Laying Down a Line

Pieter Geenen

HD, 49’54”, 16:9, colour, stereo, 2022

Produced by Messidor
Supported by AAIR Antwerp; [R.A.T.] Mexico City; Flemish Community

“To lead life is to lay down a line.” according to Tim Ingold in his acclaimed book ’The Life of Lines’. Inspired by Tim Ingold’s writings Laying Down a Line looks at the ecology of Mexico City to speculate about the past and the future, and ultimately ends up speaking about today’s era. The film is a meditation on the concept of the line as a means to mirror, invert and erase geographies and histories. Laying Down a Line proposes different readings of the past, evokes visions of a potential future, and redefines the present, locally and globally.
Visually it explores the canals and chinampas of the district of Xochimilco using the principle of Camera Obscura. A pinhole transfers the light directly to the digital sensor while navigating through these so called ‘floating gardens’. Created by the Aztecs, this network of agricultural lands and waterways is the city’s sole pre-Hispanic survivor of European colonization. It forms an ingenious but precarious ecosystem currently threatened by pollution, urbanisation, tourism, abandonment and invasive sorts. The islands were built by piling mud and decaying plants on a freshwater lake, all held together by willow trees and cypresses. Today they still form an important food supplier for the city and a home to the Axolotl, an endangered amphibian native to this area only.
Juxtaposed to field recordings voicing Mexico City’s street life collected by walking the streets of the metropolitan labyrinth, image and sound blend into one microcosm. While meandering between a pre- and post-human world we come to realise that all we’re observing is merely artificial, which puts the dimensions between man and nature, and land and water into question.