A Line is a Brea(d)thless Length: introducing the physical act of running as a form of drawing

Carali McCall

Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Central Saint Martins, College of Art and Design

University of the Arts London

June 2014


This practice-based investigation offers an understanding of the role of the body in drawing; proposing that drawing is not only connected to movement but can be located in a larger inquiry into the performative nature of human activity. The aim of the inquiry is to demonstrate how the body as an instrument can be explored through the malleable qualities of mark making. This includes a process of adopting Euclid’s definition of the line as a trope to explore linear properties beyond conventional drawing, and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological concept of the body as a primary means of understanding our relationship to the world - utilising philosophical and theoretical concepts conceived as a form of ‘thought’.

An analysis of artworks produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s provide a context and operative means to explore duration, expenditure of energy, measurement and time; through interviews with artists Tom Marioni, Robert Morris and Carolee Schneemann, the research opens up a way of thinking in terms of the relationship between the subjective body, performance and drawing.

The inquiry is shaped and informed by science journals and writers such as Henrich Bernd and David Lieberman - enriching the research and assisting in identifying the key links to aspects of running and physical experience. While through texts that relate to the body as having a central role in the drawing process, the research references Bernice Rose and Catherine de Zegher which further encapsulate the intimate, personal, embodied character and aspects of movement as drawing.

In relation to practices of performance and drawing an examination of works' such as Schneemann's Up to and Including Her Limits, 1973–76 and Barney's Drawing Restraint 1–6, 1987–89 provide core material that has been an influence upon the research process and emerging areas in contemporary art.

Key words: contemporary art, drawing, line, endurance, performance, performative, phenomenology, feminist, body, mark making, duration, works on paper, graphite.