Things Can be Otherwise – Session 5

Indexical Drawing

This was a double session which included an indexical drawing trip in Bute park. Having never created an indexical drawing, I did not know what to expect from the experience. An indexical drawing is when an object leaves a mark on another object, for example a damp leaf rubbed against the floor will leave an area of moisture on the floor, creating a visible trace of its presence.

Here are some images of indexical drawings I created during the morning session:

These images were created from a selection of leaves, trees, twigs, mud and benches. It is quite interesting to see the different marks that have been left behind from the various sources, which could be taken forward and manipulated to see what can be created from them, for example patterns etc. Or they could be left as a statement to show what in this case, the traces which nature can leave.

Following on from that the afternoon session consisted of a discussion of the indexical drawing exercise. We viewed C. S. Peirce’s theory of signs and how he believes drawings can be placed into three category headings; icon, symbol and index.

Key Word:


  1. to select what’s key in the scene.
  2.  work that has no representable imitated content – no recognisable figure.

We then examined one view being; indexical drawing works in relation with technology and can change your relationship with objects.

On the other hand, Harman and Haraway believe we are co-constituted by technology and disagree with the idea of changing our relationship with objects.

From this we then worked in groups to form opinions on the whether we thought indexical drawing was silly or significant.

We defined an indexical drawing to be an object leaving a mark on another object, for example a leaf rubbed against paper will leave marks, creating a visible trace of its presence (as mentioned previously). However, if studying this as a drawing, this is a rather abstracted form of drawing. Through this it is questionable whether indexical drawing is relevant through all specialisms within Art and Design, such as Graphic Communication. This specialism relies on effective and clear communication, something indexical drawing fails to offer. When reviewing example images, it is clear that as a piece of art people can observe it and draw out their own narratives, and for that reason i can fully understand its significance.

As I am beginning to explore a new idea here, I will stop as this will lead into me writing an entire essay. This is a strong contender for the subject matter of what my essay may be about as there are many contrasting arguments and ideas that can be brought to light, making it overall, interesting.

Overall, it was an interesting double session, that has opened my mind to the different forms of drawings and with that the arguments that arise with it. It was the overall debate and exchange of ideas that made it interesting for me.



Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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