Talk at Daniel Blau Gallery, DRAWING, MEMORY AND THEFT – 22/01/14


A talk by Anne Howeson at Daniel Blau Gallery

22 Jan 2014

In the talk “Drawing, Memory and Theft” Anne Howeson discussed the idea of ‘originality and the contemporary’ in drawing today. The theme of the lecture was of “the role of memory as a trigger to the imagination, and the concept of reference and appropriation from photography, prints and other media.”

Howeson spoke about the originality in postmodernism, “A number of postmodern theorists and artists have questioned whether there is such thing as originality in art”.

Postmodernism rejects the modern idea of originality as the new, and substitutes it with a combination of elements from the past. One of the main characteristics of Postmodernism was its tearing down of borders between styles and various cultural elements and the advance towards seeking something new and original was discarded and substituted with an amalgamation of elements from past and existing cultures.

Postmodernism distances the subject, to declare the death of individualism. It leads to the reprocessing of objects and images from the past to create a more real and personal experience. “There is too much information for us to process and make sense of and we are trapped in a world of second-hand experiences, dependent upon media representation of the world rather than our first-hand experience.”

Originality as observed by contemporary artists, borrows heavily from postmodernist discourse. Howeson discussed works of several postmodern artists who participate in a critique and deconstruction of the myth of traditional originality whilst simultaneously seeking new ways to take their art in new and unexpected directions.

Sherrie Levine, Andy Warhol and their many followers questioned and re-positioned issues around authorship and the original in artistic practice. This legacy is important to explore as the appropriated image and the pastiched image is so central in today’s art and commercial practice especially since the growth of digital imaging.


“Memory is the cabinet of imagination,The treasury of reason,The registry of conscience,And the council chamber of thought.”-Basile


It is perhaps an uncontroversial truth that the imagination is important for creative thought. The terms ‘creative’ and ‘imaginative’ are often used interchangeably.

This lecture seemed to represent a beginning in an exploration of how subconscious and conscious thoughtmight interact during purposeful thought and design thinking. A tentative conceptual model of subconscious processes that implement modes of thought identified in A Theory of Design Thinking has been presented. In a way similar to discussions correlating emotional roles and philosophical stances in design thinking, this talk tried to broaden the range of the theory and deepen its implications. 
Difficulties in intentional focus, recognition, and imagination contribute to failures of insight. If recognition fails to recall relevant and useful objects of thought, imagination can be misdirected. If ambiguous objects of thought are recognized imagination may be confused, or a satisfying fit between intentional goals, relevant information, and focal circumstances may not occur if inappropriate habits of mind are intentionally selected, and imagination wrongly applies relevantinformation when constructing a model for formative expression.
Both subconscious and conscious thought ar e presumed to have similar structures and use thesame cognitive operations. The possibilities that subconscious thought is processed in parallel or at “lower”, “earlier” levels than conscious thought pose questions for neuroscientists to answer. Due to additional processing required for conscious expression these operations occur at different speeds and are expressed differently. Perhaps awareness of an intuition occurs on continuum betweesubconscious and conscious thought? This is not to imply that conscious sthought necessarily follows an intuition. Subsequent thought becomes consciously expressed if the emotional strength of the correlation, the context and intention demand it. Alternatively, the conscious awareness that an intuition has occurred may be followed by subconscious processing. Similarly, occurrence on a continuum does not imply that irrational, creative, or implausible thoughts never enter consciousness. It does suggest how the expression of an intuition might become memorable and useful in subsequent subconscious or conscious thought.


About Anne Howeson –

Anne Howeson is an award-winning artist  and tutor at the Royal College of Art. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of London.  Anne was a selected artist of Time Out critic Ossian Ward in the Discerning Eye Mall Gallery exhibition, November 2011. Network Rail commissioned a digital print series of her work in 2012, these prints are now part of a permanent exhibition to mark the reopening of the multi-million pound redevelopment of King’s Cross Station. Her current project, ‘The Present in the Past’ is a collaboration with the Museum of London’s prints and drawings archives. The work for the current drawing project responds to prints from several London print archives by appropriating digital fragments from source material, reworking and transforming them in scale and content to evoke a sense of passing time. Her work as a lecturer is concerned with drawing and visual research. She initiated and co developed DRAW and the VR Course at the RCA.

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