Selected Essays from the:
ConferenCe T h e U n i v e r s i t y of S u nd e r l a n d ( J u n e 2 8 & 2 9, 2 0 13)
Art Editions North: On Walking
First published in 2013 by Art Editions North Art Editions North is an imprint of the University of Sunderland
This online catalogue © Heather H. Yeung, Mike Collier, and the contributors 2013 Individual works © the contributors and photographers, 2013 (unless otherwise stated)
Production Design and layout by Lisa Sams Edited by Heather H. Yeung assisted by Mike Collier Conference organised by Heather H. Yeung of W.A.L.K. (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge)—a Research Centre at the University of Sunderland Cover design by George Benson, Stereographic Cover image: Richard Wentworth, Untitled, 2009, Walking Sticks. 53rd Venice Biennale © Quintin Lake Photography
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Contacts: email@example.com
A British Library CIP record is available ISBN: 978–1–906832–18–6
Cover design by George Benson
Selected Essays from the: Onâ€“Walking Conference The University of Sunderland (June 28 & 29, 2013)
Walking in André and Nadja’s Footsteps: A Reminiscence
BRUCE BAUGH (Thompson Rivers University) Haunted footsteps: the Sound Walk and the Doubled Subject
RUTH BURGON (University of Edinburgh) Significant Walks
SHIRLEY CHUBB (University of Chichester) Androgynous Walking: A New Referent from a Brazilian Artistic
Perspective CLARISSA RODRIGUES GONZÁLEZ (Complutense University of Madrid) System Walks and Sampling Colour
PAUL GOODFELLOW (University of Northumbria) Walking the Canal Towpaths of Staffordshire, How can the
Sounds, Textures, Sights, and Smells Encountered be Captured in Visual Form? What Happens when Klee’s Twittering Machine meets Messaien’s Petits Esquisses d’Oiseaux? CHARLOTTE JONES (Loughborough University) The Mind of the Walker: Meditation and Madness ANNA JÖRNGÅRDEN (Stockholm University)
• CLICK ON PAPER TO GO DIRECTLY TO IT •
Agency for Walking Culture: Walking Experiments in Switzerland
MARIE-ANN LERJEN (Agency for Walking Culture, Zurich) The Longest (Ongoing) Walk: Walking as Protest and
Commemoration BARBARA LOUNDER (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) Behind and In Between Places: Self-imposed controls. Walking
and documenting the multiple city ANN MATTHEWS (Northumbria University) Walking and Playing in the ‘Grey Space’ of Jerusalem
IDIT ELIA NATHAN (Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design) Map-i: On Walking
INGE PANNEELS (University of Sunderland) walkwalkwalk: Stories from the Bethnal Green Archive
CLARE QUALMANN (University of East London) Loitering with Intent to Make Manchester Wonderful
MORAG ROSE T h e “Beat” of Walking: Wordsworth, Machado, Kerouac, Whitman
ROSALINDA RUIZ SCARFUTO (University of Alcala) Paths of Memory
BRIDGET SHERIDAN (University of Toulouse)
The pace of a landscape view: A run, then a walk, after William
Stukeley and John Latham AMY TODMAN (University of Glasgow) Walking—Landscape—Urbanism
ANDREW TOLAND (University of Hong Kong) Heavens Above
ANDREA TOTH & JUDY THOMAS Wish You Were Here Walking With Me: Walking as a Tool for the
Aesthetic Evaluation of Designed Landscapes RUDI VAN ETTEGER (Wageningen University) Autowalks—Is it Possible to Define ‘Place’ through Artistic
Practice? RUBY WALLIS (National College of Art and Design, Dublin) The Walking Institute: a Project for the Human Pace
CLAUDIA ZEISKE & DIANE SMITH (Deveron Arts) Contributors
Introduction The aim of the conference ‘On Walking’ was to provide artists, designers, anthropologists, architects, academics and others with an opportunity to present their ideas, proposals and findings about the role that walking plays in the way we understand and perceive the world. We were delighted that Tim Ingold was able to deliver a terrific keynote paper (‘The Maze and the Labyrinth: Walking and the Education of Attention’—copy of which can be found in the catalogue to ‘Walk On’ (see http://issuu.com/stereographic/docs/walkon_for_issuu) which both underlined and challenged current theories about the relationship between walking and being in the world; and we were thrilled that so many people attended the conference and presented stimulating and thought-provoking papers from around the world (from Canada, North America, South America, Ireland, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, Hong Kong and Australia as well as throughout the UK). The conference was genuinely multi-disciplinary, with contributions from practicing artists, designers and architects to academics from a broad cross-section of disciplines. It was timed to coincide with the exhibition ‘Walk On: Forty Years of Art Walking—From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff’ at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland. Walk On was the first exhibition in the UK to examine the astonishingly varied ways in which artists since the late 1960s have used what would seem like a universal act—of taking a walk—as a means to create new types of art. Curated by Cynthia Morrison-Bell (Art Circuit Touring Exhibitions), Alistair Robinson (NGCA) and Mike Collier (W.A.L.K.), it included photography, film, and installation works, and brought together a diverse group of artists inspired by their travels on foot. ‘Walk On’ offered an as-yet-unwritten history of a major strand of recent art practice. It argued that from land art and conceptual art, and from street photography to the essay-film, an exceptionally wide range of artists have created their work from an act of walking, in the city or the land. These artists often acted as ‘explorers’,
whether making their mark on the rural wilderness, documenting small journeys, or undertaking close examination of the urban environment around them. The show provided a valuable context for the conference and was attended by all delegates on the evening of the first day when we treated to a tour of the show by artists Atul Bhalla , Brian Thompson, Bryndis Snæbjörnsdottir, Clare Qualmann (walkwalkwalk), Mark Wilson, Mike Collier, Rachael Clewlow, Wrights & Sites (Stephen Hodge, Simon Perseghetti, Cathy Turner, Phil Smith) followed by a wine reception, a talk by Tom Chivers, and a poetry reading by Alec Finlay. There was a generosity of spirit that ran throughout the two days of the conference which ended with delegates suggesting that this was an event which should be followed up by establishing an international committee to begin the process of organising a bi-annual conference, ‘On Walking’, that would travel the world. More information about this initiative will be posted on the WALK website (www.walk.uk.net) in due course. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all those who took part in this stimulating event and hope you enjoy reading the selected papers in the following pages of this online publication. Further, it our intention to produce an edited and selected group of essays in hard copy over the next two years. This book will be published by Art Editions North and distributed by Cornerhouse Publications (see http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/cornerhousemanchester/2013autumn/index. php?startid=1)
Heather H. Yeung and Mike Collier
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Walking in André and Nadja’s Footsteps: A Reminiscence BRUCE BAUGH Thompson Rivers University Abstract: Can past memory traces be reanimated by retracing someone else’s steps? In 2008, I went to Paris to retrace the steps of Breton and Nadja as recounted in Breton’s 1928 memoir, Najda . By following their footsteps, could I lose my present in their past, “remember” what they perceived, and so return to their past to “haunt” it? Retracing their “lost steps” investigates the relation of perception and memory, especially the relationship between material cultural “markers” (places, buildings, street names) and the memories called up through their association with a cultural narrative: not Nadja, but the history of Surrealism’s intimate connection with walking in Paris. I use works on remembering as the reactivation of material traces from hermeneutic theory (Droysen); Kierkegaard and Heidegger’s theory of “repetition” or “summoning back” the past as a present possibility; Freud on memory and neural “pathways;” as well as Michel de Certeau’s reflections on place, narrative and memory in The Practice of Everyday Life. The doublehaunting of the present by past traces and of the past by present experiences are thought with the help Jacques Derrida’s work on traces and haunting and Karen Till’s thesis that “individuals may come into contact with past lives through objects, natures, and remnants that haunt the contemporary landscape” and reanimate them.
There is a French proverb, “Dis moi qui tu hantes, je te dirai qui tu es.” Roughly: “you are known by the company you keep,” but literally: “tell me who you haunt (associate with), and I’ll tell you who you are.” Here is how André Breton begins his book Nadja,1 a poetic memoir of his walks through Paris with Nadja, a woman he met through a chance encounter: “Who am I? … Perhaps everything would amount to knowing who I ‘haunt’” (qui je hante) (N 11/11). This word “haunt,” says Breton, leads him astray (m’égare): “it says much more than it means to say: it makes me play the role of a ghost (fantôme) while still alive; obviously it alludes to what I must have ceased to be in order to be who I am” (N 11). In 2008, I went to Paris to retrace the steps Breton and Nadja took in 1926, following the itinerary Breton recorded in his 1928 book. By following in Breton’s and Nadja’s footsteps, could I lose my present in their past, go astray, lose myself, cease to be—and so become a phantom, a ghost? Could retracing their steps allow me to “remember” what they perceived, and in so doing, to return to their past and “haunt”
André Breton, Nadja (Paris : Gallimard [Folio], 1998 ); trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1960). Hereafter abbreviated N, first reference to French, second to the English translation. 1
it? Can past memory traces be resuscitated by walking in someone else’s footsteps? Mine is a story of walking and haunting, or revisiting old haunts, of “haunting” them anew. But the old haunts I revisited are not mine, but Breton’s and Nadja’s. I wanted to try to see Paris with their eyes—to see what they saw—but through my own eyes, which means seeing what they didn’t see—every change since 1926—and not seeing what they did see—everything destroyed since then. Most of all, I wanted to walk their walks, to recover their lost steps, to find again, a second time (re-trouver), what they found by luck, by chance: their “finds” (leurs trouvailles). I am à la recherché des pas perdus: “in search of lost steps,” steps that I can find again only by stepping in them a second time. Lost Steps is also the title of a book by Breton: Les Pas perdus.2 Which can also mean: “not lost” (ne pas perdus). Perhaps Breton and Nadja’s steps are not lost if I can step into them a second time, if Heraclitus is wrong when he says: You can’t step into the same river twice. When Breton buys her a copy of Lost Steps as a gift, Nadja says: “Lost steps? There’s no such thing” (il n’y en a pas) (N 72/72). Nadja itself—a name Nadja gave herself—is the beginning of the Russian word for “hope” (N 66/66). My hope, though, would have to be extra-vagant, quite “out of the way.” For to seek again, deliberately, experiences and encounters that Breton and Nadja found by chance, is a greater difficulty than stepping into the same river twice. There is a seeming paradox, an apparent contradiction, in intentionally seeking out chance encounters, and in doing so according to a well-defined plan, an itinerary. Breton defines a trouvaille—an unexpected find—as “the upsurge of a solution which, by its very nature, could not come to us along ordinary logical paths. In such a case, it is a matter of a solution that is always excessive, that is rigorously adapted to and yet greatly superior to the need.” 3 It can only be the result of a chance encounter: spontaneous, indeterminate, unfoeseeable and unlikely.4 Intentionally seeking a
Breton, Les pas perdus (Paris: Gallimard [L’Imaginaire], 2004 ); The Lost Steps, trans. Mark Polizzotti (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1996). Hereafter PP, first reference to the French, second to the English translation. 3 André Breton, Mad Love, trans. Mary Ann Caws (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), 13; L’amour fou (Paris: Gallimard [Folio], 2008 ); translation slightly altered. 4 Breton, Mad Love, 23; L’amour fou, 33. 2
chance encounter is like a deliberate accident—a paradox, but not an impossibility. Just as the Cynic, Diogenes, when listening to Zeno’s argument that motion is impossible, refuted it argument simply by getting up and walking out,5 so Charlie Chaplin’s films—so loved by the Surrealists—showed that deliberate and accidental chance encounters are not only possible, but actual. And yet, my hope was to go even a step further, beyond a paradoxically deliberate and fortuitous encounter with trouvailles to an encounter with the ghosts of Breton and Nadja through the medium of their haunts. Karen Till writes, “Ghosts are real and imagined, intensely personal and emotive, and haunt our social spaces when we are open to their presence.” 6 In the words of Michel de Certeau, “There is no place that is not haunted by many different spirits hidden there in silence, spirits one can ‘invoke’ or not.”7 Wanting to encounter the ghosts who haunted places and streets while they were still alive, may be excessive, but it is far from impossible. “(Re) discovered objects—remains, remnants, ruins—speak of past lives and presences that live in the contemporary city, even if they are understood as occupying spacetimes beyond the realm of the living… The here and now become dislocated as traces thought safely buried and re-emerge as revenants.” 8 For me, in search of lost steps, the Paris streets of 2008 were the “remains, remnants, ruins” of those Breton and Nadja walked in 1926, overlaid with the accumulation of experiences since that time, and physically erased and overwritten, in much the way that memory traces are written over by the traces of subsequent experiences and perceptions. To paraphrase de Certeau, the past lives of Breton and Nadja haunt those streets even now as “‘sprits’ of the place,” preserving a temporal heterogeneity and multiplicity and “opening a certain depth within the present”: “An uncanniness lurks there, in the everyday life of the city … a ghost.”9 The time is out of joint, perpetually, thanks to the spectral traces of past generations which make every
See Page 34 Karen E. Till, The New Berlin: Memory, Politics, Place (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 13. 7 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1984), 108. 8 Julian Jonker and Karen E. Till, “Mapping and excavating spectral traces in post-apartheid Cape Town,” Memory Studies 2/3 (2009): 303–335; 306. See also Christine Boyer, The City of Collective Memory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996). 5
place a haunted place.10 For haunting is “an excess of inhabiting; a habitual presence that continues even in its absence, without the limit between presence and absence or that between life and death,” as Till and her collaborator, Julian Jonker, put it.11 Or, in Steve Pile’s words, “Cities haunt… at least in the sense that they force us to recognize the lives of those who have gone (before). In this sense, the physicality of the city itself shimmers as it becomes a flexible and durable place of memory.”12 “Places,” says Till, “are haunted by past structures of meaning and material presences from other times and lives,”13 by “spectral traces” of “past lives that haunt particular places,”14 such that places become “fluid mosaics and moments of memory, matter, metaphor, scenes and experiences,”15 “unique due to the lingering imprints of particular interactions”16 and varying in meaning according to the visitor’s expectations, experiences, perceptions and prior knowledge.17 The haunting of place results in “new (and often unexpected) spatial, social, and temporal effects”18—chance encounters leading to new trouvailles. I did not have the vain hope of revisiting Paris as it actually was in 1926; that Paris has long since vanished. Rather, I hoped that the ghostly presence of Paris-past would emerge like a palimpsest—and for once, this overused word is le mot juste—beneath the Paris of today.19 “To haunt is to possess some place,” says Steve Pile;20 Nadja’s and Breton’s experience would haunt mine and mine would summon back theirs as a ghost, a revenant, “one who comes back.” Like them, I could grasp Paris as a certain set of possibilities of experience manifested through walking its streets. My walking would be both a present perception and an attempt to reach the past through a memory not my own, a re-imagining made possible by what Paul Ricoeur calls a “short circuit between imagination and memory.”21 Whose memory, then? Breton’s? Those died with Breton in 1966. What we have
Michel de Certeau, Luce Girard, Pierre Mayal, The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol. 2: Living and Cooking, trans. Timothy J. Tomasik (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 133–6. 10 See page 34 11 Jonker and Till, “Mapping and excavating spectral traces,” 328; cf. De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 106. 12 Steve Pile, “Spectral Cities: Where the Repressed Returns and Other Short Stories,” in Jean Hillier and Emma Rooksby, eds., Habitus: A Sense of Place (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 219–39; 226–7; cited in Till, The New Berlin, 194. 13 Till, The New Berlin, 9. 14 Iain Biggs, “‘Deep Mapping’: A Brief Introduction,” in Karen E. Till, ed., Mapping Spectral Traces (Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies) 15 Till, The New Berlin, 8. 16 Till, The New Berlin, 10. 17 Till, The New Berlin, 215. See also Dydia DeLyser, “Authenticity on the Ground: Engaging the Past of a California Ghost Town,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 89/4: 602–32.
left are the written traces he left in Nadja. This material memory trace can perhaps lead us into the unconscious memory of a past that has left its present traces in the very routes and sites visited by Breton and Nadja. I would reanimate these spectral traces by walking in them, re-tracing them on foot, step by step. To again cite Karen Till, “Visting places that have special personal or cultural meaning, people evoke social ghosts that communicate yet other people’s past experiences. Those ghosts are familiar through the images and stories that circulate in the popular imagination… Through these encounters, these returns, the past is not defined by recollections of ‘firsthand’ knowledge but rather creatively imagined through reconstructions and repetitive viewings of images, stories, and other representations.”22 The story which has made the ghosts of Breton and Nadja familiar is the one Breton wrote; these are the traces—material and spiritual—the footprints—real and symbolic—in which I would follow,23 and through this re-enactment, use my body to communicate memories of the past and connect with the (un)dead.24 One experience of walking superimposed on another, then, traced over the traces, retraced, and a kind of double-vision: seeing Paris today through their experience of Paris in 1926 and the Paris of 1926 through my experience of walking through Paris today. The artist Richard Long says, “A walk expresses space and freedom and the knowledge of it can live in the imagination of anyone.”25 I would have to imagine the unseen which Breton’s itinerary evokes, while seeing what André and Nadja never imagined. In that way, present and past, unconscious memory and conscious perception, could be laid on top of each other almost transparently, so that both could appear at once without either obliterating the other, allowing the differences between past and present to emerge through the lived experience of walking in someone else’s footsteps. This fusion of perception, memory and imagination: what could be more surreal? For Breton defines “surreality” this way: “I
Till, The New Berlin, 10. See page 35 20 Steve Pile, “Ghosts and the City of Hope,” in Loretta Lees, ed. The Emancipatory City (London: Sage, 2004), 210–28. 21 Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. K. Blarney and D. Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 5; cited Jonker and Till,” Mapping and Excavating Spectral Traces,” 308. 22 Till, The New Berlin, 15. 23 See page 36 24 I am loosely paraphrasing Till, The New Berlin, 16. 25 Richard Long, “Five Six Pick Up Sticks, Seven Eight Lay Them Straight,” in R. H. Fuchs, Richard Long (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum/Thames and Hudson, 1986), 236. Cited in Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (New York: Penguin, 2000), 271. My emphasis. 18
believe in the future resolution of these two states, in appearance so contradictory, of dream and reality into a sort of absolute reality, a surreality” (SM 14/20). At the same time, this fusion of perception and memory, the double-haunting of the present by the past and of the past by a present that overwrites it, could be the most everyday, pedestrian experience in the world. The relation of perception and memory is a philosophical question going back at least as far as Plato and his doctrine of “recollection,” as set forth in his Meno and Phaedo dialogues, and extends to the theories of the re-enactment of historical experience in Droysen and Collingwood, and of existential repetition in Kierkegaard and Heidegger. Repetition, says Kierkegaard, is “recollecting forward,” the retrieval of past existential possibilities as future possibilities for the present. In my walk, then, I would be following in the footsteps not just of Nadja and Breton, but of these philosophical forerunners, the traces of whose thoughts I will touch on lightly, in passing. But it would not be enough to think about walking: I would have to walk, and think, perceive and remember in the act of walking itself. Walking is itself a kind of thinking, a way of perceiving and relating to the world. Jean-Jacques Rousseau remarked, “I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs … My body has to be on the move to set my mind going.”26 Walking is also a form of memory. As Tim Edensor says, “While we walk we always travel elsewhere, not just along the immediate path but outwards to distant sights and scenes, back to the past and places in the imagination, and to remembered smells, noises, and non-visual sensations, often those which are stimulated by the sights of the journey.”27 Yet walking is more than just perception of what is present or the remembrance of one’s own past: it is also an act of remembering the walks of absent precursors who laid out these paths by tracing and retracing them innumerable times. As Rebecca
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions, trans. J. M. Cohen (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1953) 382, 158. Tim Edensor, “Walking Through Ruins,” in Ways of Walking, ed. Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst (Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008), 135. 28 Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust (New York: Viking, 2000), 68. 29 Solnit, Wanderlust, 29. 30 Solnit, Wandelust, 72. 31 Solnit, Wanderlust, 72.
Solnit puts it, “A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape, and to follow a route is to accept an interpretation … To walk the same way is to reiterate something deep; to move through the same space the same way is a means of becoming the same person, thinking the same thoughts.”28 Since paths are “traces of the acting out of imagination and desire” by the walking body,29 they constitute a form of memory, “a record of those who have gone before,”30 and by walking the same route again, we re-collect the experiences (thoughts, desires, imaginings) marked in the landscape,31 reading and re-animating the traces of the past.32 Like Walter Benjamin’s definition of memory itself, walking is “a process of continually remaking and re-membering the past in the present.”33 When not governed by practical urgency, walking is indissolubly perceiving, imagining and remembering; it is reverie, but a reverie which reveals and unveils places and spaces,34 rêver meaning both “to dream” (in French) and “to see again” (in Portuguese). De Certeau says, “One must awaken the stories that sleep in the streets and that sometimes lie within a simple name, folded up inside this thimble like the silk dress of a fairy.”35 Since streets themselves “unfold in time as one travels along them, just as a story does when one listens or reads,”36 walking is a narrativizing, a “speech act” which connects spatial points together through movement in time, and reawakens the past stories and histories of a place,37 reconnecting us with past inhabitants, and giving us “the possibility of imagining the city, of dreaming it, and thus living it” by re-living it.38 To walk, say Deleuze and Guattari, is “intuition in action,”39 mental and bodily movement which grasps the flow of temporal duration by direct participation in it rather than merely representing or objectivizing it. The landscape intuited as temporal duration by the walker is a sleeping narrative awaiting only the approach of the walker for it to be reawakened and set loose into a temporal flow of remembrance and narrative.
Solnit, Wanderlust, 191. Walter Benjamin, Berliner Chronik: Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1972), 486-7; cited in Till, The New Berlin, 11. 34 See Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of the Solitary Walker, trans. Peter French (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979). 35 De Certeau et al., The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol. 2, 142. 36 Solnit, Wanderlust, 72 37 De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 35, 96–106, 120–22. 38 De Certeau et al., The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol. 2, 134. 39 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 409. 32 33
One step at a time. Have we not strayed from the broad highway of common sense? Let us approach the question logically, and turn to more sober minds: German philosophy of history. Empirical perception, says the philosopher Johann Gustav Droysen (1808– 1884), depends on the “‘specific energy’ of the nerves of sense, through the excitation of which the mind receives … signs of things outside of it.”40 Among these signs of sense we can include the “faded traces” of past events: “so much of those past things as still abides in the now and the here” as the material remnants and effects of past human activity (120). The past itself, “the past as past,” “that which it was and the manner in which it came to be,” has passed away and no longer exists. But “the insight of investigation”—intuition guided by perception—can “resuscitate the traces of the past to new life,” so that these traces, animated by the inquiring mind that perceives them, take the place of their past “originals” and constitute their present being (120). Just as rays of light striking the eye excite the nerves to produce in the mind a sign of the object seen, but not the object itself—the object remains outside the mind, where it is, in the world—so the perception of the present remnants of past activities can function as a sign of the past, a past into which the mind can breath life by going beyond the inert trace-object to the activities and events that produced it, and so transcend these dead traces to a living past: the past experiences of those people who have left their traces through what their hands and minds have “touched, formed, stamped” (121). This power to resuscitate and bring back to life traces of the past is nothing other than memory, “that Mother of muses, who shapes all things”41 (121). It is through personal memory that we resuscitate the traces of our own, individual past experiences; that is what it means to remember a past. Likewise, through historical memory—the historian’s act of resuscitating the material traces of past human
J. G. Droysen, “History and the Historical Method” and “The Investigation of Origins,” in Kurt Mueller-Vollmer, ed., The Hermeneutics Reader (New York: Continuum, 1990), 118–26; 120. Further references given parenthetically in the text. 41 Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 466. 40
activity and experience—we remember the historical past. Just as personal memory cannot bring back the past in itself, as past, but only the past as it is for us, now, so too historical memory can bring before us only the collective past for us, now, and not the actual past experiences and activities, which have long since ceased to be. “The dead speak, return, reviennent” (Breton, “Alfred Jarry” PP 44/30), says Breton; Droysen says that the aim of historical interpretation is “to enliven and analyze these dry, lifeless materials in the hopes of returning them to life and allowing them to speak again” (126). The question is: how can this be done? Reviving a past experience does not mean having the same experience twice: such a direct and literal repetition is impossible, for experiencing anything the second time, one is aware that it is the second time, and the present experience is haunted by the memory of the first one, as Kierkegaard demonstrated in his book, Repetition.42 Authentic retrieval or “repetition” (Wiederholung) in the sense of that walker and thinker, Martin Heidegger, is not an attempt to recreate the past that actually was—like Civil War re-enactors—but rather a summoning from the past of existential possibilities which can be lived again by being related to the goals and needs of the present.43 Repetition is then a kind of remembering: reactivating the traces of the past by summoning past modes of experience as possibilities for the present, such that the past returns via the detour of the future. Nadja’s and Breton’s footsteps have left no visible trace on the pavement. Nevertheless, we can say of the streets of Paris what Michel de Certeau [image] says of objects of everyday life found in a museum: they “are marked by uses; they offer to analysis the imprints of acts,” “they signify operations … relative to situations,” and practices, and so “by means of these imbricated traces, one begins to dream of countless combinations of existences.”44 These traces create links between different consciousnesses at different times through “the permanence of a memory without
Soren Kierkegaard, Repetition, 149, 229: “The dialectic of repetition is easy, for that which is repeated has been—otherwise it could not be repeated—but the very fact that it has been makes the repetition into something new;” repetition is “raising consciousness to the second power.” On the futility of attempting a literal repetition, see 150–71. 43 Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 15th ed. (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1979 ), 339, 343–4, 385–6. 44 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 21. 42
language” (40), inscribed in things themselves and the uses they embody. Streets connect us to their past walkers and absent inhabitants [image], to what they did and the uses they made of those locations, and also to memories recounted in story and legend—“this is where Breton and Nadja first met”—turning the city into “an immense memory,” a bricolage of bits of various pasts and fragments of the present transformed into narratives of haunted places.45 Haunted: marked, physically and in the collective cultural memory, by the embodied and material acts of these once-living spirits that allow us to dream their existences. As Freud says, the mind is like a city where all the different historical epochs and strata exist simultaneously—“an entity in which nothing that has once come into existence has passed away”—as if in Rome the Augustus Caesar’s Temple of Jupiter could stand on the same place and at the same time as the 16th century Palazzo Caffarelli— “in mental life nothing which has been once formed can perish—everything is somehow preserved and in suitable circumstances can once more be brought to light,” for memory-traces are never annihilated, but only written over.46 By the same token, a city is like the mind: none of its traces have been reduced to nothingness; they are there, however covered over or disfigured, in the way that the Roman road from Paris (Lutetia) to Rome lies under the Rue Mouffetard.47 Breton says: there exists a certain point of the mind where … the real and the imagined, past and future, cease to be perceived as contradictory (SM 123/ 72–73).48 Easy to say, but to know whether that was possible, I had to walk the walk. I started where Breton began his walk the day he ran into Nadja: the Blvd. de la Bonne Nouvelle, where Breton could be seen walking any morning of the week: “You can be sure of running into me in Paris, of not spending more than three days without seeing me go to and fro, towards the end of the afternoon, between the Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle and the Boulevard de Strasbourg. I do not know why it is
De Certeau et al., The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol. 2, 141–2. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1962), 16–17. 47 See Mary Soderstrom, The Walkable City: From Haussmann’s Boulevards to Jane Jacobs’ Streets and Beyond (Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2008), chapters 3 and 5. 48 Breton, Second Surrealist Manifesto, in Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press [Ann Arbor Paperbacks], 1972), 123; Manifestes du surréalisme (Paris: Gallimard [Folio], 2008), 72–73. References given as SM, first to the English translation, second to the 2008 French edition. 45
just there that my steps carry me, there that I take myself without any specific goal.” (N 36/32) (Fig. 2) From there, I walked to the Blvd. de Strasbourg. How different were these crowded sidewalks with faces from Africa and Asia, and the constant hum of cars and buses, from what André and Nadja experienced? Even in the 1920s, one would have encountered many Asian and African faces in the streets of Paris, whether from French colonial possessions or refugees from the overt racism of the United States, such as Sidney Bechet or Josephine Baker. (Fig. 3) I was delighted to pass by Passage du Désir: Surrealists loved these “passages” or arcades, and the conjunction of “passage” and “desire” seemed more than fortuitous. Passage: a transition, a way through, a place between, a transitory moment, a crossing, a literary or musical passage, a transformation, sacred “rites of passage,” passing through, passing beyond, both a movement and a place, both walking and words, words and music. (Fig. 4) “Passage” is also the root of passager: momentary, fleeting. The movement, then, of desire itself—not to mention what it is in fact, a small, covered shopping mall. (Fig. 5) The very next street was Rue Jarry, and Alfred Jarry was a favourite author of the Surrealists, so this seemed even more fortuitous.49 Alfred Jarry: the inventor of pataphysics—“the science of that which is superinduced over metaphysics … extending as far beyond metaphysics as the latter extends beyond physics”50—the creator of Ubu the King. Rue Jarry is not a passage but it is not an impasse, a dead-end, either. Breton tells us that Jarry enjoyed annoying his visitors: to get to his place on the Boulevard de Port Royal, one had to thread one’s way through a narrow impasse (PP 43/29). But Jarry also enjoined writers “to make a crossroads of all the words in the highway (route) of sentences” (PP 42). 51 Rue Jarry: a crossroads of all the words from Mallarmé to Breton, passing through Ubu Roi en route. (Fig. 6)
See Breton, “Alfred Jarry,” PP, 40-55/25-39. Alfred Jarry, Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician, in Selected Works of Alfred Jarry, ed. Roger Shattuck and Simon Watson Taylor (New York: Grove Press, 1965), 192. Jarry could read and write English, and so we can reasonably attribute a double pun to the name Faustroll: Faust-roll, but also fau-stroll. One imagines a rolly-polly Faust, a Falstaff (fau-bâton), on a false stroll to nowhere, a pure digression. 51 “Faire dans la route des phrases un carrefour de tous les mots.” Polizzotti’s translation reads: “In the path of sentences, make every word a crossroads” (PP-E 29). 49 50
Fig. 2: ‘I started where Breton began his walk’ Fig. 3: ‘ from there, I walked to the blvd. de Strasbourg’
Fig. 4: ‘I was delighted to pass by Passage du Désir’ Fig. 5: ‘the Passage du Désir’
Fig. 6: ‘the very next street was rue Jarry’ Fig. 7: ‘Eglise St. Laurent’
Fig. 8: ‘Place Franz Liszt’ Fig. 9: ‘the crunch from which Nadja in fact emerged’
I quickly move past the Blvd. de Strasbourg, an ordinary, busy Paris street: neither a grand boulevard nor a charming alley, neither a place for the bourgeoisie to parade in its finery nor a teeming alley-way crowded with shops and jostling throngs of shoppers. It is a mere conduit for pedestrian and automobile traffic that is just passing through: in that sense, it is more a passage than the Passage du Désir. Passing the Rue de Fidélité (so much, then, for desire), across the street, I spotted a church that at first I thought was the church from which Nadja emerged when Breton met her the first time. This church, the Eglise St. Laurent, was not the one, but its name evoked the saint who gave his name to the largest river in Canada [image] and in turn the Laurentian Shield and Laurentian coloured pencils, taking me for a second all the way back home to my childhood through the path of free association. (Fig. 7) But I got back on track, on the Blvd. Magenta, even wider and busier than the Blvd. de Strasbourg, and from there to the tranquil (but non-descript) side street, Rue des Petits Hôtels, and finally the Place Franz Liszt—in 1926, the Place Lafayette—at the north end of which is the church from which Nadja in fact emerged when Breton first ran into her: She carried her head high, contrary to all the other passers-by. She was so frail she barely touched the ground while walking… I had never seen such eyes. … What was so extraordinary about what was happening [passer] in those eyes? What was it that they reflected both obscurely of distress and luminously of pride? (N 64–5/64–5). Breton does not say how exactly he and Nadja went from there to their next destination, the Gare du Nord, so I had to imagine their route. I made my way along the very small, very quiet Rue Fenelon, then the Rue de Belzunce, peaceful refuges that made me want to linger and seemed untouched by change. (Figs. 8–9) But I carried on, as did Nadja and Breton, back to the aggression and speed of the wide Blvd. Magenta, and for me, back to the present. I quickly crossed to get
to the small Rue de Compiègne, and from there to the Gare du Nord and finally the café across the street which may have been the one that Nadja and Breton ended up in, where they ended their walk together over drinks, where Nadja told Breton of her past, her former lover with a deformed hand, her poverty, her aimlessness. They promised to meet again the next day. (Fig. 10–11) One day in their footsteps of one day of 1926; did I see what they saw? Although Breton does not comment on this remarkable fact, the succession of the Passage du Désir, Rue Jarry and Rue de la Fidélité, is a surrealist conjunction corresponding so closely to surrealist sensibilities 52 that it was as if these streets had been named by and for surrealists. That seemed a matter of what surrealists would call “objective chance,” where an object found by chance corresponds to a desire one didn’t know one had until the object awakened it, an intersection of unconscious desire within and unconscious nature (chance) without.53 On the other hand, André and Nadja would not have found as fortuitous my encounter with the Saint Laurent Church, which for me called up a stream of associations entirely foreign to them. (Fig. 12) They certainly did not see the ultra-modern look of the services and shops inside the Gare du Nord. The l’Humanité bookstore—the bookstore of the French Communist Party—at 120 Place Lafayette, now Place Franz Liszt, no longer exists, but that address is still used by the French Communist Party, and the stories of its past continues to haunt it. (Fig. 13–14) The Church from which they emerged, the streets surrounding it, the wonderfully ornate façade of the Gare du Nord, at least gave me the illusion of being pretty much as they would have found them. (Fig. 15) Even the inscription on the café across the street, “Hôtel Terminus Nord, restaurant,” would have been there in 1926. These then served as my footholds, a place where I could find my feet again after losing my footing on the wide, fast-paced boulevards where you can’t step into the same traffic twice. (Fig. 16) •
Perhaps the most famous of these surprising conjunctions is the one that the Surrealists took from the Comte de Lautréamont: “the chance encounter of an umbrella and a sewing-machine on an operating table.” See Man Ray’s sculptural collage depicting this, “L’Enigme d’Isadore Ducasse” (Lautrémont’s real name): www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/man-ray-lenigme-disidore-ducasse-t07957 53 Breton, Mad Love, 23; L’amour fou, 31. 52
At every step, Nadja and André were with me. They guided what I looked for and what I saw, even—or rather, especially—when what I registered was the difference between what I saw and what I imagined they must have seen, even during moments when they inspired in me my own surrealist reveries on “desire, Jarry, fidelity” or Saint Laurent/ Saint Lawrence/ the Laurentians. These were my trouvailles, my discoveries through chance encounters—spontaneous, indeterminate, unforeseeable and unlikely—of something which I didn’t know I was seeking until I found it, something that, through the workings of external chance, responded to some unconscious need, awakened that need and even exceeded it. Through these examples of “objective chance,” through this fusion of my perceptions, desires and imagination, something of their spirit animated me and lived in me. They haunted me and their Paris haunted mine through a process that was both a “repetition,” a “summoning back” (mine) and a “return” of the revenants. Just as surely, then, my footsteps resurrected their spirits, allowing them to hear traffic noises, to smell and inhale exhaust fumes, to feel vibrations and see things they had never known. The living haunt the dead. They saw and sensed Paris 2008 through my experience inasmuch as I superimposed my experience on theirs. “A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language,”54 writes Rebecca Solnit. Breton: “The dead speak, return.” By walking through Paris, I revived the possibilities of experiencing Paris that Breton and Nadja first revealed and allowed them to take possession of me and speak through me, as if I were the medium through which their spirits spoke. But by the same token, I had become a ghost, a revenant, namely, one who “bears witness to the existence of the dead [person] buried within the other.”55 Breton writes: what creates freedom is a perpetual unfettering, “but it is also, and perhaps humanly speaking much more so, the marvelous series of steps which man
is allowed to unfetter… For me, I admit, these steps are everything. Where are they heading? That is the real question. They will finish by tracing out [dessiner] a route, and along this route, who knows whether the means of unfettering or of helping those unable to follow it to unfetter themselves will appear?” (N 69/69). Joan Didion writes: “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”56 On the contrary, by remaking me in their image, André and Nadja gave me their Paris, as a gift from past to present, a passing from them to me as from hand to hand, and to anyone who retraces their steps—the gift of their lived past.57 Haunted and haunting, present to the present through the interposition of absent ones: André, Nadja, their Paris. They ceased to be long ago but return, and keep returning, every time a surrealist pilgrim walks in their footsteps and summons up the phantoms of the past. I would have to keep walking in their footsteps, retracing their steps, those steps that unfetter us and give us, as Breton says, “the perspective of leading many lives at once” (SM 3/12).
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, 213. Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Shell and the Kernel: Renewals of Psychoanalysis, trans. Nicholas Rand (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 175; see Till, The New Berlin, 224. 56 Cited in Paul Tough, “City Still Breathing: Listening to the Weakerthans,” Geist: Ideas and Culture 45 (2002): 34-39; 35. 57 See George Stanley, Vancouver: A Poem (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2008), 3: “there’s a deep sense of passing, not deeper, quite the opposite, obvious/ as/ passing something from one hand to another, one person,/ relinquishing.” 54
Fig. 10: ‘the very small, very quiet, rue Fenelon’ Fig. 11: ‘then the rue de Belzunce’
Fig. 12: ‘the café across the street’ Fig. 13: ‘the ultra-modern look of the services and shops’
Fig. 14: ‘the church from which they emerged Fig. 15: ‘the wonderfully ornate façade of the Gare du Nord
Fig. 16: ‘the inscription on the cafe across the street’
See Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, trans. R. D. Hick, vol. II,
Books VI–X (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [Loeb Classical Library]), 41. Kierkegaard’s version of the story sums it up best: “When the Eleatics denied motion, Diogenes, as everyone knows, stepped forward as an opponent. He literally did step forward, because he did not say a word, but merely paced back and forth a few times, thereby assuming that he had sufficiently refuted them.” Soren Kierkegaard, Repetition: A Venture in Experimenting Psychology by Constantin Constantius, in Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling and Repetition, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 131. I have slightly altered the Hongs’ translation. 10
On haunting and place, see Till, The New Berlin, 231 n. 18, which cites, among
others: Michael Bell, “The Ghosts of Place,” Theory and Society 26 (1997): 813–36; Monica Degan and Kevin Heatherington, eds., special “Spatial Hauntings” issue, Space and Culture 11–12 (2001); Steve Pile, Real Cities: Modernity, Space and the Phantasmagorias of City Life (London: Sage, 2005); Tim Edensor, Industrial Ruins: Aesthetics, Materiality and Memory (London: Berg, 2005): Sonja Kuffinec, “[Walking through a] Ghost Town: Cultural Hauntology in Mostar, BosniaHerzegovina, or Mostar: A Performance Review,” Test and Performance Quarterly 18/2 (1998): 81–95. The concept of “hauntology” derives from Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, trans. Peggy Kamuf (New York: Routledge, 1994).
Till, in The New Berlin, uses the palimpsest metaphor (67-68); see also, among
many, Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003). However, in a later article, Jonker and Till contest that palimpsest metaphor in “Mapping and excavating spectral traces,” 305–6, as being “linear” and “inadequate,” as if the layers of the palimpsest were inert and immobile, or the meanings of these overlapping layers were fixed an univocal. See also Karen E. Till, “Artistic and activist memory-work: Approaching place-based studies,” Memory Studies 1/1 (2008): 93-113; 105. Against this, it is useful to recall the plasticity and mutability implied by the mental nature of the palimpsest metaphor as it was originally used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in an 1829 note appended to his incomplete poem, “The Wanderings of Cain”: “I have tried in vain to recover the [missing] lines from the palimpsest tablet of my memory;” see Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Early Visions (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989), 179 n. and also Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Poems of Coleridge, ed. E. H. Coleridge (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1927), 287. The palimpsest metaphor for memory and consciousness was then made famous by Coleridge’s one-time admirer and later critic, Thomas de Quincey, in Suspiria de profundis (1845), “The Palimpsest of the Human Brain.” In de Quincey’s case, in any case, the palimpsest, although continually overwritten, preserves every trace imprinted on it, and even traces covered over by “a pall as deep as oblivion” can be summoned up “at a silent command” and resuscitated, such that memories can be laid out simultaneously rather than appearing successively, fusing the depths of the past with a present vision and destabilizing the boundary between past and present. The traces thus retain the active force of present perceptions, even when these traces have been forgotten and lie dormant. They are not static or inert. See Thomas de Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Other Writings, ed. Grevel Lindop (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1998), 144–45.
23 See Till, The New Berlin, 209: a trace (Spur in German) can be evidence of a crime but also a message “for those who come later … Spur, when used in a more positive or spiritual sense, can be understood as symbolic footprints left for a future generation (as when used in the expression ‘to follow in someone else’s footprints’) or can suggest a path or trail left in a scary place and time that can help others find their way later on.” Till’s main concern is with sites of trauma and repressed memory, but a “path or trail” can help “others find their way” in circumstances that are not so scary and in which the ghosts are actively invited and invoked, as in a séance, rather than returning uninvited as “the repressed.” Of course, ghosts can be both at once, given that even invited ghosts can bring uninvited and unwelcome news.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Haunted footsteps: the Sound Walk and the Doubled Subject RUTH BURGON University of Edinburgh Abstract: In recent years one of the ways in which walking has become recognised, practised and theorised as an aesthetic practice is through the re-emergence of ‘psychogeography’, a term taken from the Situationists but now reimagined in a new guise. Psychogeography is full of whispers, histories that resonate with the psyche of the walker. For some, this is a confirmation of one’s place within history; to be haunted by the past is a kind of continuity. But to haunt, or to haunt oneself, is arguably a fracture, a detachment from one’s own subjectivity and a questioning of lineage. This paper will explore artists’ use of the sound walk or audio walk in relation to the concept of ‘haunting’. This will include artists who use the recorded voice as a means of conducting a guided walk, those who record their own experiences while walking, turn such experiences into audio essays and those who use the live voice while moving through different urban environments. I am interested not just in the psychogeographical trait of unearthing histories through the act of urban exploration on foot, but also in the subject position conjured by such a practice. Through their use of voice, echo and resonance artists who engage in sound walking not only trace histories, but trouble them, and by doing so also trouble the subject position of the walker, who looks over her shoulder, pursued, doubled.
‘What does it mean to follow a ghost?’ asks Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx.1 This is the question that I will be asking of artists and writers who physically trace the footsteps of their forebears. They work in the tradition of psychogeography, a practice taken from Guy Debord and the Situationists, but re-imagined in recent years to place greater emphasis on the past. Present day British psychogeography imagines the landscape (urban, rural and peripheral) as palimpsestic, full of the whispers and footsteps of those who have gone before, resonating with the psyche of the walker. I will frame my discussion in terms of the use of sound, for as Derrida reminds us, it is the voice of the ghost, and not his body, that haunts. I am using the term ‘sound walk’ loosely, to describe practices that employ sound, either live or recorded, as noise or as voice, during the process of walking. The term originates with the artist and composer Hildergard Westerkamp, who uses it to describe a mode of aural attentiveness while walking, a means of being present in the now. But my use of the term goes beyond this temporal boundary, to investigate how artists have used the aural to communicate with the past. I am interested not just in the psychogeographical trait of unearthing histories through the act of urban exploration on foot, but also in the subject position conjured by such a practice, and the part that sound plays in this construction. • It is almost impossible to talk about modern British psychogeography without reference to the author Iain Sinclair. In Edge of the Orison (2005), Sinclair follows the path of the nineteenth century poet John Clare in what he calls his ‘shaky attempt to place my boots in John Clare’s hobbled footsteps.’ 2 And London Orbital
Jacques Derrida, Spectres of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning & the New International, trans. Peggy Kamuf, (New York; London: Routledge, 1994), 10. 2 Iain Sinclair, Edge of the Orison: In the Traces of John Clare’s ‘Journey out of Essex’ (London: Penguin, 2005), 5. 1
(2002), in which Sinclair recounts his walk around the M25, is littered with names associated with the places through which the walkers pass from William Blake and Samuel Palmer to Daniel Defoe and Sweeny Todd. The presence of these ‘ancestors’ becomes palpable to the walkers, as Sinclair writes, Our walk made something happen, happen to us. […] Very gradually, and with considerable reluctance (on their part), forgotten ancestors acknowledged our feeble interventions. We re-lived their histories and remade our own. The noise of the motorway changed from nuisance to a chorus of oracular whispers, prompts, mangled information. Which we had volunteered to transcribe and interpret.3 In Derrida’s terms these ‘oracular whispers’, these voices, might be ‘the rumbling sound of ghosts chained to ghosts’.4 It is these ghosts, Derrida tells us, who augur an inevitable model of inheritance through voice, in a logic he calls hauntology. In Spectres of Marx he begins with and returns repeatedly to Hamlet, and to the protagonist’s pivotal encounter with the ghost of his father. Derrida quotes Paul Valéry, who writes: ‘And this one was Kant qui genuit Hegel, qui genuit Marx, qui genuit … Hamlet does not know what to do with all these skulls. But if he abandons them! … Will he cease to be himself?’ 5 The jostling spectres of the past, a noisy lineage, become at once burden and necessity, vital in the very definition of self. The term ‘hauntology’ slips, even more so in the French, into ontology, the term it spooks, replacing ‘being’ with ‘almost being’ and ‘presence’ with ‘almost-absence.’ To be (half of Hamlet’s question) one must be haunted, or in the inverse, if one is haunted, one has a greater sense of being. Sinclair, then, attempts to place himself in step with ghosts, to find continuity, to confirm some kind of lineage or sense of authenticity in a bid to validate his own sense of being. And, perhaps unexpectedly, it is a ‘being’ that is constituted in relation to absence.
