On Frascari’s Gut-Reactions

Frascari’s first exercise is to draw “a sequence of building details” using only “liquids, pastes, juices of powders that you normally eat, drink or use to spice and flavor your food” and various nibs and brushes. The objective is to cast specific attention onto the materiality of drawing.

Drawing, he believes, isn’t abstract or disembodied—it’s essential to recognise the various textures, smells, pressures, smudges, weights, consistencies and movements involved. This is deliberately at odds with the idea that drawing is a simple representation, a transparent code that describes something that exists or is intended to exist somewhere else. In the case of a set of construction documents, all parties agree that the lines and markings will be read as narrowly as possible, according to a set of prescriptive codes. In this case, lots of things are ignored about the drawing. The contractor’s set may become stained, torn, annotated, or photocopied, but this isn’t important, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the transmission of the required coded information. But the kind of drawing Frascari is advocating isn’t really about clean information-transmission over a pre-formatted channel. The drawing is a place where codes can be treated malleably and content not simply carried but devised. In fact, the distinction between the format and the content isn’t always clear.

By drawing with food, the embodiment of the drawer and the drawing are foregrounded. The marks and lines on the paper carry fragrant and gustatory cues. Attention is drawn to the material qualities of the drawing, and the gut-reactions of the drawer. Frascari’s strategy for escaping the reduction of drawing to information-transmission is to engage the body and it’s tacit knowledge. It’s precisely the point that drawing with wine, paprika and egg-white is unnecessary for effective drawn communication—the exercise invites drawing to be something other than  merely semiotic.




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