This week:

curated by Andrew Mummery at New Art Projects


Thank you to Stephanie Rosenthal for inviting me to participate in the 20th Biennale of Sydney (18 March - 5 June 2016), I am looking forward to it enormously.

I will be continuing the series Choral Fields that I made for Mirrorcity at Hayward Gallery (London).

The series will be extended from 6 drawings (2 metres x 3 metres) to 12 and will be installed on Cockatoo Island (in the middle of Sydney Harbour) as part of the Embassy of the Real.

500 words/ Artforum:

Richard Deacon (extract from catalogue for Abstract Drawing at Drawing Room, London):

'If these artists in the Malevich camp work with the rules, the inheritors of af Klint do not. They respond. It seems strange to cast an artist and art historian of Golding’s reputation on the side of the receivers, yet the progression evident in these four untitled works, from the discipline of the 1965 collage with its cut edges, to the abandonment of the 1985 drawing, is evidence of an artist trying to learn how a Dionysian impulse can overcome an Apollonian sense of order. Hesse, marooned in an abandoned factory in Düsseldorf during her miraculous year of 1965, converted the very detritus that surrounded her into the most extraordinary wall reliefs and hanging sculptures. The slew of drawings that came out of that year – sparse, linear and deeply strange – have the same quality of asking ‘Just what is this and where does it come from?’, the coming alive of material.

For Mcnally, that coming alive is evidenced through trace, record, pulse, echo, reverberation, resonance, track, scratch, hiss and stutter; all leave their mark behind and the process of drawing is a kind of index of the ways in which the unseen, the unknown, the deep and the distant are registered on the surface. She is an instrument and the drawing is what the instrument produces or plots.'


The word grammar is derived from Greek γραμματικὴ τέχνη (grammatikē technē), which means "art of letters", from γράμμα (gramma), "letter", itself from γράφειν (graphein), "to draw, to write". The same Greek root also appears in graphics, grapheme, and photograph.


'grammar is politics by other means' (Haraway)


'I think of drawing as something active, performative, constantly unfolding. My drawings are middle spaces, sites or fields of activity where I am attempting to find passage, to feel my way, to probe, touch, excavate, navigate, plumb. I’m trying to traverse all sorts of spaces and times, all sorts of states of matter and across scales.

I'm trying to open up a clearing where as many different ways of thinking about space, time, matter, can be brought into rhythmic relations, to generate emergent, complex organisations through the making..where forces can be at play making and unmaking, gathering, dispersing, disrupting, building, destroying, asserting, obliterating, erasing... a weather system of graphite.

I want the spaces to be polyphonous, multiple, complex, dynamic. I want these spaces to be as much constructed from stuttering, stammering, hesitations, uncertainties, probings, flailings and confusions as robust, bold assertions and discharges of energy: for forces of doubt and certainty to be in constant dynamic relation.

The drawings are fugitive, heterogenous spaces: grey areas. I'm trying to constantly disrupt the figure/ground relation to make blurred spaces where the conditions of focusing are undone. The drawings are the turbulence between noise and signal. They are a space of difference and deferral, a space of encounter.

Although they are suggestive of scientific readings, so many different sorts of 'reading' are brought into the text of the the drawing that they are scrambled. I suppose I am trying to make broadband spaces where signals at multiple frequencies are being transmitted and received - including those not usually within 'range': sonar, ultraviolet.. the very fast and the very slow. I mine all sorts of ways of thinking visually about space and time. I like Deleuze's phrase 'atoms, insects, mountains, stars'. I really love the beautiful images generated by the sciences that suggest so many different spaces and times - the spiral paths of the particles in bubble chambers, infinitely fast and small; the images of cellular mitochondria; the Hubble Deep Field images that probe deep time.. where all time is held in the surface of the image but can't be reached.

I like looking at images that show quantum scale events so fleeting and also images of aerial views of cities at night, all the emergent formations at a macro scale that look like deep sea organisms in the dark water.. I also love the aerial view images of the Nasca Lines, airports in use and obsolete that are reminiscent of the Nasca Lines, images of aerial view of ancient civilisations that have been covered over because the water source that was the seed of their emergence dried up and became extinct.

I constantly listen to sound when I draw - from the white noise of rainfall, field recordings from all environments, I love the sound artist Francisco Lopez - the humming and buzzing of his 'buildings of New York' for example, I love the transmissions from the hydrophones under the Antarctic Ice, live streamed on the internet, as well as all sorts of music. I try to attend as closely as possible to the sound and to transcribe it's rhythms into the drawing, to make a sort of seismograph. I love all of these sorts of 'readings': seismographs, spectrographs, visual representations of musical notation, data, code, morse, glyphs and inscriptions.

I try to bring very different ways of thinking rhythmically about space into relation within the drawing and sound/music helps me to do this. Marks that are suggestive of the airborne or the sub-oceanic, for example, can come into relation with marks, lines, traces and paths suggestive of circuitry, telecommunications, morse, molecules, stars, shoals, electronic pulses, particles, networks. I want the drawings to be intertextual, textile.. polyrhythmic weavings being made and unmade.

I want there to be as much 'time' enfolded into the drawing as possible, from the shortest, fastest to the long and slow. I want to time time and space space - incantatory.. to rhythmically conjugate and to drum up. I am making dark regions of lost time, passed time, histories, the repressed, buried, hidden, obscured, forgotten: active rememberings and forgettings.. When I build up dense areas of information in graphite it accumulates and becomes compressed, compacted, obscure.. dark, potent, encrypted like coal, peat or black oil. This density acts as a dark engine in the drawing, emitting dark signals. There are questions of loss, of memory, of aftermath, of the material heat and draw and potency they exert. There are questions of desire, longing, separation, reaching… also 'clearings', emptinesses, vacancies, voids, 'black outs' that create the conditions for arrivals, new time, future possibilities for emergence.

Graphite is a medium that lends itself perfectly to this sort of rhythmic making and unmaking. It is a material for palimpsest, constructed from physical layers that shed easily. It is very susceptible to touch from the most quiet, nuanced, whispering of marks, the freely and energetically gestural, cool 'scientific' diagrammatic depersonalised marks, notation, glyphs, lines through to the violence of pencils that scratch, gouge, probe, bore, excavate, pencils loaded into electric drill and jigsaws
that churn and dig: marks that cut and marks that stitch, marks that damage and destroy and marks that construct, heal, generate.

Graphite powder can be dropped onto primed paper and the impact frozen like a bomb crater. An unmediated 'moment', a graphite event instant in time that carries a very different sort of heat and energy than the sort gathered in dark layerings and obscure markings that have been rubbed and sanded and compacted down and are no longer available to deciphering that are no longer available to be looked at at all.. All of these states of matter of graphite, these emergent organisations, are in a state of 'exchange' like a city or a psyche or the carbon and water cycles where nothing disappears and everything returns or persists and insists in one form or another. I like the quote from Faulkner 'nothing ever happens once and is finished'.

I like to think of carbon in different states: coal, diamond, smoke, black oil, - a material that is both an insulator and a conductor.. and water in all its states: ice, snow, mist, rain, vapour, torrential, oceanic, still, deep fleeting. One of my favourite films is Tarkovsky's Stalker.. the way water, time, desire, loss, longing, memory play out in the film-time-space.

Graphite maps, unfolds, describes and returns to dust in the drawings in systems of exchange. I want them to be humming graphite sound-fields: vibratory, oscillatory, many-voiced, assertions and hesitations but also full of silences, voids, ghosts. residues and remainders. Intimate - about touch - and also distant. A weather of all these things. A space of contagion, contamination that tunes, detunes, retunes, receives, transmits, scrambles, orders, disorders, makes and unmakes.'
(extended text from conversation with Himali for Artforum)


I'll be talking with Ben Adams and David Johnston on 29 October at an event hosted by Ben Adams Architects 'Drawing v Digital: creativity in a data driven world'. If anyone would like to come along and join the conversation please rsvp below.

'We live in an age where it is just as easy to pick up a tablet and draw as it is to pick up a pencil. As technology advances, the closer the gap between the handmade marks of a pencil and those of an on-screen pixel become. Will there be a tipping point where one overtakes the other? Will computer aided design and drawing dominate leaving the humble pencil to go the way of the LP and tape cassette?
In this lively debate we will explore the role of drawing in both it's most cutting-edge digital and low-tech analogue guises. We'll hear from three very different perspectives - an architect, a graphic designer and an artist. Their respective approaches and relationships to digital and analogue processes can vary widley, but to what extent does this affect and shape their work? Is one better or more relevant than the other?
Guest speakers include:
Ben Adams, Founder, Ben Adams Architects
David Johnston, Founder, Accept & Proceed
Emma McNally - Artist
The event will also be a chance to view the work of Ben, David and Emma through a series of gallery spaces including Accept & Proceed's Flora's Dial series and a number of specially commissioned pieces by Emma McNally.
This event will be hosted by Ben Adams Architects. Refreshments will be provided throughout the evening. '


Group Show, September 15-22 & 22-27

Claire Barber, Molly Blunt, Louise Bourgeois, Victoria Burge, Alan Franklin, Amy Gear, Alexander Massouras, Emma McNally, Robert Moon, David Nash, James O’Connell, Bridget Riley, Jill Sylvia, Jayne Wilton

“Rhythm and repetition are at the root of movement. They create a situation within which the most basic forms start to become visually active. By massing them and repeating them, they become more fully present. Repetition acts as a sort of amplifier for visual events which seen singly would hardly be visible. But to make these basic forms release the full visual energy within them, they have to breathe, as it were – to open and close, or to tighten up and then relax. A rhythm that’s alive has to do with changing pace and feeling how the visual speed can expand and contract – sometimes go slower and sometimes go faster. The whole thing must live.” Bridget Riley

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Work included in Manuel Lima's talk 'A Visual History of Human Knowledge (Ted 2015)

Images to be used for the book covers of

A Thousand Plateaus and Philosophy
( Edinburgh University Press 2016) eds Henry Somers-Hall, Jeff Bell and James Williams

‘Architecture Information Modeling’ (working title) authored/edited Danelle Briscoe (Routledge 2016)

New Worlds from Old Texts: Revisiting Ancient Space and Place (Oxford University Press - est date Nov 2015). Edited by Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovsky and Leif Isaksen

'New Worlds from Old Texts focuses on the ancient Greek experience of space, conceived of in terms of both its literature and material culture remains, and uses this to reflect on modern thinking. Comprising twelve chapters written by a highly interdisciplinary range of contributors, this edited collection explores the rich array of representational devices employed by ancient authors, whose narrative depictions of spatial relations defy the logic of images and surfaces that dominates contemporary cartographic thought. The volume focuses on Herodotus' Histories—a text that is increasingly cited by Classicists as an example of how ancient perceptions of space may have been rather different to the modern cartographic view—but also considers perceptions of space through the lens of other authors, genres, cultural contexts, and disciplines. In doing so, it reveals how a study of the ancient world can be reinvigorated by, and in turn help to shape, modern technological innovation and methods.'

and included in the text of

Dynamic Patterns: Visualizing Landscapes in a Digital Age (Routledge Press) By Karen M'Closkey, Keith VanDerSys


'dark stars':
A detail of my drawing 'field 8' has been used for an article on black holes for Quanta Magazine and


One of my drawing has been used on Francisco Lopez's new release '1980-82' (Art Metropole).
A limited edition will be available from their stall at Art Basel 2015:

'18 - 21 Jun. 2015
Art Metropole at Art Basel 2015

18 Jun. 2015
Two new AM editions: Sara Cwynar and Francisco López
Visit Art Metropole’s booth at this year’s Art Basel show in Basel, Switzerland. We’ll be launching two new artists’ editions. Sara Cwynar’s photos appear on two sides of a cotton tote bag, and Francisco López’s 1980-82 is being released on audio cassette.
A large selection of works from our Toronto shop will be on display and available for sale.

