Out on the Wye, 2013/14

These drawings were made from a rowing boat on the tidal river Wye. They invoke Duchamp’s 1913 experiments with chance when he allowed a line of taught thread to drop onto the floor and then copied the twisted pattern that it made.

My drawings attempt to convey the cliffs, the foreshore and the waters of the Wye, but because I tried to restrict my gaze to a rigidly vertical axis (you might think of Duchamp’s taught line of thread here) while the boat moved horizontally with the tide my subject would disappear downstream. A discrepancy would then develop between the vertical line my eyes intended and the marks the crayons made. As if elasticated, the pencils moved away from the vertical axis before being pulled back into line again.

Duchamp made three versions of his thread experiment, calling them ‘3 Standard Stoppages’ (3 Stoppages étalons). Consequently I made three vertically meandering drawings on each sheet of paper; in my studio I connected these up in a replication of Duchamp’s three patterns and diluted the ink until it became the same colour as the muddy river Wye.


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