Richard Long – A Line Made By Walking and Other Works

When speaking to Kate McMillan in a formative feedback session I was told to look at Richard Long as his work relates to mine in the sense that he photographs evidence of human presence which is created by walking through nature.

A Line Made By Walking, 1967

A Line Made By Walking, 1967

His most well known piece ‘A Line Made By Walking’ from 1967 portrays a line, created by Long himself, through the grass which is leading away from the camera into the trees along the boarder of the field that he was in. The fact that it was made by the artist himself, to create the perfect line seen, is not obvious but instead looks as if it was already there. However, after reading information about the image it has made me think about the work in a completely different way in the sense that it is not merely an image of something that the artist has found but is instead a sculpture using the elements within the natural landscape. However, within my work I have photographed pieces of human presence that I have found without creating it myself as I feel that this adds to the authenticity of my argument as well as ensuring that I keep my unbiased standing point and do not seem that I am trying to create a fictional concept.

I found this really interesting, however, as it made me think about the ways in which I can photograph the natural landscape and shows me that it is okay to play around with the elements within your images as long as it doesn’t actually damage nature in the sense that even the artist himself noted that the path would be covered over by the wear and tear of nature within a few days of him creating it. Also, it allowed me to see another, more obvious but still effective, way of looking at photographing human presence.

The naming, and concept, was extremely close to Paul Gaffney’s 2013 ‘We Make The Path By Walking’ project which is something that I took major inspiration from for my project. This shows me that this subject, and way of shooting, is not something new but has been around for decades if not centuries and that there are always going to be pioneers within the art world that can be extremely influential without necessarily doing something that is very abstract or unusual; essentially sometimes less is more, and not only in the amount of images but also in the technical sense that these artists have not been really overt about how they are photographing this subject.

The quite obvious nature of Long’s work ensures that the viewer understands the concept and can clearly see what he is trying to portray. The use of these quite overt pieces of evidence of human presence instead of having a mixture of shots creates a sort of uniformity and almost a signature for the artist and I feel that if I saw an image of Long’s then I would know that it was one of his. This is something that I feel is important for an artist because it helps to give you a name along with the sense of reliability and knowing that they are always going to create an exceptionally good image in terms of both concept and technicality.

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