Not long ago I visited friends of mine and while discussing what we can do in the middle of their living room was suggested to draw something together. Intrigue suggestion for spending the afternoon, one I should appreciate as someone who use to draw and still sketches from time to time. What surprised me however, was the surface – a laptop. I have already said that my handmade work is nothing like I am a technology rebel; nor I am blind for the progress in the digital art. But drawing on a screen was so not natural as experience. According to Sennet, ‘the craftsman became an emblem of human individuality… Culturally we are still struggling to understand our limits positively, in comparison to the mechanical; socially we are still struggling with anti-technologism.’
There happen to be other people who believe that something is lost when physical drawing is replaced by digital. Elliot Felix, and architect, says that ‘each action is less consequent than it would be on paper… each will be less carefully considered’ because the software’s possibilities to undo the mistake instantly, to erase what we do not like, to move and reshape, to multiply and create mirror images, even drawing lines and shapes is automatized. Many of us will consider this an improvement, an easier and faster way to achieve better results. But is it?
I used to draw before I had learned to write. From the pedagogical point of view, some might agree that drawing helps children to learn how to write, there are coloring books which show for example the letter Z with black and white stripes, little legs and head to look like a zebra. Calligraphy could be described more as visual art than type of writing. Not to mention the fine motoric development and the following skills like playing a music instrument for example. But why learning to play when there is software we can use to create music?
It is really confusing for me to try and express what feels wrong about it. It is more disembodied experience. When one draws by hand it is really personal, while on the screen we can create almost the same pictures; when one plays an instrument the vibration can touch the skin, while the digital sound often is only heard on headphones; when sculpting with clay one dips in the material and feels its softness, its texture and using software is like just clicking and dragging. In the first case it is a direct expression starting from one’s head, travelling with nerves and muscles to be born on the top of one’s fingers. And in the second case is it more like an unreal simulation.
And finally, as Sennet says ‘when the head and the hand are separate, it is the head that suffers.’