September 21, 2023


Art For Everyone

Drawing : What lies beneath

13 min read

William Smith Geological map of Nice Britain 1815

The extra I take into consideration interoception and the world round me, the extra I realise that we’re formed by what lies beneath the floor of our our bodies and what lies under the Earth we stand upon. Once more it’s diagrams that we rely on to inform us what’s there and as I’ve been having to show a number of periods on the World Constructing and Creature Design MA, I’ve been reminded specifically of how indicators of the geological evolution of the Earth and the physiological evolution of our our bodies are bodily current deep inside each.

Maybe we have to return to Greek instances to see why we are able to perceive issues on this approach. R. G. Collingwood in his 1945 treatise on the Concept of Nature, had this to say in regards to the Greek view of the pure world; 

    ‘For the reason that world of nature is a world not solely of ceaseless movement and due to this fact alive, but in addition a world of orderly or common movement, they accordingly stated that the world of nature shouldn’t be solely alive however clever; not solely an unlimited animal with a ‘soul’ or lifetime of its personal, however a rational animal with a ‘thoughts’ of its personal.’ (Collingwood, 1960. P. 3)

At one level Collingwood describes Greek pondering on this situation as an analogy. He states that earlier than we all know the world we all know ourselves and once we have a look at ourselves we see {that a} complicated collection of regularly shifting bodily components are saved in equilibrium by a thoughts directing all the varied parts. Subsequently early philosophers argued that nature as an entire should work the identical approach. It’s clever and seeks to take care of autonomy and survive by making choices which can be advantageous to its survival. Apparently again in 1945 Collingwood was utilizing this argument as a distinction to what he was then calling ‘trendy’ or ‘scientific’ thought. Ideas such because the embodied thoughts and ecosophy had been but to enter the world of philosophical academia in England, however Collingwood’s description of Greek thought could be very acquainted to anybody who has learn the Gaia speculation. The Gaia idea proposes that residing organisms work together with their inorganic environment to type synergistic and self-regulating methods that keep and perpetuate the situations for all times on the planet. Lovelock and Margulis put the concept collectively within the Nineteen Seventies, however any believer in animism from two thousand years in the past would have additionally understood the concept. It was the Judeo-Christian idea of a monotheistic God that eliminated this embodied metaphor, as an alternative it was God the good creator, the engineer that lay behind the whole lot, who was liable for why issues labored in the way in which they did. This took away nature’s autonomy or as God put it:

‘Allow us to make man in our picture, after our likeness: and allow them to have dominion over the fish of the ocean, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all of the earth, and over each creeping factor that creepeth upon the earth.’ Genesis 1:26

As a substitute of the world being considered a large complicated clever interconnected bodily being, a factor that we needed to each commune with and slot in with if we had been to outlive, we got the concept that we had been indirectly higher than nature and that we might ‘have dominion’ over it. 

Nevertheless the traditional concept that the world of nature shouldn’t be solely alive however clever and that it’s a huge animal with a ‘soul’ or lifetime of its personal, nonetheless appears to have traction. Typically we use the time period ‘bodyscape’ to explain the metaphorical use of physique imagery in relation to panorama. Historical metaphors that understood the earth to be modelled on the human physique are generally seen as being one-way relationships; the ‘panorama as physique’, however newer modifications in philosophical pondering, specifically the fabric flip and object oriented ontology, level to a two approach course of, ‘the physique as panorama’ being simply as vital. 

Pioneering stratigrapher William Smith is credited with creating the primary helpful geological map, (see picture initially of this publish), and it is extremely fascinating to check drawings of slices by human pores and skin to slices by the Earth’s mantle. The truth that we consider rocks as having veins means that we see the layers of geological strata as being analogous to the way in which we take into consideration our personal our bodies. 

Visualisations of layers of the pores and skin

Within the picture above numbers are used to annotate the varied totally different layers as we progress down into the human physique. For instance ‘1’ is the cuticle and ‘2’ its mushy layer. ‘4’ represents the community of nerves and ‘6’ three nerves that divide off from that community.  The best way the cross part is drawn in some ways brings collectively numerous concepts of our bodies and landscapes, the necessity to create distinct textural areas being frequent to each codecs, stippling and damaged strains being utilized by each geologists and anatomists to establish totally different layers. 

Veins of molten rock penetrate the layers of the Earth’s crust

Geological cross sections

Geological plan view of what lies beneath

Nomawethu: Map of her physique, together with her private story of sickness


The 2 photos immediately above are from a physique mapping workshop led by South African artist Jane Solomon. To create these Physique Maps, individuals stuffed a life-sized define of their our bodies with handprints, footprints, private symbols and textual content. Ntombizodwa states; “Look right here the place I’ve painted the virus. On 19 January 2001 I grew to become very sick. Abdomen pains and headache. It was summer season, the season of peach and apricot, and I assumed that’s why I had a sore abdomen.”

