Seer and Seen: Drawing from Webcams

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The paper for the conference Drawing Conversations 3: Drawing talking to the Sciences, and the nine drawn works selected for the accompanying exhibition and catalogue Drawn to Investigate, all consider the psychological and sensory dialogue set up between the computer mediated world and the physical, experiential one in relation to landscape, drawing and webcams. Through my original practice-based drawing research, I introduce new interpretations and theoretical frameworks in which to consider representations of landscape – bringing together older processes and notions of landscape with modern practical technologies, drawing together the banality of road traffic websites with traditional romantic notions of painted landscapes.
The title of the paper references Merleau Ponty’s essay ‘Eye and Mind’, exploring the relationship between perception and the production of an art work and his phenomenological emphasis upon an embodied experience, a physical ‘being in the world’. Michel de Certeau’s notions of ‘space’ and “place” are discussed alongside this.
Modern technologies are considered in the context of older visual technologies, such as the Claude Glass, which (much like webcam lenses or smartphone screens) cropped images and, like the algorithms used to compress the data size of image files, also simplified the detailed representation of landscape. Partly because of this, it is observed that webcam images of landscapes can ‘harbour thematic ideals and realist effects akin to [painting tropes such as] the sublime, with their notionally eternal, unflinching gaze.’ (Dan Hays)
A new and refreshed view of landscape has been envisaged. Landscape images of our time, they harness both a contemporary, detached view and the effects of digital interference. Degraded visual features, embedded in the digital, occasional glitches and pixilation are picked up and made more visibly significant, by the drawing process – shifting attention towards the vulnerability of the image and by inference to the environment itself.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2017
EventDrawing Conversations 3: Drawing Talking to the Sciences - Lancaster University , Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Jan 202017 Jan 2020


ConferenceDrawing Conversations 3
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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