Eye Drawing: Paysant's Art Comes Directly From the Head
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 07-06-11
sight is vanity
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Bypassing the question of the technical skill of the artist was a long-standing target of the Dada and Surrealist movements, from Jean Arp's stochastic collages to Duchamp's readymades, to the "automatic drawing machines" constructed by Jean Tinguely. Perhaps ironically (though perhaps suitably), technological aids and prostheses were always tied in with this tradition. And the French contemporary artist Michel Paysant has taken the scientific solution to the next level with his quite cutting edge "eye-drawing." Using eye-tracking and cognitive imaging software at the Laboratory of Cognitive Neurosciences and Intellectual Imagery of the LENA at the Hospital of Salpêtrière in Paris, Paysant produced a series of skull-shaped schema, he has said, by imaging them "internally."The Centre Pompidou recently displayed one of these, entitled Autre Vanite, or the "other vanity." (Skulls, classic memento mori, are known as Vanites due to their recalling that life is but a vanity.)

Another vanity indeed seems to be at work here: though relying on eerily post-human technical supplement, the concept of Eye Drawing almost conjures the neo-Romanticist ideal of a work flowing unmediated from the soul of the artistic genius: precisely the sort of heroic vision that Dada would seem to scorn. However, Tristan Tzara in fact at times compared Dada to Romantacism; Hugo Ball, for his part saw the chaos of Dada as serving a new, deeper verity and indeed a transcendental unity.

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