Drawing : What lies beneath

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 beneath the Earth we stand upon. Once more it’s diagrams that we depend upon to inform us what’s there and as I’ve been having to show a couple of classes 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 occasions to see why we will perceive issues on this approach. R. G. Collingwood in his 1945 treatise on the Concept of Nature, had this to say concerning the Greek view of the pure world; 

    ‘For the reason that world of nature is a world not solely of ceaseless movement and subsequently alive, but in addition a world of orderly or common movement, they accordingly mentioned that the world of nature is just not solely alive however clever; not solely an enormous 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 challenge as an analogy. He states that earlier than we all know the world we all know ourselves and after we have a look at ourselves we see {that a} complicated collection of regularly shifting bodily elements are stored in equilibrium by a thoughts directing all the assorted parts. Subsequently early philosophers argued that nature as a complete should work the identical approach. It’s clever and seeks to take care of autonomy and survive by making choices which might be advantageous to its survival. Curiously again in 1945 Collingwood was utilizing this argument as a distinction to what he was then calling ‘fashionable’ or ‘scientific’ thought. Ideas such because the embodied thoughts and ecosophy have been but to enter the world of philosophical academia in England, however Collingwood’s description of Greek thought can be very acquainted to anybody who has learn the Gaia speculation. The Gaia idea proposes that dwelling organisms work together with their inorganic environment to kind synergistic and self-regulating methods that keep and perpetuate the circumstances for all times on the planet. Lovelock and Margulis put the concept collectively within the 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 a substitute it was God the good creator, the engineer that lay behind every thing, who was liable for why issues labored in the best way 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 have been to outlive, we got the concept that we have been ultimately higher than nature and that we might ‘have dominion’ over it. 

Nonetheless the traditional thought that the world of nature is just not solely alive however clever and that it’s a huge animal with a ‘soul’ or lifetime of its personal, nonetheless appears to have traction. Generally we use the time period ‘bodyscape’ to explain the metaphorical use of physique imagery in relation to panorama. Historic metaphors that understood the earth to be modelled on the human physique are typically seen as being one-way relationships; the ‘panorama as physique’, however more moderen adjustments 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 firstly of this publish), and it is vitally fascinating to match drawings of slices via human pores and skin to slices via 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 best way 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 assorted totally different layers as we progress down into the human physique. For instance ‘1’ is the cuticle and ‘2’ its tender layer. ‘4’ represents the community of nerves and ‘6’ three nerves that divide off from that community.  The way in which the cross part is drawn in some ways brings collectively varied concepts of our bodies and landscapes, the necessity to create distinct textural areas being widespread to each codecs, stippling and damaged strains being utilized by each geologists and anatomists to determine 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 photographs straight above are from a physique mapping workshop led by South African artist Jane Solomon. To create these Physique Maps, contributors 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 believed 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’ve 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 varied 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 via a panorama

The extra I take into consideration these relationships the extra the imagery I exploit to depict sure states of interoceptive consciousness turns into influenced by previous maps and diagrams. Emotions are like ‘soundings’ taken from deep throughout 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 dangerous abdomen ache and was feeling sick. I had been nice all day, doing a glass workshop within the morning and serving to out at a busy artwork e book truthful within the afternoon. I then walked house, however on the best way started to really feel completely exhausted. Realizing 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 be capable of exit once more. The picture above was then drawn in my sketchbook whereas I used to be ready for my buddy to reach, after which hopefully by that point I might be feeling higher. The milk I had drunk, gave the impression to be serving to fight the acid, however I used to be nonetheless feeling sick. Whereas the picture was nonetheless recent 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 purple 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 nicely. I used to be drawing a slice via 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, though they might not contact it. 

The physique and a ache

Interoception contains an consciousness of ache, in addition to the event of photographs of ache with which we will at occasions 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 every thing. There may be one other side of bodily consciousness that may be a very historic one, one which has at occasions 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 imagine be understood as a side of the elegant. Within the case of interoception, visualisations of those invisible sensations are of a hybrid kind that may be a composite between visible invention and recollections of previous experiences, and so they depend on bodily resemblances with different objects in addition to a extra abstracted understanding of power circulation. 

