Line Let Loose is a sustained investigation of the evolution of scribbling, doodling and automatic drawing. Of these three forms of 'drawing', scribbling is the most basic: it is seen as playing a formative role in the drawings of both children and primates. Doodling, whilst still being a widespread phenomenon, is largely an adult preoccupation, a nomadic form of drawing typically produced during meetings of phone calls. Automatic drawing, on the other hand, even though those who engage in it are not necessarily trained artists, is a more dramatic event: the results of an absent-minded or trance-like state are sometimes astonishing. All three forms of drawing have, because of their amateur and spontaneous character, been adopted by modern artists seeking to escape from the constraints of their professional skills. David Maclagan shows that each of these marginal forms of drawing has its own history, which includes Spiritualism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Psychedelic Art.
Referring to Klee, Pollock, Miro, Twombly and Sol Lewitt, as well as many lesser-known or anonymous artists, he traces the links between them and a pervasive notion of the spontaneous and 'unconscious' creation of forms in art. He suggests that the original novelty of these unconventional drawing processes has begun to wear off, and he explores their new situation in our modern digital culture.