Ceal Floyer, Talking a Line for a Walk, 2008
There are lots of drawings that fit neatly under Klee’s description of ‘taking a line for a walk’ but few that do it quite as literally as Ceal Floyer’s Taking a Line for a Walk, in which a line painting machine of the sort normally used to mark out tennis courts and the like is walked through the gallery space leaving a trace that takes the audience on a journey through the space.
The line goes up and down stairs, it goes round corners, it goes everywhere we might otherwise go looking for art but it leads us. I’m fascinated by the struggle the machine experiences on the stairs; designed for use on the flat, the machine draws what looks in a way like a waterfall – or paint fall, perhaps – on the stairs. Clearly not, in fact, the right tool for the job.
We may encounter other work along the way, of course, but it’s the line that fascinates. In a way it’s the pointlessness of the whole thing that appeals to me. White lines like this usually have a well-defined purpose; they are generally straight, or at any rate regular. What they don’t do is wander about the place, seemingly at random.
And of course, Klee’s right; in this example at least, drawing is taking a line for a walk. Or do I mean Taking a Line for a Walk is drawing? It is, of course, and a continuous line drawing at that. And, as a reward, right there in the gallery space is the machine that painted the line, the drawing tool if you like.