Drawing the line, drawing as an active agent and autoethnographical authority

Bruner claims our thoughts are associated with and largely constituted by images (1984). The Drawing is at least as much the creator of a drawer than the drawer is the creator of a drawing. Based on Baudrillard (1988, as cited in Weber 2008, 43), Weber claims: “images themselves act as objects and take on lives of their own, with no single object beyond the signifier as primary referent.... An image can thus be ‘the thing itself — the object of inquiry”. I argue the autoethnographic drawing to be even more than “the thing itself’. The Drawing as an active being is beyond “immutable” (Weber 2008, 43) or “object”. Once in existence or partially imagined, its independence or authority cannot be oppressed, but it is a “living information system” (Four Arrows 2008, 2) and an entity. The Drawing is also a non-human "personality" (2008, 6) whose knowledge exceeds what I can articulate, and which I have to recognize and respect.

Drawing a line with a marker pen is not a moment of mark nor creation, but a visible continuation of a Drawing’s becoming. We humans can imagine, dream and see images with our eyes (wide) shut (Weber 2008, 41). I see, visualize and imagine and understand before I think and, therefore, the Drawing seems to always to be ahead of me (Weber 2008, 41; Berger 1972). The emergent and processual drawing, its dialogical and multidirectional entities deny the autoethnographer’s possibility to claim creator status. Due to the emergent and eventing nature of the autoethnographic drawing, it cannot be researched “as such” — by itself. Therefore, making autoethnographical observations on its effects and influence on me, the drawer, is needed, and the process of doing and generating and sharing the Drawing so that the process can be studied as a whole.

Actors share the experience of the role playing the actor instead of the actor playing the role. Autoethnographic drawing comes close to this well-recognized phenomenon: the Drawing (act) seems to be playing [drawing] me and vice versa. Occasionally, the blank page of the sketchbook becomes a stage-like space due to the performative nature of drawing. In the line-making act, the “becoming” of the Drawing is visible. This becoming continues in following perceptual processes. These further becomings can be understood through multiple orientation points: the drawer, the drawing and the relationship(s) and the reader/viewer [bejcome [together] with, within and for the drawing or their theme.

In replacing hierarchies and existing power structures like: “Who was here in the first place? Where did it start and from whom? To whom does it belong?” I turn to post-structuralists like Deleuze and Guattari (1996). Their rhizomes seem to be opposite to hierarchies (Swanson 2008, 84-89; Irwin and Springgay 2008, 106). The dialogical space, the intention(s) of Drawing are always in motion, creating a complexity of multiple dimensions. Autoethnographic drawing is still “a terra incognita” that has not yet revealed in all its complexity “what it has, what it is, what it can do, and how it does it, and why” (Swanson 2008, 90). By engaging, I have asked it to come forth and partially reveal itself (see Swanson 2008, 90) and as an insightful partner, the drawing invites and insists that I do the very same.

In the most subjective or self-serving terms, autoethnographic drawing serves as a tactic to reveal, understand and overcome the researcher’s mental boundaries (Azevedo and Kamos 2016, 140). I usually draw “on the spot”, for example in conferences, seminars and while reading reference materials. I [rejact by creating a visual commentary and/or giving visible form for my thoughts, associations, even attitudes and [pre-]assumptions. Drawing may twist, comment, observe or interpret ideas as well as the content I have the inner and/or visual dialogue with. I draw to be, to become and to understand. Autoethnographic drawing is instant: there is a sense of being in the zone — a feeling related to the concept of flow (Csikszent-mihalyi 1990). Making a drawing takes only a couple of minutes, but it creates a specific time-space for materializations of wandering and imaginative thought (Azevedo and Ramos 2016, 141). It also challenges this time-space specificity by questioning its limits and boundaries as it recreates itself unbound to its original time and space context.

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