The wall space in the Upper Café Bar at Mareel has been transformed this week with the new exhibition, Eye Can Draw. Bringing together the work of two artists Jackie Smith and Dawson Murray, the exhibition explores the use of eye-tracking technology as a drawing tool for those with limited or no mobility. Both Jackie and Dawson have multiple sclerosis and have benefited from the development of this technology as a means to re-engage with direct drawing, as part of a project at Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Studio.
Based in Fife, Dawson Murray has a long-standing reputation as a watercolourist and printmaker on the Scottish art scene. He has suffered from multiple sclerosis for decades and, now quadriplegic, has been able to combine this computerised method of drawing using eye movement with traditional printmaking techniques through the project to create captivating work.
Drawing using an eye-tracking device is very different from using pencil on paper, especially as the device uses vector lines to construct the images. The drawings are produced on a point-to-point basis and take huge amounts of concentration and training to restrict the natural almost continuous motion of the eye. Dawson explains, “My initial drawings were very frustrating as I seemed unable to draw anything other than zigzags and even at that they were completely unintentional! However, over the course of several weekly sessions I gradually managed to get the hang of placing the cursor where I wanted it to be and started to draw some simple shapes like squares, triangles and circles.”
Jackie Smith’s prints are similarly bright and intriguing. Using the same tracking equipment Jackie has created prints which explore the directness of the drawing process, giant colourful forms reminiscent of Matisse’s collage work. Jackie explains, “Working with the eye-tracker has completely altered the way that I am currently thinking about my work. The directness and simplicity of the drawings I have made has encouraged me to think in a very lucid, unequivocal way, making images whose power stems from their clarity and openness.”
The work is on loan to Shetland Arts and will be on display for the rest of the year. Jane Matthews, Shetland Arts’ Exhibitions Officer adds, “There is such value in this project and we are lucky to have the work here on public display in Shetland, especially given the unusually high incidence of MS here. We are hoping to be able to arrange a visit from Jackie to talk about her work later in the year, and also give a demonstration of the equipment with Robert Jackson who has led the project at DCA.”
The project is funded by Dundee Contemporary Arts, Creative Scotland and Dundee City Council. Further information on the project: http://www.creativescotland.com/explore/read/stories/visual-art/2014/eye-can-draw-at-dca
All work is for sale and prices are available on request from Mareel reception