Research: Emma McNally



  • her works as a “Visualisation of complex systems, as a` visual thinking` around questions of emergence.”
    • similar to what I want to attempt in my own work; visualisation of the complex systems of the mind
  • “often associated with mappings of geological formations and constellations
  • “the result of scientific readings yet they have been made intuitively
    • this intuitiveness can be a useful tool when trying to convey a memory of an experience using recall but also through memory map prompts; the entire process is something personal, independent and original to the individual, thus the idea of intuition is a perfect method to reflect this process/procedure allowing the mind to make its mark on the support surface
    • semiotic systems involved in the formation of those mappings
      • various mark-making techniques acting as the signifier of a certain message (signified)
  • “her practice is constantly an experimental venture in tune with a world in a perpetual state of flux
    • perpetual: never ending or changing 
    • flux: continuous change
    • never ending state of continuous change
  • “there is an ongoing feedback loop between her drawing […] and the space of digital manipulation where a different nature of spatial thinking is possible
    • a constant reflection, communication and awareness of her intuition
  • “each miniscule mark of graphite takes on endless personality
    • like I have said before each mark becomes a reflection of her intuition and awareness of the mind; as a result of this deep connection with her inner sensitivity each mark and gesture produced is a reflection of her individuality and personhood


  • “I’m constantly trying to disrupt the figure-ground relationship to make blurred areas where the conditions of focusing are undone
    • similar to the continuous processes and procedures of the mind; focusing and losing focus, creating and erasing etc. all of this results in an end message/image that is constantly shifting and never settles – this is due to the ever-evolving personal history of experience that shapes us, the way we think and remember
    • the blurred areas could become a really good technique of communicating what is there but not entirely – not entirely present, not entirely formed – just making the viewer aware that something is happening…that something is present – neither the individual, nor the viewer can be entirely sure of its nature yet – they are however aware of its formation and movement
  • “I try to attend as closely as possible to the sound, and to transcribe the rhythms into the drawing, to make a sort of seismograph
    • although I don’t specifically focus my attention on sound, the thoughts (plus pieces of sensory information) and processes of the mind are of similar nature, in that they cannot be seen and we can only attempt to represent and visualise their ethereality
    • sound and abstract sounds, like those of music, are of similar rhythmic nature – appearing disappearing, altering, shifting, engaging, dynamic, staccato, moving smoothly (links to the quote below)
  • “Graphite is a medium that lends itself perfectly to this practice of rhythmic making and unmaking […] act[s] as engines in the drawing, emitting dark signals of loss, desire, longing, separation, reaching […] the material “heat.” I also like to think of carbon—a material that is both an insulator and a conductor—in different states: coal, diamond, smoke, black oil; as well as water in all its states: ice, snow, mist, rain, vapor.”


  • “Carbon Cleaving” (shown above)
    • “brings different ways of describing space together: cartographies, technological spaces, telecommunications, flight paths, tracks and transmissions”
    • “materials used to create these spaces of transformation include paper, graphite, chalk, tissue and holes and metal pins that impregnate the soft paper surface”
        • (links to the points made above)
        • can be linked to the transformative nature of thoughts – constantly flowing and mending
  • “I like graphite’s materiality: its mess and dirt as well as its capacity to leave the cleanest, sharpest percussive marks and lines. I feel like I’m forging land formations when I use it, or scattering particles, or spiralling vortices of smoke and water”
    • graphite can be used to reflect the mind of its possessor – every mark that is lay down becomes their mark – they are distributed by that individual
  • “Field Drawings”
    • “fugitive, heterogeneous gray areas”
    • space of difference and deferral
    • “a weather system of graphite”
    • “broadband realms where signals at multiple frequencies are being transmitted and received [talking about signals like ultraviolet or solar]”
      • in the same way, signals and information of different strengths are received and organised by the brain
      • these can be portrayed through various methods and densities on the support material
      • all of them coming together to form one image – even if unclear
  • The Gund Gallery describing her work:
    • “Soundings, black holes, deep sea maps—see what you can’t see in the dense graphite chartings of Emma McNally”
    • “McNally’s work dances between the macro and the micro
      • in the same way, I want my work to danse between the macro and micro – showing a mixture of elements from the external (what the experience looks and feels like physically) and the internal world (the ethereality of the thought, receiving, cohering and encoding processes – how we interpret that physicality and what impressions it leaves behind)



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