Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

13: More characteristics

Figure 30: Eye drawing my own hand

Figure 31: Resulting eye-drawing from Figure 30

Within my practice of eye drawing, the tangible surface is not present,
and therefore the act of drawing navigates between the eye and the mind. This enhances my visual perceptive mechanism, as the gazing point on the subject (my hand) is a conceptually imagined point. I have no physical reference of where the point is while eye drawing, and technically speaking I would be lost if not for our inner perceptive mechanisms such as imagination and memory. The latter are mental functions which are of a volatile and flexible nature, and therefore this also means that its limitations characterise each eye-drawing. This point reminds me of the question that if drawing is merely about the eye-hand coordination, what difference is there with a game of tennis? (Walker 2005). I feel that the correspondence with our interior mental image while drawing is this crucial difference.
Figure 31 explicitly illustrates the tension provided by the restraining of my body movements — and specifically, the controlling of the eye movements. Occurrences of evident inattention can be observed. These make-up for the aesthetic compositional arrangement of the eye-drawing, which is characterised by occasional spikes away from the concentration of the hand. I find this information to be of utmost interest within this practice. Firstly, I am not aware these movements happened while eye drawing my hand — I only discovered them at a later stage during post-processing. Therefore, I see them as being part of our innate biological aspects which escape the attempt of restraining my eye movements into a different way of looking from our natural perceptive functioning.

Walker, J. (2005). Old Manuals and New Pencils. in Davies, J., & Duff, L. (eds.). Drawing, the process. Bristol, UK: Intellect.

Drawing Eye-drawing Practice-based PhD

12: Eye drawing characteristics

Figure 29: An eye-drawing of my hand resulting from Video 2

In view of treating Figure 29 as a drawing, there are two particular qualities which need to be discussed. The first relates to the biology of the eye, in so far as it being an organ which is constantly in motion, even when we focus on a particular point within our worldview. The linear quality within Figure 29 is therefore made up of long linear stretches (saccades) and smaller accumulation of lines at specific points (fixations). Cognitive science states that no vision occurs during saccades motion, as these consist in fast movements travelling from point A to point B. On the other hand, fixations are resting points where the gaze focuses and acquires visual information.
While eye drawing, my resulting eye-drawing is therefore inevitably influenced by this biology, and my contouring travels in small ‘steps’ along the edges of my hand. This contrasts to the fluidity present when hand drawing.
The second important characteristic concerns the compositional element within the eye-drawing. Since I do not have any visual reference to the formation of the eye-drawing itself while I am eye drawing, there are no compositional decisions taken during the performative act. This decision comes into place once I assume the position of an editor, and are taken through the viewport display view of software like Rhino3D.
These two main characteristics apply to all of my eye-drawings which have been processed so far. This is also my interpretation of them, and the practice itself will lead me into further necessary knowledge concerning the restriction of my body, properties of my eye movements, properties of the technology (both hardware and software) and the eye-drawings themselves among others.

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

11: Eye drawing from home

The following video documents myself while eye drawing my hand from different viewpoints. Like most of you, I am now working from home due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I am therefore using my room as a studio. The video below includes some visual documentation of how I have been eye drawing my hand, and I will be posting commentaries about the process and development of this in the near future. In the meantime, stay safe and let’s help each other.

Video documentation while eye drawing my hand from different viewpoints during the Covid-19 lock-down in Edinburgh. Stay safe!

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

10: Viewpoints

Figure 25: 4 superimposed eye-drawings of my hand as seen from 4 different viewpoints, resulting from the eye drawing session in Figure 28

Figure 26: 30 generative tween curves between every resulting eye-drawing in
Figure 25

Figure 27: Generative stop-motion animation of Figure 26

I can argue that I assimilate two different attitudes while eye drawing. The first concerns the limitation and the restriction of [hand] drawing itself, which is characterised by the restraining (and unconscious snaps) of body gestures; by thinking and concentration; by a specific project of looking and by our innate perceptive mechanisms. It is also an attitude of frustration (as is typical of drawing).
The second attitude is more flexible and concerns the methodology acquired while post-processing is taking place within the virtual plane, which is also technology dependant. To a certain extent, this brings to mind what Dillon states in his essay On Elements of Drawing (2009); “we can no longer draw without a certain self-consciousness regarding the medium itself, and therefore we can [afford to] re-visit its fundamental elements.”
Through the practice of eye-drawing, I am re-visiting fundamental elements of drawing through the primary intention of contouring the world with the eyes (and mind), which is leading me to a process of learning, re-learning and un-learning (not necessarily in this order). I am finding that
one of these fundamental elements concerns the instability of drawing itself, which offers an element of change and fluidity. Eye-drawing is also strictly characterised by [ways of] looking.
I find this to be strongly expressed through the generated drawings between different eye-drawings made from different viewpoints. Figure 25 shows the superimposition of 4 eye-drawings of my right hand, made from four different viewpoints. Figure 28 can give an idea of two different views involved. Figure 26 generates 30 tween curves between each eye-drawing shown in Figure 25; while Figure 27 is a generative stop-motion drawing animation of this hybrid between computer-aided curves and eye-drawings of different viewpoints.

