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Drawing Experiment
18 November 2016
By Lee Walton
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Drawing Experiment

For this project, we used drawing as a way to experiment with social forms and systems of working together. We started with 10 sheets of paper and rigid grid structures.  Each students declared a single repeatable mark, or action, that would represent them.  

 

I started the drawing process with an authoritative set of rules.  "Make your mark in one rectangle on each sheet, Make your mark on 5 sheets of your choice", and so on.  After a few rounds a became silent and just observed. The class began to make rules of their own.  After a short time, I quietly disappeared from the room.  

 

The student's comments say it all.

John Cage — 'Art is sort of an experimental station in which one tries out living'

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15 Comments
Daniel Marquez - Where We Are and Where We Are Going
Despite the confusion that everyone was experiencing in class today, everyone left with a different feeling. It was a weird way to carry out a drawing class but personally I found it very intriguing after reading through your email. Even though today’s project may be a reflection of our country, in a way it is also a glimpse at a future in which we try to take matters into our own hands WITHOUT unity. A good reminder that we are not on the same page like we think we are.
When we began making our specific marks on the paper I was not clear as into what direction we were heading to. After the first three rounds our marks were still visible on the paper, they stood out from the rest, they were easily identified. As people who are part of this world we feel as we are individuals and should be treated as so, we want to stand out from the rest, just be ourselves. Without yet taking into consideration the process of how we got to final product, I would like to point that at the end all our marks were jumbled together, with just a few standing out from the rest. That’s pretty much how our democratic system works. We are expected to have a voice and we elect (or attempt to elect) leaders to be our voice. Our voices become part of a large crowd, so many voices at once can be difficult to hear. That is pretty much how I can relate it to democratic system in our country.
When the ropes were handed over to the class that is when I began to realize that we were not as united as we were making it seem. Throughout the first half of the class we were all agreeing that as artists we have to unite our voice to express our concerns towards social distress and that we have to come together, etc. Yet when we were given the opportunity to model our plan I believed we were not as successful. We were preaching unity and coming together to make a change, but no everyone was being represented. Giving power to the class seemed overwhelming for some who simply became complacent. About 5 people stepped up to take control of the group and the rest of us sat back and went along because that is what we are conditioned to do.
We live in fear that our ideas/voice are not as important as those who are louder than us. I am guilty of not raising my voice to complain about the ideas I did not agree with and I was even too quiet at times to voice ideas of my own. All I did was quietly complain as we went around round after round. There is nothing wrong with there being people in ‘power’ or ‘in charge’ because if no one steps up nothing would get done. Yet more than half the class just went along with whatever those people were deciding. What lead us to believe that all the work could be done by them? Why did those in “power” not ask those sitting back for an opinion and simply assumed they would be on board with whatever. Also who dies and gives people the power to make decisions for others? Who dies and decides what and how it should be done and if there is even a right way to carry something out? Personally, I agree that I easily become comfortable and complacent when decisions are being made for me. Because I’m not a very boisterous person that it is okay to follow the lead. That’s when things go awry for me and for others who just sit back and let the current control us. We claim that we want change and that we can fix the problems but not when we are asleep. We need to reevaluate what unity is for us before we try to change the world.
I don’t know if any of the above actually makes sense or not, all I know is that we are confused as to what it means to make a change. As long as there are people sitting back and just watching there won’t be any change. There’s that saying that Change starts with YOU, but if you and you, and you are not agreeing on that change who actually wins at the end?
Sydney Lee - Our drawing experience last Thursday felt oddly familiar as time went by, and I think that it resonated with all of us by the time class was over. When we started the drawing experiment, it was run by one authoritative figure (Lee), which made things easier because there was less chance to stray from what we were assigned to do. When Lee stopped speaking and pushed the decisions on the class as a whole, it became a semblance of a democracy. It started off being really fun with people shouting out what they thought we should do for the next round of drawings, but then as time went on it became a smaller group of people making decisions for the rest of us. The decisions being made weren’t necessarily bad, but they came from a small sample of the class, which doesn’t take everyone’s ideas into consideration. As time went on, I decided to sit back and let other people make decisions because I wasn’t speaking up. When I left class that evening, I was upset with myself for letting other people make decisions that affected me, which relates directly to our life in the United States. A democracy is about the nation running itself, but it really boils down to a small sample of people making the decisions for the rest of us. Our drawing class on Thursday was a very small scale democracy, but a democracy nonetheless. The unsettling feeling that I walked away with will be something that I will use to push myself to speak out when my voice should be heard. I urge the rest of my classmates to do the same.
Bill Nguyen - We were left to our own devices. Our professor Lee Walton sat in the room and observed; at the end of the class even left without warning. We as the class were confused, not really knowing what to do. The norm is to listen to the prompt given to us and essentially obey, without it, there was a disorientation of how to proceed. As a class, the instructor holds power. When our instructor Lee Walton went silence there was a vacuum. Those students who normally speak out during class naturally stepped up leading how the experiment proceeded.

