Literature

WALKING CITIES

walking-cities  

Event and book launch:

Wednesday 15 March 2017, 6.30–8.30pm Free, no booking required

The launch of Walking Cities: London, edited by Jaspar Joseph-Lester, Simon King, Amy Blier-Carruthers and Roberto Bottazzi, and published by Camberwell Press. Through bringing together a new interdisciplinary field of artists, writers, architects, musicians, human geographers and philosophers Walking Cities: London considers how urban walking informs and triggers new processes of making, thinking, researching and communicating. In particular, the book examines how the city contains narratives, knowledge and contested materialities that are best accessed through the act of walking. Ultimately, Walking Cities: London seeks to understand the wider significance of changing geographies to generate critical questions and creative perspectives for navigating the social and political impact of rapid urban change.

The launch features contributions from four of the contributors to the book: Sean Ashton, Douglas Murphy, Rosana Antoli and Peter Sheppard Skærved.

More information: http://www.theshowroom.org/events/walking-cities-london

DEEP TOPOGRAPHY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNGskCNrBHY Here is an interesting documentary I came across online called The London Perambulator. It features Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand alongside writer and researcher Nick Papadimitriou - a man whose life is dedicated to exploring and archiving the edgelands beyond the high street, the retail park and the suburban walkways.

WALK TUBE MAP

tubemap Transport bosses have unveiled the first official map showing the walking times between central London's Tube stations. The comprehensive plan highlights the time it takes to travel on foot between almost all of the stations on London’s Underground network. It is the first official one of its kind and was released following the popularity of other unofficial versions. Walking from Leicester Square to the markets of Covent Garden takes just four minutes, but many tourists make the longer journey by Tube. People can now use the new walking Tube map to navigate London above ground, while taking in its iconic sights.

Click here to see 8 tube journeys that are quicker by foot!

CHIP WALK

To be practised in unknown cities (or areas of a city) or any place with potential for multiple chip shops. 1.Locate a chip shop.

2.Buy a bag of chips.

3.Have them wrapped 'open' to eat whilst walking.

4.Choose a direction to walk in.

5.Walk and eat.

6.When you locate another chip shop, repeat from step 2.

7.If you finish your chips before locating another chip shop ask passers-by to point you towards one.

8.Cease when exhausted/sated.

Best practised in a small group in order to avoid chip poisoning. Can be adapted to other foodstuffs, depending on local ubiquity.

By walkwalkwalk

Taken from Ways to Wander by Clare Qualmann & Claire hind

WAYS TO WANDER

ways to wander Ways to Wander is a fun little book compiled by Clare Qualmann & Claire Hind. Inside are 54 intriguing ideas for different ways to take a walk, produced by artists involved with the Walking Artists Network.

DOG DAYS

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If I was waiting for a supernatural revelation I would rather cross the desert. The sun stunning to my temples like a gong, the sand crunching under my feet -knowing that each step takes me a little closer to salvation-. And yet, I stop to consider the mirage of staying here where I truly belong. And, if eventually, I make out the top of palm trees, later on, below the stars and curl up next to the wells, I will dream of snakes rolled up to my legs dragging me home”.

Cheo Diez

Canícula, or Dog Days in English, is the on-going series by Spanish photographer Cheo Diez. From June to September, and only between the hours of 11:00 and 15:00, Diez makes photographs during the most blinding and scorching time of the year. Interested in the Poetry of wide open spaces and the landscape of the Spaghetti western (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Once Upon A Time in the West and For A Few More Dollars were all filmed along the coast in Almeria), he sets out to capture the sensory experience of walking in the desert around Orihuela in Alicante.

You can see more work from Cheo Diez on his blog here.

NIGHTWALKING

Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 18.37.53 Lecture Nightwalking Thursday 26 March 2015, 18.15 - 19.30 UCL Medawar Building, Malet Place, G01 Lankester Lecture Theatre

In this lecture, Matthew Beaumont discusses the nocturnal perambulations of poets, novelists, and thinkers such as Shakespeare, William Blake, De Quincey and Charles Dickens.

More information is available here.

RIVER WYE WALK

PaulWalsh1 During a recent trip to the Forest of Dean I spent a day walking along the River Wye, the fifth longest river in the UK. The river stretches from it's source in the Welsh mountains for 134 miles and forms part of the border between England and Wales. It flows past several towns and villages including Hereford, Hay-on-Wye, Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth and where I took these photographs at Symonds Yat. I was particularly excited to visit the river as it is where William Gilpin (1724 – 1804), the English artist and clergyman, made his seminal work Observations on the River Wye (1783). Gilpin is now largely considered to be the originator of the idea of the picturesque.

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Gilpin's principles of picturesque beauty were based largely on his knowledge of landscape painting. While he felt that nature was good at producing textures and colours, it was rarely capable of creating the perfect composition. Gilpin thought it was the job of the artist to do so, perhaps in the form of a carefully placed tree within a composition. During the 1760s and 70s he travelled extensively in the UK applying these principles to the landscapes he saw and committing them to his notebook. He later published them in Observations on the River Wye and the work went on to launch the picturesque movement. Gilpin's book acted like a guide for those exploring England at the time but would go on to change our way of looking at the landscape forever.

