Mobility of the Line: Art Architecture Design

Ivana Wingham (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook - edited


To paraphrase Deleuze, movement always happens behind a thinker’s back, or when he blinks, and, while thinkers of representation blink, the line has been on the move. From where, and to where, is the question. With the current complexity in the production and reproduction of images and objects, the communicative and the instrumental aspects of art, architecture and design converge and diverge in a myriad of visual processes and techniques that produce new drawings and lines. Mobility of the Line questions the line’s currency and its critical location within and without representation. The line, when looked through the lens of practice, is literally and conceptually in motion, across critical and technical divides. This movement happens when practice starts to have ‘a life of its own’ and representation appears to ‘wobble’ (Bolt, 2004). The line – drawing’s constitutive force – connects art, architecture and design. The line in question is not that of reductionist linear systems, but that of complexity and performance, the line of ‘practice’, and ‘movement’ that is ‘capable of affecting the mind outside of all representation’ (Bolt, 2004). Studying the line’s mobility in the context of ‘doing’, ‘performing’ and ‘representing’ reveals, transforms, negotiates and converges disciplinary connections. This mobility demands new ways of thinking, provides new ways of seeing and creates new modes of feeling and interconnectivity across visual disciplines concerned with lines. Mobility of the Line cuts through ‘debates about theory and practice, the critical and the projective, representation and performance’ (Allen, 2007). It maps and comprehensively analyzes this moment of change in representation by focusing on understanding critical positions and working processes across all visual disciplines. This change is concerned with the understanding that the drawing’s materialization is an ‘act of consciousness – where an actual act embodies an act of thought’ (Newman, 2003). Drawing always makes a connection with the outside world of change. The line may be regarded as a ‘disequilibrium’ that moves ‘between energy and entropy’; from a ‘geometric to a lived line’ (Sobchack, 2008). In working across disciplines, a single voice is not enough. Mobility of the Line views the line, through three, differently-focused lenses and with 32 contributors, as a vehicle that materializes the mutable processes embedded in drawing as a creative act and a process of thought. Through speculative, open-minded conversations, the first focus explores with architects, academics and curators, the many roles of lines. For example, Gary Garrels discusses abstract notions of the line in contemporary art while Ricardo Scofidio reflects on how his New York ‘High Line’ project echoes the trajectories of citizens’ motion in the city. The second focus seeks to capture the mobility of representation during the processes of practical work with lines in art, architecture and design. For example, Monika Gryzmala takes kilometres of linear tape between walls, floors and ceilings, turning the two-dimensional line into architectural sculpture; Casey Reas’ software transforms word-based instructions into animated, emerging lines. The third offers critical approaches to a new understanding of the line. For example, Brian Hatton examines the phenomenology of the wandering path, present in linear borderlands and motifs in art and architecture, while Andrew Benjamin seeks to understand architectural reproducibility and how a spline-based geometry is replacing line-based geometry. The conversations, drawings and criticism revolve around images: from mannerist facades to those of Mies van der Rohe, from 19th century navigation charts to Pullman train designs, from the geometry of Descartes to Sigmund Freud’s drawings of psychoanalysis. Through these lenses and images, Mobility of the Line provides a comprehensive anthology of the line in its mobile state. This mobility marks a departure from the ‘confines of representation’, through different forms of ‘inhabiting’ the experience of an art, architectural or design object, by making visible, as part of the work, the process of constructing an image or an object. ‘Analogical’ practices extend the line beyond the confines of its background or a single technique, bridging the gap between the viewer and the object: turning representation of a line into an experience of a line. ‘Digital’ practices use a mathematical logic of instruction through which the line obtains a different mobility, in which the trajectory of movement is pre-coded and the act of making a line is simultaneous with the act of representation. The common aspect of the line’s mobility both in analogue and digital practices is the demonstration of new effects that call for the creation of a new discourse about lines in which the focus is on the performance of a process rather than the representation of a final object. Understanding this mobility of line requires us to examine not only the products of visual practices but also the processes that generate them. Mobility of the Line presents an anthological encounter with a line’s mobility in terms of one of its eternal recurrences – the present moment.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBirkhauser Verlag AG
Number of pages248
ISBN (Print)9783034608244
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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