Drawing on the “Lived Experience” —An Investigation of Perception, Ideation and Praxis


“When we do not have the words to say something, drawing can define both the real and unreal in visual terms” (Kovats, 2007: p. 8). The paper addresses the question: what is the relationship be- tween perceptual experience and its interpretation through drawing? It is proposed that drawing, as knowledge and experience, is a particular way of coming to know the world that is explicated within artistic practice. The research examines how drawing, through its expression of the con- crete and the imaginary, provides interconnected ways of orientating knowledge that contribute to a multifaceted understanding of the “lived experience” (Dilthey, 2010). The study draws on phi- losophy, in particular the writings of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, to consider the complexities and in- terconnections of mind, object and body that are experienced through drawing. A central tenet of the research is an examination of the role of the body in constituing and explicating experience. In considering how we, as objects, are integral to the world and its phenomena, it is proposed that our “sense experience” (Sentir) (Heidegger, 1962) furnishes us with the ability to enter into this world as sensate beings; to interact, affect and engage with the world in both time and space. Mau- rice Merleau-Ponty in an essay entitled “Eye and Mind”, first published in 1961 (Johnson, 1993), contends that it is through contemplating a connection between the “seer and the seen”, in a direct reference to artist and viewer, that our experience of the world is “opened up more fully” (Johnson, 1993: p. 124). That is, by being immersed in the visible, the concrete, through the body, the visible is not appropriated, but is instead revealed by the act of “looking”. The practice of drawing is a means through which the act of looking is evinced in a tangible form. Investigating practice: Drawing, it will be argued, can make the invisible visible; exploring through sensing, feeling, think- ing and doing. It questions and investigates the possibilities of experience, ideas and memory through its ability to retain and articulate traces of the past, the present and imagine the future. In attempting to define and refine conceptions of the foundations, or beginnings, of practice, its de- velopment and emergence, philosophical paradigms offer the practitioner ways of thinking: these include historicality, presence and intention. It is this first person’s point of view, subjectivity, and its role that becomes the principal focus of investigations. The outcomes document, as a visualisa- tion and a transcript, a progression, from description of the “lifeworld” (Moran, 2005) or “lived experience”, towards an interpretation of the immersed, subjective experience.

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Ashton, A. (2014) Drawing on the “Lived Experience” —An Investigation of Perception, Ideation and Praxis. Art and Design Review, 2, 46-61. doi: 10.4236/adr.2014.23007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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