Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Excerpts: Drawing and Painting, Children and Visual Representation

(Dr John Matthews personally gave me this book he authored. He is an Associate Professor at the Division of Performing Arts, School of Arts, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Currently he has an on going research and his subjects are my children in the centre.
Below is an excerpt from the book.)

"From birth, children create a family of strategies with which they investigate objects and surfaces. They gradually begin to reach and grasp, swipe and fan, and in doing so create different effects. As the months pass, they learn to adapt these actions to suit different needs. It is not enough to describe this process in terms of object-mastery alone, because the sequences into which the baby organises her actions form expressive phases. This expressive aspect happens when the baby is on her own but is especially promoted in interpersonal contexts. the baby employs movement in playful exchanges with people, and in order to communicate with them. This means that the baby's actions are invested with a range of emotional values. Movements are given meaning in a joint enterprise of child and adult companion. Recent research has suggested that the baby's gestures are a kind of language upon which other forms of representation, including writing, speech and drawing, are soon based. This language is not an arbitrary system of signs but, along other forms of representation, including drawing, is based upon actions of the body which are already gramatically and semantically articulated- that is, this gestural language already has organisation and meaning. This is the opposite of the conventional wisdom that drawing (and writing and speech) are achieved by training the initially disorganised body into a set or system of arbitrary signs. According to this traditional approach, essentially haphazard natural actions come to attain meaning only when they have been sacrificed or abandoned in favour of a "corrected" sequence.

No comments: