'Paperchase’ undertakes a close, materialist enquiry of paper to outline how its characteristics, including colour, surface and body, have been culturally differentiated and predetermined by a Western, binary understanding of drawing and writing practices. The article pursues paper’s presumed features through germinal literary and philosophical texts, in order to show how their material encounter rehearses a conceptualisation of the substrate that is mirrored in the division of the graphic mark.
The article is part of a special issue, co-edited by the author, that reassesses the putative divide between sensory/sensuous experience and cerebral sense-making. Despite its historico-theoretical nature, the essay deliberately plays with its own material investment as a paper product. Adopting a self-reflexive and self-conscious position to its own papery debt (in the writing process as much as whilst being read) and its contribution to the generation of more paperwork (virtual, as well as analogue), the essay effectively performs the interwovenness of the sensory/sensuous experience and the cognitive labour of paperwork. Whilst the other articles in the special issue explore art-historical and -theoretical approaches concerning the divergent but also united understanding of sense through specific case studies, ‘Paperchase’ thus positions the work of writing itself squarely within that discourse.
In drawing attention to the tactile, visual, sensuous etc. work of the writer (whether art historian, literary critic or media philosopher), the essay lays the materially based groundwork for a subsequent enquiry by the author that explores this imbrication of artistic and scholarly work. ‘Paperchase’ is part of a larger body of word-and-image studies work by the author, but—to date—establishes most forcefully the mutual material belonging and inseparability of practice-based/-led and, so called, traditional/desk-based scholarship.