Drawing and affect

Affect can help produce knowledge in research projects concerned with interrelationships, intersubjectivities and other interactions. Affect hones in on the micro/mezzo/macro physical and metaphysical reactions that occur around happenings, seeking out (often unguarded) change moments rather than the outward display of emotions. Methodologically, affect privileges the corporeal and the sensorial, the vocal, expressive and aesthetic, and takes notice of muscular and physical actions as well as encounters and entanglements between the organic, the virtual and the material.

Physically drawing (instead of observing someone draw) imparts an affective force as existing ideas and prior experiences become starting points for drawing. Shifts occur and cause changes beyond the straightforward action of picking up a pencil and making a mark on paper. 

Affect can prompt researching activity that encourages evocative thinking to help develop meaningful and significant findings that have been produced in ethical ways with participants.

Affective methodologies challenge researchers to wander into the methodological unknown, and reconsider the functionality of familiar research habits and assumptions that might favour deterministic data gathering methods. Researchers, through experiencing the materiality of drawing-with others are exposed to impromptu decisions that occur as a drawing is created. This ‘data’ although less easy to statistically organize, contains close-range and highly detailed information.

Research can impose a preconceived assumption or idea upon a situation in order to verify it rather than allowing the free production of concepts to develop as things occur. Imposing preconceived assumptions on corporeal activity such as muscle movements, twitches, sensations, or the performance of a dance, creation of a sculpture, reading of a poem in order to measure it through checklists is extremely difficult because so much of the activity is disregarded as surplus to the investigation, or is simply rendered invisible because data analysis does not adequately acknowledge what has occurred.

The polyactivity which surrounds a drawing makes it incredibly difficult for a researcher to persist with preconceived notions or perceptions so drawing collaboratively takes researchers into a creative immanent space – nothing is for certain and nothing happens in the same way twice. Ideas, theorisations, imaginings, continuously emerge as a drawing takes place. Materiality and force foregrounds thinking, rather than the thinking being directed by the research/project question/title.

Instead of working wholly to a predetermined conclusion, affective methodologies can work both specifically and expansively, actually and virtually, initiating and producing rather than answering or justifying a question. Interrelating the corporal, sensorial and material, drawing collaboratively helps produce offshoots of thought, and action as it creates data and knowledge and blurs the subjective lines between researcher and participant.

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