When asked what the new Travel Club identity should look like, I pondered it for a long time. We all did, for countless nights. For months. We gnawed at shoes, globes and maps, but all we could think of came down to banal tourist brochures or hiking clubs’ logos. We wanted something more abstract, more powerful, unlike an ordinary, dead logotype. We wanted a living symbol.
Then I remembered a conversation I had when I wanted to buy a GPS device, and an old fantasy of mine that helped me fall asleep.
– So – she asks – what do you need the GPS for? Hiking?
– No – I say.
– I can’t drive.
– What then?
– For… drawing.
When I have trouble falling asleep, I picture lines. Each and every step I’ve made, from my birth till today, each route of mine, each one of my travels leaves a trace on the surface of the planet. It’s all recorded, coordinates are written down, longitudes and latitudes, peaks and azimuths, geotags, names of the cities, hamlets, gardens or kitchens, suburbs or antechambers, Pančevo, Asprovalta, Deliblato Sands and Portorož, Szeged, Moscow and Ulan Bator, Linz and Kigali, Burnaby, Hong Kong, El Nido, Pecs, Mostar, Köln and Dakar, Kotež, Sodara, Margita, Vojlovica and Hempmakers’ Levy – all of these are being put down on a large map. With every house I ever entered, each highway, subway, byway, river bank, airplane or donkey, each incidental greeting, change of plans, premeditation, change of heart, hairpin curve, each collision and each encounter. The lines are precise to a millimeter. Thin. Broken. White lines on a round black surface. Thickening around my native South Banat, untangling further away, getting thinner, hemming in the globe’s circle and disappearing into the oceans’ folds. What do they look like?
Dead of the night, I still can’t sleep. I picture the life pathways of my friends, parents, relatives, the life pathways of all people – dead, unborn, historical lines of migrations, encyclopedias of lines, lines of every human’s motion since the dawn of mankind, since we’d learned how to walk in the savannas and rainforests of East Africa. The map is no longer zoomed in, the black globe is slowly revolving in the aether, thick with white threads, looking like – what? A weaver bird’s nest? A larva, a cocoon, an ordinary wriggle, a blot, a spider’s catch? The dawn is cracking and I’m still struggling to picture it. Every journey is recorded there, since the creation up till today.
– And so – she says – you walk and the GPS records your route?
– Yes – I say. – It records geotags. That’s how a drawing is formed.
– Why would you wanna record that? I mean, it’s not like it’s gonna be a nice drawing. Unless – she laughs – you walk across fields and people’s back yards.
It’s still night. Every life draws a line. Every encounter – a dot. The pencil stops for a moment, two hesitant lines are tied into a knot or separated or travel together for a while. New lines are being born, the old ones end in cemeteries resembling a chaos of cables around a router. When you look at a line you see a person’s route. Their unique route. Jan Mayen, Srem, China, Antarctica, Macondo, Mecca, Gornji Milanovac, Prizren, Vladivostok.
It’s morning, shadows of the window blinds straddle the ceiling, I touch the lines on the map with my eyes closed. A random human being in the darkness of history, unwittingly, draws a dog, a penguin, a horse, a coat of arms, an Arabic letter, a signature in Glagolitic alphabet or the constellation of Orion. What kind of a line does a life make, plotted by pure chance?
And every night and every day, every moment, there are new lines being drawn, each one different. Like DNA. Each strand unique and unrepeatable, unlike any other.
– I’ll draw – I say – Brownian motion.
– What motion? The thing with particles?
– Particles in a liquid, yes. They crash into other particles and change direction with every contact. They draw zigzag lines – I look at her – just like us.
– And that’s why you’ll throw away your money on a GPS?
That is what Lazar, Marko and I wrote while preparing for our African journey: Brownian collisions of human particles. That’s what we wrote while planning any journey: there is no plan. You go from one dot to another, from one human being to another. The journey is born from random collisions – just like all journeys, since the arrival of human bipeds and their migrations.
When Monika, our designer, asked us about the general concept in order to design our new logo, when she asked us what The Travel Club really stood for, this is what we told her: Brownian motion. She drew the first lines. Remembering the long nights and the drawings I made walking with my GPS, I coded an algorithm that draws a new line, a new journey each time. Most of these lines were blurry and crumpled, so we chose the most beautiful ones – several hundred of them – and tuned the algorithm to draw these ones most of the times. Sometimes, however, a completely new, unrepeatable, random line is created. One that was never created before and will never be created again.
And our symbol became infinite, endless, the journey itself.