The artistic power of seeing and making visible is inhabited by blindnesses it cannot recognize.
"Joseph-Benoit Suvee’s ‘Butades, or the Origin of Drawing’ (1791), is a painting of the young Corinthian woman Butades in Greek antiquity who, facing separation from her lover, traces his shadow on the wall.
"It comes from a tradition in which the origin of drawing is attributed to memory rather than perception. The narrative relates the origin of graphic representation to the absence or invisibility of the model.
"This suggests, drawing originates in blindness.
"(a) The artist is blind: The object or model, even if facing the artist, cannot be seen at the same moment as the mark of drawing is made. There’s always a gap or delay. The mark relies on memory. And when memory is invoked, the present object is ignored: the artist will be blind to it.
"(b) The process of drawing is blind: Drawing, like language, is impossible without the play of the trace, the play of presence and absence. And this cannot be seen.
"So there’s a double blindness, with the presence and absence (Butades’ problem) at the origin. The artistic power of seeing and making visible is inhabited by blindnesses it cannot recognize."
text: Introducing Derrida, Collins and Mayblin, 1996, pp. 145-146
image: Projection Systems