It revealed to me that as students, we hold back, leaving thoughts, comments, concerns to outside of class to peers. The instructor is position above us naturally. There is a caution to speak out against. However as artist, everything is an open conversation ... or it should be. Having an art class in that sense is awkward. We're students so we automatically hold back to allow our instructor to guide us.

With the experiment, we were waiting for answers, not looking for them. Even when something was decided, realizing we were not getting answers, there were questions of is this right? Majority of students simply wanted to remove themselves from the situation and was the most appealing opinion. Leaving it to others and not stepping up.

I believe that as artist we learned so much more in this experiment than from previous projects. Our own personality shown more vividly not having the presence of a teacher that we normally obey. Having conversations in a classroom setting is difficult. Everyone been condition to believe they're own answer is wrong, or not completely fact. The teacher holds all the answer, that is ingrain to be true, that's why we're learning from them.

You, Lee, try to break this notion because we are all artist and we need to be open about our thoughts, feeling, and questions. However we are still in a shepherd to sheep analogy position in life. Student to teacher, child to parent, citizen to government. This mental positioning, is difficult to shake from our psyche. Listen to your superiors and you'll have an easy life. But if we want to grow as artist, we have to listen to ourselves. We're doing that, but it's difficult in a classroom setting.
Yun Xing - Yun Xing
2016/11/19
This project is to make a mark by ourselves. Then,We put each of our own mark once on one paper. And then we made a different kind of game rules each time and keep drawing our marks on the paper until we filled all of the blank. When I did this, I feel like everyone has their own styles and feeling when they were creating their own marks. Those rules could show the process of people creating new ideas or patterns.And it also made me feel like drawing with a bunch of people together is a kind of cooperating which could made a different drawings. It would let us get more ideas when we worked together and saw what others did.
Anthony Carter - Anthony Carter-The project that we did last class was very interesting my immediate reaction was at first what are we doing how is this significant. But as the class progressed you allowed us the freedom to make up our own rules and really tap into our creative ability and make art as a collective. You observed us and allowed to come up as our own rules to progress the artwork forward as a class. The process of each one of us putting down are own individual symbols in different spots to create a unique and interesting composition as a class. This experiment really allowed to connect and understand our classmates and their personalities. We connected and exchanged ideas with people that we don't normally talk to on a day to day basis.
Fredric Hoeffler - Thursday’s class was interesting to say the least. The experience, at the time, was a lot to digest, but as I’m thinking about it now I feel differently. I find myself to be a very observant person and someone who prefers to sit back and listen to people. During the class there was a lot of voices to be heard. Everyone in class was after the same objective, “what do we do next”. In every social situation there will always be individuals that will speak up and individuals that will sit idol. This was different…sort of.
The process of creating marks began with the group deciding what to do next. This was the first wave of suggestions where the more extroverted people led the conversation. There were wide ranges of suggestions making it difficult to act on some of them. That’s when the second wave of individuals, usually more people than the first wave, would act stepping in to be a sort of “lets narrow it down” suggestion. Finally there was a third wave, consisting of individuals from both the first and second phase of decision making, that ultimately made the final mark decision.
The second part of the process involved the mark making itself. If anyone wasn’t involved in decision making then they were in this part. The process of creating marks on all the papers involved everyone, so you were almost forced to participate. I think everyone enjoyed this part of the process and it’s because the suggestions were filtered down into something everyone could agree on. This whole process repeated itself again beginning with deciding on what the next mark pattern would be.
As hectic and fun as the process was I think the social experiment boils down to decision making, and more importantly making decisions as a group. I think the class did an “ok” job at making sure everyone suggestions were heard, but it could have been better. That being said the process of narrowing down a decision worked well. It goes to show that there are even people, not so outgoing, that still have great ideas and suggestions that should be considered. It’s harder to make decisions as individuals in a group than it is to have someone solely give direction. The end result of the group turned out to be something that couldn’t be predicted or shown because so many individuals’ ideas were represented.

