Haptics refers to the sense of touch (from Greek πτω = "I fasten onto, I touch").
I was asked a question at my recent Derby Museum talk about haptics which I didn't really answer properly - partly because I'm not really sure of how best to use the word in relation to my work. It's been bugging me ever since, which is a sure sign I need to give it some thought.
One of the things I am currently considering is the whole idea of the shared familiarity of drawing - the connection an audience has when viewing a drawing with the knowledge (haptic memory?) of physically making a drawing. e.g. the tactile experience of the pencil making a mark on paper. This is also an area I'm trying to reconcile with my digital drawings. For me, creating one of my digital drawings is very similar in terms of the physical experience to creating a pencil or ballpoint pen on paper. However, there is no guarantee that an audience will have any knowledge or experience of drawing with a digital pen/ tablet (no haptic memory?) so that connection between myself and the audience is lost. One way around this is to include in any exhibition an opportunity for the audience to use a digital pen/ tablet (i.e. giving a haptic experience will result in a haptic memory?).
What I'm wondering at the moment is whether the memory of the physical experience of drawing can be described as a haptic memory? Or maybe an implicit haptic memory?  The memory of a common haptic experience?..........
This is not necessarily terminology I'll use in general statements etc. - but it is something I need to make sense of before I move the work forward.

Wacom Inkling - Initial Test

It finally arrived!! The main reason I wanted to have a go with the inkling was to see how it would work with tonal drawing - pretty sure this is NOT what it was intended for so I am aware that I am going to need to spend some considerable time playing around with it. I haven't got time to do a thorough test drive (and probably wont for some time due to other commitments) , but I had to have a quick go and have noted my initial thoughts.
1. I charged the pen and receiver and then installed the inkling software - all really straightforward - so far so good.
2. Did a quick test drawing - downloaded, (realised the default colour for the digital drawing was blue and changed to black), printed the digital drawing on a laser printer. Scanned both original and printed digital together at 300 dpi:
The first thing I realised is that some of the marks weren't picked up by the receiver. I think this is because I inadvertently blocked it with my fingers. You need to hold the pen about 2.5 cm up the barrel so that the signal is unobstructed:
The second thing is that, although there is pressure sensitivity, it can't match the variation of the original ballpoint drawing on default settings. However, there are threshold settings for the pen which I need to play around with and I am also going to to do some more colour adjusting and possibly try layers (which I can then adjust separately in Photoshop). So, overall - not going to be an out of the box set up and go for tonal drawing - but a promising start and I'm sure it's also going to be great for general sketching and  useful for all sorts of things I haven't yet thought of......

Saatchi Drawing Showdown update

Bit of a disappointing day on Tuesday! The public voting finished and I checked out my Saatchi profile page in the evening to see the result. I'd checked earlier in the day and I was around 420 so I was very surprised and excited to see the above message - until about half an hour later when I got an email saying I hadn't got through to the second round. Not sure what happened - I've emailed Saatchi about it (with the above attached) and I am waiting for a reply - but I have learned a couple of valuable lessons. Don't believe everything you see on the internet and don't tweet until you are sure of something or you may need to do some very embarrassing back-tracking!!

Day 2 of my Digital New Year..

Day 1 (Year2)
Yesterday was the first day of my New Year! Two years I ago I started my activity series - I taped a piece of paper onto my tablet along with a sheet of carbon and used my wacom pen to surf, email etc. The marks tracking this activity transferred to the paper below the carbon and each day I replaced with a fresh sheet. I then laminated and stitched all the sheets together (with 24 stitches of course!). If I didn't use the computer the sheet was left blank - scary to see how few pages were blank! Below is Year 1 (activity) in progress which is currently in my exhibition at Derby Museum
Year 1 (in progress)
The second year I used acetate instead of paper - part of this is in my Deda show pinned to the wall in 'packs' of seven but now it's finished I'm going to give some thought to alternative presentations - maybe stacked on a light box?
11 weeks of Year 2 (activity)
For this year (Year 3) I'm not using carbon - but instead I'm taping paper to the tablet and using a wacom ink pen so the marks are made immediately (see below). I've also used a larger sheet of paper - in the past I have had paper to the side of me - where I write, doodle, make notes and this year I shall do this on the actual 'activity' paper. I don't think I'll be able to draw with the wacom ink pen as it doesn't seem to have the sensitivity of the standard one, so when I'm doing my digital drawings I shall swap pens. It is going to be interesting to see what happens to the ink pen marks when they are combined with the strokes of an inkless nib.

Day 2 (Year 3) in progress
When I first started Year 1 I was constantly lifting the edge of the carbon to see what marks were being made - it's really funny how I hardly look at the paper now. One of the reasons I was quite happy to use a pen/ paper this year was that I knew I could trust myself not to consciously create marks They say do things 28 times and it becomes a habit - as I've now done it for 730 days I suppose it's hardly surprising!

