The Decorative View of Locomotion
Editorial by John Fleming
The “invention of the wheel, which doesn’t look at all like a leg” (Guillaume Apollinaire), sums up in a few words what is undoubtedly one of humanity’s most useful scientific concepts. Continuous rotary motion through the simplicity and formal elegance of the circle harnesses human energy and natural forces such as wind and water to devices and mechanical applications that now surround us at every turn. Bicycles, motorcycles, trains, cars, and propeller-driven vehicles have a long and continuing history of essential and recreational uses, despite the innovations of the electronic age.
This issue collects a few images of wheels in motion to show how entangled and embedded the aesthetic impulse still is in the most commonplace of contemporary vehicles, and the persistence, in parallel with the wheel, of historical ways and means of travel native to Canada and early settlement; canoes, snowshoes, toboggans, sledges and sleighs are now largely part of the past or assigned to sport and recreation. Yet their continuing presence today perpetuates the psychic bond we have with geography and climate at a time when these modes of transport were a basic part of life throughout the year.