How does an in-situ encounter with an original drawing offer a connection to the thought processes and observational activities of the artist? How might I create evidence of my own investigative observational processes of a historic drawing? The nucleus of this essay focuses on one of a series of encounters with works on paper found in museum archives. I investigate a self portrait by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and contend that meaningful connections may be made between the physical traces left by the artist and wider conceptual frameworks, uncovering associations with visual perception, phenomenology, semiotics, and memory. I argue that these paradigms create a dialogue with the complex thought processes and observational activity of Rossetti at the event of his observing and recording his own reflection. In parallel I suggest that connections are made with the physical traces of the historic artist through the activity of tracing my own observational evidence of the encounter. I suggest that drawing in-situ from an artefact held in an archive brings wider theoretical questions about drawing as observation, recording, memory and fragmentation. Finally, I contend that this encounter with a historic work, and the larger framework of research supporting it, creates new constructs that inform my own contemporary practice.
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