Whirl Sets – Process History

Whirl #1 from Set #6

In 1997 the earliest of my plotter drawings were started. There were several starting points – all were the results of looking for and finding ways to exploit the functions and limitations of sign making software and a vinyl cutter/pen plotter. The earliest of these drawings were attempts to use a series of graphic process and distortion tools meant to aid in sign production, for applications such as vinyl cutting, sign pattern making and silkscreen films. Eventually, by finding a “malfunction” in the design of one of these functions, the early OUTLINE FORMS came into being.

Outline Form, 11” by 17”, approximately 1997, pen plotter on vellum

The software offered an outline tool that was designed to build contours of forms or letters. One of the details of this function allowed the user to round the corners of the outline, and it primarily was meant to be reasonably exact with up to 4 or 5 iterations. By making the outlines extremely close and repeating hundreds of times, the rounded corners started to distort. What started with the outline of a random triangle, repeated over and over, became an organic form that mimicked the hand of the artist.

Drawing each outline required the pen to pick up and sit back down – this along with replacing spent pens during the drawing produced scars in the drawing that added to the “hand.”

Outline Form, 11” by 17”, approximately 1997, pen plotter on vellum ( showing a version with the original triangle removed)
Following a number of explorations with early desktop computers and the intermingling of disparate systems, along with earlier explorations in automated drawing and my ongoing obsession with movement and duration, this work is emblematic of an extended exploration in the blurring of boundaries – both between disciplines and between the quotidian and the rarified. The everyday here was represented through the use of and reference to sign making processes and outcomes, with my involvement signaling a willingness to cede control of a defined outcome, replacing the idea of authorship with management and production. The composition became the system itself, and the objects became artifacts from this process. The drawings became a self-referential documentation of their own fabrication.

Whirl #3 from Set #11
These drawings also helped to define a path that continues to hover in the space between disciplines and vernaculars. This space is unstable and contingent, and it is indicative of the erratic distinctions between painting and drawing, painting and sculpture, or the formal and the everyday.

The WHIRL SETS have come about from a need to more fully contextualize these drawings. They have become inextricably linked in my memory to WHIRL, the installation with which they were shown in 1999 and the idea of keeping them in sets elicits from me the spirit of choreography that I found in the kinetic installation.

Back to introduction

Whirl Sets – Portfolio Images