Statement | 2000
This series of work began or had its starting point ten years ago. It is a work of ‘continuance,’ and any developments made are small, economical and sparse. I work in a process-based way with line, repetition and surface as my central concerns.
The materials and actions I use have some connection to the domestic, agrarian routines and rituals of previous generations of my family. I work by drawing, stitching or folding lines onto or into a woven surface. I am excited by the minutest variations of material and procedure that produce ‘difference’ through repetition.
I enjoy the idea of toiling hard, using a time-consuming, repeated activity in order to make something that is barely there or hardly visible, when the figure/ground differential, the first and last requirement of figuration is at vanishing point, there at the threshold of invisibility, one’s eye toils to see. My intention with the work is to draw from the cyclical, repetitive structures of daily life, yet refrain from the dreary repetitions of habit and look towards the profound repetition of memory.
In certain works the process is reduced to my hand repeatedly aiming to trace a perfectly straight line across a woven surface, or in other works, folding and ironing a line into a woven surface; a quasi-mechanical activity which is doomed to imperfection, but creates a field of frisson/noise/interference that is specifically autobiographic. Therefore the most systematic procedure is not merely pure process – it is actually producing a drawing that is intimately expressive. The resulting wobbly line is somewhere between a straight ruled line and a freely meandering curve. A straight line limiting the flow of water defines an embankment of canal but never a river, a straight edge on a wooden surface indicates timber or furniture but never a tree. A straight line, then, is the mark of human purpose or craft.
Through my practice and research I am interested in using this ‘repeated line motif’ to look back into the history of cultural products, finding images and phenomenon that are visually similar yet are the result of diverse intentions. For example, the image achieved by the sixteenth century Dutch hermetic philosopher Robert Fludd when he asked a Printer to: pack a printing block so that thin, black horizontal lines were as closely compressed as possible in order still to be readable when printed on paper, to allow him to best illustrate the concept of infinity, is interesting when compared with a written instruction for ‘Wall Drawing 46’ by Sol Lewitt, dedicated to Eva Hesse in 1970: “Vertical Lines, not straight, not touching, uniformly dispersed with maximum density, covering the entire surface of the wall. Black Pencil”
I find that drawing out these connections enriches my own preoccupations with line.