In the context of drawing this paper will examine how notation possibly operates in an expanded marking system.  My aim is to investigate the mark under a notion of ‘point’.  A point in graphic form can signify a period, a span of time in which a drawing could occur under a gesture.  As with the twist of the hand, the swerve of an arm, or turn of the body; when a point is juxtaposed with each physical action ‘gesture’ may be investigated in terms of locating where the body appears.  What I wish to explore more closely is whether such a mark, from a single dot to a triple denotation of ‘ellipsis’, depicts movement, an affect of gesturing the instant of drawing. I will argue that the qualities of a point are largely speculative; the questionable state of a point being that the body is effected by characteristics of reduction and restriction, emphasis and stasis.  These effects may by indicative of a limit to lending speculation towards a gesture that aims to express a point phenomenologically as temporal and/or spatial. 
In light of how notation provides a referential structure to a text, a period or ellipsis can be seen in a drawing to arrange bodily positions that express stasis, cessation and pause.  These aspects would connote restrictions of the body from engaging the point; the period in which physical restriction is staged a gesture could also have one consider it conceptually as a theoretical impasse, an investigation of bodily appearing both elliptical and problematic.     
Part of this paper will comment and reflect on my art practice, which informs my research into such questions in terms of a performance-based kind of drawing.  Apart from analyzing a selection of my artworks a selection of other artist works can demonstrate this nascent area, such as Harrison & Wood’s performative works for video and the more choreographic situations presented by Trisha Brown. 
To begin I will focus on a dissonant relation situated between the body and the page-surface.  From his observations on Cy Twombly’s scrawling inscriptions on paper Roland Barthes‘ comment addresses this when he writes: “a line - any line inscribed on a sheet of paper - is a denial of the importance of the body, the body and its flesh, the body and its humors.”[i]  Otherwise, the line “always implies a force, a direction.  It is energon, work, and it displays the traces of its pulsation and self-consumption.  Line is action made visible.”[ii]  I will not be elaborating the graphic stroke in this paper - although the ‘graphic continuum‘ dubbed by Deanna Petheridge[iii] defines this linear pulsation as a creative force inherent in drawing and to be reckoned with in some manner.  If there is a certain mark that I will concentrate upon it is that associated with a notational element that punctuates the line, the point that shares with a bodily a dis-engagement from line, movement and affect. 
A period derives from a point, an instant of time.  Between each point, however, the relation as a continuum can be considered as fundamentally interrupted.  Jean-Luc Nancy terms this disjunctive interval as ‘spacing’ when he states: “There is nothing between each time: there being withdraws.  Moreover, being is not a continuum-being of beings.  This is why, in all rigor, it is not, and has no being except in the discreteness of singularities.”[iv]  If the line itself is displaced then how is a gesture provided by the body that shares a sense of this moment of separation? 
Restriction and reduction predicate situations of ellipsis, a phase that can be connoted through standing and proximity.  The artworks I will comment on situate a gesture that shares from this dispersed point, this impossible trace a manner of what Alain Badiou terms anintensity of fragility.”[v]  One way of looking at this fragility of the act is if a trace refuses the mark then the body can be considered further as a descriptive mode of intensive dis-location.
A period invokes a weighty sense that is incurred through concentration.  Nancy notes this as an effect of ‘the gravity of thought’.[vi]  Thinking effects the writer when he reaches a limit of writing - and the inscriber when drawing; where the language to describe a possible transcendental condition proper to its form inscription is exhausted.  A fragmentary state of marking obsessively begins - as Henri Michaux’s texts and works on paper are exemplary.  However, when one stops, a body can still be gesturing under the weight incurred by the refusal to mark further.  We can imagine that three points, as I will show in a moment, fall out into three steps, a turning-stance expressing the notation of ellipsis.  Three points over one spot that span the distinct prolongation of such a period denote a gesture of spacing, a barely sensuous experience derived from an arrest shared by - in not being able to cognize nor write - a gravity of un-thought.  We can perceive a reference to the line as energon, the physical and mental dissipation of pensive and creative investment.  A point entails an instant, and a mark made or placed.  What kind of performative gestures address a body poised in hiatus before the point?   