Find us at Hall 1, Magazines Sector, Booth Z25, next to Conversations.


Group show at Frameless Gallery (London)


June 2-7

Victoria Burge, Susan Collis, Alan Franklin, Elizabeth Hayley, Alexander Massouras, Emma McNally, Julie Mehretu, Joella Wheatley, Jane Wilton


I will be spending June as a resident at the beautiful Denniston Hill in the Catskills (New York State). Many thanks to Julie Mehretu, Paul Pfeiffer and Lawrence Chua for the invitation, I'm looking forward to it enormously.

Art Monthly magazine
exhibition review
Emma McNally:
Fields, Charts, Soundings

by Peter Suchin

In the scholarly essay accompanying Emma McNally’s ‘Fields, Charts, Soundings’ at T1+2 Artspace, Ana Balona de Oliveira provides a list of possible readings of McNally’s drawings. They may be, she suggests, perceived as ‘aerial views, battlefield maps, geological formations, oceanic charts, disease transmissions, animal migratory routes, molecule structures [or] black holes’. The sentence in fact ends with an ‘etc’, leaving the list of potential perceptions of the work open to further elaboration. De Oliveira is right to emphasise the polysemic aspect of these complicated, energetic drawings. But though one’s initial impression may be of maps or other kinds of compressed or abstracted informational forms, in the end these works are fully independent of the types of object they superficially resemble.

Perhaps these drawings – there are some 20 works in the show (all pencil on paper) – can hold such a multiplicity of allusions because the marks of which they are comprised are themselves extremely diverse, with their use of scale (ranging from the vast Field 1, measuring 229 x 304.5 cm, to pieces on A4 paper) also adding to their suggestive disposition. McNally is technically very inventive, generating with the pencil a multiplicity of lines, dots, scratches or tracks, building up individual works from literally thousands and thousands of marks that frequently make up specific units or shapes – thick, solid circles; tiny, sharp dots; wiggly yet rigid lines; equilateral triangles laid point to point; blocked-in squares containing crosses – all overlaid and underpinned with neat grids and other reticulated structures that run across the entire surface. The result is that the drawings, whatever else they might seem to represent, can also be considered as archives or storehouses of what linguists term iterable units, forms akin to letters of the alphabet that may be used to produce meaning; in short a kind of writing. But although a key aspect of languages comprising distinct units is that they employ a strictly restricted (and thereby repeatable) lexicon of signs, the reading of McNally’s work as writing in the conventional sense is thwarted by the fact that the marks used are both fixed and fluid. While a substantial number of the signs McNally makes are repeated over and over again, many of them are not so much iterable as amorphous, instances of scribble or at least what one might term a bastardised version of a sign or distinct unit. To take the analogy further, such forms are like handwriting that is so unclear and unstructured as to render the message unreadable. Such imprecision (though it is of course here combined with a plethora of precise marks) is a move towards what Roland Barthes referred to as the signifier without the signified, to the playful indulgence in and deployment of the pure sign.

This combination of iterable and non-iterable markings gives McNally’s work, placed as it is between coded representation and loose but allusive drawing, a productive ambiguity that serves to remind us that, in spite of all the clichéd chatter in art schools and in the artworld proper to the effect that art is a language, it is no such thing. McNally’s drawings suggest writing, encoding and its concomitant decoding or decipherment, but they are visual works, not speech or writing by other means.

If there is a hint of the linguistic in ‘Fields, Charts, Soundings’, then there is also some reference to the musical, clearly in the last word of the title, but also in the drawings’ similarity to the musical scores of Cornelius Cardew and John Cage. McNally’s pseudo-scores are much more labour-intensive than those by these composers. They demonstrate immense labour, of time passed in the studio; time which passes again for the viewers who choose to give their full attention to the finished work. On occasion, certain patches of a given piece’s surface can feel overworked, as though the pencil has got stuck at that point, spiralling around in deep abandonment across an area only a few inches square. But from a distance this anomaly, suspension or ‘delay’ is not a problem, providing spaces of intensity within the broader plane of paper.

McNally does not restrict herself to the markings of carbon-lead. It is possible to detect parts of the works where the paper has been folded over then flattened out, or where she has cut into the drawing, emphasising the work as made thing. At a time when so many artists glorify inanity and ease of execution, such labour – put to such attractive and intelligent ends – is almost shocking to see. It is certainly a desirable disturbance.

Peter Suchin is an artist, critic and curator.


Thanks to the Canal and River Trust for my continuing stay in the little studio on the jetty by the River Thames. It's very good to be seeing Spring in by the water.

My drawing 'Tremble (in space)' is currently in the Drawing Room Biennial

IMG_4940 by Emma McNally1

Drawing Room, London, UK

Exhibition: 5 March – 30 April
Online Auction: 16 April – 30 April

Exhibition & online auction of over 200 unique works on paper

Featuring over 200 new and recent works on paper by established and emerging artists, Drawing Biennial 2015 offers fresh insights into the most exciting currents in contemporary art today. Artists have been selected by Drawing Room directors Mary Doyle, Kate Macfarlane and Katharine Stout, with additional nominations by a panel of leading international artists, museum directors, curators and collectors. Each selected artist has been invited to make an original drawing in any medium on an A4 sheet of paper, which is exhibited in the gallery in a democratic hang that gives each artist equal prominence.

Drawing Biennial 2015 culminates in an auction which runs for the final two weeks of the exhibition, with all works available to bid for via the Drawing Room website. With each drawing starting at only £250 this is a rare opportunity for both new and established collectors to acquire unique works on paper. The sale of the works, which have been kindly donated by all participating artists, raises vital funds to support Drawing Room’s programme over the next two years.

To view works included in the exhibition and auction please visit:


'I distinguish, on the one hand, the force of the movement that throws something or throws itself (jette or se jette) forward and backwards at the same time, prior to any subject, object or project, prior to any rejection or abjection, from, on the other hand, it's institutional and protective consolidation, which can be compared to the jetty, the pier in a harbour meant to break the waves and maintain low tide for boats at anchor or for swimmers. Of course, these two functions of the jetty are ideally distinct, but in fact they are difficult to dissociate, if not dissociable'
Derrida Deconstruction and Democracy.

‘To grasp rhythm and polyrhythmias in a sensible, preconceptual way, it is enough to look carefully at the surface of the sea. Waves come in succession: they take shape in the vicinity of the beach, the cliff, the banks. These waves have a rhythm, which depends on the season, the water and the winds, but also on the sea that carries them, that brings them. Each sea has it’s own rhythm..But look closely at each wave. It changes ceaselessly. As it approaches the shore, it takes the shock of the backwash: it carries numerous wavelets, right down to the tiny quivers that it orientates, but which do not always go in it’s direction. Waves and waveforms are characterised by frequency, amplitude and displaced energy. Watching waves, you can easily observe what phycisists call the superpositon of small movements. Powerful waves crash upon one another, creating jets of spray; they disrupt one another noisily. Small undulations traverse one another, absorbing, fading rather than crashing, into one another. Were there a current or a few solid objects animated by a movement of their own, you could have the intuition of what is a polyrhythmic field and even glimpse the relations between complex processes and trajectories, between bodies and waveforms ..’
Lefebvre ' Rhythmnalysis'

“Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished. Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading, the pool attached by a narrow umbilical water-cord to the next pool which the first pool feeds, has fed, did feed, let this second pool contain a different temperature of water, a different molecularity of having seen, felt, remembered, reflect in a different tone the infinite unchanging sky, it doesn’t matter: that pebble’s watery echo whose fall it did not even see moves across its surface too at the original ripple-space, to the old ineradicable rhythm…”

'Superposition is a principle of quantum theory that describes a challenging concept about the nature and behavior of matter and forces at the sub-atomic level. The principle of superposition claims that while we do not know what the state of any object is, it is actually in all possible states simultaneously, as long as we don't look to check.'

'He set off with Eurydice following, and, in his anxiety, as soon as he reached the upper world, he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be in the upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever. '


My sister, Victoria, works for this organisation

They do important work and welcome support.

For the rest of show MIRRORCITY at Hayward Gallery I'll be posting on the Southbank Centre blog:

Maybe the only thing that hints at a sense of Time is rhythm; not the recurrent beats of the rhythm but the gap between two such beats, the grey gap between black beats: the Tender Interval.

"..powerlessness can become complex and in that complexity lies the possibility of making a history, making the political... this capacity to make. What I try to recover, which is a reality out there it seems to me.. is some in-between space.. a whole in-between zone"
Saskia Sassen

truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.

'Below the level of the musical note lies the realm of microsound, of sound particles lasting less than one-tenth of a second. Recent technological advances allow us to probe and manipulate these pinpoints of sound, dissolving the traditional building blocks of music—notes and their intervals—into a more fluid and supple medium. The sensations of point, pulse (series of points), line (tone), and surface (texture) emerge as particle density increases. Sounds coalesce, evaporate, and mutate into other sounds.'
Microsound. Curtis Roads

I am very much looking forward to the wonderful Charles Hayward performing his phenomenal
30 MINUTE SNARE DRUM ROLL inside the installation of Choral Fields 1-6 on Thursday 13/11.

I have heard him perform this in Lewisham Art House on a previous occasion and it blew me away.. astonishing and beautiful.
It will be a tremendous pleasure to hear him play surrounded by drawings.

'30 MINUTE SNARE DRUM ROLL takes a rudimental drum technique and extends this elemental sound out beyond itself into an undulating line that pirouettes and spirals through acoustic space, changing density, pressure and volume. The pencilled, monochromatic sound suggests more than itself; time is the frame.'


I have made six large drawings (2m x 3m) entitled 'Choral Fields 1-6' in my riverside studio at West India Dock jetty. These are currently showing at MIRRORCITY: London artists on fiction and reality (Hayward Gallery, London).

Thank you to Tim Eastop and the Canal and River Trust for facilitating the use of a space in such an amazing location.

MIRRORCITY: London Artists on fiction and reality
Hayward Gallery (London):
Tuesday 14 October 2014 – Sunday 4 January 2015

MIRRORCITY sets out to survey key emerging and established practices from some of the most exciting artists working in London today, whose work examines the ever-growing realms of our lived experience. Blurring the boundaries between internal and external worlds, the artists in this exhibition penetrate alternative spaces where the imagined, the physical and the virtual meet, to explore the multifaceted realities of the here and now.

Presenting artworks in a wide variety of media, including painting, film and video, sculpture, drawing, sound and performance, the exhibition includes work by Michael Dean, Tim Etchells, Anne Hardy, Susan Hiller, Lloyd Corporation, LuckyPDF, Helen Marten, Ursula Mayer, Emma McNally, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Katrina Palmer, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Laure Prouvost, Aura Satz, Lindsay Seers, Tai Shani, Daniel Sinsel, John Stezaker, Lynette Yiadom-Boake, and a special performative project by Nicola Conibere, Frank Bock and Martin Hargreaves.


I will be accompanying Rahila Haque, Assistant Curator, on a tour of MIRRORCITY at Hayward Gallery Tuesday October 23rd 6.30-7.30

as part of the MIRRORCITY EVENTS WEEKEND: 13-16 November:

Charles Hayward: 30 MINUTE SNARE DRUM ROLL

An experimental musical performance taking place within Emma McNally’s MIRRORCITY installation.

Hayward Gallery, 6-6.30pm and 7-7.30pm, free with same-day exhibition ticket

Paul Prudence: Cyclotone

Live audio-visual performance inspired by cyclotrons and particle accelerators.

Hayward Gallery Project Space, 3.30-4.30pm, free with same-day exhibition ticket

and I will be In conversation with the Canal & River Trust:

'Artist Emma McNally is joined by George McSweenie and Andy Slater from the Canal & River Trust to discuss how London’s waterways inform artistic practice.'

Hayward Gallery Project Space, 12.30-1.30pm, free with same-day exhibition ticket

info on these and all the other events over the events weekend can be found here:



Abstract Drawing curated by Richard Deacon
Drawing Room (London)

20 February 2014 – 19 April 2014

Artists include: Tomma Abts, Roger Ackling, Anni Albers, David Austen, David Batchelor, Victor Ciato, Garth Evans, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, John Golding, Lothar Götz, Frederick Hammersley, Victoria Haven, Susan Hefuna, Eva Hesse, Dom Sylvester Houedard, Anish Kapoor, Hilma af Klint, John Latham, Bob Law, Sol LeWitt, Gordon Matta-Clark, Kazimir Malevich, Emma McNally, Sam Messenger, Nasreen Mohamedi, Jackson Pollock, Dorothea Rockburne, Mira Schendel, Richard Serra, Kishio Suga, Darrell Viner, Alison Wilding, Richard Wright.

accompanying catalogue:

photos of exhibition:

As part of the Abstract Drawing Seminar I'll be in conversation with Michelle Cotton and David Batchelor.

'A day of presentations and in conversations exploring ideas presented in Abstract Drawing' with Richard Deacon, Michelle Cotton, Anna Lovatt & artists David Austen, David Batchelor, Emma McNally and Alison Wilding.'

'Artist and author of new title ‘The Luminous and the Grey’, David Batchelor is best known for his colourful work in two and three dimensions and for his book ‘Chromophobia’. Of his Magic Hour drawings Richard Deacon writes: ‘the drawings hide behind their own presence, they seem in the way of themselves’.

Emma McNally makes large-scale drawings that Richard Deacon describes as ‘an index of all those ways in which the unseen, the unknown, the deep and distant are registered on the surface. She is an instrument and the drawing is what the instrument produces or maybe plots’. Curator Michelle Cotton will draw out differences and parallels in the artistic approaches of Batchelor and McNally to expose the meaning of abstraction for each.'

Video from Abstract Drawing Seminar:

and with Seth Guy, I will be facilitating the Abstract Drawing Reading group and Listening group:

For the Reading group we will be looking at Merleau-Ponty on 'The Chiasmic' Deleuze/Guattari on 'The Refrain' Geoges Perec 'Species of Spaces' and Anna Lovatt on 'drawing/withdrawing'.

For the Listening Group we'll be looking at text from Voegelin's 'Listening to Noise and Silence', David Toop's 'Sinister Resonance' and Richard Deacon. We will be listening to sound from Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, Alvin Lucier's 'I am sitting in a room', Kevin Volan's 'String Quartet 2', Ryoji Ikeda's '0000000001', Francisco Lopez's 'Buildings [New York]' and Charles Hayward's '30 Minute Snare Drum Roll.'



an exhibition curated by Margaret Schedel for cDACT at State University of New York, Stony Brook
with Richard Garet, Robert Henke, David Linton, Phoenix Perry, Bethany Shorb:

'f(Glitch), or The Function of Glitch, is an interlinked series of events that will include an art exhibit at the Simons Center, a theatrical production in the Wang Chapel , a musical concert at the Staller Recital Hall, and a series of colloquia at the Humanities Institute and the Simons Center. It will bring together a wide range of scientists, scholars, and artists to consider the utility of noise, for scientific and humanistic research as well as for artistic production. This is the fourth in a series of large-scale events produced by cDACT (Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture and Technology). Previous events considered sound, space, and data—each a central concept for digital culture—with a broad range of participants from the arts and sciences. We now turn to another crucial topic: error and noise.

Noise. Error. Glitch. The ideal held up for digital technology is frictionless functionality. But systems have bugs, communication is riddled with distortion and channels are often noisy. Error is not a rare occurrence, but a given. Glitch, broadly defined, introduces unintentional events, artifacts, and interruptions. It can be visual or sonic; it can be imperceptible at ordinary levels or cause sensory overload. There are glitches in programming, in communication, in architecture and infrastructure. But these errors can be illuminating, creative and productive. Glitch can make our systems stronger and more robust. Distortion can be aesthetically vibrant and revealing. Glitch reminds us that noise can be something to be embraced rather than eradicated and that the unexpected is often unexpectedly useful. Glitches are a glimpse into the hidden world of technology, exposing the seams in our digital infrastructure.'
text from from website

Feb 10-March 29 2014

'The initially smooth and unblemished curvilinear blackboard (built in 1969) has become marked through years of mathematicians thinking with chalk on it's surface. There are now networks of fine cracks through aging and a filagree of accumulated traces and scratches from previous chalkings. This disruption of the surface acted as a zone of slippage for my drawing. I followed the new tracks and routes of 'damage' with my chalk and generated a new network of paths and spaces in response. I took photographs at oblique angles to further disrupt the purpose of the surface and to push it into the idea of 'terrain'. These images were then digitally manipulated and layered digitally to complexify the space. In my work the idea of 'glitch' involves reframing the word's definition around ideas of 'fault', 'malfunction' or 'accident' into, instead, 'opportunity' for levering open generative or transformative space. The idea of 'slippage' becomes creative rather than undesirable and involves a vigilance and resistance around ideas of 'function'.'
(my description of the work on show from the exhibition booklet)

Travelling Light
with Claude Heath, Frances Richardson, Isabel Albrecht, Thomas Muller, Kazuki Nakahara


My work will be included in
Dynamic Patterns: Visualizing Landscapes in an Ecological Informational Age by M’Closkey and VanDerSys (Routledge 2015)


The best of luck to Valenitin Stip with the February '14 release of his first LP Sigh with Nicolas Jaar's new label 'Other People' (NYC)
One of my images is being used for cover art
'On Sigh, the 21-year-old producer's full-length debut on Other People, Stip organizes classical piano, lightly sputtering grooves and intimate found sounds into an album of compositional grace and emotional honesty.'
- very much looking forward to hearing it.


Starting in April I will be working on an extended drawing project thinking about carbon and water for 6 months,

My studio will be a small building right on the edge of the River Thames at the junction where the river meets the Docklands at West India Dock.
Thank you to Tim Eastop and the Canal and River Trust for fascilitating this project.


Franciso Lopez has very kindly shared his "Sound Voyage though the World's Waters" for me to respond to in drawing as part of my carbon/water project.
This "sonic intervention" was created for "Virtual sonic water" in Spain, 2008:

'The sound of water is a prototypical example of broad-band sound, that is, a sound that contains many different and simultaneous audible frequencies. In a sense, is a kind of sound material that contains, as a possibility, all the imaginable tones and harmonies. “Sound Voyage Throughout the World’s Waters” is a sound installation designed for the sound system with hundreds of speakers of the Omnimax Theatre of the Spanish Pavilion, and it is peformed in complete darkness in this space. It does not present music in the traditional sense. Instead, it is composed of several virtual sound evironments created from a multitude of original field recordings of water of natural environments (oceans, rivers, rain, etc.) from all over the world, which have been recorded by the artist over the past twenty years. These sound materials have been transformed in the studio to give rise to an immersive and dynamic large-scale experience'
text from the website


*'carbon' (pronounced /’karben/) is a chemical element with the symbol C. It is a nonmetallic, tetravalent element that presents several allotropic forms of which the best known ones are graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon. Carbon is one of the few elements known to man since antiquity. The name "carbon" comes from Latin language carbo, coal, and in some Romance languages, the word carbon can refer both to the element and to coal. It is the 4th most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. It is ubiquitous in all known life forms, and in the human body it is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen. Under normal conditions, diamond, carbon nanotube and graphene have the highest thermal conductivities of all known materials.


Water in three states: liquid, solid (ice), and gas (invisible water vapor in the air). Clouds are accumulations of water droplets, condensed from vapor-saturated air.

Water is a chemical compound with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms that are connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at standard ambient temperature and pressure, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state, steam (water vapor).

Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface and is vital for all known forms of life.On Earth, 96.5% of the planet's water is found in seas and oceans, 1.7% in groundwater, 1.7% in glaciers and the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland, a small fraction in other large water bodies, and 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of solid and liquid water particles suspended in air), and precipitation. Only 2.5% of the Earth's water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice and groundwater. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere, and an even smaller amount of the Earth's freshwater (0.003%) is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.[3]

Water on Earth moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over land.

Safe drinking water is essential to humans and other lifeforms even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Access to safe drinking water has improved over the last decades in almost every part of the world, but approximately one billion people still lack access to safe water and over 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. There is a clear correlation between access to safe water and GDP per capita. However, some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability. A report, issued in November 2009, suggests that by 2030, in some developing regions of the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50%. Water plays an important role in the world economy, as it functions as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances and facilitates industrial cooling and transportation. Approximately 70% of the fresh water used by humans goes to agriculture.




'(tracing) additional courses over spaces that
before were blank/..threading a maze of currents
and eddies..' (Melville. Moby Dick)


the range of any series of actions or energies,
region of space in which forces are at work: the
locality of a battle: the battle itself: a wide
expanse: the area visible to an observer at one time:
a system or collection.

a marine or hydrographical map exhibiting part of the
sea or other water with the islands, contiguous
coasts, soundings, currents etc: an outline map, curve,
or a tabular statement giving information of
any kind.

to measure the depth of; to probe: to try to discover
the inclinations, thoughts etc. to take soundings:
to dive deep, as a whale.


I am about to embark on a collaboration with Charles Hayward

here now
(rewind repeat..)

