Oh, Come All Ye Faithful
Drawing is taking a line for a walk – Paul Klee
Yesterday’s post made me think about just how much we ‘live in our heads’. Walking along a narrow ledge/girder several hundred feet up would give most people pause for concern, but lay that girder on the ground and suddenly the task is easy and something most people could accomplish without too much difficulty [presumably one of the reasons why a ‘walk the line’ roadside test of sobriety for suspect drink drivers is considered reasonable?]
I remember thinking how surreal the experience walking along 2 ft wide walkways whilst building bridges in the army, carrying [from one side] a 170lb decking unit 150-200 ft up on a wet and windy day, knowing that one slip/one loosening of grip on carrying handle/one stumble of colleague on the other side meant certain SPLAT!
Walking lines has always fascinated me, particularly that slowest of walked lines – the queue [especially when the outcome is not certain i.e. no ‘guaranteed’ service after the wait].
All night camping out for free art/show tickets/January sales/the latest gizmo. Bread lines/Soup kitchens/Welfare handouts/Emergency aid. To get into the cinema/the sport’s stadium/the concert. The differences of queuing etiquette in different cultures. The mathematical study of queuing theory.
I have long held the suspicion that, just as it is possible to get anyone to look in a certain direction just by getting a large enough group of others to do likewise, you can get anyone to queue just by forming a queue. Of particular interest is the work of artist Roman Ondák who time and again returns to this leitmotif. For instance Good Feelings in Good Times (Frieze Art Fair, London, 2003) was an artificially created queue which repeated a performance of a line of people suspended in action, moving no closer to entry or resolution, for days on end [the piece was subsequently bought by the Tate].
I find hilarious the fact that the oft sung [with different user made up lyrics] refrain of the bored Queuer Why are we waiting? is set to the tune from Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, as if realising that queuing is an act of faith. Perhaps it is the naturally implied uncertainty of the queue, but the artworks of George Tooker always spring to my mind.