Painting. The painting in progress in the video
Above in Fig 3 – body extensions, using face mask to draw, and in Fig. 4 Horn is using finger extensions to draw.
Fig 6. Schreib Frucht, (2015)
Rebecca Horn’s drawing machines have evolved over time from extensions of herself to autonomous machines acting independently of her. In her earlier works she utilised extensions of herself to make marks. These marks were made by movements of her body and though uncontrolled the lines were to a certain extent influenced by her movements from her fingers, face etc.
These progressed to the point where she has removed herslf entirely from the process of making the mark. Her riole in the making of this art was to assembly the raw materials and the machine and then let it loose. Her role was that of God creating people but allowing them to make their own choices from their own will and not his.
Her drawing machines use technology to create moments in time that offer a view of timelessness. Horn’s machines are vulnerable and human-centred and not the nightmare machines of War of the Worlds or Terminator. She assembles moving parts and in essence as they create she gives them a soul
What do you think Rebecca Horn was trying to find out or express by making the machines?
Would it be a cliché to say Germans’ love machinery and find a certain kind of poetry and art in the motion of moving machinery pieces? Having an output of a machine is to make an everlasting art piece from a machine rather than just seeing it for the moment.
Is the process more important than the result for Horn, I think it is, as she wants us to be amazed and surprised by the automated apparatus.
Once she progressed from her human body extensions the installation-machines they in effect became intelligent life forms, commenting on our lives, actions and movements. Her IR machines detect entry to a museum room and begin to draw influenced by the movements around the gallery room.
She sees her machines as independent beings in their own right .. “I like my machines to tire,” she says. “They are more than objects. These are not cars or washing machines. They rest, they reflect, they wait.” ….(Winterson 2005)
How does the element of control affect the feel of the drawing?
Once you step away from automatically producing the marks to more deliberate of influenced marks, then a pattern of mark, colour or some regularity is introduced.
Also, once conscious effort has been utilised to form the piece a sense of ownership of the creation exists. Are you the artist if a machine has produced all the marks? I presume you are as much as a carpenter is responsible for the beauty of a cabinet with wonderful and interesting markings of the grain within the wood.
In your own composite drawings, which marks do you prefer and why?
The marks produced by the regular swing of the pendulum as those that I prefer. The regular marks are both formal and haphazard as the paint has splashed and dissolved much of the formality and regularity of the marks and pattern.
List of Illustrations
Fig 1.. YouTube. (2017). – Rebecca Horn – Flying Books Under Black Rain Painting #1. [online – video still ] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so1rfLd_OiM (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Fig 2. YouTube. (2017). Rebecca Horn – Flying Books Under Black Rain Painting #2. [online – video still ] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so1rfLd_OiM (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Fig 3. YouTube. (2017). Rebecca Horn – Rebecca Horn Performance II.. [online – video still ] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3DfebecTcQ (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Fig 4. YouTube. (2017). Rebecca Horn – Rebecca Horn, Berlin, 1974, . [online – video still ] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0uNnmAudmk (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Fig 5. YouTube. (2017). – Rebecca Horn – Rebecca Horn (Book of Ashes being produced) [online – video still] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YqAoKmCpBA (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Fig 6. Horn, Rebecca. (2015). Schreib Frucht, [acrylic and pencil on paper}. At http://www.skny.com/artists/rebecca-horn?view=slider#3 (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Fig 7. Horn, Rebecca. (2015). The Oracle III, [acrylic and pencil on paper}. At http://www.skny.com/artists/rebecca-horn?view=slider#4 (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
Winterson, Jeanette. The Guardian. (2005). Rebecca Horn creates ‘machines with souls. At: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/may/23/art (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)
SKNY.COM Sean Kelly Gallery (2017), Rebecca Horn – Artists – Sean Kelly Gallery. [Online]. At: http://www.skny.com/artists/rebecca-horn?view=slider#4 (Accessed on 5th Nov 2017)