The Lineage Machine will be composed of two parts: a device for “recording” or digitizing the movement of the drawing performer, based on the work I have already done with the Euphonopen; and a haptic device for “playing back” or reproducing the drawing performance. The haptic device will take the form of a robotic arm suspended over the drawing surface: the viewer / user will insert his /her hand into a structure that stabilizes the movements of the fingers and the wrist, while allowing the hand to grasp a drawing instrument. The mechanical arm will gently, but firmly, guide the arm and hand through the movements that created a particular drawing.
Drawing is the technique of making marks with a stylus or brush on a surface. A finished drawing may exhibit some of the characteristics of the movements made by the person making the marks, such as the location of the mark on the surface, the pressure on the brush/stylus while the mark was being made, the repetition and rhythm of a kind of mark. Other characteristics of a drawing performance, such as the order the marks were made in, the speed of entry and exit of the instrument making the mark, the speed with which the mark was made, pauses in and between marks, are lost. Therefore the performance of a drawing contains information and expression that a finished drawing does not.
The Lineage Machine will allow the viewer / user to experience a drawing in real time, in a very intimate, tactile way – and paradoxically the robotic arm will allow the viewer / user to get absorbed in a drawing, and to experience the artist’s touch, looking at and seeing a drawing in a new way.
The Lineage Machine has archival and conservation applications: would we not like to "feel" the movement of Leonardo drawing?
The Lineage Machine will also allow people with disabilities, such as impaired vision or motion control, to experience a drawing as it happens.
Funded by Kitchener-Waterloo, ON (January 2013)