Since the early 90s, I have been working with tracing. I go to specific locations to trace marks, stains and cracks on the ground on to architectural Mylar [polyester-based tracing film]. From these tracings I make drawings and paintings. I clean the original tracings and layer them on top of each other. Once I’ve piled up the tracings, I place several rectangles of drafting Mylar on top of them. This determines the size of the drawings I will eventually make. I then start to trace the layers of rubbings that are beneath the rectangles, with a different colour pencil for each layer, peeling back the layers one by one until I reach the bottom of the pile. The final drawings are always a surprise.
I was recently invited to do a residency at the Albright-Knox art gallery in Buffalo, New York. I traced for three weeks with nine assistants, for five days a week. We took tracings from a storage hall at the Arcelor Mittal steel plant, from a wading pool, a parking lot … This working process is important – going out into the world.
My journey through tracing different sites, working with and meeting people and seeing their reactions to the work – all this has changed my understanding of representation and abstraction. –The Guardian, September 2009