Sinclair talking about his walk around the M25 in Sinclair, Edge of the Orison, 6–7. Derrida, Spectres, 5. 5 Paul Valéry quoted in Derrida, Spectres, 5. 3 4
Derrida writes also that mourning ‘consists always in attempting to ontologize remains, to make them present, in the first place by identifying the bodily remains and by localizing the dead.’6 Psychogeography does this work, this mapping of mourning, this tracing of the places associated with the dead. In Mercator Manoeuvre (2005), for example, Tim Brennan uses monuments to the dead as way stations in a pilgrimage starting at the Royal Geographical Society’s statue of Ernest Shackleton, following his sight line and continuing round the memorials of Hyde Park, ending at the feet of Prince Albert.7 Reading out texts at each place, Brennan leads an offbeat guided walk in which the memorial becomes a solid acknowledgement of a resonant past. • In 2006 Mark Fisher described ‘hauntology’ as ‘a coming to terms with the permanence of our (dis)possession, the inevitability of dyschronia. […] the closest thing we have to a movement, a zeitgeist.’ 8 It is the unavoidable heterogeneity of hauntological inheritance that Fisher acknowledges. In the recent work On Vanishing Land (2013), an ‘audio-essay’ played in alternation with a series of projected images, Mark Fisher and Justin Barton recount a walk they took along the Suffolk coastline from the container ships at Felixstowe to the ancient burial grounds at Sutton Hoo. Threaded with Napoleonic Martello towers, World War Two pillboxes, bunkers, former munitions testing facilities and defenses against coastal erosion, ‘this whole coast’, Barton’s disembodied voice tells us, ‘is about fending off incursions from the outside’.9 The layered historical resonance of this coastline makes it a frequent stalking ground for psychogeographers. In On Vanishing Land the artists follow in the footsteps of M.R. James and Brian Eno, both of whom claim an inheritance from the Suffolk coast: James’s 1904 story ‘Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You My Lad’
Derrida, Spectres, 9. See Tim Brennan, “Mercator Manoeuvre”, Cultural Geographies 12 (2005): 514–20 and Andrea Phillips, “Walking and Looking”, Cultural Geographies 12 (2005): 507–13. 8 Mark Fisher, “Phonograph Blues”, K-punk, October 19, 2006, http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/. 9 On Vanishing Land (2013) 6 7
Figs. 1â€“4: Images from 50 minute projection sequence accompanying Justin Barton and Mark Fisherâ€™s On Vanishing Land, 2013, at The Showroom, London; produced in collaboration with Andy Sharp
Figs. 1â€“4: Images from 50 minute projection sequence accompanying Justin Barton and Mark Fisherâ€™s On Vanishing Land, 2013, at The Showroom, London; produced in collaboration with Andy Sharp
was inspired by the author’s visits to the area between Felixstowe and Bawdsey; while Eno’s album On Land (1982) evokes the landscape of his childhood, further up the coast, as far as Dunwich beach. Barton and Fisher pay some kind of homage to James and Eno, alongside others such as H.G. Wells and L.P. Hartley, their ghosts figuring in eerie sound. Barton intones, They come to another village, arriving at a crossroads with a pub, and a single shop. They buy food, then walk into a new terrain of fields and hedges, no-one in sight. The eerie is an incursion of the unknown into a silence, an emptiness, a gap. The emptiness can be an expanse of wilderness in midday sunlight, or it can be a derelict, city industrial estate at night. 10 These rules of the ‘eerie’ govern the hauntology of On Vanishing Land; the odd dyschronic meetings between the visible evidence of functioning capitalism (the container ships), the derelictions of history (the World War Two concrete, ancient burial grounds), and the timelessness of natural coastal processes. As the audio-essay ends, the words ‘see what comes back’ are echoed and repeated, the voices of the past speaking back. Yet we become aware that this inheritance is not straightforward: M.R. James, we are told, writes ‘from a space which was the disowned counterpart of the emergent literary modernism, and from fundamentally outside the world of the psychological modernism of the Interpretation of Dreams.’ 11 To inherit from this outside position becomes far from clear-cut or linear. This walk along the coast is fractured, steeped in unrest and the disquieting juncture of various historical moments. [Clip 1] Clip 1: Simon Pope, The Memorial Walks, 2007–8, Stuart Jeffries recalling a painting by Jean Henri De-Coene
On Vanishing Land (2013) On Vanishing Land (2013)
In Simon Pope’s The Memorial Walks (2007–8) which is again based in the flat landscape of East Anglia, the artist chose a selection of writers (including Iain Sinclair) to take part in a series of walks: each participant was to memorize a nineteenth century landscape painting, in particular its trees, and later, at a certain point along a rural walk with Pope, recount it into a microphone in as much detail as possible. Most participants describe their paintings with an intense level of detail, yet it is only in listening to their recollections, rather than reading the transcriptions, that we hear the stumbles and hesitations, the careful struggle as they strive to recall the visual exactly. These little slippages in memory are like missed steps in a walk with the painter, with the past. Remembrance is always haunted by the risk of forgetting. The Memorial Walks was inspired by W. G. Sebald, a German exiled in East Anglia, whose writings are infused with a sense of misremembered history. In researching biographies of men such as Kafka, Chateaubriand and Fitzgerald, Sebald walked routes they had walked in order to see the places they had seen, but always with unease, a sense of not belonging.12 And Derrida shows us that hauntology, as a model of inheritance, is always full of this disquiet. He asks, What does it mean to follow a ghost? And what if this came down to being followed by it, always, persecuted perhaps by the very chase we are leading? Here again what seems to be out front, the future, comes back in advance: from the past, from the back. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” declares Marcellus at the point at which Hamlet is preparing, precisely, to follow the ghost. 13 Likewise, Robert Macfarlane asks, when following in the footsteps of Sebald, ‘What does it mean to haunt and haunter, to footstep a footstepper?’14 This is a frequent, but troubled model: Richard Holmes, biographer of Robert Louis Stevenson, Shelley and Coleridge, reflects: ‘You would never catch them; no, you would never quite catch
See Macfarlane in Steven Bode et al., Waterlog: Journeys Around An Exhibition (London: Film and Video Umbrella, 2007), 80. 13 Derrida, Spectres, 10. 14 Macfarlane in Bode et al., Waterlog, 81. 12
them’.15 Derrida tells us that no lineage can be singular, there is no ‘reassuring order of presents’ following on one from another, but a jostling of all times, a heterogeneity, in which ‘time is out of joint’, in the phrase from Hamlet that Derrida repeats.16 It is a troubled inheritance, unsure, partial, mapped against a dispersing present, in which inheritors are almost in step with the spectres, almost, but not quite, belonging, almost affirmed. It is inherently a troubled model, but, for me, what is most troubling about Derrida’s hauntology is that, despite its heterogeneity, the male line still dominates. As Derrida writes: ‘What manifests itself in the first place is a spectre, this first paternal character as powerful as it is unreal …’ 17 This ‘paternal character’ is the lost father sought by a myriad of sons in re-tracings, echoes and monuments to his voice. In Derrida’s hauntological formation, how can women claim an inheritance from their predecessors? Fisher and Barton sense this problem, seeping in at the edges of their consciousness, as they refer in their audio-essay to ‘the disappearance of extraordinary women’ in the fictions and histories of the Suffolk coast. Perhaps Tacita Dean (also, incidentally, an admirer of Sebald) poses this question in Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty (1997). In this audio piece the artist follows the instructions laid out by Robert Smithson about how to find his Spiral Jetty (1970) in Utah. Dean characterises her interest in Smithson as ‘an incredible excitement and attraction across time; a personal repartee with another’s thinking and energy communicated through their work.’18 Her dynamic communication with this artist-ghost drives her journey onwards, yet she never succeeds, never finds the Spiral Jetty, seeking something that perhaps was not even there, submerged beneath the water, gone like Smithson himself. There is indeed a disjuncture here, an inheritance that refuses to be given. Dean’s inability to find Smithson’s ‘memorial’, as J. G. Ballard characterises it, places this work directly at odds with works like Brennan’s Mercator Manoeuvre.19
Quoted in Macfarlane in Bode et al, Waterlog, 81–2 Derrida, Spectres, 39. 17 This ‘paternal character’ is Marx in Derrida’s argument, but also a myriad of other spectres. Derrida, Spectres, 13. 18 Tacita Dean, ‘Trying to Find the Spiral Jetty’ in Dean, Tacita Dean: Selected Writings (Paris: Paris Musées; Göttingen: Steidl, 2003), n/p. 19 Ballard in Clarrie Wallis et al. Tacita Dean: Recent films and other works (London: Tate Publishing, 2001), 33. 15 16
Unable to ‘localize the dead’, as Derrida would put it, Dean cannot ‘mourn’, placing her ability to inherit in question, forever at stake. And perhaps simply by dint of placing herself, a female artist, as heir to this male artistic inheritance, Dean causes a fracture that might in turn destabilise. [Clip 2] Clip 2: Maryclare Foá, The Dissenter’s Driftsong, 2009 In The Dissenter’s Driftsong (2009) Maryclare Foá also inherits with difficulty. Using her own psychogeographic methodology called ‘driftsong’ (perhaps in reference to the Situationist dérive or drift), she took a group of participants round Bunhill Fields, a cemetery in East London commonly known as ‘the Dissenter’s graveyard’. The cemetery includes the graves of William Blake, Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan, figures referred to by Foá as ‘the fathers of English Psychogeography’.20 Where Foá‘s practice departs from that of other artists who use sound to ‘speak to the spectre’ is, I would argue, in her evocation of insanity through voice, much more apparent than in Sinclair’s tracing of the asylum escapee John Clare. ‘Driftsong’ becomes multifarious noise, in which individual voices become indiscernible. The participants, like a gaggle of lunatics, produce snarls, drones, coos, nervous laughter, quacks and kisses: sounds bounce from one participant to the other down the line. As they pass monuments to Defoe and Blake, they might be haunted by the spirits of the past, but not confirmed by them, or placed in step. The slippages in memory found in Pope’s The Memorial Walks, or the disquiet found in Sebald’s writings and Fisher & Barton’s audio-essay, have slipped entirely; the ‘almost in step’ has opened wide into a chaotic ‘out of step’, a cacophony that is not in tune. For Foá and her participants the past sits as discord with the present: they do not walk in the footsteps of their forebears, but upset their graves by trampling over them.
“Maryclare Foá”, accessed October 16, 2013, http://www.maryclarefoa.com/foa_dissenters_txt.html.
Foá engages a pathology that has figured in the history of urban walking for women. Women on the street have historically been viewed as either psychologically unhinged or sexually available, as we find in André Breton’s Nadja for example. [Clip 3] Clip 3: Janet Cardiff, Case Study B: The Missing Voice, 1999 Janet Cardiff inherits this female vulnerability in The Missing Voice (Case Study B) (1999), in which we follow her through East London, via an audio track on headphones. The work is a complex sonic tapestry of film dialogue, cinematic music and voices in a fractured narrative that has been compared by some to the storytelling voice of the hysteric, Dora’s tale riddled with gaps.21 Cardiff traces the path of a missing woman, whose body, it is implied, has been found in the Thames. When Cardiff began recording her voice to make these audio walks, she felt that ‘the voice became someone else, a separate person hovering in front of me like a ghost.’22 It was as if her own voice, rather than the voices of her ancestors, had come back to haunt her. And Cardiff transfers this feeling to her participant through her use of binaural sound recording, which is created using a dummy head with microphones for ears. When the recording is played back with the corresponding sounds in each headphone, the sound environment is reproduced, suggesting phenomena that are not really there, such as cars, bicycles and people going past. For the listener this exploitation of acousmatic sound frequently evokes a sense of being watched, pursued, as sounds heard seem real without having a verifiable visual source. Thus Cardiff creates a sense of paranoia in her participant, who, on hyper-alert, looks over her shoulder for the source of these ghost-sounds. Cardiff’s voice invades the thought patterns of the participant. And as the thoughts of artist and walker merge, so too do their bodies. Stepping out on each
See Barbara Lounder and in Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Janet Cardiff: A Survey of Works Including Collaborations with George Bures Miller (New York: P.S.1. Contemporary Art Centre, 2003), 170–72 or Laurel Woodcock in Christov-Bakargiev, Janet Cardiff, 173–74. 22 Script for The Missing Voice in Christov-Bakargiev, Janet Cardiff, 116. 21
walk, the artist invites her listener to ‘try to follow the sound of my footsteps so that we can stay together.’23 Doing so, the ‘click-click’ of Janet’s heels comes to match one’s own. The artist’s breathing is loud on the soundtrack, so that not only one’s footsteps, but also one’s intake of air, begins to fall in synch with the artist’s, until guider and guided are one, a kind of doubled subject. This slip in subject position, alongside the evocation of pursuit and ghostly presences, the disorientation and the partial narrative in The Missing Voice, contributes to a participant who, negotiating both the aural world of the street and that of the headphones, comes to occupy the fractured subject position of a paranoid flâneuse, always looking over her shoulder. When the subject is haunted by herself rather than by the past, the lineage collapses in on itself, an eternal loop. A haunted landscape might be, for a male psychogeographer, a myriad of paths to follow, of lineages from which to descend, voices with which to converse, offering an affirming sense of continuity, of being. And it is, but at the same time, as we have seen, it is a troubled continuity, an almost lineage, already upset by slippages in memory, feelings of not belonging, already shadowed by its (female) other, as fully revealed in the missed inheritance of Dean, the pathologically engaged work of Foá or the doubled walker in Cardiff. The haunted becomes the haunter. Where Pope, Fisher and Barton use sound to allow the voices of the past to speak back at us, Cardiff evokes a schizophrenic voice (that of ‘talking to oneself’), internal rather than external, halfway between thought and speech. Though we must be wary of theorizing the female subject as mad, and therefore disempowered, in their work these female artists question the very nature of inheritance by haunting, asking what such a phenomena might mean for one’s subjectivity. Through their use of voice, echo and resonance artists who engage in sound walking not only trace histories, but
Script for The Missing Voice in Christov-Bakargiev, Janet Cardiff, 116.
trouble them, and by doing so also trouble the subject position of the walker, who looks over her shoulder, pursued, doubled. ‘To follow a ghost’ is to allow oneself to be haunted, but also to haunt, simultaneously confirming and rupturing one’s own sense of self.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Significant Walks SHIRLEY CHUBB University of Chichester Abstract: This paper will describe the trajectory of research between Thinking Path and Significant Walks and how the latter explores the reality of walking for individuals with chronic low back pain. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, Significant Walks pools the expertise of a research team that share a mutual interest in the resonance of walking as an interpretive tool and who came together following Shirley Chubb’s exhibition Thinking Path, which took Charles Darwin’s daily ritual of walking the same path in the grounds of his family home as its inspiration.1 The collaborative research team are working with a group of participants who are invited to identify a personal walk that encapsulates memory, reminiscence and familiarity as well as being a measure of their physical experience. Manifested as an immersive digital artwork, a methodology has been identified that synthesizes eye level video documentation of participant’s personal walks with simultaneously gathered streams of kinematic data recording the movement of the spine. Researchers and participants work together to explore how the interpretive qualities of visual effects can be applied to each body of synthesized footage in order to express the nature and resonance of personal movement whilst walking. Each micro journey expresses individual experience through the interpretation of clinically accurate data and acts as a vehicle for precise accounts of physical movement whilst also presenting the reflective individual at the core of scientific understanding.
The journey to Significant Walks began in Thinking Path (2004), a body of work that responded to the daily rituals of Charles Darwin. The research process underpinning this work was undertaken with the support of English Heritage at Down House, Darwin’s family home.2 Here the experiential element of encounter explored in Chubb’s earlier exhibitions played an increasingly formative part, as the site itself became the pivotal core of the exhibition. Darwin loved the relative privacy of the house and grounds and in 1846 commented, “My life goes on like clockwork and I am fixed on the spot where I shall end it.” 3 The grounds surrounding Down House show Darwin’s typically Victorian fascination with every aspect of his natural environment. Most evocative is the Sand-walk, a small tract of land that Darwin leased, and eventually purchased from local landowner Sir John Lubbock.4 The Sand-walk provided a sheltered space for Darwin’s daily constitutionals walks with only the most extreme weather or ill health stopping his daily ritual.5 Predominantly a solitary exercise, Darwin also enjoyed company whilst walking, with Joseph Hooker recounting how they often … trudged through the garden, where there was always some experiment to visit, and on to the Sand-walk, round which a fixed number of turns were taken, during which our conversation usually ran on foreign lands and seas, old friends, old books, and things far off both to mind and eye.6 The resonance of this small rural space within the mind and experience of Darwin, and also as a metaphor for a broader synchronic sense of understanding was particularly intriguing. Darwin himself articulated with acute insight how apparently mundane encounters could reverberate with meaning and association. His often quoted observation of the “entangled bank”, close to Down House, being a prime example of his ability to see the extraordinary in the everyday.7 The Sand-walk was a seminal part of Darwin’s daily experience. It was a haven from external pressures, encouraged his physical wellbeing and also became a vehicle
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/home-of-charles-darwin-down-house/ Wilson, L. Ed.,Down House: The Home of Charles Darwin (London: English Heritage, 2000), 31. 4 Keynes, R., Coulter-Smith G. & Forgan. S., Thinking Path. (Shrewsbury Museums Service, 2004), 15. 5 Darwin’s chronic ill health has been the source of much debate and speculation. 6 Keynes, R., Coulter-Smith G. & Forgan. S., Thinking Path. (Shrewsbury Museums Service, 2004), 16. 7 Darwin, C, The Origin of Species (London: Penguin, 1985), 459. 2 3
for the meticulous long-term observations that fuelled his emerging theories. Often observed lost in thought during his walks, later anecdotes describe the Sand-walk as Darwin’s ‘thinking path’. Adopted as the exhibition title, the phrase acknowledges the actuality of Darwin’s physical and mental presence, whilst also enabling the path to signify the broader impact of his theories. The resonance of the Sand-walk was reconstituted within the exhibition through moving and static images systematically extracted from video documentation of the path. The visual response generated by this encounter became an essential means to curate ideas, with the non-linguistic form providing a more openly associative alternative to the myriad texts analyzing Darwin, his theories and legacy. The documentation was also shown on small LCD screens within museum cases, effectively transforming experience into artifact. By accentuating a sense of contemporary physical presence in an external space the documentation reflects Rebecca Solnit’s observations that Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.8 The perception of meaning both within the walk and through the associations that the experience evokes is “purposively embodied” within static images extracted from the footage recorded on the anniversaries of Darwin’s birth, the return of the HMS Beagle from its five-year voyage; the publication of Origin of the Species and the day Darwin died.9 Each still alternates with found imagery detailing aspects of Darwin’s life and contemporary manifestations of his theories, creating a sense of synchronicity across timeframes and physical spaces. The found imagery considered aspects of each anniversary, from the fragility of birth and death to the empowerment of travel and the inexorable accumulation of global knowledge. Groups of imagery were generated, selected, manipulated and compiled to create narrative subdivisions, a process which resonates strongly with Darwin’s own methodology of gathering
Solnit, R, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (London: Verso, 2002), 29. Biggs, M. in Mäkelä, M & Routarinne, S, The Art of Research: Research Practices in Art and Design (Helsinki: University of Art and Design, 2006), 189. 8
information in order to enable new theories. Janet Browne has noted how Darwin drew upon an eclectic mix of science and grass roots knowledge in the construction of his theories,10 and although he had an ambivalent attitude to this process of compilation, he recognized it as essential to the consolidation of his theories.11 The narrative content of each anniversary is both structured and fractured by the images of the path and in this way anticipates Tim Ingold’s consideration of the multiple linearities that physically and conceptually shape our engagement with the world. In considering Darwin’s celebrated diagram depicting the diversification of species fanning outwards from a single point Ingold suggests that “Retracing the lines of past lives is the way we proceed along our own.” 12 Individual glass lenses subtly animate each image and reference Darwin’s use of the microscope to reveal, literally and conceptually, what cannot be seen with the naked eye. Simultaneously it references how contemporary science and technology has expanded our vision of the world and how that knowledge is embedded within the everyday through photography, film and the media.13 Within Thinking Path the element of physical progression through a significant site was fundamental to the construction of meaning. The consequent artwork constitutes a particular visual language that creates a liminal or illusionary space that can be accessed and interpreted individually by each viewer. The relationship between the individual and their sense of place is seminal to Chubb’s practice, which explores how our experiential engagement with cultural and social environments shapes our understanding of the world. The work developed for Thinking Path considered Charles Darwin as a cipher for synchronic knowledge, prompting an interest in the mechanics of motion and how visual art might become an effective means to manifest the significance of movement through particular environments and landscapes for other individuals. Fuelled by a mutual interest in the resonance of Darwin’s daily walks, discussion across discipline areas led to the formation of the Significant Walks research team which includes musculoskeletal
Browne, J, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (London: Pimlico, 2003), 11. For instance Darwin wrote to Joseph Hooker as follows “I sometimes despise myself as a poor compiler, as heartily as you could do, though I do not despise my whole work, as I think there is enough known to lay a foundation for the discussion on origin of species” (Darwin to Joseph Hooker, 2nd May, 1857. Keynes, Randal. E-mail to the author. 16th May, 2004) 12 Ingold, T, Lines: A Brief History (London: Routledge, 2007), 119. 13 Keynes, R., Coulter-Smith G. & Forgan. S., Thinking Path (Shrewsbury Museums Service, 2004), 28. 10 11
Fig. 1: Shirley Chubb Thinking Path, Beagle Journey 02.10.1836/2003 #11 (detail), 2003 Glass lenses, polypropylene and digital print Fig. 2: Shirley Chubb Thinking Path, Beagle Journey 02.10.1836/2003 #7, 2003 Glass lenses, polypropylene and digital print, 25 x 26cms 54
physiotherapy specialist Professor Ann Moore and biomedical engineer Dr. Kambiz Saber-Sheikh (both at the University of Brighton), and digital artist Neil Bryant (University of Chichester). The team came to realise the potential of Chubb’s approach as a means to conceptualise physical problems, and have worked together to identify a methodology that investigates the reality of walking for individuals with chronic low back pain. The collaborative research process involves working with participants to create an immersive digital artwork synthesizing eye level video documentation of participant’s personal walks with simultaneously gathered biomechanical data. The research process acknowledges the potential interdependence of qualitative and quantitative research and is underpinned by a desire to capture the relationship between actualised internal movement and the perceptual understanding of each participant as they consider their personal movement. Individual choice is key to this process, with each participant invited to identify a walk that is of personal significance to them. Here each participant’s engagement redefines the notion of site from a traditional or culturally socialized environment to a renewed sense of space that is enhanced through interaction and is … transformed from a physical location—grounded, fixed, actual— to a discursive vector—ungrounded, fluid, virtual.14 The walk process is recorded with head mounted video cameras whilst kinematic data is simultaneously collected using miniature 3D inertial sensors monitoring the movement of the participant’s spine. The resulting data provides continuous visual and biomechanical information on posture and movement patterns during each walk, whilst the data based evidence is supported by contextual information as each participant is asked to discuss the significance of their walk, commenting on memory, reminiscence or anecdote as well as the nature of their physical experience at the time. The research process reflects Solnit’s observation that
Kwon, M, One Place After Another: Site-Specific and Locational Identity. (MIT Press, 2004), 29.
Walking is usually about something else – about the walkers character or encounters, about nature or about achievement, sometimes so much so it ceases to be about walking15 The synthesis of video documentation and kinematic data generates tangible visual representations of the link between external and internal movement, with the significance of each individual’s walk crucial to this process. Experiential interpretation adds resonance to the understanding of core data, contributing a sense of immediacy and understanding as each participant explores and applies digital effects to their synchronized footage. Identifying ways to best represent their physical sensation and self-awareness whilst walking, the intensity of the effects is driven by the spinal data creating a synchronic outcome that realises factual measurements of time, movement and site within interpretive expressions of an individual’s engagement with the world. The acute individuality of each walk reveals the codependence of differing forms of data and consequent visual responses manifesting Mark Dion’s observation that The objective of the best art and science is not to strip nature of wonder but to enhance it. Knowledge and poetry are not in conflict.16 This sense of engagement will be reflected in the presentation of the work with footage projected to life size. Viewers will recognize the generic act of walking, which can be seen as both a physical challenge and also a measure of memory, achievement and loss. The resonance of walking as a metaphor for understanding our individual place in the world is key to this research, both for participants and viewers. Walking is a part of our daily existence, providing opportunities to consider how we interact, navigate and respond to our environment. Given the prevalence of chronic low back pain this experience is compromised for many people and Significant Walks seeks to capture these individual realities by animating quantitative data whilst simultaneously communicating qualitative experience. In this way the work reflects Eisner’s theory that
Solnit, R, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (London: Verso, 2002), 132.
Human knowledge is a constructed form of experience and, therefore, is a reflection of mind as well as of nature. Knowledge is made and not simply discovered â€Ś The terms through which humans represent their conception if the world have a major influence on what they are able to say about it.17 The resulting immersive artwork will act as a vehicle for both the science of data collection and also the reality of the individual at the core of scientific understanding, reminding us that in considering the experience of others we can better appreciate our own realities.
Dion, M, Microcosmographia ( London: South London Gallery, 2005), 38. Eisner, E.W, The Enlighted Eye: Qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998 original work published 1991) 16 17
Fig. 3: Significant Walks, Pilot Study #1, 2013, Video Still Fig. 4: Significant Walks, Pilot Study #2, 2013, Video Still
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Androgynous Walking: A New Referent from a Brazilian Artistic Perspective CLARISSA RODRIGUES GONZÁLEZ Complutense University of Madrid Abstract: According to Baudelaire’s concept of “flâneur,” during the act of walking we are open to all possibilities and inspiration may blossom. For Judith Butler1 <no/body> “goes for a walk without there being something that supports that walk.” With or without defined purpose, my androgynous walking can be understood as a performative act of framing and interacting with the world in an attempt to go beyond its structural rigidity: deconstructing it, putting the pieces together again in a different way. Being ready to deal with other possibilities plays a vital role in a constantly changing world that requires flexibility and adaptation. Rarely has the androgynous referent been considered from a perspective inspired by the Brazilian concrete art movement and poetry when discussing the relationship between visual arts and landscape (rural or urban; natural or human-made) as an <inter/ action> of geometry and observation that transcend genders and recognizes a full spectrum from “andro” to “gyne”. As a documentation artist, this visual presentation combines photography, film and collage to demonstrate that my androgynous way of walking is an act along a continuum, where subjects and shapes amalgamate with the environment. Is it being changed and absorbed by us or are we being changed and absorbed by it? Walking we make history, produce knowledge and move on. Myths may crumble, new referents may arise <any/way><any/time>.
On walking Conference. “Call for papers.” Accessed on October 28, 2013. http://onwalking.wordpress.com/cfp/ 1
ANTECEDENTS Concrete poetry & Concrete movement: Brazilian contribution to art history The ‘Concrete Movement’ is considered an outcome product from the necessity to build an identity and also be universal. It placed Brazil on the artistic international route. Being mainly visual and playful, it communicates easy: without language boundaries, it invites all spectators to a tacit dialogue and visual interaction. I see in this movement some parallels to my doctorate research (Rodrigues González, 2010) focused on androgyny, where gender is no longer binary but open to all possibilities. In other words, I apply my concept of androgyny 2 (from “andro” to “gyne”, every single possibility in-between is welcomed in an all-inclusive logic) to my artwork, combining curves and lines, phallic and oval shapes, geometry, illusion (displacement and image manipulation), movement and abstraction when portraying people, landscape and colours. As a matter of fact, not only is the visual aspect—geometric shapes, besides words and letters (dis)placement—what characterizes the concrete poem but also the possibility of having different lectures and the vibration of sound intersections, sometimes even rhymes. It communicates at different levels, not being restricted to a linear and/or rigid structure. It is “verbivocovisual” and free. Its liberty is reflected in the use of words (“verbo”), voice/sound (“voco”) and shape/form (“visual”). These features can be easily noticed in Décio Pignatari, Haroldo and Augusto de Campos brothers’ poems. In 1958, these three poets founded the “Concrete Manifesto.” According to the manisfesto3, “the poem communicates itself by its own structure”. Concrete poetry turns texts into visual art, crossing time and bridging visual art with abstraction and words.
For more information about my thesis and the concept of androgyny I work with, please access: http://eprints.ucm.es/10764/ 3 T h e ‘Concrete Manifesto’ was published by the three mentioned poets in the magazine Noigrandes, nº 4, São Paulo, 1958. 2
However, the key remains in the fact that the poetic experience is transformed into a playful experience. The poem can be understood and read in different orders and ways. Usually the starting or ending points are not clear. We can start to contemplate it as an interactive expression of a visual artwork. One of the biggest exhibitions ever made about the theme, “Concrete Invention”, took place in Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art (Madrid, Spain) from January 23rd to September 16th this year, did not include poems, but basically paintings and sculptures. The exhibition folder described the ‘Concrete Movement’ as a product of a European heritage4: …Although originally developed in Europe, geometric abstraction became for Latin America a powerful and rich tool through which to express the growing ambition of a continent that emerged as a cultural and political generator of new ideas during the midtwentieth century. Despite being mostly a South-American movement, other authors, like Pineda (1995: 380), also highlight the European influence: Mallarmé, Pound, Joyce, Cummings, and Apollinaire in terms of literature; Mondrian and Max Bill in terms of painting. Eisenstein from cinema and Webern from music as well. Clearly it is possible to see some parallelisms among some Europeans painters as Mondrian with Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Cildo Meireles, and Willys de Castro paintings 5. The same can be pointed concerning to some sculptures signed by Lygia Clark, Franz Weissmann and Max Bill’s pieces. However, as many of these artists were contemporary peers it could be risky to assume that Europeans have always influenced Brazilians and that the opposite never happened. Not even a mutual exchange at any point seems to have been considered.
Concrete Invention – Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. Reina Sofia exhibition from 23 January to 16 September 2013, paper information. Also available at: http://lainvencionconcreta.org/en/page/exhibition#publication Accessed October 28, 2013. 5See page 93 http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicexternas/enciclopedia_ic/index.cfm?fuseaction=artistas_ obras&cd_verbete=581&cd_idioma=28555 4
Therefore I believe it is important to analyze the ‘Concrete movement’ inside the country context during the 20’s decade. Many political and social changes were taking place in Brazil due to the acceleration of the industrial process after the First World War. The artistic internal panorama was also essential: the important role played by ‘The Week of Modern Art’ in 1922 defined how art would be afterwards. Oswald de Andrade, author of ‘Pau Brasil’ and ‘Manifesto Antropófago’, should be considered the main influence to ‘Concrete Movement’ due to his contributions to Brazilian Modernism, which provided the basis for an artistic opening. Modernism echoes, added to the country’s economic moment, prepared the scene. ‘The Week of Modern Art’ brought more than modernity to Brazil. After the First World War, the Occident was experimenting a new period of peace and growth that allowed art to flourish. After the Belle Époque interruption, the “roaring twenties,” driven by economical and industrial progress, a cultural and artistic renovation time arose. The 20’s decade scenario had its effects in South America and Brazil emerged as an economic power on the continent. That was the moment to rescue its roots and make up an identity. Oswald de Andrade, Tarsila do Amaral6 and many other Brazilian artists went abroad to get in touch with European avant-garde art. More than the need to search for inspiration, it was necessary to move away from the country to establish a critical distance and then recover the affective bond to finally transfer it to the artistic production experience. In 1924, Oswald de Andrade published “Manifesto de Poesia Pau Brasil7”. The type of wood that gave the name to the country was chosen as the symbol of a movement that searched to bring to artworks the Brazilian essence: something “barbarian/great and ours.8” He claimed a poetry “agile and candour, like a child 9”. Some phrases taken from the mentioned manifesto summarizes its proposal: “—A language without archaisms, without erudition. Natural and
Tarsila do Amaral. “Tarsila do Amaral webpage”. Accessed October 28, 2013. “Pau Brazil Poetry Manifest” [translation mine]. The literal translation of ‘Pau Brasil’ would be ‘wood from Brazil’. 8 “Bárbaro e nosso” in its original version [translation mine]. The word ‘bárbaro’ has a double meaning in Portuguese: it can be related to the barbarian people, as a synonym to salvages and uncivilised, but it can also means great/ excellent. 9 “Ágil e candida. Como uma criança.” in its original version [translation mine]. 10 It could be translated as “a new logic” [translation mine] 6 7
<neological10>. The millionaire contribution of all errors. As we speak. As we are. —A picture is made of lines and colours. The statues are volumes under the light. —No formula for the expression of the contemporary world. Seeing with free eyes. —Being regional and pure in one’s time.” 11 The idea of producing an art that should be truly Brazilian in its essence incited discussions about the emergence of a national consciousness and identity. ‘Manifesto Pau Brasil’ managed to absorb it through new codes. This modernist referent also brought the seeds that would engender a new manifesto: ‘Antropofagia’ 12, made public by Oswald de Andrade in 192813. For Teles (1985), a parallel between the European avant-garde and the Brazilian modernism could not ever ignore the importance of Oswald de Andrade’s manifestos and the ‘Concrete Poetry’. Both manifestos searched to rescue the Brazilian native roots and different ethnical popular contributions, encouraging the use of imagination and a free spirit philosophy. It amalgamated modernism approaches and Brazilian First Nation culture, as well as the African influence and the European heritage. It culminated in an artistic nationalist revolution. The telegraphic and aphorismatic characteristic of its poetry and the metaphorical anthropophagic proposal are an example of this symbiosis. The movement name “anthropophagy” is a clear reference to the habit of some native tribes who inhabited the territory of Brazil. According to Max Justo Guedes and Jorge Couto,14 some of these tribes, like the tupinambás, were cannibals. The cannibalism was part of a symbolic ritual: the members of this tribe believed that by eating the human flesh of an enemy they would be incorporating their wisdom, courage and knowledge. Thus, they avoided this kind of practice if the
See page 94 It could be translated as “Anthropophagism”, a synonym of “cannibalism”. From the greek, anthropos “man” and phagia “eat”. In this case understood as the act of swallowing another person’s culture to digest it in order to produce something new. 13 First Oswald de Andrade read the manifest in a meeting with friends and then published it in “Revista de Antropofagia”. 14 The information about tupinambás tribe was taken from a text written by Max Justo Guedes and Jorge Couto, part of the exhibition catalogue «Discovery of Brazil» (sponsored by the National Commission for the Commemoration of the Portuguese Discoveries) held at Grace Church in Santarém, Portugal. 11
person captured was considered weak or a coward. In effective terms, the main idea relied on two pillars: 1) Assimilation of the influences of external cultures, like the European or North American15, as a step that would provide background to build up something new; 2) Rescue of internal cultures of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the Brazilian territory before the arrival of the Portuguese colonizers, adding also the contributions of African descendants and of all different ethnicities that migrated to Brazil to work in the industry or to scape from territories affected by wars. Only by mixing all these references would it be possible to build a national Brazilian identity. This is the reason why I believe it would be more balanced and cohesive to deepen our commitment to a Brazilian art and culture that reflects its own identity, a hard task considering its pluralistic characteristic, rather than limiting it to look for possible links with European artists. In addition, comparisons show that it is closer in terms of form and content to Brazilian former artists. Considering the mentioned exhibition at Reina Sofia Museum and many retrospectives and new artist’s exhibitions (like the successful Australian experience, “Born to Concrete: Visual poetry…”16), I believe concrete poetry to be very contemporary and hence I strongly disagree with Franchetti (2008:66), who defends it is no longer effective: In an era of widespread digital visualization, Concrete Poetry is unable to reproduce the alliance between the techniques of avant-garde literature and of high technology. And, although there was a time when that alliance seemed possible, today it is definitely not so. Another proof that not only does concrete poetry and its disassembling movements remain in evidence, but also inspires different artists and professionals of other areas, there is the example of professor Caroline Jones (2012), from department of architecture of MIT,17 who developed the ‘Project Antropofagia’: 18 Antropofagia was the Brazilian answer to the trauma of colonial contact: eat the culture of the colonizer. Digest it. Hybridize it at the molecular After the First World War the North-American influence, especially the US influence, becomes remarkable and it is precisely during this period when Brazilian modernism arises. 16 Recently (from July 6th to October 6th, 2013) the UQ Art Museum (Australia) hosted the exhibition “Born to Concrete: Visual poetry from the collections of Heide Museum of Modern Art and The University of Queensland”. http://www.artmuseum.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=189718# 15
level of your body, then make your art. […] This theory is examined as it was silently modeled by Oscar Niemeyer in his architectures for the São Paulo Bienal beginning in 1954, from which it irrevocably altered the course of ‘neoconcretismo’ as practiced by artists Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica in the late ‘60s. Despite her criticism19, directed specially of Oscar Niemeyer’s São Paulo Bienal building, the ‘(Neo)Concretism’, as this example confirms, is also current in academia. After observing the cover of “Pau Brasil”, it is important to analyse the Brazilian flag. It is made of geometric shapes (rectangle, triangle, parallelogram, circle, stars). That is the only flag with words as part of it. If the ‘Concrete Movement’ is known for its geometry, use of colours, vibration, universalism and dialogue, Fig. 1
Fig. 1: The Brazilian flag Fig. 2: Cover of Oswald de Andrade book “Pau Brasil” (© Paris: Au Sans Pareil, 1925) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The author criticizes Niemeyer São Paulo Bienal architectural project basing her arguments in the Antropofagia ideal. 19 The full sentence is available at: http://architecture.mit.edu/history-theory-and-criticism/project/ antropofaqia 17
the Brazilian flag could be considered a ‘Concrete Poetry/Movement’ artwork. For me it is also a main inspiration: as I play with words, I play with images. Art, as I understand it, is a playful/ interchangeable experience. STATEMENT I found an androgynous way of walking in my ‘flâneur’ moments. Landscapes and people, some more than others, are androgynous: a sum of “andro” and “gyne” (not necessarily balanced). From a religious point of view, all is God’s creation. Moving
Influences Brazilian artists – Concrete Movement
Fig. 3: Hélio Oiticica. “’Pintura 9’/‘Painting 9’ (1959) in La invención concreta.” (Accessed October 28, 2013. http://lainvencionconcreta.org/en/artwork/72)
Concrete poetry - European heritage Fig. 5
Fig. 4: Lygia Clark. “’Relógio de sol’/‘Sundial’ (1960) in La invención concreta.” (Accessed October 28, 2013. http://lainvencionconcreta.org/en/artwork/77) Fig. 5: Guillaume Apollinaire, “Lettre à André Billy” (1918) (Bibliothèque Nationale de France http://classes.bnf.fr/ecritures/grand/e195.htm) 67
to a philosophical territory, Plato described human beings as incomplete halves of a previous full being: feminine and masculine. If the human being was created into creator’s own image, humankind does the same. That is the reason androgyny is present in natural and human-made creations. In the end it is always an attempt of representing ourselves and a matter of perception. As someone’s point of view may change constantly, perception is also fresh and is in permanent mutation. But geometry is perfection. Different of a mathematical logic, which is linear and binary (1 + 1 = 2), geometry brings another dimension, the third one. Shape, volume and perspective: the possibility of going/seeing beyond. I have three main lines of work that combine my theme (androgyny) with the tools and art concept (concrete poetry, concrete movement) I use to develop my artwork: - Naïve collages made with geometric objects and shapes taken mostly from the Brazilian flag: that is how I materialize my obsession with geometry and my home country flag. - Pictures taken during my “flâneur” moments: all of them highly inspired
Fig. 6: Stéphane Mallarmé, “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (1914) (Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.math.dartmouth.edu/~doyle/docs/coup/scan/coup.pdf)
by the concrete movement, which can be observed in the way I search for geometric angles and perspective or how I displace and repeat elements. Playing with colours, shadows, reflections and overlapping represent a try to bring to photography what sculptures and non-flat paintings, typical of concrete movement, offer to spectators as interaction means. - Snapshots taken from previous video register of body and landscape deconstruction: fragments, changes, hybridism, adaptation, convergence, new point of views, multiple possibilities to reinvent it. My way of walking is androgynous because it contemplates all poles (inclusive logic) in between. My eyes look for geometry, perspective, colour, movement, faces and bodies, style. I try to understand what surrounds me taking pictures, which I contemplate and/or manipulate afterwards. It is an opportunity to live that experience again (*rêver), play and choose how I want to share it. My photos, videos and collages have a main goal: show things the way they are, the way they can be, the way I see them. Never considering only two opposite and selfexcluding poles, but a full spectrum.
* ‘Rêver’: in French means “to dream”, in Portuguese ‘rever’ means “see again”.
Fig. 7: “Naturally … Brazil” (Clarissa R. González, 2013) Fig. 8: “Doubts?” (Clarissa R. González, 2013)
Fig. 9: “Brazilian connections” (Clarissa R. González, 2013) Fig. 10: “Openness” (Clarissa R. González, 2013)
Andrade, Oswald de, “O manifesto antropófago”. In: Teles, Gilberto Mendonça. Vanguarda européia e modernismo brasileiro: apresentação e crítica dos principais manifestos vanguardistas. Petrópolis: Vozes; Brasília: INL, 1976. Andrade, Oswald de, “O manifesto da poesia Pau-Brasil”. In: Teles, Gilberto Mendonça. Vanguarda européia e modernismo brasileiro: apresentação e crítica dos principais manifestos vanguardistas. Petrópolis: Vozes; Brasília: INL, 1976. Andrade, Oswald de, Pau-Brasil. Paris: Au Sans Pareil, 1925. Apollinaire, Guillaume. “Lettre à André Billy” in Calligrammes de Guillaume Apollinaire. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Mercure de France, 1918. Accessed October 28, 2013. http://classes.bnf.fr/ecritures/grand/e195.htm Campos, Augusto, Campos, Haroldo, and Décio Pignatari. “Manifesto Concretista.” Noigrandes, nº 4, São Paulo, 1958. Campos, Augusto, Campos, Haroldo, and Décio Pignatari, Teoria da poesia concreta. São Paulo: Edição dos autores, 1958. Cildo Meireles. “Cildo Meireles works - Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicexternas/ enciclopedia_ic/index.cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=581&cd_ idioma=28555 Franchetti, Paulo, “Poetry and Technique: Concrete Poetry in Brazil” in Portuguese Studies. Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 56-66. London: MHRA – Modern Humanities Research Association, 2008. Franz Weissmann. “Franz Weissmann works Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013.
ht t p://w w w.itaucu lt u ra l.org.br/apl icE x ter na s/encicloped ia _ IC/i ndex . cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=1841&cd_idioma=28555 Hélio Oiticica. “Hélio Oiticica at Tate Modern Gallery in 2007.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/helio-oiticica-bodycolour Hélio Oiticica. “Hélio Oiticica webpage, English version.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.heliooiticica.org.br/english/home/home.php Hélio Oiticica. “Hélio Oiticica works - Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013.
enciclopedia_ic/index.cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=2020&cd_ idioma=28555 Hélio Oiticica. “‘Pintura 9’/ ‘Painting 9’ (1959) in La invención concreta.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://lainvencionconcreta.org/en/artwork/72/ Jones, Caroline, Project Antropofagia - MIT Architeture 2012. Accessed October 28, 2013. http://architecture.mit.edu/history-theory-and-criticism/project/antropofagia La invención concreta. “Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://lainvencionconcreta.org/ Lygia Clark. “‘Relógio de sol’/ ‘Sundial’ (1960) in La invención concreta.” Access October 28, 2013. http://lainvencionconcreta.org/en/artwork/77/ Lygia Clark. “Lygia Clark webpage, English version.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.lygiaclark.org.br/defaultING.asp Mallarmé, Stéphane. “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard”, 1914. Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.math.dartmouth.edu/~doyle/docs/coup/scan/coup.pdf MNCARS - Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art and Cultural Centre. “Concrete
Invention – Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection.” Paper information, exhibition from January 23th to September 16th 2013. On walking Conference. “Call for papers”. Accessed October 28, 2013. http://onwalking.wordpress.com/cfp/ Pineda, Victoria. “Speaking about genre: the case of concrete poetry” in New Literary History, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 379-393. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. Rodrigues González, Clarissa. “La recreación del andrógino y sus representaciones en el arte y los mass media: un estudio etnográfico sobre los roles de género.” PhD thesis, Complutense University of Madrid, 2010. Tarsila do Amaral. “Tarsila do Amaral webpage”. Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.tarsiladoamaral.com.br/galeria.html Teles, Gilberto Mendonça. Vanguarda européia e modernismo brasileiro: apresentação dos principais poemas, manifestos, prefácios e conferências vanguardistas, de 1957 a 1972. Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro: Vozes, 1985. Willys de Castro. “Willys de Castro works—Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicExternas/ enciclopedia_IC/index.cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=366&cd_ idioma=28555 Cildo Meireles. “Cildo Meireles works - Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.”
Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicexternas/enciclopedia_ic/index. cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=581&cd_idioma=28555 Franz Weissmann. “Franz Weissmann works - Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicExternas/enciclopedia_IC/index. cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=1841&cd_idioma=28555
Hélio Oiticica. “Hélio Oiticica at Tate Modern Gallery in 2007.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/helio-oiticica-bodycolour Hélio Oiticica. “Hélio Oiticica webpage, English version.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.heliooiticica.org.br/english/home/home.php Hélio Oiticica. “Hélio Oiticica works - Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicexternas/enciclopedia_ic/index. cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=2020&cd_idioma=28555 Lygia Clark. “Lygia Clark webpage, English version.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.lygiaclark.org.br/defaultING.asp Willys de Castro. “Willys de Castro works - Encyclopaedia Itaú Cultural/Visual Arts.” Accessed October 28, 2013. http://www.itaucultural.org.br/aplicExternas/enciclopedia_IC/index. cfm?fuseaction=artistas_obras&cd_verbete=366&cd_idioma=28555 11
In its original version/Portuguese [translation mine]:
- A língua sem arcaísmos, sem erudição. Natural e neológica. A contribuição milionária de todos os erros. Como falamos. Como somos. - Um quadro são linhas e cores. A estatuária são volumes sob a luz. - Nenhuma fórmula para a contemporânea expressão do mundo. Ver com olhos livres. - Ser regional e puro em sua époc •
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
System Walks and Sampling Colour PAUL GOODFELLOW UNIVERSITY OF NORTHUMBRIA Abstract: This paper discusses some of the processes employed by the author, a Systems Artist, during the production of artwork made from walking. The authors approach to walking is discussed before describing the original drawing techniques, employed to sample digitally captured colours, on the walk, to produce drawings, colour field paintings and prints. Almost all of the art produced by the author starts with a walk. These walks, along with the work produced, and rules employed to produce the work can be understood as belonging to an overarching system. The author has named these systems: System Walks. This work can be understood in part through Systems Art and Land Art, but also more broadly through the authorâ€™s original training in Environmental Science, Geography and Systems Science. This background in scientific and systemic thinking is now discussed before describing and illustrating the work. Geography and Systems Science The author originally trained in environmental data visualization, working predominantly with remotely sensed satellite image data, and Geographical Information Systems, (GIS), on environmental and development projects. He worked with large spatially organized databases that housed social and environmental data, which were cross-referenced with satellite images to find spatial and temporal patterns in natural and man-made activity. This data was collected and organized by
a wide range of specialist fields, from the physical sciences, such as Soil Science to the social sciences, such as Anthropology. Each of these fields have their own methods for categorizing, sampling, interpreting and presenting their data, and he was interested in how these disparate sets of information could be meaningfully compared. In particular he was interested in sampling, boundary and category issues found when cross-referencing the specialist data as strange, counter-intuitive patterns were revealed. How, for example, could the color pixel values of massive satellite images be meaningfully interpreted as a product of this synthesis of disparate datasets? To corroborate the datasets and to investigate the patterns this cross-referencing revealed required fieldwork, where the author would go and physically check the accuracy of the data. This process, known as ‘ground-truthing’ involved walking with a Global Positioning System, (GPS), and checking the accuracy of the data in the field. This process of being in the place and capturing a more qualitative sense of place, eventually led from walking, as process of science to walking as a process of art. During this work the author carried out such ground-truthing walks in South and Central America, the Middle East and Africa. As an artist he has continued with the principle of groundtruthing, as part of his practise, and this is discussed below. Walking as Art There has been an increased interest in walking, as an aesthetic practice, since the start of the millennium, and the author’s work is part of this movement, even if his entry to walking is slightly different. There are two possible reasons for this increased interest in walking as art. Firstly it could be a reaction to the increasingly complex nature of space. Our conception of space, in abstract terms, is changing dramatically due to the spatial and temporal fluidity of the Internet. Therefore being ‘out there’ in the physical world is an attempt to ground experience and artistic practise in both
the physical landscape and the psychological and sublime landscape. Contemporary artists are revisiting approaches developed over the last 100 years of art inspired walking with an increasing sense of urgency. These approaches include the Dadaist and Surrealists walks, developed to investigate the uncanny aspects of the city, and an application of the Psychogeographic walking methods developed by the Situationists International to challenge the political status quo. The second possible reason for an artistic return to walking is that a new generation of artists are revisiting and reappraising the conceptually driven work of Hamish Fulton, Richard Long, Bruce Nuaman and Robert Smithson who have worked with conceptions of space since the 1970’s. For the author it is both a synthesis of this need to be ‘out there’ in sublime terms, with the need to ground-truth his experience in a systematic way, which fits with conceptually rigorous approach of the land artists. This seemingly contradictory nature of collecting ‘objective’ data whilst experiencing a place in sublime terms can be understood through the lens of Psychogeography. The origins of Psychogeography can be traced back, primarily to Paris and to Charles Baudelaire’s 1863 essay, The Painter of Modern Life in which he described the Flâneur, “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” The first major written work by a Flâneur practitioner was the unfinished The Arcades Projects, by Walter Benjamin, in which he documents in great detail his walks and interactions in the former arcades of Paris. This idea of the passive urban stroller was transformed in the 1920’s by the founder of surrealism André Breton who used the urban stroll as a positive tool to challenge perceptions of reality. This surrealist approach to questioning the status quo of society through walking and other surrealist methods, was latterly criticized by Guy Debord who felt they were too indirect as a form of protest. Partly in response to this perceived failure he went on to form The Situationist International, the group which pretty much to
defined Psychogeography as it is understood today. At the heart of Psychogeography was the aim of combining subjective and objective knowledge and Debord attempted to resolve this inherent paradox in his 1958 book Theory of the Dérive. Although Debord framed his concerns in political terms there was a general underlying criticism of a society that appeared to value the spectacle over the experience. That is, people were willing to accept spectatorship over participation. More recently, Jaron Lanier noted the general malaise within society regarding original experience and mapped this to the onset of the Internet. In particular he noted that there has been little in the way of cultural innovation in terms of fashion, music and art since the dawn of widespread Internet use in the mid to late 90’s, and instead the dominant culture has been one of appropriation, sampling and remix with a retro aesthetic that references pre-internet movements in fashion, music and art. He argues that the new works produced are essentially using the energy invested by the original artist, and this may go some way to explaining why there is a renewed interest in Land Art and Pyschography that requires a physical, as well as intellectual and creative investment in the work. Lanier makes his argument clearly ‘Information is alienated experience. You can think of culturally decodable information as a potential form of experience, very much as you can think of a brick resting on a ledge as storing potential energy. When the brick is prodded to fall, the energy is revealed. That is only possible because it was lifted into place at some point in the past. In the same way, stored information might cause experience to be revealed, if it is prodded in the right way. A file on a hard disk does indeed contain information of the kind that objectively exists. The fact that the bits are discernible instead of being scrambled into mush—the way heat scrambles things—is what makes them bits. But if the bits can potentially mean something to someone, they can only do so if they are experienced. When that happens, a commonality of culture is enacted between
the storer and the retriever of the bits. Experience is the only process that can dealienate information.’(Lanier, 2011, p 29) Systems Art As with walking, Psychogeography and Land Art, there has also been a renewed interest in Systems thinking and Systems Aesthetics within art since the turn of the millennium. Again this could stem from an underlying concern with both the abstraction of information and space, due to the Internet and the alienation of the individual from material experience of being out there in the world. Psychogeography and Land Art explicitly renew the connection with physical space, whilst Systems Art challenges the underlying processes that mediate all information in society today. This increased interest in Systems thinking and systems aesthetics in art can be traced back to two key events. Firstly, the Donna de Salvo curated exhibition, Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970, held in 2005 at Tate Modern and secondly the Systems Art Symposium at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2007. These events were preceded by a number of important papers that lay the foundation for re-evaluating Systems Art as a clear branch of conceptual art, as opposed to a solely technologically determined cul-de-sac in art history. These include a number of papers from Edward Shanken including, ‘The House That Jack Built: Jack Burnham’s Concept of “Software” as a Metaphor for Art,’ in Leonardo Electronic Almanac 6:10 (November, 1998) and Art in the Information Age: Technology and Conceptual Art, Shanken, (2002). Since the Tate and Whitechapel exhibitions and symposium there have been several important publications that have continued to re-evaluate and rehabilitate the debate regarding the Systems Art and systems thinking within art. These include: The Art of Systems, Art, History and Systems Theory, Francis Halsall and Chris Smith, eds. White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960–1980.These texts give a valuable analysis of
specific events and work in an art historical context, but it could be argued that a broader analysis and impact has been made by the English translation of Art as a Social System, by social theorist Niklas Luhmann in 2000, in which Luhmann proposed an overarching application of systems thinking. This general social theory described society as comprised of multiple social systems such as art, the economy, law, and science. Systems Art developed in the late 1960’s as a branch of conceptual art that considered the emergent ideas of cybernetics and system science. The definition of systems and systems thinking varies between disciplines, but a useful description was given by Kenneth Boulding who stated “a system is anything that is not in chaos. We could turn the pattern around and define a system as any structure that exhibits order and pattern.” (1985), Systems theory, as applied to art, grew from a group of conceptual artists in the late 1960’s, such as Levine, Jack Burnham, Hans Haacke and Sol Lewitt, all of whom referenced Weiner’s Cybernetics, and Ludwig Von Bertlanffy’s General System Theory in their writing and work. Their work was concept driven and organised by rules as Sol LeWitt noted in his essay “Paragraphs of Conceptual Art” (1967), in which he described conceptual art as a quasi-mechanical process, “In conceptual art the idea of concept is the most important aspect of the work … [t]he idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” As noted above, the underlying reason for the resurgent interest in Land Art and Psychogeography is to counter the alienating experience of modern life, much of which is driven by the digital distribution of second-hand information. Lanier described information as alienated experience (Lanier, 2011, p.28). The emotional or psychological dangers of digital information and living with secondary experience was proposed originally by the Systems Artist Les Levine, with his art installation ‘Systems Burn-Off X Residual Software’ at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in Chicago in
1969. In his artist’s statement in the exhibition catalogue Levine argued that “the proliferation of mass media was changing knowledge into a second-hand mental experience of simulations and representations i.e. software as opposed to first-hand, direct, corporeal experiences of actual objects, places and events, i.e. hardware. All activities which have no connection with object or material mass are the result of software. Images themselves are hardware. Information about these images is software … The experience of seeing something first hand is no longer of value in a software controlled society, as anything seen through the media carries just as much energy as first hand experience … In the same way, most of the art that is produced today ends up as information about art” (Levine, 1970 cited in Shankan 2003, p. 434). Artist Process The System Walks can be described as conceptual art, in the sense that they are based on an idea. These ideas could be described as formal aesthetic concerns, such as the abstract representation of light and colour over the duration of a walk. Other walks may be informed by broader conceptual ideas, such as the methodology of art production. The System Walks, though, are more than the conceptual idea that motivates the walk. The idea for the walk, the walk itself, (and the energy invested in the walk) and the artwork produced are integral to the walk, and taken together form a complex ‘distributed system’. The System Walks can be considered as distributed systems, as they consist of discrete but interdependent parts of a whole. As shown in the diagram below The System Walk is essentially an enclosed system, save for the inputs of the energy and the outputs of the art. The final art ‘works’ of drawings, films, and paintings should be considered as system outputs of a system that was created to structure and evaluate the experience of the walk and idea.
