Seminar: Mapping in the midst
Location: 33 Bedford Square, First Floor Back
time: 2 pm
All welcome

Emma McNally’s drawings suggest maps or charts of things as complex and various as seas, the night sky, military bases, computer circuit boards, data-flow, flight paths.
They also evoke aerial photographs, radar screens and experimental musical scores. Yet though her drawings chime with both the real and the virtual world, they all come from the imagination. If they were charts, they could map a mindscape.

McNally’s recent body of work ‘Choral Fields’ (exhibited at Hayward Gallery, London and Biennale of Sydney) were made in a studio by the river Thames at London’s West India Dock, a place where water, boats, traffic, planes, telecommunications, banking, and glass-and-steel skyscrapers converge. The drawings echo the pulsing rhythms of the city and reflect the river’s ebb and flow. They are created from carbon – basic ‘matter’ which, like water, is vital for our existence.

The title, Choral Fields, suggests both music and a field of activity or vision. It also relates to the philosophical idea of the ‘chora’, a peripheral space in which forms materialise.

In these drawings, McNally covers vast expanses of empty space with tracks, traces, ruled lines, hammered dots, smudges, scratches, scribbling – thousands of marks that swarm,
buzz, vibrate, hum, clump together and drift apart. Her mark-making can be percussive or gestural, violent or quietly lyrical. She invents new ways of using graphite and carbon, and uses sandpaper as an eraser, sometimes simultaneously applying graphite with one hand and rubbing the markings away with the other. She describes how in Choral Field 6 she was trying
to make a ‘grey area’ between form and formlessness: ‘it ended up looking like dark water or cloudscape’

McNally’s work has been used to help visualise space across the categories of physics, geography, music, philosophy, politics, literature and science fiction cinema.

For the seminar I’ll talk about ‘mapping in the midst’