Sticks and Stones

Mary Hill 7 years ago

This is a new project exploring different ways of making an image with a limited number of sticks and stones. I am interested in developing simple practices inspired by my meditation and mindfulness practice. I make arrangements with six 'charachters', either sticks or stones or a combination and then draw them as a means of documenting and engaging physically with the process.

What is interesting is how such a simple idea quickly develops other meanings and ideas. I noticed that I could have one of three approches to making an image.

1. Random- Where the the stones or sticks are dropped onto the page as if throwing a dice and noting the image that appeared.

2. Random controlled- Where the sticks or stones are deliberately dropped in a certain way with an element of 'risk' and also an element of control.

3. Controlled- Sticks and stones are deliberately arranged in a pattern or form

I found this so interesting that in the simplest of exercises and could demonstrate 3 different research methods.

Binary language

Another thing I noticed is that the arrangements started to create a familiar system (not one that I know much about) - a system in which information can be expressed by the combination of the digits 0 and 1. 

This is evidence to me how playing with simple ideas may open up new ways of understanding problems.

The I ching

The third thing I recognised is how it reminded me of the I ching- an ancient Chinese system of divination involving the use of yarrow sticks. The I ching uses a form of cleromancy, which uses apparently random numbers. 4 numbers, 6-9 are turned into a hexogram which can then be looked up in the i ching book where each hexogram has a meaning.


The common thread here is systems. I am creating systems and there are probably no new systems just reinventions of old ones and new applications. I am using symbols, in the form of sticks and stones, to create a system which helps to understand the thinking process and becomes a creative activity in its own right.