Realized Sketches in Two Dimensions

Collected by Travis Diehl and Brica Wilcox

We admire the finished works of the following artists so much that we wanted to see how they start. Each of the twenty preparatory images collected here represents an early stage of a time-based work—an idea in two dimensions, realized (or to be realized) in three or four. There are storyboards and maps, abstractions and systems, renderings and research images. A shakily rendered line opens onto a dancer’s motion, and a series of pictures shapes an actor’s movements. We have not been disappointed.

These sketches do not all have the same relationship to what followed them, or even the same sense of destiny. You can think of a work narrowing into being, sketch by sketch, until it reaches the single point of its execution. But maybe these sketches, even if they led to titled works, also represent a limitlessness. They could still be picked up again and lead the artists somewhere else. The work may be finished, but the sketch never is.

The present project takes after X-TRA’s Sketchbook issue, curated by Karin Lanzoni, in 2002. It was the fourth issue of the fourth volume—when X-TRA was a two-color, newsprint sketch of its future self. Here we are, in our twentieth year, looking back into our archive and asking artists to dip into theirs. Twenty sketches for twenty years. Here’s a sketch for twenty more.

– Travis Diehl and Brica Wilcox

Poppy Coles, Sketch for Tongue-tied (video work in progress), 2017. Graphite on paper, 12 × 9 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Danielle Dean, Cel from True Red with matching nails, 2015 Hand-drawn digital animation, 3:45 min. Courtesy of the artist.


Galeria Perdida, sketch for No Matter How Much You Push the Envelope, It’ll Still Be Stationary, 2014. (16mm film, 10:22 min.) Graphite on paper, 73⁄4 × 5 in. Courtesy of Galeria Perdida.


Jonathan Billet, storyboard for 10 (Two), 2016 (feature-length screenplay) Ink on paper, 8 1⁄2 × 11 in. Courtesy of the artist.


João Enxuto & Erica Love, ISCA Global Exhibition Module Prototype, Institute for Southern Contemporary Art (ISCA), 2016 (video, 16:00 min.) Digital rendering. Courtesy of the artist.


Maria Petschnig, digital rendering for a new video, 2017. Courtesy of the artist


Lucy Raven, sketch for RP31, 2012 (35mm film installation, color, 4:48 min loop). Felt marker on paper, 9 × 12 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Liz Magic Laser, sketch and diagram for Handle/Poignée, 2018 (set for daily performance and video installation at the Centre Pompidou, polyurethane foam and acrylic coating, 22 × 23 × 3.8 ft.) Courtesy of the artist.


Jon Rafman, sketch for Dream Journal, 2015–17. Watercolor on paper, 11 × 15 in. © Jon Rafman. Courtesy Sprüth Magers.


Shana Moulton, sketch for Galactic Pot Healer Ascension, 2010, companion piece to The Galactic Pot Healer, 2010 (video, 8:32 min.) Ink on paper, 81⁄2 × 11 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Kelly Nipper, sketch for Terre Mécanique, 2017. Collage, 9 × 12 in. Courtesy of the artist and Performa, New York.


Andrew Norman Wilson, digital collage sketch for Ode to Seekers 2012, 2016 (HD video, sound, 8:30 min. looped). Courtesy of the artist.


Rasmus Røhling, photo documentation from the artist’s studio: research imagery for Self Passage, 2017 (HD video, 14:21 min.) Courtesy of the artist.


Adam Linder, sketches for To Gear a Joan, 2017. Two pages, ink and graphite on paper, 81⁄2 × 11 in. each. Courtesy of the artist.


Meriem Bennani, sketchbook pages, looking for a title for FLY, 2016 (12-channel projection-mapped digital video installation, 17:33 min.) Ink and graphite on paper, 10 × 15 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Jibz Cameron, map study poster for Soggy Glasses, A Homo’s Odyssey, 2014 (live performance with animated film). Drafting pencil, colored pencil, and Photoshop on paper, 11 × 11 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Miljohn Ruperto, storyboard for Scene 28 of Ordinal (SW/NE), with Rini Yun Keagy, 2017. Storyboard by Kelsey Boncato. Courtesy of the artist.


Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, study for Rite of Fall at High Desert Test Sites, October 21, 2017 (performance) Ink on paper, 93⁄4 × 12 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Tarwuk, sketch for Cast_KITEong_ BROW (video work in progress) Graphite on paper, 8 × 10 in. Courtesy of the artist.


Simone Forti, News Animation Drawing—Past Future, 2012. Graphite on paper, 18 × 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and The Box, Los Angeles.

Further Reading