Saatchi Drawing Showdown

I've entered the above ball point pen on aluminium drawing into the Saatchi Drawing Showdown. I'm currently  at #520 out of 2099 entries, the top 300 go through to round 2  - so it's not looking very likely at the moment! Round one ends on the 18th October and you'll need to sign in or connect via facebook to vote. See my entry on the Saatchi site here if you'd like to help...  :)

Derby cuts arts funding...

I really cannot believe the recent news that the arts funding is to be cut so drastically in Derby. I've posted about it in my other blog . After some signs over the last few years that the arts were being supported in a positive way - the future is looking bleak. Read more here But hey, look on the positive side - the Council House is being refurbished!!

Things to think about...

Residual Marks #2, detail, erased pencil
Things on my list for 2012: erasing, washing, staining, fading, bleaching, inscribing, imprinting and scratching

The Fabelists...

Shortly after my online presence..  post I received an invite to join the Fabelists. Now I know I said I wasn't going to add anything else but I just couldn't resist agreeing to be a part of it. (Anyway - say you're not going to do something, then almost immediately go ahead and do it - why break the habit of a lifetime??) Firstly - the current theme is 'imprint' - scarily appropriate as I'd decided the imprint bit of my exploration of gesture/ mark and imprint needed concentrating on in 2012. Secondly, I really like the idea of a platform where there is a discussion about ideas (as opposed to concentrating on the finished piece) and the opportunity to give and receive feedback. Thirdly there is a real mix of artists from all disciplines, not just visual artists so some interesting potential for collaboration and it will be great to see different approaches to a common theme. I'm very busy so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to contribute before Christmas but I am really looking forward to being a part of it and I have just published my first post which you can find here.

Is it the end of books as we know them?

I've been reading a lot lately (and having a few face to face discussions) about whether the digital revolution will mean an end to real books, magazines etc. and it is something I find really interesting. I am a book lover - I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the covers, turning the page....I have a whole library of books (particularly drawing ones) which I couldn't imagine in any other form. However, I also love all the digital options - not only e-readers and tablets but also online publications - my particular favourite is issuu. Issuu allows you to publish as a 'flipping' book so the whole experience is similar to turning the page of a real book but it also has options to embed/ download/ print/ email etc. and more recently to make the publication interactive. I've created a number of publications (some on sidebar) - most recently an issuu publication of the catalogue for my current shows. I also had this printed in the traditional way - so it only took a few clicks to turn the print file into a digital publication - the best of both worlds. My issuu stats show that quite a few people have accessed these publications. (I appreciate these are very low in comparison to many on the site - but even so it's a considerable amount of people who wouldn't otherwise see them). The digital route certainly enables access to a much wider audience.

I have a great many books and I was thinking about which I would want to keep. My books are divided into art books and all the rest and I must admit most of my non-art books and text based reference books could happily be stored and read digitally (with the possible exception of cookery books - I can't imagine having any digital reading in the kitchen - however as I spend very little time either in the kitchen or using cookery books it's not likely to be a problem!). My art books are a different matter- I tend not to read these chronologically page by page and I still prefer 'dipping into' a real book and moving backwards and forwards between a number of pages. Also there is a size issue with digital reading - portable digital readers such as tablets are relatively small and many of my art books are much larger - the images would not be seen as a whole, at an equivalent size, in a digital form. Some of the books have unusual binding - one has a number of booklets within a card case which could never be replicated digitally. Magazines and newspapers in contrast seem to translate really well to digital - a few years ago I had a massive clear out - including 25 years worth of a-n magazines!! - these took up a considerable amount of room. If they'd been digital I'd probably have kept them as storing them would not have used precious space (whether I would have actually re-read them though is another question). There are also lots of possibilities for interactive or additional information with digital  in a way which would be impossible with real books which inevitably have a limited capacity.
I think the deciding part for me is whether handling an actual book increases the pleasure of the reading experience. I have a number of very old books (including 'What Katy Did' with an embossed cover and a label in the front, written in beautiful script, documenting it's presentation as a prize to the person who gave it to me) which I couldn't part with. I also have a number of very old paperback classics with standard covers which I could happily exchange for a digital version. I wonder if, in the future, books which are beautiful, tactile or special in some way will survive and as a result the physical act of handling and reading as well as the aesthetics of an actual book will become something treasured. Although we may have fewer 'real' books those we do have will be really precious?.

Saatchi Drawing Showdown

Squeeze, 1016 x 1372 mm, ballpoint pen on aluminium panel
I've entered the above drawing in the Saatchi showdown. First time I've done this and the first thing I've learnt - leave submission until the last minute - as they seem to be shown in that order i.e. latest first. I was one of the first to submit - and there are 2100 entries - so there's a lot of drawings to look at before mine. The initial round is public vote - my drawing is here and there's a link for voting on the right hand side if you feel so inclined. :)