The Shortest Distance Between Two Points, 2007-ongoing
The shortest distance between two points is a line. A line is a construction of distance, in space, in time, in vision. It gives definition to form and position through connection and separation.
The Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company was established in 1946 as a joint venture between Caltex, Esso, and Mobil. TAPLine was formed to build and operate a 1213 kilometer long 80 centimeter wide tube to transport oil through land. With this endeavor the company described three intersecting lines, an arc of history, geography, and geometry.
The pipeline replied to the tradition of a curved route through straits surrounding the Arabian Peninsula with a line cut into the Fertile Crescent. TAPLine proposed a straight connection from Dhahran to Haifa. The Partition Plan for Palestine forced an angle that redirected the line to Saida. Lebanon received the endpoint on a direct trajectory that delivered Saudi oil to America.
Contingent conditions produce temporary solutions. TAPLine accommodated changes in the region for three decades. In 1983, the line could no longer sustain the pressure from layered and adjacent political interests. The company was dissolved. The infrastructure was left on the land. The elements used to render it were released into a raw state. The terminal, the offices, the pump stations, and the pipe are not relics, but deposits of material.
The vitality of the present and our ability to remain within it must respond to the continuous pull of the lines leading to and away from it. The company’s imprint is the record of a rise and a fall, and the arc that binds them. It’s shadow runs parallel to the shifts in the land. In disuse, the infrastructure is a measurement manifested in marks, objects, and stories. These lines construct the present, and offer vantages for perceiving the distances they define.
Parasol Unit, London, 2019