In + out breath – choreographic breath drawing

This drawing follows the simple choreographic instruction: draw a line on each inbreath with each line corresponding to the length of the breath, and a paired line on the outbreath that follows with each line corresponding to the length of the breath. Repeat this action on each in and outbreath drawing each line alongside the previous in and outbreath. Continue over a period of time.

Initially I did this over a period of one hour. There is no controlling of the breath, no pre-set timing. The act of drawing follows the event of breathing –  though it happens simultaneously with the breath. The breath itself is changing through the activity of giving it attention and perhaps also through knowing that the activity will continue for quite a long time. The length of the line changes as the breath lengthens or shortens. And it changes in other ways too. A slight slip of the pen on the paper, a momentary loss of concentration, an awkward placement of the hand or arm. Small bends and wobbles appear. I call these ‘deviations’. In following the instruction to draw the line beside the previous breath-line, I began to go with the deviation – to draw the next line following the small bends and wobbles that had appeared, so that the instructions became ‘draw a line and copy it’ – and alluding to the score ‘Draw a Straight Line and Follow it’ by La Monte Young. The extent of the deviations is restrained, so as to maintain the paired relationship between the in and outbreath.

The choreographic breath drawing ‘In + out breath’ was presented as part of the performance installation at Tramway in June 2018 as a live durational drawing throughout the performance in the form of a passing relay between all five performers, with each picking up the ongoing breath.

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