Walking about at night

“In England, walking about at night was a crime for a very long time. William the Conqueror ordained that a bell should be rung at 8 p.m., at which point Londoners were supposed to put their fires and candles out and their heads down. Again and again, until modern times, Matthew Beaumont tells us, specifically nocturnal laws were promulgated against draw-latchets, roberdsmen, barraters, roysterers, roarers, harlots and other nefarious nightwalkers — including those ‘eavesdroppers’ who stood listening in the close darkness where the rain dripped from a house’s eaves.

Beaumont reads such laws as being designed to exert political and social control. To walk the city streets at night, by contrast, is to make ‘a libertine assault on what might be called the ideology of good hours’, to pose ‘an intrinsic challenge to the diurnal regime on which, from the end of the Middle Ages, Protestant ideology and the political economy of capitalism partly depended’. Nightwalking is sticking it to the Man.”

Dickens’s dark side: walking at night helped ease his conscience at killing off characters, The Spectator.

Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London by Matthew Beaumont.

Could someone else do it in my place?

“Thoreau wrote in a letter that when considering a course of action, one should ask: ‘Could someone else do it in my place?’ If the answer is yes, abandon the idea, unless it is absolutely essential. But it is still not bound up in the inevitable part of life. Living, in the deepest sense, is something no one else can do for us. You can be replaced at work, but not for walking. That’s the great difference.”

A Philosophy of Walking, Frederic Gros.

The confusions of free will without a clear destination

“Many who’ve written about mazes and labyrinths distinguish between the two of them. Mazes, including most garden mazes, have many branchings and are made to perplex those who enter, whereas a labyrinth has only one route, and anyone who stays with it can find the paradise of the center and retrace the route to the exit. Another metaphorical moral seems built into these two structures, for the maze offers the confusions of free will without a clear destination, the labyrinth an inflexible route to salvation.”

Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit.

On foot everything stays connected

“Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors—home, car, gym, office, shops—disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”

Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit.

Release by walking the emotion

“An Eskimo custom offers an angry person release by walking the emotion out of his or her system in a straight line across the landscape; the point at which the anger is conquered is marked with a stick, bearing witness to the strength or length of the rage.”

Overlay, Lucy Lippard.

Solvitur ambulando

I’ve always loved walking, specially in urban environments, so I’m always thinking about doing artworks related to that. I’ve recorded some sound walks, usually in the rain, but I haven’t done anything really thorough, it was just a pastime. Last month, I made a short video while I was walking and the result is quite strange. I recorded the video with an iPod Touch using an app called 8mm. As the iPod camera is not very good and the original frame rate of the video was just 15 fps, the result is quite interesting, almost like an abstract pattern.

Now I’m thinking about doing something with more videos of this kind, the title will be Solvitur ambulando, a latin phrase that means “it is solved by walking”.

Walking… an act of subversion

“This act of walking is an urban affair and, in cities that are increasingly hostile to the pedestrian, it inevitably becomes an act of subversion. Walking is seen as contrary to the spirit of the modern city with its promotion of swift circulation and the street-level gaze that walking requires allows one to challenge the official representation of the city by cutting across established routes and exploring those marginal and forgotten areas often overlooked by the city’s inhabitants. In this way the act of walking becomes bound up with psychogeography’s characteristic political opposition to authority, a radicalism that is confined not only to the protests of 1960s Paris but also to the spirit of dissent that animated both Defoe and Blake as well as the vocal criticism of London governance to be found in the work of contemporary London psychogeographers such as Stewart Home and Iain Sinclair.”

Psychogeography
Merlin Coverley

Through aimless drift

“The Situationist concept of “psychogeography” had its roots in the aimless Surrealist drifts through Paris described in Breton’s 1928 novel Nadja and in Louis Aragon’s 1926 novel Le Paysan de Paris, and meant a purely subjective, para-scientific exploration of (chiefly) urban spaces through aimless drift. The surrealist drifts in turn were indebted to the romanticist “flâneur,” a wanderer “botanising the asphalt” as cultural theorist Walter Benjamin put it in his essay on 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire.”

Words Made Flesh
Florian Cramer

Wandering

“Si se me permite decirlo, declaro además que en la pared de la casita campaban pinturas murales o sublimes frescos celestialmente delicados y graciosos, que representaban un paisaje de los Alpes suizos en el que había pintada otra casita, una casa de las tierras altas de Berna. En verdad, la pintura en sí no valía nada. Sería osado querer afirmar otra cosa. Pero aun así se me antojaba espléndida. Simple y sin adorno como era, me encantaba; en realidad me encanta cualquier pintura, por necia e inhábil que sea, porque toda pintura recuerda, primero, la actividad y el celo, y segundo, a Holanda. ¿Acaso no es hermosa toda música, incluso la más limitada, para aquel que ama la esencia y la existencia de la música? ¿No es cualquier persona, hasta la más malvada y desagradable, amable para el filántropo?”.

El paseo
Robert Walser

Saunter

saun·ter verb \ˈsȯn-tər, ˈsän-\

Definition of SAUNTER
intransitive verb
: to walk about in an idle or leisurely manner : stroll
— saunter noun
— saun·ter·er \-tər-ər\ noun

Examples of SAUNTER
1. They sauntered slowly down the street.
2. He sauntered into the store.

Origin of SAUNTER
probably from Middle English santren to muse
First Known Use: circa 1667

Readings

• Walking [read]
Henry David Thoreau. 1862.

• El cuerpo, su estado y la espontaneidad [download pdf]
Haruchika Noguchi

• The Crimes of the Flaneur
Tom McDonough. October Magazine, Fall 2002, No. 102.

• The Man of the Crowd [read]
Edgar Allan Poe. 1840.

• Théorie de la dérive [read]
Guy Debord. 1956.

Sensorium
Edited by Caroline A. Jones

Pirotecnia para los tímpanos y la corteza cerebral

“El aire que vibra, la membrana que palpita, el hueso que se mueve, el líquido que oscila y los impulsos electroquímicos que se precipitan como fuentes sobre el cerebro expectante.
(…)
Los sonidos tienen un acceso más directo al Subconsciente que la información visual.
(…)
Más allá de los efectos dramáticos o psicoacústicos, los ruidos y sonidos pueden generar un espacio de experiencia perfectamente físico.
(…)
Según su propia etimología (sensatio), las sensaciones hacen referencia a sentir (sentire), es decir, al tacto, por lo tanto también a la relación mecánica del cuerpo con su entorno mediante la tracción y la resistencia.
(…)
El sonido es parte del cuerpo, penetra en él con sus ondas sonoras y nos afecta físicamente. Creo que este es uno de los motivos por los que puede emocionarnos tanto.
(…)
Siempre me ha encantado evadirme, ya fuera mediante un paseo, un libro, películas o sueños; y es ahora cuando me doy cuenta de lo que he hecho estos últimos años. He practicado agujeros que daban a mis otros mundos.”

Pirotecnia para los tímpanos y la corteza cerebral by Ralf Beil

Sitting with crossed legs

“When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them —as if legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon— I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.”

Walking by Henry David Thoreau