We can start by taking an example from one of Harrison and Wood’s ‘Twenty-Six (Drawing and Falling Things)’.[vii]  Entitled ‘Point’ we see in this formal video recording Paul Harrison gesturing with his right arm while standing strictly.  Extending the arm carefully the hand holds a can and sprays across from head-level onto the facing wall.  The uncut video sequence corresponds to the duration of the single line that runs vertically to the floor (the length of his body). We perceive an action, accompanied only by the short hissing of the spray, where the interior surface is cut by a peculiar quietude.  This signals a pause initiated through an arm swivel and the stasis following.  After the swivel the stern pose of Harrison, succinctly depicted by the screen-surface, presents a spatial intervention from a gestural stance that equally aims to hold the audience‘s attention.  The line that runs off and downwards, during his stand towards the point, echoes a descriptive narrowing much to the words and lines of a short observation on this work offered by Ben Cook: “To make a point. Directions for use: Shake well. Hold at least 15cm from surface and spray away from body. Hold for 15 seconds. A point is made.”[viii] These lines cover a precise durational and spatial measuring of this act through fifteen increments.  When the minute of video ends the work including the remnants of recording, the video as much as the mark, come to a close, -what is equally a cessation to the operation of ocular investigation, or ‘perceptibility’.  Despite the self-evident presentation and frank execution the work lingers beyond the arrested response in furthering its commentary. A displacement to perceiving occurs not so much through what is seen as the sonorous dissimulation indicated in part by a black screen interval (following the video), or further by the spectator leaving the work after viewing it.  If there is a spacing shared from what distinctly appears in the work itself, however, it is in the span of Harrison’s gesture, the separation and repose of physical figures (point, line, interior and body); because each element appears isolated along with the inexpressive mechanistic act a possible visual scrutiny for theorizing further is obstructed.  Nevertheless a conceptual sensibility is held by a tension, from a hiss to a non-perceivable silence, that I find strangely resonates within a contemporary form of drawing as a speculative activity.
Before proceeding further I can briefly clarify how drawing is a speculative act. Avis Newman summarily confides that: “I have always understood drawing to be, in essence, the materialization of a continually mutable process, the movements, rhythms, and partially comprehended ruminations of the mind: the operations of thought.”[ix] In its immediate state of execution the marking of a surface is said to present “drawing as a visual thinking.”[x] Catherine deZehger stresses that, “as a performative act drawing is the gesture in itself.”[xi]  Marking stresses a performative gesture toward evincing thinking as an inherent condition of drawing on the basis of expressing transient operations of movement. This places the modality of gesture, the sense of bodily engagement, as an element that is subtracted through the action.   
What complicates the strong visual orientation of this gesture is the haptic connotation to grasp what is thought.  Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s writings suture the phenomenological association, which these theorizations advocate, when he states, “it is not I who sees, not he who sees, because an anonymous visibility inhabits both of us, a vision in general...”[xii]  How visibility poses to render itself tangible is through, “a circle of the touched and the touching, the touched takes hold of the touching; there is a circle of the visible... there is even an inscription of the touching in the visible, of the seeing in the tangible...”[xiii]  Rosalind Krauss’ observation on conceptual artistic derivations of drawing, such as Sol LeWitt’s wall-drawings, identifies this haptic effort fittingly; that by moving beyond the page and inscribing directly on the wall one sees the “ground of a refusal to separate idea from existence.”[xiv]  What happens when the surface, paper or architectural, no longer sufficiently support the desire to embody perception?  Does drawing comprehensively ruminate a crucial disconnection in a situation of being-spaced-apart? 
A purely visual notion of thought as trace overrides the philosophical condition of this gesture.  As Nancy heeds there is a trace of thought that complicates the purely inscriptive gesture of tracing and marking it out.  A trace as such is distinct from the sensory, as Nancy writes, “a nonsensory trait that is not embodied in any sense - neither a pencil stroke [trait] nor a stroke of the violin bow - but which is also not incorporeal like signification.”[xv] 
