Absolutely Drawpassing – Crossing the USA with binoculars, magnifier and a watergun

extracts from a book by Tobias Greiner


Extracts from five chapters out of my Absolutely Drawpassing reportage book are presented as pdf files. Most of the works focus on drawings. Some photo images, real objects and installations are added that I have developed during my Drawpassing tours.

The Drawpassing chapters presented here show

1. my Drawpassing practice/method

2. different places in the USA such as the endless highways from coast to coast

3. mobile homes/trailer parks

4. homelessnes in Los Angeles

5. reflections based on my examinations


The works are based on my Mobilesto.

(abbreviation for a manifesto-mobility-to be me). It includes many of the things that were important to me in my nine-month artistic research in the US. I wrote it before going to the US and I used it as an open-end conceptual orientation for my stay and art work.

Mobilesto in summary:

1.  Don´t work(discourage) – See/discover(encourage)

2.  Travel the same distance within the US that I have to travel from my hometown (Stuttgart, Germany) to the new place (Portland, Or, USA) and back again. 2 times 9000 km equals 18 000 km within the US and within 320 days —-that´s about 60 km a day. (either within the city, on a hiking / skiing mountain trip, by plane etc……). After all this is not about counting numbers and figures. It is about the intention of ongoing extensive physical and intellectual mobility in a new country.

3. Nine months of intensive research abroad are used to get ideas and inspiration for the next nine years.

4. Observe (at interesting places/talk to exciting people) and get within 9 minutes material for 900 minutes of thinking, talking, writing and for my video-drawing-sculpture footage.




This is a presentation of my method of Absolutely Drawpassing – as an artistic/social observer and researcher: I use special techniques to explore new places. For example I ride my bicycle and attach cameras to it or i draw while riding my bicycle. I also use special binoculars with lenses in different shapes. (f. ex. I developed lenses with the mouth-shape of a homeless person in LA/with three teeth left or with the shape of a trailer park mailbox/key hole.)

I use binoculars and magnifiers with various lenses in order to see from multiple perspectives and distances – to zoom in and out as one does with a camera.

pdf chapter one: Absolutely Drawpassing practice




Here you see drawings that I made on highways and in particular on a road trip from the West coast to the East coast by car.  Often I drew without focusing on the paper. I fixed my eye on the world around me and gave the environment the entire control over my eye and my eye the entire control over the movement of my hand and the pen. Thereby my hand and pen became part of the street, street signs, mountains, rocks, fields, other cars or trucks on the road, cows, bridges, towns and cities, the interior of the car…



pdf chapter 2: Highway





On the way along and off the highways and at the outskirts of a couple of cities I arrived in trailer parks. The documentation of the socially and financially isolated life inside a trailer/trailer park is reflected through the frame/shape of a mailbox. For me trailer parks are places in between. Trailer parks are cul-the-sacs and transitory places at the same time. Trailer parks are places of mobility (possibly upward and also very likely downward) and immobility at the same time. At the first glance trailer parks seem to be flexible. People there rule in their own trailer (park) and seem to adapt to/cope with some sort of social/economic/life circumstances. At the second glace trailer parks are located at the edge of society. Life is not only free and improvised there but unorganized, damaged and traumatized. For me trailer parks are cutting edge places of chance/hope and loss/failure.



pdf chapter 3: Mailbox/trailer park drawings





Here I present the continuation of my Drawpassing tour down from the highway under bridges to other places with homeless people. The mouth shape with three teeth left functions as the frame for the homeless drawing series. The series of life in the streets were made in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

pdf chapter 4: hungry eye-open mouth-homeless drawings 



The drawings presented here in the last chapter use my Drawpassing observations to come up with various ideas about US society, policy and economy. Some were made after my return to Germany where i followed the situation of today´s America from a further distance. Meanwhile (as to 2009) pictures of homeless people living in tent cities and people living in their cars in America are shown in European media everywhere and the instability of the present way of living for the masses have become apparent. My films and drawings deal with the causes and consequences (the mechanisms) of the places, people and way of life that i see. One of my drawings here presents the idea of a parking lot for the shopping carts of homeless people, another one is presenting Melvilles Captain Ahab who is now hunting terrorists instead of Moby Dick – the white whale. Other drawings turn Redwood trees into a Las Vegas casino, a bank, a gas station …. All of these fast drawings are rooted in lasting memories,  conversations, concerns, reflections and a need to deal with the present world.

pdf chapter 5: Absolutley Drawpassing reflections























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