Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Week 2

10th March 2011

Drawing from YouTube

I became intrigued by the massive amount of YouTube videos posted by women of their births, some highly medicalised others in water some unassisted. I was contemplating ways to record or document these experiences and thought how interesting it would be to work with the group to draw from the footage. I am interested by the potentially graphic/sexual nature of the videos and how this might be altered through the drawing process.  Equally as a collaborative project each woman might bring something different to the representations.
We set up in the lecture theatre of the Whitworth and used the large projection screen to watch a series of selected videos posted by women from around the world. We slowed them down and sometimes would ask to pause the video. At other times we just surfed YouTube to see what we might find.
We used mono-printing techniques. A small sheet of glass inked up and laying paper on top. We also used a drawing machine created as part of Samantha Cary’s ongoing research at Newcastle University into drawing and cognition. Made from a shoe box, paper was wrapped around two sticks and looped over the surface and drawn on. As each scene was annotated the paper was wound from one reel to another.  Strips of drawings were produced. We also worked onto large sheets of paper from rolls, slung over tables and wound along, as well as sketch books and normal sheets of paper.
We spent the entire day absorbing and drawing from these moments of women’s lives. Questions were asked like; why do women post up their births? How do they feel about this kind of exposure? How edited is the footage? Is it about empowerment, education, communication or exhibitionism?

Drawing from YouTube

Alex's drawing

Jenny mono-printing in response to YouTube videos

Jenny's mono-prints

Kellee using the shoe box drawing machine

 Kellee's mono-prints

Lisa using the shoe box drawing machine

 Lisa's mono-prints


Lulu's drawing strip

Sue working from a YouTube home birth video
Sue mono-printing

Sue's mono-prints

Some of the drawing strips generated during the session. These were made using the shoe box drawing machine, the Dervinci as invented by Samantha Cary. Please take a look at her blog


  1. I really liked using the dervinci box - it is a great tool for drawing from video/film - youtube footage. The roll of paper means you end up with a drawing that can have a seeming narrative, your 'final' image then has a composite feeling, that many moments make the 'big' moment. It is much more like real looking.

  2. I would never have watched other womens' births on you tube if Helen had not asked me to. I was squeamish.
    In fact I found it very moving and emotional. Although these were strangers on the screen I felt incredibly close to them after watching them give birth. Some women were vulnerable, some calm, shocked, animalistic or secretive. All sorts of emotions were on show.
    Watching these videos validated my experience, I felt lucky to be drawing these women as they gave birth.