This research project sets out to demonstrate that a contemporary application of systematic drawing principles to the representation of natural environments could extend beyond the linear conventions upon which these principles are founded, and thereby produce dynamic and expressive interpretations of human and non-human systems. The project was pursued through an exploration of themes central to representation of natural environments. These include; the technologies of mapping systems; the construction of temporal and spatial frameworks; the aesthetics of natural environments; and concepts related to locality and placement. Research methods included the reconstruction of optical devices, the undertaking of extensive field trips, and the learning of new computer languages.
The background to the project is located in: the history of geometry and the concept of the visual ray as first posited by Aristotle; the writings and research of Patrick Maynard, who analysed the role of drawing in the construction of the modern technological world; Manuel DeLanda’s writings on Gilles Deleuze, and his concepts of the manifold, intensive science, and virtual philosophy; the alternative mapping strategies proposed by John Pickle; and the writings of Arnold Berleant who discussed the aesthetics of natural environments. These concepts are drawn out contextually in the exegesis through reference to visual artists involved in (re-)mapping their environments; including Hamish Fulton and John Wolslely in relation to representation of direct experience of being in the land; Bea Maddock’s inverted geometric projection of Tasmania; Mark Lombardi’s visualisation of networks; and Daniel Crooks’s temporal re-mapping experiments.
The outcome of the research is a body of five artworks; Origin 2004-2008 (constant change), Range 2006 (strange attractor), Sticks and Stones, Drowning by Numbers and Source. These works were created in response to an analysis of conventional mapping systems, and the limitations of their geometric and optical drawing methodologies in visualising natural environments. The works in the thesis exhibition use various strategies, based on the application of alternative mapping methodologies, which engage the viewer in new temporal and spatial networks, and thus challenge perceptions of what it is that constitutes experience of environment.