A Line in Motion

Chinese calligraphy is a spatial practice: a sensibility combining graphic design and kinesis. The Chinese character is a line graph centered within an imaginary square and written in a prescribed way using rules of stroke order, ensuring that the lines of a word are added systematically, and in the same order each time the word is painted. In Chinese calligraphy, the hand moves in the x- and y-axes – horizontally, vertically, laterally, diagonally – and the z-axis – up and down in relation to the paper. Stroke order ensures that no move is repeated successively. When a brush makes contact with a hard surface, the tip flexes, and the brush responds to a downward force; in this way, a brushstroke is a record of a hand gesture. Going beyond a two-dimensioned graphic, the brush makes active the up-and-down axis, the z-axis; writing is a gesture that operates in three dimensions: as one writes, the hand inscribes a physical space, moves circuitously over a spot while pushing and lifting the brush.

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