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EDEN WALK

Screen shot 2014-06-30 at 16.01.46 Lately I came across this incredible project from writer Paul Salopek called the Out of Eden Walk. From 2013 to 2020 he is retracing on foot the migration of the first human beings from Ethiopia to Chile. Along the way he is engaging with issues such as climate change, mass migration and cultural survival. Check out the website here and there is also a crowdfunding campaign where you can help support the next leg of the journey here.

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All Images © Paul Salopek

DATA MAPPING

IMG_0550 Every now and then, I come across a book that makes me think: This is right up my street (no pun intended). Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers (2013) by Karen O'Rourke is such a book. Karen O'Rourke is an artist and writer whose theoretical research on contemporary art has led to a number of articles and publications, this is one of them. IMG_0552 Over its 328 pages, the book is a deeply engaging look at the modern state of walking, art and cartography. The book pays particular attention to experimental mapping techniques, online databases and a vast array of other modern technological devices made to map our way through the world. O'Rourke notes how "mapping is our way to locate ourselves in the world", and throughout the course of the book, she manages to create her own chronological map of walking art and cartography. IMG_0555 The first part of the book begins with the origins of contemporary walking practices in the 20th century by looking at the likes of Guy Debord, and how practitioners of psychogeography utilised cartography. The later parts of the book then take us into unfamiliar territory, examining the relationship between walking and modern technological mapping techniques. By presenting us with numerous artists’ experiments, some of which the writer actually participates in, we are shown how this practice continues to evolve today. These experiments involve mental mapping, surveillance mapping, emotional GPS and datascapes. Although confusing at first, these unusual terms are well explained and begin to make sense throughout the course of the book. Admittedly, at times I got lost and found myself re-reading chapters until I managed to grasp some of the more complex methods.

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What I find really valuable with this book is the way it collates many of these ephemeral works into one volume. Walking art often takes the form of a performance piece, a fleeting experiment played out to express or communicate a point of view. Often with time, some of these works become forgotten or even lost. Here, however, O'Rourke manages to bring them together and give them a new life by re-contextualising them into her own history of events. Thankfully, many of the artists had used photography and moving image to document these performances, enabling us to get a visual sense of each piece. For me, it is fascinating to discover so many unfamiliar works and to see how they have each developed and built upon those that came previously. IMG_0558

The book comes fully illustrated in black and white with many film stills, photographs, diagrams and maps that assist the reader with understanding each project. IMG_0562 The book also collates a large and varied set of practices that expose the ever growing interest in this area. Until now, I have never come across a book that charts walking and cartography so thoroughly, making it really quite unique. I can't help but feel that it's bound to become a valuable academic text used by those that share an interest in walking or cartography. Fascinating, erudite and remarkably well researched, Walking and Mapping is for me, an essential addition to the increasingly prominent study of artistic walking.

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A SINGLE STREET

IMG_0532 "But if you were to view a street differently - that is to say, not as a straight path but as an interlaced jumble of cavities that expand, stretch, branch off and mutate - then the horror of unfiltered fantasy begins to take place and you realise: streets are always larger from the inside than from the outside..."

And so reads the quote featured on the cover of issue 2, the winter 2013 edition of Flaneur magazine. I was recently introduced to this wonderful publication by fellow MAP6 member Mitch Karunaratne. Each issue promises to explore a single street, where a selection of artists interpret the area in a variety of different media. This issue explores Georg-Schwarz-Strasse in Leipzig.

The magazine is crammed with features that employ photographs, writing, drawings and digital art. In the written piece The Plakateers of Georg-Schwarz-Strasse, Giulia Pines follows in the tracks IMG_0540 of those responsible for putting up posters along the street during the early hours. The stories of three shopkeepers are told with photographs and written words by Malte Seidel and Grashina Gabelmann in Shop Life. There are even four operas composed by Fabian Saul, that were inspired by the city, where the sheet music has been beautifully laid out amongst colour photographs. My favourite piece however is Walking Intervention/Still no Empyre. It is a collaborative piece with words from Maruan Paschen and photographs from Michael Hoepfner. IMG_0548 Over 9 pages, we are shown numerous landscape photographs of a walk along the street. All of the photographs are in black and white and taken from a similar downward facing angle. The photographs have few remarkable details and seem to have been taken at regular intervals throughout the walk. We are shown the road works, paving, scaffolding and other obstacles the photographer has to navigate in order to reach the end of the street. The photographs seem to form a narrative of the walk from beginning to end, but at various intervals on the page there are blank spaces. They make us curious to know what happened during these unseen moments and question why there is no photograph.

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What works particularly well is the interplay between text and imagery. Placed beneath seemingly random images are sentences expressing the writer's thoughts, perhaps captured at the same time as the accompanying image. This mix of text and imagery provokes us to make connections between the two. The artists also seem to be making some sort of statement about the power of the imagination, amidst the mundanity of the black and white images and the colourfulness of the text. The piece is not only about the physical walk along the Georg-Schwarz-Strasse but also about how the process of walking and thinking becomes its own journey.

