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Morfill, S., Giles, S., 2022.

Drawing Descriptions: revealing dynamic lines of gesture through drawing

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:International Society of Gesture Studies Conference 2022 - Gesture: from description to application
Venue:Loyola University Chicago
Dates:13/7/2022 - 15/7/2022

An unexpected correlation exists between the spontaneous gestures that accompany speech and the gesture of drawing; both are actions that connect the hand to thought, synchronizing movement and mind in a present-tense moment. In drawing, this connection visibly manifests through the intentional inscription of marks on a surface, whereas in relation to speech, spontaneous gestures - perceived as a form of drawing in air - are ephemeral, and leave no trace.
In a project titled Found Gestures, artists Susan Giles and Sally Morfill captured the drawings in air made by a range of speakers, translating them into a series of 2D and 3D material drawings. Thus, one form of drawing - ephemeral gesture - is described by another.
This presentation introduces the artistic processes Giles and Morfill have developed in order to describe gesture. Making use of audio and motion-capture technology, both the speech and hand gestures of a community of participants are recorded. Motion trails, consisting of masses of digital data points, are brought into the physical world as wall drawings, prints or objects. The material traces of movement, accompanied by transcriptions of corresponding speech, use different kinds of material lines as descriptors.
There is a long tradition in the western canon of artists attempting to describe movement within the frame of a painting. This artistic investigation extends a tradition that has always been informed by developing technology. Within these gallery-based works artistic decision-making influences material choices that contribute to the aesthetic value; at the same time the content of each piece is entirely dependent on the participants who offer their 'drawings in air' for material translation.
By presenting these drawing descriptions at ISGS we are looking to situate and extend our work within the broader context of gesture research.