The trait is not a re-marking of the corporeal, as Michael Newman would have it.  Newman claims that a mark becomes a trace of inscription, “insofar as it is recognizable as such, is always already re-marked.”[xvi] Conversely, Jacques Derrida’s ‘obocular hypothesis‘ notes that “drawing is blind,” unrecognizable to both the the artist and observer.  Both perceive a trace blindingly, repeating it as being inherent to an inscriptural economy, linear markings lamenting a loss of the body.  Consequently, this structures ontological presence as ontic absence.  Derrida furthers a stronger stance by stating: “Nothing belongs to the trait, and thus, to drawing and to the thought of drawing, not even its own “trace”.”[xvii]  The signification of trace within a strict operation of embodying the incorporeal does not account for the nullity of a trait that thought is, or more precisely is not.  
A possible rebuttal to the ramification of the obocular hypothesis would call the trait paradoxically recognizable as a line erased.  However, Derrida’s own infamous usage of the trait as a line of erasure over (his) text, as gramme[xviii], namely the act of putting the ‘dead letter’ of writing under erasure [sous-rature].  Textual erasure defers the trace from being represented by any form of line rendering erasure visible or virtual. Maurice Blanchot proposes an accurate statement for the possible consideration of this trace as an ontological impossibility: 
“Effaced before being written.  If the word trace can be admitted, it is as the mark that would indicate as erased what was, however, never traced.  All our writing - for everyone and if it were ever writing of everyone - would be this: the anxious search for what was never written in the present, but in a past to come.”[xix] 
A trace erased by an empty-line is questionable if it denotes an untimely condition of thought, as what Blanchot also coins is an empty-past to come.  What is to be said from the other element poised before a vacated surface; for what is a trace from the stand-point of some-body abandoned from a position for familiarizing it from a haptic theoretical framework?  How can we abstain from properly writing but at least ‘say’, as Giorgio Agamben elaborates this questionable trace[xx], trace as an impossibility, a past ‘tense‘ that never existed but as a future (potentiality) from which one thinks and creates anew? 
At this juncture I wish to ask: can we think of a trace as non-sensory?  I will attempt to examine the gesture as act from another possible orientation turned by the body, not merely from its disappearance after delivering a mark but in terms of a possible tension hinting a divisional separation that is constitutive of it.   
Performance-based gestures not only arise from the touching or grasping hand.  A foot, as seen in a soft-ground etching made by Trisha Brown, entitled ‘Revolution’ (2006)[xxi], lends us to imagine her body from the foot and ground up.  Visually the mark on this paper portrays a gesture of turning. It suggests a certain qualitative change.  At the instance of the gestural turn an unmarked axis follows from the ground up to the expanse that the body shifts around.  The smudged spot that we see around the graphite streak defining the foot connotes a period: firstly, the duration of Brown’s physical movement but, moreover, a ‘marker‘ that situates where she pivots in a choreographic manner.  We know from her works on paper that they express notational practices that support choreographic scenarios.  Although not as technically rendered to the instrumental manner of Laban-Notation these marks idiosyncratically evoke segments of performances and situations of dance, such as rhythms, syncopations and, with this piece in particular, a distinct spurt of being in one spot.  Over these three foot-prints the body stretches into a discordant intermezzo.  Even if the three markings could be taken as not coinciding to the spot there is a sense of pause and stasis; while being fixed over an unrecognizable axis from the barely marked circular ring, is the site around where the heel-rubbing out expands into a second faint ring.  This barely marked swerve is found in the expanse of the arch under the foot.   A strange perimeter of the spot turns from the  erased point to the ring that ripples into a more vacant span, a three-foot-spread indicating an elliptical kind of drawing-out, separating toes from the heel. This turn also proposes a shift from understanding the work via duration to a critical displacement of the body over a ground - the white page and floor - opening into a gestalt of spacing.
