Friday, August 24, 2012

Expanse, Distance and The Foreign


The road is not a place to linger on, 'for there is no home here', but it drives the user onwards. There is only one meaningful action on it; to attain one's destination by the shortet route and in the shortest time. On the road, man is always intent on reaching the anticipated goal. This drives him constantly forward. This tendency to haste and hurry is in the nature of the road itself, and puts the individual under it's spell: no hesitation or standing still! Ever forwards, and as fast as possible! No one can resist this temptation. O.F Bollnow, Human Space, first published 1963

Above is a series of pictures of desire lines I took while travelling an unspecified route through mainland Europe on foot this month. The width of each line guides you forwards; forming a never-ending selection process, insisting you disregard the less trodden - the very least caused by hedgehogs, mice and creatures with the lightest foot. It was a great opportunity to go slower, turn back; or stop completely - dead ends trails made by someone(thing) on a different mission start to present themselves as an opportunity rather than a frustration.

I am interested in the variations present in desire lines; particularly the barriers imposed on them by humans - signs and fences pop up in attempt to divert the route, only to trigger new paths to the left and the right. Forks in the path of equal size present a debate.

This became something which was true of the trip as a whole; passing the same mountain from three different sides - sometimes going back on ourselves across whole countries. I started to apply the idea of a 'desire line' to something which nature takes care of for us everywhere, all the time - not just necessarily where it shows up in the grass. These are obvious ideas, but my real surprise was in finding how clear they became when I had left the unspecified-City & it's imposing rules; wandering is easy where there is no road.

While man in his timeless and purposeless wandering totally retreats from the constant forward-pushing hustle and bustle of his everyday life, he gains contact again with a deeper basis of life, resting in timelessness. O.F Bollnow, Human Space.