Aspen Adams - This process was a lot for me to handle-- I'm not really used to doing art with large groups, maybe one or two other people. Especially with everyone moving around, it was kind of awkward and uncomfortable for me, but I think it was also a very interesting experience.
When Lee stopped communicating with the class, everything became kind of chaotic, but in a good way. It was fun to listen to everyone's ideas. Even though we started off very basic, things soon became complicated as we tried to come up with new things. It's important to always have alternative ideas in life, and I think this project exemplified that. We're a very creative community and our strengths bring each other out.
Kendall Llewellyn - This collaborative group project was definitely a way to connect with other classmates and get a brief view of their personalities. My favorite part was when there were a few people who really wanted to control each other’s hands (which was equated to, essentially, hand holding). The group decided that we are just not ready for that kind of commitment. Natural leaders rose and delegated while others took the backseat, mainly observing. The leaders listened to request and those most outspoken would choose the next course of action. As time went on we grew bored of the rules that were set in place by our higher up. As the professor was not participating the group took it upon themselves to change and stretch the rules to allow for a more dynamic process to occur.
Aysha Belem - The project was interesting and hilarious when people started tossing out any idea in their head. I was able to see who was outgoing in their personality and who watchers, who were small commentators in big groups at the tables and who didn't even care. But as far as I know everyone was smiling and laughing at some point. It was a bonding experience and a verbal expression of creativity. It reminds me of elementary school where the teacher would let the class decide something and everyone was invested into the project by making smaller groups, organizing ideas and getting to know one another in a different way. We expressed ourselves verbally through our ideas and our personalities seeping through. This probably one day f the easiest ways to connect with classmates and understand people that I've ever seen.
Olivia Coward - Conducting this exercise was honestly a fun interactive way to have class this past Thursday! It was definitely something i have never done before and I do believe that it had some relations to the world around us. If I were to choose what I felt was the overall message that could be implied after doing this activity I would have to say its simply that you as an individual in life have to figure out how to leave your mark, or contributing impact in the world. We come in many different shapes, colors, sizes and different backgrounds and ethnicities but each one of us has something that differentiates us from everyone else and its up to us to distinguish who we are as a person and how we are gonna better the world that we in live in, in our own way that only we as individuals can do. I definitely can say that growing up and personally realizing this isn't an easy task. No one else can be you, and no one else can tell you how to live your life. During this activity the instructor would give us different ideas but after time it was all up to us to figure out the rest and this is just like life. Others can offer us advice or even try to tell us what to do based on our situations or whatever we are going through but ultimately theirs gonna come a time where you have to figure out how to face your own challenges and better yourself to be the best you that you can be. This takes most a while to grasp the concept of unity and cordiality ,using what we as a people each have to offer to help one another but once this is mastered than you"ll have no problem leaving your signature mark !
Brittany Souder - I think what we did in class Thursday really projects what the process of art, or creativity, is about. We started off with an initial idea/instruction that we had to build on as a class. However, when Lee stopped giving us prompts, we struggled to come up with them on our own. Or when someone put out an idea, there were multiple students who either agreed, disagreed, or simply went along with the overpowering decision. I think this relates to the art process or one's own creativity because it's hard to come up with an idea on your own. Or once you have an idea, it's difficult to know where you go from there. Your ideas and art are also not going to please everyone so you have to find a middle ground or accept peoples' different opinions and simply move on.
Sydney Lee - Our drawing experience last Thursday felt oddly familiar as time went by, and I think that it resonated with all of us by the time class was over. When we started the drawing experiment, it was run by one authoritative figure (Lee), which made things easier because there was less chance to stray from what we were assigned to do. When Lee stopped speaking and pushed the decisions on the class as a whole, it became a semblance of a democracy. It started off being really fun with people shouting out what they thought we should do for the next round of drawings, but then as time went on it became a smaller group of people making decisions for the rest of us. The decisions being made weren’t necessarily bad, but they came from a small sample of the class, which doesn’t take everyone’s ideas into consideration. As time went on, I decided to sit back and let other people make decisions because I wasn’t speaking up. When I left class that evening, I was upset with myself for letting other people make decisions that affected me, which relates directly to our life in the United States. A democracy is about the nation running itself, but it really boils down to a small sample of people making the decisions for the rest of us. Our drawing class on Thursday was a very small scale democracy, but a democracy nonetheless. The unsettling feeling that I walked away with will be something that I will use to push myself to speak out when my voice should be heard. I urge the rest of my classmates to do the same.
