MacDonald, Juliet (2014) In Passing. TRACEY. pp. 1-11. ISSN 1742-3570

Urban environments are sometimes seen as consisting of a static structure that encloses a space; the space is inherently empty unless temporarily occupied by objects or people. However, drawing in urban locations shifts attention to the processes and changes that are constantly take place: buildings subject to decay, weathering, damage, renovations and accretions; circulation of air, dust particles, litter, sounds and smells; movement of bodies (pigeons, humans, rats, flies etc.). Such movements and circulations are channelled and shaped by the structure of the constructed environment, but rather than being inside the place, bodies and dust particles are integral to the specific constitution of a place at any given time.

Drawing in one spot, I make a highly selective response to the multiple interactions that go toward producing a specific place in a specific geographical location at a specific time. In the drawings shown here, I selected only to draw people who walked by, an anonymous crowd of individuals on divergent courses that I have drawn into a single collective figure. This was a planned and structured drawing project of 64 drawings in 4 public locations in Leeds, UK: the bus station, train station, market and a shopping area (only 4 from each location are shown here). The sites were all places of transit or commerce that a large number of people walked through. In most of these locations I was positioned within the crowd, as part of it, with the exception of the market drawings, which were made from above. Drawings were conducted over a period of half an hour, using ballpoint pen on tracing paper. Beyond this there were no other rules – a line could follow a perceived trajectory or an outline. This was not an accurate mapping exercise but an attempt to follow the perception of someone as they passed, a perceptual experience that was always slipping away. Each set of drawings has a characteristic shape that corresponds to the configuration of the environment and the perspective from which I encountered it.

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