Video Image: Occam's Hand, Graphite on paper, 38" x 50", 2014


I draw. Drawing-as-process has taken me into diverse media for the realization of my ideas - extended into sculptural modeling, computer animation, video installation and performances.

I use the means and methods of visual art to produce hybrid research in two domains – medical science (primary research in human embryogenesis) and collaborations with Inuit artists (the current project, ‘Art & Cold Cash’). These two life practices, dominating my exhibition history and my public presence, have been progressively generating a third ‘space’ in-between: an internal dialogue – intimate, body-centered, hesitant, sexual.

One strong cultural and professional context for my research and production is my collaborations, since 1969, with Inuit artists in Nunavut. Currently (2003-12) this collaboration takes the form of art-based research in Baker Lake (Qamanituaq), and exhibitions as a member of the five-person collective Art & Cold Cash. A print record of these researches and exhibitions, the book Art and Cold Cash, was published by YYZ Books in January 2010 and in FUSE MAGAZINE, Money, Aesthetics and Double Difference (issue 35-2, NORTH, Spring 2012).

I have since 1976 participated as a visual artist in medical research projects focusing on human embryological development; work published in scientific contexts. Parallel with these projects, I produce studio based installations that deconstruct my scientifically focused research and attempt to reify the creative processes at work in my trans-disciplinary practice. The video projection installations, Genesis of Breath, and Fatemap: Would you like to know what will happen? are current examples.

And the third ‘space’, the intimate bodily spaces in-between, is motivating Dark Body, a small, highly focused exhibition drawn from five projects at the intersection of art and medical research. These drawings instantiate the question: Could the body stand in the place of the limen between two historically defined solitudes? Can the body be represented as an ontologically transparent layer through which art and science are mutually visible?

The drawings in Dark Body range from my modeling genital embryogenesis as a member of a research team at Children’s Hospital, Winnipeg, Canada, to the interactive touch sensitive audio drawing titled Occam’s Hand, which tracks my personal recovery from cervical spine surgery through drawing and songs created from sounds recorded in the MRI. The five interactive songs that play in response to the instruction – “Caress the drawing firmly”, were composed and recorded by sound artist Chandra Bulucon.

Dark Body was curated by artist Andre Jodoin, and is accompanied by his essay: Dark Body (an introduction)  “In Dark Body I examine some works by Jack Butler in my first attempt to think about relations between a theory of practice and a theory of art with respect to a specific artist and their works. It appears to me that art criticism often conflates techniques of production with practices. My aim here is to simply raise that issue, sharpen the distinction, and consider the appropriateness of a theory of art to a theory of practice.”

Full essay "Dark Body, Jack Butler", by Andre Jodoin

Occam's Hand, (touch sensitive audio drawing installation, in collaboration with sound artist Chandra Bulucon and software designer Doug Back), 2014.

The five interactive songs that play in response to the instruction – “Caress the drawing firmly”, were composed and recorded by sound artist Chandra Buluco

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