Drawing Machine (Output = Plotter), 2008-12

Installation view, Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Image courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
© the artist, Photograph: Alex Davies

what is drawing?
Defining a concept is analogous to drawing a boundary line between ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’. The problem with concepts such as Drawing, and more generally Art, is that whenever a boundary is drawn, upon closer inspection the boundary seems inadequate. It either excludes something essential, or else it includes the extraneous.

Benjamin Forster’s Drawing Machine project can be summarised as an investigation of drawing using a specific system-based methodology. This project has two concurrent aims: firstly to explore ideas about drawing, and secondly to raise questions about the authority of reason and logic as methods of understanding.

This is not an investigation of any specific style of drawing, but simply drawing as the act of making marks on a surface; how these marks are made in relation to one another and, most importantly, what knowledge is necessary in order to make such marks. This investigation centres around his attempt to program a computer to draw in a way that is distinctly human, rather than stylistically digital or mechanistic. It is important that his program simulates the human characteristics of drawing because it is exactly the human quality of drawing that he has been attempting to understand. Benjamin believes it is only through comparison and contrast to human drawing that his machine’s drawings reflect the inadequacy of systems to capture the infinite detail of the world.

The Process

Step 1: Look at my own drawings.

Step 2: Formulate formal procedures that encapsulate my ideas about drawing.

Step 3: Express formal procedures in computer code.

Step 4: Compare the resulting machine drawings with my own drawings.

Step 5: If machine drawings = my drawings then STOP, else continue to step 6.

Step 6: Refine formal procedures.

Step 7: Goto step 3.

Note: This machine will never produce the same drawing twice.

Drawing Machine (Output = Plotter), 2008-12
Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Photography: Robbie Karmel

Drawing Machine (Output = Screen)

Film demonstrating the general progression of the screen-based version of Benjamin Forster’s Drawing Machine.

“…a digital environment is an abstract projection supported and sustained by its capacity to propagate the illusion (or call it a working model) of immaterial behavior: identification without ambiguity, transmission without loss, repetition without originality.”

— Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (2008)

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Drawing Machine State 02:11:08

Second iteration of Benjamin Forster’s Drawing Machine. Discarded the concept of the compositional drawing on a plane and instead focused on drawing as the embodiment of thought. Drawing inspiration from impulsive mark making such as, note-taking and doodling.

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Drawing Machine State 24:10:07

First iteration of Benjamin Forster’s Drawing Machine. Examining drawing as compositional responces to a rectangular plane.

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Blind Drawings, 2008

A series of experimental blind drawings created in direct relation to Benjamin’s Drawing Machine Project. These drawings are a study of the inconsistency between a drawing and the artists internal representation of the drawing in progress

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La Lecon D’amour Dans Un Parc, 2006

An artist book exploring both the phychological and physical topology of books. La Lecon D’amour is a drawing into the pages and surface of a second hand french romance novel.

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Premise: Etching flow = Definition, 2009

This work is part of an experimental series using computer programming as a means to ponder simple ontological propositions. The underlying premise of this system is Definition = The inscription of an underlying flow onto a surface. Definitions effect the flow that inscribes further definitions. For example, Mountains and Valleys are etched by the flow of the wind. Paper trails are sculpted by the flow of Capital. Things come into being momentarily, appear stable for a time, but eventually the tides shift.

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According to the Rules of Chance, 2009

Inspired by Jean Arp’s Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance). This video work is generated by randomly rearranging and moving image fragments depicting the Belconnen bus interchange (now demolished). Artworks like our built environment are not static they live and breath, come into being and disappear again. All of my digital works rely heavily on notions of chance, although ironically there is no chance within a computer. Everything is deterministic.

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Premise: Structure = Interaction of Elements, 2008

One of Benjamin Forster’s first experiments using computer programming to ponder ontological propositions. This system can best be described as the tracing of simple interactions onto a visual surface. There are numerous particles each assigned to be positive or negative. Each of theses particles effect the motion of its neighbours. Particles are repulsed by others of the same polarity, and attracted to their opposites, similar to magnets. Very simple interactions when traced, produce complex and varied structures.

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