The stages of a typical system walk will now be summarised, with a particular focus on the data collection and sampling aspects of the work to produce both drawings of the walk and colour field paintings and prints.
The Walk and Data Capture
System walks take place in both rural, wilderness and urban environments. A System Walk may follow a pre-defined route, or be an aimless stroll. Examples of
pre-defined routes include an ongoing series of walks in the northwest of Scotland, that take in the mountains of Stac Pollaih, Suilven, and Cul Mor. Other walks, usually in urban environments, may not follow any predefined path, and operate more as psychogeographic wanderings in the city. Examples of these include walks in Edinburgh, Berlin and Istanbul. Many of these walks have been repeated, some
Fig. 1: Simplified diagram of the energy flow through the system of the System Walks, with the energy input of the walk, powering the production of the art outputs
over several years. In both types of walk a GPS unit is carried to log key information, such as path coordinates, altitude, distance and speed, as all this data is potentially valuable. A waterproof time-lapse camera is worn on the chest using a harness, leaving the hands free to negotiate obstacles. The camera is programmed to capture a photograph at selected time intervals, such as every 10 or 20 seconds. This ‘hand-and-eye-free’ approach to photography removes the authorial intent from the process, as the author cannot make compositional and framing decisions. This passive approach is important, as the camera’s role is to capture the colour values quantitatively, whilst the author is free to experience the walk qualitatively, unencumbered by the need to manage, edit, or curate the experience. Studies in colour On return to the studio from a walk the still frames are collated together into a sequence to produce a stop-motion film. It is at this stage that the author’s aesthetic decision-making comes into play, as colour and meaning are extracted from the images. The author has designed a set of processes, built around a computer and digital drawing tools to allow the colors and positional information to be extracted from the film interactively. The film runs through each frame slowly, at a frame rate of 1 frame per second. Therefore each second of this process is equivalent of 10 seconds of the walk, based on a 10 second time-lapse sequence. Therefore it would take one hour of interaction to run through a film of a ten-hour walk. This process is designed to force a more intuitive and direct interaction with the material. The frame rate can be adjusted interactively in real-time, to allow the artist to have the optimal dynamic relationship with the material. If the material runs too slowly it may give too much time to ponder each frame, for example in compositional terms.
If it runs too quickly it will give insufficient time to make the correct aesthetic selections of colour. Two types of work are made directly from the sampling process: line drawings and colour field prints. The selection of colours is made using a drawing tablet and pen. A continuous line is drawn across the film using a digital drawing tablet for the duration of the film. The pen is directed across the screen to select colours and areas of the image of interest. For each frame a single RGB digital pixel value is sampled. This drawn line is recorded and operates as a secondary walk through the sequence of images. During the construction of this line the original walk is remembered and reactivated. These lines have been presented in conjunction with the path of the walk, recorded by the GPS. The example below, shows the path of a walk in Berlin that has been repeated several times since 2010. On the left is the GPS line, and on the right is the line created from selecting the colour. As the colours are selected through the movement of the pen, they are recorded, collated and assembled to produce solid fields of colour based on these colour values. The sampled colours are laid out as a grid of colours, starting in the upper left hand corner of the screen working down the screen from left to right. The example below shows work from a circular walk in the Scottish Borders from Selkirk to a group of large Cairns, called The Three Brethren. An interesting aspect of the work is revealed when either the walk, or sampling is repeated. The above example shows the walk repeated after 12 months, and shows a different set of colours. The difference in colours between the two images can be attributed to the difference in light, vegetation, variation in spatial location, and also the path chosen by the pen in the selection process. The different paths, made through repeated drawings, become apparent when two samples of the same walk are presented together, as below. This iterative process can be repeated indefinitely,
Fig. 2 Left image shows the GPS route of a walk in the Prezlauer Berg District of Berlin. The right image show the line during the colour selection process. Fig. 3 The left image shows the colours selected from a circular walk to The Three Brethren, in the Scottish Borders in 2012. The right image shows the colours from the same route, when it was repeated in 2012. 105
which over time can allude to an underlying structure to both the abstract colour fields, and illustrates the author’s preference for the colours that most represent his ‘sense of place’.
Conclusions With all of this work it is the aim of the author to capture the essence of a walk, a landscape and sense of place in abstract art work produced using systematic techniques. On another level he is interested in what this work suggests in terms of the subjectivity of sampling data. This is illustrated in his work through the iterative interrogation of the data, as each time he interacts with the material at the drawing stage a slightly different line and set of colours are created. Although not explicit in the work, the underlying suggestion is that all sampling of data from the physical world is to some degree subjective and is influenced by the qualitative humanity at both the sampling stages
Fig.4 Two iterations or versions of the same walk in Prezlauer District of Berlin. Each line was produced during the colour selection process.
and interpretation stages. Thus, regardless of the clarity of the system employed by the physical and social sciences there will be a qualitative and interpretative dimension to the work that needs to be made explicit. There is no such thing as a perfect model in the real world, that perfectly reflects the phenomena it seeks to represent, as there will always be variables that you cannot account for. A system, therefore, can only be an approximate model of the real world. These abstracted works, the lines and the colour fields can therefore only be an approximate model of the walk, landscape and sense of place, but through repeated interaction, can still be an accurate model of how the artist reflected upon the walk and the data the walk produced. Earlier in this paper the analogy Levine made between experience and hardware was made. In 1970 he presciently argued that mass-media was turning knowledge and representation into second hand experience, divorced from the physical world. This paper briefly describes the way in which the author attempts to understand and negotiate the increasingly system-based world and activate the information in these systems, through experience and energy, through making or walking. As Lanier argues â€˜Experience is the only process that can de-alienate informationâ€™.
References Baudelaire, C. P. (1863), The Painter of Modern Life, (2009 edition), Penguin Classics Benjamin, W. (2002), The Arcades Project, New York: Belknap Press, 2002 Boulding, K.E. (1985), The World as a Total System, Beverly Hills: Sage Brown, P., Gere C., Lambert N., & Mason C., (Eds.), (2009)White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960-1980, Cambridge: MIT Press Careri, F. (2001). walkscapes walking as an aesthetic practice, Barcelona: CG Coverley, M. (2006) Psychogeography, Harpenden, Pocket Essentials Debord, G. (1955), Situationist International Anthology, Bureau of Public Secrets,U.S.; Revised and expanded ed edition (Editor Ken Knabb, 28 April 2007) De Salvo, D. (Ed.) (2005), Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970 Tate Publishing Gere, C. (2006), Art, Time and Technology, Berg Publishers Halsall, F. (2008), Systems of Art, Peter Lang Lanier, J. (2011), ‘You are not a gadget: A Manifesto’ Penguin LeWitt, S. (1967), Paragraphs of Conceptual Art” (1967) in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, eds. Alexander Alberro, MIT Press (New Ed edition, 2000) Lippard , L.L. Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object , University of California Press; (Reprint edition 1997) Luhmann, N. (2000) Art as a Social System, Stanford University Press McDonough, T. (2009), The Situationist and the City. London, Verso
Poe, E. A. (1840), Man of the Crowd, (2009 edition), BookSurge Classics Shanken, E.A. (1999), The House that Jack Built: Jack Burnham’s Concept of ‘Software’ as a Metaphor for Art, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Volume 6, Issue 10 Shanken, E.A. (2002), Art in the Information Age: Technology and Conceptual Art, Leonardo, Volume 35, Issue 4 Shanken, E.A. (2009), Reprogramming Systems Aesthetics: A Strategic Historiography, From http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6bv363d4 Burnham, J. (1968), Beyond Modern Sculpture, G. Braziller
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Walking the Canal Towpaths of Staffordshire, How can the Sounds, Textures, Sights, and Smells Encountered be Captured in Visual Form? What Happens when Klee’s Twittering Machine meets Messaien’s Petits Esquisses d’Oiseaux? CHARLOTTE JONES Loughborough University Abstract: This paper is concerned with the translation of the sensorial experience of a walk to visual representation in the form of a sensory score or sensory collage. The paper explores the sensory score as a valid research tool, a methodology or method of analysis fit to examine the urban/rural landscape. The paper examines methods used by the World Soundscape Project to represent a soundscape alongside the graphic/visual signs used within graphic scores such as those collated by John Cage in his Publication ‘Notations’. Existing methods of graphic notation are examined including acoustic, phonetic and musical notations. The argument is that it is possible to build on the above to develop a multi-sensory representation more akin to the experience encountered when walking. Central to the proposal of the sensory score is the relationship between musical concepts and visual elements e.g. pitch to line, dynamics to perspective.
This paper examines how it may be possible to translate the sensorial experience of a walk to visual form. I examine the concept of the graphic score and question if it could be developed to become the multi-sensory model I have called the sensory score. Further more I suggest the use of the graphic/sensory score as academic research method. Whilst making repeated walks along the Coventry Canal as part of my practice, I became aware of the journey as a multi-sensory experience. The smell of wood burning became particularly evocative of the walk, together with the sound of birdsong. I began to consider how the sensory experience of the walk could be represented in visual form and how I, and others could learn from it. I have been a music teacher in primary schools for over 20 years. One of the main methods of introducing young children to the concepts of music is through the graphic score. Children learn through graphic notation to represent duration, pitch, rhythm and dynamics. In addition, they gain deeper understanding of a topic such as ‘mini-beasts’, ‘space’ or ‘the rainforest’. My point is that if children can learn new knowledge through this process then it is possible that it could be applied to academic enquiry. Furthermore, the concept could be developed to translate/examine all sensory experiences in addition to the hearing and perception of sound (music). Thus I began to consider the development of a new research method, a derivative of the graphic score, the ‘sensory score’. I previously commented that birdsong forms a central part of the sensory experience of a walk along the canal. Therefore, it is to representations of birdsong that I initially turn. Imagine a process of enquiry partway between the visual representation of Klee’s twittering birds and Messiaen’s representation of birdsong through musical composition. ‘Twittering Machine,’ an oil transfer drawing on paper created by Paul Klee in 1922, depicts a group of birds fused to a branch or wire the end of which is considered
to be a handle or crank. MoMA, describes the work as a fusing of the natural world with the industrial world where ’we can imagine the fiendish cacophony made by shrieking birds’.1 Conversely, Dr. Steven Zucher in conversation with Dr. Jumania Kreinuk, refer to the shapes in the bird’s mouths as ‘visual signs or notations of sound’.2 Each visual sign for each bird is different suggesting distinct tones. It is this statement that points to the possibility of effectively representing sound through notation and graphic means. Petites Esquisses d’Oiseaux is Messiaen’s last solo work for piano. The composition comprises of 6 sketches. Three sketches represent the robin, alongside those of the blackbird, song thrush and the skylark. Referring to ‘Le Merle Noir’ (the blackbird), David Kraft identifies a complex arrangement of colour chords combined with the song of the bird. The author concludes that Messiaen did not wish to create ‘the exact sound of the bird but like a painter he intended to create a similar timbre and inflection which he heard in the field’.3 Messiaen seems to have achieved his aim. However, his works are elitist in terms of level of musical ability required to perform them. Is it possible to create a sound piece that captures the essence of birdsong and other environmental sounds using graphic as opposed to traditional notation, that is open to a wider performance audience? Before moving on, it would be helpful to define more fully the concept of the graphic score. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word ‘graphic’ is from the Greek word ‘graphē’ meaning ‘writing, drawing’. As adjective, graphic is described as ‘relating to visual art especially drawing, engraving or lettering’. The origin of ‘score’ is from Old Norse meaning ‘notch, tally and twenty’. Definitions include ‘the written music for a composition showing all the vocal and instrumental parts’, ‘a notch or line cut into a surface’ and ‘orchestrate or arrange a piece of music’. Thus, the graphic score could be defined as ‘music written using
www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=37347 (accessed: June 26, 2013) www.khanacademy.org (accessed: June 26, 2013) 3 David Kraft, “Birdsong in the Music of Olivier Messiaen” PhD University of Middlesex: 2000. 1
drawing, lettering and engraving showing vocal and instrumental parts’. Noel Llinos in the publication ‘Notations’ discussed later clarifies the nature of a graphic score further: Make shapes that speak for themselves. Use numbers, letters, lines, signs, directions, colours to tell the eye what the ear will hear. Understand space. Use its extents and qualities for communication.4 What then would be the definition of a sensory score? Sensory is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘relating to sensation or the senses’. I therefore suggest the following: an event, performance or composition written in visual form (drawing, lettering, engraving) relating to sensation or sensory experience. Having suggested a research model, I need to underpin my thoughts with supporting theory and academic discourse regarding sensory perception. Research in recent years has highlighted a shift in the understanding of sensory perception away from the dominance of vision to a perception where ‘There is no priority over the senses and where the senses intermingle, speak to each other and translate each other’.5 Similarly, the following quote by Edensor points towards a multisensory understanding of the walking experience. While we walk we always travel elsewhere, not just along the immediate path but outward to distant sights and scenes, back to the past and to places in the imagination, and to remembered smells, noises and non visual sensations…6 Moreover, current research suggests that tradition text based methods of enquiry may not be the most appropriate when establishing new knowledge regarding the senses.
John Cage, Notations New York: Something Else Press, 1969: n.p. Johanna Hallsten, “The Blur of a Jelly and the Echo of a Footstep: Stalking the Uncanny in Contemporary Art and Theory” PhD University of Stafford: 2004. 6 Tim Edensor, in Ways of Walking Ethnography and Practice on Foot, Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst (eds). Aldershot England: Ashgate Publishing: 2008: 135. 4 5
Bendix is quoted by Pink as suggesting: To research sensory perception and reception it requires methods that are capable of grasping the most profound type of knowledge.7 I suggest therefore, that an enquiry relating to how we perceive when walking must be multi-sensory in nature if we are to address the ‘embodied’ experience fully. A number of researchers have begun to address these issues of enquiry specifically relating to the way we experience place. Alison Barnes in her thesis ‘Realising the geo/graphic landscape of the every day’ uses graphic objects within her enquiry process to examine the landscape. Barnes argues that her Edinburgh Map Book encourages exploration and thought through ‘interactive’ engagement. Examples of Barnes’ work also incorporate sand paper and scented draw liners to develop haptic knowledge of place. Raymond Lucas uses diagrams, notations, drawings and photographs to represent walks.8 The multi-method practice employed by the author allows him to ‘understand the experience of the walk more fully’. Lucas tracks his progress through the Tokyo underground using Laban Notation usually reserved for dance choreography. He is using a form of notation to better understand place. This I consider to be a score. Any person understanding the notation as with music notation could potentially perform or re-enact the walk. With reference specifically to sound, I now examine methods used by researchers, musicians, artists and ornithologists to translate environmental sounds through visual means. Firstly, I turn to the work of the World Soundscape Project based at the Simon Fraser University, British Colombia, Canada. Commencing in 1971, Bill Truax and R Murray Schafer, amongst other researchers carried out comparative studies of environmental sounds in varied locations worldwide. Schafer details the recording methods and
Pink, Sarah. Doing Sensory Ethnography. London: SAGE Publications: 2009: 8. Lucas, Raymond, “ ‘Taking a Line for a Walk’: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice.” Ways of Walking Ethnography and Practice on Foot, Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst (eds). Aldershot England: Ashgate Publishing: 2008:169-184. 7
sound notation systems used by the WSP, examples of which I discuss below. In Appendix I, the author presents a chart showing log notes of sound events taken during a 24-hour period in the countryside in British Columbia. This is an example of quantitative research where sound is represented in graph form based on ‘sound levels’ recorded on location. The data clearly shows different types of environmental sound detected at different times of the day such as birds, frogs, aircraft and bells. Duration and sound levels are evident but not the quality or nature of the sound. Schafer demonstrates the use of the spectrograph to illustrate the difference between the sounds produced by a range of birds (Schafer 1994, 31). Providing a reading of the frequency of sound over time the spectrograph enables comparison of the ‘tonal qualities’ through visual means. As a musician pitch is an important concept in composition. Many sounds in the environment would require an indication of pitch to be effective. Thus, this method of data collection is in adequate for my purposes. Schafer describes the use of symbols to describe a sound event in the form of a chart.9 He considers that the symbols ‘are not intended as exact graphic analogues but rather a handy index of devices for students to use in notating the significant features of sounds’. The methods of describing sound here are much more effective in that they describe the ‘sound event’ more fully. Where Messiaen represented the ‘timbre and inflection’ of the bird song through traditional notation, so Schaffer illustrates in detail duration, frequency, grain and dynamics of the sound heard. It is interesting to note here that musical terms are used within the notation process. Referring to the detail of classification of different sounds (i.e. bark of a dog, song of a bird, fog horn and church bell) using the symbols mentioned above,10 a range of environmental sounds are analysed and clearly show variation in sound types.
R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (Vermont: Destiny Books: 1994): 136. 10 Ibid: 138.
However, again there is no indication of pitch. In addition to the methods noted above the listening walk11 shows sound types and levels heard over a period of 20 minutes around a block of streets. This returns to a quantitative data collection method presented in a more appealing visual manner. It does not effectively represent details of sound. As a musician, Truax used the environmental sounds recorded during research within his compositions. The resulting music was termed ‘soundscape composition’. He acknowledged that ‘part of the composers intent may be to enhance the listeners awareness of environmental sound’.12 Truax distinguished between the listening walk and the sound walk. He considered that the latter was defined as the ‘exploration’ of the soundscape of a given area using a score as a guide. As far as I can ascertain the ‘score’ was essentially a map as opposed to a ‘graphic score’. I consider that the potential of the listener to learn through sound composition and to be focused using a score highlights a real research opportunity. Schafer had acknowledged that ‘to give a convincing view of the soundscape a new means of description needs (needed) to be devised’.13 Don Idhe, is quoted by Maryclare Foa (Foa 2011) as stating, ‘[n]ew sounds call for new notations’.14 Thus, the system of notation employed by the WSP was appropriate then but needs updating to be relevant to sounds produced today. It may be possible to incorporate and develop further some of the techniques used by the WSP within my research. Moving from the analytical to the creative I consider the work of John Cage and his contemporaries. The publication ‘Notations’ collated by Cage illustrates the use of non-standard notation within scores used by musicians during the 1960s.15 I examine a number of examples chosen as potential for adaption within my research process. ‘Illuminations from Fantastic Gardens’16 is an example of a vocal score
Ibid: Appendix 1. Ibid: 216. 13 Ibid. 14 Foa, Mary Clare. “Sounding Out: Performance Drawing in Response to the Outside Environment.” PhD University of the Arts London: 2011. 15 Cage, Notations: n.p. 1
based on text. The score is read left to right, as we would read a book. Words are manipulated visually to give indications of pitch and dynamics and timbre (sound quality). Words, for example from the diaries of canal boatmen could be treated in a similar manner in order to interrogate place. Returning momentarily to the work of the World Soundscape Project, Schafer refers to the work of Pierre Schaeffer in the classification of sound objects.17 Pierre Schaeffer is reported to have devised a system by which it is possible to ‘classify all musical sound objects for the purpose of helping students to perceive their significant features clearly’. Schafer considers the system to require modification for use in the field. In the work, ‘L’Etude aux son s animes’ (1958),18 Pierre Schaeffer appears to combine aspects of a traditional Western score alongside a score that is reminiscent of a spectrograph. It is not clear what the ‘graph-like’ lines represent in terms of performance. ‘Orchestral Sketches’,19 composed by Tom Ehrlich, combines graphic notation together with elements of Western notation. The score is specific about which instrument should play sections of the piece (strings, brass and percussion) and the dynamics levels. However, the order of the composition is left to the performers. The sketched lines appear to indicate pitch. The final score, Takehisa Kosugi’s ‘Tender Music’20 could be described as an event score. Instructions are given to the performer to move an object. The concept of this type of score could be easily adapted to the sensory perception of a walk. As part of CAGE 100, the Ikon Gallery hosted a recital of John Cage’s ‘Water Music’ by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (March 2013). The pianist performed at a grand piano surrounded by a range of non-standard instruments or ‘sound makers’. To the side of the piano an enlarged version of the score was displayed for the benefit of the audience. Using a combination of words, traditional notation graphic marks on the score, the performer was instructed when and how to
Schaeffer, The Soundscape Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World: 134 Cage, Notations: n.p. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid. 17
play the instruments. Included in the piece were the piano chords, sounds of water in a bowl, duck calls, radio, prepared piano (playing cards placed on piano strings) and drumstick. After witnessing the performance I began to consider the possibility of creating sensory scores based on walks, were an audience or performer would be instructed to listen, observe, smell, and touch a range of prepared stimuli or experiences. This could be arranged in gallery space or on location as part of a walk. Similarly, the use of artificial stimuli (link non-standard instruments) such as smells could be incorporated into the work. I have found a company able to manufacture aromas and have purchased ‘vortex cubes’ of wood smoke, leaves, machine oil and riverbank smells. Thus for example, the audience/performer could be directed to smell aromas provided following a sensory score. From the musician to the artist I consider the work of Mary Clare Foa. The author draws using environmental sound as stimulus. When teaching children a new song, I raise and lower my hand to represent pitch, again a reference to Gregorian notation. Similarly, in her garden drawings, Foa transfers pitch to paper (as illustrated on the artists website on the June 26, 2013). In ‘Drawing the Sound in my Garden’, the dense arrangement of line appears to represent the cocophany of the dawn chorus. Finally, I examine the work of the ornithologist Aretas A. Saunders. Kraft discusses the notations used by various ornithologists to represent bird sounds (Kraft 2000). The author appears to support the view of Trevor Nold that Saunders is of particular interest as he produced what could be described as mini graphic scores in his quest to represent bird song. Furthermore, John Bevis states the following: Saunders came closer than anyone to devising a method of collecting birdsong using pencil and paper alone.21
Bevis, John. Aaaaw to Zzzzzzd The Words of Birds. Massachusetts: The MIT Press: 2010: 123.
The notations as described by Bevis consist of three bands: a description of musical quality (timbre), a phonetic transcription of bird song, together with a score depicting pitch (key signature and line of pitch) and duration. The question might be asked as to why notations used in 1935 might be relevant today? Depictions of sound using the graphic score (including pitch) may be more accessible to an audience than scientific data collection through the spectrograph that requires specialist knowledge. It may be necessary to go further back in time to discover the origin of Saundersâ€™ notation methods. Ingold explores examples of Gregorian notation developed prior to Western notation accepted by musicians today.22 Words, together with detailed notations indicate how the performer should sing the piece. In addition to note length, the pitch of a word is indicated by the height of the neumes from an imaginary line. Thus, as suggested by Ingold this method appears to be the for-runner of the traditional stave. The majority of examples I have shared relate to sound. That is because I can draw from the current practice of sound perception and representation to develop my practice. I conclude the paper by suggesting how the model of the graphic score might be developed to become a multi-sensory model. The adaptation of graphic score to sensory score may lie in the combination and juxtaposition of visual research methods selected.
Tim Ingold, Lines: A Brief History. London: Routledge: 2007: 19-23.
The image above shows an extract from one of my sketchbooks. The placement of lines of pitch on the photograph of the canal, evoke the sound of the robin. This is because the linear quality of the canal bank (photographed to replace the traditional score) works in conjunction with the lines of pitch. I believe frottage and casting (representations of touch) and aromas could be incorporated into works in a similar way to develop the sensory score. Finally, my argument is that it is possible to build on current research methods to develop a multi-sensory method of enquiry more akin to the experience encountered when walking. The sensory score takes into consideration the shortcomings of current enquiry into sensory perception and acknowledge the limitation of existing methods of notating aspects of the environment.
Fig. 1: Sketch Book Drawing, 2013. Felt pen on digital image (Charlotte Jones)
Bibliography Barnes, Alison. “Realising the Geo/Graphic Landscape of the Everyday: A Practice led Investigation into an Interdisciplinary Geo/Graphic Design Process.” PhD University of the Arts London: 2011. Bevis, John. Aaaaw to Zzzzzzd The Words of Birds. Massachusetts: The MIT Press: 2010. Cage, John. Notations New York: Something Else Press, 1969. Foa, Mary Clare. “Sounding Out: Performance Drawing in Response to the Outside Environment.” PhD University of the Arts London: 2011. Hallsten, Johanna. “The Blur of a Jelly and the Echo of a Footstep: Stalking the Uncanny in Contemporary Art and Theory.” PhD University of Stafford: 2004. Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. London: Routledge: 2007. Kraft, David. “Birdsong in the Music of Olivier Messiaen.” PhD University of Middlesex: 2000. Lucas, Raymond. “ ‘Taking a Line for a Walk’: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice.” Ways of Walking Ethnography and Practice on Foot, Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst (eds). Aldershot England: Ashgate Publishing: 2008. pp 169–84. Pink, Sarah. Doing Sensory Ethnography. London: SAGE Publications: 2009. Saunders, Aretas A. A Guide to Bird Songs. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc: 1935. Schafer, R Murray. The Soundscape Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Vermont: Destiny Books: 1994. •
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
The Mind of the Walker: Meditation and Madness
ANNA JÖRNGÅRDEN Stockholm University
Abstract: Ever since romanticism, walking has retained a strong and positive association with the workings of the mind, linking the physical activity to reflexive and meditative states, as well as to self-actualization and selfrestoration. In this paper, I survey the formation of this dominant idea of walking as a remedy for the soul, and also consider the existence of other, more tortured forms of walking, which also produce other, more disturbing aesthetics. I explore the literary meanings and expressions of obsessive modes of walking in Nick Papadimitrou’s Scarp (2012), W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn (1995) and Thomas Bernhard’s Walking (1971), to argue that the productive tension cultivated by an aesthetics of walking lies somewhere between cure and illness, and between creative meditation and madness.
I only thought of walking, that the action of my muscles might harmonize with the action of my nerves; and walk I did, fast and far. —William Crimsworth in Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor.1
Ever since Jean-Jacques Rousseau first theorized walking as a cultural act, walking has retained a strong and positive association with the workings of the mind. “I can only meditate when I am walking”, claimed Rousseau, inaugurating a view of the activity as stimulating reflexivity and higher states of consciousness.2 Even today, walking is still thought to foster creativity, plunge the subject into an artistic and even poetic mood, or aid the cultivation of grand ideas. Most of all, however, walking is associated with the exploration of one’s interiority. Setting the body in rhythmic motion and traversing an external landscape is believed to direct the gaze inwards – towards one’s inner, mental landscape—producing a kind of pensive self-reflexivity that is often given a lofty and highflown expression. Caspar David Friedrich’s painting “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” (1818) offers us an image of this ideal romantic Rousseauian walker and his intense focus on his own subjectivity (Fig. 1). Friedrich’s painting emphasizes the strong individuality of the walker, whose erect figure radiates strength of both body and mind. Standing alone in a sublime landscape that represents an inner, mental geography rather than any real mountain range, he stares into the evocative mist. That his back is turned to the viewer of the painting further emphasizes that his gaze is directed inwards rather than outwards. As peripatetic practice became further explicated and theorized during the nineteenth century, it was routinely hailed as a remedy for the soul. Walking was thought to be able to bring us back to our self—a self that somehow has been obscured or lost, amid the banalities of modern, everyday life. As William Hazlitt
Charlotte Brontë, The Professor (1857), chapter 5. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Les Confessions (Launette, 1889), Livre IX, 134. 3 William Hazlitt, ”On Going a Journey” (1821), in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. P.P. Howe, vol. viii (London & Toronto: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1931), 182. 1
writes on the effects of walking in “On Going a Journey” (1821), “I plunge into my past being, and revel there […] I begin to feel, think, and be myself again.”3 The mentally restorative function of walking, to which Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor also refers, is echoed in Charles Dickens’s accounts of his own peripatetic habits. “If I couldn’t walk fast and far”, Dickens wrote in a letter in 1857, “I should explode and perish”.4 Or, in a letter to his wife in 1844: “My only comfort is, in Motion”.5 The feet channel the frustrated energies of a racing mind. Leslie Stephen maps this walking cure onto the over-active mind of the writer in his essay “In Praise of Walking” (1902), in which he claims that this activity “is the best of panaceas for the morbid tendencies of authors”.6 He refers to Byron as a negative example of what
Fig. 1: Caspar David Friedrich, “Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer” (1818) Quoted in Michael Slater, Charles Dickens (London: Yale University Press, 2009), 382. Quoted in Peter Ackroyd, Dickens (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990), 444. 6 Leslie Stephen, ”In Praise of Walking” (1902), in Studies of a Biographer, vol 3 (London: Duckworth & Co, 1902), 267 4 5
not-walking can lead to, and goes so far as to state that it was Byron’s lameness, and the fact that this condition didn’t allow for long-distance walking, that caused what he calls his “defects”, his “morbid affectation and perverse misanthropy”.7 Such character flaws, Stephen states assuredly, “would have been walked off in a good cross-country march”. This attitude persists into the twentieth century as well, whether in the works of Alfred Wainwright, prolific writer of walking guidebooks, or in the extensive travel writings of Bruce Chatwin. Walking is “the perfect tonic for the jaded mind”, Wainwright states, while Chatwin claims that “movement is the best cure for melancholy”.8 The hyperbolic claims of the psychological benefits of
Fig. 2: Gustave Caillebotte, “Claude Monet en Étretat” (1884) Stephen, 266. Alfred Wainwright, Pennine Way Companion (Kendal: Westmoreland Gazette, 1969), xix; Bruce Chatwin, “It’s a Nomad Nomad World”, in Anatomy of Restlessness: Selected Writings, 1969–1989 (NY: Viking, 1996), 103. 7
walking have in no way abated in our times. Anne D. Wallace finds several examples in contemporary popular magazines of how walking is being described as a form of self-help psychotherapy, offering restoration and revitalisation, reconnection and reconciliation.9 It is an overwhelming choir that sings the praise of pedestrianism. Yet the feverish, nervous walking that Brontë and Dickens describe points towards the existence of another common, yet often overlooked, form of walking. In this more tortured variant, walking no longer appears as a simple remedy, but rather becomes part of the illness. This shift in meaning is manifest in Dickens’s life. For him, walking was a constant quest for balance; for many years he tried to spend as much time exerting his body walking as he did straining his mind writing. But instead of walking himself into a state of harmony and peace of mind, his perambulations turned into a manic and overexcited activity. As several biographers have pointed out, his long-distance walking at an excruciating tempo became obsessive, destructive and ultimately disabling – taking the place of sleep and damaging his personal relationships.10 Walking, it seems, can also go mad. If Rousseau and David Friedrich offer us an image of the meditative walker, another figure symbolizes the dark side of walking. In the case of the fuguer, walking is no longer a virtuous activity linked to memory or to the placing and the making of the self, but rather to the dissolution of the mind. As principally explored by Ian Hacking in Mad Travelers (1998), fugue was a short-lived mental diagnosis that cropped up in the late nineteenth century.11 Psychiatrists claimed to have discovered a new illness: the compulsive desire to set out walking, as fast as possible, straight ahead – a condition that also brought about the loss of memory and of identity. The front cover of Mad Travelers features a painting by Gustave Caillebotte depicting Monet on a dirt road, his hunched shoulders and slouching walk suggesting bodily
Anne D. Wallace, Walking, Literature, and English Culture: The Origins and Uses of Peripatetic in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford. Clarendon, 1993), 6. Another example is Joseph A. Amato’s acclaim in On Foot: A History of Walking (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 276: “Beyond fostering health, walking allows the feet to lead the mind and heart; it gives us back our body and senses. With a fixed rhythm and established breathing, it releases the walker from his or her normally interrupted, if not conflict-filled, consciousness and provides an altered state of mind for prayer, reflection, or simply talking to oneself.” 10 Cf. Ackroyd, 291-2. 11 Ian Hacking, Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998). 9
fatigue (Fig. 2). Even though Monet, as far as I know, did not show any tendencies to fugue, it is illuminating to compare Caillebotte’s and David Friedrich’s walkers. In contrast to the posture of the romantic wanderer, suggesting strength, mastery and the satisfaction of having confronted the abyss and reached some a higher insight, the scruffy vagrant look of Caillebotte’s figure gives a decidedly less heroic image of the walker. This is not walking as meditation, but rather as compulsive need – in Hacking’s words, “less a voyage of self-discovery than an attempt to eliminate the self”.12 Fugue didn’t survive as a diagnosis, and it is of course highly unlikely that there was a mad walking epidemic in the late nineteenth century that filled the streets with ambulatory amnesiacs – but the diagnosis still tells us something about how walking can be taken too far, and as such be recognized as liminal and marginal, associated with anti-social behaviour and mental illness. So, when is walking a cure, and when is it a symptom? In the following, I explore this ambivalence between walking as restorative meditation and a form of walking gone mad. Instead of identifying walking exclusively with wholesome selfdiscovery and with aesthetics of harmony and unity, the texts I explore describe a different, more anguished and disturbing mode of walking, that produces another, more disturbing aesthetics. I will discuss three more or less contemporary texts: Nick Papadimitriou’s Scarp (2012), in which he aims to write forth the unacknowledged borderlands of outer, northern London; W.G. Sebald’s Die Ringe des Saturn [The Rings of Saturn] (1995), a book in which a walking tour of Suffolk merges with inquiries into the dark margins of history; and, lastly, Thomas Bernhard’s novella Gehen [Walking] (1971), in which the intermingling of walking and thinking spirals into utter madness. All three texts work within and refer back to the long-established tradition linking walking, interiority and cultural production. But rather than offering narratives that walk the main characters out of melancholy, morbidity, nervousness and jadedness,
these narratives instead plunge their characters into these dark states, which are inextricable from their different walking aesthetics. We will see examples of how walking not only leads out of, but also into mental instability, and in all three cases, the obsessive walkers at some point even end up being hospitalized. • In Scarp, Nick Papadimitriou describes how the decision to turn his walks into a deliberate project – what he calls a “philosophical inquiry” (albeit “ill-defined”) —ultimately came to him during a period of hospitalisation in a psychiatric ward.13 Escaping the dreary atmosphere of the day room and walking out into the suburban edgeland precipitates the epiphanic experience of merging completely with his surroundings. His decision to discharge himself and set out on a three-day walk marks the beginning of his writing project, in which he aims to “track the complex interactions between the mind and the landscape”.14 Crucially, this also includes revisiting his own past, which he repeatedly refers to as “somewhat chequered”.15 Papadimitriou not only had a troubled childhood and developed into a compulsive arsonist in his teens (leading to several incarcerations), but he also has a long history of addiction to various substances. Is walking, then, a self-help project in Scarp? Does Papadimitriou set out on a ‘walking cure’? Some aspects of the text contribute to such a reading. Deciding to devote himself to walking and writing causes him to feel “revitalised”, a word that as we have seen is deeply enmeshed in the discourses of meditative walking.16 His geographical idea of defining the suburban area of outer, northern London as “Scarp” also amounts to a search for wholeness – expressed in the desire to demonstrate that the seemingly scattered and unconnected regions where he has lived his life “in fact shared a deep connecting substratum, the underlying belt of high ground on which they were situated”.17
Nick Papadimitriou, Scarp (London: Sceptre, 2012), 7. Papadimitriou, 126. 15 Papadimitriou, 75; 220. 16 Papadimitriou, 125. 17 Papadimitriou, 10. 13
At the same time, the book can hardly be interpreted as a project promoting health and sanity. It suggests instead that only someone who inhabits a mental borderland can delineate the contours of such a neglected geography—an association we can find even in the publisher’s description of him as someone who “has spent a lifetime living on the margins”.18 Papadimitriou consciously describes himself as an eccentric; a liminal, renegade figure, to an onlooker hardly distinguishable from the psychotic tramp that we tend to cross the street to avoid. “I was technically mad at the time”, he writes about one of his long walks, during which he slept rough and kept a whiskey bottle and a joint near to hand.19 When he fills his flat to the brim with all kinds of thrown-away items, his personal archive of regional history verges perilously on being classic hoarding behaviour. He is, in his own words, “a crow-man picking over the ruins”.20 In Scarp, Papadimitriou aestheticizes obsessive walking that breaks with socially sanctioned behaviour. Although coming ambiguously close to what we expect from someone being down and out, his mad walking ultimately becomes a productive method. • W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn figures the idea of walking as lying ambivalently between cure and illness right from the beginning. Even on the first page, Sebald describes the motivation for his hike through the county of Suffolk as having been in “the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work”, an idea similar to Dickens’s attempt to make physical exertion an antidote to intellectual fatigue.21 Initially, Sebald’s project seems partly successful; he speaks of feeling “carefree” and experiencing a “sense of freedom”. Afterwards, however, these blissful emotions dissipate and he becomes preoccupied with “the paralysing horror” that he had felt at various times during his wanderings. He even suggests a connection between these feelings and the fact that
See the publisher’s promotional text on the book cover. Papadimitriou, 190. 20 Papadimitriou, 75. 21 W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, trans. Michael Hulse (New York: New Directions, 1998), 3. 18
exactly one year after his tour he is taken into hospital, “in a state of almost total immobility”. Only in hospital does he start writing his dark meditations on this walking tour taken under the melancholic sign of Saturn. In Sebald’s book, walking fails to have the beneficial effects described in the dominant praises of peripatetic practice. On the contrary, his steps dig deeper and deeper into the melancholy of history, moving from one site haunted by loss, destruction and decay to the next, constantly following the footprints of the exiled and the dispossessed. He explicitly figures walking as involved in creating the intensity of the experiences. “With each step that I took, the emptiness within and the emptiness without grew ever greater and the silence more profound”, he comments on his walk around the eerie ruins of the abandoned military research establishment on the island of Orfordness.22 The intermingling of internal and external landscapes is typical of walking literature, but in Sebald’s text it produces effects of inexplicable horror. The wretchedness he feels in the desolation of Orfordness escalates into sheer terror when he is “frightened almost to death” by a panicking hare whose face, distorted by mortal dread, is described in a chilling flash of detail. The animal’s panic “cut[s] right through” him, making the blood clamour in his veins for a full half-hour. Another nightmare episode occurs when he loses his way on the heathercovered Dunwich Heath—an incident that also highlights the merging of the workings of the mind and the moving of the feet: Lost in the thoughts that went round in my head incessantly, and numbed by this crazed flowering, I stuck to the sandy path until to my astonishment, not to say horror, I found myself back again at the same tangled thicket from which I had emerged about an hour before, or, as it now seemed to me, in some distant past.23 Again, he is “overcome by a feeling of panic”, and becomes so unnerved that the experience comes back to him in an actual nightmare about walking across the
Sebald, 234. Sebald, 171.
bewildering heath. In the dream, the heath transforms into a labyrinth that he then comes to understand as representing a cross-section of his brain—a tellingly dark retake of walking as exploring the mind.24 Putting a hare to flight or losing one’s way for a while are hardly outlandish incidents in a journey on foot, but in The Rings of Saturn, Sebald magnifies the discomfort of these experiences into a free-floating sense of intense anxiety, incomprehensibility and dense melancholy, all of which remain central to his project of unearthing the traumas of history. His is an undertaking of what we could call masochistic melancholy, in which engaging with the pain and willingly delving further into it is the only way to recover any sense of meaning. The embodied practice of walking plays a similar role in the book. “I knew then as little as I know now whether walking in this solitary way was more of a pleasure or a pain”,25 he writes, illustrating the fine line between when his melancholy wanderings are productive and creative, and when they become so taxing that the promeneur solitaire becomes paralyzed, immobilized, and ultimately hospitalized. In Sebald’s project of meditative walking, revelling in the sickness is the nearest we come to a cure. • “Whereas, before Karrer went mad, I used to go walking with Oehler only on Wednesday, now I go walking—now that Karrer has gone mad—with Oehler on Monday as well. Because Karrer used to go walking with me on Monday, you go walking with me on Monday as well, now that Karrer no longer goes walking with me on Monday, says Oehler, after Karrer had gone mad and immediately gone into Steinhof.”26 Already in these first two sentences of the novella “Walking”, we are confronted with Thomas Bernhard’s complicated and repetitive syntax, which makes the reader’s head spin just as much as Karrer’s and Oehler’s. In this text, the intimate relationship between walking and thinking receives an intensity that constantly teeters on, and ultimately falls off, the brink of madness. Karrer and Oehler had
Sebald, 172-173. Sebald, 241. 26 Thomas Bernhard, Three Novellas, trans. by Peter Jansen and Kenneth J. Northcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 113. 24 25
brought their walking and thinking, “the one out of the other, to an incredible, almost unbearable, state of nervous tension”, until during one promenade, Karrer snapped and was taken into psychiatric hospital.27 For the bulk of the novella, the reader accompanies the narrator and Oehler on their new Monday walk routine, during which Oehler recounts his version of this last, ill-fated walk with Karrer, before he was committed. Oehler claims to never have known Karrer walk at such a “hectic pace” as on that unfortunate day; 28 a frenzy of both body and mind that finds its perfect expression in the manic, run-on style that would become unmistakably Bernhard’s, but—and I find this very significant—first comes into being in this text. In “Walking”, the rhythmic, repetitive language that continues without being divided into paragraphs replicates the machinery of the steady walk. It endlessly grinds and chews on the words, constantly reiterating statements with small variations, all of which contributes to a fanatic and frenetic textual universe into which the reader, too, is compelled to enter. We can look at one of many headache-inducing examples: “If I am walking, says Oehler, I am thinking and I maintain that I am walking, and suddenly I think and maintain that I am walking and thinking because that is what I am thinking while I am walking.” 29 This laborious, mock-deductive, mockphilosophical style could not come any further from the contemplative, meditative walking aesthetics of Rousseau. This is instead walking as madness – a furiously energetic aesthetics that would have gone well with the kind of restless pacing at breakneck speed to which Dickens surrendered himself. Bernhard returns again and again to the figure of the uncompromising outsider, who heroically tries to take his philosophizing to the limits of the human brain capacity. The text expresses admiration for such a fanatic, but its linguistic excesses also parody him and his philosophical efforts. We can also understand this parodic sting as being directed against the romantic idea of the fine, elevated mind of the walker, whose melancholy creativity and intellectual contemplations are ground to pieces in Bernhard’s textual walking machine. The novella’s quotational style
Bernhard, 162. Bernhard, 169. 29 Bernhard, 165. 27
further accentuates this effect. In fact, the text questions the whole idea of interiority and subjectivity, as the three characters’ walk, think and talk so intensely together that the line between them becomes blurry. Bernhard’s novella makes the link between walking and madness palpable, but does it also allow walking to have healing qualities? Actually, the walking aesthetics that Bernhard creates in this text also signals a break with his earlier, more melancholic authorship, and gives him a new voice. He seems to walk his way out of the melancholy by embracing a form of textual peripatetic madness – something that have led critics to describe him as an author for whom writing henceforth would always be a happy activity. 30 All these three texts, then, work within the tradition, established in romanticism, of linking walking and the workings of the mind. But rather than being simply a restorative, wholesome activity that brings the walker’s psyche into balance, walking in these works must contend with its more alarming aspects. Walking becomes an obsessive, or in Sebald’s case, maybe even a masochistic activity – more a symptom of what we saw Leslie Stephen call “morbid tendencies” than an attempt to walk them off. The dominant reading of the peripatetic as an essentially virtuous practice producing peace of mind and harmonious texts risks promoting a limited and limiting idea of what walking can be and do. To acknowledge also the walking that threatens to go too far and completely dissolve the mind, ultimately widens our perspective on what kind of psychological, cultural and aesthetic work that walking can do. As Papadimitriou’s, Sebald’s and Bernhard’s texts show, the productive tension cultivated by an aesthetics of walking lies somewhere between cure and illness, and between creative meditation and madness. •
Cf. Daniel Birnbaum, ”Svart galla: Melankoli och död hos Thomas Bernhard”, in Thomas Bernhard, Helt enkelt komplicerat och andra texter (Stockholm: Norstedt, 1991), 203. 30
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 133
Agency for Walking Culture: Walking Experiments in Switzerland
MARIE-ANN LERJEN Agency for Walking Culture, Zurich Abstract: The “Agency for Walking Culture” was founded in 2011 by Marie-Anne Lerjen in Zurich, Switzerland, to focus on artistic projects in the field of walking. The Agency works on walks, vocal performances, installations, films and texts that deal with the perception of city space and landscape. For the On Walking conference, the Agency presented its method of walks with groups and a film project. Conceptual walks with groups
Fig. 1: Shape on city map defines the route. (Walk, Zurich, 7.1.2012)
One of the aims of the Agency for Walking Culture is to explore an embodied active learning of urban space. Therefore the Agency invites people to participate in “conceptual walks”. A conceptual walk with a group begins with an introduction to the experimental setting (see Figs. 1 & 2), which supplies the framework for the experience. For example, the outline of the walked route could proceed from a shape that is placed at random on a city map. Alternatively, the route is designed following or traversing strong lines in the city structure (etc.). Walking in silence intensifies receptiveness to the features of the respective environment. The guide leads the group along the chosen route, but also takes part in the experiment.
Fig. 2: Self-made map for a group walk through “white space” between waterways in the city. (Walk, Zurich, 27.6.2012)
An important part of these walks with groups is a moment of reflection and exchange of experiences (see Fig. 3) at the end of the walk.
Highlighting a Cityline The starting point for the project “Geleit” (escort) for a film festival in Brig-Glis, a city in the Swiss mountains, was a historical waterline. The aim was to make the actual urban landscape visible from a culturally important line as a divergent spatial structure. Therefore the film was made using an innovative technique: a walkin performer was photographed in tightly framed shots. Out of over 1,000 images a “composition” was created. In this image strip each picture is still visible (see Fig. 4). The strip was animated in a way that the spatial and temporal progression of ambulation is inscribed in the film. At the same time the form of the city through which
Fig. 3: Sketch of the route made by a participant after the walk. (Walk, Zurich, 30.3.2012)
the performer is moving is visible in the foreground and background, panorama-like yet fragmented. The result is an observation rich in detail. This project was made in collaboration with the photographer Maurice K. Grünig.
Fig. 4: Still from the film “Geleit”, an innovative way of presenting a cityscape following a small waterline. (film festival, Brig-Glis [CH], 27.9.–25.10.2012) • CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 137
The Longest (Ongoing) Walk: Walking as Protest and Commemoration BARBARA LOUNDER Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Abstract: In 1978, Anishinabe leader Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement began The Longest Walk, a spiritual and political trek from Alcatraz Island in California to Washington DC. It built on the 1968 Trail of Broken Treaties caravan, bringing attention to the plight of Native Americans. In the Fall of 2012 members of First Nations communities across Canada used social media to launch a political movement called Idle No More. The initial focus was on cutbacks to federal programs affecting native Canadians. INM quickly became a vehicle for more far-reaching demands, and a celebration of indigenous culture. Inspired by INM, a group of young Cree from northern Quebec set out on a 1500 km spiritual and political quest, the Journey of Nishiyuu, arriving months later on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Also in 2012, MĂŠtis artist Christi Belcourt started a commemorative art project, Walking With Our Sisters, designed to honour the over 600 indigenous women missing or murdered in Canada in recent decades. Belcourt started a Facebook group to invite supporters to make beaded moccasin tops (known as vamps) for the art installation. The project eventually received over 1600 pairs of vamps from around the world, and exhibitions are scheduled across North America from 2013 through 2019. As the Journey of Nishiyuu and Walking With Our Sisters demonstrate, walking remains a powerful experience and symbolic expression of unity, protest and commemoration. Adapted to our age of social media and global communication, walking continues to be at once ubiquitous and transformative.
