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.