Notes - Sketches - Scribbles: Writing and drawing as creative tools

Tagung / Convegno

Organized by the research initiative Knowledge in the Making at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (Max Planck Institute), and in cooperation with the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures of Yale University.

The conference will be dedicated to spaces of aesthetic and knowledge production opened up by the preparatory notes, sketches, and scribbles made in the discovery and creative operations of artists and scientists. Notebooks and sketchbooks, in such a context, are seen as open, dynamic and material grounds for vibrant processes involved in knowledge and/or aesthetic formations. Epistemic spaces, the materials involved, and their interrelationships in the production of knowledge, or even in the production of aesthetic forms, will thereby play a central role in the papers of this conference. It is thus not only the inscriptions of art and science that will be of interest, but the very act of inscribing that will be examined. This act of inscribing, when written large, intends to go into the social, historical, and epistemological dimensions. When such an act is seen as a preparatory approach to a problem, through rough notes, mere scribbles, and casual diagrams, certain material and conceptual conditions to the formation of knowledge or aesthetic forms may be further highlighted.

We are interested in the approaches taken at the earliest stages of the creative and productive processes and in their supposed operational logic. This means that the focus will be more on the various forms of processes involved, than on the final product. Such as, for instance, in the case of sketches of Nebulae made in Observing Books of Victorian Astronomers, or the exploratory notes and scribbles of Paul Valérys notebooks. Do the material and conceptual conditions involved in the act of inscribing, especially with regard to the notes and sketches taken, then, somehow relate to the objects of knowledge involved or to an artistic production? How exactly are the ways in which the unclear and inarticulate aspects, especially at the preparatory and early stages, made clear and articulate, at least in part, by the action and materials of writing and drawing? What are the dynamics involved between ones approach to the unknown and the tools used in this attempt? And furthermore, what are the tentative relationships formed between writing, symbol, drawing and notation? How are the disparate components of knowledge stabilized and connected by such initial outlines, sketches and notes? These questions are meant to bring forth issues concerning the nature of inscriptions and their material embodiments; and even more fundamentally, the layers of various conditions of writing and drawing used as tools in the preliminary approach to problems, conjectures and proofs, and to the production/discovery of concepts or artistic forms.

Further informations:

Yale University - Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures
William L. Harkness Hall, 3rd Fl., Room 309
100 Wall St.
New Haven, CT
Omar Nasim  

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