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in VIS ible
Yellow & Ingido
By Davisi Boontharm
I cherish being in places which are culturally different from my own. For those explorations, I have developed “sketch and script” practice which brings together my academic, research insights and artistic, subjective expressions, using composite methods and heterogeneous modes of representation. The main idea behind that approach to observing and comprehension of space is to acknowledge the importance of artistic subjectivity, which engages deeply personal insights in investigations of urban quality, and to challenge measurability and common, purely technical representability of qualities which exist in all cities and manifestations of everyday life.
In phenomenological terms, a place gets both established and understood through experience, especially by being in. The movement of our body through space enhance perception. A number of concepts related to city and urban culture, such as flâneur (Baudelaire and Benjamin), dérive (Debord), spatial tactics (De Certeau), street life (Jacobs) Public Space and Public Life (Gehl), have been established on the basis of walking. Gradual movement gives time to both body and mind, allows them to adjust to the immediate environment at human pace, to open up the receptors, to receive information and to get involved, to become simultaneously actors and spectators.
The experience of slow movement city is not limited to walking. Especially in the context of an island, the passage from water to the land also needs to be recognised as an important transition, an experiential “from and to”. For me, the arrival by the ferry “Petar Hektorović” is such an extraordinary prelude to Vis. The slowness of arrival in the Bay of Vis, being welcomed by the more and more familiar, but never exhausted scenes of architectural and urban facades of the town, which sharpen up and appear clearer and clearer while we are approaching the shore, is a modest but grand overture of an event called Vis. I am fascinated by those humble and non-pretentious facades, dominated by stone, the collective urban artefacts which make an œuvre of Vis.
In my research of place and associated phenomena of meaning, urban quality and identity, I advocate drawing as an active mode of involvement. As opposed to simple clicking of the camera shutter and producing instantaneous but cold records, drawing pulls together the eye and the hand of the observer; together, they enhance the overall experience of combined being and making. Lines do not simply portray or record the facts. They constitute a creative response, a hand-made piece of memory imbued with signs. Jean-Luc Nancy emphasizes the pleasure of drawing in order to underline touching as part of any aesthetic experience. Drawing by hand itself is touching and seeking the desire to liberate form. The hand searches and produces line on its own, as in Matisse’s claim that “hand traces an irreducible desire of the line” (Nancy 2009).
Investigating places by drawing allows my own expression and pleasure in sweeping the brush, or tracing lines over the sheet of paper. My hand desires those lines and that is how the drawing emerges. These dialectic relationships between the place and me, and between me and my lines involve all of my senses and contextual tensions. Drawing is, in a way, my way of connecting to the place and capturing its essence. For me, drawing is simultaneously the process of searching for, and the development of my own contribution to the meaning of that place which engages me, something that I (sometimes only I) see at the core of its urban quality. After the act of making gets completed, the drawing itself will have its own life. It will be viewed and subjectively judged by the viewers.
inVISible, is my watercolor exploration of architectural and urban facades of Vis, as seen from the Bay. That moment of my slow arrival. Both the image and imagination of Vis appear through an amalgamation of two tints: yellow and indigo. These two colors cannot be reduced to represent just sun or sea; they have the capacity to mutually enrich the intrinsic quality in each of them; they open the meaning of optimism and myth. Yellow as bright, warm and positive; indigo as cool, deep and calm. Their juxtapositions bring contrast and their bleeding combinations generate the hundreds of shades of green. The transparency and unpredictability of watercolour create shapes, traces and textures and bring to light what may be invisible in Vis, in the same way in which various spatial qualities aspects of that place can do.
published in Urbophilia No. 8, “InVISible”, watercolour and text by D. Boontharm, printed by co+labo, Keio University ISSN 2185-1549, 2016