Lisa Roberts blog



Filed under: DrawingMovement, dance, drawing, writing — Lisa @ 06:19

Here I share lesson plans and reflections on my DRAWING MOVEMENT WORKSHOPS, acknowledge the sources of my methods and invite comments.

LESSONS and REFLECTIONS are published under a Creative Commons Share Alike license. This means that you are free to use and adapt the methods to your practice. However, in any publications, acknowledgement of this URL must be made in reference to these methods: By acknowledging this URL you automatically acknowledge my sources.

The theory behind my practice is that physical and biological forces shape us and our environment and that drawing movement can visualise body knowledge of these forces. This is ancient knowledge that is important to recover in this time of need to reconnect.

Absolute Dance, a primal form created by Rudolf von Laban, inspires my preference for body rhythm as the catalyst for drawing.

[Laban] set out from the idea that we should be able to perceive rhythm not only through our ears; that our eyes should be just as capable of perceiving it. When we see the waves of the sea from afar, so that we cannot hear their sounds, we yet fully take in their rhythm. Why should we not have the same delight, he argued, from seeing a dancer? Why should not the dance, like a moving sculpture, be sufficient in itself? It was on these theories that he based the Absolute Dance (Gertrud Bodenwiesser, The New Dance, pp.69-70).



A5 recycled paper sheets (clipped to A5 wooden drawing boards) and clutch pencils (with large soft leads) are made available to workshop participants.


Enter the space

Walk through the space, aware of your breath as you consciously focus on leaving behind the physical experience of getting here (by foot, bike, car or public transport) (Ref. Christine McMillan, 2008).

What changes do you note in your breathing?

Now imaginatively enter and explore a wide white page that is bound within the 3 dimensions of this place – its length, breadth and height.

Focus on your feet connecting to the ground through the weight of your whole body.

Imagine marking the ground with inky feet, drawing a scale that ranges between extremely light and heavy.

Use other body parts to draw lines of different weight through all the dimensions of your imagined 3D page.

Think of your lines as drawing the 4th dimension of time.

Gradually find stillness. Close your eyes. Breathe. Imagine yourself now within a new clear space. You have moved through the imagined white page and into the reality of the present. Open your eyes.

Take your drawing board and pencil and, without looking at the paper, slowing walk and draw a line that spirals clockwise from the centre. Allow the weight of your pencil on the paper to trace the weight of your body on the ground. Your lines will reflect this experience of movement.


Aesthetic vs anaesthetic

Filed under: Human rights, Presentations, Researchers, animation, drawing, writing — Lisa @ 10:38

I first saw this video on the Facebook of an artist friend.

As the U-tube caption reads,

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.

For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit:

This is the most lucid explanation I have seen of the divide between academic and artistic intelligences that is promoted by the dominant education systems around the world. I agree with Howard Gardner that we each have multiple intelligences that we can apply to every problem. My hunch is that we naturally apply all our intelligences to everything that we perceive as a problem, consciously and unconsciously.


Martin Kemp

Filed under: Conferences, Iconography, Science, writing — Lisa @ 10:10

Through the Yasmin on-line forum, 11 November 2010, Vítor Reia-Baptista posts,

Just to let you know that Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon will held a cicle of Conferences under the general theme «Image in Science and Art», starting with a conference by Martin Kemp (full program down in this message).

Martin Kemp has written and broadcast extensively on imagery in art and science from the Renaissance to the present day. Leonardo da Vinci has been at the centre of this endeavour, and has been the subject of a number of his books and exhibitions, including Leonardo (Oxford University Press, 2004). His wider research has involved the sciences of optics, anatomy and natural history in various key episodes in the history of naturalism. In 1989 he published The Science of Art. Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (Yale University Press). Increasingly, he has focused on issues of visualization, modeling and representation. The broad thrust of more recent work is devoted to a “New History of the Visual,” which embraces the wide range of artefacts from science, technology, and the fine, applied and popular arts that have been devised to create models of nature and to articulate human relationships with the physical world. A scientific diagram or computer graphic model of a molecule is as relevant to this new history as a painting by Michelangelo. He writes a regular column on ‘Science in Culture’ in the science journal
Nature, an early selection of which has been published as Visualisations (OUP, 2000). Many of the themes of the Nature essays are developed in Seen and Unseen (OUP 2006), in which his concept of
’structural intuitions’ is explored. Forthcoming books include The Human Animal (Chicago).

