Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Walkbook

 Thursday 19th May 2022 marked the launch of The Walkbook - a book of 'recipes for walking and wellbeing'. The book of recipes was launched on the second day of the #WalkCreate Gathering - a '2-day event in London and online on the 18th and 19th May 2022, which shared and celebrated the use of creative walking to enhance wellbeing'.

30 artists from across the UK were commissioned to create and contribute 'recipes' that addressed one or more of the following research challenges:

Walks for inclement weather / walks when there's nowhere to walk / Walks when you are bored of walking / walks when you are bored of walking the same route / walks when you are shielding / walks when you cannot walk very far / walks when you are anxious / walks when you don't have much time / walks when you can't be bothered / walks for inspiration / walks as an act of self-care / walks for a social bubble / walks for the physically distanced but socially connected / walks to make others smile / walks for the isolated / walks for the lonely / walks for busy people / walks for escape / walks for winter / walks in the rain / walks when it is dark / walks for indoors / walks with children, babies and/or teenagers / walks to work something out / walks in a place you feel uncomfortable or out of place / walks of welcome / walks for all the senses / walks to read your environment / walks to know your environment / walks to combat fear / walks to build your confidence / walks to manage pain / walks to expose obstacles / walks to bridge communities / walks to acknowledge slower pace / walks to start a revolution...

The organisers also stated "we recognise that 'walking' refers to a diverse range of approaches and needs. While not all recipes may be suitable for everyone, our aim is that the majority will be".



The front cover of the The Walkbook





The #WalkCreate Gathering



Nina and I worked on a recipe for the book and we identified our chosen challenge as relating to 'walks to know your environment'. Our aim was to create a series of questions posed to the reader/walker that could hopefully stimulate a better awareness and understanding of the environment. It was therefore necessary to create a recipe that did not specify a particular type of environment too clearly, aiming for an adaptable text that could be adapted to a variety of locations, places and spaces.

Besides the textual triggers, or provocations, we also devoted time to the visual layout of the recipe. We felt that the visual nature of the recipe and how the text is received by the reader is crucial to the creation of the relevant approach to the walk. We imagined each walk beginning at an entrance or gateway and later ending at roughly the same place. This meant the layout of the questions would be arranged in a circular pattern to suggest the cyclical quality of the walk. 

Each block of text was placed within a hexagon. This decision was deliberate and referenced classic board layouts used in games of strategy. These were all physically linked to emphasise how each question/experience blended into the next. Graphic arrows were placed in order to emphasise the link between one hexagon and the next. The order of the hexagons was arranged clockwise from the bottom of the page, to mirror the layout on many classic board games. 
The arrows were also created in green, in contrast to the blocks of text, to add a sense of depth to the composition and to focus attention onto the text. Small, colourful icons were also placed at intervals around the page to add a ludic sense of fun that we hoped the reader/walker would experience.

Below is the final artwork as submitted to the editors:


'A Walk to Know Your Environment' - Final Artwork



After waiting eagerly for the launch of the The Walkbook, we were so happy to receive the launched publication as an online pdf. At first we didn't recognise our contribution until we matched up the published text to the one we had created. 
Unfortunately, all of the visual elements we had considered, developed, modified and incorporated had disappeared and overall, the recipe now seemed quite sparse and minimal. 

The references to board games and the integrated game mechanisms that we hoped to suggest, had all disappeared. This was initially very disappointing but on reflection we are incredibly pleased to be included in the The Walkbook and we would love to hear from anyone who has tried out our recipe. 

Please let us know how it went and how the experience modified how you might now approach, experience and 'know' the environment in a new way.

Below is the artwork as published in The Walkbook:



Final recipe as published in The Walkbook


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

'A State of Matter' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK

 The exhibition 'A State of Matter' runs from 18th Feb - 5th June 2022 at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, UK and is divided into three rooms that represent the three states of matter, solid, gas and liquid. 

The exhibition proceeds to demonstrates how glass can be explored in those three states via the utilisation of a range of techniques and processes. The exhibition also revives the argument surrounding glass as a material and on which side of the craft / art divide it lies. For me, there is no divide and I approach all works with the same attitude, seeking to allow the work to speak to me (or not) and then following that thread as I attempt to construct meaning.  

I have chosen a handful of examples from the exhibition to photograph here, though I would recommend the reader to visit the show themselves rather than relying on my selection of representative works.

Elliot Walker was the winner of the Netflix series 'Blown Away' and manipulates glass with ease. His work 'Spillage' suggests pop-art style graphic representations of still life, with an interesting commentary on the materiality of glass and its solid/liquid, almost contradictory, existence. In this still life, which elements are solid and which are liquid? He manages to represent and contrast both states with a single material.


Spillage, 2019 - Elliot Walker



Silvia Levenson's work dramatically embodies fragility, the fragility of childhood, the fragility of democracy, the fragility of freedom, the fragility of life itself.  Subtle drawings are encased within the object, like nostalgic dreams or memories, and the work lies protected within an acrylic box as though in an effort to prevent those dreams and aspirations from being shattered. 


