I believe my walking is about exploration of place. Walking is an active process which can also become a mind walk – where a landscape can be created in the mind. Below are images of work during the course.
I agree with David Brothwick when he writes: “Walking negotiates the intersections between the human self, place and space, offering a cross-disciplinary collaborative method of research which can be utilised in areas such as ecocriticism, landscape architecture, literature, cultural geography and the visual arts.” I also contemplated the ideas of materiality and the Rhizome thinking (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s theoretical concept of the Rhizome, 1983) which I believe helped me to understand ontology, connectivity and experiences. A rhizome taken from botany with a root system which grows horizontally across, alongside and as part of other matter — this helped me to understand multiplicity of any becoming (things, plants, animals, humans). I see it as an ontology of all things – materiality was mostly seen by emphasising humanness over thingness, but when we look at materiality of things we see these connections, or networks, or assemblages presenting in how we talk and think about the art making process.
During this course and work done, questions has started to arise which I could consider as material work. On a deep personal level I can share that of my earliest memories of a recurring dream is about a walk with my parents along a familiar beach (we continue to try and spend summer holidays in that area, as my parents and extended family has beach houses there) In this dream I get lost between a crowd of people. My fondest memories is about walking hikes with my grandfather in the hills around their home in a small town in the Overberg area, Western Cape. Here I spent many days following trails, running after butterflies, sunbathing on rocks, swimming in pools or visiting an old graveyard and listening to my granddad’s recollections of stories about this community. As an adult I have used this memory as my safe place when I ever felt the need to ground myself.
My current walking practice is sometimes unidirectional, irregular or repetitive. I mostly use an App which uses GPS location where I am able to record a walk in terms of date, time and duration as well as take photo or video images. (Strava) I have contemplated to use these measurements in my work and will continue to develop these ideas.
I feel a need to question what is it that I am documenting in my work when I consider place – is it an exploration to help better understand myself and others. Do I think different thoughts in different landscapes? Do I walk in my imagination or even in my dreams? Do I follow a path or do I walk intuitively?
I learnt in my making when considering theory on making that I prefer to explore organic patterns and repetitive works as outcomes. I know I battled with assignments as ‘perfect outcomes’ and tend to not treat is as part of a process of making and exploring. It is important to continue to allow for space within uncertain places of making, as I learn to explore materials and blurrines of a complex narrative between place and myself. In a way walking took be to look at my relationship with making and theory – I attempt to find a continuation. I would like to see the everyday experience as my work practice. I also think my walking became my way of being visible and seeing myself as taking up public space and take the liberties to create my own landscapes. I believe this Parallel Project opened an opportunity for me to challenge Romantic approaches to walking by applying critical thought and look at alternative perspectives on embodiment and experience of place through an experimental art making process.
I remembered a written conversation with a fellow student on the writing of Barthes when we considered art as a social practice being temporal, that it ‘happens’ in a space of shared experience in order to gain understanding and knowledge. We considered that there are no authors-only participants in an aesthetic relationship and that understanding can be something without verbal interpretation – a felt sense. (Learning blog during September 2020)
I made online connections with walking groups and valuable learning came recently from looking at The Walking Lab. According to their viewpoint on Critical place Research it moves beyond static understandings of place: they see it mostly concerned with how place is entwined with the social, material, cultural, and political dimensions of diverse human bodies, experiences, and communities. So place is understood as intimately tied to issues of race, gender, capitalism, history and colonisation. I feel that these insights has been opened up to me through the work I produced during the course. Walking has brought me closer to looking at place as a relation between human and nonhuman. It has also confronted me to be accountable and honest in my work with regards to Indigenous knowledges and powers of sovereignty when it comes to use/access and ownership of land: such as to consider geo-social formations of the other, to find and react to affective subjectivities, and emphasize movement as a way of knowing. I see possibilities to look at walking as art to be accountable to ethics and politics of critical walking methodologies. I would like to think that this research was a look into contemporary walking as a combination of bodily movement with other creative practices that can or might include, photography, drawing, technology of GPS enabled mapping, use of senses, performance as well as conceptual art practices. I have but barely touched certain parts of the possibilities.
Comments on documenting walking after the workshop with WAC on a walking project called Walking as question,which happened in Prespa, Greece (April 2021)
This online event was useful as the participants were artists, filmmakers, postgraduate students, university academics with diverse theoretical and critical opinions about documenting walking, sharing practices and procesess; it being an open conversation. Provocation/impression was presented around the previous Prespa walk, 2019. Documenting the event systematically was a pillar of this work, but always keeping in mind that walking by its nature is something that passes by, is ephemeral. General concepts about recording art work was considered. A video artist shared her experience and mostly concerns to stay true to the events when considering editing her work and keep it raw. Editing is a personal view/aesthetics. Her opinion was that a new art piece was created by doing this video documenting. She also felt that another part of documentation was done by the participants who chose ‘found items’ and carried it along. A total of 40 videos was eventually created after this performance, as well as a book. A filmmaker discussed how he looked at this performance by capturing how the artists did the walk – a documentary or place and time.
