Joey Ryken

Research project: Bodies of Pure Intensity: Drawing as Magical Apparatus


This practice-based research has been driven by the question, ‘how do you make a hallucinatory artwork?' It uses ritual magic as both a method and allegory through which to explore methodologies in drawing. It suggests drawing as a Body of Pure Intensity - an always imminent body, capable of operating as actant and agent in the production of idiosyncratic forms of knowledge and subjectivity. My methodologies defend drawing as a special form of embodied analysis, reflexivity and hauntological dialogue, through its mimicry / imitative notation on and alongside the drawings of Antonin Artaud. I am asking, what can a drawing do when done as an act of magic, when magic is seen not as symbolic, allegorical, or metaphysical, but as a literalising act — with phenomenal and plastic e/affects?At the centre of this research is a series of drawings in a notebook, using techniques of self-induced altered states of consciousness to manifest drawings. This is in response to Artaud's posthumously published notebooks, 50 Drawings to Murder/Assassinate Magic (2006). This project walks alongside Artaud's drawings, conspiring with them in their respective collections and archives, mimicking their gestures and intensities as though rehearsing a jailbreak.This project, in five parts, presents small, discrete drawings as potential staging spaces for magical acts, calling upon a ghost cast of insurgent surrealists (including Unica Zürn and Austin Osman Spare), reanimating their intensities through acts of hyper-empathic mimicry that seek to re-embody, and thus find supra-sensory dialogue with, their radical theses for drawing. Accompanying sections focus respectively on heuristic and diagrammatic journals, archival quests and performative assertions for drawing.Bodies of Pure Intensity presents an urgent reappraisal of drawing and magic as adaptive practices and methodologies within contemporary art research. Wider implications of these findings present novel methodologies for drawing as a resistant act, producing new knowledge from within otherwise inaccessible and incorrigible perceptual experience.


I am a London-based artist and performer. My art practice and academic research explores experimental approaches to occult magic and hallucinatory experience, using drawing, sound, moving image, text, and absurdist performance.

I have exhibited, performed, curated and produced stagings and events in idiosyncratic locations throughout the US and in the UK, as well as at major arts institutions in the UK, including ArtSway, Camden Arts Centre, Gasworks, Goldsmiths College, ICA, Somerset House, SPACE, and Stanley Picker Gallery. In December 2020, I was invited to participate in the Stanley Picker Lecture Series at Kingston School of Art.

I am an Associate Lecturer on BA Fine Art at Wimbledon and Chelsea College of Arts.

Areas of research interest

  • Antonin Artaud
  • Apocalyptic Embodiment
  • Contemporary Art
  • Drawing
  • Myth-Science
  • Hallucination
  • Occult/Art Practice
  • Technoetic Art


  • BA Fine Art, Central St Martins
  • MA Aural and Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths

Funding or awards received

  • a-n Artist Bursary Award
  • Kingston PhD Research Bursary
  • Goldsmiths Art Research Bursary
  • Artsway Open Winner, 2010