Meeting the man who draws with his eyes
Graham Fink’s relaxed features belie the intense concentration in his eyes. Staring at a blank canvas on his laptop, a series of darting, energetic lines build until a face emerges from the visual cacophony on the screen. Blurring the boundaries between performance, mark-making and advanced medical technology, Fink’s ’Drawing With My Eyes’ is a continuation of his oeuvre as an artist and portraitist, as well as a further exploration of pareidolia, the phenomenon of seeing faces in unassuming everyday items.
At the heart of his art is a program; a complex one developed between the inquisitive artist and Swedish eye-tracking leader. Together they created a system which shines two infrared lights directly into each eye, the reflections of which are recorded by a camera via multi-algorithms and filters, allowing eye movements to be transferred on screen.
’I was doing a lot of drawing, exploring portraiture and thinking of how to do it in a way that hadn’t been done before,’ explains Fink. ’I thought if it was possible to track a simple line, going from point to point, perhaps it was possible to draw a continuous line in a kind of freestyle way.’ Each drawing can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.
Comparisons have been drawn between Fink’s programme and James Powderly’s EyeWriter, an open source app developed to help physically impaired graffiti artists create again. It is no doubt in part down to Tobii’s role as a leader in developing tools for individuals with chronic neurological conditions like ALS and cerebral palsy. Similar tools have existed for years and have even been used in advertising too. This is Fink’s own world; he worked for Ogilvy & Mather, one of New York’s largest marketing companies, for years.
Finding unbridled creative freedom in his hands - or mind, as the case may be - Fink admits the program never quite does what he wants it to. ’I never set out to draw a face, but take the line on a journey,’ he says, ’The face always appears after some time. All I have to do is look.’