Tilo Reifenstein


Paper is drawing’s and writing’s shared substrate. However, the anchorage of the drawn mark to the sheet, its instantiation as a stroke bound to its ground, is considered different from the detachability of writing’s inscription. This essay seeks to pursue the power of writing and drawing practices as indissociable from their material affordances. Setting out from the phrase ‘this paper here’ it follows a trail of assumptions about paper that render it impossibly blank and infinitely inscribable. Though not limited to either practice, medial expectations of paper already orient the material encounter with it by designating it beforehand as ‘for’ drawing or writing. Following Derrida’s writing on the inseparability of paper from its ‘acts’, media-philosophical discourses on the ‘proper’ relations between writing/drawing and its substrates are scrutinised. The essay consequently discusses the blind spots of drawing and writing vis-à-vis its surface and aims to articulate an approach to paper that accounts for the connections of its cognitive and affective power. In showing the intimate connections between drawing and writing acts on paper, the interrelations of gesture and material in any paperwork is explored. The essay ultimately emphasises paper’s active role in the cognitive and sensuous work of drawing and writing.

Keywords: paper, material, writing, drawing, Derrida, media philosophy

Full text: OAJ_issue7_Reifenstein _08 (PDF 1.4 MB)

DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2019s08

Biographical note
Tilo Reifenstein is Lecturer in Critical Studies at York St John University. Recent publications include ‘The graphics of ekphrastic writing: Raymond Pettibon’s drawing-writing’ in Ekphrastic Encounters: New Interdisciplinary Essays on Literature and the Visual Arts (David Kennedy and Richard Meek, eds, MUP, 2018) and ‘Drawing the letter’ in Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice (2018).