Tracing a gesture made by Vikki Quill, of the calligraphic form, Mountain, I made this animation, Orientation.

I so enjoyed Vikki’s free, loose-limbed gestures that I made her dance to drums. The sound is of Jon Hizzard, playing with a group of people on Flinders Island. Jon made a series of musical responses to Antarctica in 2002, which can be found in some of the earlier animations.

This animation is not about a mountain, but about a pleasurable, rhythmic connection with the earth, suggested by Vikki’s gestures and Jon’s drumming sounds.

Bill Manhire, in his Introduction to The wide white page (2004), suggests there is room for more humour in the literature of Antarctica:

Perhaps some kind of comedy, even, may be possible.

Certainly there is room for fun.

The dancing dots and triangles were suggested by seeing an exhibition of gesturing hands. Burning luck, by Dygu Beykal, can be seen at Sydney’s blank_space gallery:

The exhibition “burning luck” includes a body of art works (sculpture, video and drawing) which explores the connections between the local and the global through hands, language and political gestures.

Drawings of hands gesturing were pinned on a wall. The hands had their palms market with henna dots.

As well as tracing Vikki’s body gesture with straight lines, I traced the hand she gestured with separately. I marked each hand position a black dot, and played with with these by layering and syncopation.

The triangles were formed as part of this play, by joining the dancing dots. The dots suggest snow drift, triangles ice.

Vikki’s Mountain gesture turned out to draw the ever-changing Antarctic environment.

She comments:

Progressing to dots and triangles is really interesting. As far as the mountain goes and calligraphy, I think of the mountain not as a solid thing but a mass of clods (dots) communicating like the cells in the body…I understand the difficulty of expressing groundedness in line animation. Dots as way of building mass is one way I approach both the lines of calligraphy and the bridge between ink and blood. I touched on that briefly at the workshop when I said they’d put calligraphy works under the microscope which revealed the make up of the ink being spots or dots. . so a calligraphic line is made up of millions of dots in a very real sense. (is that Pythagorean? point to line?)


2 Replies to “Orientation”

  1. Hi Vikki,

    I was very interested to hear you talk the other day about how lines and dots were all that was manageable to engrave into the turtle shells that held those ancient marks.

    Can you tell me a little more about that?

    I am most interested to hear you describe the sense you have, in your moving and drawing, of connection with the natural world.

    Am I near the mark in describing that as a sense of being no line felt between your internal and external experience of matter?

    How would you describe that sensation?

  2. Hi Lisa

    You can find out more information about the turtle shells by googling Oracle Bone Characters or Shang/Zhou Dynasty writing systems. The Oracle Bone Characters come from Shang Dynasty mostly but also the Zhou so around 1200-221 BCE. If you can’t find the information you’re after I might have something here. Because they were engraving onto bone or shell (turtle plastrons) it was difficult for them to do complete circles for example, but straight lines and points were possible. Probably like the Runes.

    How do people describe their experience of internal vs external? I don’t know. I think that the idea of there being a line between the two is a conceptual one, I don’t think people experience it. If you stop and become aware of your senses absorbing the outside world through tasting food, listening to sound, feeling etc then you realise there’s no line between the two, not when it comes to the direct experience of life. When I go into a deep space I’m allowing the sounds of the outside world to enter my mind just as I allow thoughts/images/feelings of the moon or the warmth of the sun to come deeply in. One purpose of meditation is to quieten the thinking process sufficiently to allow your senses to inform you more, so that your direct experience of life in that moment is more equally distributed between your mental, emotional and physical processes. If I can connect deeply with the moment and then slowly come back to the ‘here and now’ and at that point take up the brush, I’m bringing a much ‘bigger, more substantial self’ to the paper.

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Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008