Created especially for Station to Station, Olafur Eliasson’s drawing machine Connecting cross country with a line, 2013, sketched a series of drawings as the train made its way, cross-country, through the United States of America.
The drawing machine, reminiscent of a large wooden trunk with a circular tray suspended on top by springs, required no power to operate. The drawings were made by an ink-coated obsidian ball, which rolled around the tray as the railcar sped through the landscape. When a drawing was finished, the paper was removed from the machine and inscribed with the number of the drawing and the place and date of its execution. The person operating the machine decided subjectively when to initiate a drawing, responding to the lay of the land; the rocking, lurching, and pitching of the railcar; or the name of the immediate vicinity.
All of the drawings have been framed in round black frames, reminiscent of the train wheels whose marks run across the pages. Nine poems composed by Olafur Eliasson have been printed on the same paper as the drawings and hung together with the drawings, as stations among the lines.
The markings created by Connecting cross country with a line did not result from chance; they followed the progression of the journey and portray the rails, wheels, and land beneath the train. Each bump, hiccup, and lurch of the railcar expressed itself upon the paper; the train and the natural terrain made the drawing in concert. In a sense, the work was site specific to a site that was constantly changing. It is an artwork made by the land.