Walk With Me I feel your love. I feel your strong love. I feel the patience of unconditional love. I feel your strength. I feel your faith in me. I’ll never let you down no matter what you do if you just walk with me and let me walk with you. I’m on this journey and I don’t want to walk alone. Walk with me. Walk with me. Walk with me. Walk with me. Shine me a light. I lost some people I was traveling with. I miss the soul and the old friendship. Walk with me. I start with these words, the lyrics for Neil Young’s song “Walk With Me” (from his 2010 album Le Noise), because they bring some important ideas to the surface. One is that walking in the present conjures up the past. Secondly, walking produces emotions, affects, and the need to acknowledge and share them. The lyrics also suggest important questions about where we walk, and on whose terms. Are “walk with me” and “let me walk with you” imperatives, or invitations? Or both? And who is the “me”, and who are “you” in this journey? I want to briefly comment on names and identities, who speaks and writes. My focus here is on walking as protest and as honouring, as exemplified in two First Nations projects that began in Canada in 2012-2013: the Journey of Nishiyuu, and Walking With Our Sisters. I am not from a First Nation; nor is Neil Young. I have been very moved, however, by these projects, and want to share my thoughts about them. In current contexts, writers such as myself might introduce ourselves as “settlers” or “settler allies”. This acknowledges descent from the English, French, Scottish, Irish, Ukrainians, Italians, Germans and others who came to Canada over past centuries. It alludes to colonization, its privileges and injustices, but it does not distinguish between landowners, exiles, refugees, the diverse ethnicities we stem
from, nor the era or other circumstances of immigration. The term is limited in its power to communicate complex and important concepts. What does it mean, to “settle”? It is to be still, calm, content, clear, stationary. To me, this is the opposite of feeling moved. To settle is also to adjudicate and reconcile, to finish with, be done with, and to set aside. It is a word about immobility and stasis. And what is an “ally”? Someone who is bonded to others through treaties or other formal agreements of loyalty. Alliances are often militarized relationships between nation states, and they don’t require empathy in order to function. Are there other words that can better describe a voluntary and generous relationship of agreement, caring, support and commitment? Perhaps walking itself will provide more nuanced terms. Walking as a form for both protest and commemoration has a long history. In 1978, Anishinabe leader Dennis Banks and other members of AIM (the American Indian Movement) carried out The Longest Walk, a spiritual and political trek from Alcatraz Island in California to Washington DC. Alcatraz Island is an important site; an ancient camp location for Native Americans, later a notorious penitentiary and then the site of a Native American occupation between 1969 and 71. The Longest Walk of 1978 built on the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties caravan (a journey across North America that focused attention on the plight of Native Americans and threats to their treaty rights). The name, Trail of Broken Treaties, riffed on the Trail of Tears, the mid-nineteenth route of deadly forced removals of Native Americans from their eastern territories in Georgia, Florida and other lands to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and points further west. The 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties caravan mobilized people around the world. A year later, Banks and other AIM leaders led the occupation on the Pine Ridge Reservation near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and then were either imprisoned, or forced underground and into exile.
Like walks and marches led by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the 1978 Longest Walk was an act of personal and physical commitment, bringing to mind sociologist Marcel Mauss’s 1934 essay Techniques of the Body, specifically his description of how cultural forms are produced in the body. His reference to “traditions of stoicism”, in which learning to walk or run for long distances becomes an “education in composure”, teaching dignity, strength, self-knowledge and perseverance, come to mind in considering this history. Walking, even for short, faltering distances, also has many important spiritual and cultural lessons. On the website “Four Directions Teachings” (at http://www. fourdirectionsteachings.com/transcripts/cree.html) Cree elder Mary Lee speaks of the “new child”, who is less than a year old, and is a powerful teacher especially as they learn to walk. She recounts her mother’s teaching that the “child teaches you what life’s going to be - you don’t just get up once and walk forever—you will fall, and you will have to get up. Maybe you’ll need to crawl a little bit, but you will get up and walk again.” Mary Lee then recounts the important threshold when the child learns how to walk, saying “my mother also taught us to give thanks to Mother Earth for accepting our child to walk upon her. When that time comes, a celebration feast happens, and Elders come and pray for that young person on the next stages of their journey.” As noted in Iiyiyuu Ihtuun (Traditional Ways) on the website “Cree Ways” (www.creeculture.ca/?=node%2F66), a “Walking Out” ceremony is held to welcome a child into Cree society, at the point when they are able to walk on their own. The ceremony acknowledges that they will be productive contributors to the well-being of their people, and it honours every member’s role in the community. After almost disappearing during missionary times, “Walking Out” is being practiced again now in many communities.
Dennis Banks has continued in his long distance practice of stoicism, reprising the 1978 Longest Walk in 2008 with The Longest Walk 2, which he led in order to draw attention to environmental concerns and the protection of sacred sites. In 2011, his Longest Walk 3, a walking and running relay (again starting from California and traveling to DC), took place. Its purpose was to draw attention to the high rates of diabetes in Native American population, and the need for good food, farms and healthy ways of life. I reflect here on my own fascination with the era of AIM activism. As written about extensively by James Clifford and many others, there exists an ethnographic “salvage paradigm” based on the constructs of the “authentic”, the “exotic”, and the “disappearing” histories of non-western peoples. Maybe there is also a “salvage paradigm”, or at least a questionable nostalgia today for the activism and idealism of the 60’s and 70’s. Reflecting on Banks’ walking history brings me face to face with this possibility. Are there lessons to be learned through walking that will move me beyond any simplistic sentiments?
Fig.1 From a Walking Out celebration that took place in Winter 2013 and was shared on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site. Posted by Mina Elizabeth Bearskin.
In November 2012, four First Nations women in western Canada, Tanya Kappo, Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam and Nina Wilson, held a teach-in about the Canadian governmentâ€™s Bill C45 (and other related legislation). This legislation erodes the environmental protection of waterways, changes provisions under the elections act, and affects other aspects of life for native and non-native people. The women initially Tweeted their messages, and then set up a Facebook page, using the phrase Idle No More to identify their position. Using social media, Idle No More protests and other actions were quickly organized across Canada. The campaign became a global phenomenon with two primary demands: nation-to-nation recognition; and social and environmental sustainability. INM also became a celebration of indigenous culture. INM, through Facebook, Twitter and other social network, quickly established itself within an existing global movement linking indigenous resistance groups in North, South and Central America, Australia, and elsewhere. Idle No More is also synonymous with Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat Swampy Cree nation of northern Ontario, who carried out a 6-week sacred fast to protest the conditions her people live in. Her fast, which took place on a traditional Algonquin site, Victoria Island, in Ottawa, mobilized others across the country and around the world. Flashmob round dances in shopping malls and major urban intersections took place across the continent, and processions and blockades shut down highways, bridges and rail lines. Fig. 2
Fig.2 Idle No More flashmob with traditional Miâ€™qmaq drummers at MicMac (sic) Mall, December 2012, Dartmouth Nova Scotia. Posted on Idle No More Facebook site.
Idle No More means to become restless, to act with purpose. To be moved, and to become unsettled. Inspired by Theresa Spence and INM, six young Cree men (David Kawapit, Stanley George Junior, Johnny Abraham, Raymond Kawapit, Geordie Rupert and Travis George, along with experienced guide, the late Isaac Kawapit) set out on foot from their community of Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec, on January 16, 2013, on a 1500 km spiritual and political quest to Ottawa. They wanted to build unity with other indigenous peoples in that region, and to rediscover their traditional trading route.
Fig.3 The original seven walkers, about to set out from Whapmagoostui. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site, January 2013.
Their Journey of Nishiyuu (“people”, on a “Quest for Unity”) culminated in their arrival on Parliament Hill on March 25, with thousands of supporters alongside them. Fig. 4
Fig. 5 & 6
Fig.4 The Journey of Nishiyuu walkers arrive on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site, March 26, 2013. Fig.5Map showing temperatures along walking route. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site, Winter 2013. Fig.6 Single line of walkers crossing a frozen lake. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site, January 2013. Fig.7 A young woman from Whapmagoostui, on snowshoes and wearing a traditional skirt. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site.
This is the living â€œtradition of stoicismâ€? as long distance walking, carried out in the dead of winter. It is also the practice and reproduction of important traditional knowledge, such as the making of snowshoes, sleds and cold-climate clothing. This traditional technological knowledge is passed along in the context of walking.
Fig.8 A young woman sewing a traditional walking shirt. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site. Fig.9 Two young women with walking stick, wearing traditional long skirts and beaded hide mittens. Photo by Gloria Polson posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site. 146
Fig.10 Young man with walking stick, wearing cap and eagle feather. Photo attributed to Ottawa Citizen and posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site March 24, 2013. Fig.11 Poster encouraging social media sharing. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site March 24, 2013. 147
James Clifford, in writing on the salvage paradigm, recounts ethnographic curator Anne Vitart-Fardoulis’ story about a grandson’s encounter with his grandfather’s hide tunic (on view in a museum). “The old painted tunic becomes newly, traditionally, meaningful in the context of a present-becoming-future”. This is what the practice of walking offers- the creation of knowledge, perhaps introduced in a story, through embodied experience. Walking produces culture through thought as action, simultaneous with action as thought. Tradition does not live in a museum display case. It is produced and reproduced everyday, alongside or within the new. James Clifford, Trinh t Minh Ha and others have written eloquently about the hybrid, creative, shifting nature of “authenticity”. In the Journey of Nishiyuu and through walking, tradition, the
Fig.12 Live streamed coverage of the walkers’ arrival in Ottawa, being viewed in a remote Northern community. Posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site, March 26, 2013.
past, the present and future exist together, as people move through the land. A ball cap is worn with an eagle feather. Young women learn how to make skirts in the way of their grandmothers. Walking a traditional route is livestreamed into remote communities. Afterwards, the traces of the journey- the digital ether of the conversation threads on social media- also function within a changing temporality of memory, reality, and hope. One of the regular contributors to the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site is Band Chief and enthusiastic photographer Stanley Jason George of Whapmagoostui. The walk to Ottawa ended in late March, but George still posts images on the Facebook site regularly. He remarks on the weather, gives advice on the best way to roast a goose, and draws attention to an unusual view of a tipi. His photographs and captions are like the verbal exchanges in a conversation made while on a walk together. “I’m on this journey and I don’t want to walk alone.”
Fig.13 Men from Whapmagoostui celebrating Fathers Day. Photo by Stanley Jason George, posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site June 16, 2013.
Fig.14 Sunset near Whapmagoostui. Photo by Stanley Jason George, posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site June 16, 2013. Fig.15 Looking up inside a tipi. Photo by Stanley Jason George, posted on the Journey of Nishiyuu Facebook site June 16, 2013 150
â€œI lost some people I was traveling withâ€? Fig. 16
Fig.16 Vamps (moccasin uppers) made by Angela Swedberg Akiiluaihaatbaachaash. The figure on the left represents murdered indigenous women, the figure on the right represents those missing. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.17 Online poster for the Walking with our Sisters project. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 151
Also in 2012, Métis artist Christi Belcourt started a Facebook group called Walking With Our Sisters, launching a commemorative art project dedicated to the over 600 indigenous women who are missing or have been murdered in Canada in recent decades. This exact number of women is not known, although the Canadian government recently felt confident enough to question that it was as many as 600. In this project, over 1600 pairs of moccasin tops, or “vamps” have been made by caring people. Vamps are the upper parts of unfinished moccasins, symbolizing the unfinished lives of the women. During exhibitions, the vamps are installed in a space that has been spiritually cleansed and prepared according to traditional protocols. The vamps are carefully laid out on a processional red and grey cloth pathway on the gallery floor. Visitors remove their shoes and walk along beside the vamps. Elders and community members are on hand to give support and comfort; many of the gallery visitors are relatives of missing and murdered women. Christi Belcourt writes on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site that “this project is about these women, paying respect to their lives and existence on this earth. They are not forgotten. They are sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, grandmothers. They have been cared for, they have been loved, and they are missing.” The project now has over 10,000 supporters, and over 1000 contributors from across Canada and the US, Europe, Puerto Rico, and Europe made vamps for it. The image or symbol of the trail, or highway, has been used by a number of the participants. It recalls not only the important spiritual concept of “the path” or “the way”, but the 19th century Trail of Tears, the AIM-era Trail of Broken Treaties, and what is known now in Canada as the “Highway of Tears”, a stretch of Highway 16 in northern British Columbia, where upwards of 40 women, almost all young and from First Nations, are known to have been abducted and/or murdered since 1969.
Fig.18 Vamps made by Aurora Levins Morales, of Puerto Rico. Photo by Aurora Levins Morales, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.19 Vamps made by Angela Albert, of Ottawa. The image of the ulus (traditional Inuit women’s knife) reflects Albert’s heritage. Photo by Angela Albert, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 153
Fig.20 Vamps made by Tanice Fraser, honouring her “Celtic Cree” heritage. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.21 Vamps made by Cindy Walker of the USA, featuring thistles (a symbol of her Scottish background) and red hearts for “love and support”. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 154
Fig.22 Vamps made by sisters Rosemarie Loibl and Ingrid Rankl from Bavaria, Germany. Photo by Loibl and Rankl, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.23 Vamps made by Lori Clermont of Ontario, using a design motif in reference to the Highway of Tears. Photo by Lori Clermont, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 155
The legacy of colonization and the reserve system means that many First Nations people have to hitchhike, walking alone along remote highways, to get to and from their homes. Additionally, the legacy of residential schools and abuse, the loss of lands and ways of life is that many First Nations people, especially women, live on the urban streets where they experience high rates of violence, substance abuse and disease. Some of the vamps honour specific women who have lost their lives tragically. Through the acts of beading, and “walking with”, participants name those family members who are gone, and soothe the pain of those who miss them. The project makes room for anger, as well as grief. Teresa Burrows’ vamps contribute a pointed critique at the complacency of the criminal and justice systems, the media, and the public at large. As with the Journey of Nishiyuu, this project of “walking with” also revives traditional knowledge and transfers it between generations and different cultural
Fig.24 Vamps made by Marjorie Beaucage, entitled “Highway 16, Highway of Tears, for Millie Nelson”. Photo by Marjorie Beaucage, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Fig.25 Vamps entitled “600 Sisters”, made by Carla Hemlock (Kahnewake), featuring traditional Mohawk raised stitch style beading. Photo contributed by Carla Hemlock, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.26 13 pairs of vamps made by Jean Teillet of Vancouver, to honour her sister Pat who died in 1989. “The iris was her favourite flower”. Photo by Jean Teillet, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Fig.27 Vamps made by Kim Shuck of San Francisco, honouring her daughter. Online comments included this from Linda Boudreau of Edmonton: “Bees are an important worker clan, and bring life to everything they land on as they transfer pollen to the plants and medicines. You always hear them before you see them and they are so necessary in the scheme of things. Honoring your daughter is wonderful!!!” Photo by Kim Shuck, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 158
Fig.28 Vamps entitled “My Rose’s Addiction” made by Arlette Aida, honouring her mother Rose Chartrand, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988. Photo by Arlette Aida, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Fig.29 Vamps â€œHonouring Two Womenâ€? vamps, made by Cheryl Sylvestre Eckert. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.30 Vamps made by Teresa Burrows. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
groups. Participants share encouragement and information on techniques, materials and design elements, from tufting with moosehair, the best needles to use, to how birch bark biting is done. The project also demonstrates the innovation and hybridizing of traditional and contemporary methods and expressions in indigenous culture today.
Fig.31 Vamps made by Denise Lajimodiere of Minnesota, featuring traditional birch bark biting technique. Photo by Denise Lajimodiere, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Fig.32 Vamps made by Amy Malbeuf, combining beading with traditional moose hair tufting. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig.33 Vamps made by Leanne Simpson. She made them “to honour Two Spirit / Queer / TG sisters. I used zip ties for beads because zip ties are often used by police as handcuffs especially at protests. I decided to leave the tails on the purple (woman’s healing colour) because it looks like the symbol for a spiritual being at the petroglyphs. It also reminds me of a bustle at a powwow or celebration. The rainbow colours have meaning within the Queer community and in Anishinaabe spirituality. They look like a road or even eyes.” Photo by Leanne Simpson, posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Beading itself can be regarded as a kind of walking; each bead a step along a path. Some have also spoken about the spiritual aspects of this activity; every bead or stitch is made with a prayer, a moment of silent reflection and honouring. The path taken by the beading needle is not continuous, nor is it all visible on the top surface. To secure the beads in place, the needle might move ahead 6 steps, and then double back 3 steps, under the surface, coming up and then moving ahead another 6 steps: Fig. 34
As with learning to walk, the process is repeated hundreds of times as concentration and skills develop. Fig. 35
Fig.34 Diagram showing steps in beading: putting 6 beads on going forward, then doubling back under for 3 beads, to secure the sequence. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site by Kathy Oliver (June 26, 2013). Fig.35 Image of young girl, â€œMiss Ryryâ€?, learning to bead. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 162
Historically, beaded objects have been made and given to others in order to create reciprocal connections within and amongst groups. Beaded objects have also had a long and important role in ceremonies, rituals and special events. As with the Journey of Nishiyuu, Walking With Our Sisters uses social media to organize its activities, share information, and create interpersonal connections. Images of all the 1625 pairs of vamps are posted on the Facebook site, the individual makers of the vamps are each identified by name and thanked, and their work is personally commented on. The comment entries for each pair of vamps are like individual beads in a design, or steps on a journey, one following another, each one contributing to the whole in a necessary way. Beading often takes place in groups, reflecting the strong tradition of beading circles. With Walking With Our Sisters, circles were formed in schools, churches, universities, friendsâ€™ homes and community centres. Looking at the beading circle images posted on the Facebook site, one sees, alongside beads and other supplies, cell phones and cameras. As with Journey of Nishiyuu, mobile devices and social media provide access to communication networks in novel ways.
Fig.36 Vamps made by â€œMiss Ryryâ€? (the fourth generation of women beaders in her family to contribute to the project). Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Fig.37 Beading circle in The Pas, Manitoba. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. Fig 38 A beading circle at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Participants are using the laptop for a skyped beading lesson from Sherry Farrell Racette in Winnipeg, Canada. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site. 164
Walking as protest and commemoration continues to be powerful because it is a process of personal transformation; it persists as a “tradition of stoicism” and an “education in composure”. It is the embodiment and public demonstration of values, of what is important enough to walk for. Because walking is a fluid, indivisible experience of time and place, in which every step is different and moves the body forward, it conjures memory. Walking connects feet to the ground in the present, at the same time anticipating the next step and the next view. It is the perfect balance of awareness (being here and now) and reverie (being unfastened from time and space). As we adapt our selves to walking, walking adapts to our changes. The baseball cap is adorned with an eagle feather. The cell phone rests beside the tray of beads.
Fig.39 Vamps featuring an abstract image based on an aerial view of an Idle No More flashmob round dance, by Nathalie Bertin. Posted on the Walking With Our Sisters Facebook site.
Walking is shared through conversation, skyping, texting, and the sharing of images. We often walk with others. But even walking alone is done with the embodied memory and the teachings of others. We walk with the lost and missing, “the soul and the old friendship”, with those who helped us in our “walking out”. Space and time are brought into new, dynamic relationships through walking, and through the metaphors of walking. Lines of beads are like tracks across the snow, and like digital conversation threads that meander, tangle, pull and smooth themselves out; a round dance with steps that circle and stretch outward, as more people join in.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Behind and In Between Places: Self-imposed controls. Walking and documenting the multiple city Ann Matthews Northumbria University
Abstract: This paper discusses the experience of walking in relation to the predetermined self-imposed controls I employ which influence how I move through the city. These controls are methods which enable me to approach walking in different states of mind, leading to different responses that culminate in a rich resource from which I create sequences of poetry, prose-poetry and short fictions that reflect the multiple city. I discuss how Guy Debord’s concept of the dérive, Edward W. Soja’s thirding-as-othering and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concepts of the rhizome and multiplicity have influenced my approach to the city, my methodology and practice. Ideologically, I perceive and also experience the city as a multiple city: encountering the difference/s, picking up on the heterogeneous nature of the urban environment that I walk in, and of being an other among many diverse others—a fragment of what defines that place physically, socially and culturally. To reflect this I vary my methods of walking.
My current project, ‘Behind and in Between Places’, explores today’s urban landscape and the ‘sense of place’. I walk through the areas that surround the city centres of Manchester and Newcastle. These encounters with the city are part of my everyday living and that of the artist visitor. I observe, photograph and write up documentations of these walks; these become a resource to which I add other texts and from which I work. My aim is to approach walking in the multi-faceted city in as many different ways as possible so that I may engage with, respond to, interpret and reflect the cityscape from multiple perspectives.
Ideologically, I perceive and also experience the city as a multiple city. Sophie
Wolfrum & Winifred Nerdinger describe the multiple city: The diverse manifestations and structural transformation of cities is accompanied by a variety of interpretations, histories and perceptions. The complex and multifaceted city becomes the multiple city. [...] Today it is a truism that every city consists of numerous individually interpreted, concurrent cities. Every person lives in his or her own city, constructs his or her own mental map of the environment […].1 It is this minutia of lives and worlds that reside together that I perceive, respond to and reflect in my creative work. My approach is always to seek out new ways of seeing and responding. I impose controls upon my walks with the aim to avoid one subjective view, building up documentations of many walks, which not only reflect my personal encounters with the city, but are also inclusive of other views and experiences.
In the practice of everyday life, Michel De Certeau discusses the choices a
walker makes: [I]f it is true that a spatial order organizes an ensemble of possibilities (e.g., by a place in which one can move) and interdictions (e.g., by a
Sophie Wolfrum and Winifred Nerdinger, ed.s, Multiple City. Urban Concepts 1908|2008, (Berlin: Jovis, 2008), p.7. 1
wall that prevents one from going further), then the walker actualizes some of these possibilities. […] [I]f […] he actualizes only a few of the possibilities fixed by the constructed order (he goes only here and not there), on the other he increases the number of possibilities (e.g., by creating shortcuts and detours) and prohibitions (e.g., he forbids himself to take paths generally considered accessible or even obligatory). He thus makes a selection.2 All walkers then make selections. My aim is to expand on what I consider a binary approach of ‘this way or that way’ by repeating walks and devising pre-determined controls that deliberately restricts, or maybe enhances, but definitely varies my selections. I seek multiple pathways, and may add several walking experiences together into a creative text. This approach is influenced by Gilles Deleuze’s concept of multiplicity: ‘It is not the elements or the sets which define a multiplicity. What defines it is the AND, as something which has its place between the elements or between the sets.’ 3 The idea of a multiplicity is not seen as a set of pieces of a whole or total but as a patchwork which is never complete; if one element changes the nature of the multiplicity is altered, none of a multiplicity ‘remains unaffected by encounters with others.’4 To be aware of the possibility of multiple elements as always having an impact on each other when encountering the multiple cityscape, makes for a richer and deeper experience; where the walker and the writer engages in acts of interpretation and meaning by using multiple approaches. As a writer I follow this idea through by using multiple forms (poetry, prose-poetry and prosefiction) and various innovative methods and processes that can reflect this experience. When I started my project in 2011, I chose an area to explore driven by my remit of avoiding the city centres, this was my only pre-determined control. I walked around the Strangeways area, in North Manchester, taking photographs and noting down what I observed. My source books filled with photographs, lists of found words and observed detail. Lyrics from Manchester bands were added to these. Words from artists
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: Univ. of California Press, 1984), p.98. 3 Gilles Deleuze, Dialogues II, (London & New York: Continuum, 2006), p.26. 4 Jonathan Roffe, ‘Multiplicity’, in Adrian Parr, ed., The Deleuze Dictionary, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2010), p-p.181–182. 2
Fig. 2 & 3
Figs. 1â€“5: Photographs taken on the Strangeways walks.5 5
All photographs taken by Ann Matthews (November 2011).
Fig. 4 & 5
such as the Smiths, The Fall and The Happy Mondays came to mind whilst I was walking in this particular area. I also included fragments from articles about Strangeways prison and council pamphlets on the regeneration of the area. The inclusion of other texts, besides my documentations of my walks, breaks up the observed detail and allows other voices to be heard in an attempt to reflect the city I experienced. For example, ‘Here’, from my Strangeways Sequence, includes lyrics, found words and words from a council pamphlet.6
Italics denote words from songs from The Fall’s ‘A Figure Walks’ and Joy Division’s ‘These Days’, words from shop signage and Manchester City Council’s A Strategic Regeneration Framework for North Manchester (2002), accessed 20/11/2011, http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/download_info.php?fileID=280 6
Here Silent traders mop up puddles, empty buckets into gutters. Unpack crates, shift armfuls of glad rags. Fast selling lines Cut Price direct 2u. Residents leak spending power, a figure walks behind you. A shadow walks behind you until wheel-arches touch rubber. Pushed to the limit we drag ourselves in, dress disinvestment and watch from the wings. So join up all historical facts, give the past a slip. Every corner is abandoned too soon. Slow down. Present – absent. A memory catch sings in ears.7
Ann Matthews, ‘Here’ from ‘Strangeways Sequence’ (2012), Behind and in Between Places (PhD Thesis, Northumbria Univ., in progress). 7
A move to the North East from Manchester in 2012 prompted new approaches to walking and documenting the city. The nature of Newcastle’s city centre thwarted my explorations and also impacted on my creative practice. I was repeatedly confronted by the A167(M), a dual-carriageway which cuts through Newcastle’s heart, and the shopping precinct. I felt that I was not encountering the varied experiences that I needed to sustain a three year creative writing project.
I started exploring the potential of different walking regimes and their effects
on my methodology and practice. Also, a crucial part of my agenda is to explore the critical, theoretical and ideological context of my project; from this came ideas for walking and predetermined self-controls I could employ that would force me to break my usual walking habits. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concept of the rhizome is used in many different ways and contexts within my project. They state: ‘The rhizome itself assumes very diverse forms’ defined by its very nature as a series of roots that ‘exten[d] in all directions.’8 They apply this idea of multiple networks with multiple connections, as opposed to a single taproot, to mapping ideas, writing, objects, places and people.9 Their concept of the rhizome can relate to the actuality of moving through the streets and also relates to my methods of writing. As Felicity J. Colman explains: ‘Rhizomatic formations can serve to overcome, overturn and transform structures of rigid, fixed or binary thought and judgement.’10 In relation to walking, the idea of rhizomatic action, of avoiding the city planners fixed pathways and frequently changing direction, leads one to investigate places that are tucked away that are usually ignored. I have found that this method of making and breaking your own connections and networks is liberating and creatively productive. These ideas correlate with, the spatial theorist, Edward W. Soja’s concept of thirding-asothering which seeks to approach the city space in as many different ways as possible, with an aim to disrupt binarism. Soja states: ‘Thirding-as-othering is the first and
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, (London: Continuum, 2004), p.9. ibid. pp. 7–10. 10 Felicity J. Colman, ‘Rhizome’ in Adrian Parr, ed., The Deleuze Dictionary, p.232. 8
most important step in transforming the categorical and closed logic of—either/or —to the dialectically open logic of—both/and also—.’11 He explains: Thirding [...] does not derive simply from an additive combination of its binary antecedents but rather from a disordering, deconstruction, and tentative reconstitution of their presumed totalization producing an open alternative that is both similar and strikingly different.12 Soja’s thirding-as-othering directly links with Henri Lefebvre’s interest in the ‘dialectic of the lived and conceived, the real and the imagined, the material world and our thoughts about it.’13 Soja and Lefebvre’s concepts promote the idea that, by adding and disordering, alternatives are created and are continually recreated. This way of interpreting space, which includes the real bricks and mortar of space, how one and society has and continues to physically exist here, and the different ways we and others can think of this space, is liberating for a writer. We are permitted to experience many realities and also experience the freedom to reimagine the city. I use Soja, Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas in conjunction with Guy Debord’s concept of the dérive to enhance my approach and the methods of self-imposed controls I use which enable varied encounters. The dérive has an explicit agenda to negate the dominant capitalist structure and ideology of the city by deliberately: ‘seek[ing] out reasons for movement other than those for which the environment was designed.’14 Sadie Plant states that: ‘To dérive was to notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings, resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires.’15 Like flânerie, the dérive involves meandering aimlessly, though the dérive places more emphasis on experiencing the terrain and how one responds to what one encounters than passively observing. Its definition as something oppositional and playful is appealing and suggests a
Edward W. Soja, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other Real-and-imagined Places, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), p.60. 12 ibid., pp. 60–61. 13 ibid. 14 Sadie Plant, The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age, (London: Routledge, 1992).p.59. 15 ibid. 11
predetermined-control over ones approach and actions. The dérive informs the way I see the city; the emphasis it places on re-routing and avoiding city-planned logistics correlates with my own choice of exploring the behind and in-between zones around city centres. I choose where to walk and where to avoid. I deliberately avoid the gloss of the corporate centres. Like the dérive, my approach is playful; for example, I use out of date maps and devise routes based on numbers of left and right turns. I may be guided by my sense of curiosity and sense of direction, ignoring road signs and royal-blue signs that show me the city planners’ desired route for pedestrians. I use maps to plot rhizomatic walks; these provide a practical itinerary that works for my walk. I acknowledge that I am appropriating the dérive outside its original context and its politicised intentions by adopting the elements that are helpful to my project. Though I work against the method of ‘wandering aimlessly’; I suggest that the dérive’s emphasis is on avoiding the ‘desired’ route and taking alternative routes can incorporate a planned destination.16 Though I am aware that such suggestions may be contentious, they are outside the scope of this paper which discusses the development of my methods of walking, collecting data and the influences upon these, though this will be discussed further in the future. In practice, deciding on a pattern of turns without planning a predetermined route can be frustrating; I have ended up where I have started from too rapidly or I end up on a motorway. Also, without a planned fixed route I found that I would not stick to the controls I had set myself. Though this resistance to follow ‘desired’ routes, whether they are planned by myself or not, is also a useful experience and is reflected within my writing. Another reason for using predetermined self-controls is to reiterate the validity of being a walking artist. On my more aimless wanderings around Strangeways, I was aware that I had no ‘everyday purpose’ to be where I was. I did not belong to
ibid,. pp. 58-59.
that rag trade space, and was sometimes seen with some suspicion. I also suggest that self-imposed controls can have a psychological effect; in my case they give me ‘permission’ for being within or ‘belonging’ to that particular cityscape. A different type of relationship is built between the environment and myself.17
One of my methods of control is to map out routes using A to Z guides, Google
maps and Google Earth. Google Earth is a useful tool for researching areas that I am unfamiliar with. I may map a rhizomatic route that relates to a story plot or poem that I am working on. I will then actually walk the virtual route that my character has taken and document the sensory detail and the physical aspects of that walk. This helps to create different perspectives and points of view within one narrative; making the experience that I reflect richer instead of describing a character’s walk in terms of a list of directions.
I also experiment with a different set of predetermined controls; where
I prepare a route using a list of words. For example, these following words were selected randomly from Iain Sinclair’s Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire: Avenue, old, Victoria, grey, business, brick, bus, John, salad, rubbish, white wall, skip, money, black, red door, tattooed blokes, drains, smashed glass, minicab, high kerb, car park, camera.18 This list dictated the route I walked as I tried to locate these words in order. My aim was to describe and contextualise these objects in situ and later to interpret them imaginatively. This is conducive to the methods I use to write poetry and prose poetry, where I link fragments of detail within a framework. I have also used a list of colours and a list of numbers in a similar manner.
Another control that I imposed upon myself, was to swap my walking
shoes and light rucksack for high heels and a wheelie suitcase, that is literally putting myself in someone else’s shoes, so to speak. This restricted the areas I could
See Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, (London: Rebel Press / Left Bank Books, 1994), pp. 195–196. 18 Iain Sinclair Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire. A Confidential Report, (London: Penguin, 2009). 17
access; my movement through the city was determined by the avoidance of steps, cobbles and high kerbing, for example. This experience was different physically and psychologically. I was more aware of the surfaces that I walked on and the physical effort and time it took to move through the streets, those pauses to catch my breath or to rub my aching calf muscles. I took no photographs or notes. I also felt more vulnerable being hampered and slowed down. Therefore by controlling my movement in this way, I responded to and documented the cityscape differently. This experience was transformed into a short story, ‘Katya’, which is about a musician who is trying to get across Newcastle with her cello.
To conclude, I employ different strategies to devise pre-determined self-
controls so that I approach and respond to the cityscapes I walk through in as many different ways as possible. This enables me to build up a broad and varied resource, from which I can create a diverse and rich body of work that reflects today’s multifaceted city. It enables me to describe the cityscape in innovative ways, avoiding clichés and repeated surface observations.
To end, I have included the beginning of a short-story that I have written,
which is based on a walk determined by self-imposed controls. ‘Robert’ is set on the peripheries of Newcastle city centre and is based on a walk that was determined by repeatedly counting out fifty steps, pausing and observing. The theme of counting and pausing is used within the story as Rob’s strategy for coping with the city. Robert The old black tunnel took him from the narrow cobbled streets out on to a concrete thoroughfare. Rob blinked and shivered in the sunlight and paused to get his bearings. He’d been persuaded to not use his trusty GPS app—but that’s a long story that Rob won’t be repeating
to anyone even if they were interested. His brand new A to Z would just have to suffice. He flicked through the pages, turned the book upside down – traced his route with a finger and repeatedly scratched at his left ear. A young woman pushing a buggy came towards him humming a song. He smiled and caught her eye.
‘I’m trying to get over there.’ Rob pointed towards the city
centre. The woman removed her headphones and he repeated his question.
He nodded in reply.
‘Go up through the car park,’ she pointed to a dirty corner,
‘There’s a door.’ Rob couldn’t see anything in the heavy shade. ‘Take the lift up to the very top . . . there’s a bridge . . . you’ll find your way from there.’ The car park is dank—the lift forced in between two wet walls doesn’t look in working order. Rob presses a rusty button and wipes his finger on his jeans. There’s a creaking and shuddering—
Green doors open—a bent old lady steps out and around him slowly without a word. Pause. He enters—the doors close noisily. A musty smell—rot—invades—the lift shrinks. Press open. Press all options. It judders and scrapes—and starts ascending. His adam’s apple hits hot breath awkwardly. Count onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelve.................. hundred-and-five seconds The lift creeps to a standstill
five seconds doors slide open. Fifty feet up. Five large strides
and prickling armpits – a glaring sunlight bounces off dusted cement —Rob squints. A sweep of pavement floats in an arc above a triple carriageway. Exhaust fumes linger. Statically-charged cars race—a torrent of coloured blurs. Rob squats with his back to the sun heated railings and takes a bottle of water out of his bag—gulps a swift draf—retrieves a notebook— scrabbles for a pen. He looks at his watch and scribbles: 1pm. somewhere in Newcastle. dizzy and thirsty maybe brought on by vertigo or tiredness. Feeling worse than yesterday. trying to take a shortcut failing. I’m not sure if it is me or that it is this city’s planned to be confusing. Disorientated. doing my breathing exercise I think it’s working. Rating experience 5 out of 10. 1 mark less than yesterday. But yesterday I stayed at home. Rob reads his words once, twice, five times—nods to himself, pulls out his phone and texts the same words to Stephanie up in the university —includes his reference number—234692. (He volunteered, but isn’t sure how any of this helps him. In fact, he could have easily buried all this—detached himself and just got on with things. ) Rob looks up at the sky. It stretches so blue—a big northern sky— pure—far reaching. Northwards across the city, windows and mirrors from office blocks and multi-storey car parks catch the sun. count
lose track. blank out
the number of
cars fifty sixty number my
of steps front door.
32 left turns 56
the from The
pigeons, the the
dark diamond frames
on the bridge’s pale and how many
of blue air walkway clouds
none today Rob looks back down at the traffic—scratches at a patch of eczema on his left forearm—picks up his discarded notebook, adds a list of numbers and feels satisfied. He stands, brushes spent matchsticks and fine dust off his backside, throws his bag over his shoulder, whistles half-heartedly and traverses the vibrating walkway—forty-five strides along—way above the traffic. Descending three tiers of yellow-edged steps he ends up on a dead end street and winds his way to a Greek cafe around the corner. Sitting at a small round table out on the pavement he orders a coffee. He stirs it slowly—ten clockwise rotations—counts 101 grains of sugar, pours them into the dark vortex and waits.19
Bibliography Matthews, Ann, Behind and in between Places. (PhD Thesis, Northumbria University, in progress). de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Translated by Steven Rendall. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1988. Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Translated by Ken Knabb. Eastbourne: Soul Bay Press, 2009. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. London: Continuum, 2004. Deleuze, Gilles, and Claire Parnet. Dialogues II. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London & New York: Continuum, 2006. Lefebvre, Henri. The production of Space. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Malden (USA), Oxford & Victoria (Aus.): Blackwell, 1991. Parr, Adrian, ed. The Deleuze Dictionary. Revised edition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010. Plant, Sadie. The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age. London: Routledge, 1992. Sinclair, Iain. Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire. A Confidential Report. London: Penguin, 2009. Soja, Edward W. Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other Real-and-imagined Places. Edited by Mass Malden. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. Vaneigam, Raoul. The Revolution of Everyday Life. Translated by Donald NicholsonSmith. London: Rebel Press / Left Bank Books, 1994. Wolfrum, Sophie, and Winifred Nerdinger. Multiple City. Urban Concepts 1908 | 2008. Berlin: Jovis, 2008.
Ann Matthews, extract from ‘Robert’ (2013), from Behind and in Between Places, (PhD Thesis, Northumbria Univ., in progress). 19
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 181
Walking and Playing in the ‘Grey Space’ of Jerusalem IDIT ELIA NATHAN Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design Abstract: The paper focuses on Seven Walks in a Holy City—an arts research project in which I investigate Jerusalem, the City I grew up in. Through the walks, I interact with the memory laden landscape with its layering of the ancient, the holy and the contested. By introducing game devices such as dice that indicate directions and cards that determine routes and thematic focal points, Seven Walks in a Holy City relies on chance to actively and subversively revisit the past and challenge positions and narratives of power. The discussion reflects on links between the seven walks and their Zionist roots as it follows in de Certeau’s footsteps, by regarding acts of walking as tactics engaged in subtle subversion of imposed strategies of control. The paper views Jerusalem as a paradigmatic ‘grey zone’ which is defined a space where oscillation between recognition and destruction, membership and eviction, is ongoing. Seven Walks in a Holy City is part of a practice-led Fine Art research based at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London, where I am a PhD candidate. Titled Art Of Play In Zones Of Conflict—The Case of Israel Palestine, my research project examines multi media contemporary artworks that are embodied and playfully interactive in the context of zones of conflict.
The lieux we speak of then are mixed, hybrid, mutant, bound intimately with life and death, with time and eternity, enveloped in a Mobius strip of the collective and the individual, the sacred and the profane, the immutable and the mobile.
Nearly 100 years after the problem of Jerusalem arose, it still awaits a solution. Is it possible to unravel the enigma of Jerusalem? In order to seriously deal with this question, one must leave the quarry of history and walk through ...(the) twisting alleyways of the earthly Jerusalem.
Seven Walks in a Holy City involves my returning to the spaces of my childhood, albeit with a critical viewpoint following Massey’s idea that ‘returns are always to a place that has moved on, the layers of our meeting intersecting and affecting each other: weaving a process of space-time.’ (Massey 2005: 139). Contested City The city of Jerusalem, is regarded as one of the most contested cities in the world (Khalidi 20111, Dumper 2010). The reasons for Jerusalem’s status as ‘contested‘ are well known and mostly fall beyond the scope of this discussion. However, what I am considering in this paper is the ‘tightly controlled site of extreme segregation that discriminates unequivocally against the mainly Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem (Fenster and Shlomo 2011). The multitude of upheavals the city has witnessed since the early days of the 20th century alone inevitably mean that a
Rashid Khalidi in Edward W. Said London Lecture titled ʻHuman dignity in Jerusalemʼ. Delivered on 31.05.11. See http://www.mosaicrooms.org/recorded-lectures/ , date accessed 26.10.12 2 For a comprehensive historical analysis of the ‘Jerusalem problem’ see Benvenisti 1996, City of Stone: The Hidden Story of Jerusalem. Berkeley: California University Press. 3 The city as ‘golden’ has entered popular culture following the conquest of the eastern parts and the old city in 1967. The conquest was celebrated in a song by singer song writer Naomi Shemer. ‘Yerushalyaim shel Zahav’ ( which means Jerusalem of Gold) became an overnight world wide hit. In a way, which is typical to Zionist discourse and its appropriating practices, the song uses the Al Aqsa mosque’s golden Dome, as it describes the city as empty prior to their arrival and its ‘liberation’ by Israel troops. 1
complex web of political, legal and everyday relationships between the communities that inhabit it has been an ongoing feature of the city. Since the conquest of the eastern side of the city by Israeli forces in 1967 the city is referred to by the Israeli state as ‘unified’2, whereas in popular culture it is viewed as ‘golden’.3 However, the so called ‘unified’ city far from being golden, is a tightly controlled site of extreme segregation. Countless restrictive regulations exist, which are linked to many areas of life such as: residency status, house demolitions, lack of development of infra structure and restrictions on family unification to name but some (Benvenisti 1996, Braverman 2007, Cheshin et al 1999, Dumper 1997, Fenster 2011 and Margalit 2006). This means that its status as contested has as much to do with its geography as it has with its history, as well as with its governance on a daily basis. Therefor, much of its ‘contestation’ might be hidden from view, or not easily discernible and often not obvious to the uninitiated eye.4 5 I propose Jerusalem be viewed as a ‘gray space’. Grey spacing is defined as: ... the practice of indefinitely positioning populations between the ‘lightness‘ of legality, safety and full membership, and the ‘darkness’ of eviction, destruction and death [ … it] bypasses the false modernist dichotomy between ‘legal’ and ‘criminal’, ‘oppressed’ and ‘subordinated’, ‘fixed’ and ‘temporary’[…and] is a more accurate and critical tool for analysing the production of urban spaces in contemporary context.’ (Yiftachel, 247) Grey spacing allows the expansion of one ethnic group into areas previously controlled by another ethnic group, often with state support, thereby creating urban frontiers, where sovereignty and group territorialities are contested. As noted by Yiftachel and demonstrated by the Seven Walks in a Holy City project, Jerusalem is a prime example of these practices.
This is echoed by what Said has called “censorship geography”, as he argued that if “the most geographical of conflicts” is made invisible in mainstream media around the world, then the balance of power and therefore the motivations of the principle actors operating within it, become distorted and misrepresented (Barclay 2010, 5). 5 This can be described geo–politically, in the form of the movement of border and UN resolution lines, since the end of the first world war when after centuries of Ottoman rule the city is taken over by the British mandate. Although the city had been an object of contention prior to that time, it was primarily clashes over holy sites and not sovereignty over the city, that were seen as the main cause (Benvenisti 1996, 49) 4
Seven Walks The starting point of the project was an interest in the city as a pilgrimage and tourist site. The aim was to make tangible small scale work, possibly in the form of postcards thereby linking the city to its history of pilgrimage and my own ongoing engagement with it as a city that is holy and yet bitterly contested. As the Old City has seven open and functioning gates, these became the starting points for each of the walks. One hour for the first walk incrementally inclined to seven for the final and seventh walk. Searching for a way to subvert set paths and tracks lead to the introduction of play devices used in previous work such as dice and cards 6. Each walk had a set routine whereby a card picked out at the outset would determine the gate to start the walk from. Upon arrival at the designated gate, another card would determine a theme to focus camera on 7. A die dictated directions and another die indicated how often to change directions. At each point where directions were changed—a photo was taken. I propose viewing these play devices and the ‘seven walks’ project as a whole as a tactic for ‘undoing’ the landscape. This begs the question - why does the landscape need undoing and why regard walking as a tactic? Firstly, ‘undoing’ relates to the links between ‘walking’ as a cultural practice and the Zionist discourse. Drawing a clear distinction between the acts of walking as part of a European cultural practice and its Zionist descendant, Ben Amos observes that: The Europeans’ (walking, IN) were, at least in part, acts of walking about, whereas those of the Zionists were acts of walking (that are) decisive, practical and target minded … As opposed to the European hikers who traveled familiar land, the Zionist strollers had to create a physical space for themselves which they could call their own, by
For more regarding the use of dice and cards see for example an older project, Hegemonopoly/ Machsomopoly, 2009. See http://www.iditnathan.org.uk/iditnathan.org.uk/Projects/Pages/ hegemonopolymachsomopoly.html Date accessed 26.10.13 7 The thematic foci included: Colours, Still Life, Landscape, Lines, Portraits, Untitled and Forms- archetypal artistic preoccupations.
identifying the geographic sites, the archeological vestiges, and the indigenous flora and fauna, and drawing affinity between these and the Biblical —Jewish past.’ (Ben Amos 2011) The Seven Walks with their randomness and playfulness reference these walks, albeit subversively, as they set out to ‘unravel’ the landscape and ‘undo’ the Zionist indoctrination8. As for the link of walking to ‘tactics’—I follow de Certeau’s descriptions of these as countering the imposed ‘strategies’—as defined in his seminal Practice of Everyday Life (1984) ‘Tactics differ from strategies in that the former contest, subvert or disrupt the latter in an emergent, transient, unpredictable, and often irrational manner. They are not attempts to consolidate power, but rather subtle acts of resistance to it.’ (Mitchell and Kelly 2010, 7) At the end of each walk I posted blog entries and these reveal a wealth of insights and reflections regarding the landscape I walk through. Here, I will only point out three of the highlights that exemplify the city as a ‘gray zone’. Still Life / Hoardings and Graves (archaeology) The 2 Hour Walk starts from Zion Gate and its theme is Still Life, which is apt as I find myself walking out of the old city and towards Mount of Olives, with its masses of graves, glistening in the distance, ‘like seashells on the seashore’ (Benvenisti 1996, 235). The road meanders atop Wadi Hilwa and the village of Silwan which is home to approximately 16,000 Palestinians and one of the sorest spots in the city due to some highly controversial archaeological excavations taking place in recent years. ‘Ir David’ (the City of David) has developed into an archaeological, neo-biblical
Walking around the city one grew up in is thereby akin to the Europeans’ walking rather than the Zionists’ conquering of the land. However, the European walkers carefully plan their routes whereas for the Seven Walks project—the planning is disrupted and the walks are randomized. Where the Seven Walks in a Holy City, is distinct from both the European and the Zionist predecessors, which were conducted mainly in groups, is in their solitary nature. 8
theme park that would be more in place in Las Vegas than at the base of the old city walls. It is increasingly acknowledged as one of the prime examples where claims of land grabs and human rights abuses are practiced, with the increasing influence of ultranationalist religious settler organisations 9. As I walk down with the buses and taxis crowding the road on my left, the views over the village and the archaeological site are masked behind the hyperrealist hoardings on my right, just like the facts and figures behind the whole project and its illegal practices are well hidden from public consciousness. Fig. 1
Fig 1: Heading out of Zion Gate, cemeteries on the Mount of Olives, October 2011. (photo by the author) Fig 2: Hoardings masking archaeological theme park of â€˜Ir Davidâ€™ (City of David),October 2011. (photo by the author) The practice of land grab as part of development of archaeological heritage has been ongoing since the founding of the state and the subject of a growing academic literature. For broad and extensive overview See Abu El-Haj, N. (2001). Specifically re City of David see Pullan and Gwiazda (2009) 9
Landscape / What It Wants and What It Gets (green spaces) The third walk starts from Dung Gate and its theme is Landscape. Half way into my walk the dice sends me onto the “Sherover Promenade”, which according to the architects who completed its build in 1989: … overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem, parts of western Jerusalem and a great sweep of the Judean Desert. Its 1,350 meter long walk is used by both Jews and Arabs as well as tourists and pilgrims to Jerusalem. Its quiet gardens, planted with agricultural species such as wheat and olives, and its many viewing pergolas, create an atmosphere of peace and beauty in which to enjoy this unique and world-famous site. 10 Fig. 3
However, this site like many others in and around the city, has obliterated the landscape that was there before, in this instance in the name of ‘green spaces’. The walk ends atop a valley overlooking the Palestinian village of Sur Baher and beside it a busy building site of yet another illegal settlement in this frontier territory, where erasure and colonization is perpetually linked11. I am reminded of Abramson’s (2009) question What Does Landscape Want? which applies Mitchell’s speculative notion of ‘What Do Pictures Want?’ to landscape 12. The brutality of the diggers as they plough through the hillside to carve out, another neighborhood that bears no relation to its surrounding, is visible even from a distance. This cannot be what this ‘landscape‘ wants, but it is obviously what it gets.
