Measure without Measure

Matthias and the Meteorite - 2007

On the 7th of September, in time for my birthday, my meteorite landed in London: this was not by chance, but rather by design, as I had requested this present from Matthias.(1) 

At his home in Bavaria I had admired Matthias’s meteorites, displayed among his other works of art. Most striking, at first, was the way their carved, grid-like structures related to their surroundings.

But it was their conditions of origin – the fact that they were formed under conditions of near-zero gravity, over time – that mattered most. And so I asked for one, thinking that by placing such a structure beside my prints and drawings at the Redfern, something really useful might be shown.

The visual connections could be seen at a glance: all these carved, grid-like surfaces were so similar.

What I hoped, though, was that the viewer might grab hold of their shared quality of weightlessness: for just as the meteorite had acquired its structure under conditions of near-zero gravity, over time, so my work aspires to these conditions.

(1) Matthias Bärmann, writer, curator, friend, collector of meteorites. At his home in Bavaria, I admired his ‘garden of meteorites,’ displayed among his other works of art (including three of my drawings). See his essay ‘Drawing, the embodiment of action’ in McCully, Measure Without Measure, and his essay in the catalogue to the exhibition, ‘August Form 2002’ at Galerie Werner Klein, Cologne, 2003.

Flashing Conviction, Summer 2004

Staying in stone at least awhile more. Rhythms and movement: following the sound. Te form is the result (of the movement). The plasticity comes from the rhythm; the PACE

11/07/04 - Molloy knows he needs a method but he needs his mind in the game. 

Measure without measure, coming out of the rhythms and movements of the body.                 

Like Michelangelo’s compasses in the eyes; to judge measure and proportion.                               

To perform Quad, it helps to be a dancer – paraphrase of Beckett’s notes on Quad.

12/07/04 - Beckett’s heroes describe lines and curves of relationships. As in The Unnamable.

Printmaking concerns come into play: the clarity of the line matters: and ‘wiping the plate clean’.

13/07/04 - I’m interested in how those marks and traces come into being, and how they have the power to move the viewer. George Eliot tells me how: by flashing conviction on the world (the viewer) through ‘aroused sympathy’.

The length of the line (its measure) is exactly as long as the time it takes to be made. (Te measure of space is the measure of time.)

12/08/04 - Man marks himself vertically: it’s the ground, the earth, that moves. Tat’s what makes the grid, the cross. Tat’s how we get the grid.

It is the purpose of rhythm to induce that dreamlike state.

13/08/04 - A sense of inevitability guides the work (so it must be).

Eternity, and time:

Every dance in time has a sacred model: look at Molloy with his stones.

20/08/04 - And further: Molloy – “but this was only a makeshift, that could not long satisfy a man like me”. Molloy, on turning his stones without a method. Ten: “But to suck the stones as I have described, not haphazard, but with method, was also, I think, a bodily need”. Molloy’s other bodily need is his BALANCE. Leaning into the wind, like a sail, so as to KEEP ON GOING. UPRIGHT, yet “existence is a curve” (Sartre).

Giving the simplest lines meaning. ATTENUATED MEANING.

Drawing through the page with the entire body: much more, even, than from the shoulder. Securing my position, one foot braced behind, in order to move vertically across the page, top to bottom. It’s a dance through the page, not over it.

21/08/04 - Every drawing must contain all that I know, the whole of my experience, as it has been integrated, and understood.

There are so few notes, but so many variations.

The sureness of the rhythm, as experienced in the work, helps to FLASH CONVICTION on the viewer by means of aroused sympathy.

23/08/04 - And listen to the sounds of the work. They keep me in place, and in pace.

26/08/04 - A method, yes, but no plan: knowing gives way to intuition, and to chance, while the organic takes hold in my scheme.

27/08/04 - Karshan’s characters [drawings] describe lines and curves of relationships.

28/08/04 - New table – a door – new sound. Drawing on this new surface is like carving anew. Te surface is soft, but firm; the sound is soft, but pronounced. Breath. It sounds like human breathing. A breathing machine. Rhythmic, repetitive.

Thus the classical form, the classical canon. In accordance with man’s body, his proportions… and the numbers and rhythms of the universe.

I am always choreographing the page: smiling, swaying, but never, never slouching.

04/09/04 - “Two feet walking.” Giacometti, when asked about his studio. Listen to the sound, the natural rhythm



“Standing gracefully upright and alert.” Re-reading Jill Lloyd, Redfern catalogue.

06/09/04 - The compasses in the eyes of Michelangelo, and his architectural drawings made – astonishingly – by turning them around 90° or 180°. For probably 1½–2 years I often think, while working, as I take up whatever existing trace I can muster, that I start of like Leonardo, to unleash the unconscious. But once the numbers, rhythms and turning sets in – takes hold – I operate like Michelangelo. Like a sculptor, or architect. IN THE ROUND.

And the concentration, and the PACE. The plasticity comes from the rhythm.

Again, what is arresting to see now, is how the drawings of 2004 (July and August) remind me of those first ‘grids’ of 1995: it’s the way they sit – lean – on the page. They lean into the wind, so as to keep on going.

“Listening to sound is a sculptural act; the ear, as Joseph Beuys said, is the genuine sense of sculpture.” Matthias Bärmann, in a note to me.

Yes, I listen, I carve, I sculpt. I make my way with exactitude winged by intuition, always leaning into the wind just a little, so as to keep on going.

JUST LISTEN! The ear is the genuine sense of sculpture!