Matthew Whitney: Marking Movement

A Line Amongst Other Lines

Movement in Kind

I am interested in the process of movement, and my current work manifests in the everyday practice of walking. My means of contextualizing these everyday practices involves drawing on paper, considered a 2D medium. It’s a form of reverse-embodiment, in which the real encounter becomes charted by the 2D. I write and draw not just by pen and paper, but also by using GPS technology to record my paths through a landscape. In other words, I am able to write text and draw images into the urban grid by the direct action of walking. This integrates yet another space: that of the digital, and in which dimensional realm do we situate the digital? We call it the “virtual”, which can be both 2D and 3D, and also neither, as we encounter it on a screen or projection or hologram. A screen is flat, but pixels have mass, and what we are seeing is representations of binary information – ones and zeroes, which actually occur as electrical pulses. Is electricity flat? As we move, we blur categorizations of 2D and 3D space, for we never fully exist in one, and we never exist anywhere for long. Rather, we pass through spaces, always feeling our way. Movement is thought of as getting from point A to point B - be it in walking, riding the bus, gardening, making things, or even sitting still. The constant of durational time makes non-movement, or being static, an impossibility. A line is sometimes understood as a point moving through space. The extent of that point though can also be thought of as a line, for as you get closer, the point becomes larger, and in a sense can be reconstituted as a line. Thus perhaps a point also cannot be considered static.

My practice thus intersects between the 2D, the 3D, and the virtual, simultaneously. I am, as most of us are, attempting to feel our way between all these realms in which we daily operate. Walking, drawing, writing, information gathering and decoding, all at once. I don’t know that understanding “possibilities and limitations” of “flatness” is a productive exercise, for I don’t think I can believe in flatness as a concept. Flatness is understandable as an idea, but as a praxis of engagement, flatness doesn’t “hold up”.

Movement Pixellated

My current work is comprised of personal cartographies: medium and large-scale drawings rooted in the everyday practice of walking. I combine smartphone GPS tracking with traditional drawing mediums as a means of excavating how a line, understood as a point moving through space, can be a mark made on paper, a series of illuminated pixels, or a path made by walking.

The walks, in combination with the software, give me the ability to represent a path via the recording of a digital line over this map, based on where I walk. Using this tool, I can write and draw not just by pen and paper, but also by recording my walking paths through a landscape. In other words, I am writing and drawing in the urban grid by the direct action of walking.


Walk Downtown

Matthew Whitney is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and pedestrian. He lives and works in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, and enjoys going for walks with his family.

Further work can be viewed at
Instagram: @mattpwhitney

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