In Device Circle, as is typical of John's drawings and paintings in which he uses the device, the mechanical arm - usually a wood strip of some sort - is used to scrape the paint in an arc
shape - in this case curving into a complete circle with the arm still attached to the canvas. The development of the device theme in Johns' work progressed to incorporate other themes, such as
the abundant use of text, but eventually including the new theme of the body imprint, alluding to "an overarching allegory of art as of and from the body."
This mixing of the device action and body imprint is evident in works such as Periscope from 1963, in which Johns uses the imprint of his arm over the device-arm's scrape, giving the impression that the artist's arm functioned as the device-arm. Similar figural function with scrapes and imprints is found in Diver from 1962-3, a post-production study of a portion of a much larger work from the previous year by the same name, in which he uses many themes seen throughout his early years. Johns' work combines imagery of abstraction and figuration, taking each to an avant-garde level and dismissing previous conventions about both.
Jeffery Weiss, curator and head of the department of modern and contemporary art for the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., explains, "he reinvent[ed] figuration as a manifestation of mechanical process alone, reimagin[ed] a place for the body in pictoral art."