Dillon, B., (2009). On Elements of Line, in The end of the line : Attitudes in drawing. Harbison, I., Dillon, B., Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Bluecoat Gallery, . . . Drawing Room. London: Hayward Publishing/Southbank Centre.

Figure 28: A superimposition of two worldview video frames while eye-drawing my hand from different viewpoints

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

9: What is eye drawing? – part 2

Figure 24: Lofted result between the eye-drawings in Figure 22

Tween between curves is only one option from the computation possibilities I am exploring, as illustrated by Figure 24, which is the result of a lofting algorithm between the eye-drawings in
Figure 22. This immediately alludes to a sculptural value and several questions can be raised both from a practical and a theoretical point of view.

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

8: What is eye drawing?

Figure 22: 5 superimposed eye-drawings of my right hand

Figure 23: Generative development of 30 tween curves between the 5 eye-drawings in Figure 22

What universe of drawing does the practice of eye drawing really fall under? I feel that the performative element while eye-drawing my chosen subject matter is embedded into my previous knowledge of drawing. I seem to automatically adapt certain methodologies which are comparable to techniques that have a long history in drawing (and which I should both highlight and challenge). A primary example is the intention of attempting to ‘contour’ along the subject being looked at and to present them as such (as in Figure 22).
At the same time, the adaptation of the eye-tracker into a drawing medium is in itself allowing me to question several acts of looking while drawing, and by choosing the hand (and body) as subject matter, the practice is being given a specific context. Therefore, during the act of eye drawing and during my first reactions to the data processing, the general mood is that of drawing ‘as drawing’.
However, examples like Figure 22 contain more information other than the eye-drawn contours. Within the virtual space, they exist as 5 individual curves in a three-dimensional field constituting in several possible viewpoints (Figure 22 is closest to a conventional drawing result). Each curve (eye-drawing) consists in a set of time-based coordinates, along with several other data provided by the eye-tracker.
The mood of drawing ‘as drawing’ starts to fade within this context and Figure 23 is essentially a product of this condition. It becomes a computer-assisted drawing, or a computer-generative drawing. In Figure 23, the curves stop being referred to as eye-drawings and become information for a set of instructions — specifically, 30 tween curves in the space between every 2 curves (eye-drawings). In this scenario, the eye-drawings become data/information which guide the algorithm in order to create the instructed tween curves. The generation of the tween curves is generative and I therefore do not have full control on its appearance. However, I can vary several inputs like; the number of tween curves, viewpoint of the exported image, distance between curves (eye-drawings) and positioning of the latter within the virtual space, among other options (which I will continue to explore through the practice). The linear form of the eye-drawings, are themselves the primary influence for results such as Figure 23.

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

7: Animated eye-drawings

Figure 19: Frontal view of Figure 15

Figure 20: Stop-motion animation between the 3 eye-drawings in Figure 15

I experimented with a different post-processing development for the 3 eye-drawings previously shown in Figure 15. A frontal viewpoint of the rotating model was chosen, as illustrated in Figure 19. The curves/drawings within the image were individually exported and these were in turn imported into a video editing software (acting as video frames). The export resulted in the moving image illustrated in Figure 20.
Several questions can be raised by this methodology, concerning both the conceptual and its technical/practical aspects. Firstly, where do these animations stand within the practice of eye-drawing as described in my previous posts?
An animation emerging out of a hybrid of subjective eye-drawings of the body (hand) and computational (algorithmic) generation is definitely an interesting call for more experimentation.
Figure 21 is another animation resulting from a different set of hand eye-drawings.

