Pen-do-Chronology Series


I’ve been doing a series of time-based collaborative performance drawings in public locations for the past five years. Each piece has a unique set of opportunities and constraints based on location and time frame, which I use to create a set of parameters in advance. During a performance these parameters guide my actions as artist/facilitator and define the scope of drawing “actions” participants can take to contribute to a piece. Participants are invited to sit with me at a table covered with an unfinished drawing on paper that I’m working on and given instructions (either by me or by reading a card they pick from a pile). The instructions often involve simple, repetitive drawing actions with various drawing tools (pens, pencils, rubber stamps, etc.) and/or activities intended to encourage participants to talk to each other or to engage with their surroundings.

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Ideas I’m Exploring:

  • How to create a fun, inviting and accessible environment for visitors to become active participants in the creation of an artwork. Ideally, this can engender a sense of connection and community around the experience of making art.
  • Experimenting with various predetermined rules and chance methods combined with the constraints of particular time frames and settings. The ideal combination would create both an enjoyable and stimulating experience for participants and a compelling finished drawing.
  • The name “Pen-do-Chronology” is a play on the word dendrochronology, which is the science of dating events and studying climate/ecological patterns using the annual growth rings in tree trunks. In Western culture the concept of time is usually represented visually as a linear “time line,” so the idea of mapping the “growth” of time in a circular/spiraling manner (a la dendrochronology) opens up new visual and conceptual possibilities. This led to my “Time Spirals,” which are circular-shaped, spiraling curlicue clusters drawn with a pen (hence the “Pen” part of Pen-do-Chronology) that visually represent the amount of time taken to create them. In other words, the more time one spends making a Time Spiral, the more rings you create and therefore the larger the clustered circle becomes.

Pen-do-Chronology #9 (Growth Spiral, 8/21/15, 5-8:00 pm)
(The latest iteration happened on August 21, 2015, at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History)

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Pen-do-Chronology #8 (Santa Cruz Bluez, 3/20/15, 5-8:00 pm)
(This piece took place in March of 2015 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History)

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Pen-do-Chronology #3 (Flax Stories, 6/18/11, 1-4:00 PM)
(This piece took place in June of 2011 at Flax Art & Design)

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Below is the text from a handout I gave out during the project:

  • WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Grab a pencil and write down a story on my drawing—any story, any length, about anything (mundane or fantastic)—and I’ll give you a handmade, limited edition Gocco screen-print for free!
  • What am I Doing? I am collecting stories via a method I call “Pen-do-Chronology.” Participants (you!) will record their stories around the Time Spiral (a circular-shaped representation of the passage of time) that I am drawing continuously for three hours.
  • My Project Parameters:
    1. Draw 1 continuous curlicue line in a spiral pattern for 3 hours
    2. Embed a time stamp within the spiral every 7 min.
    3. Stories are written in pencil by participants around the spiral
    4. Embed a time stamp in the spiral when a story is written & place a matching time stamp next to the story
    5. Every 20 min. add 5 drops of water to blue pen ink
    6. Every 40 min. add 1 drop of red ink
    7. Draw pencil lines connecting the spiral time stamps to the corresponding story time stamps

Pen-do-Chronology #1 (Flax History, 4/30/11, 1-4:00 PM)
(This piece took place in April of 2011 at Flax Art & Design)

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Below is the text from a handout I gave out during the project:

  • Who: A live drawing project by Trevor Tubelle
  • When: Saturday, April 30th, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
  • What: I am spending 3 hours drawing in the role of Time Keeper of Flax Art & Design. I am using Pen-do-chronology, which entails chronicling the events that happen within the store by means of a Time Spiral (a circular-shaped hand drawn representation of the passage of time as opposed to the more traditional linear “time line”).
  • How: The Time Spiral is comprised of one continuously drawn curlicue line in a large circular cluster, with a time stamp marking every 7 minutes embedded within the Spiral. On the perimeter outside the Spiral are written accounts of what has happened during my 3 hours of drawing made by anyone who is in the store — this could be you!
  • Participate & get a free print: Help me chronicle the history of the store for this time period by writing directly onto the drawing anything you did or witnessed inside the store (no matter how mundane). In return, I will give you a free hand made Gocco print!