My description of Brown’s drawing can be persuasive to a degree.  The drawing appears symmetrical and self contained.  However, the performance can only have us imagine Brown executing a centrifugal swerve that, in turn, eludes lending it a theoretical insight and accurate examination.  To a certain degree Peggy Phelan’s claim holds: we cannot sufficiently write about live-art without reifying the unmarked body.[xxii] Conversely, performance in drawing can situate gestures through a dislocation where, although marking it is complex, the body can appear if not marked than at least exposed within an effect of the body being unsupported by a ground; or in the words of Nancy, the abandonment of body through a weight of sense as trace. 
Nancy notes that at the limit of inscription thought is “exscribed in advance of all writing.”[xxiii]  An exscription from writing, as he explains further, “doesn’t happen exactly in writing, if writing in fact has an “inside.”  But along the border, at the limit, the tip, the farthest edge of writing nothing but that happens.”  For Nancy exscription correlates to an exposure of thinking through the body, where it touches upon itself incorporeally, not merely inside and outside but into an absolute exteriority.  When one touches on a creative capacity to be, notably as transcendental causation (freedom) - a condition that is void as such - an anonymous body responds by a sense of its spacing.  Abstaining from marking the void of thought equally withdraws a possibility of spatially presenting it. 
Expanding drawing through live-art situations presents this spacing from the body.  When an irreducible distance is gestured by either smudging or staring, the marks appearing alongside the body, a proximity to interior and audience emerges.  I will refer to two artworks that I created that still provoke a question about whether there is a trace (of thought) that can be offered through an exposure of the body.  
It was at the KCCC museum of contemporary art (Klaipeda, Lithuania) June, 2011 that I presented a variation on the ‘Untitled’ performance-artworks and wall-drawing installations.[xxiv]  The wall pattern of arching lines prepared in a highly delicate and dark willow-charcoal is a background against which I position myself during the live-work.  Two wave patterns, derived from modular sound frequencies, crossover at a length proportionate to my foot.  The entire performance stretches the instant of one move: to turn from facing the left field and side of the gallery to the right.  We loose measure of the duration as I appear still - while very carefully shifting my body - thus presenting a dynamic sculptural episode, strangely spatial yet instantaneous.  During this displaced turn my torso, particularly when exhausted or loosing balance, smudges and erases some of the areas of the prepared wall.  These point-like marks ambiguously connote the restriction and exposure of the body and the space imparted through tension and weight.  An intensity invoked by seeing my tensed body, at times giving way to slight spastic jerks and quivers; the juxtaposition of my occasional breathing and a mumbling audience - their muffled speech equally if not more telling - conjures a dissonance much to the non-relation of me standing apart from the wall and these erased spots defacing the bombastic linear screen-like monolith.  The isolation of my physicality not involved in marking but in being beside markers presents an exposure.  It is a static dislocation that the audience can take up in another performative situation.
Whereas this piece ends with a temporary installation of a wall erased twice, once in the left field and a second dividing the crossover of lines, another artwork elaborates the two, not only in terms of visual markers but as an intensification of the period as an elliptical estrangement.  The title of this work describes a task, ‘Placing A Pause By Kneeling and Staring At Two Holes In The Wall - Try and Make One Whole From Two’.[xxv]  An awkward task indeed; this title asks the spectator to kneel upon ‘memory foam‘ (Low Resistance Polyurethane), which provides a mediation of the body from the ground. This also a positional distance to aid fixing the eyes onto two punctured pinholes into the facing wall.  The spectator stares endlessly at this pair.  However, by carefully crossing his/her eyes, a stereoscopic optical effect generates a single point by coordinating them visually.  Whenever the task seems satisfactory the spectator stands up.  For about ninety-seconds two remaining marks are left by the knees in the foam, their impressions gently rising until the matt leaves no physical trace of engagement.  Both pairs, the markers placed in the wall and the markings that fade from the LPR floor-covering, are poised by the singularity shared by the illusive point and the ground pressed within the act of undergoing this activity. 