Greek pure science was primarily based on an analogy between nature as a macrocosm and people as a microcosm. Nature was seen as an clever organism, simply as a human being is. In the identical approach that we realise that we now have a thoughts that directs our physique’s operations, it was argued that nature should have some type of intelligence too if it was to direct its numerous affairs efficiently. Simply as we devise methods to painting the inside of our our bodies, we discover methods to painting the inside of the land that we stay on. 

A physique slice

A slice by a panorama

The extra I take into consideration these relationships the extra the imagery I take advantage of to depict sure states of interoceptive consciousness turns into influenced by outdated maps and diagrams. Emotions are like ‘soundings’ taken from deep inside the physique. The physique being each its personal panorama and an inhabiter of landscapes. 

A sense of inside change

The picture, ‘A sense of inside change’ (above) was made while I had unhealthy abdomen ache and was feeling sick. I had been effective all day, doing a glass workshop within the morning and serving to out at a busy artwork ebook truthful within the afternoon. I then walked dwelling, however on the way in which started to really feel completely exhausted. Understanding I had to return out that night, I made a decision to eat a quick snack, that included a spicy onion bargee and a glass of milk. Regardless of the mixture of spices and cooking oils was, it didn’t agree with me and I used to be uncertain whether or not or not I might have the ability to exit once more. The picture above was then drawn in my sketchbook whereas I used to be ready for my pal to reach, after which hopefully by that point I might be feeling higher. The milk I had drunk, appeared to be serving to fight the acid, however I used to be nonetheless feeling sick. Whereas the picture was nonetheless contemporary in my thoughts, I photographed it and commenced so as to add color in Photoshop. The blue was an try to indicate the change, with the pink a sign that the ache was nonetheless sharp, however now intermittent. 

I used to be actually greedy round for a picture that may talk an invisible one thing and as I did I realised I used to be additionally sensing it in my fingers and the picture is an try to indicate this as properly. I used to be drawing a slice by an imaginary physique that was additionally a map, however a map of an unknown territory and one which was altering quickly, one which was being felt for by my fingers, although they may not contact it. 

The physique and a ache

Interoception contains an consciousness of ache, in addition to the event of photos of ache with which we are able to at instances conquer ache. However additionally it is about an consciousness of feeling tone, of the place the physique is positioned in area and different somatic occasions. Alongside this complexity is a wider consciousness of the interrelatedness of the whole lot. There may be one other facet of bodily consciousness that may be a very historic one, one which has at instances been approached below the heading of Tantric Artwork, and is not only a celebration of the physique, however an understanding of the physique as being a bodily illustration of the cosmos itself. Unseen however nonetheless sensed expertise can I consider be understood as a side of the chic. Within the case of interoception, visualisations of those invisible sensations are of a hybrid type that may be a composite between visible invention and reminiscences of previous experiences, and so they depend on bodily resemblances with different objects in addition to a extra abstracted understanding of power circulation. 

In an effort to discover a relationship between bodily resemblance and an understanding of power circulation, we are able to have a look at Harold Fisk’s meander maps of the Mississippi River.

Harold Fisk: Meander Map of the Mississippi River

When attempting to think about the human physique and panorama being fused collectively, Harold Fisk’s mapping processes, which checked out landscapes over lengthy durations of time, are helpful to take a look at. Harold Fisk’s maps symbolize the reminiscence of a river; thousands of years of river course modifications are compressed right into a single picture and due to this the landscapes ‘come alive’. Geological time unfolds right into a human time frame, the maps turning into ‘extra like us’ as they accomplish that. We regularly level to mapping as a really ‘goal’ exercise, forgetting that as inhabitants of very specific our bodies, we’re certain to make issues that replicate our specific bodily make-up and consciousness of time. On this case a geological function is transformed right into a report of fixing power flows, utilizing shapes and hues and a scale of manufacturing, that’s little totally different to an anatomy diagram. As I grow old I am increasingly more conscious of indicators of ageing, however overlook that indicators are layered, and as an alternative of simply how issues seem like as they’re on the pores and skin’s floor, I feel I could be higher off on the lookout for these indicators which can be obscured, misplaced beneath the pores and skin, however which additionally reveal the previous in addition to indicating a quick approaching future. 

Harold Fisk: Meander map

thirteenth Century English anatomy illustration

I am not simply pondering of my very own physique’s previous, however our collective human historical past and you do not have to go that far again to see the physique as a sort of panorama. The thirteenth century illustration above of the physique might simply be learn on this approach, simply as Fisk’s maps may be learn as anatomical diagrams.

