Drawings As An Atlas










An Expanding Atlas of Subjectivity is a body of digital sketches that has slowly accumulated for more than 20 years. Paper was abandoned in the year 2000 in favour of pure line (or at least pure pixel) as a means to allow the lines of observational sketches to float free of their ‘ground’. To date, over 1,180 drawings record a moment and place somewhere on the planet.

An Expanding Atlas of Subjectivity is in essence an online database that is projected out into the world in various ways. The archive contains every drawing made since the year 2000, and every new drawing (which is automatically added as and when it is made). The output from this live archive of drawings takes a multitude of forms – from iPhone App, to sand-blasted stone, from Instagram stream to woven silk. The complete database has also made been output physically a number times both as gallery installations (of 1000+ prints) and as a unique print-on-demand bookwork – a book that grows fatter each time it is ordered.

Over 1,200 drawings now record the view from one person’s eyes as they wander near and far over the surface of the planet. In a world awash with a torrent of digital images, An Expanding Atlas of Subjectivity creates small, slow disturbances in this seamless photo-machine. Spending half an hour trying to capture, in a set of jagged lines, what one pair of eyes is seeing is a thoroughly anachronistic practice – at odds with this instant, arbitrary and disposable world of digital photos. The practice is stubborn, absurd and a little perverse, especially when the device used to make the painstakingly hand-made drawings, could itself take a high-definition photo of the scene in a fraction of a second.

‘Limbo’ (the database and iPhone App that underlies An Expanding Atlas of Subjectivity) was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella. The project was supported by Cuttlefish and ArtSway, where Simon Faithfull was an Associate artist. Limbo launched with a cross-channel ferry residency, orchestrated by Art Connexion.


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