Landscape, walking, and the photograph

Lockdown has created a surge in recreational walking as we all desperately try to escape the sofa.

I have a new commission working with Discover Brightwater and Groundworks to create artwork treasures for a walking trail along the river Skerne. I’m also working with The Cultural Spring on researching and developing another project for art in communities that capitalised on our new ‘walking’ routines.

A lot of art has migrated online which has it’s pros and cons. Good for connectivity and accessibility, but it can feel entirely soulless. After months of screen time so intensive that people now suffer zoom fatigue, it’s time to embrace promenading and walking (in a responsible and creative way). This new online space also excludes a lot of people who don’t have access to a decent wifi connection and those without the technology to keep up.

Combine the old and the new

There was a time in the not so distant past that we didn’t have these technologies. A time of fly posters, notice boards, letters, mix tapes, post cards, and toilet wall graffiti. We’ve got lots of ways to communicate with each other. We just need to bring the digital world into the physical world, and vice-versa.

In the course of my research I’ve been collecting objects on my walks. Nice leaf or feather. A seed or shell. And, of course taking photographs along the way. I want the participants to create some really intimate explorations of “their” area. Find little gems of information, and physical gems from the landscape.

I added an app on my phone to help me collect data. Using the app to figure out exact distance, and elevation changes. This Roker circular walk was a really good test of the app, and I think it’s going to add some very interesting quantitative data to go alongside all the artistic elements.

Now all I have to do is figure out the perfect combination of art, walking and engagement. Enough that you can take part in the physical without accessing the digital, and enough that the digital footprint is accessible and interesting.

Luckily, I love a challenge and this has already got me chomping at the bit!

Once I’ve figured the method or system for this way of working and walking, whilst creating art, I’ll let you know the score.

Loving it so far. If I love it then hopefully the participants will embrace it and help me to refine it.

Lockdown has been a shock to every system, and it might happen again, so we need to learn new ways of working. Alone, but not alone. Together, but far enough apart to be safe. Inclusive. Personal and public.

Till then.

All the best Jo

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