Locative Media Gallery
||Shoot me if you can||sunTracer||Tactical Sound Garden||The Walking Project|
|The Walking Project: Desire
Lines, Walking and Mapping Across Continents
by Erika Block & Hilary Ramsden
Woodbridge Detroit: participants look at satellite images of a neighborhood before a walk through
Woodbridge in Detroit, March 2005
Copyright © Erika Block & Hilary Ramsden
|Our ideas about the practice and possibilities of walking and performance have evolved with this project. We have been asking ourselves how this work operates both off and on stage, how a growing body of research can be applied across disciplines, and how it crosses, or maybe even erases, boundaries between art and everyday life, between people from different places, and across hierarchies of “experts” and “community participants”.|
Students from Woodlands Primary School on a walk through their neighborhood in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, July 2005.
Copyright © Erika Block & Hilary Ramsden
like the desire lines we’re investigating, our walking events and
experiences refill these absences and reclaim forgotten actions from the
past, in the present. We explore the paths made by people who walk across
vacant lots in Detroit and across fields in South Africa -- and what connects
them. We look at how people make their own paths; how and why people’s
paths cross; how they are formed through culture, geography, language, economics
and love; and how changing patterns of movement alter perceptions, attitudes
and lives. The stories of these walkers and these communities inhabit the
paths of the project – through performance, conversation, installation
and mapping, literally and figuratively connecting people who live 8,700
Michel de Certeau writes that “ … the operations of walking on can be traced on city maps in such a way as to transcribe their paths…But these thick or thin curves only refer, like words, to the absence of what has passed by. Surveys of routes miss what was: the act itself of passing by…The trace left behind is substituted for the practice…It exhibits the (voracious) property that the geographical system has of being able to transform action into legibility, but in doing so it causes a way of being in the world to be forgotten."
shaped a series of workshops and improvisation sessions around the themes
of walking, geography and place. We’ve been collecting stories with
elders, high-school students and the people we’ve taken walks with
in rural areas and urban neighborhoods. We’ve been making connections
between walking and thinking, evolution and history, class, race and political
We’ve participated in six exchanges between South Africa and Detroit since 1997. These residencies have generated questions about whether Detroit and KwaZulu-Natal are on parallel paths of redevelopment and redefinition, in spite of the vast differences between these two places. And while there may not be any answers, the conversations recur enough for us to keep exploring. There is something worth capturing here – beyond the ephemera of our performances and the shifting geographies of KwaZulu-Natal and Detroit.
Through a series of ongoing GPS walking workshops, in collaboration with the University of Michigan Map Library, we are collecting geocoded drawings, notes, photographs, video and audio material from walks in both countries, with walkers from many different backgrounds, each gathering their own information in Detroit and KwaZulu-Natal. The next phase of the Walking Project uses locative technology to augment our work process, providing new tools with which collaborators near and far can create maps of desire lines and other ephemeral territories we encounter on our walks, imbued with local stories and significance, using alternative audio and visual representations in place of, or along with, conventional cartography. For more information, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/89p6j
Walk & Squawk facilitates collaborative creation processes with both professional artists and community participants. We take source material from everyday actions and attempt to make pieces that reflect the voices of all the artists involved as we explore the material together. The result is often described as collage – a nonlinear tapestry of images, text, movement and sound. We blur boundaries between disciplines and work to create an environment that provides opportunities for invention and surprise, imagination and play.
After its premiere in Detroit, The Walking Project will be available for residency-based touring. Block and Ramsden are also facilitating community walking and mapping workshops separately from the performance.
Disclaimer Advertise Copyright © 1993 - 2006 Leonardo Electronic Almanac