This dual non-coincidence, of place and sight, would be one way in how Nancy explains residual effect of weight from abandonment: “place constitutes meaning in remaining the place, at once weighty and pointed - pressing upon and pierced through.  Meaning always has the sense of the noncompleted, the nonfinished, of the yet-to-come, and in general of the to.”[xxvi]  It is through the body that a space, obstructed in its meaning structure, is accessed.  As Nancy states, “a tension of place, where bodies are not in space, but space in bodies.”[xxvii]  There is in the ‘Untitled’ performance, but especially in this piece a durational period that undergoes a prolonged dissimulation.  When the body is poised in an intense stare the cross-eyed effect echoes an dis-coordination of the capacities to adequately cognize and perceive at once.  A density develops in the body through a feeling of straining the eyes and forcing the knees (instead of the feet) in attempting an amalgamation of elements (body, marks, ground and wall).  The task itself offers the question of being in a state of insistence: one’s becoming fixed and apart in a place resisting to inscribe a space for the spectator, withdrawing evidence of his presence in the moment of subjected engagement.
What both works demonstrate is a form of exscription, where an exposure of a singular-point focuses an attention on a separation of the body from the moment of agency.  The capacity to think the work and be in a place of the work simultaneously is, in terms of aesthetic reception, critically opened. The sensuous tension, induced by one’s anxiousness to be (present), is offset by conceptual vacuity by the discordance in aiming to make the work happen effectively through a trace that indexes the physical gesture. 
As a disconnection, to which Ian James coins as “contact-in-separation”[xxviii], the division of sensuous apperception and agency can be noted in elements of the works of art I have provided.  This is also partly elaborated in the capacity to analyze the kind of artworks that invite speculations of a point as period and deferral of presence.  An image illustrating  through digital simulation what would actually happen when viewing the two points, in ‘Try and Make One Whole From Two...’, presents how the point can be perceived through a period/moment of spacing.  In drawing there is no point as such - Gilles Deleuze infamously states that only a multiplicity of lines bifurcate within any interval of linear-flow[xxix] .  Nevertheless, a body and point arise in a weighty and illusive state that critically situates the sensible and a virtual forcing of the non-representable.  In the case of either Browns shifting of ground and foot over a point, or particularly in the last work I provided, a minuscule middle dissimulates the passive and dense body positioned toward the surface. 
If three points form the sign of an ellipsis, the dissipation of duration by deferral tells of what becomes a period shifting into an exscribed space. As I have articulated, a period shared by the performative disconnection of body is punctuated by a point. The sense of this ellipsis suspends the function of sign collinear with a marking gesture, what Carrie Noland would argue as “a parsed unit of a continuum, and potential movement of experience, an exertion of energy.”[xxx] Ellipsis rather arrests this potential guarantee of experience, the anticipation of a meaning-sense beyond representations of language. As Martin Heidegger writes, “it is a breadth for nothing... the dots tell what is kept silent.”[xxxi]  We can only say of this aporia; write or inscribe the impossible condition of a thought that is drawn upon via drawing as a speculative act within a stand-point of the body.  Blanchot similarly admits to the impossible trace when he writes: “Saying that, we say almost nothing.”[xxxii]   A  smudged mark may evoke a breath against a wall.  An optical point-effect can strain the eyes.  In either case one must also listen to the body concentrated by weight incurred by a nullity of thought from a gesture intensified through drawing.  The ramifications toward the role of notation, in terms of how the Body and point locate themselves topographically is that that neither affirm a place, namely a topography with a referential schema.  The form of notation I have articulated situates a point that locates a transcendental condition as interminably problematic; it demarcates a critical distance within what phenomenology marshals as a pure presence, that is universal as a necessary differential movement transcending the present and the mark that appears. 
There is a way to consider the point’s notation of a body in the present, where presence is displaced, in terms of Badiou’s quip: ‘a description without place’.  This can be explored further in how a notation without reference appears: from the intensified spot of a fragile sense of thinking through a body, the speculative act occurs under an appearance of disappearance (trace).  The task at hand is how to write, draw and create further around how the gesture of the body pertains to a present void of presence, a present that represents a point as an act of taking place in the intensification of the present.
 
