This drawing works with the instructions for a pranayama (yogic) breath practice: breath in for count of four, retain the breath for a count of four, breath out for a count of four, retain the breath for a count of four – and keep repeating. Retaining the breath is not holding the breath; it done without tension. Each of the four stages is the same length. When I was first taught this practice it was accompanied by visualising a line going up with the inbreath, across while retaining the breath, down with the out breath, across on retaining the breath – four visualized lines, a perfect square. I applied this to the act of drawing.
Around this time the procedure for the drawing experiment In + out breath was developing with the inclusion of deviations, produced accidentally though slips of the pen or lapses of concentration, with these changes from a straight line being maintained when another line was drawn alongside. I brought this procedure to 4 breath accumulations. Following the deviations produced a cutting through the square. Over time each of the four stages of the drawing produced a longer line – and needed a longer breath stage.
Gradually I developed four steps for lengthening the breath stages:
Stage 1: in, retain, out, retain
Stage 2: in, out, in, out
Stage 3: in & retain, out & retain, in & retain, out & retain
Stage 4: in & out, in & out, in & out, in & out
This choreographic breath drawing was presented as part of the performance installation at Tramway in June 2018 as 4breath accumulations – four pen drawings hung in the space.