Sunday, 16 August 2009


I take a photograph of a man cutting a railway track with a chain-saw. I am drawn to the scene by the sparks flying, splaying out around the man who has a yellow reflector jacket on. His stance is braced in order to keep the position- in order to maintain the connection between the metal of the blade, whizzing on its rotary to become a cutter, and the metal of the track. Every ligament is pushed against another ligament creating an imoveable traction through man, machine and track. Otherwise the sheer force of the motorised blades would ricochet the man off from the surface of the ground where he has lodged his feet by angling them. He would be blown off the scene like a tumbler.

The picture has come out well. Digital camera means I can see it immediately. Though the man continues with his job and soon has cut his way through the bar. In my picture it is never-ending. Sparks are generated but never run their course. They will never die.

The heat that generates the sparks can not be given in its replication Yet that is where the energy to cut the bar comes from. The friction of surface on surface creates the heat. Like two flint-stones. The method is unchanging.

The track being cut is at new Cross Gate where an extension to the east London Line is underway in order to attach it to the Olympic Village of 2012 which is also being pulled into place as i write so that by the time the track reaches out to the stratford site, there will be a matching connection. A place for which it can reach. An exact fit between journey and destination.

At the moment people are working on small specific patches of ground to schedules and plans monitored by supervisors and sectioned time and space plans like fragments of a map- tufts of hair that must surgically be implanted one piece at a time in order to recover the congruity of the head. Perhaps the head is the final magic trick. Not really something that is ever really there from the onset but something found along the way.

People are in their localities- attending to the very real gravitational forces that allow for the temporary alignment of a high speed motor with a piece of steel track and of a hundred and one other logistic and mechanical puzzles of integration to be worked out there and then.Perhaps they are all after all the same thing made over in different ways but relying on a simmilar alignment of otherwise random elements. It`s how we bring things together that gives them their use.

Many bodies, many minds, many objects and many marked out enclosures are part of this rendering of a line. The line has no width but it describes an immense territory that over the years will take on a life of its own. That life will be known not only in the digging over and jointing of new track but in the cups of tea drunk along the way, the sandwiches consumed, the shifts and patterns of the workers who meet, create formations and dissipate. The aching limbs,new muscle formations, engagement with materials, order forms and bills. The hot and cold of interchanging seasons and their affect on mobility and ease. On outwardness and introversion. The periods of waiting for people and things to arrive. The individual journeys of each person pencilled in to that day`s work in what ever capacity- How they make it on to site and return home again. Whether a day has gone well or not and what exactly that comes to mean for each man or woman whose lives are in some way tallied to the rendering of this line. All these things could be seen as outside the scope of an investigation or could be factored in to the pattern which like the sparks flying from the motorised cutter, splay out into elaborate and never completely predictable patterns making each specific physical contact however transitory, an intersection or junction point to an intimate and yet hugely enlarging mesh. Maybe the line being built is incidental rather than central. A mere excuse for this elaborate dance of elements to take place. A marker on which to gage from where and to where all else must jostle and never keep still.

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