Shybrea Hanks - The whole experience for Thursday's class was really exciting & interesting. It started to get a little annoying after we couldn't come up with anymore ideas to put down on the squares; but overall I felt as if we were seeing more of certain people's personality come out more when trying to help give direction. I could tell everyone in the class were enjoying themselves just as much as I was. As the class as a whole we seem to communicate better or more when we have that extra freedom to say what's on our minds. As it got closer to the end of the class period I could tell people were getting a little irritated because of the silent treatment you was giving us but at the same time it gave us more of a voice in the class and I really enjoyed that experience.
Jupiter Hagwood - The drawing experiment on Thursday felt like it wasn’t so much about the final result, and more about our response to it, similar to the work 4’ 33”. At first it seemed fairly straightforward but as soon as the rules were turned over into our hands, things got a little less clear. We tried to come to agreements, but really only a few people were talking. Everyone would “agree” but it felt like more people were just along for the ride. I admittedly was one of those people; I don’t even think I said a word while the decisions were being made.
I think a lot of times we worry too much about what people will think of us if we’re put in the spotlight. It feels like whenever there is a group a few people end up leading and everyone else kind of falls back into following without really questioning why. In recent events like the election, I think things happened the same way. People retaliate when things will directly affect them, but if it doesn’t then they just sit back and watch. I remember complaining with my friends about the people who wrote in joke candidates or things like that during the election, because to them it didn’t really matter who won the election. I knew that the outcome of this election would and will affect me greatly, and so it made me angry that people did that kind of thing and just didn’t seem to care. Even in other instances besides the election, so many people sit back and watch while a system continues that they know very well is flawed. People don’t want to step out and change things because they’re scared of the consequences. Similarly in this exercise, I for one didn’t want to speak out because I was scared that my idea would sound stupid or that no one would agree, and I think this was largely because even in that short span of time we had created a system in which some people were just listened to more than others. We had already established “leaders” of the group.
At one point we all just gave up. I think at that point it was pretty clear that not everyone was speaking and contributing and that it was just going to cycle through the same ideas over and over again. But still, no one else stood up and added anything else. I think in the world right now a lot more people are realizing that if we don’t challenge problems within our society, our society will never experience change.
Daniel Marquez - Where We Are and Where We Are Going
Despite the confusion that everyone was experiencing in class today, everyone left with a different feeling. It was a weird way to carry out a drawing class but personally I found it very intriguing after reading through your email. Even though today’s project may be a reflection of our country, in a way it is also a glimpse at a future in which we try to take matters into our own hands WITHOUT unity. A good reminder that we are not on the same page like we think we are.
When we began making our specific marks on the paper I was not clear as into what direction we were heading to. After the first three rounds our marks were still visible on the paper, they stood out from the rest, they were easily identified. As people who are part of this world we feel as we are individuals and should be treated as so, we want to stand out from the rest, just be ourselves. Without yet taking into consideration the process of how we got to final product, I would like to point that at the end all our marks were jumbled together, with just a few standing out from the rest. That’s pretty much how our democratic system works. We are expected to have a voice and we elect (or attempt to elect) leaders to be our voice. Our voices become part of a large crowd, so many voices at once can be difficult to hear. That is pretty much how I can relate it to democratic system in our country.
When the ropes were handed over to the class that is when I began to realize that we were not as united as we were making it seem. Throughout the first half of the class we were all agreeing that as artists we have to unite our voice to express our concerns towards social distress and that we have to come together, etc. Yet when we were given the opportunity to model our plan I believed we were not as successful. We were preaching unity and coming together to make a change, but no everyone was being represented. Giving power to the class seemed overwhelming for some who simply became complacent. About 5 people stepped up to take control of the group and the rest of us sat back and went along because that is what we are conditioned to do.
We live in fear that our ideas/voice are not as important as those who are louder than us. I am guilty of not raising my voice to complain about the ideas I did not agree with and I was even too quiet at times to voice ideas of my own. All I did was quietly complain as we went around round after round. There is nothing wrong with there being people in ‘power’ or ‘in charge’ because if no one steps up nothing would get done. Yet more than half the class just went along with whatever those people were deciding. What lead us to believe that all the work could be done by them? Why did those in “power” not ask those sitting back for an opinion and simply assumed they would be on board with whatever. Also who dies and gives people the power to make decisions for others? Who dies and decides what and how it should be done and if there is even a right way to carry something out? Personally, I agree that I easily become comfortable and complacent when decisions are being made for me. Because I’m not a very boisterous person that it is okay to follow the lead. That’s when things go awry for me and for others who just sit back and let the current control us. We claim that we want change and that we can fix the problems but not when we are asleep. We need to reevaluate what unity is for us before we try to change the world.
I don’t know if any of the above actually makes sense or not, all I know is that we are confused as to what it means to make a change. As long as there are people sitting back and just watching there won’t be any change. There’s that saying that Change starts with YOU, but if you and you, and you are not agreeing on that change who actually wins at the end?