When the discussion opened up Geert Vermeire a walking artist/poet/academic who also studied music, but who do not consider documenting his work, explained his view on walking, which he sees like music, being a medium to experience the moment of walking, of doing it. It was compared by another participant to Plato’s cave -the walking is a unique experience, and documentation is like watching shadows on the wall. Geert sees the difference of being in reality itself – something which he believe cannot be represented. (Vermeire manages the Milena principle, an interdisciplinary art platform centred around ecology and science. His practice is specifically interested in walking as a creative instrument, unfolding around human connections, text and space, resulting in works of arts, site-specific interventions, locative media, and creative walks engaging with both the landscape and those walking through it. www.themilena.com). Hamish Fulton’s work was discussed after I posed a question with regards to experience to Geert Vermeire who do not document his work. It is a work of art, walks is the last action that is free of all materialism and gives us moments and feelings of being free. Jeremy Hastings who use photography and stories to document his walks and journeys shared the ideas of Vermeire. On his website I read that he is “coming from a deep sense and understanding of ecology as well as environmental activism, he has worked in creative arts for over forty years interpreting and questioning place, ownership and landscapes.”
Silent walks were also discussed -as a space to open up to what is around you. Kadinsky and spiritual ways of drawing as a line on a walk. It was thought of that landscape was made by walking -the mind (thinking) creates the landscape (gives it a name). My thoughts went to , can on think of walking a landscape as something more interior, and Nature which is exterior, as also an experience of deeper meaning? Is it about how we project meaning onto Nature and Landscape? One could look at it as a type of psychology of landscape – how landscape is perceived, experienced and appreciated. I would think culturally shared meanings and images is what I came to be more aware of.
( I will research around spaziergangwissenschaft)
We were thinking about documentation as a form of translation – as becoming works of art. Jeremy Hastings felt strong about this -seeing it as a continuing process of translation. Other views around documenting is that is is only fragments of being there, doing it and recording it – it is a process which contains decisions you make. Walking with participants is also different -now you have a collective memory.
A practical discussion was initiated by artist participant, Laura Reeder (see image of a work by her below) who sees her work as etching space with maps and mazes, chalk drawing and scratching through the surface -like with your feet, a rake, a stick. Afterwards I read the following on her website: “When nature and daily life align, it is possible to walk + draw + connect before the tide refreshes our time together.” I like how she describes herself as a cultivator.
Talking and listening to other walking artists made me to re visit the work and ideas of Hamish Fulton as part of doing my CR as well as ask myself to look back on this Parallel Project and as if I found my voice in walking as well as consider the influence of work by feminist artists and new materialist theories. I believe it important to re consider the work of Trinh T Minh-ha and contemplate: Is their a voice of an activist in my work? I am interested in the ideas of in betweenness of Karla Black, I want to continue to explore material work as more than a drawing, writing, or a painting.
I would also like to question in which way I looked to walking or elaborated on the aesthetics of walking as an art practice. I believe that many of my drawings has the potential to develop in to connected bodies of work.
Nicholas Bourriaud in his book The Radicant, discuss artists who do not want visible traces of an art work left behind and how this is a challenge to the art world – who has an ‘institutional character becoming indistinguishable from archiving’ (p 75). Bourriaud sees this assertions a positive precariousness which names as an aesthetic of unflattering. He sees that there are new types of contracts concluded between a works’ physical and information duration – art is drawing new strength from it current unstable environment and giving rise to what he says could be described at a ‘precarious aesthetic regime. He refers to the materials Kurt Schwitters used to fill multiple volumes and the Fluxus movement who ‘valorised everday life against its capture by artistic means and introduced a poetic of the next nothing. One looks to use of scraps and objects of consumption -operating within this chaotic world.
In early April I joined an online discussion about various ways to document creative walking. It was called: For when we walk; should walking be documented , Geert Vermeire, Yanniis Ziogas, Chrisitos Ioannidis and Annie Tsevdomaria lead the discussions and shared video footage. (Link 6 April 2021) Various practices were discussed with the fundamental question being, Does walking art need to be preserved, or if the walking itself is the art, does it make sense at all to register it. Here again it became clear that history has documented work by mostly white/Euro male artists and need female voices. It was also asked if the body can be a documenting medium and how one can use GPS to record this. I use an app Strava to record most of my walks and take photos as well as record and videos and soundscapes during my walks. I am now starting to consider these as ‘found object’s which I use to ‘draw’ place. I found a work around this topic, see image below.