I have always been obsessed with desire lines. Paths created by the footsteps of people who, whether consciously or not, disagree with the intended path set for them by city and park planners. Throughout the development of this project I realised that it is not only people that make these lines. The aim of this project is to display the traces left behind by those living in that space, most of whom won’t realise that they left any mark whatsoever.
Once I began shooting, I saw the pattern arise of the bottom-right to top-left sweeping line composition and so set that as a limitation for myself going forward. I would spend many hours walking through parks, streets and forests searching for traces left behind that would fit into this specific composition. Some images in the series are easily discernible, some are so subtle that it is difficult to see the line at all but by viewing the images together the similarity should be apparent.
The inception of this project was the Guardian article Desire paths: the illicit trails that defy the urban planners (Bramely, 2018). I had read the article a few weeks before I saw the brief but as soon as I did, they clicked together. Afterwards my inspiration was predominantly Richard Long and Michael Kenna. Richard Long’s photographs are all about the traces that people leave behind, and it convinced me that the idea of desire lines could be an art as well as documentary. Michael Kenna’s work touches on the idea of traces but are spectacular images of minimalism using flowing lines which has heavily influenced the aesthetic of my project.
Lifelines is a project shot entirely on analogue 35mm film. There is no specific connection between shooting analogue and lifelines as an idea, but the process of shooting film drew me to a much more minimalist mindset than working on digital has in the past. The set is printed on analogue paper at A4 with a large border around the images. This large border emulates the large amount of spacing I found myself eventually drawn to when putting my research together and I believe that it enhances the minimalist feeling.
The video piece was created much later than the set of stills. The stills were created and submitted for a university brief but the video is a personal extension of the project.