The Common Line presented by Professor John Wylie
Wednesday 13th March 2019; 18:00 – 20:00
Bath Spa University, Newton Park, BA2 9BN (NP.CM.G24)
Drinks, nibbles and chat after lecture
Free to attend but you can book here on Bath Spa Live
The Common Line is the longest possible straight line that can be traced across mainland Britain, without crossing any tidal waters. It can be viewed at http://thecommonline.uk. The Line was originally envisioned by Exeter-based artist Volkhardt Muller, and Professor John Wylie is one of a current team of artists, geographers and creative technologists convened to investigate and intervene in the Line, and the myriad landscapes and communities it intersects. The ultimate, utopian ambition is to realise The Common Line, physically and digitally, as a line of trees, planted and sustained at 20-metre intervals across the entire length of Britain. In this presentation, Prof Wylie will firstly discuss the genesis and determination of The Common Line. From the outset, this has been a project geared towards public audiences and participation. He says this is clearly imperative if plantation and stewardship of The Common Line is to be realised. Work-to-date has focused upon designing a digital-material experience for public users – ultimately, a smartphone-based app through which users can discover the Line, orient and align with it, and engage in digital plantation via augmented reality tools for anchoring digital trees within landscapes. As they have developed this experience and worked with a variety of participants in differing locales, they have also encountered many questions and, at times, antagonisms. As Muller notes, we arrive as strangers with an idea, hopeful that others will see value and merit in this idea. Prof Wylie will discuss these issues also in the context of framing and understanding the Line.
The second element of the presentation will be more reflective, scoping out from the specifics of their work on The Common Line. What might The Common Line mean as an act of landscaping? And in what ways is this Line in ‘common’? The image of the straight, geometrical, undeviating line sits at odds, it can be argued, with the ontologies and approaches of much current landscape theory, in which landscape is characterised as embodied, affective and performative lifeworld – as an entanglement of lifelines by no means straight. In a more explicitly political register, how might The Common Line align with or cut across the nexus of landscape, belonging and identity? In this context he will discuss how The Common Line may actually work so as to produce deviation, dislocation and decolonial imaginaries of Britain.
Professor Wylie researches and teaches the cultural geographies of landscape. His work focuses on the affective and imaginative dimensions of landscape, exploring topics such as haunting, sensing, moving, remembering, picturing and writing. In recent years he has collaborated with creative practitioners, including visual artists and performers, in AHRC and Leverhulme Trust-funded projects investigating the aesthetics and politics of contemporary landscape experiences. He is Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Exeter, and one of the editors of cultural geographies (Sage Journals).