 
 
[i] Roland Barthes, The Responsibility of Forms, trans. Richard Howard (trans.) (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1985), p. 210.  Roland Barthes, R. (2004) ‘Non Multa Sed Multum’ in, Cy Twombley : fifty years of works on paper / curated by Julie Sylvester; with essays by Simon Schama and Roland Barthes. (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2004), p. 35.
 
[ii] Barthes (2004), p. 34-5; (1985), p. 209.
 
[iii] See: Deanna Petheridge, The Primacy of Drawing, Histories & Theories of Practice  (London: Yale University Press, 2010).
 
[iv] See: Jean-Luc Nancy, The Experience of Freedom, Bridget McDonald (trans.) (Stanford, California:  Stanford University Press,1993), p. 67.
 
[v] See: Alain Badiou, 'Drawing', Lacanian Ink, vol. 28, 2006, pp. 42-49.
 
[vi] See: Jean-Luc Nancy The Gravity of Thought, Francois Raffoul and Gregory Recco (trans.) (Atlantic Highlands, N.J. : Humanities Press 1997).
 
[vii] Documentation of the entire series can be viewed in: Paul Cook in, Twenty Six (Drawing and falling Things) / John Wood and Paul Harrison, (Catalogue published to accompany exhibition of the same name at Picture This Moving Image, Bristol, 2005).
 
[viii] See: Cook, in Picture This Moving Image, 2005, p. 34.
 
[ix] See: Catherine de Zehger, and Avis Newman (eds.) The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act, (New York: Drawing Centre, 2003), p. 67.
 
[x] See: Patricia Cain,Drawing, The Enactive Evolution of the Practitioner, (Bristol, UK: Intellect Ltd., 2010), p. 3.
 
[xi] See: Catherine de Zehger (ed.), Performance Drawings, The Drawing Center's drawing papers, (vol. 20. New York : Drawing Center, 2001), p. 2.
 
[xii] See: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Inivisible, Alphonso Lingis (trans.) (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969), p. 142.
 
[xiii] See: Merleau-Ponty (1968), p. 143. 
 
[xiv] See: Rosalind Krauss, Line as Language: Six Artists Draw, (Princeton: Art Museum 1974), p. 19.
 
[xv] See: Jean-Luc Nancy, The Ground of the Image, John Fort (trans.), (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), p. 75.
 
[xvi] Newman & de Zehger (2003), p. 100.
 
[xvii] See: Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind, The Self Portrait and Other Ruins, Pascale-Anne Brault, and Michael Naas (trans.), (London: The University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 54.
 
[xviii] See: Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, Alan Bass (trans.), (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982).  
 
[xix] Maurice Blanchot, The Step Not Beyond, Lycette Nelson (trans.) (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1992), p. 17.
 
[xx] See: ‘Bartleby, or On Contingency’ in, Giorgio Agamben, Potentialities, Collected Essays in Philosophy, Daniel Heller-Roazen (trans.) (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1999).
 
[xxi] A sample of this image can be viewed on the internet link: http://131.247.128.63/CAM/exhibitions/2007_01_Trisha_Brown/Trisha_Brown.html
 
[xxii] See: Peggy Phelan, Unmarked, The Politics of Performance, (London, England: Routledge, 1993).
 
[xxiii] See: Jean-Luc Nancy, Corpus, Richard A. Rand (trans.), (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), p. 11.
 
[xxiv] A sample of images documenting this artwork are available on the internet link: http://www.grammee.org.uk/www.grammee.org.uk/gridsculptures_lithuania_performance.html
 
[xxv] A sample of images documenting this artwork are available on the internet link:  http://www.grammee.org.uk/www.grammee.org.uk/make_one_whole_from_two.html
 
[xxvi] Nancy (1997), p. 78.
 
[xxvii] Nancy (2005), p. 27.
 
[xxviii] See: Ian James, The Fragmentary Demand, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2006).
 
[xxix] See: Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations (1972-1990), Martin Joughin (trans.) (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 161.
 
[xxx] Carrie Noland, Agency & Embodiment, Performing Gestures/Producing Culture,  (London, England: Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 194.
 
[xxxi] Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, translated by A. Hofstadter.  New York: Harper Collins, 2001), p. 137.
 
[xxxii] Blanchot (1992), p. 23.