Monday, 6 October 2014

drawing (n), a picture or diagram made with...

Drawing is something I love to do, yet get so frustrated by. I think I'm reasonably ok at it, but remain plagued by insecurity and, most crucially, a lack of practice. I spend too much time not drawing, what with work and home commitments, that I actually buy time to draw by signing up for classes.

Anyway, up until now I felt fairly confident I could give a meaningful definition of what a drawing is and among all the words I might have used to define it, 'sound' would have been absent. Then along comes the 2014 Jerwood Prize and everything seems to have changed. Alison Carlier has been awarded the First Prize for her 1 minute 15 second audio work entitled Adjectives, lines and marks which she describes as “An open-ended audio drawing, a spoken description of an unknown object”. Hmm. I can just about see her reasoning; sound tracks when viewed vertically are reminiscent of ancient pots (the object in question was a Roman pot) and that the mental process of making a drawing (on paper) and describing the shape out loud can be thought of as similar; "the voice tracks the thing just as the eye might tracing the image on paper" as Alison herself says. But I remain to be convinced that similar = same.

On a level, I can see where such an audio description could be used as a drawing but I genuinely don't know if it applies in this case: By their very nature, the visual arts are problematic for those with sight disabilities, so I can absolutely accept that a blind artist might take an object and use sound to describe it and call it a drawing. But if a sighted person does it, what then? And how do we judge it anyway?

Curiously, I haven't noticed much of a hoo-har in the press about this either; after all, there's always plenty of criticism of weird/wonderful/bonkers Turner Prize winners - Martin Creed anyone? And yet the fact that a major drawing prize is won by an audio track has passed by without a murmur.

And that's fine. Except, does it mean I can enter my next sketch for a Grammy?

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