Fig 3: Israeli soldiers admiring the view at the Sherover Promenade, October 2011. (photo by the author) http://www.s-aronson.co.il/project/parks-promenades-and-plazas-project3/ date accessed 6.2.13 For further discussion regarding the links between construction and destruction in the city, see Meade, T. (2012) ‘Destruction of Homes, Erasure of History’, in Clewer, N. Elsey, D. and Certomà, C. (eds.) The Politics of Space and Place, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 12 Larry Abramson is a Jewish Israeli Landscape painter. See bibliographic references for both Abramson and Mitchell. 10
Forms / Simulacra and Euphemisms (language) The theme for the seventh walk, which starts from Jaffa gate is ‘forms’ and it reveals an important insight. Firstly, I walk over nearly two kilomteres of recently renovated railway tracks—that form another promenade developed in the city. One of the multitude of joggers points out to me that the railway sleepers that seem wooden are in fact cast in concrete that simulates old wood. On the outskirts of the city I reach Mar Elias monastery, atop of which the Greek flag appears to be blowing in the wind. The flag turns out to be made of rigid material (wood or plastic) much like the one on the moon, so it always appears to be blowing in the wind. Finally—I proceed in the direction the dice points to, which is towards the checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. An armored border police patrol car drives slowly past flashing its lights, then returns to its base—at ‘the Jerusalem Envelope Unit’. The ‘unit’ mainly polices the Checkpoints around the city. The word envelope in Hebrew implies a somewhat cozy embrace. It operates like the term ‘seam line’13, which sounds friendly and positive for something that is anything but. These observations all combine into a fitting realisation for the final walk and the project as whole, namely—that in this bitterly contested city—things get erased and hidden from view, euphemisms and
Fig. 4: View of construction site from Talpiyot neighbourhood onto the orchards of Sur Baher, October 2011 (photograph by the author) The ‘seam’ implies a physical joining up, bonding even, of separate and distinct entities the separation of which can only come about by the rather violent act of tearing apart. The ‘seam line’ in Israel Palestine is often used to denote the area in Jerusalem where the border used to run, a line that since 1967 has been rendered invisible. 13
visual trickery are used and nothing is quite what it seems. This is echoed by what Said has called “censorship geography”, as he argued that if “the most geographical of conflicts” is made invisible in mainstream media around the world, then the balance of power and therefore the motivations of the principle actors operating within it, become distorted and misrepresented. (Barclay 2010). Conclusion Fig. 5
Fig 5: Simulated wood sleepers for the recently constructed Railway Promenade, October 2011. (photo by the author) Fig.6: A border patrol police car making its way out of the ‘Jerusalem Envelope Unit’ base on road leading to checkpoint 300 (Bethlehem), October 2011. (photo by the author) 190
The walks have taken me in all directions, in and out of the city walls. My reflections and insights exposed the grey zone, and its practices encompassing different walks of life in the city—its archaeology, the green spaces around it and its language. The project unravels links between the old and the new, the erased and the newly constructed. The landscape as it has been transformed over time, and as it changes before my eyes while I walk through it, demonstrates that:
‘Within this paradigm of colonization, played out in a land
with an existing people and an existing society, then Hanafi’s notion of ‘spaciocide’ is the unspoken alter-ego of colonization as it manifests itself in the frontier territories; it is the obliteration of national space —the fragmentation of territory, identity and society—necessary to create the ‘tabula rasa’ of a ‘land uninhabited.’ (Barclay 2010) While my walks and the blog posts, which have replaced the old fashioned postcards I set out to make, reveal a grim image of a ‘grey zone’ and cannot claim to disentangle the complexity of the city—they are nevertheless offered as steps along the way. Bibliography Abramson, Larry. 2009. “What Does Landscape Want? A Walk in W. J. T. Mitchell’s Holy Landscape”. in Culture, Theory and Critique, 50:2. 275-188. Abu El-Haj, Nadia. 2001. Facts on the Ground - Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self Fashioning in Israeli Society. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Barclay, Ahmed. 2010. “Resisting Spaciocide Notes on the Spatial Struggle in IsraelPalestine” in www.arenaofspeculation.org Accessed 6.2.13. Ben Amos, Amos. 2011. “Strolling, Wandering, Touring” in Lines Made by Walking,
(catalogue) Haifa: Museum of Art. Benvenisti, Meron. 1996. City of Stone: The Hidden Story of Jerusalem. Berkeley: California University Press. Benvenisti, M, Tamari, S with Fischer, M and Misselwitz, P. 2006. “Conversation”, in City of Collision: Jerusalem and the Principles of Conflict Urbanism edited by Misselwitz, Philip and Rieniets, Tim, 25–48. Basel: Birkhauser—Publishers for Architecture. Chesin, Amir, Hutman, Bill, & Melamed, Avi. 1999. Separate and unequal: The inside story of Israeli rule in East Jerusalem. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Dumper, Michael. 2002. The Politics of Sacred Space: The Old City of Jerusalem in the Middle East Conflict. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. De Certeau, Michel. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Fenster, Tovi and Shlomo, Oren. 2011. “Statement of Purpose The Act of Bordering and Its Symbolic Implications in East Jerusalem”, in Palestine Israel Journal, 17:12. (http:// pij.org/details.php?id=1362- Accessed 18.1.13. Hanafi, Sari. 2009. “Spaciocide: colonial politics, invisibility and rezoning in Palestinian territory”. Contemporary Arab Affairs. 2:1, 106–121. Massey, Doreen. 2005. For Space, London: Sage. Mitchell, Audra and Kelly, Liam. 2010. “Walking with de Certeau in North Belfast: Agency and Resistance in a Conflicted City”. Divided Cities/Contested States Working Paper No. 17 http://www.conflictincities.org/workingpapers.html Accessed 29.1.13
Mitchell, William J. Thomas. 2005. What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wallach, Yair. 2011. “Shared Space in pre-1948 Jerusalem? Integration, Segregation and Urban Space through the Eyes of Justice Gad Frumkin”. Divided Cities/Contested States Working paper www.conflictincities.org/workingpapers.html Accessed 18.1.13. Yiftachel, Oren. 2009. “Critical theory and ‘gray space’: Mobilization of the colonized”. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 13:2–3, 246–263
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Map-i: On Walking INGE PANNEELS Institute for International Research on Glass, University of Sunderland Abstract: The Map-i project was established as a framework within which a series of projects could be developed as part of a long-term holistic investigation into notions of place and space. It engages with mapping in art and the map as metaphor specifically by looking at the notion of space from a human perspective; from the infinitesimally small to the sublime of Space as was so eloquently encapsulated in the Eames film and a notion of wonder which also underpinned Mercator’s ambition for his Cosmographia. The ethos of Map-i is based on this premise of interconnectedness: how the observable universe can be broken down into infinitesimally small particles, applicable at both the micro and the macro level, always of course observed from a human point of view. The human factor of space; that which can observed, walked, experienced, noted and calculated is referenced by the ‘i’ in Map-i. Mercator Revisited is the first project to be developed as part of Map-i and explores mapping in glass in the context of the 500th anniversary of the eponymous cartographer’s birth. The investigation of Mercator’s work has allowed not only a reflection on the legacy of five hundred years of cartography, but also on an incredible period of human endeavor; the choice of glass was an apt metaphor as a window on the world.
Two hundred thousand years ago, Homo Sapiens started walking â€Ś Mankind went on to explore the world by walking further and further, into the farthest corners of the world. This journey of discovery was helped by the human brainâ€™s amazing navigational capacity. Maps were the recordings of these journeys made; notations of knowledge brought back. From the earliest records, there has been evidence of man-made maps, to help navigate the land. The Bedolina1 petroglyph carved into the rockface in northern Italy during the Iron Age, is a detailed map of cultivated land. Early maps such as those can be found throughout cultures and time. In addition, maps were created to navigate the heavens as much as the earth. Celestial bodies are an integral part of traditional navigation techniques and have been used as fixed global positioning points. The Songlines of Dreamtime of the Australian Aboriginal people are recordings of paths across land or sky. The visual representations of landmarks and waterholes have been recorded in paintings and drawings but also in song, stories and dance. The Aboriginal indigenous culture is the longest surviving cultural history in the world, believed to go back at least 50,000 years if not longer2.
Fig. 1: Caelo, celestial map, Inge Panneels, 12x 24x5 (2013) (Photo: Jurgen Doom) The Bedolina Mapâ€”an Exploratory Network Analysis. Craig Alexander, University of Cambridge, Department of Archaeology, U.K. 2 http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-indigenous-cultural-heritage, accessed 28th of October 2013 1
Maps are objects of their time; shaped and coloured by political, social and cultural conditions. This was ably demonstrated by the Magnificent Maps exhibition at The British Library in 2010 with the strapline that read; ‘power, propaganda and art’. The definition of maps as formulated by Harley and Woodward in 1987, that “maps are graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes, or events in the human world”3, is a broad and generous assertion. Maps are therefore schematic diagrams through which we make sense of our world; they describe the tangible (landmass, vegetation, population … ) and the intangible (e.g. map of happiness). Historically artists were employed by cartographers to embellish maps and thus art and cartography became intrinsically linked. Artists have appropriated the visual language of maps and subverted them into their own work. The exquisite detail of historical maps such as the fourteenth century Ebstorf Map, a mappa mundi with the body of Christ at is centre, was referenced by Grayson Perry in his ironic etching Map of Nowhere in 20084. The integration of maps and mapping techniques as a manifestation of postmodern art, where ‘the appropriation of past styles and conventions is an expression of its questioning nature’, has been an expanding field5. Cartographic rules give artists assumptions to play with and imagery to exploit. The map format assumes an expectation to be able to extract information from it, as the visual literacy required to read maps is commonplace. Artists have used map iconography to express their own ideas about the world and have used both traditional hand-drawn maps and contemporary digital mapping techniques to gather and order complex data to create artworks with a sense of place.
Definition formulated at the beginning of the first volume of their “History of Cartography”: Barber, Peter, “The Map Book” ( London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005): 6. 4 Barber Peter andTom Harper, Magnificent Maps: Power, propaganda and art (London: The BritishLibrary, 2010): 80–81 5 Harmon, Katharine, The Map as Art: contemporary artists explore cartography (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009): 9 3
Contemporary artists have harnessed the map of the world as a symbol, which can convey in one visual statement the interconnectedness of places, people and things. Artists such as Mona Hatoum (Map, 1999), Susan Stockwell (Map, 2011) and Ai Wei Wei (World Map, 2009) have all used the world map as a means for making social, cultural and or political commentary. Maps ‘offer us a means of describing and understanding the intangible’. Artists use maps to make invisible connections visible,6 taking the map for a walk and mapping the walk or drawing by the act of walking with the aid of GPS.7 Maps as depositories of wholly imagined places are commonplace.
Fig. 2: ‘Liverpool Map’, Inge Panneels and Jeffrey Sarmiento, Museum of Liverpool (2011) 6x2.1x0.3x5cm deep (Photo: Simon Bruntnell) The diptych piece of Quadratum and Circulus is based on a map of air traffic on a Mercator projection, in turn referencing the Air Routes of the world ( by day—by night), 2001, by the artists Langlands and Bell. See also Panneels, Inge, Map-i: Mercator Revisited (Gent-Kortrijk: Snoeck, 2013): 57–62 7 Speed, Chris, “Drawing with Satellites; an ESALA GPS drawing project”. February 2011 (http://fields.eca.ac.uk/fields/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/DrawingWithSatellites.pdf 6
The rich palette of colours of the Mercator atlases are referenced in the Terra Mundi series of vessels with abstract design details from both Mercator maps and Google Maps, including a map of Utopia8
Fig. 3: Quadratum; Squaring the Circle and Circulus: circling the square, diptych, Inge Panneels, 2013, 48x48cm–48cm dia, glass: Map of flight paths across the world and map of the internet; invisible global connections. (Photo: Jurgen Doom) “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.” (‘The Soul of Man under Socialism’ by Oscar Wilde) 8
Maps have been drawn, shaped or constructed. Other artists simply use physical maps as artefacts in their work; maps have been cut, torn, pasted, layered, glued into new works of art. Maps have the ability to convey a sense of place and space in equal measure; of the local and the global, depending on the scale of the map presented.
Figs. 4 & 5: Terra Mundi series with Utopia piece at far right Inge Panneels, glass, 48x10cm, 2013 Fig. 6: Mercator Macro(78x78cm) and Mercator Mini (3x3cm), Inge Panneels, 2013 Glass map of the world on two different scales. (Photos: Jurgen Doom) 199
The artist/designer couple Charles and Ray Eames explored this in an extraordinary documentary the Powers of Ten “a film dealing with the relative size of things in the universe, and the effect of adding another zero ”. The film starts with the scene of a couple having a picnic in the park and zooms out every ten seconds to the power of ten; from 1 to 10, to 100 metres above until they are lost to sight. The landscape becomes a street map of Chicago, an aerial view, a globe, a celestial map to the power of 24, when the view eventually becomes infinite Space. The camera then reverses back to Earth and zooms in on the human hand and magnifies its skin structure to the power of -16 when the cells have been magnified to the nuclear level of protons, “to the edge of present understanding” 9.
In her seminal book “You Are Here”, Katherine Harmon, states “I map, therefore I am”. The observations we make of our environment are by definition from a personal perspective, observation, and experience. It refers to artists using mapping and maps in their art but also alludes to the human condition; of ‘mapping’ as a means of understanding. Whilst science will argue cartography is ‘a measurement of
Fig. 7: Micro Macro, Inge Panneels, 2010, 28cm dia, glass: map of blood vessel juxtaposed with river estuary As narrated in the film; the edge of present understanding (1977) is now superseded but the sentiment remains. The archived film can be viewed on You Tube on the Eames office website. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0 9
high fidelity’, to be observant and objective, the role of the artist is to the contrary; to be subversive; to interpret, reflect, question or comment. The artist hereby places him/herself firmly at the centre of the map. In his book Lines, Tim Ingold (2007) distinguishes between two types of map: sketch map and modern cartographic map. The sketch map is the map drawn at the back of an envelope, or gesticulated when signposting; it is the gestural trace of journeys already made, embedded in the mind and movements of he/she drawing/ making the map; the journey is the line on the map. The implication of this places the human, the person central to the sketch map; the ‘I’ is inferred. A cartographic map in contrast does not require any prior knowledge of the journey; they enable the prospective traveller to plan, follow the route and reach his destination virtually, without actually ever having left. “The map itself however, bears no testimony to these journeys; the map-maker is no longer complicit in the cartographic map”10. The notion of place has changed. The Map-i project was established as a framework within which a series of projects could be developed as part of a long-term holistic investigation into notions of place and space. It engages with mapping in art and the map as metaphor, specifically by looking at the notion of space from a human perspective; from the infinitesimally small, to the space we walk and live in, to the sublime of outer Space. The ethos of Map-i is based on this premise of interconnectedness: how the observable universe can be described at both the micro and the macro level. The human factor of space; that which can observed, walked, experienced, noted and calculated is referenced by the ‘i’ in Map-i. The ‘I’ in Map-i refers to Self. Mercator Revisited is the first project to be developed as part of Map-i and explores mapping in glass in the context of the 500th anniversary of the eponymous cartographer’s birth. The investigation of Mercator’s work has allowed not only a
Ingold, Tim, Lines: a brief history (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007)
reflection on the legacy of 500 years of cartography, but also on an incredible period of human endeavor; the choice of glass was an apt metaphor as a window on the world. Gerard Mercator (1512–594) is one of the most important cartographers of the Modern Era who was the first to coin the term Atlas to denote a collection of maps bound in a book. Mercator was a polymath whose scholarly skills and craftsmanship were embodied in his work as a cartographer and instrument maker. His ability to assimilate new information from the golden Age of Discovery, with established knowledge from antiquity, turned him into an exquisite map-maker at the forefront of contemporary knowledge. The tales of intrepid Western explorers, whose voyages by ship across oceans and on foot across new continents, revealed an expanded worldview. Mercator was the first cartographer to successfully project the earth’s map from a globe onto the flat plane of a printed map in straight lines; his projection is still being used today in naval charts and on online digital mapping platforms. The seminal monochrome World Map from 1569 had successfully ”squared the circle ”. The accumulated knowledge epitomised by Mercator’s book collection11 was referenced in Compendium (2013). The books are on a wide-ranging variety of subjects, include volumes on theology, history, mathematics, medicine, dictionaries … It is also, by our twenty-first century standards, a very modest library in terms of quantity. Books were expensive and knowledge was the preserve of an elite scholarly class. Contrast this to the incredible resources, which are now provided by the World Wide Web - the search engines of Google, the shared knowledge of Wikipedia, the gigantic book depository of Amazon. The Age of Discovery can retrospectively be seen as a bridge between the dogmatic doctrine of the Middle Ages and the cultural renaissance of the Modern Era. The advent of printing heralded an era of unprecedented transfer of knowledge, probably not seen again until the twentieth century and the invention of the World
Mercator and his books was a catalogue detailing the 114 books which may, or may not, have made up the personal library of Gerard Mercator. 11
Wide Web. The highly skilled and labour intensive processes, which were involved in the etching and printing of the maps were costly in terms of time. The twenty-first century cartographer no longer has to delicately etch the rumblines out of the soft copper plate, in reverse, but can update information with the click of a button. The Geographical Information System (GIS) allows cartographers to create maps directly related to statistics and database information; if the data changes, so do the maps. It is these automated functions, which give us real-time maps of weather patterns, travel routes and other digital traffic. In Circulus and Quadratum, twenty-first century maps of the internet and air traffic are overlaid on a Mercator and Langrange projection; a square and circular world map respectively, as it can be argued that the significant increase in scientific knowledge over the last five hundred years has been much aided by the incremental speed of travel and communication. We no longer walk, we fly â€Ś
Fig. 8: Compendium, Inge Panneels, 18part glass map, 35x45cm, (2013) Glass map inspired by the 1569 Mercator worldmap overlaid with texts from his library archive
The work of Mercator was chosen as a source of inspiration because of its historical reference, its cultural connections and its enduring international significance. The Mercator Museum in Sint-Niklaas has a significant collection of maps, atlases and globes made or attributed to Mercator and is the only Museum in the world dedicated to his work. A short but intense artist-in-residency scheme in early 2012 resulted in a new body of work, presented at Map-i: Mercator Revisited exhibition at the Museum and eponymous publication in 2013.12 The Earth globe from 1541 and its corresponding celestial counterpart, were of particular interest as globes featured previously in my work. TheÂ Creationseries was a collection of globes based on creation mythologies from around the world, which chronicle the coming into being of heaven and earth. Creation stories of ancient
Fig. 9: detail: Quadratum; Squaring the Circle, Inge Panneels, 2013, 48x48cmâ€“48cm dia, glass Map of flight paths across the world and map of the internet: invisible globalconnections. (Photo: Jurgen Doom) Panneels, Inge, Map-i: Mercator Revisited (Gent-Kortrijk: Snoeck, 2013)
Fig. 10 & 11
cultures were vehicles for explaining the origin of human existence; an existential quest, which still fundamentally informs the 21st century scientific endeavour of cosmology. Mercator considered himself a cosmographer who defined his profession as the “disposition, dimension and organisation of the whole machine of the world”. The terrestrial globe was part of a tradition of prolific globe-making in the Modern Era with an astounding accuracy given its content was based entirely on earth bound observations. It is only with the advent of the Space Age that the first objective image of the earth as seen from above gave a true depiction of Earth. The Powers of Ten film was made in 1977, only five years after the Apollo17 beamed back the first image of the Earth as seen from Space at a distance of 45,000 kilometres in December 1972. The photograph shows the Earth as a blue glass marble; this image became one of the iconic images, which defined the twentieth century and informed Terra Caelum (2014), the glass globe currently being made as an amalgam of the extra terrestrial view with the terrestrial map.
Figs. 10 & 11: Creation series: Egypt and Eskimo globe, Inge Panneels, 1997 (Belfius collection, Brussels)
Gerard Mercator was “standing on the shoulders of giants” when he drew up the map of the world based on tales brought back from intrepid explorers such as Marco Polo, Magellan and Vasco Da Gama whose discoveries were expanding the worldview beyond the confines of Europe and changing the classic geography by Ptolemy. Mercator collated this into a double cordiform world map, Orbis Imago. Mercator’s map was derived from the evocative heart-shaped map (1536) by the French mathematician Oronce Finé (1494–1555 ), drawing on the metaphor of the world as a heart. This has contemporary relevance in the environmental movement of the twentieth century. The iconic aerial photograph of the heart-shaped swamp by Yann Arthus Betrand (1946), the renowned French photographer, whose images and films have carried a powerful and heartfelt environmental message about the Earth, is in turn reminiscent of the Finé map.
Fig. 12: ‘Orbis Imago’, Inge Panneels, Glass wall map 50x80cm (2013) With engraved text of the eponymous poem by John Donne (Photo: Jurgen Doom)
The environmental concerns are also shared in Pericolo, a shallow glass plate, informed by a recent article and map detailing the alarming rate of Arctic sea ice melt contrasted by Arctus inspired by 16th century map of North Pole by Mercator. Artists using mapping techniques to create images understood “that scientific measurement was not the be all and end all” but that collating information about places—its people, its history, its memories, its culture; all the intangible assets which interweave with the physical realities of a geographical location—will add up to give it a sense of place. Contemporary art’s critical engagement with cartography extends well beyond the traditional aesthetic concerns that have long connected the two practices, uniting them today around “contested questions of culture, environment and politics”. Fig. 13
Fig. 13: Tu Es Hic, Inge Panneels, 2013 With engraved text of the apocalyptic book The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (2006).
Fig. 14 & 15
The universal quest for understanding a sense of place is fundamental to our human nature and forms the essence of my work and also proved a central driving force in the lifelong work of Gerard Mercator. In the Map-i: Mercator Revisited project, the reconsideration of the sixteenth century Mercator globes, and their expanded mechanistic worldview, critical in the Age of Discovery and informed by world exploration and early astronomical observations, were juxtaposed with the twenty-first century digital quantum worldview. Physicists and scientists are busy modelling this new view of the world in relation to the expanded cosmos and are at a similar point now as Mercator was five hundred years ago when he tried to assimilate all the disparate tales of discovery and fragments of information into a coherent body of work with his Atlas. Humankind’s discoveries are less done on foot and more in the mind these days, but metaphorically we keep on walking …
Figs. 14 & 15: Pericolo, Arctus, Inge Panneels, 2013, 48cm dia.
Bibliography Alexander, Craig, The Bedolina Map – an Exploratory _Network Analysis Craig Alexander, University of Cambridge, Department of Archaeology, U.K. Barber, Peter, The Map Book (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005) Barber Peter andTom Harper, Magnificent Maps: Power, propaganda and art (London: The British Library, 2010) Brotton, Jerry, A History of the World in Twelve Maps (London: Penguin Books, 2012) Casey, Edward. S, Earth Mapping: artists reshaping landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005) Carson, Andrea; “What makes public art good?”, The Huffington Post, 25 July 2011 (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/andrea-carson/public-art_b_907529.html) Crane, Nicolas, Mercator: the man who mapped the planet (London: Phoenix, 2002) Cutler, Vanessa, New Technologies in Glass (London: A&C Black, 2012) Dawkins, Richard, The Magic of Reality; how we know what’s really true (London: Random House, 2011) Eames, Ray and Charles, Powers of Ten (1977), film, archived on Eames website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0 Gaspar, Jacquim Galves (2012) “Squaring the Circle: how Mercator did it in 1569”. Proceedings of Mercator Revisited International Conference, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, 25–28h April 2012
Harmon, Katharine, The Map as Art: contemporary artists explore cartography (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) Horst, Thomas, De Wereld in Kaart: Gerard Mercator en de eerste wereldatlas (Brussels: Mercatorfonds, 2011) Ingold, Tim, Lines: a brief history (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007) Kastner, Jeffrey and Brian Wallis, Land and Environmental Art (London: Phaidon, 1998) Mapping the Imagination, online archive of eponymous exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2007–08 http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/ mapping-the-imagination/ Markoff, John, “The Cellphone, navigating our lives”. The New York Times, February 16, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/science/17map.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1) McCandless, David, Information is beautiful (London: Collins, 2009) McCandless, David, The Beauty of data visualization, TEDGlobal 2010, filmed July 2010, posted August 2010 (http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_ of_data_visualization.html) Panneels, Inge, Map-i: Mercator Revisited (Gent-Kortrijk: Snoeck, 2013) Penneman, Theo (red.), Mercator & zijn boeken, (Sint-Niklaas: Mercator 1994, 1994) Monmonier, Mark, Rhumb Lines and Map Wars (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004) Parker, Mike, Map Addict (London: Collins, 2009)
Pearman, Hugh ‘Plot on the landscape; why so many artists and makers are fascinated by maps?” Crafts: the magazine for contemporary craft Nr233, NovDec 2011, p.40-43 Speed, Chris, “Drawing with Satellites; an ESALA GPS drawing project”. February 2011 (http://fields.eca.ac.uk/fields/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/DrawingWithSatellites.pdf) Taylor, Andrew, The world of Gerard Mercator; the mapmaker who revolutionized geography (London: Harper Collins, 2004) Turrell, James Mapping Spaces: a topological survey of the work of James Turrell (New York: Peter Blum Edition, 1987) Vidal, John and AdamVaughn, “Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded”, The Guardian (September 14 2012) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/14/arctic-sea-ice-smallest-extent (accessed 21 September 2012) Whitfield, Peter, The Mapping of the Heavens (London: The British Library, 1995) Wood, Denis, The Power of Maps (New York: Guilford Press, 1992)
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
walkwalkwalk: Stories from the Bethnal Green Archive Clare Qualmann University of East London Abstract: This paper explores a series of art works created as part of the project walkwalkwalk: an archaeology of the familiar and forgotten1 a collaboration between Gail Burton, Serena Korda, Clare Qualmann. These take the form of text works, collectively titled ‘stories from the Bethnal Green archive’ that we began creating in 2005, and have returned to at various points since then. The paper describes the background to the project, and its use of walking as research method, process and live art event. It goes on to describe the use of text works in different contexts: as a series of flyposters on the streets of Bethnal Green; as permanent architectural installations in a luxury hotel; and as artworks exhibited in a gallery context.
I want to focus specifically on the role of walking in the collection and construction of these texts2, or stories as we think of them as, and discuss three very distinct ways in which we have made them public, or ‘exhibited’ them. The first of these sees the stories produced as fly posters which were pasted into the routes from which the stories came, the second sees them permanently installed as engraved signs and architectural installations in a luxury hotel, the third a gallery presentation as part of the touring survey exhibition ‘Walk On: 40 Years of Art Walking’.
http://www.walkwalkwalk.org.uk The full text of the discussed works can be read online at: http://www.walkwalkwalk.org.uk/2ndlevelpages/FlyPosters.html and http://www.walkwalkwalk.org.uk/2ndlevelpages/BethnalGreenOldTownHall.html 1
But before I do that I want to describe the broader project of walkwalkwalk, and to introduce the context in which this work was made. As a collective we began working together in late 2004, with a loose idea of exploring the walks that we shared through the areas of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and Whitechapel—where at the time we all lived and worked. Using our routine walks as a base, we spent six months walking and re-walking the routes that we thought were familiar—sharing one another’s walks, walking purposelessly and purposefully in order to shift our understanding of the area. This period of research —which did not yet have any specified outcome in mind—generated a huge amount of material in the form of photographs, notes, annotated maps, found objects, audio and video recordings.
Fig. 1: walkwalkwalk route map 2005 (image: walkwalkwalk)
Our focus was sharpened by an invitation to create a live artwork for the Design History Society’s (DHS) 2005 conference ‘Locating Design’, held at London Metropolitan University in Whitechapel. For the DHS conference we created a self-guided walk, using a custom map and a series of instructions but we did not begin to touch on the mass of ‘stuff’ that we had collected. In fact we generated a whole new body of ‘stuff’ as conference delegates donated their own found objects, stories and anecdotes from the walk route to our archive. As a starting point this event provided not only fuel in the form of participants in the walking of the route, but also a baptism (by fire) in key critical theories surrounding walking and the city.
Fig. 2: walkwalkwalk installation at the DHS conference, 2005 (photo: walkwalkwalk)
This raises the a point that it’s important to highlight—at the outset of the project we were very much disconnected from these theories, histories and methodologies. In a good way—I would like to assert. Although as the project has evolved these have become helpful and useful, at the beginning we were working solely as artists, not academics or researchers. Following that first public walk-based event we went on to lead a series of public walks, mostly at night, along the same route. On occasion punctuating the spaces that we passed through with particular interventions, on other occasions just leading people on a walk. Running underneath and alongside this very public and visible set of events was a continued more private and discrete set of processes and practices, which formed the basis for the text works discussed here.
Fig. 3: walkwalkwalk nightwalk, midwinter 2005 (photo: walkwalkwalk) Anderson, J,“Talking whilst walking: a geographical archaeology of knowledge”, Area, (2004) 36.3, pp. 254–261
Geographers such as Jon Anderson 3 provide a useful discussion in understanding how our unselfconscious methods and working processes functioned to facilitate interaction with people, engage us deeply with particular places, and create art works that fed into those processes. Anderson’s discussion (and extension) of Casey’s4 notion of the ‘constitutive co-ingredience’ of people and place, in relation to practices of walking and talking asserts that the specificity of geographical location enables deeper engagement, excavation of knowledges relating to that place (and the people within it) 5. Considering ourselves as the research subjects in this regard holds true—that the repeated walking—alone and together, and the telling and retelling of stories—of anecdotes and encounters along the way was enabled and facilitated by the places themselves. Anderson goes further—and again this ties in to the works that I want to discuss, saying that “places are not passive stages on which actions occur, rather they are the medium that impinge on, structure and facilitate these processes.”6
Fig. 4: walkwalkwalk The Musical, 2006. (photo: walkwalkwalk) Casey, E, “Between geography and philosophy: what does it mean to be in the place-world?”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, (2001) 91 683–93, 5 Anderson, 2004, p. 254, citing Casey 2000, 2001. 6 Anderson, 2004, p. 255 4
Recording stories from the walk route in written form—then in some cases collaboratively, we started to consider how we might share them, or return them to the places that they came from, or pass them on to an audience. With the DHS conference delegates in mind in the first instance we considered letters, included in their instruction packs, to be opened and read at specific points along the route, but on testing them this seemed cumbersome, and too proscriptive. We settled, in consultation with the physical environment that the route provided, on fly posters. Writing on graffiti, and the breadth of uncommissioned street art practices that have evolved from it, talks of the work as an act—much like live art—it’s the doing of it that’s important, the trace is something else—residue, document, left over.
Fig. 5: walkwalkwalk ‘Model’ flyposted at Pedley Street, 2005 (photo: walkwalkwalk)
This holds true to our experiences to some extent—though the traces that we left were very intentional—the acts of doing the fly posting were performance-like and empowering . Our first experiences of fly posting transformed the spaces that we worked in psychologically in a very powerful way. Parts of our route are dark, narrow, forbidding, and to some extent probably dangerous at night. Walking them on earlier nights we had all shared strong feelings of fear. Going out purposefully, and with the intention to commit essentially illegal acts transformed our experience. Rather than imagining that anyone who came around a corner was ‘bad’ and possibly out to ‘get’ us, the scenario flipped—we were ‘bad’ and those coming upon us we imagined as ‘good’—with the potential to challenge or chasten us. I can’t quite
Fig. 6: walkwalkwalk flyposting at Pedley Street, 2005 (photo: walkwalkwalk)
believe that I’m going to quote Banksy, but he describes very well the sensation: “Everything happens in higher definition. Adrenalin sharpens your eyesight, each little sound becomes significant, your sense of smell becomes more acute”7 The rush and the thrill is definitely a compelling part of the act. Our first round of posting lasted ages—we did them in good weather at the end of August 2005, and many of them were still intact (albeit very weathered) 6 months later. Later postings were far more short-lived—as various circumstances conspired to remove them. On one occasion filming in the railway arch resulted in them being over-painted, on another a rainstorm washed them right off the walls—but to our knowledge they have never been removed by official channels. Commenting on the ephemerality of graffiti in particular Kaltenhauser remarks, “The interested spectator must be lucky enough to catch sight of it in this very limited time. So in the best case, a highly complex experience culminates in a short precious moment—comparable, maybe, to the joys of French cuisine” 8 Our intention in the form, and the placing of these stories as posters was to continue the dialogue by which we had collected them in the first place. Although we cannot know what, if any their impact was, we hoped that they would provoke moments of recognition in passersby who read a few words (or more). If not recognition of particular references to people or places then we hoped for perhaps surprise, or puzzlement at an unattributed (uncommercial) text in this context. They were intended for pedestrian viewing, prompting a pause, punctuating a walk. Although fine art graffiti existed on these streets at that point in time it was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today—there were certainly no east end street art tours, and little of the highly illustrative pasted work that today is so prominent.
Bansky, 2010 in Seno, ed. 2010 Trespass a History of Uncommissioned Urban Art, Taschen Kaltenhauser, 2007, Art Inconsequence, Advanced Vandalism, Publikat p.11.
Fig. 7: walkwalkwalk ‘Two Young Women’ flyposted at Paradise Row, 2006 (photo: walkwalkwalk) Fig. 8: walkwalkwalk Flyposters weathering, 2006 (photo: walkwalkwalk)
In contrast to the visible-knowable scale of participation in and engagement with our nightwalks this work is designed for one-to-one encounters, poetic interludes, conversations with strangers—opening a conversation with the street, with the place. Accepting this potential only, this ‘not-knowing’ feels ok, it’s not like exhibiting work in a gallery and being disappointed at small visitor numbers. It’s more like releasing work into the ‘wild’ and allowing it to survive, to converse, or not—it’s out of our control. The second form that these works took moves to another extreme: from street intervention to luxury hotel. In 2009 we applied for an Artsadmin commission to create work for the Old Bethnal Green Town Hall, a building on our walk route, which had stood semi-derelict for 20 years. Purchased by the Singaporean hotelier Peng Loh, the proposal was to transform the building into a luxury hotel and serviced apartments, including a £120,000 budget for newly commissioned sitespecific artworks. We proposed to adapt a series of text works, the stories from the fly posters, for the Old Town Hall building, and (along with several other artists) were commissioned. To quote from our proposal: The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, immortalised as the Borough’s symbol, and present within the fabric of the Old Town Hall in stained glass glory, is the inspiration for our proposal. The Blind Beggar is a surprisingly ordinary story of a wealthy man fallen on hard times who turns, very successfully, to begging and is thus able to provide an impressive dowry for his beautiful daughter. Somehow it has survived, repeated, embellished and mythologised over a period of 700 years. We ask, what are today’s stories? Who are the everyday characters from the present that have the potential to continue this tradition?
Fig. 9: Benthal Green Old Town Hall (photo: Rare Architecture) Fig. 10: Bethnal Green Old Town Hall, Blind Begger Stained Glass Window (photo: walkwalkwalk)
walkwalkwalk is rooted in storytelling and our archive houses a collection of stories that have been developed from our experiences. These are based on real life contemporary incidents in the area and move between the routine and the random, creating a set of characters that form an integral part of the walkwalkwalk mythology. We propose to bring these into the building in the form of large and small-scale text works, echoing our previous use of stories, such as those in the form of fly posters. The texts we have created give voice to that which is usually overlooked in the regular histories, and which may be marginalised as the area regenerates, speaking of a world beyond the hotel of fragile freedoms and serendipitous encounters. Embedding these tales of the everyday and overlooked into the fabric of the building seeks to celebrate these characters and their lives, commencing a new process of myth making to accompany the Blind Beggar into the future imagination of Bethnal Green. We created two large-scale text works of the stories ‘Nora’ and ‘Billy’ using a direct-to-wall technique that involves the application of very thin layers of plaster, creating lettering that is marginally raised from the surface. This process gives the appearance of the text emerging from the fabric of the building, literally embedding the stories back into Bethnal Green. The stories ‘Billy’ and ‘Nora’ are sited either side of the stairway of the original (1910s) building. A third large-scale story ‘Bird’ is deep-etched into a glass panel on the stairwell of the bar. 14 small text works were produced as engraved signs in brass and acrylic and installed around the building. The signs, in common with the fly posters, speak to the environment in which they are embedded. Designed to evoke the vernacular of signage both from the building’s former public life, and of hotel signs. The pieces are placed in a variety of locations, to be ‘happened upon’ incidentally, looking at first
Fig. 11: walkwalkwalk ‘Bird’, etched back-lit glass, 2010 (photo: Angus Mill) Fig. 12: walkwalkwalk ‘Ravens’, engraved acrylic sign, 2010 (photo: Angus Mill)
like just a part of the building, but on second glance revealing the unexpected. They are intended to be experienced in a subtle and intimate way, woven into visitors’ everyday use of the hotel. The signs are in the toilets, in alcoves, on corridor walls and above the lift buttons. And in the kitchen. They are small, easy to miss, easy to walk past, but unlike the flyposters they are designed to be permanent—their potential to capture an audience is ongoing. The decision even to apply for the commission was a difficult one. From its start walkwalkwalk’s ethos has been about doing what we can do, what we want to do, without funding, without a gallery space, without approval. Claiming the freedom to make work outside of the system. Our key concerns were around the exclusive nature of the hotel spaces. That the public/private space of a hotel is a closed world, inaccessible if you don’t look right, dress right, act right. What persuaded us? The money!—well it was definitely a factor! Not simply in terms of an artists fee—but more the opportunity to work with materials, processes and scales that would not be affordable under our own steam. But most important perhaps was the role of Artsadmin9—a live art support and production agency that we had had contact with before. Conversations with them reassured us that there would be absolute freedom in the artistic content of the work, no censorship of challenging texts. So it was the possibility of creating disjuncture between the context of the luxury hotel and the ‘real’ world that surrounds it that really won us over. The third context for these works is within a gallery exhibition ‘Walk On: 40 Years of Art Walking from Richard Long to Janet Cardiff’10, a survey show that tours throughout 2013 and 2014—to London, Sunderland, Birmingham, Plymouth. In these multiple locations the text works surely cannot be said to provoke moments of recognition or surprise in anyone’s everyday routines. Here the posters (reprinted and pasted onto the gallery walls) are divorced from their site, disconnected from
http://www.artsadmin.co.uk/projects/town-hall-artworks-artists-commissions Curated by Cynthia Morrison-Bell & Alistair Robinson with the collaboration of Mike Collier and Janet Ross, http://www.art-circuit.org.uk/index.php?/forthcoming/walking-journeys/ 9
the idea of conversation that initially inspired them. So how do they function in a white cube context? Perhaps our best response is that they work, in this context, as snapshots of a walk – of the multiple walks that they stemmed from. Each poster/ story individually functions as a record of the walk that generated it, and collectively (between 8 and 12 are displayed together in the exhibition) they work to construct a broader picture of the place, and people, that generated them. Although, as I have described, our inspiration, motivation, and goals in making and remaking these works for these different contexts shifts I want to conclude by reflecting on their relationship to the walk (as in the route) and walking (our practising of that route) that generated them. The first flypostings had an immediacy and a direct connection to the walk—the timeframe within which we walked, wrote, designed, printed and posted the original works was small—perhaps
Fig. 13: walkwalkwalk ‘Miss World’, engraved brass sign, 2010 (photo: Angus Mill)
a month or two. The Town Hall installations work at one remove from this, bringing the walk inside, seeking perhaps to provoke interest in, or inspire a walk through the area that they speak of. And finally the gallery exhibition, at a further remove, which frames the works (and the walk and the walking) directly as artworks in relation to other artworks about, generated from, and in the form of, walks. Bibliography Anderson, J., “Talking whilst walking: a geographical archaeology of knowledge”. Area 36.3 (2004): 254–261. Casey, E, “Between geography and philosophy: what does it mean to be in the placeworld?”. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91 (2001): 683-93. Heddon, Deirdre and Turner, Cathy, “Walking Women: Interviews with artists on the move”. Performance Research 15 (2010): 4, 14–22. Kaltenhauser, R., Art Inconsequence, Advanced Vandalism. Publikat: 2007. Morley, S., Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art. Thames and Hudson: 2003. Rendell, J, Art and Architecture, a Place Between. IB Tauris: 2006. Selby, A, Art and Text. Black Dog: 2009. Seno, E., Trespass a History of Uncommissioned Urban Art. Taschen: 2010.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Loitering with Intent to Make Manchester Wonderful MORAG ROSE Abstract: In 2006 I co-founded The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) a Manchester based interdisciplinary collective interested in psychogeography. For The LRM Psychogeography is a kinaesthetic practice; a multi-sensory and playful tactic for community engagement. Inspired by The Situationist Internationale, the concept of the derive is the starting point for a range of unorthodox public tours. Walking is a way to provoke dialogue and new ways of seeing the city. The LRM embark on psychogeographical drifts to decode the palimpsest of the streets, ncover hidden histories and discover the extraordinary in the banal. They aim to nurture critical awarenesus of everyday space, (re)engaging with and (re)enchanting the city. The LRMâ€™s events are ephemeral but we have experimented with a range of e-cording and analytical methods to capture their essence. I am interested in blurring the boundaries between academia, activism and personal experience and this paper will present field notes from an ongoing experiment in remapping Manchester through our wanderings.
The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) is a Manchester based collective of artists, activists, academics and others with an interest in psychogeography, public space and discovering the hidden stories of the city. I co-founded the group in 2006 and now act as the chief facilitator and creative curator of expeditions. When I first heard the phrase psychogeography it inspired a minor epiphany, encompassing as it does so many elements that fascinate me. I drew a Venn Diagram then and still consider it to be the best representation of what I feel it is we do.
Fig. 1: Venn diagram (Morag Rose)
However, the diagram does lack one vital circle about the embodied and
subjective experience of walking; it’s impossible for me to separate theory and practice. The LRM emerged from an anarchist social centre many of us were involved in, this itself was (amongst many things) a response to the increased privatisation of the city centre and a critique of regeneration policies that enhanced inequality and alienated many. The Situationists contested legacy was an ongoing conversation and some of us were feeling rather burnout and jaded, wanting to explore new methods of engaging a wider public. Other loiterers have diverse backgrounds and motivations but we all share a love of Manchester. It’s a critical appreciation tempered with concern, we question the neo-liberal city and worry about the effects of homogenisation, surveillance, commercialisation and capitalism. We are all interested in the untold stories of the city, the unexpected view and the curious serendipities that the dérive can reveal. Walking provides a tool to illuminate debates and ask questions; we can start outside the post bomb Nirvana of luxury retail and don’t need to travel far before entering some of the most deprived areas in the country. Despite the marketing spin and shiny city centre Manchester is a city of hunger, poverty and poor public health.1 We believe it deserves better. Fig. 2
Fig. 2: Lost Rivers (Marie Pattison) Contrast, for example, work and findings of The Greater Manchester Poverty Commission http://www.povertymanchester.org/ with those from Marketing Manchester http://www.marketingmanchester.com/ both accessed 23rd June 2013. 1
Since 2007 The LRM have gathered on the first Sunday of every month to loiter together. Our membership is fluid and open, everyone is welcome to come and numbers fluctuate with the seasons. There are two kinds of first Sunday. Some are dérives of the kind Debord would recognise,2 if not necessarily approve of. They include algorithmic or thematic walks where we surrender to the quest of following a subject or a set of rules. Examples include sound walks, urban nature trails, throwing dice, using fortune tellers, spinning plastic animals or focusing on colours and textures as a catalyst. Dis-orienteering involved following a point on the compass as closely as possible for an hour and then retracting our steps. Our take on the Surrealist game of exquisite corpses involves drawing a portion of a fantasy map and passing it round the group until the page is full, then using the resulting image to navigate around the city. Power and control have been underlying themes in our work and I have developed a game called CCTV bingo as a kind of ludic resistance, a way to question omnipresent surveillance. Participants find a camera and follow its gaze until they see another and repeat ad infinitum whilst completing a game-card noting different kinds of apparatus. Other walks are broadly historical, borrowing heavily from Smith’s mythogeography3 we seek a heritage that is permeable, participatory and fluid. We may be peeling back the palimpsest of the city but it is leaking and messy. Collaboration has always been keen to The LRMs ethos, and never more so than our “heritage” tours. Manchester’s Modernist Heroines was a project with Manchester Modernist Society4 and Shrieking Violet5 fanzine. We were all frustrated at the absence of women’s stories in the hegemonic narrative of Manchester and wanted to celebrate achievements of women in the twentieth century. We issued a public request for nominations and a variety of people wrote about their chosen heroine for a special edition of Shrieking Violet. I took the stories and wove a tour out of them, no blue plaques or former residences were available so I used sites of affective resonance, influenced by the spatial theories of Doreen Massey,6 one of the featured women.
Debord, Guy. Theory of the Dérive translated by Knabb, Ken (1956) Online:http://www.bopsecrets. org/SI/2.dérive.htm (Accessed June, 23rd 2013). 3 There have been many artists and writers who have influenced my practice but Phil Smith is of particular note. See, for example, Phil Smith, Mythogeography (Axminster: Triarchy Press, 2010). 4 Manchester Modernist Society “explore the extraordinary story of the 20th century in the broadest possible sense” see http://www.manchestermodernistsociety.org (Accessed September, 21st 2013). 5 The Shrieking Violet is an arts and culture blog and zine edited by Natalie Bradbury. I am an occasional contributor about LRM projects such as the cake map of Manchester. It is available online at http://theshriekingviolets.blogspot.co.uk (Accessed October 31st 2013). 2
Drinking in the City explored issues around prohibition, consumption, class and the joys of inebriation, drawing largely on the work of Mark Jayne from Manchester University.7 Monstrous Manchester was devised with Julian Holloway from MMU8 and included folktales, architecture, science fiction and how magic and myth persist in the contemporary city. As we walk people share stories and many of these become incorporated into this walk. For example I have become especially fascinated by tales I have been told of â€œmonstersâ€? in the canal, a site which Manchester displays a curious ambivalence to. Over the years some of these tours have become more performative pieces, as in the Liminal Tour where I took on the role of Eris and the Lost Rivers of Manchester where dowsing rods were used to trace the route of the culverted River Tib. At various points on the route residents discussed the importance of water in the development of the city. Fig. 3
Fig. 3: Liminal Walks (Fabrizio Cocciella)
6 My essay contribution about Massey appears in The Shrieking Violet Manchester Modernist Heroines issue and can be found here: http://issuu.com/natalieroseviolet/docs/manchester_modernist_heroines (Accessed October 31st, 2013) 7 Dr Mark Jayne is a cultural geographer and the tour evolved into a walking lecture animating his research which I delivered to his students from the University of Manchester. 8 Dr Julian Holloway is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Monstrous Manchester tour was part of Manchester Gothic Festival 2013.
I have identified 5 key characteristics of an LRM dĂŠrive, this intends to convey the potentialities and the joy afforded to a wide array of participants. I seek to reconcile the divergent strands of political engagement and poetic enchantment which can make psychogeography appear detached, contradictory and elitist. As a work in progress it will doubtless evolve. 1 Loitering should be spontaneous, directionless, aimless but also mindful: who is sharing the streets with us, and who is absent? Why is this? We follow lines of desire, curiosity and coincidence but also invisible threads of power and the whispers of ghosts under the pavement. 2 Loitering is participatory and everyone has a collective responsibility to look after themselves and each otherâ€Ś we are open to all and anyone can become involved, we are always up for collaboration and will never claim to be offering a definitive version of the city (how could we when we walk on such a rich tapestry of stories?) 3 Our walks are non commercial; no one makes a monetary profit. We will never charge because the streets are free and belong to everyone. 4 And yes, this may contradict point one a little bit but so what? We aim to disrupt the banal and find new views; to glimpse the magick in the Mancunian rain and the universes swirling around the city. We want to see remarkable sights and with the right frame of mind we can all do so frequently. 5
First Sundays are for fun and we want to bring pleasure and convivial
company. Stop if you are not happy (some walks of course investigate uncanny or dark atmospheres but still should be a positive experience)
Each dérive co-produces narratives which are provocative, contradictory and heterogeneous illustrating the thick atmosphere of place, the nuance of embodied experience and a transformative remapping for which communal walking is a catalyst. The artistic turn which the dérive offers can promote both personal liberation and a sense of community, the minor epiphanies offered and new paths created transform not only the space traversed but make Jacobs’ sidewalk ballet9 into a new kind of dance, uninhibited by time or convention. Stewart’s bloom space10 is exposed, the dérive providing an insight into mundane domestic practices whilst also offering a form of enchantment for participants. Walking offers a direct, multi-sensory way to (re)engage with the city which can be echoed, and enhanced, by the interventions of artistic methods which can be adapted and integrated into academic and activist methodologies which explore the relationship to place.