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

Harold Fisk: Meander Map of the Mississippi River

When making an attempt to think about the human physique and panorama being fused collectively, Harold Fisk’s mapping processes, which checked out landscapes over lengthy intervals of time, are helpful to have a look at. Harold Fisk’s maps symbolize the reminiscence of a river; thousands of years of river course adjustments 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 changing into ‘extra like us’ as they achieve this. 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 adjusting power flows, utilizing shapes and hues and a scale of manufacturing, that’s little totally different to an anatomy diagram. As I become old I am increasingly conscious of indicators of ageing, however neglect that indicators are layered, and as a substitute of simply taking a look at how issues look like as they’re on the pores and skin’s floor, I feel I may be higher off in search of these indicators which might 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 kind of panorama. The thirteenth century illustration above of the physique might simply be learn on this approach, simply as Fisk’s maps is also learn as anatomical diagrams.

Homme 4D

The picture ‘Homme 4D’ jogged my memory of a time once I used to gather previous 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 learn how to show a physique seen via 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 thought of the drawing as a ‘rating’. 

From the Embodied Diagrams collection by Nikolaus Gansterer

Nikolaus Gansterer’s Embodied Diagrams collection derive from a 4 12 months analysis undertaking Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line. This was a collaborative undertaking that developed shared figures of thought, speech, and motion reflecting on the precise 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 capable of assist the analysis workforce think about a wide range of types through which a drawing of the physique can change into 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 data(s).’ 

He describes his photographs as mapping the durational ‘going down’ of one thing occurring stay and the delicate 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 making an attempt to stability a illustration of a factor with a course of, as an example an consciousness of a ache and on the identical 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’ would possibly as an example, make it arduous 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 on the market at: www.choreo-graphic-figures.net I used to be significantly fascinated by the collaborative points of Gansterer’s analysis and as I’ve already been working in collaboration myself, suppose it’s maybe time to revisit a number of the points concerned. The truth that mapping is normally related to geological terrain is one thing I do not suppose I’ve made probably the most of and as I’ve been making an attempt to visualise the invisible, mapping would possibly provide a approach of constructing in signposts or guides as to the place issues may be positioned. 

Visualisation of a respiration restriction

Visualisation of peristaltic waves

Each of my drawings above are photographs derived straight 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 sentiments that I had on the time. Each photographs have 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 equivalent to arrows or color used to determine the place a centre of a ache would possibly lie.  

By visualising one thing usually invisible to others, maybe another type of communication might be developed in relation to well being issues. Particularly within the case of a rising consciousness of peristaltic waves, (abdomen pains), this would possibly imply that somebody ought to be having conversations about taking train or consuming extra fibre. I feel the picture of peristaltic waves works nicely in conveying my very own private emotions, however would anybody apart from myself guess that that’s what the picture is of. I might use an overview 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. Nonetheless, by taking ‘Homme 4D’ as a mannequin, I’ve tried to develop new photographs that start to have extra of the visible ambition of Fisk’s work and that are the idea for an enfolding or layering of photographs, colors and textures to counsel somatic experiences. 

The thought type of an internal physique sensation


The visualisation of tinnitus

By now I’ve a whole bunch of photographs developed in collaboration with different folks in varied makes an attempt to visualise their consciousness of usually invisible inside sensations. I shall take a number of these to Porto in July, and use them to instigate a set of workshops designed to evaluate how transferrable these concepts are. I shall be internet hosting some workshops with hopefully medical employees and college students and we are going to see whether or not or not there’s a widespread visible language that might be used between each artwork and medical practitioners, in addition to non specialist audiences. 

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


Collingwood, R. G. (1945, 2022) The Concept of Nature London: Lifeless 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 delivery of recent geology. Management and Administration in Engineering2(2), pp.12-13.

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