Homme 4D

The picture ‘Homme 4D’ jogged my memory of a time after I used to gather outdated anatomy drawings, specifically ones that opened out and revealed the physique as a set of layers. These disappeared a few years in the past, however I did discover this picture on a flickr website, which is one other instance of the best way to show a physique seen by time in addition to area, on this case folding out a collection of layered representations. 
Fisk’s work additionally jogged my memory of Nikolaus Gansterer’s diagrams, specifically Gansterer’s concept of the drawing as a ‘rating’. 

From the Embodied Diagrams collection by Nikolaus Gansterer

Nikolaus Gansterer’s Embodied Diagrams collection derive from a 4 yr analysis venture Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line. This was a collaborative venture that developed shared figures of thought, speech, and motion reflecting on the particular nature of ‘thinking-feeling-knowing’ operative inside inventive practices that search to symbolize the physique. Drawing was used as a translational bodily course of that was in a position to assist the analysis workforce think about a wide range of varieties through which a drawing of the physique can turn out to be manifest, materialise, and take form. Gansterer. factors out that, ‘The German phrases for drawing (zeichnen) and for notation, recording (aufzeichnen) share the identical etymological root’.  Acknowledging this, Gansterer produces ‘scores’ as imaginative prompts. These ‘scores’ are used to map the complicated ‘relation-scape’ between physique, place and environment, a ‘diagrammatic (re-)presentation of embodied information(s).’ 

He describes his photos as mapping the durational ‘going down’ of one thing occurring stay and the refined processes within the occasion of “figuring one thing out”. This example intrigued me, as a result of in my very own work I had been attempting to steadiness a illustration of a factor with a course of, for example an consciousness of a ache and on the similar time of the method of feeling the ache and of speaking it, a fairly troublesome course of as a result of it crossed a number of boundaries. The British ‘stiff higher lip’ may for example, make it exhausting to measure ache’s impact on a topic taught to indicate no emotion. 


Gansterer labored in collaboration with the author Emma Cocker, dancer Mariella Greil and others and their work is obtainable at: I used to be notably fascinated by the collaborative points of Gansterer’s analysis and as I’ve already been working in collaboration myself, assume it’s maybe time to revisit a number of the points concerned. The truth that mapping is often related to geological terrain is one thing I do not assume I’ve made essentially the most of and as I’ve been attempting to visualise the invisible, mapping may supply a approach of constructing in signposts or guides as to the place issues could be positioned. 

Visualisation of a respiratory restriction

Visualisation of peristaltic waves

Each of my drawings above are photos derived immediately from my very own private experiences of responding to an consciousness coming from contained in the physique and they’re makes an attempt to visualise for others the emotions that I had on the time. Each photos had been initially drawn by hand after which scanned into PhotoShop and adjusted till the color felt proper. Photoshop additionally allowed me to make use of layers and in doing so I might add diagrammatic particulars resembling arrows or color used to establish the place a centre of a ache may lie.  

By visualising one thing usually invisible to others, maybe an alternate type of communication may very well be developed in relation to well being issues. Specifically within the case of a rising consciousness of peristaltic waves, (abdomen pains), this may imply that somebody needs to be having conversations about taking train or consuming extra fibre. I feel the picture of peristaltic waves works properly in conveying my very own private emotions, however would anybody moreover myself guess that that’s what the picture is of. I might use a top level view drawing of a physique to point the place the feeling lies, however as quickly as I do the richness of the imagery is dissolved into a really apparent signal and as that occurs the ‘feeling tone’ is misplaced and its the ‘feeling tone’ that I actually wish to seize. Nevertheless, by taking ‘Homme 4D’ as a mannequin, I’ve tried to develop new photos that start to have extra of the visible ambition of Fisk’s work and that are the premise for an enfolding or layering of photos, colors and textures to counsel somatic experiences. 

The thought type of an inside physique sensation


The visualisation of tinnitus

By now I’ve lots of of photos developed in collaboration with different individuals in numerous makes an attempt to visualise their consciousness of usually invisible inside sensations. I shall take a choice of these to Porto in July, and use them to instigate a set of workshops designed to evaluate how transferrable these concepts are. I might be internet hosting some workshops with hopefully medical employees and college students and we’ll see whether or not or not there’s a frequent visible language that may very well be used between each artwork and medical practitioners, in addition to non specialist audiences. 

If anybody studying these posts is considering participating or becoming a member of in, you may e mail me on [email protected] and I can present extra particulars. 


Collingwood, R. G. (1945, 2022) The Concept of Nature London: Useless Authors Society

Fisk, H.N., (1952) Mississippi River valley geology relation to river regime. Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers117(1), pp.667-682.

Rawson, P.S., (1973, 2012) Tantra: The Indian cult of ecstasy. London Thames and Hudson 

Winchester, S. and Morris, M.D., (2002) The map that modified the world: William Smith and the beginning of contemporary geology. Management and Administration in Engineering2(2), pp.12-13.

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