Monthly Archives: December 2017

“Train Lines”

“Train lines” – draw (attention to the) movement

How many times have i been sitting on a train, reading a book, then trying to under-line

a sentence in book, and then it all goes wrong.  I mean it’s the underlining that goes wrong. What goes wrong is not the train or my reading but the line! Due to the movement of the train, the line I would make would hardly be straight.

So then I decided I don’t need straight lines if I gave the line the space it needed. Rather than make a line to underline something, I would just ‘line’! Just do the line for itself, make a line in its own right. That line would be and be able to become what it wants to be: a line made in a process of motion, a line drawn to whatever it gets drawn to, a line alive! A line which I would allow to go where it wants to go, a line that will take itself for a walk, outlined by the process of motion and myself as the drawer.

This line then, with its inevitable squiggles, leaps and loops and possible roundabout ways, would capture the movement of the train perfectly, and thus too the terrain in translation, the t(er)rain. A line that would reflect process: process-line, motion line, recording line.  A line like a kind of seismograph too.

A line to echo the train-line, for that is what it would record: the motion of that line which the train makes, takes. And so the line I would draw would become an echo of this line: one line echoing another, a line to echo a train line: hence a ‘train line’.

So I don’t really draw, a let the line be drawn.  So let’s go! I started with this on the Docklands Light Railway. And as I started, issues of representation posed themselves immediately, quickly, to be dealt with on the spot.

I had a little notebook with me, even smaller than A5, A6! The distance between one stop and another one on this ‘line’ is not far: between each stop there is maybe two or three minutes. Even so: drawing the line from page to page into my notebook seemed impossible still – the line would still be, become, impossibly long. I could slow down my way of drawing, recording the line, but it would still take up too much space: I just couldn’t be slow enough!

So I drew the line back and forth on the page. That’s a bit more like a text format, but not quite, because I wanted to line to be continuous, so as to have a more adequate representation of ‘reality’.

I don’t need a straight line, I need a representational line – or rather, a line which is made of of its movement, with its sound, on the one hand, and me on the other. So I don’t just draw the line, I let myself be drawn by the line as well, and even to it: it’s a communication between me and the line: we have a kind of conversation!

Line liberation this is! Take the line where it takes you! Don’t just take the line for a walk, don’t even just ‘walk the line’ but ride (with) the line, draw the line, draw alongside it, be drawn forward by it. Line on!

With all this motion, how do I draw the line? So now the question has moved from ’where’ to ‘how’. Such movements of questions, and their attendant issues, are exciting transformations. Us and the line. Train line, life line, linings. And there are more lines: remember Richard Long’s ‘Line made by Walking’. Here now, is a line drawn by travelling – along a line that the train takes/makes. So here’s the line-dance: me and the train, we both make a line!

Drawing this process of the line, the procession of the train, what does it mean? Is it just a recording or is it more than that? Is this how I connect to the process of my momentary experience? It’s an experience all of us passengers have, but it seems odd what I do: some people even look at me strangely, and I hide my drawing shyly. Is it weird to make a record of the moment? Is it weird to draw a line between two railway stations, just as the train does, in order to connect those stations, the dots.

Further: if it’s weird to make a record of the moment, then is my recording an act of resistance? Mark-making, line-making, resistance-making! Or just a connection to my experience, my observation of it, my becoming aware of the movements, the sounds, that surround me. The line, my surrounding, the thin line (of presence)! And now, what’s the space around the line? Go forward, line by line, read your surroundings, online, offline, and between those – lines. How can we even read between the lines – how can we understand -, if we don’t draw the lines in the first place!

To be continued.