by Dick Freeman and Monica Raymond
The drawing proceeds from a new practice I described to Monica, noting, on black paper with white pencil, subjects of interest to me. This becoming an “impromtu,” semiotic document with a supportive, yet fragmented, dialogue leading toward a playful and gratifying result.
We were sitting in the cafe in front of the Harvest Food Coop in Cambridge. Dick told me he had been doing sketches and notes on black paper with a white colored pencil. We were talking about another collaborative project I was involved in, and how that had gotten into a discussion of the relationship between science and poetry. When Dick went to the counter to get us hot chocolate, I wrote E=MC2 on the black page.
He came back and made another move. And so our collaboration continued, taking turns. Dick sometimes erased or blurred his own lines. He told me to feel free to erase his lines as well, but I really didn’t. And I wasn’t so sure I wanted him erasing mine!
The conversation about the relationship between the sciences and the arts and some people’s inferences that these subjects are necessarily in insolvable conflict, impelled me to tell Monica, during pauses from sketching, about my 20-something-year argument with a friend and mentor who had actually passed away quite early in the very respectful discussion. I had imagined most the argument for both of us. My friend’s position had been that “science and technology are destroying the world because, unlike art which puts things together, science takes things apart.” He was in his early 60’s, a highly acclaimed painter and former art reviewer when our discussions began. I was an aesthetically ambitious, 20-something painter with very limited reading experience then. Still, I intuitively inferred that my friend’s belief was inaccurate. After many years of reading and reflection, I concluded that it is neither science nor technology that are destructive, these being only very sophisticated tools. Rather it is arrogance that leads to destruction.
Gradually, we each added words, lines and smudges to the drawings. A happy moment for me was when Dick added little lights to what I thought I had drawn as a claw, turning it into a candelabra. We talked as we drew, about the way the drawing seemed to evoke the feeling of chalk on a blackboard, kids playing around after the professor is gone for the day.