A Walking Artist

Whilst walking down Dundas street last sunday, I happened across a small gallery. Inside, I found a small collection of squigly drawings. They were, in fact, drawings which had been penned by a person walking through the city, along the streets.
This was interesting for several reasons. First, they drawings are not strictly representational reproductions of a frame of the city. This is because the artist draws various aspects into the picture while moving along, so the perspective is literally in flux as the picture comes together. This means if you go back to the sight where the drawing was made, there is no photograph which would be a rough approximation of it, because the perspective is litterally drawn out across time and space (the distance travelled while the activity of drawing took place). But it is even less representationalist than this – because the artist only draws things that catch the eye, so what is drawn is always something the artist is already engaged with, already recognized as meaningful (and not only as valueless object). In fact, the practice itself is direct evidence that we do not encounter objects and then ascribe value to them, but that in encountering them we always already see them as things which are meaningful, interesting, etc… In other words, what is primary is not the formal shape, but that shapes meaning.
Another sense in which the art is not representational is that the activity itself is “compromised” by the jarring-ness of walking along. The non-linear movement of walking prevents the drawings of posessing clear and distinct lines. The obvious way to account for the squigly lines is in this way – to say that the activity of drawing, which is inherently one of careful representation with accurate and distinct lines, is muddled by the walking. But this misses the point – the practice of walking while drawing is itself a practice unto itself, which means the squigly lines are not “accidental”, a “compromising” of some pure form of drawing, or at least, are not only that. What they are is a different practice of drawing, one which doesn’t attempt to cut itself off from lived experience, and then reflect back on it like a photograph, but rather, be itself part of the trauma of existence, and have the art embody that movement. In other words, whereas representational art might have as its final cause “movement”, in this art “movement” is both the final and moving cause of the art.

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