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UAL Research Online

Drawing as Epistemology for Morphology

Anderson, Gemma (2016) Drawing as Epistemology for Morphology. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London and Falmouth University.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Anderson, Gemma

This thesis presents drawing as epistemology for morphology through the development and dissemination of drawing practices that extend understanding of, and engagement with, the diversity of natural form. The interpretation of the term ‘morphology’ is based on Goethe’s original concept (1792) of morphology as the ‘study of form and formative process’. This research is situated in the context of the emerging fields of ‘Drawing Research’, ‘Art/Science’ and the cross-disciplinary domain where contemporary art practice and education intersect (the ‘educational turn’). Led by drawing practice, the methodology encompasses a set of experimental approaches including interdisciplinary collaboration, museum collection study, workshop design, and exhibition making. This mixed method approach is conducted within the context of scientific institutions like the Natural History Museum and Imperial College, London to address two research questions. The first asks what contribution an artist can make, especially through drawing in collaboration with scientific practices and instrumentation, on representations and forms of analysis and interpretation that could lead to new understandings of morphology (animal, mineral, vegetable) for both artists and scientists? The second asks what shared morphological characteristics (form and symmetry) of animal, mineral and vegetable species can be identified and represented through the process and object of drawing and whether this research can develop an extra-scientific model of classification that is complementary to the scientific approach?

This enquiry has contributed to the development of two interlinked bodies of artistic research (and two new terms and practices) ‘Isomorphology’: the observational study of the shared forms and symmetries of animal, mineral and vegetable species, and ‘Isomorphogenesis’: the systematic representation of dynamic form through drawing. These practices have been shared with artists, natural scientists, students and the general public through participatory workshops, conferences, publications and exhibitions. Early chapters provide examples of drawing as a ‘way of knowing morphology’ in the context of contemporary natural science and mathematics (empirical and conceptual), which are followed by a narrative of the development of ‘drawing as a way of knowing’ in my own artistic practice through the Isomorphology study. The later chapters then discuss the evolution of the Isomorphology concept and practice, as a shift from observation to abstraction first in the ‘Goethe method’ and later in the conceptual study of the dynamic nature of form ‘Isomorphogenesis’ (adding the 4th dimension of time). These chapters build a narrative, towards drawing as epistemology for a dynamic, processoriented morphology. This developmental series of empirical and conceptual drawing practice and theory brings my work with natural science (empirical) and mathematics (conceptual) together. The final chapter documents how this research is then shared as an experimental educational model through the Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre project.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: morphology
Date: 28 April 2016
Date Deposited: 27 May 2016 14:44
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 09:15
Item ID: 9204
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/9204

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