I will be producing a body of drawing work excavating the rhythms of a 30 minute snare drum roll.
Charles Hayward is described by Sound Projector (on London's Cafe Oto website) as
" of the most life-affirming people who stalks this dark globe."
which I would completely agree with. His live performances are invariably riveting, beautiful, moving and inspiring. It will be a tremendous pleasure to work with him.

interview with Charles here:


Summer Exhibition
group show at Trinity Contemporary (London)

Thank you to Julie Mehretu for the invitation to be a resident at the beautiful Denniston Hill in September/October


grey zone

"..powerlessness can become complex and in that complexity lies the possibility of making a history, making the political... this capacity to make. What I try to recover, which is a reality out there it seems to me.. is some in-between space.. a whole in-between zone"

'making territory'

'..creating a somantic space'

'..actively destabilizing meaning..'

'making trajectories to exit'

'..the in-between spaces where we can constitute alternatives..'

making space.

Saskia Sassen


'grace fills empty spaces'


Grey. It makes no statement whatever; it evokes neither feelings nor associations: it is really neither visible nor invisible. Its inconspicuousness gives it the capacity to mediate, to make visible... It has the capacity that no other colour has, to make 'nothing' visible.

Gerhard Richter


Structure is perceived through the incidence of menace at the moment when imminent danger concentrates our vision...structure can be methodically threatened in order to be comprehended more clearly and to reveal not only it's supports but also that secret place in which it is neither construction nor ruin but lability. This operation is called (from the Latin) soliciting. In a way shaking in relation to the whole (from sollus in archaic Latin "the whole" and from "citare" to put in motion

Derrida Writing and Difference

"There are only relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness between unformed elements, or at least between elements that are relatively unformed, molecules, and particles of all kinds. There are only haecceities, affects, subjectless individuations that constitute collective assemblages. [...] We call this plane, which knows only longitudes and latitudes, speeds and haecceities, the plane of consistency or composition (as opposed to a plan(e) of organization or development)."



I am delighted to have been nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Awards for Visual Arts 2013


My sister, Victoria, works as a case worker with this organisation:

which does invaluable work and welcomes support.




Rebecca Lenkiewicz's 'Plays 1' (Faber) is now available.
My drawing 'Double Orbit' has been used for the cover:


I am delighted to be ending the year with the offer of a residency at CIll Rialaig, Ballinskelligs in 2013.

I willl be staying in a restored pre-famine cottage overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The cottage is one of seven built right on a cliff on the remote peninsular of Bolas Head on the Ring of Kerry, Ireland.

(text from one of my favourite online resources discovered via Francisco Lopez. A beautiful enfolding of acoustic multiplicities: technological, data, suboceanic animal call, weather, atmospherics, ice-fall):

Typical sounds you may hear in Atka Bay during April: Animals: Weddell Seals (chirps and trills), Blue Whales (chorus at 19-27Hz and pulses ~10Hz), Fin Whales (chorus at 98 Hz), Killer Whales (clicks and whistles 2000-20000 Hz), Humpback Whales (no songs, only short calls), Environment: Calving Ice Shelf (like small splashes, explosions, or roaring thunder), Sea Ice (whining), Passing Icebergs (screaming, crying, breathing and explosive sounds), Storms (broadband hiss), Earthquakes (low frequency roaring <100Hz), Human: Ships (Broadband noise with characteristic spectral lines), RAFOS Source (260 Hz tone at 00:52 UTC); Unknown Sound Sources: The Bioduck (100-300 Hz pulse trains), Natural Electromagnetic Interference: Sferics (clicks above 10000 Hz caused by tropical thunderstorms), Discharges during snow drift (broadband clicks); Technical Crosstalk: Switching Relays (click every full hour), Wind Charger, Data Transmissions, GPS Timestamps (click and buzz every 10 minutes); All data © AWI 2013, Contact: Lars Kindermann


I have just spent a week in residency at one of the Math's Houses of the Warwick Maths Institute

There is a room in the house for visiting mathematicians to work in a focused, self-contained environment. The walls in this room are curved and a blackboard for thinking runs the full length. I had a wonderful time drawing on the blackboard and digitally archiving the process of mark-making and erasure until the final day when the drawing was completely removed. A selection of the archived images is included here. It was a pleasure to work on such a unique surface - especially with the traces of all of the previous chalkings of numbers and equations that formed a barely visible filigree.
I will make some 'digital hybrid' images back in the studio.

Many thanks to Colin Sparrow and his colleagues at the Math's Department for their hospitality
.. to Rebecca Lenkiewicz who was in residency writing a play
as part of a project facilitated by Ed and Paul at China Plate
with Alan Rivett at the Warwick Arts Centre
and to Chris Thorpe who was gathering material for his latest project.
for all the very stimulating conversation. I had a great time.


an inspiring online resource by Paul Prudence who is endlessly generous with his thoughts and research



Rhythm is the emergence of closed ensembles whose elements call for one another like the syllables of a verse, but answer to one another only by activating us. Rhythm is not properly assumed, does not assume a rhythm, make it one’s own by understanding—one participates in it without consent, without freedom. And yet the power and presence of rhythm is in no way unconscious: on the contrary, it intensifies into consciousness, fills and obsesses consciousness. The feeling of intensifying, augmenting power, is joy. Rhythm interests life in spite of itself, but not by offering it utility or meaning; it effects a deconceptualization of reality. And, indeed, it interests, involves, captivates life not even “in spite of itself,” for it effects a depersonalization of the subject, a passage from the self to anonymity. “Through the spirit of music we can understand the joy involved in the annihilation of the individual” (Birth of Tragedy, §16).”