Ciclo de Conferências Image in Science and Art



17 Novembro 2010 | 18.00

?Taking it on Trust? in Images of Nature

Martin Kemp


15 Dezembro 2010 | 18.00

The Problem of a Picture of an Atom

Christopher Toumey

19 Janeiro 2011| 18.00

Visiting Time: The Renegotiation of Time through Time-Based Art

Boris Groys

2 Fevereiro 2011 | 18.00

Functional Images of the Brain: Beauty, Bounty, and Beyond

Judy Illes



Av. de Berna, 45 A ? 1067-001 LISBOA

T. 21 782 35 25 | E. |


Videodifusão |



Filed under: animation, circle, cross, drawing, photography, spiral, writing — Lisa @ 10:29

Photo: J-Brokowski, Australia Antarctic Division 2010

On September 11, 2001, I sat with my mother as she lay dying in a nursing home near Melbourne. Her room was empty of other people. It seemed the whole world was watching TV broadcasts of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers in New York.

I drew the contours of Mum’s face as she gazed into my eyes and at a photo (beside me) of her other daughter Nadya. Mum’s eyes seemed full of sadness and fear. As I drew, I told her that I would keep an eye on Nadya, who had lived in and out of psychiatric institutions all her life. I asked her to let go of her fears because she had done everything she could do.

Mum had lost the ability to speak about 7 years before this day. All I could read were her eyes and the contours of her face. I drew as a way of holding onto as making some sense of this moment. Drawing and talking seemed to hold us together as she passed from life to death, into the great unknown. I remember the soft lines of the drawing (now somewhere in Tasmania) as ethereal and ‘other worldly’. I remember the simple lines that gently curve inwards as parts of an infinite spiral.

The following year, this moment with Mum resurfaced in Antarctica. This happened as I drew the first iceberg I saw from the ship as we neared the white continent. I later wrote:

Body memories of drawing my mother were recognised through the gestures I made to draw the ice. Perhaps this icy environment evokes a primal sense of mortality.

These memories of first seeing an ice berg helped me to empathise with other people who struggle with words to describe deeply felt personal experiences. It made it easy for me to understand how Antarctic ice may appear to have a life of its own. We may only be able to speak of the surface of ideas and feelings that we see in the ice. Something more primal was felt within the ice.

A recent post in Claire Beynon’s blog, The sea offers up orange deepens my knowledge that we can share expressions of connection to the world when we recognise primal forms within it. Expressions of connection to these forms can connect us to each other and to our environment at a profound level.

Here, Claire’s modes of expression are words and photographs, which reflect her experience on a beach in Dunedin and the connections she feels with the recent earthquake in nearby Christchurch (in New Zealand). Like the connection that I made, between my mother and the ice, the connections that Claire makes defy logic. However, her words and images communicate (to me and others who have commented on her site) empathic connections between all the great forces that shape our world (including us).

Primal forms (like the circle, spiral and cross) can awaken ’sublime’ feelings of connection to the great and unknown forces that shape the natural world (including melting icebergs, erupting earthquakes, and every living entity transforming into death).


Expanding perceptions

Filed under: Literature, animation, writing — Lisa @ 12:12

Photo: J-Brokowski, Australia Antarctic Division 2010

What is knowledge and what is belief?

In Antarctic Animation: Expanding perceptions with gesture and line (thesis submitted April 2010), I demonstrate the need to combine scientific data with aesthetic responses in order to accurately communicate climate change information.

Can information gathered, created and shared by scientists and artists, while working together in Antarctica, be made accessible through an animated online interface? Could such an interface represent a whole, unified ecosystem?

I am not alone in believing that most people can know the world from both a scientific and aesthetic (sensory) perspective. A combination of these perspectives is essential for human survival.

Because human perceptions are based on belief systems, our views must be expanded in oder to increase our understanding of the world.

Are belief systems necessarily moral?

In his essay, Moral Frames for Landscape in Canadian Literature, Ronald Bordessa identifies three conceptual worldviews ( Simpson-Housely and Norcliffe, 1992, p.58):

Religious – Man against Nature, anthropocentric ethic
Scientific – Man in Nature, biocentric ethic
Existential – Man as Nature, ecocentric view

Bordessa further identifies the Existential view as ‘Aesthetics: A world of Dissolved Differences’ (p.59).

I fail to understand what is moral about the Scientific and Existential views.