Fig. 4: Library Walk (Sian Bradley) 9
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961). Kathleen Stewart Ordinary Affects (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2007)
The dérive extends an implicit invitation to become an active, inquisitive citizen rather than a passive consumer (I appreciate many daily interactions resist and complicate this binary) and values participants agency. Interventions in memory and imagination and opportunities for anomalous playfulness can engage all senses and rewrite the city for their duration becoming a form of concrete art and poetry. Binaries are dissolved, at least temporarily, and as the SI envisioned leisure and work combine. The body becomes a tool for exploration and kinaesthetic learning; to walk together uncovers and creates new traces, tracks, stories which participants can share, debate and solidify; developing these techniques could lead to a revived psychogeography and an accessible, political and engaging form of enquiry. The dérive offers a creative response to alienation and homogeneity by temporarily rewriting the city, revealing it’s multiplicities and complicating the power relationships implicit in conventional cartography. It remains an impossibility to objectively know the city but the dérive champions a localised attempt to (re) map the territory, an act of creative self-determination reminiscent of de Certeau’s small resistances.11 I suggest the dérive has become detached from the overt political intent of the SI but this is a positive; free from didactic and revolutionary polemic it enables personal epiphanies and imaginative working more suited to our age. Debord made clear the SI were practicing “not subordination to randomness but complete insubordination to habitual influences”12 so constraints are placed on the walk by dice, détourned maps or abandonment to desire lines. Thus there is a freedom to explore beyond the every day, to break through the paradox of aimlessness with a purpose. Psychogeography was intended to be a quasi-scientific method despite the subjective nature of the data, seeking to interpret the underlying power structures of capitalism. The city is not deterministic, as de Certeau and others illustrate, walking interprets and animates place. I want a psychogeography that is accessible to everyone and truly becomes part of Vaneigem’s Revolution of Everyday Life.13 The collective dérive which The LRM co-produce with participants uncovers power structures not just
Michel, De Certeau The Practice of Everyday Life translated by Rendell, Steven (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984). 12 Ibid. 13 Raoul Vaneigem . The Revolution of Everyday Life Translated by Nicholson-Smith, Donald. (USA: Rebel Press, 1967). 11
in the landscape but complicates hierarchies as the group develops its own ecology, embodying unpredictability, risk and freedom, disturbing normality, transforming the mundane and encouraging embodied learning and spatial knowledge. The streets are transformed into a radical playground, concurrent with the everyday, each influencing and absorbing traced of the other. I am not naive enough to believe this literarily rebuilds the city on a more equitable and humane DIY basis but the dérive offers useful tool to spark debate, build solidarity and, crucially, have fun. Loiterers are all involved in other strategic and grass roots initiatives to make the city a better place, this toil can be exhausting but walking together we share field reports and offer mutual support. Of course many of my comrades would phrase all this differently, they just come along for the craic; a wander, a blether and afterwards a few beers and that is fine too. First Sundays offer a chance to explore, illuminate, reach out and—yes—enjoy ourselves. New connections are made not just with place but between people, my walking companions challenge the notion that the derive must be the preserve of the flâneur or expert (inevitably usually both positions only open to those with predictable forms of privilege. Debord’s spectacle is still pervasive today and Massey suggests the key task of contemporary intellectuals and cultural activists is to create an ideological crisis, to trigger imaginations and inspire new ideas to break the hegemony.14 The dérive is mental and physical tool that can make a contribution to this work towards a more equitable society which surely must be a goal of an engaged psychogeography. If we consider psychogeography as an evolving practice rather than a theory, and surely due to its embodied nature we must, then the reality is infinitely richer, more diverse, accessible and inclusive, and its potentialities more breathtaking beautiful than the established canon would lead us to believe. It is in the plurality, the minor epiphanies, that the space for truly revolutionary spatial awareness may be created. The potential for diverse groups of people to engage in experimental walking should be developed as it affords the opportunity to rupture the banal and disrupt the monotony of capitalism, (re)connecting with space, (re)
14 I was struck by this phrase when I heard Massey speak at the RGS Conference in London, 2013. Her ideas are expanded in Massey, Doreen. Vocabularies of the Economy in Hall, Stuart, Massey, Doreen and Rustin, Michael (eds) After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto (2013) http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/pdfs/Vocabularies%20of%20the%20economy.pdf. Accessed September 30th 2013.
mapping according to personal affect and (re)creating with multitudinous new stories. I would much rather show you this than tell you so please, if you find yourself in Manchester on the First Sunday of any month come and play with The LRM.15
References Debord, Guy. Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography translated by Knabb, Ken 1955 Accessed June 21st, 2013. http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/presitugeography.html Debord, Guy. Theory of the Dérive translated by Knabb, Ken 1956 Accessed June,23rd 2013. Online:http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/2.dérive.htm de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life translated by Rendell, Steven Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities New York: Random House, 1961 Jayne, Mark, Holloway, Sarah L. and Valentine, Gill. “Drunk and Disorderly: Alcohol, Urban Life and Public Space” Progress in Human Geography 30:4 (2006)451-468. Massey, Doreen. Vocabularies of the Economy in Hall, Stuart, Massey, Doreen and Rustin, Michael (eds) After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto 2013 Accessed September 30th 2013. http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/pdfs Vocabularies%20of%20the%20economy.pdf. Massey, Doreen. For Space London: Sage 2005. Smith, Phil. Mythogeography Axminster: Triarchy Press, 2010 Stewart, Kathleen. Ordinary Affects. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2007. Vaneigem, Raoul. The Revolution of Everyday Life Translated by Nicholson-Smith, Donald. USA: Rebel Press, 1967. •
15 For more information about LRM activities please see www.nowhere-fest.blogspot.com email firstname.lastname@example.org tweet @thelrm or join the facebook group The Loiterers Resistance Movement. You would be most welcome to walk with us.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 237
*Antonio Machado (Extract from: Proverbios y cantares (XXIX)
T h e “Beat” of Walking: Wordsworth, Machado, Kerouac, Whitman How the rhythm of a poet’s muse has its roots in skipping across the land, like a stone across the water, making ripples in our natural/literary heritage
ROSALINDA RUIZ SCARFUTO University of Alcala
Abstract: Four poets’ act of walking transformed not only themselves, but also other artists. Antonio Machado was opposed to the act of Greek gymnastics, proposing walking in his boyhood Guadarrama Mountains to become fit in body and mind. Walt Whitman found a “leaf ” of grass as the alternative to a “blade” of grass changing our view of semantics (violent or non-violent) as he walked his native grasslands of Long Island, New York; leaving (leafing) us his legacy to find the song of ourselves. Wordsworth wandered out to the Lake District, gathering on walks “Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough,” that would serve to create collages of any kind. He drew writers from afar, intellectual urban dwellers, to follow in his skip to appreciate rural life as inspiration. Kerouac land-escapes to the forest after being On the Road and meeting G. Snyder (inspired by Basho), thus producing Dharma Bums. “Walk your talk” is how these poets commun-i-cated for the coming artists to be or not ...
1. Introduction: In the modern age, 18th, 19th and 20th century, Western poetry as a literary art was committed to a written form with the Greek language in epic and lyrical poetry, passed down through traditions starting from Homer. Hieroglyphs from Egypt required a complicated scribe system that was abandoned in Greece. The introduction of the user-friendly Phoenician phonetic symbols (transferred to early Greek) in Homeric time enabled him to write down long tales and eventually weave them together into a plot (literature) such as the Odyssey. The Greek alphabet allowed the poet-choreographer such as Homer to quickly jot down notations of his complicated steps (choreography) that were hence sung and danced by a chorus. Eventually this led to the beginning of written literature in the West. The form of Homer’s expressed tale may have been dance theatre (A.P. David 2006) emphasizing the role of the foot versus the traditional analysis that formerly used pure metrics (Hardie, W. R. 1930, 1987). A. P. David’s revelation of the “foot” shifts poetic rhythm analysis to dance (focusing on the feet positions) instead of metric numbers (“origin of the hexameter”). A good description of this breakthrough on the topic is found in the university library catalogues describing A.P. David’s theory: “lead to essential new thinking about the genesis and the form of Homeric poetry” (University of Alcala Library, 2013) and “the voice of the dancer: a new theory of the Greek accent.” (Cambridge University Library, 2013). The round dance and narrative literary poetics is a complicated choreography of Homer as David explains with a thorough in-depth analysis. These two descriptions mark a change in intellectual development of the “muse” and bring poetry back to dancing words on a page and in the case of Homer, on the stage (see Appendix 1). The vital questions for this paper stem from this new paradigm proposed by A.P. David with his Dance of the Muses: Choral Theory and Ancient Greek Poetics breaking traditions to analyse poetry by a metric system and move beyond to what I will refer to as a “beat.”
2. Ancient knowledge revisited: Homer, Arcipreste de Hita, and Chaucer: a. Homer Homer sets the stage for Western poets, and I shall begin with three questions: 1. Was Homer a poet, choreographer or both? 2. Can the legacy of Homer be linked with the walking poet 3. What is the rhythm of walking as a poetic dance? Dance in Homer’s time was expressed in two forms: processions and round dances with a chorus. Processions were repeated over time by foot and left “tracks that can be followed … a pathway made by use, by the pressure of dancers’ upon the ground.” (David 2008). Natural elements marked the dance/journey in processions to set out the route, such as trees and rivers, accompanied by poetry to re-enact a myth or
heroic tale. Here we see the origins of “literary routes.” The lyrical poetic style as a legacy of Egyptian culture was passed to Greece, and subsequently forms part of Western European foundations in literary heritage; its roots connected to nature and music in a visual art form (dance is danced to be seen). The “shaping of Homeric speech” was a reflection of his contemplation of the orbits of the stars (star walking) and their natural regressions, which was then transferred to his dance choreography in a lyrical poem; a living-moving visual painting. Homer and the generations of muses thereafter started with the heart-beat, moved on to the drum-beat, noted down as a written beat, expressed in a lyrical beat and finally passed through to the foot-beat: Dance of the Muses. “Whereas in the case of the hexameter...the measure came first, and the rhythm of the words originally kept time to the thud and pulse of dancing feet...” (David: 2008, 67) “Danced verse intends to conjure a presence.” (David: 2008, 138) “As one danced to the florid chant of names in their rhythmic ideality, one felt the very presence of one’s ancestors gracing the communal circle: the storied warriors and their well-balanced ships...” (David: 2008, 140) b. Arcipreste de Hita (Juan Ruiz) 1283 The introduction of El Libro de Buen Amor (Arcipreste de Hita 1330, 2010) by J. Cejador Y Fauca (Ed.) asks some insightful questions and describes the author as a mysterious genius walking around the Guadarrama Mountains (see appendix 2A). El Libro de Buen Amor parallels Chaucer’s style with its ironic verse expressed in perfect metrical rhymes that a young reader would enjoy with the depth of knowledge a mature adult would appreciate. This novelty has lasted through the ages and has become a pillar of Spanish literary heritage. The beat is easy to follow
and generations of writers were not only inspired by the text but also the place of his long walk around the Guadarrama Mountains. Cervantes, Quevedo, Machado, among other writers, have literary works inspired by this range of mountains which divides the two Castile regions (Leon and La Mancha). The highest point in this mountain range has been designated as a Natural Monument in honor of El Libro de Buen Amor for its 600-year anniversary publication due to its connection to the text (see appendix 2 B). c. Chaucer 1340 Chaucer lived in times of change and his “beat” was along the lines of a gallop, as he was a page by profession and travelled great distances in short periods. The introduction by Cognill in Chaucer’s Verse (Chaucer 1387, 1972) provides us with a canvas to draw upon for this racing rhyme of metric genius (see appendices 3 A & B). 2. Poets compose by walking: on a roll Four poets: Wordsworth, Machado, Whitman, Kerouac Known to be walkers (self exposed) Compose to a walking rhythm (as opposed to sitting) Stroll, trot, gallop, or a skip Land and mode determine beat Create Art as poems of dance. The four modern age poets from the 18th (Wordsworth), 19th (Whitman) (Machado), and 20th (Kerouac) centuries express their love for walking and create from the beat of walking. Each poet with his own unique approach to walking and writing find a beat that suits his needs and plume. There is a profound difference in the “beat” of a walking poem compared to a sitting poem. The latter carries the weight of a room from a sitting position. In contrast, a walking poem expresses its beat with the wide open space that captures the wild into the heart and beats like a woodpecker on the
old tree trunk summoning us to reflect on our contributions and retributions to humanity. There is no dead wood in these poems that capture the morning light, babbling brooks, a lost feather, and driftwood found upon a shore. From Kerouac’s desperation point at a lookout fire station to find the meaning of life in his Zen Buddhist budding heartbeat to Machado’s unknown “camino” that propels him to never stop walking, even to his death on the Pyrenees with a light suitcase as a refugee in the Spanish Civil War. Whitman spent a lifetime walking to perfect his “song” with the stride of a bard. A nurse on the battle ground of a civil war conflict, Whitman never took sides except the side of optimism for young soldiers in need of “hope.” The moment that Kerouac believed he has reach nirvana and enlightenment, proclaiming that HOPE is no more than a SNOWDRIFT, we come to the conclusion that syntax has a meaning whether derived on a walk around a lake, a stroll in a grassland, a hike up the side of a mountain, or stumbling in a bloody battleground. The heart beats for all living creatures and the poet records to memory how this musical rhythm sounds fusing with the muse. In concert, these poets walked with
nature, while the stars gazed down upon them to en-lighten and commun-i-cate a universal “beat,” transposed to a personal pace. There be no other metric to measure the song of a poet, but the chest bursting with the need to take a walk for inspiration in nature’s classroom of errors. For Nature teaches us where we can go and where we fall short. Therefore the poet must walk to talk. Out in the cold, heat, and the wind the poet beats the land, skipping a meal to contemplate a challenge. These poets returned at sunset, rounding up the beat of the day, composing a few lines to treasure for ages to come. a. Wordsworth (1770-1850) William Wordsworth, a Cambridge fellow, was caught in a stylistic format that he learned early on at school, but he masters its rules to plot his own keen observations after a hop, skip, and jump through the landscape into a poetic justice. Dorothy, his sister, expresses her own poetic prose in her diary, recording these walks that filled the morning or evening pastimes. (Wordsworth, D. 1794). William’s notebooks were filled with emotions and passions exposed on walks combined with landscape souvenirs (feathers, driftwood, etc.). He created poems like a painter assembles collages made of mementos after a nature adventure. (Barker 2009, 212). Wordsworth’s poetic juxtaposition of syntax in lines such as “woods decaying, never to be decayed,” or “rocks mutter” and “crags spake,” pushes the voice of nature into an eternal beat trodden once and recorded hence. (Kelley 1998, 107). Wordsworth records to memory his draft of “Lines 1798” like an Olympic runner crossing the finish line. He sits down after a long ramble over brooks, stones, and bridges to reach the threshold of a dry place to put quill to hand and draft the masterpiece that pushes up from the Earth, literally on the heels of the wind. Wordsworth writes a short introduction to this poem stating that he walked along without taking notes and not until he reached his destination did he write it down. (see appendices 4 A & B).
b. Whitman (1819-1892)
Whitman was fully aware and well read in the European classics to know how to use metrics assigned to letters in their most sophisticated form. (Johnson 1938, 11). Whitman scholars identify his freedom from the European traditional metric system as opening up a new genre connected to his sense of being uniquely American. In free verse, this is exemplified to parallel the writerâ€™s natural heart-beat (see appendices 5A & B). Whitman paused in his walks and observed details as minute as the blades of grass; hence his beat varies considerably from traditions. (Steiner 2010, 7). From his stride, lines were spewed out with pauses, repetition, or long winds; reverberating the trajectory of a content walker. (Asselineau 1999, 52). A compilation of poems dedicated to Whitman from around the globe demonstrates the value his free verse stimulated by walking his native grasslands beginning with R.W. Emerson in 1905, and stretching across the continents to South America, Europe, Russia, and Japan, including over 80 poems; Borges, Neruda, Levertov, Wakoski, Lorca, Lawrence and Pessoa are amongst those who followed in Whitmanâ€™s footsteps choreographing their own poetic dance. (Perlman, et al.1981).
c. Machado (1875 -1936) Antonio Machado’s poetic style is metaphorical and metaphysical, utilizing the richness of the Spanish language to create a rhythm for all ages based on intuition more than logic; an intuition that arises from his heart beat. [latir]. (Carilla, E. 1964, 247). Interestingly enough, Machado even writes his novel Juan de Mairena with his unique style, conveying his philosophy to a general public with a steady beat like a mountaineer. Antonio Machado refers to his connection with walking in his novel, Juan de Mairena, to stay fit and reach an old age with agility and vigor. (Machado 1936, 2116). From age eight Machado participated in school excursions exploring the Guadarrama Mountains (summit: 2430 meters) near Madrid with his beloved teacher, Giner de Ríos, who founded an inter-disciplinary method for teaching art, science, literature, and sociology using Guadarrama as an outdoor laboratory. Machado walked to stay healthy, when tuberculosis was rampant [his father and wife died from this illness]. Machado’s walking poem expresses “No Hay Camino” [There is no road] (Machado 1935) with a solid beat of eight syllables (reminiscence of a Sappho time). It has become a mythical jingle in the Spanish culture (see appendices 6 A, B, C).
d. Kerouac (1922-1969) Kerouac began as a disciplined writer at his home in Lowell with aspirations to join the great writers. Following his idols to the “West” he bought special shoes to walk miles between rides as he hitch hiked “On the road.” (Kerouac 1957). His beat was determined by the path he walked, whether on an asphalt road or a dirt path that led to the waves telling him stories in the midnight hours in Big Sur. (Kerouac 1962). Up on the mountain, Kerouac had a revelation of the meaning of life; life is a void, infinity, and love. To love life was beating in his chest and to not be. (Kerouac 1965, 1995; 5-6). The rhythm of Kerouac on these walking journeys has been proclaimed as mind streaming and “forsakes the traditional prose form” (Hrebeniak 2006, 25) of his former writing styles. We must acknowledge the contrasting locations of Kerouac’s writing The Town and the City and On the Road, which were significantly juxtaposed from a static room in his house to a moving landscape. His beat launches us into his walking shoes. We can experience his steps with the lines of his prose and imagine ourselves literally walking on the road to catch the next ride, or lazily observing a group of people on a stroll in Brooklyn as expressed in the poem “Hym.” Kerouac describes his style in On the Road as “spontaneous prose” (Swartz 1999, 9) and we can assume it arises from his spontaneous walkabout journey that changed his life and writing style. 3. Visual Aids: Art Skipping For further discussion, visual aids that illustrate the beat of the poets carry on our imagination in 3D. Here we could skip to the good part, where the visual aids propel us into laughter or sadness. For example, the rhythm of the muse Dr. Seuss has young readers convinced that Green Eggs and Ham is running away from Sam. Children need the visual art form to complete the beat of the prose with colours to remind the senses that Nature calls the wild in us and the muse grips us to the page in bedtime
stories. For if we had not read or been read to from the muse of our mothers and fathers alike, could we appreciate the power of the word? The beat goes on, and the visual aids our memory (see appendices 8 A, B, C). 4. Summary Although metrics has been analysed significantly for poets since Homer, we seldom have attributed variations and idiosyncrasies to lifestyle choices. The lifestyle of walking as an inspiration to compose literary texts has played a major role in the “beats” of Wordsworth, Whitman, Machado and Kerouac. Breathing is as individual as the poet, and the lungs work in tandem with the legs to produce a stride. Wordsworth and Machado were locked into the European metric systems, while Whitman and Kerouac were free to stroll at their own pace from their new American perspective. These differences show up in their stanzas and metric analysis. All refer to Homer as their dance teacher and the subsequent influences of these poets on their successors have been well documented. Kerouac breaks all moulds of European metrics following Whitman as he paused on a work day morning to observe a painful moment of bygones clenching their newspaper news like it was a life saver on the slippery ice of a New York dime. No one heard him breathe the “Hym” of [Him] as he walked home from a night of nowhere special. Special was the morning that taught him to cry on a lonely stroll under the Brooklyn Bridge memorializing a moment as a man with his heart, beating the odds of the muse: are we a-mused? (Kerouac 2002, 118–119). Muses that arise from the ripple in Nature gathering their treasures: observing the sky, the wind, the trees, even leaves of grass inspire us all. This paper is part of a larger study on “Poetic Dance” and literary routes inspired by nature; a project that will merge the beat of the poet’s lines with their dance inspired by Nature; the symphony called life.
APPENDIX 1 Cambridge and Alcala Library Catalogues Cambridge University library on-line catalogue description of A.P. David’s Dance of the Muses: “Choreia and the musical text—The voice of the dancer: a new theory of the Greek accent—The form of the hexameter: the origins of caesura and diaeresis—The choral signifier: the shaping of Homeric speech—Retrogression, episode and anagogy: the round dance and narrative form —The genesis of Homeric poetry (a brief synthesis): the Intemporizing cataloguer—The lyric orchestra.” University of Alcalá de Henares library on-line catalogue description of A.P. David’s Dance of the Muses: “This book develops an authentic and at the same time revolutionary musical analysis of ancient Greek poetry. It departs from the abstract metrical analyses of the past in that it conceives the rhythmic and harmonic elements of poetry as integral to the whole expression, and decisive in the interpretation of its meaning. David offers a thoroughgoing treatment of Homeric poetics: here some remarkable discoveries in the harmonic movement of epic verse, when combined with some neglected facts about the origin of the hexameter in a ‘dance of the Muses’, lead to essential new thinking about the genesis and the form of Homeric poetry. He also gives a foretaste of the fruits to be harvested in lyric by a musical analysis, which applies a new theory of the Greek tonic accent and considers concretely the role of dance in performance.”
APPENDIX 2A Cejador Y Fauca (Buen Amor) [Translation mine]. Who was the extraordinary man? “Other than what we may infer from his book, Libro de Buen Amor (1330), we know not even a word … ” “… this book so naturally artistic and so ironic … “… the author still today remains an enigma.” Journey from Hita to Segovia over the Guadarrama Mountains (hence a new name). Poetic verse of a tale of travelling through the villages and pine trees of the mountains (style of Homer). Reference for Spanish writers and poets such as Cervantes and Machado (legacy to walking writers).”
APPENDIX 2 B Arcipreste de Hita Libro de Buen Amor (1330) Después de esta aventura, me fui para Segovia, Pero no a comprar joyas para la Chata troya: Fui a ver una costilla de la serpiente groya Que mató al viejo Rando, según dicen en Moya. En la ciudad estuve y gasté mi caudal, No encontré pozo dulce ni fuente perenal; Dije; al ver que mi bolsa se encontraba muy mal: “Mi hogar y mi casita más de cien sueldos val”. Volví para mi tierra de allí al tercero día Sin pasar por Lozoya, pues joyas no traía; Pensé tomar el puerto que llaman la Fuenfría Y equivoqué el camino, como quien no sabía Por el pina abajo encontré una vaquera Que guardaba sus vacas en aquella ribera. Dije:”Ante vos me humillo, serrana placentera, O me quedo con vos o mostradme carrera”.
APPENDIX 3A Cognill Introduction (Chaucer’s Verse)
“a great narrator … a great portrait-painter: indeed, he invented the word-portrait and the autobiographical monologue … ” “to mingle happily with all kinds and classes of men and women, with trenchant yet amused understanding, and no lack of charitable sympathy in his wit, and sense of fun.” “… a tale with a happy ending was just as philosophical an image of life, as serious, and in the long term truer, than one ending in sorrow and despair.” “… it takes courage as well as other virtues (such as faith, HOPE and charity) to think like this, with all the evidence of human grief and wickedness that stares us in the face.” “Chaucer … was born into the Age of the Black Death, the Hundred Years’ War, the Great Schism, sporadic famine, the Peasants’ Revolt … ” “He remained and communicated a cheerfulness and warmth of heart so powerfully that we can feel them still, and take them into our own lives difficult as they are”
APPENDIX 3B Chaucer “The Friar’s Tale” 1387 “So it befell upon a certain day This Summoner rode forth to take his prey, A poor old fiddle of the widow-tribe, From whom, on a feigned charge, he hoped a bribe. Now as he rode, it happened that he saw A young yeoman under a leafy shaw; He bore a bow with arrows bright and keen And wore a little jacket of bright green And had a black-fringed hat upon his head. ‘Hail! Welcome and well met! The Summoner said. ‘Welcome to you, and all good lads!’ said he; Whither away under the greenwood tree … ?”
APPENDIX 3C Chaucer The Friar’s Tale” 1387 (Part II) “The Summoner battered at the widow’s gate. ‘I have’ the Summoner said ‘a summons-bill; On pain of excommunication, see That you’re at court, at the Archdeacon’s knee, ‘Help me!’ She said ‘I neither can nor may, I have been sick aye, and for many a day; I couldn’t walk so far’ she said, ‘or ride, Couldn’t you write it down, to save the journey, And I could answer it through my attorney, The charge I mean; whatever it may be? ‘Yes, if you pay at once’ he said, ‘let’s see; Twelve pence to me, and I’ll secure acquittal; I get no profit from it —very little…”
APPENDIX 4 A Wordsworth (Intro: Lines) “No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this.” “I began it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just after I was entering Bristol in the evening … ”
APPENDIX 4 B Wordsworth “Lines” (1798) Five years have past; five summers, with the length (10)
Of five long winters and again I hear (10)
These waters, rolling from their mountain springs (10) With a soft inland murmur,—Once again (10) Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, (10) That on a wild secluded scene impress (10) Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect (10) The landscape with the quiet of the sky … (10) A worshipper of Nature, hither came (10) Unwearied in that service: rather say (10) With warmer love … oh with far deeper zeal … (10) Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, (10) And this green pastoral landscape, were to me (10) More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!” (10)
APPENDIX 5A Whitman A child said, What is the grass? Part I A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? … I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child … the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. Part II What do you think has become of the young and old men? What do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere; The smallest sprouts show there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceased the moment life appeared. All goes onward and outward … and nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
APPENDIX 5B Whitman Calamus [In Paths Untrodden] In paths untrodden, In the growth by margins of pond-waters, Escaped from the life that exhibits itself, From all the standards hitherto publish’d, from the pleasures, profits, conformities, Which too long I was offering to feed my soul, Clear to me now standards not yet publish’d, clear to me that my soul, That the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades, Here by myself away from the clank of the world, Tallying and talk’d to here by tongues aromatic, No longer abash’d, (for in this secluded spot I can respond as I would not dare elsewhere,) Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest…
APPENDIX 6A Machado (Juan de Mairena) “Si vais para poetas, cuidad vuestro folklore. Porque la verdadera poesía la hace el pueblo. Entendámonos: la hace alguien que no sabemos quién es, o que, en último término, podemos ignorar quién sea, sin el menor detrimento de la poesía.” Si /va/is /pa/ra /po/e/tas, (8) cui/dad /vu/es/tro folk/lo/re. (8) Por/que (2) la (1+1pause) = (2) ver/da/der/a /po/e/sí/a (8) la /ha/ce /el /pue/blo. (6) En/ten/dá/mo/nos: (5+ 1 pause) = (6) la/ ha/ce /al/gui/en (6) que no sa/be/mos /qui/én/ es, (8) o que, (2) en úl/ti/mo /tér/mi/no, (10) po/de/mos/ ig/nor/ar (6) qui/én /se/a, (4) sin/ el /me/nor (4) de/tri/men/to /(4) de/ (pause 1+1) = (2) la /po/e/sía.(4)
APPENDIX 6 B Machado (Juan Mairena) “Si logrará … en cambio despertar en el niño el amor a la naturaleza, que se deleita en contemplar o la curiosidad por ella, que se empeña en observarla y conocerla, tendríamos más tarde hombres maduros y ancianos venerables capaces de atravesar la sierra de Guadarrama en los días más crudos del invierno, y por deseo de recrearse en el espectáculo de los pinos y los montes … ” (Machado1961, Juan Mairena XIII) “If one could achieve it … instead to awaken in the child the love of nature, that is to contemplate or have curiosity for her, to get him/her involved in observing and to know it, then we would have mature men and venerable seniors able to cross over the Guadarrama mountains in the coldest days of winter, and the desire to play in the spectacular place of the pines and mountains … ” [Translation mine]. APPENDIX 6 C Machado Proverbios y cantares (XXIX) Ca/mi/nan/te,/ son/ tus/ hue/llas/= 8 el/ ca/mi/no y/ na/da/ más;/= 8 Ca/mi/nan/te,/ no hay/ ca/mi/no,/= 8 se ha/ce/ ca/mi/no al/ an/dar./= 8 Al/ an/dar/ se ha/ce el/ ca/mi/no,/= 8 y al/ vol/ver/ la/ vis/ta a/trás/= 8 se/ ve/ la/ sen/da/ que/ nun/ca/= 8 se ha/ de/ vol/ver/ a/ pi/sar./= 8 Ca/mi/nan/te/ no hay/ ca/mi/no/= 8
APPENDIX 7A Kerouac Desolation Angels “I had to wait and get to see the face of reality—and it finally comes that afternoon August 8 as I’m pacing in the high alpine yard on the well worn path I’d beaten, in dust and rain, and many a night … ” “ … it finally comes to me, after even tears … it comes in these words … the Void is not disturbed by an kind of ups and downs … ” “Hold still man, regain your love of life and go down from this mountain and simply be-be-be the infinite fertilities of the one mind of infinity … ” “To and not to be … ”
APPENDIX 7B Kerouac “Hym”
And when you showed me Brooklyn Bridge
In the morning,
And the people slipping on ice in the street,
two different people
came over, goin to work,
so earnest and tryful,
clutching their pititful
Morning Daily News
slip on the ice & fall
both inside 5 minutes
and I cried I cried
That’s when you taught me tears, Ah
God in the morning …
APPENDIX 7 C Kerouac (Part II) â€œHymâ€?
So whatever plan you have for me
Splitter of majesty
Make it short
Make it snappy
bring me home to the Eternal Mother
At your service anyway,
APPENDIX 8A Dr. Seuss
APPENDIX 8B Dr. Seuss
APPENDIX 8A Dr. Seuss
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Paths of Memory BRIDGET SHERIDAN University of Toulouse Abstract: I left Cornwall at the age of four. Thirty years later, I returned to England from France, my children being the same age as my brother and me when we left home. The experience was of the strangest: long lost memories reactivated by the process of walking in the landscape rose from the deepest and darkest depths of my memory. Thus, I decided to work on walking in landscape and its link with memory. The result was a series of photographs exploring the anachronistic side of childhood places. But I soon came to the conclusion that not only personal memory can be reactivated by the process of walking, but also collective memory. After having worked on a series of photographs taken along the Breton coast in August 2012, as I was walking the coastal path, and which question the ruins of WW2’s Atlantic wall, my work is now centered on “Le chemin de la liberté”, a network of paths that circulate between France and Spain, and which were used during the Spanish Civil War and WW2 by people escaping Franco’s dictatorship or Hitler’s Nazism. Each year a group leaves the French town of St Girons on a memorial walk, reactivating history. My art project is to walk the “Chemin de la liberté” using the photographic medium combined with writing to record my performance. The nature of photography itself seems to be perfect to reveal memory. Many French photographers who have worked on walking seem to have revealed landscape’s tendency to hold the secrets of our past. French philosopher, Georges Didi-Huberman, has questioned this in his essay Ecorces. The paths that meander along the surface of the earth in Thierry Girard’s, Jean-Luc Moulène’s, or Jean-Loup Trassard’s photographs unveil our collective memory that nature has trapped in the soil, in the trees, in the mountains, in landscape.
Once upon a time there was a little boy and his sister who lived in a small cottage on the Lizard Pensinsula. One day they lost their way into the South of France. Fortunately they had left several small white pebbles behind them to find their way back. Many years later the little girl found her way back along the paths of her childhood. This time her own son and his sister were picking up the small pebbles opening the paths of their mother’s memory as she made her way across the Peninsula. The small pebbles became photographs showing childhood places, discovered only through the process of walking. While pacing the paths of the Peninsula, she would suddenly be thirty years back, on the numerous paths her parents walked. More to the point, as a young child, her body had memorized sounds, smells and sights that the process of walking conjured up by rediscovering childhood places. For walking is extremely sensual, as Tim Edensor notes: While we walk we always travel elsewhere, not just along the immediate path but outwards to distant sights and scenes, back to the past and places in the imagination, and to remembered smells, noises, and non-visual sensations, often those which are stimulated by the sights of the journey. 1
Fig. 1, Bridget Sheridan, Chysauster, Mum, Dad, Kevin and me—Killian and Charline, from a series of seven triptychs, digital and film photography, 2011. 1
Tim Edensor, “Walking Through Ruins”, Ways of Walking, (Ashgate Publishing Limited,2008): 135.
That little girl was me and the art work which resulted from this experience was the starting point for my reflection on walking. This Cornish pilgrimage became a series of seven triptychs which juxtapose an old family photograph, showing my brother, my parents and I, with my own digital photographs, pictures of my children, their father and myself when we returned to Cornwall (Fig. 1). Between the photographs of my brother and I and those of my own children, there would be an empty place, a childhood place. This place would symbolize the generation gap. However, at the same time it would reveal the anachronistic power of places. This work interrogates our relationship to the landscape, how we inhabit places and how these places hold us in their memory as we remember them in turn. My parents being true walkers, had well trodden the paths of the peninsula, my brother scrambling along ahead, and I bundled up on my father’s shoulders. Therefore, my body was experiencing these childhood paths yet again. While my body was engaged in movement, my mind was walking the paths of memory. Rebecca Solnit insists on the physical dimensions of memory and how it can be seen as a physical place in which we can walk: Memory, like the mind and time, is unimaginable without physical dimensions, to imagine it as a physical place is to make it into a landscape in which its contents are located, and what has location can be approached.2 As we wander along the paths of our past, we also walk along the neuronal paths that compose our memory. Furthermore, Solnit emphasizes the relationship between movement and memory, between our bodily engagement and the act of remembering. The French photographer Jean-Luc Moulène also decided to search for the small pebbles he had left behind him along the paths of Fénautrigues, his childhood village. Over many years (1991 to 2006) he returned to the vicinity of Fénautrigues and walked along the countryside paths producing an amazing collection of photographs and negatives, five thousand in all. In 2010 the French Ministry of Culture commissioned Moulène to produce an artist’s book in which he sat down
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust, (London, Verso, 2002): 76.
to choose five hundred photographs from his immense archive. Holding his camera most of the time at his waist, he creates an intimate relationship between his body and the landscape he wanders through. The three walks that Moulène presents to us in Fénautrigues, form a sort of labyrinth in this book, which appears to be the metaphor of memory. The reader almost loses his way amidst the variety of photograph sizes, the shifts between landscapes and close-ups and the constant succession of black and white and then color photography. In a similar manner, French photographer and writer, Jean-Loup Trassard, leads us along the earthy hollow paths and rural trails which meander throughout the agricultural countryside of Mayenne, in his series Territoire (Fig. 2). These paths are well-trodden and witness contact between the soil and feet. It seems as if memory has seeped into the earth of each path. However, Trassard’s work focuses on our collective memory, for he examines the passage of men on this agricultural territory and the marks they leave on the landscape. Trassard follows the footsteps of others, of those who walk the land and of those who inhabit rural Mayenne.
Fig. 2: Jean-Loup Trassard, Territoire, series of black and white prints.
I too, began to question collective memory, when the following summer I
changed coasts, from Cornwall, across the English Channel and down to the Atlantic Ocean where I walked the Breton coastal path and began to search for some more white pebbles (plate 1). I came upon the natural reserve of sand dunes and ponds at Trévignon in Sud-Finistère where I watched my own children innocently walk the landscape. I began to feel uncomfortable and started wondering whether I had had the misfortune to reach the witch’s house after all, for as I trod along the numerous paths which circulate between the ponds and the dunes, I gradually became aware of the presence of unusual forms rising from the sand, behind the dune fencing. In Trévignon reserve concrete bunkers bury themselves amongst the lunar landscape. The walker progressively begins to ponder upon the history of the place. His feet sink into the sandy paths which oblige him to walk at a slow pace, paying close attention to his surroundings. He is caught between two spaces: on one side are the ponds, on the other, through the fencing is the horizon, behind the bunkers, the stigmata of Brittany’s history. He is caught between past and present: the bunkers reveal disappearance as the walls crumble into the sand and ocean, while the concrete architecture stands boldly as it resists entropy. As I wandered round the sandy paths of the reserve I photographed on one side the vast fresh water ponds and on the other side the dune fencing and the daunting bunkers. Between the two I photographed the footprints and the meandering paths. This series of eighteen photographs has recorded my progression along these paths. To me, film photography seems more apt here for working on memory, for the rays of light directly print the paths, the ruins and the landscape onto the negative. Another of my Breton walks, Kerfany Walk, shows part of the Atlantic Wall dividing the small beach of Kerfany (plate 2). After having walked down the coastal path from the cliff, I came upon the small tourist resort of Kerfany with its beach, split in two by a cement wall, vestiges of the Atlantic Wall. Tourists treasure their places against the division line. Teenagers gather to play music on the park side. A
young girl walks along the remnants like a gymnast balancing between two spaces, beach and park; or could it be past and present? As I walked round this piece of wall, I discovered its relationship to the landscape, both past and present. On approaching the wall, I observed its surface, its matter which revealed its memory through the cracks of Time. I had also encountered a strange memorial amongst the pine trees where several resistance fighters and a British aviator were shot by the Germans before being thrown into pits in this same place. The tragedy occurred one week before the Liberation of France, therefore the bodies were then transferred to a graveyard. The open pits now reveal layers of earth that the walker discovers as he enters this silent space; layers of earth which unfold the layers of time. Discovering this memorial by walking creates a special relationship with the memory of the place. One almost stumbles upon its history. I am not the only one to have preoccupied myself with the history of France’s littoral. Thierry Girard reflects on the memory of places as he walks through the landscape. In 1992, he published Brouage, commissioned by the Littoral Conservatory, in which his photographs illustrate his walks through the marshes of Brouage, across the endless beaches and around the fortifications of an old prison used during the French Revolution (fig. 3). Girard notes that “This landscape […] conceals profound beauty which one can discover only through walking, as one walks slowly across it from its edges, along the old coastline to its border of salt water.”3 The depth of field in Girard’s photographs reveals the lingering pace of his walking. Consequently we discover each photograph larghetto as our eye enjoys the sensuality of the landscape. Girard has also pointed out how the ground in Brouage has trapped the horror of its history. He reminds us of the numerous deaths that occurred here and of the bodies that now lie deep under the silt. Thus, while walking along the paths that lead along the picturesque landscape of Brouage we feel uneasy as our feet, or should we say our eyes, sink into the silt of the marshes.
Thierry Girard, Brouage, (Paris, Marval, 1992): no pagination.
Let us now take a closer look at the path itself in a diptych of Korean born
photographer, Daphné Nan Le Sergent. She has questioned the relationship between walking and the ground juxtaposing a forest walk on a South Korean island and a military trench eleven kilometers from the North Korean border (Fig. 4). While feet have worn paths across time in South Korean woods, hands have dug trenches across the same landscape. Both hands and feet bury themselves in the soil, leaving lines behind them in which persist the memory of Korea. Le Sergent’s diptych also questions how we leave trails and also traces behind us which travel along the ground but also throughout time. The ground or the soil sadly reveals the separation of the two Koreas. In mentioning how the soil can be wounded, just like humanity itself, let us consider the work of Georges Didi-Huberman who is a French philosopher, but also a photographer from time to time. In his book, Ecorces (meaning “bark”, the
Fig. 3 : Thierry Girard, Le Marais de Brouage, colour prints, 1992. Fig. 4, Daphné Nan Le Sergent, Path, Jeju-do island, South Korea / Trench, Baengnyeong-do island, South Korea, at 11km from the shores of North Korea, black and white print, “Along the 38th Parallel” exhibition, 30/04/10-30/05/10, Château de Malves.
bark of a tree), he combines a philosophical reflection on Auschwitz-Birkenau with his own black and white photographs (Fig. 5). He takes an archaeological look at the concentration camp and notices a profound distinction between Auschwitz’s museum aspect and Birkenau’s desolation and ruins. In this particular essay, he bears resemblance to the Greek philosophers as he walks his way amongst the rubble of Birkenau’s grounds. Walking round the ruins of the crematory, Didi-Huberman has unfortunately discovered the witch’s house from which many children were never lucky enough to find their way back to their own homes. He laments that he “wandered for a long time amongst the silent ruins of Crematory V […]. The distinctly visible foundations, the persistence of a few rows of bricks, all this, as if by the inversion of the open landscape in front of [him], helped imagine the walls and ceilings of this building where so many lives suffocated”4. As Didi-Huberman walks through the surrounding birch woods and as he observes the ground at Birkenau, he can’t help thinking of the past. He mentions the ground being “broken, wounded, riddled, split. The ground has been cut, gashed, opened. The ground has been cracked and smashed by history; the ground is enough to make one scream”5. Further on he notes that “the ground speaks to us, precisely in the way that it survives, and it survives since we assume it to be neutral, insignificant, without consequence. But this is why it merits our attention. The ground itself is like the bark of History.”6 DidiHuberman has pinpointed how contact with the ground and the process of walking, as he wanders round the grounds of Birkenau, can engage the act of remembering. Fig. 5
Fig. 5, Georges Didi-Huberman, Ecorces, black and white prints from his book Ecorces (Paris, Ed.de Minuit, 2011). Georges Didi-Huberman, Ecorces, (Paris, Les Editions de Minuit, 2011): 53. Ibid, 27, 28. 6 Ibid, 63, 64. 4 5
As we focus here on one of the darkest eras of our history and on the ground’s
capacity to retain memory, let’s now take a look at my most recent art project. In the South-West of France, the Pyrenean Mountains form a border between France and Spain and appear as a network of well marked paths between both countries, our ancestors having worn the way, their feet beating the soil of the Pyrenean woodland and mountain pastures. These paths were not only used during WW2 but also during the Spanish Civil War and after, when many republicans and their families escaped from Franco’s regime. They were also used from time immemorial, when the local inhabitants on either side of the border exchanged goods, livestock or when they gathered for festivities. My current project was completed in July this year when I participated in a commemorative walk through the Pyrenean Mountains from the French town of St Girons to the Spanish town of Esterri d’Aneu. This hike is called Le Chemin de la Liberté, meaning ‘The Trail of Freedom’. Every year around one hundred walkers gather at the memorial in Saint Girons to follow the steps of the many escapees who fled from Nazism during WW2. However walking the Chemin de la liberté, also engages remembering the entire history of these paths. Before the hike, my research took into account the stories of many Jews, Resistance fighters or passeurs (those who showed escapees the passage ways through the mountains). Accordingly, I constructed my own archive, a new story, which also resulted from the many talks with Mr. Paul Broué, who decided to leave occupied France and fight for De Gaulle’s army in North Africa. He entrusted me with many pictures, relics and the account of his own crossing. The testimony of his friend, Jean Souque, along with photographs, names and descriptions of places along the paths of freedom, has been printed on a silk scarf in reference to the silk scarves worn by British aviators and on which they could locate the cross-border paths (plate 3). Using this scarf as a map throughout my walk in July was like following the footprints of my predecessors. Just like the two young children in Grimm’s tale, I collected the little pebbles which paved my way. I sewed my way into the scarf, a red
thread mapping my trail and also connecting the different elements which make up this memory map. When I walked the ‘Trail of Freedom’, my camera concentrated on the ground and feet while I followed the painful trails of my predecessors (plate 4). Escapees I have listened to have all mentioned their feet. Besides being exhausted, their wounded feet suffered the crime of our history; they trod the pain of their young bodies into the earth as they dragged themselves away from their homeland. The surface of the ground and the soles of their feet seem inseparable: they include one another. The memory of one lives on through the other, and thus, creates an almost synecdochical relationship between feet and ground. I have been focusing on the evolution of this memorial walk and how the stories have travelled throughout time, along the mountain paths, how they have travelled from one generation to the next as people hear the voice of their elders while walking in their footprints. Many indigenous people use storytelling as a way to read and walk the landscape. We only have to mention the Tłįchǫ Indians in North America or the Australian Aborigines. Allice Legat studied the way Tłįchǫ Indians in Canada listen to walking narratives as they grow up and how they use these narratives to walk the landscape. What is interesting in this aspect is that they then combine these stories to their own walking experience. Legat notes that: Tłįchǫ individuals, then, are forever listening to stories whose truth is subsequently validated through experience. Retelling the story in light of this experience, the teller builds on the original by incorporating her or his own occurrences and happenings. Once one has gained personal knowledge, one tells one’s own stories and eventually leaves one’s own footprints for the future.7 Legat’s study of the Tłįchǫ Indians is evocative of how walking can be linked to knowledge, but also to memory. The tradition of walking along the narratives one has heard and which have evolved over Time is extremely interesting in regard to the Trail of Freedom.
Alice Legat, “Walking Stories; Leaving Footprints”, Ways of Walking, (Ashgate, 2008): 38.
As individuals use the Pyrenean paths across the years, they transfer knowledge to one another. Mountain villagers exchange with shepherds, shepherds helped escapees to find freedom, escapees would tell their stories to their children, friends and relatives who in turn come and walk in their ancestorâ€™s footprints. As we walk, we remember the steps and the words of others while contact with the soil reactivates history. Through these words we have wandered along the paths of memory observing how artists perceive the relationship between walking and memory. As they walk they pick up the small white pebbles along their way, whether following the paths of childhood or whether following the paths of others and thus questioning collective memory. Through photography and through writing they lead the way. They tell us their story, along with the story of others, creating new paths of memory through time.
Plate 1, Bridget Sheridan, TrĂŠvignon, Dunes and Ponds, series of 18 black and white prints, 2012.
Plate 2, Bridget Sheridan, Kerfany Walk, series of 12 black and white prints, 2012.
Plate 3, Bridget Sheridan, Escape Map, silk and red thread, 2013.
Plate 4, Bridget Sheridan, Searching for Paul, series of 50 digital photographs, 2013.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 282
The pace of a landscape view: A run, then a walk, after William Stukeley and John Latham AMY TODMAN University of Glasgow Abstract: Movement, or a mobile quality, has rarely been considered as part of histories of landscape imagery, which have been characterized, to no small degree, by an idea of stillness, and fixed- points. In a genre that has often focused on the fixity of its imagery, this paper takes movement, specifically walking, and its relationship to viewing, as its central concern, exploring these ideas from the perspective of art history and contemporary art practice. It brings contemporary art practice alongside historical issues in view-making, considering the ways in which these differing approaches can produce new insights and avenues for research. The paper examines two creative projects produced by the author of this paper and their relationship to her doctoral thesis, an exploration of the development of view-making in Britain over the seventeenth and earlyeighteenth century. It examines the work of the early eighteenth-century antiquarian William Stukeley, alongside the influential land artist John Latham. Investigating landscape through the lens of mobility has allowed for a new perspective on the authorâ€™s personal relationships with place, explored through historical research, contemporary art works and walking practice. In turn this three-way engagement with viewing provided an insight and a deeper understanding of Stukeleyâ€™s early antiquarian researches.
John Wylie, Landscape (Routledge, 2007). There is now a large body of research that considers the landscape idea. For a general recent survey of landscape studies from a range of disciplinary perspectives see the introduction to: Peter Howard, Ian Thompson and Emma Waterton (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies (Routledge, 2013). 1 2
The landscape idea, as John Wylie and others have noted, has long been characterised by a series of tensions. These tensions include the apparent dichotomies of proximity and distance, body and mind, sensuous immersion and detached observation.1 While Wylie’s observations on landscape’s inherent tensions have now been furthered by contributions from a number of scholars, and from a range of disciplines, there is yet room for expansion.2 This paper therefore examines tensions within the landscape idea, from the perspective of art history and contemporary art practice. In a genre that has often focused on the fixity of its imagery, this paper takes movement, specifically walking, and its relationship to viewing, as its central concern. What follows is not an attempt at a comprehensive account of movement within landscape imagery, but is instead intended to elucidate some mobile aspects of early eighteenthcentury antiquarian image-making. It brings contemporary art practice alongside historical issues in view-making, considering the ways in which different approaches to the subject can produce interesting new possibilities for research. To this end the paper examines two creative projects produced by the author of this paper and their relationship to her doctoral thesis, an exploration of the development of view-making in Britain over the seventeenth and early-eighteenth century. It examines the work of the early eighteenth- century antiquarian William Stukeley, alongside the influential land artist John Latham.3
Movement, or a mobile quality, has rarely been considered as part of histories
of landscape imagery, which have been characterized, to no small degree, by an idea of stillness, and fixed- points. This lack of movement is related to one of the central tensions put forward by Wylie, detachment and immersion, a narrative that has recently been explored from the perspective of cultural geography by Hayden Lorimer, among others.4 Recent scholarship has also begun to highlight the importance of landscape imagery as a ‘theatre’, ‘site’ and ‘palace’. Ideas of place,
This paper was presented as part of ‘On Walking’, a conference held at the University of Sunderland from June 27th to 29th, 2013. The conference was part of a wider project exploring artist’s walking, represented by an exhibition at the Northern Gallery of Northern Art, titled Walk On: 40 years of Art Walking from Richard Long to Janet Cardiff, from 1st June to 31st August, 2013. 4 For a fairly recent survey of the issues of non-representational theory in relation to cultural geography see: Hayden Lorimer, ‘Cultural Geography: The Busyness of Being More Than Representational’ in Progress in Human Geography, 2005, 29: 83. Of particular relevance is ‘Reaching out—gardens’, pp. 84–86. 3
its observation and record, are here closely linked with history and memory, the various means through which impressions were made and retained on the mind.5 From an anthropological perspective the emergent field of mobility studies provides a useful approach; the concept of ‘wayfinding’ developed by Ingold and Lee is of particular value.6 Here, the process of the walk is explored as both subject and object of fieldwork. Such work provides a way to consider the reflexive process necessary in the bridging of historical research and creative approaches to walking. Indeed, a focus on the significance of mobility in Stukeley’s comprehension of Avebury led to an awareness of this issue in more recent engagements with places. Latham’s way of seeing Lothian’s shale bings, for example, though not physically mobile, provides a useful counterpoint to Stukeley’s vision, reflective of changes in viewing practices informed by cultural shifts as well as developments in instruments and technology. The two artworks that this paper examines were produced through understanding of past and present viewing practices, where thinking through mobility was a central concern. Investigating landscape through the lens of mobility has allowed for a new perspective on the author’s personal relationships with place, explored through historical research, contemporary art works and walking practice. In turn, this threeway engagement with viewing provided an insight and a deeper understanding of Stukeley’s early antiquarian researches.
