Discovering Notation Notating Discovery
In this paper I argue that a notational drawing practice demands means of discovering new notations in addition to ways of using notations to record discoveries.
Notation is powerful yet dangerous. Powerful in supporting communication and reflection both in the langauges of science and mathematics and also in the context of drawing. The danger of notation is that its limitations are often hidden – the ease with which it enables description blinds us to what it cannot express. Whether in science, mathematics or in drawing, the significant novelties yet to be discovered will lie beyond the reach of today’s notation.
In science concepts evolve slowly and new notations arise on a timescale of decades or even centuries. The practice of an individual artist operates at a different pace so notational drawing necessitates particular strategies for generating new notations. I suggest that one strategy arises from considerations of notation in the role of mapping the physical environment.
Cartographic notation supports processes by which the environment is invented, understood, posessed, and manipulated. The environment is often subjugated by the imposition of notation. This relationship can be subverted by allowing the environment to propose its own notation. Drawing practices in which the artist moves through the environment collecting and assembling marks can be seen as a cooperative process in which notation arises through a
In this paper I discuss a number of practices of this type, including my own use of digital drawing in this context.