— Alphonso Lingis


I received this email from
JF Ptak
and he has given me permission to include it here. I am very interested in this idea of 'waiting structure'

'..Its a little hard to explain the "missing" part of presented information. I write quite a bit and one of the threads is on missing things--blank, empty and missing--on the blog, a history of those things, a series that can look at everything. As much as there is in the world, and as much as can be seen in our seeable dimensions, these things can in a way just be taking up space in blankness. Which is definitely not a thing with a negative value, necessarily. Well. It's a big topic, but suffice to say that even in a sea of everything there are bits of nothing, and it is interesting to me to know why they might be there, what it is in the structure of the surrounding somethingness that allows them to be. I have been in the history of science/ideas field for a long time, and this sort of observation is very useful.

The point is with your art is that it seems like a waiting structure to me, a place where things can find their proper places, an organizational park for dissected thoughts, maybe. Plus there's all of the found geometries. And they have as much or as little detail as I want. Porphyry's trees without designation. A Borges diagram. cloud chamber x-rays. Particle tracks...'


The Contemporary Art Society has acquired my drawing: Carbon Cleaving for the John Creasey Museum in Salisbury


'In hyperdrawing: beyond the lines of contemporary art, authors and artists come together to explore the potential of what drawing in contemporary art theory and practice might become. In this follow-up to 2007's drawing now: between the lines of contemporary art, the editors of TRACEY curate contemporary drawing within fine art practice from 2006 through to 2010. Four essays and images from 33 international artists collectively explore the boundaries of the hyperdrawing space, investigating in essence what lies beyond drawing - images that use traditional materials or subjects whilst also pushing beyond the traditional, employing sound, light, time, space and technology. A gallery in book form, hyperdrawing takes drawing beyond the interaction of pencil and paper and traces contemporary adventures in multiple dimensions and alternate realities.'

My work is included in 'Hyperdrawing: Between the Lines of Contemporary Drawing' (IB Taurus 2012)


One of my drawings, 'Double Orbit' is being used for the cover of the first volume of Rebecca Lenkiewicz's Collected Plays. It will be published by Faber later in the year. Rebecca's version of Ibsen's 'Enemy of the People' will be at the Manhattan Theatre Club at the end of September.


`Atoms Insects Mountains Stars'
Selected drawings

Trinity Contemporary
29 Bruton Street

Thursday, 12 April 2012 - Friday, 27 April 2012

Opening hours:
Mon - Fri : 10am - 6pm
Sat 14: by appointment
Sat 21: 12am - 6pm

One of the drawings I made whilst a resident at the very beautiful Denniston Hill (Catskills, NY) in August 2011 has been selected by Mary Doyle (Director of The Drawing Room, London) for the show The Curator's Egg Altera Pars at Anthony Reynolds (London).

The drawing was made in my temporary studio - a small hut by a river in the middle of the woods. Many thanks to Julie Mehretu, Paul Pfeiffer, Lawrence Chua, John Letourneau, Jessica Rankin, Jenny Liu and Beth Stryker for my time there:

Feb 02 - March 03

show review in Frieze:

'Atoms Insects Mountains Stars'
Solo show
Young Gallery/Trinity Contemporary (London). Salisbury 11/02/12 - 24/03/12

'Kalliphilia' Vegas Gallery London. 02/02/12


Current (until March 04 2012)

at Gunds Gallery, Kenyon College Ohio

(Andreas Nicolas Fischer, Benjamin Maus, Camille Utterback, Casey Reas, Diana Cooper, Eduardo Kac, Emma McNally, Jorinde Voight, Julie Mehretu, Julius Von Bismarck, Marius Watz, Mark Lombardi, Matthew Ritchie, Michael Joaquin Grey, Nathalie Miebach Rafael, Lozano-Hemmer):

Curated by Gund Gallery director Natalie Marsh, the inaugural exhibition Seeing/Knowing explores the experience of information in contemporary art. After 50 years of new media culture—the world of TV, the internet, and virtual reality—and 50 years of new media art—creative computer-based and digital expression—technological ways of thinking have permeated the creative processes of artists working in all media. Gathering together works of art from multiple continents, Seeing/Knowing offers a global view of the expanded ways that art represents thought.


'Networkism is a growing artistic trend, characterized by the portrayal of figurative graph structures—illustrations of network topologies revealing convoluted patterns of nodes and links

First introduced by Manuel Lima in his book Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information, Networkism is stimulated by rhizomatic properties like nonlinearity, multiplicity, or interconnectedness, and scientific advances in areas such as genetics, neuroscience, physics, molecular biology, computer systems, and sociology. As a direct consequence of the recent outburst of network visualization, networkism is equally motivated by the unveiling of new knowledge domains as well as the visual representation of complex systems.

The stunning graphite illustrations of Emma McNally convey a sort of cartographic conjecture, with imaginary planes and connections, intersecting squares, circles and dots. These abstract lines, shapes, and patterns make for some striking textures and resemble classic mappings of cyberspace through nodal connections of imagined networks.'

(previous re: 'networks': )


I am delighted that the amazing sound artist Francisco Lopez (whose work I love and often listen to when I'm drawing) has used a detail of one of my drawings for sleeve art on his just released "1980-2010" (Nunn Records) :

Francisco is internationally recognized as one of the major figures of the sound art and experimental music scene.

Manuel Lima's beautiful book 'Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information' (Princeton Architectural Press 2011) is now available.
My work is featured in the chapter "Complex Beauty":

I am also very happy that the philosopher Henry Somers-Hall has used a detail of my drawing Field 5 on the cover of his forthcoming book 'Deleuze, Hegel and the Critique of Representation dialectics of negation and difference' (Suny Press 2012) which will be available in April:

Henry is also co-editor for the 'Cambridge Companion to Deleuze' out

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Emma McNally
February 2009
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