Drawings from A Thousand Plateaus

The Thousand Plateaus drawing project is a paragraph-by-paragraph visual interpretation of the book A Thousand Plateaus. I was introduced to the book by my friend. I found the ideas quite elusive and felt compelled to make diagrams so that I could better understand and retain an understanding of the ideas the authors were describing. The writing in A Thousand Plateaus is packed with images. I’ll read a paragraph and then try to focus on one of the prominent images and then draw it out. The drawing style is very immediate. It has evolved from an automatic style that I was experimenting with as a means of accessing subconscious material. The drawings were produced quickly with very little left-brain processing. This style was then adapted to illustrate ideas that were developed by a design collective called RNA. The RNA drawings were preoccupied with the burgeoning digital networked culture of the late 90s. I found that a very simple diagrammatic style could be used to articulate fairly complex ideas about information, networks, and the self. I then adapted the RNA drawing style to make the visual interpretations of A Thousand Plateaus.

I treat drawing as both an act of making and a form of thinking. The drawings on A Thousand Plateaus are attempts to make diagrams that illustrate some of the complex relationships that the authors describe as they develop the thesis of each plateau. I think of the drawings as snapshots of the ideas that are constantly in motion, evolving, devolving, digressing. Each diagram is a representation of how I understand that particular paragraph. The text is very rich; if the task of illustrating a particular paragraph were to be given to ten different artists, you’d get a wide range of responses.

The original drawings were created sequentially in sketchbooks, one page per paragraph. I was originally using graphic design markers and gel ink pens. I’m using watercolours now as they are more lightfast than the markers. I showed them to Sally Mckay, an artist, publisher, and curator in Toronto. Sally included them in a group show with Scott Carruthers and Crystal Mowry called Quantal Strife. For the gallery installations, I selected several sequences of drawings to display. These were framed and hung, and the sequences were then tied together visually by a wall drawing. I am currently publishing the third plateau.