writing = letters formed by human means not machine where each letter part is made by an individual stroke. This would mean that a capital A would be made with no more than 3 strokes. Most writing is done using the muscles and joints of the human hand.
big = of considerable size, magnitude, or extent. of great force; strong. mature or grown-up. having or exercising considerable authority, control, or influence. of great significance; momentous. bountiful; generous. with considerable success.
big writing = letters so large that they cannot be formed using the muscles and joints of the arm. they must be formed by the whole body. most of the body is occupied holding on to the tool and the feet do more work than the arms. any work that the arms do is from the shoulder joints, the elbows play a supporting role, the wrists and fingers are redundant. if you watch the short video clips you will see that most of the work is being done by the feet and i am walking backwards most of the time. because the area the writing fills and the size of the letters is so large, it is impossible to get an overview of what is being done at any point during the performance, even an overview of the current letter is often impossible as the stroke you are about to make will finish somewhere behind you.
the tool used is specially constructed for each performance. it is usually several house-painting brushes clamped together to make a very wide brush, this is then attached to a long adjustable handle. the resulting tool could look a bit like a very refined janitors broom.
we require about an hour to two hours to prepare, depending on overall size but the actual writing time is very short, somewhere in the region of 3 minutes.
the challenge of the measure
the performances often take the form of a challenge to fit a given text into a given space exactly. this makes the performance more challenging for the writer and more stimulating for the observer as there is the possibility of the text being too short or of running out of space.
the performance can take place anywhere there is a large open space, out of doors, weather permitting, or indoor spaces such as theatres, cathedrals, large hallways. given the linear nature of writing, it is often preferable to have a space that is longer than it is wide.
paper & ink
suitable paper is anything from 100gsm up and must be supplied on a roll as wide as possible to avoid too many joins. if it is desired to preserve the work (the reading performance was cut up into several large sheets and sold off as paintings) it is preferable to choose a heavier weight of paper.
the performance is actually a two-person job as i need somebody to move my 'ink-pot' as i progress. this should be someone who understands the objective, the ductus of the text and the mechanics of writing. i am thankful to phill grimshaw for the reading performance and jovica veljovic for the prague performance.
i am grateful to the following individuals for recording the photographic evidence on display here: linnea lundquist, sander neijnens, henrique nardi, lukasz dziedzic, conrad taylor, ann pillar. due to unexpected communication problems, only a small movie was captured of the prague performance, if anyone has a movie of this, or any extra photographs and would like to share them for use on this website, i would be delighted to hear from you.
if you like what you see here and would like me to come and do something similar for you, please contact me. the performance does not have to be exactly like the ones you see here; i have a number of related ideas in development.