On this day, we set out to explore the idea of walking as a tactic for turning urban space to other uses. “Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go” (Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: a History of Walking).
A couple League regulars brought materials related to their art practices. Jay White, who has undertaken a number of process-based projects involving walking (one of which we wrote about here), brought surveyor’s tape and an idea about flagging alternate trails through the city. Those who spend time in the bush or hiking know flagging tape as a material that, flimsy as it is, can have consequences for survival. It’s used to mark human routes or lines that may or may not correspond to natural cues.
The group divided into two, with the idea that the smaller groups would head in separate directions, flagging a trail for the other to follow, making it as challenging as they’d like and not necessarily corresponding to existing or established routes. Both groups ended up taking ‘roads less traveled,’ through alleyways, and both created a sort of narrative along their route. One group wrote a story in widely-spaced snippets of tape, to be discovered and read through the time and space of following the flags. The other group flagged a variety of trees and plants. In both cases, what was interesting about the experience was how it brought a different kind of attention to one’s surroundings and how, through the different pace and ‘lens’, we began to notice details in the environment that we might otherwise have passed right by.
Leah Weinstein also brought materials from a current project, in this case welcome mats related to her project Welcome Shoes. With the thought of the welcome mats as the only ‘safe’ areas one could stand on, we tried a game in which a team, with a set of only a few mats, tried to get from one place to another by moving their mats with them. Since this was a group that enjoyed competition as much as cooperation, it quickly turned into a race.
We continued to play around with the mats, replicating a caterpillar tread, moving section by section.
Lastly, Ian handed the group a GPS showing geographical coordinates, which they used to navigate and find a geocache he had hidden. This geocache will eventually be recorded on the worldwide Geocaching site. Geocaching is a real-world game that involves hiding containers or objects and using GPS or smart phones to find others.
For more hunting and seeking, save the date for the next League gathering: Sunday 31 March, noon to 3pm.