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Looking through the magazine is an intense but exciting experience and it's easy to see the amount of thought that has gone into the layout, presentation, and choice of paper. The magazine also comes with fold outs, pull outs and double leaved pages that add a sense of variety to the reading experience. I particularly like the purple tinted cityscapes that run throughout the publication, punctuating and contextualising the work. IMG_0547

Streets for most of us are simply transitory spaces that have the single purpose of enabling passage. But Flaneur encourages readers to take a closer look at these places and demonstrates that amongst these streets that we walk along everyday, there are many extraordinary stories waiting to be be discovered.

The next issue, spring-summer, will be in Montreal. You can find out more information and pre-order it here.

EXERCISE #5

In the city, amid all the things we have to do every day, this exercise should be done for twenty minutes. THE SPEED EXERCISE

Walk for twenty minutes at half the speed at which you normally walk. Pay attention to the details, people, and surroundings. The best time to do this is after lunch. Repeat the exercise for seven days.

(Paulo Coelho - The Pilgrimage)

A STRANGE LAND

1 Recently, I came across a wonderful little publication called 2ha. Edited by Michael Hayes, 2ha is an independent magazine interested in the overlooked aspects of the Irish suburbs. Each of the themed issues, published every two months, look at the exploration of the suburbs in a different way such as mapping, photography and public space.

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Featured here is issue one, #01 A Stranger in a Strange Land. It explores the potential of mapping and understanding our suburban environment.

Here is some text taken from the publication, highlighting the issue's underlying theme:

We propose that the first step in developing an understanding of the suburban condition and imagining its possible future requires a questioning of what we already know or what we assume to know. A fresh perspective is sometimes necessary. There is a value in making the familiar somewhat unfamiliar. For this exercise, we recommend walking.

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The publication comes as a beautifully printed, fold out piece. On one side, there is information about the project, as well as a map. The map is a suggested walking route around the Dundrum/Goatstown area of dublin. On the other side are detailed descriptions of each of the stopping points, using text, photography and graphics. By using the map and walking the suggested itinerary, we are guided past everyday places such as a local football pitch, a library and some allotments. All of these vernacular locations are further explained on the map, drawing our attention to places we may ordinarily pass by without much thought. The map is fundamentally an idea for an alternative way of exploring and understanding a suburban area from a new perspective. It also exposes how our surroundings are potentially filled with interesting places that we may usually take for granted.

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#01 A Stranger in a Strange Land, demonstrates the growing interest in exploring our urban surroundings on foot. The text underlines how our cities are primarily "car-scapes". Vehicular transportation dictates our perception of our surroundings and subdues our relationship with it. However, by re-engaging with our surroundings on foot we can understand them in a more tactile, physical and profound way.

A nice detail featured on the reverse of the map is the inclusion of two coupons entitling readers to 1 FREE WALK. However, readers must bear in mind that conditions apply and that the coupons are only valid for 12 months after the time of purchase. To take advantage of this unique opportunity we should get walking without haste.

To purchase this or any forthcoming editions, you can visit the 2ha website here.

EXERCISE #4

A dicewalk is a way of moving through an urban environment in a random way. The randomness allows for movement through areas that one would ordinarily not venture into. The basic premise is that you roll a die each time you come to an intersection or sidestreet. You must have a clear idea of what your options are before you roll. If the die brings you into someplace that you would rather not be, or if you are satisfied with your walk then put the die in your pocket and go home.

  1. You roll the die at every junction or side street.
  2. The less the number of a roll, the more you turn towards the left, counter clockwise.
  3. Going back is not considered an option, unless you come to a dead end.
  4. If the junction is a T, then 1, 2, and 3 means turn to the left, and 4, 5, and 6, mean turn to the right.
  5. A typical four way junction contains three options. If it is a three option decision, then 1 and 2 mean turn left, 3 and 4 mean go forward, and 5 and 6 mean turn right.
  6. A five-way junction is a four option decision, then 1 means first option, 2 means second option, 5 means third option and 6 means forth option. 3 and 4 means roll again.
  7. If it is a six way junction, than the numbers 1 to 5 correspond with the positions of the five optional ways. 6 means roll again.
  8. If there is a major side street on the left, then 1 and 2 mean turn left. 3, 4, 5 and 6 mean go forward. Likewise, the same applies if there is a major side street on the right.
  9. If there is a minor side street (smaller than the one you are on) then 1 means turn left. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 mean go forward. Likewise, the same applies if there is a minor side street on the right.
  10. No looping: you may not walk the same direction on the same place more than once. When you come to an intersection that you came to earlier during your dicewalk, you will not consider the path you already took to be an option. You may go the opposite way on the same path once.
  11. Every time you come across something striking, for example an object, street corner or person, then record it with your camera.
  12. To end a dicewalk, put the die away and proceed to another destination.

SOLVITUR AMBULANDO

"Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it." (Saint Augustine - solvitur ambulando, it is solved by walking)