Tracing Lines

Ever since I was a child I had the desire to wander. I am fascinated by the multiple worlds inside our world. From an early age, I realized that I could never experience and record all of these worlds, but within the time allotted to be here below I want to enjoy as many as I can. We could interpret that kind of state of mind as a constant state of wondering. The daily route keeps revealing new wonders. The phenomena that it produces do not have to be spectacular or expensive – often they are the most interesting in their simplest form. Individuals, things, and situations that I meet along the way make me laugh, cry; they move me and stay in my memory as the most precious anecdotes of my life. To be filled with wonder points at something extraordinary. An object, a situation, a detail, a person, a sound…which is out of the ordinary. Despite the acid rain, the half-hearted news and people’s lamentations, our daily routes are scattered with ‘wonders’. To see them one must look twice, maybe three times if necessary. If this does not work, one might have to change one’s path.

Weaving a life, weaving a path” (1), as the archaeologist Tim Ingold describes it. Thus, each of us trace our own lifelines. Besides the fact that the act of ‘being on the road’ is an important characteristic of our lifelines, this signifies for me a real state of art. On the road, I reunite the (constructive) elements of an artwork. The project Bords de route (2011) is a good example. During multiple walks in the region of the Avesnois in the north of France I collected small pieces of garbage and plants scattered along the roadsides in an herbarium. Thereafter I traced the contour of the collected objects and plants on blank white paper, thus creating a new composition of ‘limits’. These maps alluded to trades that existed in this region in the 20th century (wood turning, textile treatment, etc.) traces of which today only can be found in the ecomuseum. I borrowed the work method and composition from the Free Victorian Borders. Through these compositions, I thus referred at the same time to these trades and the border regions that I had travelled through.

Besides predetermined routes there are also fortuitous routes. I don’t believe in pure chance, but ‘to be on the road’ creates new occasions and situations. Tracing lines inspires me to experiment with various spaces and to draw using different perspectives (visual, auditory, tactile) and speeds (on foot, by bike, by car, by plane or surfing on the Net…).

In my work, I trace lines using pencil or film, photography, or sound recording… The work methods that I use depend on the way I experience the intimate meeting with a place and how it lets itself be captured. Each place expresses itself in a different language. Drawing is my favourite medium as it allows me to engage in a dialogue with a place. Through drawing I meet a place, I stay for a while and perceive its uses and users while tracing its limits.

  1.  Ingold Tim, Lines: A Brief History (Oxon, New York: Routledge, 2007).

by Mira Sanders

This text fragment was initially published in Dutch in the book Knowing (by) Designing (Brussels: LUCA, Faculty of Architecture Sint-Lucas; KU Leuven, 2013). In January 2018, it was re-published by the author for the publication Inland Voyages in An Inland Voyage (in preparation), translated into French by Isabelle Grynberg and from there into English by Edith Doove in collaboration with Driftingspace.


Mira Sanders Le Journal d'un Usager de l'espace27.02.18Fragment from Le journal d’un usager de l’espace: About the (Im)possibility to Form an Idea of Limits