There is an attempt throughout this paper to examine the cyclical influence
of academic research and artistic practice in relation to engagement with place. There are several reasons for this. Most significant is the author’s own experience, completing a PhD (not practice led) after a first degree in Fine Art and a number of years experience as a creative practitioner. This experience has raised interesting questions around the relationship of academic work and artistic practice. While recent years have seen a significant interest in the implications, problems and
See Pierre Nora, ‘Between Memory And History: Les lieux de Memoire’, in Representations, 26 (1989) 7–24; Mary J Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge, 1990) esp. p. 71; David Lowenthal, ‘Past Time, Present Place: Landscape and Memory’, in Geographical Review, 65 (1975); Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture (London and New York, 1994); Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (London, Harper Perennial, 1995); William J. Smythe, Map–Making, Landscapes and Memory: A Geography of Colonial and Early Modern Ireland c. 1530–1750 (Cork, Cork University Press, 2006); Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathearn (eds.), Landscape, Memory and History: Anthropological Perspectives (London and Sterling, Va., 2003); Nicola Whyte, Inhabiting The Landscape (2009); Francis A. Yates, The Art of Memory (Harmondsworth, 1969 edn.). 5
values in creative practice-based PhDs, little has been said about the those who undertake traditional academic study alongside artistic practice; in effect separating practice from the more traditional forms of academic enquiry required in their PhDs. This project therefore attempts to describe aspects of this situation with a focus on landscape and place. It encapsulates past encounters with the land within contemporary approaches to fieldwork undertaken as part of an artistic practice. In re-thinking older forms of description of the land, it also prompts critical appraisal of present attitudes to its theory and practice.
The paper considers two artworks by the author. The first is titled RUN and was
made in September 2011. RUN is a three minute film in which a woman (the author of this paper) makes an attempt at running up a fairly large hill, St. Catherine’s, situated on the outskirts of Winchester in the South of England. The film begins with a conversation between the protagonist and another woman (the artist Charlotte Knox-Williams), not visible on the screen. In this discussion it is decided that the protagonist will attempt to run up the hill whilst filming herself. She then does so, holding the camera as she runs. On eventually reaching the summit she stops, breathing heavily, panning the camera with a shaky hand to view the prospect. The film seems to imply that running up the hill in this manner is a spontaneous act, but in fact the activity was pre-contrived. The decision-making process that emerges during the film was concerned only with the practical issues of running with a camera. RUN can be viewed here. The second artwork, ‘Breathing views’, was a seven-hour walk in which the artist (again, the author of this paper) walks while noting every breath and drawing a certain number of views. It was undertaken in the east of Scotland in May 2013 (see figs. 1–3) Between the production of these two artworks the artist was also writing up her doctoral thesis, titled ‘The draught of a landskip mathematical’: Britain’s landmarks delineated, 1610–1750’. The two artworks relate to one aspect of
Tim Ingold, and Jo Lee Vergunst (eds.), Ways of Walking; Ethnography and Practice on Foot (Ashgate, 2008). See the introduction to this work for a summary of their approach. 6
her thesis in particular; the image-making practices of the early eighteenth–century antiquarian, doctor and cleric William Stukeley.7 Both artworks are part of a process of coming to an understanding of what it means to move through a place.
Returning to the first example, RUN was a creative attempt to engage directly
with Stukeley’s methods. In part it was an attempt to understand his interest in viewing the landscape, a point I will return to later. The significance of RUN lies in the way the hill was approached, the artist’s need to be physically exhausted from the landform. When the work was conceived, the idea was to find a way to use the hill to become as out of breath as possible, to run up the hill until it was possible to run no more, and then to view, exhausted, from the summit. The action was intended to express exhaustion in a physical and creative manner while connecting this with historical research, in particular a way of coming to understand a landscape that Stukeley had found significant.
Stukeley’s ideas on the importance of viewing are represented in his publication
of the site, titled Abury, A Temple of the British Druids, a work populated with forty maps, plans and views of the site.8 His focus in this work lay in an explication of the history and origins of Avebury, a vast Neolithic stone circle complex in North Wiltshire. Key to his argument was an examination of his methods, and how they had assisted in the development of his ideas. It has been noted that Stukeley was the first person to situate the stone circle and avenues of Avebury within the wider Wiltshire landscape, to focus not only on the large circle of stones around which the village had grown, but also the two avenues leading away from it. Fig. 4 shows Stukeley’s frontispiece to Abury, while Fig. 5 depicts his final analysis, A Scenographic View of Abury as it was. Throughout the pages of ‘Abury’ Stukeley describes the importance of his walking practice. Undertaken over twenty years, he notes how it assisted him in coming to his newly expanded conception of the site. Here, he notes
Stukeley was a widely respected scholar in his day, president of the Society of Antiquaries, if also considered as something of a valuable crank by later generations. For recent literature on William Stukeley see Stuart Piggott, William Stukeley; An Eighteenth-Century Antiquary (London, Thames and Hudson, 1985); David Boyd Haycock, William Stukeley; Science, Religion and Archaeology in Eighteenth Century England (Woodbridge, Suffolk, Boydell Press, 2002), p. 132; Arthur Macgregor in R.G.W Anderson, Marjore L. Caygill, A.G MacGregor, L. Syson (eds.), Enlightening the British: Knowledge, Discovery and the Museum in the Eighteenth Century (London, British museum, 2004); Rosemary Sweet, The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994). 7
the importance of the shape of the path, observing its narrowing, commenting on how this observation helped his understanding: When we mount up Overton-hill, the avenue grows much narrower. And this observation helped me in the discovery of the purport and design of the whole figure of the snake; and in the nature of the scheme thereof.9 Stukeley’s extensive walks around the place had, he considered, given him a special ability to see the ‘grand design of the site’, one that he thought had been inscribed onto the land by the Druids of ancient Britain. He notes: [b]y repeated mensurations, by careful attention and observations, by frequently walking along the whole track thereof, from one end to the other, I found out its (Avebury’s) purpose, its extent, the number of stones it is compos’d of, and the measures of their intervals.10 For Stukeley, engaging with Avebury required walking and viewing together, at several scales. Ideas of ‘viewing’ were significant, emerging in the thesis as a central concern and often raised in scholarship on the idea of landscape. In this scholarship viewing is often described as a barrier to a wider sensory engagement with place. Stukeley’s interest in walking as a means to assist in his viewing of the place is a more positive approach to viewing. Indeed, for those involved in the description of the land over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries walking was an important part of their enquiries, for the purposes of military, antiquarian or estate surveys, as well as more pictorial images.
‘RUN’ was produced a few months after a first visit to Avebury, when the act
of viewing in the manner of Stukeley was a significant concern in the development of the thesis. Stukeley’s work makes clear the significance between where one views from, and where one views to. There may be a sense in which this strong sense of
William Stukeley, Abury: A Temple to the British Druids (London, 1743). William Stukeley, Abury: A Temple to the British Druids (London, 1743). 9 Stukeley, Abury (1743), p. 29. 10 Stukeley, Abury (1743), p. 29. 8
being between places in viewing has been lost in the cartographic focus on getting to a particular place, by whatever means.11 Visiting Avebury, and exploring its surrounding areas on foot, walking and viewing as Stukeley’s words seemed to indicate, was an increasingly frustrating experience. Although an understanding of his method’s assisted in the art–historical portion of the author’s interest in the subject, a gap remained between that knowledge and her relationship with landscape. The film was an attempt to develop thinking around Stukeley, and to become closer to the act of viewing as he had described it. RUN was a sketch for what would later become ‘Breathing views’, the second artwork after Stukeley. A raw attempt, it is still valuable, describing something of Stukeley’s close and tireless engagement with the topography of the places that he described, particularly Avebury. Over the next year ideas around Stukeley progressed and the idea for ‘Breathing views’ emerged. One progression that can be seen in ‘Breathing views’ is Stukeley’s ability to view the land at a variety of scales, noticing the particular shape of a path, for example, as well as understanding that in relation to a wider view. A constantly shifting attention between these scales became increasingly significant. From this, emerged ‘Breathing views’, a walk from landmark to landmark in which breathing and viewing would be the focus. ‘Breathing views’ extends Stukeley’s awareness of scale in coming to know a place, through a focus on states of being: the meditative internal and the disrupted external.
‘Breathing views’ evidences less concern with the form of the topographical
feature that would be encountered—the hill—and more the movement between two landmarks. This interest required the selection of particular sites, requiring a direct sightline between the two landmarks, but also a correspondence in their cultural histories. The chosen course for the walk began at an artwork by Ian Hamilton Finlay at Jupiter Artland, a large sculpture park near Edinburgh. Finlay’s Temple of Apollo sits comfortably in a secluded and wooded part of the park, on the rise of a
Artistic projects such as Alec Finlay’s A Company of Mountains: Comhlan Bheanntan, commissioned by Atlas Arts, Skye, are an example of the ways in which contemporary artists have considered the importance of the act of viewing in coming to know, or understand a place. For moreinformation see: http://www.company-of-mountains.com/p/about.html. 11
hill that looks out over the Pentlands. It was initially conceived to be sited at Finlay’s well-known garden Little Sparta (Stonypath) but eventually found a permanent site at Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh.12 The walk ended at another local landmark, of quite different scale and origin, a vast ‘shale bing’ known as Faucheldean, situated near Broxburn in West Lothian. It is one of seventeen remaining piles of mining waste in the Lothians, red or grassy peaks and ranges that are dispersed irregularly across the landscape. The walk was a distance of around seven miles, encompassing varied terrain: ploughed fields, small roads and tracks, canal walkways and through towns, villages and campsites.
The history of the bings, and the mining industry of which they were a part,
has now been explored by a number of authors.13 An interest in the bings as artworks emerged as part of wider project, undertaken with artist and poet Alec Finlay, and exploring the influential artist John Latham’s engagement with these features in the 1970s.14 As part of an artist’s residency with the Scottish Office, Latham considered a number of aerial surveys of the region, a technology then in its infancy. Through this, he saw the bings differently, imbuing them with an ancient goddess mythology, connecting them with ancient Celtic traditions, far removed from their industrial heritage. Latham’s project placed importance on viewing. Seeing a landmark from a different perspective had allowed him to re-imagine its origins, to see it in a new way. This interest in viewing and an aerial perspective in Latham’s work has been noted by John Walker and Craig Richardson, who note Latham’s words on the distancing that is necessary ‘if humanity is to see itself objectively’.15 Latham’s naming of the bings provides a clear corollary with Stukeley’s efforts to envision Avebury as a picture inscribed into the landscape.
Latham’s vision of his Celtic goddess was made through viewing at an aerial
perspective. Stukeley’s understanding of Avebury was made possible through
See Ian Hamilton Finlay and Nicholas Sloan, Project for a Monument to St. Just (Wild Hawthorn Press, 1985); For an overview of the temple in the context of Finlay’s garden at Stoneypath see, Ian Hamilton Finlay; Reflections (University of California Press, 2012). See also the website at Jupiter Artland; http://www.jupiterartland.org/artwork/23/temple-of-apollo. 13 For a recent overview see Guthrie Hutton, Shale Oil: A History of the Industry in the Lothians (Stenlake Publishing, 2010). See p. 268 for footnotes 14 & 15. 12
his extensive walks around the many hills and ridges of Avebury’s surrounding countryside. Made in a time before aerial photography, Stukeley’s vision was pieced together from the many intersecting perspectives that these vantage points afforded. The walk from Fauchaldean bing to Finlay’s temple at Jupiter Artland relates directly to Stukeley’s focus on sightlines in a landscape. From the temple the bing is clearly visible, a vast red form rising up against the green and yellow fields in the foreground. ‘Breathing views’ pushed Stukeley’s engagement with land, extending his focus on walking and viewing to the mental states of inner breath and outward view, an act concentrating attention on the movement between intimate and far off view.
‘Breathing views’ began with a question on views and walks. It considers the
ways in which the experience of viewing a landmark in the distance might relate to the experience of moving through a landscape towards that view. In this case it was a focus on the breath that allowed an understanding of Stukeley’s attention as he moved through the place to emerge. The terms of the walk were decided in advance and included the assistance of Luke Allan as assistant and photographer. The plan was to walk from temple to bing, a ‘limb’ that was part of the group of bings that Latham had described as the ‘body’ of his goddess. This was a distance of seven miles, and the course was to be as direct as possible, keeping the bing in sight. The walk required that marks on paper be made as the artist walked, and a clipboard was attached with string around her neck for the purpose. The basic idea emerged fairly quickly, as did RUN, but the focus in ‘Breathing views’ took longer to become clear. Each breath taken was to be marked on the paper with a short line. At the end of each line of breath marks the artist would stop and draw what could be seen of the bing that she moved towards. The walk forced the walker to observe the place that she moved through at several scales. It also required a movement between inward and outward states of concentration.
From p. 267 14 Latham’s engagement with the bings was complex and much too broad to discuss in detail here. Art historian Craig Richardson has written widely on the bings, particularly on their status as artworks and in relation to John Latham. For an overview see Richardson, C. (2008) Scottish Art Since 1960. (Ashgate), p. 88; Richardson, C, ‘Waste to Monument: John Latham’s Niddrie Woman’, Tate papers, issue 17, 2012. 15 Richardson (2012); John Albert Walker, The Incidental Person: His Art and Ideas (Middlesex University Press, 1995).
Moving between the activities of breathing and viewing, and the descriptive
practices of simple notation and linear mimesis was a requirement of the walk as it had been structured. Beyond this movement, there was a focus on the moment of encounter and how this was made visible through the inward and outward mental states that each aspect of the task required. Each encounter related to the ideas of viewing and mobility that Stukeley’s work had foregrounded. Throughout the walk an intent frame of mind was noted introspectively: an insect–like intent. Despite this, there remained a connection to the ‘place’, through the attention that was required to footfall, as the changing terrain was carefully navigated. This walk specifically required more attention to the ground than a walk generally would. This was due to the practical difficulties involved in moving through a place while at the same time counting and notating breaths. Between taking a breath and marking it on paper was the physical navigation of the terrain underfoot, all of which required several areas of concentration working together. At the end of each page, looking up to draw the view of the bing, a different concentration was required, a re-positioning back within a wider spatial frame. In RUN the sounds of breath are harsh and insistent taking almost all of the attention of theviewer. Even on reaching the summit and panning the camera around the lush Winchester country, her breath rasps audibly, her hand shaking slightly from her exertions. In ‘Breathing views’ the breath remains a central focus but in differently conceived. Here, each quiet breath is noted by a one—for—one mark on the page while at the same time a particular route and its changing terrains are navigated. Through the course of the walk there was an intensity in the awareness of place gained through the shifting marking of inward breath and outward view. This movement between states is an extension of Stukeley’s ability to view
at different scales.In his understanding of Avebury, Stukeley notes the importance of viewing the narrowing path as it relates to the wider landscape. Stukeley had the ability to notice the landscape in its particularities as well as its wider situation.
RUN and ‘Breathing views’ were part of an investigation into landscape
imagery focused on the antiquarian practices of William Stukeley. Through a focus on attention at a range of scales they follow Stukeley’s heritage for landscape. They also extend his work, bring scale alongside questions of mental state. This is explored through a contrast in inscriptive practices: the short line of the breath and linear representation of the view. Here, a focus on movement between states of mind, is related to viewing at a variety of scales from a walking, and mobile perspective.
With thanks to Charlotte Knox-Williams, Luke Allan, Leonie Dunlop, Alec Finlay and Jupiter Artland.
Fig. 1. Image from ‘Breathing views’, photograph Luke Allan, 2013
Fig. 2 Image from ‘Breathing views’, photograph Luke Allan, 2013 Fig. 3 Image from ‘Breathing views’, photograph Luke Allan, 2013 • CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 294
Walking—Landscape—Urbanism ANDREW TOLAND University of Hong Kong Abstract: In April and May 2011 I walked 1200 kilometres around the island of Shikoku in Japan. I was following the ancient Buddhist pilgrimage route known as the Henro Michi. When I told them, most people visualised an extended stroll around a giant Zen garden, or a scroll painting come to life. The reality was much more brutal. Most of it was by the side of a highway though the endless, sprawling wasteland of Japanese exurbia. This paper considers walking as a medium for developing and deepening Landscape Urbanism as a theoretical position within contemporary Landscape and Architectural theory, using this experience of Japan’s contemporary landscape as a starting point. To date, the theory of Landscape Urbanism has relied on two increasingly important techniques of representation within the built environment disciplines: satellite/aerial photography, and the field diagram. These techniques are fundamentally distancing and totalising, placing the subject and the object into an abstract relationship. They are part of the continuing legacy of modernist theory and representation in the landscape and architectural disciplines. Walking as a medium of experience does the opposite. It embeds the subject in the urban environment, and allows for an important corrective to the distancing tendencies of other modes of experience through representation. This paper examines the implications of walking and representation for our current understanding of both landscape and urbanisation within the landscape and architectural disciplines.
In April and May 2011, my wife and I walked 1,200 kilometres around the island of Shikoku in Japan. We were following the ancient Buddhist pilgrimage route known as the Henro Michi. When I told people, most of them visualised an extended stroll around a giant Zen garden, or a scroll painting come to life. The reality was much less aesthetic. Most of it was by the side of a highway through the endless, nonplaces of Japanese exurbia. The modern ‘pilgrimage’ is a very particular form of the multiple modern practices of walking; for the atheist foreigner, it is part tourism, part endurance sport, part psychological introspection and self-transformation. For the western architect and urbanist, schooled with images of the delicacy of traditional Japanese villas and the lithe forms of contemporary Japanese design, it is a dull bludgeoning with the blunt reality of modern Japanese urban sprawl. Even the most blinkered visitor can hardly fail to notice this condition out the window of the shinkansen on the well-worn tourist route from Tokyo to Kyoto. And yet it is another thing to walk the reality of it in economically atrophied regional Japan. I had been on visits to regional even remote areas of Japan before, however nothing quite prepared me for walking through it endlessly. How is one to make sense of this as a design practitioner and thinker; the sustained grating of surroundings against self within one’s sensorium? No-one would spend months walking around the outskirts of Brisbane or the suburbs of Atlanta. And yet this walk takes place in the context of a centuries-old religious ascetic tradition, giving it a purpose and validation beyond its actual physical setting, and allowing a very particular engagement with contemporary Japanese urban conditions that creates a uniquely modern version of the ascetic/aesthetic experience. All walks are intimately bound up with the landscapes they traverse, whether rambling through the English countryside; or a day’s flânerie through central Paris. The walk is both a way of knowing the landscape and designing it, intertwined. The
“knowing” part seems obvious, but the “designing” may be less so. Jean-François Lyotard (1991, 183) wrote of “estrangement” (dépaysement—de-landscaping? deviewing? de-panoramaing?) as “a precondition for landscape.” A landscape emerges, he wrote, “whenever the mind is transported from one sensible matter to another, but retains the sensorial organization appropriate to the first, or at least a memory of it. The earth seen from the moon for a terrestrial. The countryside for the townsman; the city for the farmer.” What better way of transporting the mind from one sensible matter to another, while retaining at least a memory of the first, than walking? Walking is nothing if not a continuous tube of time organising sensorial organisation for place to place to place to place in a continuous, unbroken line. On the pilgrimage, unlike in a car, or a train, or an aeroplane, or across the surface of a drawing, there is no transition from one sensible matter to another without walking. It does not try to resolve the urban (or any other field, any other landscape) within the bounds of a single image. But this kind of abstract “line” that walking draws—pressing, as it does, on mind, memory, vision, narrative, language, senses, all the way down through to the soft flesh of the body – inevitably leaves an impression, an indent, a mark. In this sense, it is a design, just as plan or a map is, or an aerial or satellite photograph; an impression in some kind of medium, that when it comes time for it to be reproduced—in a drawing, or a literary text, or a mediums such as this essay— involves the tracing of that design and its translation from the contours of the body to the surface of the page (or perhaps, rather, the pixels of the screen, in this case). And yet walking as a system of knowledge and design is greatly underutilised as a methodology in the built environment disciplines. In spite of this, walking, as a way of ‘knowing’ the landscape, as well as the landscape of the self in the context of modernity, and of constructing meaning in relation to both “nature” and the “city”, has a venerable history in the twentieth century. In October 1921, the Journal
of the American Institute of Architects published an article entitled “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning” (MacKaye 1921). The article was written by Benton MacKaye, a one-time forester, government researcher, newspaper editor, and then regional planner, and also a progressive political activist. MacKaye compared living in the modern world to the experience of “helpless canaries in a cage.” His solution was to outline a proposal for a continuous, lengthy hiking trail through the Appalachian mountains. His motivations are conventionally portrayed as an attempt to seek out “a refuge from work life in [the] industrialized metropolis” (Appalachian Trial 2013). However, in the text of the article itself, MacKaye is insistent that what he saw as the negative aspects of modernity applied to city and rural dwellers alike. His proposal was also shaped by the prevailing view that technology would reduce work time and increase leisure time, and that greater opportunities for recreation were therefore required. In fact, MacKaye presented his proposed solution as a counterpart and extension of the modernity, technology and organisational logic of the twentieth century city—the Appalachian Mountains offered a natural ‘skyline’ that implicitly mirrored the urban skyline of Manhattan. Just as Central Park was ‘nature’ recreated in the city, the Appalachian Trail was the city recreated in nature. While the city was the locus of work, ‘nature’ would become the locus of leisure and health. In this model, long-distance walking and hiking become an inherent activity of the metropolis, even though they may be geographically separated. MacKaye argued that an entire infrastructure should be developed that was not one of wilderness or nature (even though it is designed to bring metropolitan “man”— and indeed women, girls and boys, to wilderness and nature—but an infrastructure of the city, with its efficiencies and conveniences, running across the ridges and through the valleys of the Appalachian range. MacKaye’s ideas grew out of and were a response to a metropolitan culture born of density, congestion and the velocity of
existing technologies and conditions of metropolitan mobility—subways, trolleys, the teeming sidewalks of Downtown. However, these conditions, and the culture to which it gave rise, was on the brink of transformation through another technology of mobility that would shape a radically different urban condition. The same year as MacKaye’s article, 1921, the US Congress passed the Federal Highway Act, sparking a road construction boom aimed at providing a national road network of interconnected “primary highways.” What was envisioned in the Appalachian Trial as a system of the-city-in-nature became redundant as that project was remapped onto and subsumed within the explosive growth of suburbs as a new idealised manifestation of the city-nature hybrid in the post-World War II decades. This transition from metropolitan city to suburban city is still very much playing itself out in architectural, landscape architectural and urban design thinking. “Landscape urbanism” describes one recent strand of architectural and landscape architectural theory and writing seeking to connect practices of landscape architecture, architecture, planning and urban design with some of the very particular conditions that characterise many contemporary cities, especially in North America. It is, in part, a landscape architectural theory of sprawl. It is also an attempt to reorient the practice of landscape architecture away from overworked and overburdened associations with “nature” and (re-)creation of supposedly “natural” landscapes, and towards an engagement with the pressing environmental, social and spatial challenges that afflict the way in which the majority of people in the developed world live. It is also a claim by theorists of the discipline of landscape architecture for a more central role for their profession. One of the leading exponents of this way of thinking, Charles Waldheim (2006, 37), currently Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, asserts that “landscape urbanism offers an implicit critique of architecture and urban design’s
inability to offer coherent, competent, and convincing explanations of contemporary urban conditions. In this context, … landscape [architecture and the landscape urbanism approach] supplants architecture’s historical role as the basic building block of urban design.” However, to date, the theory of Landscape Urbanism has relied on two dominant techniques of representation within the built environment disciplines: satellite/aerial photography, and what might variously be described as mapping or the field diagram. The meaning of the former technique of representation (satellite/aerial photography) is relatively clear and well understood. Mapping/ field diagrams describe a range of analytical image-making practices that produce diagrams of surfaces in plan projection, ranging from the famous, early ichnographic figure-ground studies of Rome made by Giambattista Nolli in the eighteenth century, to the complex, multilayered digital GIS models currently being built of urban and other areas. However, these techniques are fundamentally distancing and totalising, placing the subject and the object into an abstract relationship. They are part of the continuing legacy of modernist theory and representation in the landscape and architectural disciplines. As cultural theorists of walking well know, the understanding and representation of the city within modernity relies on a disembodied, idealised eye; what Michel de Certeau (1993, 158) described as the “atopia-utopia of optical knowledge,” in other words everything that walking, as an everyday practice, is not. And yet pilgrimage is not an everyday practice; precisely the opposite. Discussions of the Shikoku pilgrimage in the scholarly literature point out that the landscape is transformed, through the act of pilgrimage “from a merely physical topography into a spiritual arena in which the realms of the sacred may be accessed. … The Shikoku pilgrimage’s symbolic structures transform the island into a sacred landscape; the journey, in pilgrimage lore, is divided into four stages, each of which
represents one of the four stages of the journey to enlightenment as expressed in Shingon Buddhism” (Reader 2010, 31). And yet, even these systems of internal spiritual transformation have been eroded within Japanese culture. Increasingly, the significance of the Shikoku pilgrimage within wider Japanese society is now primarily about the representation and consumption of Japanese cultural history. The portrayal of the pilgrimage within Japanese media and popular culture has involved the disassociation of the pilgrimage from any overt religious connotations it might have (Reader 2007, 28). This is not to say that the pilgrimage has no spiritual significance for at least some of those Japanese who choose to undertake it, but its broader cultural significance within Japan is now much like the broader status of the Camino de Santiago Catholic pilgrimage in contemporary western culture. The point is that the transformation from “merely physical” to spiritual landscape may longer be as straightforward as it perhaps was during an earlier period. What I increasingly came to realise, as we trudged past yet another strip of car showrooms, pachinoko parlours and adult DVD stores, was not just something about the global reach of peripheral urbanism as a space-making force driven by the usual spatial logic of neoliberalism and globalisation, but the potential of walking as a methodology for constructing knowledge about the particular conditions of the city (and the countryside) within landscape architecture, architecture and urbanism. Landscape urbanism is a project to restore some kind of coherence to the city, albeit a coherence that is fully aware of incoherence, contemporary ecology, critical theory, and postmodern reality; to understand it as a broader network of systems and flows (Shane 2006). And yet, the new perspective it seeks its profoundly constrained by the conventional perspectives (literally) upon which it is forced to rely. This kind of pilgrimage walking is a very particular kind of somatic embodied knowledge; an important complemen—antidote even—to the scopic, omniscient,
disembodied knowledge of the eye-in-the-sky of aerial and satellite photography, or the abstracting, analytical, reductivist cyborg-esque eye-mind-hand of the diagram/map/plan. It is a knowledge that relies on the kind of estrangement about which Lyotard spoke: the displacement of a gaijin in Japan, of a non-Buddhist on a Buddhist pilgrimage, of a habitual driver on a very, very, very long walk. These are the conditions the Situationists attempted to induce with their using-a-map-of-adifferent-city-to-navigate-the-present-one experiments. Approached with a secular mindset, there is already a disjuncture, and yet an enforced respectfulness. It is also positioned somewhat obliquely in relation to the question of the city, which is not its main focus, caught, as it is, in older historical routes and observances, palimpsests. What this kind of walking offers to the urbanist, landscape architect and architect, is not really a new way of seeing the city (and/as landscape), but rather a new way of experiencing it, in all its terrible and wondrous continuity; a new way using an ancient practice. The intertwined ascetic and aesthetic nature of the experience is not insignificant here. It signals that fact that it requires effort, labour, to engage with one’s environment. The scopic approach, a ‘view’ of the landscape (in both senses) based on visuality, pretends to a kind of passivity; an idea that the landscape, the cityscape, can be ‘taken in’ simply by looking at it – whether that is in person or via the various media of images is not important. And yet it is quite another matter to have to come to terms with an urban condition when walking through it, literally navigating it for days on end, for a purpose about which one is not entirely convinced. It is a collapsing of conceptual scales, far away and right up close, within a single unifying act; both everyday and otherworldly all at once; a strange but rich estrangement.
References Appalachian Trial. 2013. “History.” Accessed November 19. http://www.appalachiantrail.org/about-the-trail/history. de Certeau, Michel. 1993. “Walking in the City.” In The Cultural Studies Reader, edited by Simon During, 151–160. London: Routledge. Lyotard, Jean-François. 1991. The Inhuman: Reflections on Time. Translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Reader, Ian. 2010. “Buddhist Pilgrimages in Japan.” In Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, edited by Adriana Proser, 30–33. New Haven and London: Yale University Press in association with the Asia Society Museum. Shane, Grahame. 2006. “The Emergence of Landscape Urbanism.” In The Landscape Urbanism Reader, edited by Charles Waldheim, 55–67. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Waldheim, Charles. 2006. “Landscape as Urbanism.” In The Landscape Urbanism Reader, edited by Charles Waldheim, 35–53. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Heavens Above ANDREA TOTH & JUDY THOMAS Abstract: This paper explores a collaborative art practice of walking together, merging experiencing, making, presenting, and social engagement. Our walks have become a platform to share ideas and make new work, providing not only motivation but also a safe space to explore themes of memory, space and spirituality, while being inspired by weather, light and the landscape. The value of this relationship is huge. To be an artist is a predominantly solitary activity; to be able to have support and be supported gives great strength. Our combined experiences, thoughts and connections enhance greatly what might have been done individually. The collaboration is pushing us both to be more courageous and move out of our comfort zones. Through a process of painting, photography and film, we are in a research phase, responding directly to the physical world, bridging to an inner spiritual world, through visual representation. The act of walking and getting into the landscape also gives us a chance to pause and reflect on our individual and collaborative work, which is an important and integral step in the creative process. Our ongoing questioning dialogue along with walking with others opens up thoughts and possibilities at a greater and deeper level than if done individually. Extending the social aspect of the project to a wider audience, we proposed and hosted a series of Northumberland walks during June and July 2013, with the aim of bringing people together, celebrating the landscape, considering the environment and valuing the world in which we live.
Fig. 1: Toth, A. (2013) Walking along Cawfields, Hadrianâ€™s Wall. [Oil on canvas]. Northumberland: A M J Toth. Fig. 2: Thomas, J. (2013) Highgreen [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcherâ€™s own collection.
ESCAPE (Judy) “The walks were a quest to escape the everyday. Starting at a time when the demands of full time employment were all consuming, I was feeling uncreative, stale and unconnected. Fieldwork activity, walking, provided alternative, carved out slots of time, like gasping for air (fresh air) … and really was a quest for breathing space. Cohen and Taylor describe this as “Dislodging the weight of everyday routine”. 1, 2(Thomas, 2013) (Andrea) “For me, our walks became a wonderful opportunity to be outside and be inspired physically and emotionally again for my painting, I was feeling stuck in a routine of home, work and the studio, and not spending enough time outside. I am from Canada originally and am accustomed to huge amounts of space, have done great hiking and exploring, and the joy of the opportunity of scheduled adventures to be outside being and breathing in our vast landscape at our doorstep lifted my soul and my energy.” 3 (Toth, 2013) (Judy) “Displacement: What a sense of relief to be outside, to be walking, looking, experiencing, to be living … ” (Thomas 2013) The walks generate wakefulness. In yogic practice, walking is used as a meditative process and seen as an “excellent way to release stress or restless energy.” 4 It is also an excellent way to release creative energy. THINKING SPACE Walking provides time to reflect, a sense of freedom and space to think. The landscape provides an escape from our complex, never ending, high-speed world of screens and digital overload. We spend so much of our time indoors. Taking ourselves outside (literally) connects us to mental, physical and spatial landscapes.
Stanley Cohen and Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempts, Second Edition (London: Routledge, 1976), 116. Judy Thomas, Heavens Above (Newcastle upon Tyne), Discussion. 3 Andrea Toth, Heavens Above (Newcastle upon Tyne), Discussion. 4 Yoga Journal (2013) Yoga Journal: Practice Available at: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/773 (Accessed 20 June 2013). 1
“So, on the upward track, I am finding my way and losing myself. I am following Andrea. There is space for thoughts, pauses for reflection and room to question.” (Thomas, 2013) The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and walking is one way to traverse it. 5 (Solnit, 2013) Each walk brings about discovery, looking at the world with a new perspective, the opportunity to reshuffle thoughts, air ideas, absorb and encounter. By engaging with the landscape there is an awareness, of the world around and also a heightened sense of oneself. There is a reflection of thoughts, moments, memories but more immediately is a sense of the here and now. “Grounding” 6 oneself and being in the moment. Walking creates an opportunity to be mindful. Through this process of discovery, there is a making sense of the world.
Fig. 3: Thomas, J. (2013) Highgreen 2 [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcher’s own collection. 5 6
Rebecca Solnit Wanderlust: A history of walking. (London: Verso, 2001), 5–6. Solnit, Wanderlust, 6. 307
Emptiness is something we rarely experience. Research by Janet Lambert (2010) explains how a growing sense of understanding connects and how being open to possibility is important. By walking and thinking, I come to know the place. The focus is determined by historical curiosity and the pleasure of finding things; by the ways I react to what is there, noticing the ephemeral, and the enduring and trusting my understanding from primary experience. The art is to elicit meaning by creating the space of ambiguity that allows the imagination to play… 7 (Lambert, 2013) Here space acts as stimuli. Lambert’s ambiguous spaces allow us room to fill them. The empty spaces are not really empty. Everywhere is teaming with life. There is an act of erasing. Blanking out. Traces are left behind. Room for new thinking is created. TEMPORALITY The roar of the wind, the drenching of the rain and chill of the air makes one present. For a moment all is forgotten. You are there, in that moment, blissfully wind blasted, exhilarated and free. Fleetingly free…
Janet Lambert Experiencing Place: Mapping connectivity in the North Pennines. Unpublished PhD thesis. (Newcastle upon Tyne: University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2011), 15. 7
The walks provide a sequence of temporalities. Within this there is pure enjoyment: The texture of the ground underfoot The colour of the sky The movement of clouds Change of light Change of season (Thomas, 2013)
Walking creates a place to find things when you are not looking for them. Each new section of path or field creates a relocation of thoughts and a re-evaluation of the present. “The random, the unscreened, allows you to find what you don’t know you are looking for, and you don’t know a place until it surprises you.” 8 Fig. 4
Fig. 4: Thomas, J. (2013) Mud [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcher’s own collection. 8
Solnit, Wanderlust, 11.
Through this a series of chance discoveries are made. We find ourselves faced with paths that open up, an exciting promise of “diversion”. 9 With new vistas and unsteady terrain, flashes of past thoughts and encounters return. Our thoughts trace the route of the absent 10. We dwell on forgotten moments or current concerns. There is comfort in the sense of being there and feeling removed. We bring this to conversation. Fig. 5
THE SENSES (EXPERIENCING) Walking provides a sensual connection: hearing, smelling, touching, observing, tasting, a process of reconnection and appreciation. The slowing down of pace, allows one to be alert and pay attention, both internally and externally. This is the embodied aspect of walking.
Fig. 5: Tansley, G. (2013) Roman wall frog [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcher’s own collection. 9
Solnit, Wanderlust, 24. Solnit, Wanderlust, 72.
It is the presence of mindfulness that keeps your consciousness alive and alert to reality, thereby transforming ordinary life into a continuous practice of meditation, and transforming the mundane into the spiritual. 11 (Yoga Journal, 2013) Fig. 6
When engaging with a wild environment, there is a familiarity, a deeply buried sense of being human and an emotional connection to the world: The sound of wind swaying trees, like waves … The noise of lambs, bleating and birds twittering … Uniform, pale grey, whiteness … Relentless, unforgiving, driving … Deep, satisfying slush … Wet, slippery, water seeping down into my boots … Sonic boom … Lapwings, skylarks … The sound of emptiness, empty spaces … (Thomas, 2013)
Fig 6: Thomas, J. (2013) Interrelation [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcher’s own collection. Yoga Journal (2013) Yoga Journal: Practice Available at: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/773 (Accessed 20 June 2013). 11
Landscape offers: Driving rain Raw Wind blasted Pale, watery sun Filtered Hard ground Mossy micro-worlds Heathers Mud Lushness Rich green colours of summer Fertile Dry bracken Green mosses Dripping trees Babbling water Flow Dissolving sky Dirty water Feculence Reflection (Thomas, 2013)
Fig. 7: Thomas, J. (2013) Feculence [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcherâ€™s own collection. Fig. 8: Thomas, J. (2013) Janet and Ingrid at Highgreen [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcherâ€™s own collection.
SPACE (WALKING TOGETHER) Space is not an external constant, but rather produced through interrelations. It is built around moments of recognition, such as when a place suddenly exposes its connections to an ancient and peculiar vision of the forest, mountain or river. 12 (Bellamy, 2013) “Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord.” 13 (Solnit, 2013) How does this fit collaboratively? A four note chord of shared recognitions, interconnections, walking, talking, there are long stretches of silence. Our footsteps walk along a well-worn path. The value of this relationship is huge. To be an artist is a predominantly solitary activity; to be able to have support and be supported gives great strength. Our combined experiences, thoughts and connections enhance greatly what might have been done individually. The collaboration is pushing us both to be more courageous and move out of our comfort zones. The act of walking and getting into the landscape also gives us a chance to pause and reflect on our individual and collaborative work, which is an important and integral step in the creative process. Our on-going questioning dialogue, along with the walking, opens up thoughts and possibilities at a greater and deeper level than if done individually.
Denis Bellamy Cultural Ecology. Available at: http://www.culturalecology.info/page5.html (2013) (Accessed: 9 April 2013). 13 Solnit, Wanderlust, 24. 12
MAKING On our walks we are engaging with the environment by collecting, observing, writing, capturing sound and taking photos. This responsive body of work is a series of creative acts, which serve as records of the walks, reminders, an appreciation and reflection of realising presence in the world. These are like souvenirs of our connection to reality: memories of the present. Romantic treasures where we are no longer present. This becomes the past, connecting the environment and the self. This is documentation of movement, of a journey, of change and our observations. The work responds directly to the physical world, bridging to an inner spiritual world, through visual representation. We hope our work illustrates Northumberland National Park as a timeless landscape that endures, rejuvenates and inspires. As our project developed we looked more to the sky: â€œClouds are like our scattered thinking. They morph, mass, assemble and reassemble. Both can create grand gestures of physical and mental landscapes.
Fig. 9: Thomas, J. (2013) Contemplation [Photograph]. Northumberland: Researcherâ€™s own collection.
There is a sense of awe of what is beyond us, what controls us and shapes the world we live in. This is a space of weather, of climate, of light. Light creates life. The skies of Northumberland are immense in experience and possibility, somewhere to contain the chaos. Instead of skimming across and through the world, we need time to observe and be responsive. Ever changing, they pass through everyday reality and into realms of the imagination. I am interested in the layers of space presented by the sky, weather, light, land and thoughts. Through quiet contemplation of the physical object (the natural environment), nature offers us a sense of release yet also confronts us with challenge, friction and a sense of the unknown.â€? (Thomas, 2013) PRESENTING Milestones: We set ourselves a milestone to exhibit some of the work we were making in response to our walks. When time was pressured, it felt good to have a different kind of destination to head towards. In June 2013 we held a show at the Sanctuary Artspace, Gateshead. (Andrea) â€œFor all of our walking, our ongoing dialogue, sharing our writing, questioning, discussion, and also giving each other space to explore on our own from our shared experiences, we were very curious how our work might look together in the end. We were pleased and felt that our mutual experiences along with our individual perspectives came through in the show. During our walks I had taken photographs, sketched with watercolours and charcoal, and written in my journal, with the thoughts of large drawings and paintings. What resulted was actually four large oil paintings, each capturing to me, very different moods experienced on different outings. I wanted to capture
through light and colour, and a sense of movement, the emotions I had experienced, from quiet and tranquil, to the most magnificent and overwhelming. They are more representational than I had intended, yet I hope with an economy of brushstroke that welcomes the viewer to bring their own experiences to the light, atmosphere and setting I am sharing, and hopefully come to explore the landscape themselves. The skies, weather, and atmosphere through the changing seasons of the wide variety of landscape of Northumberland are spectacular in their drama and in their subtlety, and it is taking the time to be within it, to pause along the way, and enjoy the journey rather than the destination that enables us to begin to explore this magnificent world at our doorstep.â€? (Toth, 2013) (Jude) â€œMy work resulted in a series of photographs. I want to encourage the viewer to step into another world, somewhere that is detached yet inseparable from an everyday position in time and space. This world is mysterious, fragile, intimate and the inexplicable. Here the body can interact within a space that is somewhere poetic and timeless. The transparent nature of the images is dreamlike. There is a magical quality, something fleeting. Hopefully this engages the viewer to speculate on what they see and question what is real. The aim is to prompt the viewer to reflect, reconsider and engage with the places around them.â€? (Thomas, 2013)
SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT Extending the social aspect of the project to a wider audience, we hosted a series of Northumberland walks, with the aim of bringing people together, celebrating the landscape, considering the environment and valuing the world in which we live. Reflecting our own art practice, these took the form of art walks, led by
ourselves or others who have specific connections with the landscape. This welcomed the various and differing ways that people interact with their environment and choose to express themselves, or are more comfortable expressing themselves. This ends with a poetic observation by Gary Snyder: 14 One granite ridge A tree, would be enough Or even a rock, a small creek, A bark shred in a pool. Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted Tough trees crammed In thin stone fractures A huge moon on it all, is too much. The mind wanders. A million Summers, night air still and the rocks Warm. Sky over endless mountains. All the junk that goes with being human Drops away, hard rock wavers Even the heavy present seems to fail This bubble of a heart. Words and books Like a small creek off a high ledge Gone in the dry air. A clear attentive mind
Gary Snyder â€œPiute Creekâ€? in Riprap cited in Rhodes, Language of the Earth: A literary anthology. Edited by H.T et al (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. p. 240.) 14
Has no meaning but that Which sees is truly seen. No one loves rock, yet we are here. Night chills. A flick In the moonlight Slips into Juniper shadow: Back there unseen Cold proud eyes Of Cougar or Coyote Watch me rise and go. (Snyder, 2003) Regrettable endnote After a courageous two and a half year battle, Andrea Toth died from secondary breast cancer on July 14th 4pm at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital Newcastle, England with family and friends by her side. She is greatly missed.
Fig. 10: Toth, A. (2013) The Silvery Light of an Afternoon, near Highgreen, Northumberland National Park. [Oil on canvas]. Northumberland: A MJ Toth. Fig 11: Thomas, J. (2013) Pauses I and II [Photographs]. Northumberland: Researcherâ€™s own collection. 320
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bellamy, Denis Cultural Ecology. 20 and names13. http://www.culturalecology.info/ page5.html. Accessed: April 9, 2013. Cohen, Stanley and Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempts, Second Edition. London: Routledge, 1976. Lambert, Janet Experiencing Place: Mapping Connectivity in the North Pennines. (Newcastle upon Tyne: Unpublished PhD thesis, 2010),15. MacGowan, Christopher (2004) Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pretty, Jules, The Earth Only Endures: On reconnecting with nature and our place in it. London: Earthscan, 2007. Rhodes, Frank, Richard Stone, Bruce Malamad, John McPhee, Gordon Gaskill, R.G. McConnell, R.W. Brock, Voltaire and James Newman. Language of the Earth: A literary anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Solnit, Rebecca Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Verso, 2001. Snyder, Gary “Piute Creek” in Riprap cited in Rhodes, Language of the Earth: A literary anthology. Edited by H.T et al 240. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. Yoga Journal, 2013, http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/773 Accessed: April 9, 2013.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
Wish You Were Here Walking With Me: Walking as a Tool for the Aesthetic Evaluation of Designed Landscapes RUDI VAN ETTEGER Wageningen University Abstract: This paper is on walking as a phenomenological tool for the aesthetic appraisal of designed landscapes. Vitruvius stated three goals for architecture firmness functionality and beauty. If landscape architects state that designed landscapes are to be experienced as aesthetically appealing, then a way should be found to find out whether this goal has been achieved. One way would be to ask people in the landscape to appraise the landscape they are in. However a critical misunderstanding might occur. The confusion over whether landscape is something to be overseen in one gaze, as opposed to something that unfolds, like in a walk, can taint reports on the quality of a landscape. To avoid this misunderstanding and to test a different method for appraisal I have chosen to do a series of walks in the designed landscape of the Island of Walcheren in order to evaluate it aesthetically. I have chosen for a radical first person phenomenological approach. The paper describes methodological considerations and some of the advantages of a walk and its description over positivistic GIS-based methods, some of the experiences on the walk, as well as conclusions on the usefulness of walking for aesthetical appraisal. I will try to convey the sense of â€œWish you were hereâ€? that I experienced on this walk. The talk is illustrated with a selection of the photographic images taken during the walk.
Introduction: Everything Starts With â€œWhyâ€? Why did I choose to go for a walk and call it work? Why did my Professor agree for me to go on a walk and call it research? And why did I wish you were there walking with me? My PhD-research at Wageningen University is on the aesthetical evaluation of designed landscapes. Landscape architects design landscapes. They do so with the intention to produce landscapes that are functional, sustainable and beautiful (or as I will say aesthetically appealing). But there is very little theory on how to aesthetically evaluate the products of landscape design. There are two important aspects that influence the aesthetical evaluation of designed landscapes: that is their ontology, their way of coming into being, and their phenomenology, that is the way that they are perceived. My PhD is an antithesis of some common ideas about landscapes. More precisely I struggle against the notion that a. landscapes are not designed, but they are natural or vernacular, b. that if you want to appreciate landscape aesthetically you can do so visually and to be more precise scenically and that is sufficient. I think both these notions are wrong and can be shown to be so. An example can clarify this. If I show my students a photograph of a landscape and ask them whether this is a beautiful landscape, they have no hesitation whatsoever to answer my question. If I show them a still from a Harry Potter movie and I ask them whether they think this is a beautiful movie, they protest and tell me that they cannot evaluate a movie on the basis of a still picture. This shows the deeply ingrained notion, that landscape is what you see before you when you reach a hill or mountaintop after a long walk. People never bother to ask themselves, what it was they were walking through on their way to that hilltop. The point of this wider story about my research is that there are designed landscapes and that being designed makes a difference for aesthetical evaluation
and that to evaluate landscape aesthetically one has to go beyond evaluating the view of a landscape. One has to judge landscapes in their full multisensory appearance and to do so in motion, as a human being. Failing to do so would lead to the risk of making an inappropriate evaluation. In the end we might still disagree about the aesthetical appeal but at least we would be able to have a sensible discussion about an evaluation based on equal starting points, based in an appropriate understanding of the object under inspection. Walking through the landscape was a part of the research-method. It is this part that I want to discuss here, but it is good to be on the up with the wider context of the project. As a part of the exploratory phase of my project I did research into one particular example of a designed landscape, being the island of Walcheren in the South-West province of Zeeland in the Netherlands (Fig. 1) This landscape was designed by landscape architect Nico de Jonge in the 1950’s. The design has been executed and grown into a mature landscape. Of course I could have researched the quality of this landscape by putting out an enquiry to the many visitors of this landscape. However on the question: “Is this an aesthetically appealing landscape?” I would either have gotten no answer at all or I would have gotten an answer to the question whether this landscape looked beautiful. Instead of spending lots of time on instructing people very explicitly on what I wanted to know, I decided to go into the landscape to make my own observations. The point of these observations was to develop an account of subjective experiences as to be had in this landscape rather than a subjective account of my experiences.
Walking the walk There was no clear cut ready and prepared method for me to apply. Though there are descriptions of phenomenological method none of these is particularly directed at experiencing landscape. At least four different authors have described more generally the phenomenological method. According to Roth1 the main points of the method are, an initial phase where one is open experiences without reflecting on them, a consecutive phase in which there is a conversion of the attention from content of experiences to the process of experience and finally a phase of accepting experience (non-attention). Don Ihde2 describes the method as a first phase in which the point is to attend to phenomena as and how they present themselves, then to describe and not explain, whilst horizontalizing all phenomena initially, and not to assume a hierarchy and from there to seek out structural features or the invariants in experience. Moustakas 3 describes the phase of epochĂŠ, a setting aside of pre-judgments biases and preconceived ideas about things, then a transcendental phenomenological reduction aimed at explicating the essential nature of the phenomenon followed by an imaginative variation, that is the use of the imagination to arrive at a structural description of an experience. Finally Smith4, Flowers and Larkin advise to shed the natural attitude, to not look operational when doing observations and to adopt the phenomenological attitude, that is to bracketing ideas setting aside preconceived ideas and to perform an eidetic reduction for instance by free imaginative variation. From these I have taken the following points in order to constitute the phenomenological method for researching the designed landscape of Walcheren, first to observe without explaining and note the experiences, then to reflect on the experiences and the process of experiencing and finally to reflect on the dependence on that singular process of observation, through imaginative variation.
W.M. Roth, First-Person Methods: Towards an Empirical Phenomenology of Experience. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2012. 2 D. Ihde, Experimental Phenomenology. lbany: SUNY Press, 2012. 3 C. Moustakas, Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc., 1994. 4 J.A. Smith, P. Flowers, and M. Larkin, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. London: Sage Publishers Ltd, 2009. 1
I planned two walks of representative parts of the landscape (Fig. 2) and tried to note my experiences of the landscape. The walks were chosen in a manner that they would cut through all the different parts of the landscape thus giving an account of the variation within the landscape. In walking these routes I would thus try to capture my aesthetic experiences and to come to an aesthetical judgement on this designed landscape. I made each walk two times. The first time I made the walk paying attention to my experiences and noting them afterwards. The second time I stopped every 500 meters noting observations and taking photographs (Fig. 3). I was as it were my own ethnographer writing field notes about my experiences as a walker in the landscape. The first walk I stayed in the flow of experiences but then depended on my memory to describe the experiences. The second time stayed close to the experiences at the time but notation interrupted the flow of the walk.
