How good not to be travelling on the Tokyo underground, along with 8 million people a day.
"To the uninitiated, the striking thing about these images from photographer Michael Wolf's new book Tokyo Compression, aside from the lengths to which otherwise sane people will go to wedge themselves into an already bulging carriage, must be the looks of resignation among the victims. But it is the ability to tolerate an elbow in the back and a cheek unceremoniously pasted against a window that sets Tokyo's commuters apart. There are few arguments, and fights are almost unheard of; it's as if the powerless, massed ranks of the travelling public have entered into a non-aggression pact – and one that is observed, for the most part, in near silence.
"That doesn't mean Tokyoites are above misbehaving in transit. An epidemic of groping led to the introduction of women-only carriages. Frequent breakdowns in etiquette were the inspiration behind a monthly Do It At Home poster campaign to remind commuters of their manners. The list of transgressions ranges from the obvious (cranking up the volume on an iPod) to the more idiosyncratic (turning a wet umbrella into a makeshift nine-iron for a spot of golf swing practice). " (Guardian, 1 December)
The travelwriting continues - it has moved not just from the page to fabric, but from flat fabric into useful items - bags, pouches, and tool rolls for carrying your portable necessities with you. See the Travel Lines London collection on its new website - www.travel-lines-london.co.uk.
Why a wiggly line?
The idea for "journey lines" may have been triggered by the daily "process drawings" of artists like Marcia Hafif and Bridget Riley. I started drawing while riding on the underground after seeing some work by Lucy Skaer that consisted of repeated motifs filling a large sheet of paper ... trying to make some motifs of my own.
This evolved into an intention to simply draw a line that was as long as possible, on any bus, train, or tube journey.
Part of my project is to document these journeys on this blog – much as land artists like Richard Long document their journeys to have a record of the ephemeral work. But the journey lines are not themselves a documentation; they are a way of marking time, recording and making permanent the duration of the all-too-forgettable daily journey.
Drawing these lines is a way of being present in the daily journey - and of using "wasted" time.
Focusing on this drawing/writing gives a breathing space, away from everyday demands, yet part of the everyday routine, and a way of attending to the "disregarded everyday".