Wall Drawing 797: An "intricate visual butterfly effect"

How does one person’s actions influence the next person’s actions in a shared space? Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings explore this intricate visual butterfly effect in the collaborative art entitled Wall Drawing 797, a conceptual piece that can be drawn by following LeWitt’s instructions. (He died in 2007.)

Scandinavian countries call it the "red thread," the thing that ties all of us together in theme, message, and purpose. 

The first drafter has a black marker and makes an irregular horizontal line near the top of the wall. Then the second drafter tries to copy it (without touching it) using a red marker. The third drafter does the same, using a yellow marker. The fourth drafter does the same using a blue marker. Then the second drafter followed by the third and fourth copies the last line drawn until the bottom of the wall is reached.

The drawing was conceived with student participation in mind and was first executed by four Amherst College sculpture students. "The wall drawing represents a return to the linear repetition that Sol LeWitt explored in his wall drawings of the late 1960s and 19‘70s. The instructions for the drawing direct draftsmen to copy, without touching, the line made by the previous draftsman. The repeated process becomes an exploration of the intricacies of the line. This reflects LeWitt’’s belief that “the draftsman’’s contributions are unable to be predicted by the artist…”. As the draftsman repeatedly copies the line, it becomes drastically altered from its original state, and the smooth original line becomes more and more nervous as it is redrawn."

Before drawing the initial line, the head draftsman drew test lines on paper and copied them in order to see how the different lines would evolve. The line that he eventually chose to draw in black marker on the wall was inspired by the hills of the surrounding Berkshires landscape. Each copy of this undulating line took the draftsman between ten and twenty minutes to execute. The process of copying takes intense focus. If draftsmen feel that they are about to lose focus and deviate from the previous line, they take a break, making sure to start at the exact spot from which they lifted the marker.

I have a giant wall, both in my classroom and in my house. Kinda want to draw a thick black line and see what happens. Maybe an Art Starts?


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