Fig. 1: Location of Walcheren
Afterwards I reflected on my experiences and produced imaginative variations to find if possible the essences of the experience and to try and filter out as much as possible the personal idiosyncrasies and spatio-temporal indexicality of the experience. I thus performed a radical first person perspective research into the experience of that particular landscape. The walks were made on four consecutive days in September 2012. Fig. 3
Fig. 2: The walks on Walcheren
Fig. 3: 500 meter points along the walk
Talking the Walk as Made on Walcheren, Summer 2012 The result of the walk is that I have experienced the landscape of Walcheren. I now know what it is like to experience this landscape. I have had the aesthetic experiences that could be had at that moment at that place. In terms of description the result of the first time I made the two walks is 3000 words of descriptions of the memory of experiences. The result of the second time I made the two walks is again 3000 words describing experiences. Whereas the first describes the flow of experiences, the second set is more focussed on discrete experiences. The first set describes: I am going here and there I turned a corner … Whereas the second set describes: the smell of horses; the sound of a plane overhead. This corresponds to the differences between “a line gone for a walk” and a series of connected points as described by Ingold in his anthropology of Lines 5.The second time I made a walk it took me twice as long as the first time. This is due to the stopping and handwriting the notes and the taking of photographs.
Fig. 4: Sun and shade in the field 5
Tim Ingold, Lines, a Brief History. London: Routledge, 2007: 74.
Though I have made a transcript of the weather data for that day, one of my conclusions from the fieldwork is that average temperature is one thing the experience of that temperature in the field in an area with partial shade (Fig. 4) and a mild wind can vary wildly. But also my body influences temperature sensations In the beginning coming from an air-conditioned car temperature seemed high, then after a while it became comfortable and then after I had started to perspire, being in the wind in the shade could feel nice and cool again. From the comparison of the two times each walk was made I can conclude that notation interferes with the experience of walking. Walking is directional, seeing and hearing is directional; temperature rises or falls. Stopping to make notes interrupts the flow of experiences. Stopping and taking photographs, makes one look around rather than mostly forward as it is when in motion. Other images thus floated into perception, which were never experienced in the first uninterrupted walk. From the second set of walks I found that contra-intuitively walking interferes with the experience of landscapes. Standing still, the walking-subtones of the moving body are subdued and other sounds become perceptible. Also clear is that what from a casual glance at the map would have looked like an open landscape (Fig. 5), turned out in the field to be a seriously enclosed landscape (Fig. 6). Two hedges more than man high accompanying the road made for a small rather than a wide open landscape turning the landscape strongly directional. Grounded in these experiences conclusions can be drawn about the aesthetical quality of this designed landscape. The designed landscape of Walcheren is a beautiful landscape in my experience. It is not a spectacular landscape. There are very little wow-moments in the walk. Maybe the view from the beach across the sea, the look across one of the creeks in the Veerse Bos and the solitary tree placed on the boundary of a field near Oostkapelle stand out from the ordinary. But the landscape as a whole made me feel sheltered, due to the ever present hedges along the fields. Those might have produced a claustrophobic landscape, were it not for the field entries for the farmers which again and again offered vistas across the fields
and arable lands. The mix of shade and sunny spots made me thermally comfortable. The sounds of birds are everywhere. Unfortunately the sounds of cars are also quite present in this landscape. It is a landscape full of people enjoying themselves on bicycles and walking.
Fig. 5: Apparently open landscape Fig. 6: Enclosed landscape in the field
Reflections My conclusion of the walks can be summarised as: â€œThe designed landscape of Walcheren is a beautiful landscape and I wish you had been there walking with me.â€? The walks have delivered me a rich experience of the landscape and good descriptions of the experiences as to be had in this landscape. Conclusion of this paper is that walking is a good tool for gathering experiences of a designed landscape. The choice to walk each walk two times offered different descriptions of landscape, both of which are valuable. By the description and the photographs as made on the walks the experiences to be had in this landscape can be shared and discussed. One might of course wonder as to who is still walking in these landscapes? Though to walk these landscapes is a good way of experiencing this landscape, if no one actually makes these walks then these experiences are only potentially there and
Fig. 7: Wish you were here
not actually. I did however encounter some people at least in parts of the way and there were lots of cyclists around whose experience will be comparable to that of me walking. The gathered descriptions of landscape are not positivist scientifically, but they are academic in the sense that they were gathered according to a clear described procedure. This procedure was based on a comparison of different existing descriptions of phenomenological methods. The method could be tested as to its objectivity or subjectivity by making parallel runs with several gatherers of experiences and comparing their descriptions. At the very least the possibility of bias has been reflected upon by the author. I hope it is thus not a subjective account of experience, but an account of subjective experience 6. For me the walks were work, my professor agrees with me that this was an academic exercise, though work of analysis of the gathered data remains to be done.
S. Gallagher and D. Zahavi, The Phenomenological Mind and Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science. London: Routledge, 2008: 19 6
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 332
Autowalks—Is it Possible to Define “Place” through Artistic Practice? RUBY WALLIS Abstract: This research takes the form of a series of experimental and philosophical attempts to represent place through photography and the moving image. The research is devised through the frame of the self-reflexive auto-ethnographer. The argument is whether it is possible to represent a place without its representation becoming a ‘fixed’ view; the evasion and determination of definition of ‘place’ becomes apparent throughout the body of this research. The methodology used in this paper is called Autowalks which is underpinned by Judith Butler’s text ‘Giving an Account of Oneself’ and Catherine Russell’s text ‘Experimental Ethnography’. I have attempted to subvert an authoritative autobiographical voice by the collection of multiple experiences. My aim is to find an embodied and experiential way of defining place, which moves beyond language and objective documentary practice to connect with place in a sensory way through random movement. The practice has been devised in Cooloorta, a small ‘alternative’ community in the West of Ireland, a ‘slow’ community that seems to characterise the antithesis of a globalised society. The individuals living there place an emphasis on sustainability and a strong connection to nature. As a person who grew up in Cooloorta and spent eight years living at the site but who no longer lives there now, I find myself neither insider nor outsider. I am both unable to fix my belonging, nor to fully detach myself. Finding myself in a state of metaphorical exile (neither here nor there), I struggle to define distances and boundaries and possible definitions of the ‘place’ and the ‘Other’.
Photography, distance and the Cartesian perspective At the outset of Autowalks, my own geographical proximity to the site was the main reason I considered the exploration of place as research. I found it necessary to critique my existing photographic practice, which had become quite fixed in technique and approach. I initiated the process of Autowalks by walking through Cooloorta making formal and aesthetic representations of the living spaces. Using the camera, as a tool, I aimed to represent the temporary nature of the homes and to explore the fragility in the material nature of the dwellings. The photographs made during Autowalks often depict nature overtaking the structural forms. I suggest that these images can act as metaphorical representations for transience. These images do show small clues to the geographical and sociological context of Cooloorta and in a linear formal way they succeed. These initial images follow the well-trodden path of documentary photography. The images could be argued to echo the traditional viewpoint of what Martin Jay has called â€œCartesian perspectivalismâ€? (Jay 1988), which he characterises as a being from a singular, rational viewpoint which embraces the mathematical understanding of space. Fig. 1
Fig. 1: Handrawn map by Chris Wallis, 2012
As an artist, I wished to position myself as closely as possible to the subjects and to the landscape. At the initiation of Autowalks, my own geographical proximity to place was the reason I considered the subject of critical interest. At times, I have positioned myself so closely to the subject that it is difficult to gain any objective sense of place. This is a strategy which induces discomfort and disorientation as a strategic comment on my own difficulties in finding a position from which to represent this place. From the moment I set foot on the site with the camera, I was challenged to analyse my own position and to do so again and again with each attempted strategy. Jay Ruby suggested a reflexive practice, particularly using photography and examining everyday photographs. He iterated the quality of working within a relatively local area as a reaction against exoticism and of analysing the photographic document not as fine art or folk art, but as cultural artefacts which trigger psychology and memory, teaching us about the power of rituality “as artefacts of culture and social processes” (Ruby 2000, 1). Ruby stated that reflexivity was vital, but very difficult if the particular place being researched is not exotic and other to the researcher. He writes about ‘cultural relativism’ being quite natural to maintain in the relationship of cultural difference, suggesting that this becomes more fraught in the case of the researcher being local to the subject. He uses the example of the researcher being one hundred and fifty miles or less from the site. At the start of the research, I began by making photographic images kept my physical and viewing position at a comfortable distance from the subject. As Russell suggests: …the question of “distance” is raised by ethnography and the avantgarde in many over lapping ways. Critical distance and geographical distance were important criteria for modernist aesthetics and anthropological representation. (Russell 1999, 24)
The still photographs in this practice, take the form of quiet strategic images of Cooloorta. This is a self-reflective method for me to quietly observe the landscape in the safety of my own skin. I need not rely on any other human interaction, in order to take these walks alone with my camera within the place. Mitchell spoke of how the frame is used to order nature into landscape, when he argues: It hardly matters whether the scene is picturesque in the narrow sense; even if the features are sublime, dangerous, and so forth, the frame is always there as the guarantee that it is only a picture, only picturesque and the observer is safe in another placeâ€”outside the frame, behind the binoculars, the camera, or the eyeball, in the dark refuge of the skull. (Mitchell 1994, 16)
Fig. 2: Autowalks: Self-portrait, 2011
I take note here of the great satisfaction in the way that photography neatly frames and tames the untameable. A chaotic image of undergrowth and ivy overtaking a dwelling is transferred and highly contained within its 2D dimension. The frontal perspective camera can serve a useful tool to a Cartesian perspective and an objective ordering of rational thought.
Fig. 3 & 4
Figs. 3&4: Autowalks: The bus where my mother lives, 2012
Judith Butler: Giving an Account of Oneself This section refers to Giving an Account of Oneself by the philosopher Judith Butler. I will summarise the main concepts of this text and describe how I have used them to form the methodology for Autowalks. I suggest that Butler’s theories on autobiography can be transferred to the photographic encounter. I suggest that the process of attempting auto-ethnographic visual texts will be a source of ethical tension and questioning and of open-ended inquiry into the possibilities of telling one’s own story. I am always recuperating, reconstructing, even as I produce myself differently in the very act of telling. My account of myself is always partial, haunted by that for which I have no definitive story. I cannot explain exactly why I have emerged in this way, and my efforts at a narrative reconstruction are always undergoing revision. (Butler 2005, 27) Butler’s writings integrate several fields; she instigates a thorough questioning of the categories of race, gender and sexuality in her philosophies. She is situated in dialogue with a range of theories, which include psychoanalysis, post structuralism, post modernism, feminism(s) and Marxism. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit continues to be a central inspiration to her work. Within this particular text, Butler articulates a dialogue between the philosophies of subject formation and the Dyadic encounter, as theorised by Adorno, Cavarero, Levinas, Laplanche and Nietzsche. Butler opens the text with the critique of post-structuralism and how it has claimed that the fragmentation or complete loss of the notion of the self has become an area to examine in terms of it incurring the loss of social responsibility. Butler states that “if we are as it were divided, ungrounded or incoherent from the start, it would be impossible to ground the notion of social responsibility” (Butler 2005, 22). This ‘opacity’ in the subject is the area in which ethical relationships and
responsibility should be closely examined. She chose to remain wary of any ethics due to her mistrust of moralism. This text identifies a fine line between complete ethical ambiguities and taking responsibility. Her text centres on the reciprocal nature of subject formation and recognition. She discussed the moment of recognition which takes place between self and ‘Other’ that are strongly affected by the structure of language and culture. During Autowalks, I analyse my own attempt to give an account of myself within the community, asking, who am I? Who is the ‘I’ who gives this account of myself? Is this ‘I’ the pronoun with which I should proceed to encounter my subject? I refer to Cavarero quotation in which she speaks about the ethics of pronouns within contemporary and feminist theory. The We is always positive, the plural you is a possible ally, they has the face of an antagonist, the I is unseemly, the you is of course superfluous. (Butler 2005, 24)
Fig. 5: Autowalks: Close-up of goat, 2011
This quote has become central to the practice of Autowalks and to the research methodology for Autowalks. I have attempted to create a collage of multiple experiences which act to fragment and destabilise the notion of the ‘I’ as the author. Butler then referenced the perspective of Levinas in her discussion of subject formation, stating ‘what kind of a gift is this that returns to me so quickly, that never really leaves my hands’ (Butler 2005, 22). She wrote about how an attempt to give an account of herself fragments for reasons, which she cannot fully define. There are reasons within her which remain mysterious, she explains this as her “own private, or not so private, opacity” (Butler 2005, 37). She articulated when she speaks in the first person, but does not confuse this with having any certainty about that and philosophises that within her very make up the ‘Other’ is implicated, that her strangeness to herself is paradoxically the very connection that binds her ethically to ‘Others’. She described the attempt to create a narrative based on the first person; this account creates a problematic situation. She expressed that any attempt she makes to do this in a linear way, disseminates and leaves her disorientated. She described herself searching hopelessly for some sort of descriptive way of telling. The self who attempts to tell the story is in a state of confusion, grasping for a possible concept of self; this also creates an alertness and determination. It is impossible for her to integrate and then construct a logical autobiographical account of herself. The physicality of spaces that we choose to inhabit seems more tenuous and frail than the physical security, which they can project. In Butler’s text, she examined the problem of ever being able to make a true account of oneself and that any attempt to know oneself is always in response, or recognition, to the ‘Other’. She asks ‘Who are you?’ and asks this again and again with no expectations around a definitive answer. Using Butler’s text as an underpinning structure I have developed the method for Autowalks by the gathering of multiple audio-visual experiences.
The methodology adopted in Autowalks, which begins by handing out video cameras to the members of the community, is not particularly innovative and is a tried and tested approach to reversing lens based power relationships. Nevertheless, the use of Fig. 6
the very portable, simple high definition Flip Camera seemed to be the ideal tool with which to represent place, within the context of an auto-ethnographic framework. So began a move away from the contained images that the still photograph provided in favour of video work, influenced by avant-garde and experimental film making. The purpose being to allow for a gathering of looser, rougher and more intimate representation of place. One which allows for a polyphonic collection of lived experience and movement based encounters with space.
Fig. 6: Autowalks: Polytunnel by day, 2011
Walking and Sound in Autowalks Walking has been adopted here to create individual random mapping through the area. Each walk, being unstructured, allows for several pathways to be created by the people who live here. They attempt to represent the body and its experience of Cooloorta: the ground under foot, the sky overhead, sensations of touch, the tree, root, bark, objects, dwellings, often used in the act of domestic living. I have found that, through night time walking, there is an increased sensitivity to sound; the eye focuses in a different way. The sounds of footsteps, shuffling and breathing move to greater prominence within the consciousness. The sense of silence and unknown become central. Dark shadows increase the tendency to whisper in hushed tones. Sound connects to the spectator in an expanded way, opening up a whole new set of references to the way that place is engaged with. …the auditory system is wired deep in our cortex, we have no ‘earlids’ to shut off sound, we respond to sounds even when we sleep, sound provides a sense of the interior of the source [be it emotions or construction], sound flows through cracks and crevasses to connect us with the events in our environment. These are properties of sound and hearing, but a culture [or individual] may or may not value such properties. (Blesser 2007) Different bodies use different movements, some striding, others tiptoeing or pushing through the undergrowth. Rebecca Solnit wrote about how “an action can be an invitation into the mind of another, into their imaginative world. In a way, the ‘gesture’ can be sculptural in its form taking.” Walking is linked to mapping and she suggested that “walking reshapes the world by mapping it, treading paths into
it, encountering it, the way each act reflects and reinvents the culture in which it takes place” (Solnit 2001, 276). I observed during Autowalks that each person had a different set of memories held within this small geographical area of space. At time traces and clues of these memories come into view. Objects that suggest domestic dwelling, animals, plants, etc.; each person’s encounter varied. Walking acts to stimulate another dimension that returns to the body for its source, momentum and gesture. In Walking, Writing and Performance, Phil Smith specified the link with autobiography and how “the artist-walker must set self and route in motion through the shapes and the narratives of the landscape, each threatening the others with dissolution in the acceleration of their interactions” (Smith 2009, 88). His practice is informed by the theory that there are many different routes or pathways to be experienced within the same geographical space. It is possible to walk in straight lines, zigzag, random patterning or cut across the space diagonally. His notion of drifting is to become aware through peripheral forms of sight and vision of the experiences that might otherwise remain unnoticed. This method of non – linear sensory gathering, informs the practice of Autowalks. The intellect follows from the senses and the research is not predetermined, but open to the unknown and the complexity of personal experiences. Roberta Mock described that “the senses operate, not so much as receptors, but analogous to tentacles and feelers” (Smith 2009, 96).
When are we too close and when are we too far away (in order to be able to represent something)? The question of distance is raised in ethnography and the avant-garde in many overlapping ways. Critical distance and geographical distance were important criteria for modernist aesthetics and anthropological representation. Postmodernity entails a collapse of these distances: as the Other is ones neighbour, oneâ€™s family becomes the ethnographic field in the eclipse of referentiality, the distance between signified and signifier closes down, and new realism of identity politics emerges. (Russell 1999, 24) The question of distance arises in a number of contexts within this practice. I have found that most subjects have migrated to the land from elsewhere in Europe. My approach has been to represent a place from inside where I have found fragments of
Fig. 7: Autowalks: Djangoâ€™s walk (video still), 2012
oral and visual histories commonly surface with suggesting displacement, transience, temporality and movement within insider/outsider dichotomy. My own position is one that has been under persistent scrutiny. Where at first I suggested myself as an insider, I have realised I cannot maintain that label. The distances which mark boundaries of Cooloorta on the map are illusory. What I imagined as a community is only a loose grouping of people who share similar ideals. Every time I attempt to take a position, the ground shifts from beneath me and I find myself hovering in the act of an attempt to fix a representation of place. I no longer live at the location, am I insider or outsider, or somewhere between. All the inhabitants of the place fluctuate, emigrate, migrate, grow up, grow old and shifts take place in the process of attempting to fix a representation of place.
Fig. 8: Autowalks: Night walk, 2013
Findings: Autowalks The following section is a summary of the key findings during the practice of Autowalks. Within a short time of beginning this research practice, the idea of ‘self’ in autobiography became too fragmented and a problematic concept. The ordering and editing within the practice often leaves out as much as it reveals; I am aware that the choice of what to make visible within representation are authoritative acts—acts, which I am questioning during this process. To edit is to decide what to leave out, what to reveal and what to keep hidden. Within the questioning of subject position, this act is tied to failure. In the act of attempting to represent place, I have been challenged to question all my actions. This is why the positioning of self within this research is hovering and unfixed, and the trajectories linked to place are continually reforming. The following experiments become increasingly philosophical and move further away from empirical research methodology. Fig. 9
Fig. 9: Autowalks: Polytunnel at night, 2013
In this sense, it becomes crucial for me to engage with the potential of artistic research as knowledge production. I have encountered the path of disorientation and confusion in the journey towards knowledge. This was outlined in Art as a Thinking Process, visual forms of knowledge production by Carol Becker, as an “interrogative process which can generate anxiety for the artist until the nature of the investigation has been revealed. Living with such uncertainty of rose- elution is part of the experimental nature of the process—the ‘unknowing-ness’ inherent in the work that artists do” (Becker 2013, 49). Becker goes on to discuss artistic research as: … a process of working that approaches the acquisition of knowledge in unexpected ways. It assumes that the entry point for knowledge is not the mind alone, but also the senses. Those with the most cultivated philosophical minds are not necessarily the most able to access the work, create the best metaphors, or perform the most engaging actions. It is often those who use their minds in conjunction with their senses and intuitions who achieve the greatest success. (Becker 2013, 49) Although the research in all its attempts, remains rooted in subjectivity, the self is always under scrutiny. I find myself, as an autobiographer, hounded by emotion, nostalgia and memories of the past. I realise my relationship to this place is reciprocal and interrelated with others, to explore this place, community is to also explore my relationships to others. I pursue these interrelated subject positions in the next chapter through the filming of Moving Stills. My photographic attempts to represent the place, set up an inquiry into subject positioning and Cartesian perspective; in a sense, the creation of still photographs did not allow for the layers of reference that experimental filming opened. This research moves away from still image moving towards temporal engagements with space through film. The goal has become to explore this place in a polyphonic way; from every different angle
and position, incorporating a horizontal perspective. Using the body as a research tool and physically moving, mainly through the act of walking and mapping space, which also leads to the further questioning of boundaries and definitions of what and where this place is and where it begins and ends. Autowalks uses a number of verbal accounts and voice related methods as discussed earlier, in relation to Judith Butler in Giving an Account of Oneself. In Autowalks the video work reveals lived lives and the social history of this place; which in turn directly reflects on identity within the changing social climate. Autowalks does refer it to this socio-political climate. During the process of Autowalks, the presence of darkness and silence became all consuming; the space beyond the verbal encounter always beckoned. Autowalks pulled the embodied non-verbal account, which seems to allow the act of representation more room to expand into this space. Autowalks is one part of three methodologies which experiment with the difficulty to fix a representation of place and the self through artistic research. Bibliography Becker, Carol. 2013. “Microutopias and Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century.” In Art as a Thinking Process: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production, edited by Mara Ambrožič and Angela Vettese. Berlin: Sternberg Press. Blesser, Barry. 2007. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?: Experiencing Aural Architecture. In Conversation With Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter, interviewed by Trevor Hunter: NewMusicBox, A publication from New Music USA. Butler, Judith. 2005. Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press. Jay, Martin. 1988. “Scopic regimes of modernity.” Vision and visuality no. 2:3–38. Mitchell, W.J.T. 1994. Landscape and Power, Second Edition. 2 ed: University of Chicago Press.
Ruby, Jay. 2000. Picturing Culture: Explorations of Film and Anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Russell, Catherine. 1999. Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. Smith, Phil. 2009. “Crab Walking and Mythogeography.” In Walking, Writing and Performance: Autobiographical Texts, 81-114. Bristol: Intellect Books. Solnit, Rebecca. 2001. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Penguin Books.
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE •
The Walking Institute: a Project for the Human Pace CLAUDIA ZEISKE & DIANE SMITH Deveron Arts Abstract: The Walking Institute has established a walking appreciation initiative exploring, researching and celebrating the human pace for and with people from all walks of life. It develops its walking appreciation programme by bringing walking activities together with arts and other cultural disciplines with people from all walks of life. It addresses opportunities in relation to health, environment and rural development in Huntly and further afield through walking art and related disciplines, for example geography, architecture and history. It encompasses all walking & art practices and aims to map globally the scope of this medium. There are two main aims: • To research and map ideas and philosophies surrounding walking and linking them to walking & art discourse (Research & Mapping). • To identify and develop artist led walking activities and new paths & trails which connect to broadening networks and dialogues globally (Activities & Path Making). The main themes within these aims are: Tourism & Economic Regeneration, Environment & Ecology, Wellbeing & Social Cohesion In all this are the cross-cutting strands of: Politics & Ethics, Community & Place and Seasons & Time Three examples of hosted projects that demonstrate this are discussed: • 21 Days in the Cairngorms, Hamish Fulton • Lines Lost, Stuart McAdam • From Source to Sea, Anne Murray & Jake Williams
The Walking Institute is an initiative set up by Deveron Arts that aims to explore, research and celebrate the human pace for and with people from all walks of life. Deveron Arts is a contemporary arts organisation based in Huntly, a market town in the North East of Scotland, where it works with the history, context and identity of the town. It has no gallery or art centre. Instead, the town is the venue, acting as studio, gallery and stage for artists of all disciplines to live and work here. It works through a 50/50 approach: community/artist, global/local, hospitality/critique, etc. This approach brings together artistic and social relationships in a global network that extends throughout and beyond the geographic boundaries of Huntly. Over the years, Deveron Arts has developed a keen interest in the concept and activity of walking and the human pace. In 2010 it ran the project â€˜21 Days in the Cairngormsâ€™, with Hamish Fulton, from which the Walking Institute was instigated. From its base in Huntly, Aberdeenshire the Walking Institute now develops a walking appreciation programme by bringing walking activities together with arts and people from all walks of life. It aims to address opportunities in relation to
Fig. 1: Huntly, Aberdeenshire
health, environment and rural development in Huntly and further afield through walking art and other disciplines, for example geography, architecture and history. Through these mechanisms it encompasses all walking & art practices and aims to map globally the scope of this medium. There are two main objectives: â€˘ To research and map ideas and philosophies surrounding walking and linking them to the walking & art discourse (Research & Mapping). â€˘ To identify and develop artist led walking activities and new paths & trails which connect to broadening networks and dialogues globally (Activities & Path Making).
Research & Mapping Fig. 3
Through online and offline research the Walking Institute maps and explores existing or potential artistic and academic discourses that have emerged through the variety of disciplines and enquiry. This research shows the wealth of interest around walking & art and the relationships between historical and political forms with the development of the walking leisure industry. The discovery and innovation within the research will also be mapped and archived as the programme develops. The information is shared online through the Walking Institute website and through a physical library that holds a collection of books, articles and references relating to walking & art. It will also be shared through a variety of symposiums, talks, conferences and other research driven events that promote discussion, exchange and development of current discourse. A large compendium of the many different forms and interests in the act of walking with its relationship to arts can be found through the website ‘Walkingand…’1 which was instigated by the artist Rocca Gutteridge.
Fig 3: Maider López: How do you live this place?
Activities & Path-Making Fig. 4
The other main aim of the Institute is to develop a diverse programme of practical activities and commissions. The Institute brings artists together with others through all forms of walking practices, including a year-round programme of actions that touch on political and ethical issues, seasonal approaches, path-making initiatives as well as community and place-making activities. These will contain community events, short and long-distance walks, walking research residencies and commissions with the purpose of addressing themes related to tourism & economic development, health & social cohesion and environment & ecology through active walking initiatives. This will take place in and around Huntly in the first instance, but with a view to radiating out and eventually becoming a programme with international dimensions. Within the main objectives the Institute investigates topics relating to: Tourism & Economic Regeneration, Environment & Ecology, Wellbeing & Social Cohesion
Fig 4: Stuart MacAdam: cutting the way on the former Portsoy railway line 1 http://www.walkingand.org/
Tourism & Economic Regeneration People want to experience places in new ways. The tourism industry is being questioned and reinvented by artists who offer something a bit different to visitors, while aiming to stay true to the place itself. The Walking Institute will ask how artistled walking projects can contribute to tourism and wider economic development locally in Huntly and how these experiences could be transferred to other places. The key market groups which we will target are: local people—looking at their place afresh; tourists to the region; those interested in outdoor and/or cultural tourism; and the growing walking artist network and related disciplines from academia. As such, the programme—within a sense of place—will offer new ways to interact with cultural and outdoor tourism that can be full of discovery, going beyond what is usually on offer in the Scottish visitor market. In order to do this, the Walking Institute works with local accommodation providers, food and drink outlets as well as heritage and environmental groups and existing tourist attractions. It works with local people to take on new enterprises like Airbnb, Luggage Transport, etc. It also encourages digital health walks in remote places for people that have the need to get away from it all. Environment & Ecology Artists have always worked with landscape and environment, but now the possibilities of facilitating action and experience of place are widening in scope. The Walking Institute actively develops how we can appreciate and understand environment and place through both thought and action, how we respond to the landscape and can relate back to nature. The Walking Institute aims to engage in the discussion around environment and ecology through learning about and active engagement in walking. It does
this by working with artists who explore both rural and urban contexts and the appreciation of our environments. The programme is focusing on how various creations, both ephemeral and of a more solid nature, can explore site, community and participatory action specific to place and its people. To do this we work with locality from local and global perspectives to initiate dialogue, controversy, awareness and knowledge. Wellbeing & Social Cohesion Heart disease, obesity and mental health are some of the main concerns and focus for health organisations. Walking has been identified as a successful activity for both preventing and addressing such illnesses. It can reduce blood pressure, reduce stress, manage one’s weight and give people more energy. The Walking Institute aims to complement traditional health institutions’ approach through more creative initiatives to improve both their physical and mental wellbeing. As an independent programme that sits outside the medical approach, the Walking Institute should spark a desire to become fitter by offering a more complex understanding of people’s own physicality and health. For the Walking Institute, well-being is a holistic approach for which we aim to work with the wider community networks. We may, for example, embrace ideas such as, the Ministry of Silly Walks2 to get people moving and walking in a way that is fun, accessible, experimental and embraces humour as a means of participation. We have already has undertaken some projects that explore social inclusion and access such as Norma D. Hunter’s Wheelchair Walks and the returning Slow Marathon. In particular we are interested in digital health, working with people who sit at their desk most of the day. How can their health and productivity be enhanced through walking activities integrated into their daily working routine?
This work is curated through the cross-cutting strands of: Politics & Ethics, Community & Place and Seasons & Time Politics & Ethics Artists and many other people have often employed walking actions as a form of collective protest or political action. From the more recent, Hamish Fulton Slowalk (2011, in support of Ai Weiwei)3, the 25,000 miles walked by the Peace Pilgrim4 or Gandhiâ€™s 1930 Salt March5. Walking has been a powerful tool for peaceful protest. In 2011, Deveron Arts organised the UK Border Walk, a 77 km walk and discussion about the detrimental effects of the new points based visa regulations for overseas artists. The Walking Institute aims to relate to larger questions that extend to international perspectives including debate around the right to walk, crossing political and physical boundaries, cultural relationships to walking, including the fear of walking and geographical restrictions. It aims to also continue to highlight current dialogues around themes of access that affect both artists and communities across the globe. Community & Place Deveron Arts has a 17 year track record in arts & community development through its town is the venue methodology, which engages with collaborative and other socially involving practices.6 The Walking Institute builds on this experience through a programme that encompasses the diversity and ecology of place, its inhabitants and cultural heritage. This is done by responding to both community (people, histories, food, language, storytelling, ethnic diversity, politics) and physical context (place and landscapes, architecture, geographical and topographical features within the region). Projects
www.turnercontemporary.org/news/hamish-fulton-slowalk-in-support-of-ai-weiwei www.peacepilgrim.org 5 http://thenagain.info/webchron/India/SaltMarch.html 6 see also ARTocracy, Handbook in collaborative practice, Sacramento & Zeiske (Berlin; Jovis, 2010) 3
include working with the existing strengths within the localities, whilst exploring themes that address directly the needs and interests of the communities and their placesâ€”a model that could fit any place. Seasons & Time Since early times, people have responded to seasonal changes and calendars through making artefacts and celebrations. We use the four seasons, their weather systems and the cultural calendar to establish a timeline for projects and to curate events around seasonal changes. We want to celebrate the uniqueness of each season and what it can offer as a reference point for artists to respond to. This includes: â€˘ Weather and physical aspects of our seasons: for instance paying attention to dark/light through events like equinox walks and star gazing strolls; winter walking activities; summer walks making use of long daylight hours. â€˘ Cultural, local and international calendar: the programming will also take into consideration other cultural celebrations such as Solstice, Burns Night, Halloween and the local and international calendar of events. Tourism &
Regeneration Research & Mapping
Activities & PathMaking
Politics & Ethics
Politics & Ethics
Politics & Ethics
Community & Place
Community & Place
Community & Place
Seasons & Time
Seasons & Time
Seasons & Time
Politics & Ethics
Politics & Ethics
Politics & Ethics
Community & Place
Community & Place
Community & Place
Seasons & Time
Seasons & Time
Seasons & Time
‘21 Days in the Cairngorms’: walking time in and out of a national park Fig. 5
‘21 Days in the Cairngorms’—a project with internationally renowned artist, Hamish Fulton formed a starting point for the Walking Institute. It initiated discussions about the many different forms and interests in the act of walking. While exploring the physical and psychological connotations of Huntly’s motto, Room to Roam, Fulton tried to make a geographic link between Huntly and the Cairngorm National Park. Fulton’s walk in the Cairngorms started in Huntly with a group of local people and ended 21 days later at Glenmore Lodge, after roaming around the Cairngorms with only one rucksack, no shops and no B&Bs—just him, his rucksack and his tent. The project has now established a new walk that links Huntly with the Cairngorm National Park. It was organised in conjunction with Huntly’s walking festival, which also featured an arts breakfast chaired by curator Mary Jane Jacob entitled ‘Can Walking Be Art?’ In addition Fulton organised two ‘choreographed walks’, one in
Fig. 5: ‘21 Days in the Cairngorms’
also featured an arts breakfast chaired by curator Mary Jane Jacob entitled ‘Can Walking Be Art?’ In addition Fulton organised two ‘choreographed walks’, one in Huntly—a 2 hour walk around the block - and one at the Cairngorm Mountain Railway Car Park, where people were asked to walk 3 metres in one hour. Both emphasised the flexible and subjective nature of walking through community participation. Fulton’s concept of slowing down is of particular interest when considering human pace: To walk the same route in one third of the time would miss the point and be of no interest to me. My idea was to slow down - and live close to nature, to receive influences from nature.7 Human pace can be understood as the literal speed of our day to day lives but it can also serve as a metaphor for many different activities.
Fig. 6: 21 Days in the Cairngorms: start in Huntly 7 Hamish Fulton, Mountain Time Human Time (Milano; Edizioni Charta, 2010), 47.
Lines Lost: An investigation into former railway routes
Stuart McAdam came to Huntly in summer 2013 from Glasgow for his ‘Lines Lost’ - a project that was triggered by the infamous railway cuts which saw train tracks closed as a result of Dr. Richard Beeching’s recommendations 50 years ago. Through a series of performative walks, with all kind of people along the former Portsoy to Huntly route, McAdam aimed to bring into focus the historic and present-day concerns surrounding our transport legacy. Through walking the former track again and again, people saw him reawaken the route that has been subsumed into the landscape - like remains of ghostly traces of the line that once linked communities. Linking natural with industrial and social history of the past half century he interrogated the historical, cultural and contemporary resonances through a series of documented walks.
Fig. 7: ‘Lines Lost’ / Tillynaught Junction
From Source to See: the River Deveron with and against the Flow
The River Deveron runs from the Cabrach through the heart of Aberdeenshire to the Moray Firth. In early 2013 Ceramicist Anne Murray walked from the Mouth of the River in Banff to Huntly, ‘against the flow’, past Huntly to the river’s source in the Cabrach. While out walking she gathered found objects, collected soil samples and captured images and produced small crafted objects. These were left in the landscape for other walkers to find, remove and relocate into another landscape. I will be meeting various groups on the way gathering information about the Deveron but I’m keen to find out more about the route, stories, architecture, geology and environmental aspects of the river. I’d love to receive images of the river and would welcome anyone to join me on the walk or email with information.8 Coming from the opposite direction, ‘With the Flow’, musician Jake Williams
Fig. 8: The River Deveron near Rothiemay 8
Anne Murray, http://www.deveron-arts.com/murray-williams/
walked from the river source at the watershed between Glenbuchat and the Cabrach. The song-walk featured a series of pub-gigs in the towns and hamlets of Cabrach, Huntly, Rothiemay, Turriff and Banff. Here he sang songs and showed images of the walk; recording music on location. Williams invited people to walk parts of the route with him especially those who know of any songs of the area: “I know about a dozen traditional songs and Scottish Dance tunes that have their location in the Deveron Valley like ‘The Burn of Gauch’ but I am sure there are more out there. If anyone has details of others I would be really pleased to hear”.9 From the journey Williams produced digital sound recordings of the songs that belong to the Deveron Valley, recorded on location. The artists’ work helped to map a walk along the length of the river, connecting with routes already established which is then promoted for others to walk.
Fig. 9: Anne Murray
The project led to a detailed map by Murray and a portfolio of songs by Williams, for people to pick up and re-create their own walk. The Hielan’ Way Fig. 11
Fig. 10: Jake Williams Fig. 11: In the footsteps of Nan Shepherd by Simone Kenyon
The current artist in residence at the Walking Institute is Simone Kenyon, a London based walking artist. Kenyon is exploring the former trading routes of the Hielan’ Way during the four seasons of 2013–14. The Hielan’ Way was once the local name for the routes that connected the market town of Huntly over the Clashmach to remoter districts in the hill country to the west. It was a vital link for those who lived along its way, enabling the flow of people, goods and livestock along the tracks between the “Capital of Strathbogie” and communities in the Upper Deveron, the glens of Strathdon, the tributaries of the Spey and beyond. Its distances were covered at walking pace. Kenyon proposes to create a new map and sound piece that will bring the Hielan’ Way path back into the foreground. It will explore both the individual and collective experiences of this long distance route, through our experiences of today and of yesteryears. Beginning with the perspectives of the artist accounts of walking and mapping the 70 mile journey alongside the historical and typographical fragments that exist, the project will uncover and celebrate the truths, myths and fragments of the historical as a means to recreate a new long distance walking path that can be used by both local and tourists to the North East of Scotland in the future. Kenyon’s project aims to revitalise this old vital way and by doing so will boost the well-being of the local community along with the local economy. With the Walking Institute we hope to fill a gap, building on the good work of other arts and walking initiatives that have been created by academics, festivals, art and non-art organisations. What makes it unique is its year-round approach bringing people from all walks of life together with the discourse. Still in its infancy of existence, the Walking Institute since 2013 organised and planned both rural and urban projects in landscapes and cities in the UK and far places such as in Kampala
with the Ugandan Arts Trust and Rio de Janeiro with artist Vivian Caccuri. All spiralling out from its base in Huntly in green Aberdeenshire, aiming to inspire to rethink, both intellectually and physically, how we walk, where we walk and how we experience place and environment. Exploring walking and the human pace in all its forms by bringing people together through our collective understandings of getting about. October 2013
Jake Williams, http://www.deveron-arts.com/murray-williams/
• CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE • 366
CONTRIBUTORS Bruce Baugh Thompson Rivers University Bruce Baugh is the principal investigator of the Walking Lab, an interdisciplinary research group at Thompson Rivers University (Canada) involving faculty from philosophy, geography, fine arts, English, sociology and Nursing, as well as city planners and government health administrators. He is the author of French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernism (2003) and over 25 journal articles and book chapters on Deleuze, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Spinoza, Heidegger, Derrida, and Surrealism. He has published an article on walking, â€œSpace and Place: Walking Through Kamloops,â€? in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature (2010) and has given presentations on philosophy and walking at a conference in Kamloops of which he was the chief organizer (Fields of Walking, 2009) and in Vancouver (Walk 21, 2011). He is currently working on a book on walking and philosophy.
Ruth Burgon University of Edinburgh I am a PhD Candidate at the University of Edinburgh working under the supervision of Dr Tamara Trodd. My thesis explores the use of walking in modern and contemporary art practice and my current work is on issues of gender in relation to psychogeography and walking in the city. I am also involved in the research partnership between the University of Edinburgh and ARTIST ROOMS, coordinating staff and student text writers, as well as writing texts on Richard Long to be published online.
Clarissa Rodrigues Gonzalez Icono 14 / Complutense University of Madrid Clarissa Rodrigues González, with dual citizenship (Brazilian and EU), holds a Ph. D. (Cum Laude) in Arts from Complutense University of Madrid. In Brazil, her degrees in Journalism and Film Studies culminated in a double B.A. in Social Communication from UFF (Rio de Janeiro). Her transborder interest led her to embark on projects in both private and public sectors in Brazil (Globo TV), Spain (Reina Sofia Museum, Secretary of Education and Film Library, ARCO 2012*), Mexico (Grupo Imagen and ComuArte NGO) and USA (Casque D’Or Films). As a research fellow, she is a contributor and evaluator for ICONO 14, a scientific journal for emerging communication & technologies. In addition, she collaborated under Dr. Francisco García at CENICE, the department of Spanish Educational Ministry responsible for interactive curriculum materials to support teaching. As an artist (2012) and co-curator (2008), she participated in ARCO. Furthermore, she was a liaison to directors, artists, researchers and distributors as one of the film coordinators for the multi-media performance exhibit “Braaaasiiiil,” with Berta Sichel, Head of Audio-visual Department of the Spanish National Museum of Contemporary Art Reina Sofia. Being Brazilian, from Rio de Janeiro, the cradle of ecological summits (Eco 92, Rio +20) and home to a multi/diverse society, her own art reflects the contemporary age of digital/non-digital collages in film, video and fine arts. The art of “wandering” with a participant observation approach has inspired her both as an artist and researcher. Besides residing in her native city Rio, she has lived in the Amazonas and has travelled throughout Latin America. Currently, she is investing in transnational projects that encourage cross-cultural dialogue with interactive techniques. Her research line continues to explore the androgynous referent. She would like to continue her interdisciplinary research to experiment with the interaction of the
androgynous referent in time and space in various scopes, ranging from natural to human-made as well as in rural or urban environments, combining arts and academia.
Paul Goodfellow Northumbria University
Charlotte Jones Loughborough University Charlotte Jones is currently studying part-time for a Phd at Loughborough University within the School of the Arts alongside teaching Art and Music in Primary Schools. Originally trained in music she attained a B.Ed in 1990. On returning to higher education she attained a BA in Fine Art (2008) and MA in Fine Art (2010) at Coventry University. Charlotte’s current research considers the relationship between the two creative disciplines.
Anna Jörngården Stockholm University
Marie-Ann Lerjen Lerjentours, Agency for Walking Culture, Zurich
Barbara Lounder Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Barbara Lounder is a visual artist and educator living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She has a BFA from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), where she now teaches. Barbara Lounder’s current art practice focuses on walking as a creative methodology. Her performative works engage members of the public in carefully designed walking activities, sometimes utilizing prosthetics such as walking sticks, stilts, backpacks, blindfolds, locative devices and portable digital projectors. Lounder has presented her work in gallery exhibitions and other venues across Canada and in the USA, England, Poland, New Zealand, Germany and Bulgaria. Her work has been critically reviewed in publications such as C Magazine, Parachute and the New York Times. She has participated in artists’ residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Open Studio Printmaking in Toronto and Full Tilt Creative Centre in Newfoundland.
Ann Matthews Northumbria University I am a musician and writer who is currently a practice-led research PhD student in creative writing at Northumbria University. My project, entitled ‘Behind and in between places. Today’s urban landscape and the sense of place’, is based on my fieldwork, that is walking through the areas that surround city centres, mainly of Manchester and Newcastle. I walk, observe, photograph and write up documentations of these walks. These documentations become the resource to which I add other texts and from which I create sequences of innovative poetry, prose-poetry and prose-fiction. My aim is to approach walking in the multi-faceted city in as many
different ways as possible so that I may engage with, respond to, interpret and reflect the cityscape from multiple perspectives.
Idit Nathan Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design Idit Nathan’s work originates from theatre and is often playful and interactive. A recent example of a playful walk was commissioned by PVA for its Audio Lab Language of Place is Mashi&Spielen (which means ‘Walk and Play’ in Arabic and German respectively) where cards, dice and a timer were used on a silent walk to Rampisham Downs (previously home of the BBC world service transmitters), inviting participants to draw out cards with facts and anecdotes relating to the transmitters’ site with its imagined links to communications, play and wars over the ages.
Inge Panneels University of Sunderland
Clare Qualmann walkwalkwalk; University of East London Clare Qualmann is a London-based artist, researcher and lecturer working in the Institute for Performing Arts Development at the University of East London. She is a founder member of the walking artists network, and co-investigator on the AHRC funded research network ‘Footwork: the walking artists network as mobile community’.
walkwalkwalk: an archaeology of the familiar and forgotten is an ongoing collaboration between Clare Qualmann, Serena Korda and Gail Burton. The project is an exploration of urban routine, a methodology for the systematic investigation of place. Working with walking, text, sound, film and live art events walkwalkwalk examine the narratives of the places through which they pass.
Morag Rose Manchester Metropolitan University; The LRM In 2006 I co-founded The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) a Manchester based interdisciplinary psychogeography collective. The LRM embark on derives to decode the palimpsest of the streets, uncover hidden histories and discover the extraordinary in the banal. We aim to nurture a critical awareness of everyday space, (re)engaging with and (re)enchanting the city and you can find us turning the streets into a playground and rewriting the city on the First Sunday of every month. Each year around 700 people engage with us. We have collaborated with many different artists interested in remapping the city and I have contributed to a number of exhibitions and festivals. I recently taught a course on The Art of Walking for Cornerhouse Manchester which received excellent feedback. My work blurs the boundaries between artist, activist and academic; I like to explore the revolution of everyday life, the production of space, civil liberties, surveillance culture and notions of the private/public, vernacular creativity, radical history and walking as cultural practice. I’m currently finishing an Mres in Social and Cultural Geography, when the ink has dried I will be launching the community drone project, a new initiative subverting and reappropriating surveillance technology.
Rosalina Ruiz Scarfuto University of Alcalá Rosalinda Ruiz Scarfuto holds a B.A. in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine. She has lived and traveled from Japan to India, and currently resides in Spain finishing her doctoral studies (2013) at the University of Alcalá (UNESCO Wolrd Heritage). She has ample experience of adapting to various cultures (urban and rural) in order to understand the broad picture without losing sight of the local stakeholders. As executive director of Alisal Center for the Fine Arts (NGO), she developed a channel for the arts of farm workers and their children modeled after the Harlem Dance Company philosophy opening up a new road to boost self-esteem while preserving cultural heritage. In the future, she hopes her research will contribute to natural/cultural heritage that can provide complex solutions to challenging situations from a holistic, inter-dependent approach.
Bridget Sheridan University of Toulouse II, LLA-CREATIS Research Laboratory Bridget Sheridan is currently preparing a PhD in Contemporary Art at the University of Toulouse II Le Mirail, in the LLA-CREATIS research laboratory. Her supervisor is Dominique Clévenot, University lecturer in Fine Art and Science of Art. Her cosupervisor is Isabelle Alzieu, senior lecturer in Art and History of Art. They are both permanent members of the LLA-CREATIS research laboratory. Bridget Sheridan’s thesis is called Les cheminements de la mémoire : marche, photographie, écriture (« The paths of memory : walking, writing, photography »). She questions the link between memory and walking, using photography and writing. In June this year she participated in the conference Jeux et enjeux du corps at the University of Toulouse,
and will be participating in The Art of Walking (U Lyon, Nov. 2013). As an artist, she will be exhibiting at the Biennale of Nîmes (24 June – 13 July 2013); Rêveries Romaines is a series of 5 walks in which myself and the participants will be mapping the city centre considering its past and present history.. Forthcoming articles include, ‘Corps en marche’ in Littera Incognita.
Amy Todman University of Glasgow Amy Todman is an artist and researcher finishing a PhD in Art History at the University of Glasgow. Her academic interests address aspects of visual culture in Britain over the early modern period with a particular focus on records of place. Complementary research interests explore approaches to drawing, surveying and fieldwork in contemporary artistic practice. This includes writing, film and performance, as well as collaborative projects. Most recently this has included work with artist and poet Alec Finlay to re-consider the figure of Anaitis, Scotland’s first named Goddess.
Judy Thomas Northumbria University Judy Thomas received her Bachelor of Creative Arts (1993), and Masters of Fine Art and Education from Northumbria University (2005). Her professional background is in gallery education and creative learning. As an artist and researcher her practice connects with collaboration, participation and engagement at different levels. She is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD at Northumbria University.
The provisional title of her thesis is Researching the role of the facilitator offering collaborative practice in the context of an artist-led learning programme. Prior to this Judy was Learning Manager at Waygood, Programme Manager (Learning and Inclusion) for Liverpool Biennial and Acting Head of Education & Public Programme for BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. She worked at BALTIC for four and a half years, initially as Education Programmer, with a specific focus on Formal Education. She lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Rudi van Etteger Wageningen University Rudi van Etteger (1966) is landscape architect (MSc) and philosopher (MA) teaching landscape architecture in studios as well as providing a lecture series on theory and aesthetics at Wageningen University. He is currently finishing a PhD thesis on the aesthetic evaluation of designed landscapes.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE The copyright of each of these essays rests with their author or authors. No quotation should be published without their prior written consent, and all information derived should be acknowledged.
â€˘ CLICK TO RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE â€˘
28-29 JUNE 2013 UNIVERSITY OF SUNDERLAND AND NORTHERN GALLERY FOR CONTEMPORARY ART Curators’ and artists’ talks from the WALK-ON exhibition The last decade has seen an upsurge in the study of walking across a wide range of disciplines and many walkingrelated events and research groups have been established in the arts and within academia. This two-day conference, held at the University of Sunderland, has been organised by the research group W.A.L.K. (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge – www.walk.uk.net) in association with WALK ON - From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff: Forty Years of Art Walking, a major international exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and touring to London, Birmingham, Southport and Plymouth in 2013/14. Its aim is to provide a critical and discursive meeting-point for artists, writers, thinkers, and academics who are engaged in the study of walking, documenting the many diverse approaches to the field. ON WALKING seeks to examine and interrogate the practice and process of walking in all its cultural, ethnographic, poetic, and geographical ramifications. It will bring together innovative and speculative ideas on walking and consider walking in relation to landscape, social, cultural, artistic and geographical constructions of space. Edited by Heather H. Yeung with assistance from Mike Collier Cover design by George Benson AKA Stereographic / Design and layout by Lisa Sams University of Sunderland, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, Sunderland SR6 0DD
— http://onwalking.wordpress.com / WALK@sunderland.ac.uk 376
Selected essays from the On-Walking Conference. The University of Sunderland