I flagged in the previous post (“Run_8”) that there may be no more of these run posts for the time being. But when I went for my usual run this morning, I couldn’t resist taking before and after photographs, suggesting that the the artistic and the athletic dimensions of the overall activity have become intertwined and mutually reinforcing. This time, however, in order to mark a transition beyond the original project and the original set of constraints, I have allowed myself to combine two very differing images – rather than slavishly adhere to the rule of combining two similarly composed ones.

This sets me thinking about the rules that characterise this practice. First there are the more general ones:

  • the run itself is not to be shown
  • the running activity is not to be compromised
  • photographs are to be taken before and after each run

These rules, which were established after the initial run, set in train processes that themselves demand further choices and further rules. For instance, although the running activity is not shown, it becomes important that it actually happen – that it is not cheated. This is linked to the rule that the process of running not be compromised. I must run the whole distance that I set myself at the outset without stopping or taking any rests. This appears a jointly aesthetic and ethical rule. If the running were to be faked, if the duration that it determines were to be a fiction, then the project would lose all interest for me.

The photographic process breeds many more rules. I cannot, for instance, take the beginning photograph until I am actually about to begin my run – I must have my shoes on and be ready to go. Similarly, when I return I must take the end photograph straight away (although not in any strictly timed manner; I permit myself, for instance, to jump back across the creek boulders at an unconstrained pace). If I have taken a range of differing images at the start (so that later I can choose the best one) then at the end I must take the corresponding images in respective reversed order. There can be no cheating of the durational integrity of each before-after image pair. It is like the logic of braces and parentheses within programming – opening braces must always be matched by closing braces and inner nested parenthetical instructions must always be performed prior to outer nested parenthetical instructions.

I discovered early on the value of shooting a portion of sky in each image (even if only as a reflection in the pool). This has become a firm rule. Furthermore, with only two exceptions, I restrict myself to taking photographs in the backyard. Although I had been tempted to take the camera to the running field, I quickly recognised that this would risk compromising the integrity of the running activity itself. I could list many other rules, some already discussed in previous posts, such as the rules related to composing and recomposing photographs, but the key point is that the practice develops formal coherence not only in the initial conception but also in the process of enaction. As soon as an initial choice is made then it has the capacity to serve as an ongoing rule. The work is characterised not only by a sequence of actions, but also by a gradual elaboration and consolidation of rules.

There is also a need, however, to step back from the rules – to negate them. This itself represents a meta-level, artistic rule.

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