Thursday, November 26, 2009

Leah Cooper: Drawing in Space

Leah Cooper writes about drawing in real space. More can be seen about her work at

As we move through the physical world we are in an unremitting state of receiving observable facts via the five senses. Yet do these objective facts, recorded by the brain, lead directly to knowledge of our surroundings? Or is knowledge of the physical world a construct of human experience and perception? If all facts are recorded but much of what we ‘see’ goes unnoticed, does this mean we are extremely efficient editing machines? My work asks the question, is what we ‘see’ more a result of how we have edited reality? And if so, how does additional or alternative information alter our perception or knowledge of the world?

I am fascinated by the extraordinary world that exists within the smallest detail of the ordinary. In ­The Poetics of Space Gaston Bachelard submits that “The man with the magnifying glass-quite simply- bars the everyday world. He is a fresh eye before a new object”. The discovery and subsequent exploration of inherent, often unnoticed properties of the everyday is the source of my investigation.

My work employs drawing as a strategy to investigate the influence of visual information on a viewer’s subjective perception of object and place. I work outside the traditional notion of drawing as a 2-dimensional representation of the 3-dimensional world; using drawing as a means to iterate rather than illustrate a variable framework of information. If drawing is separated from its assumed role of descriptor, illustration is no longer synonymous with drawing, but rather illustration is just one tactic to be employed to make ideas visible. Subscribing to the notion that visual art is a concrete demonstration of idea; drawing in this context becomes a means towards that end. Drawing is a strategy, whose tactics could include illustration, nomination, or notation and whose materials could extend beyond standard mark makers and paper.

In site-responsive drawings, I respond to a space as-is, drawing throughout the space in order to bring attention to the ordinary and the overlooked. Materials which can include, but are not limited to: tape, graphite, string, objects, t-squares, and rulers are brought onto a site much the same way a carpenter brings tools to a site. Once on site these outside materials become no more or less important than the existing elements of the space; walls, ceiling, fixtures, shadows, and cracks are all employed as materials in site-responsive drawings. Drawings are of the space and the space simultaneously. These iterations, both of object and place, are not static, fixed end-products; possible combinations are vast. Elements iterated begin to show the undrawn as clearly as the drawn; offering a fresh eye to the undiscovered extraordinary world of the ordinary.
Images: Thesis show At Maryland Institute College of Art. Baltimore, MD.