Joseph Ingoldsby

Filed under: Literature, Methods, writing — Lisa @ 08:54

From: Joseph Ingoldsby <>
Subject: [Yasmin_an] Subtle Technologies 2010 – Sustainability
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 14:37:46 -0400

Subtle Technologies Festival 2010
Joseph Ingoldsby

The use of the word ŒFestival¹ versus ŒConference¹ or ŒSymposium¹ for the Subtle Technologies Festival, which was held in Toronto June 4-6, explained that this was a public celebration.  This 13th anniversary of the Subtle Technologies Festival was focused on Sustainability. Artists, scientists, inventors, architects, linguists, writers engaged the future with vision and optimism.

Native Anishinabe, Deborah McGregor spoke of Indigenous knowledge, the cycle of life, rebirth and renewal and the need for an earth ethic to influence political decision-making. She stressed that the European model of land as commodity and the corporate use of indigenous knowledge as extraction for patents was not sustainable. Native treaties as Dish with One Spoon and Pachymama- the Rights of Nature speak of our responsibility to preserve and protect Mother Earth for future generations as our gift to all of Creation.
This Earth ethic is currently being brought to the table with the Water
Project on the Great Lakes. The Native Water Project was contrasted with ŒThe City in a glass of water: urbanized water and sustainability¹ of Zainub Verjee and ŒThe Way Forward: Building Social and Ecological Resilience through Social Innovation¹ by Francis Westley from the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.
The later programs outlined natural resources as infrastructure and
financial instruments for entrepreneurial innovations and initiatives. ³The goals of the WICI are to develop a common, trans-disciplinary language and methodology and an integrated, coherent theory for the study and pedagogy of complex adaptive systems; and apply these tools to stimulate rapid and beneficial innovation that will increase the resilience of complex adaptive systems worldwide ­ including social, political, economic, and ecological systems ­ that are currently under threat.²

K. David Harrison presented ŒThe Linguists¹. Languages reflecting
disappearing cultures are dying out with the elderly populations of Bolivia, India, Serbia and Siberia by attrition, government pogroms and indifference. However, there is hope that with the continuation of traditional medicine, which passes on the language with the rituals as in Bolivia and the use of new technologies to record the languages in Serbia and Siberia, that the living languages and cultures will be preserved for another generation.
Language has a dynamic and robust ability to adapt and evolve with change. New Media is often used as a means of engaging the often isolated and fragmented populations to give legitimacy to the culture by a media savvy new generation, who adapt the technologies for broadcast.

This was the case with ŒDigital narratives and eco-media: An artistic
experimentation in coastal communities¹ by Karla Brunet and Juan Freire. Here teenagers from coastal Garapua, Brazil were trained in GPS and video and audio transmission. Armed with a mission to map their coastline and document the landscape and people, they returned to their communities and recorded the stories of the elders. For the first time, the grandchildren sat and listened to their grandparents and recorded the memory of their culture. In doing so, they developed an appreciation for their culture and now will keep the culture alive. In the process, the teenagers learned about their landscape and culture including the importance of the mangrove swamps to sustainable fisheries and storm damage.

The loss of the natural and cultural landscapes and biodiversity were the
focus of ŒRequiem for a Drowning Landscape¹ by Joseph Ingoldsby. I presented the case for a historic loss of landscapes and species in America. Since colonization, America has lost 98% of the plains and prairies, 99% of savannas, nearly 100% of the virgin forests east of the Rockies and 50% of the wetlands in America. What remains exists in a fragmented state. Iconic species as the American bison are ecologically extinct and genetically threatened. This story of broken trophic cascades plays itself out on the Atlantic coast, where rising seas and warming ocean temperatures flood the high marshes and bring southern invasive species to the coastal landscapes.
Art and technology can be used to translate science and illuminate the
issues for the public and bring policy changes.

Dr. T. Ryan Gregory spoke of Microbes and meteors: putting the human
experience in a biological context. Life has existed on Earth for 4 billion
years. Homo sapiens have roamed Earth for 100,000 years. We are now within the Sixth extinction cycle called the Holocene Extinction. The UN warns us that biodiversity losses are accelerating as ecosystems approach their tipping points. Scientists around the world are submitting species documentation for a data bank on life, as we know it. The project initiated by world renowned biologist, E.O. Wilson will compile all knowledge on the 1.8 million known species and shall be accessible online by 2020.

In this dark period of turmoil, what can we do to slow the loss of landscape and species? Speakers at the Sustainability Conference urged accessible technology, green product design and fabrication, rethinking agriculture, expanding green networks to allow for species migration and policy change. The United Nations warns that without “radical and creative action” to conserve the biodiversity of life on Earth, natural systems that support lives and livelihoods are at risk of collapsing.  We are running out of time.

Joseph Ingoldsby writes and exhibits about Biodiversity.

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