Figure 21: Stop-motion animation between 3 eye-drawings of my right hand

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

6: Further sculptural developments

Figure 17: Sculptural development of three lofted eye-drawings of a hand

The visual quality exerted by the images posted in this blog so far, flirts somewhere between algorithmic drawing, generative art and representational drawing. This also brings to mind that as in contemporary hand-drawing, I am not interested in eye drawing for a ‘realistic’ and ‘academic’ rendition of my subjects. I am instead interested in certain traditional methodologies, such as the drawing of the hand and the life class, because I find it meaningful to revisit such drawing activities from a contemporary lens.

Figure 18: Sculptural development of three lofted eye-drawings of a hand

Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

5: Sculptural developments

Figure 15: Rotating animation illustrating the sculptural development from three intersecting eye-drawings of a hand

Eye drawing a subject from different viewpoints has an exploratory feel to it. It can arguably find its roots in ‘Cubist’ ways of dealing with our perception of the world, but in contemporary times I cannot not help thinking about the phenomenon and popularisation of 3D scanning (and photogrammetry). In experiments like Figure 13 and Figure 14, I am essentially attempting a ‘synthetic’ 3D ‘contour-like’ scan of my hand by drawing with my eyes.
Figure 15 illustrates a rotating animation of the intersecting three eye-drawings from Experiment 13. The hand eye-drawings have been lofted around their axis, transforming the eye-drawings into a 3D representation.
Figure 16 illustrates more lofted sculptural developments through the same logic.
These images deserve a pause of reflection in view of possible future experiments and further developments. The discourse surrounding results like Figure 15 and Figure 16 can initiate from the idea of what Manning (2007, p. 77) describes as events of perception, or ‘prehensions’. Manning speaks about Marey’s interest in creating machines and processes which do not strictly represent movement but bring into being new modalities of perception. It is this sense of unfamiliarity which leads to further experimentation, and in Murray’s case led him to actually commission a bronze representation of the bird in flight; emphasising the fact that he was not only concerned with a quantitative analysis of the movement of the wings (Manning, 2009, p. 99).
Even though my world is not Marey’s, and my perception of it varies greatly from his, I believe that the appropriation of the notion of creating ‘new modalities of perception’ as a leading factor for novel experimentation, is an important framework in view of these sculptural developments.
It is important not to view the eye-drawings as no more than data of recorded movements. They have to be acknowledged as perceptive moments in time and space belonging to a meaningful subject matter.
These developments can potentially highlight the historical relationship between drawing and sculpture; between projection and realisation. A certain degree of their execution can also be associated to generative art. The eye-drawings and decision making of how to arrange them in the virtual space is my doing, but the practice of lofting (or any other surface creation) is principally computer-assisted. Even though I am presented with several variable options regarding the latter (curve degree, rebuilding curves and curve direction among others), I can never be in total control (or anticipation) of the resulting representation. There will always be an element of surprise and a degree of trial and error in this practice, which I find stimulating.
More experimentation also raises the question of whether the sculptures should remain in the virtual environment (video, VR, AR, etc.) or be digitally fabricated (when possible).

Manning, E. (2009). Relationscapes Movement, Art, Philosophy. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Figure 16: Various sculptural developments from three intersecting eye-drawings of a hand

Drawing Eye-drawing Hand Practice-based PhD

4: Eye drawing the hand from different viewpoints

Figure 13: Three eye-drawings of the same rotating hand-gesture

After repeatedly eye-drawing my left hand from the same perspective, I tried eye-drawing my right hand from different points of view by rotating the same gesture (Figure 13 and Figure 14). The hand and drawing have a long history, and not just because of the manuality within the hand-eye coordination. The hand is the ‘skill’ and the means by which to ‘imprint’ while drawing, but it has also been regarded as one of the most difficult body parts to draw as a subject matter; not just for its anatomical rendition but also due to the cultural and symbolic values carried by its gestures. It has been therefore studied and drawn extensively (Petherbridge, 2010, pp. 251-259).
The hand carries innate verbal ways of communication, and it has been crucial in the evolutionary steps of our body, making us the humans of today (it allowed us the use of tools). The hand is also a sign of presence. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why it has been widely represented, from primitive art to contemporary times. Yet, in our daily routine we are barely aware of the hand.
It is worth mentioning that the hand has also been the vehicle with which to challenge the conventional ways of drawing (eg. automatism). While I am eye drawing, the hand is free as it is the body part which has been by-passed from the process. It is there and it can be eye-drawn. It is therefore very instinctive to do so.

Petherbridge, D. (2010). The Primacy of Drawing. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Figure 14: Three eye-drawings of the same rotating hand-gesture