Untitled, 2007 - Silvia Levenson



Since I saw a large exhibition of Mona Hatoum's work at the Tate Modern in 2016, I have been entranced by the poignancy and poetry of her work. I love the way she balances often unsettling combinations of materials in relationships that seem almost inevitable. In the piece presented at the Henry Moore Institute, we are presented with blown glass forms that suggest internal organs with their haemoglobin colour and which, on closer inspection, appear soft, lightweight, and delicate. These are locked in zinc-plated steel cages and the intense contrast between the soft globular forms and the rigid steel box triggers a feeling of discomfort and pain.


Cells, 2014 - Mona Hatoum



Czech artist Petr Stanicky combines a surreal biomorphic form with a car window, with the molten mirrored object appearing to take a bite from the car window and it this action that animates the arrangement and causes it to rise up from the plinth. Once again, we are reminded of the versatile nature of glass. The car window is familiar to us and therefore we read it as inert, while the biomorphic form takes on the appearance of a living form and we interpret the conjunction of the two objects as a 'bite' in order to make sense of the scene. 


Mirror-Mondeo Bite, 2014 - Petr Stanicky



As an art student in the late 1970s I was introduced to conceptual art by the work of Joseph Kosuth. His work introduced me to semiotics, and how we construct meaning from what we see, how we develop preconceptions, how we understand what we think we know and how these thought processes stimulate the interpretation of the world around us. I was pleased to see his work included in the show and his work was the first and the last I looked at when I visited the exhibition. It was a great way to 'book-end' my visit and my reflections on the work of the artists represented. Often we are so seduced by the work of talented creators as we marvel at the incredible virtuosity and skills on display, that we forget to ask the simple questions such as what am I actually looking at? what are the materials used? What associations do these materials have for me? How have these associations been reinforced or subverted by what I have seen here? 
As I left the building my head was full of questions about the work I had seen and what they suggest to me individually and collectively, and I couldn't ask more from an exhibition.


Any two metre square sheet of glass to lean against any wall, 1965
- Joseph Kosuth


Monday, March 21, 2022

'No holiday', Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

This recorded version of the performance 'No holiday' was conducted around Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake) in Hanoi, Vietnam on 7th April, 2021.

Although overcast, it was a lovely warm day for a walk around the small lake in Vietnam's capital.

I walked anti-clockwise around the lake, beginning at the southern end close to Trang Thi and continued strolling slowly along until I had almost completed one full circuit of the lake.  

The film concludes as I continue on my way along Lai Thai To. 

A video of the performance is embedded below or, alternatively, you can view it on my Youtube channel.


Thursday, March 17, 2022

'British Summer Time: Season 6'

On Thursday 17th March Nina and I participated remotely in season 6 of British Summer Time walks organised by Dr. Blake Morris.

Season 6 of British Summer Time - Sunrise Walks will be experienced between 12th and 27th March, 2022. The season 6 project page can be found here.

The last time we had participated in this particular series of walks was in 2019, Season 1 of British Summer Time, on Wednesday 6th November and the write-up for that event can be found here.

The listed time for dawn in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, UK was 06:10am and the three photos below were taken at the appointed times of 05:55am (15 minutes before sunrise), 06:10am (Sunrise) and 06:25am (15 minutes after sunrise).

As can be seen in the photos below, the sun wasn't visible until around 10-15 minutes after the official sunrise time due to a bank of low cloud over the North Sea. The morning was quite cool but as soon as the sun appeared it quickly made a difference to the temperature. We saw at least three rabbits out on the clifftops who, like us, appeared to be enjoying the morning sun.



Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Old Town to the Quay - Terminalia Festival 2022

Thankfully, this year's Terminalia Festival fell on a day that was blessed with bright sunshine, though the wind was still cool and sharp.

Previous walks on Terminalia have been: In 2019 a Saigon Citadel Walk and in 2020, a Saigon Canal Walk.

This one-day Festival of Psychogeography has been held every year on the 23rd of February since 2011 and brings together individuals and groups who mark the Festival of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.

Nina and I were in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, UK to celebrate Terminalia by walking from the The Old Town to the Quay, via the Priory Church and we started at the top of Market Place at 11:00am promptly.

Originally the Old Town and the Quay were two separate locations, with the Old Town (Burlington) being the main area with the Quay forming the local port. More recently the two have merged to become the modern town of Bridlington.



A view through Westgate Park to The Avenue



Intriguingly named road



The official start of the walk



A view looking down Market Place in the Old Town, 
Burlington as it used to be known



Pillory (replica), first placed placed here in 1636



Stocks (replica), originals also c.1636



Unintentional Christo-influenced installation



Southern Hemisphere, bathed in sunlight



Beautifully proportioned shop-fronts



(Virtual) Shop-keeper waiting for customers



Unintentional Morandi-influenced shop window-display



Bust of John Sawdon, Lord Mayor of Bridlington 1905-08
Disused drinking fountain




Bayle Gate, original gateway to the Priory.



The Church Green, Priory Church beyond



Remains of the old fencing around the Church Green



Christmas decorations, surviving into February



St. John's Burlington, Grade II listed Methodist Church



Surviving Cast-Iron Canopy on Quay Road



The arrival / departure of the train on the single line 
temporarily separates the Quay from the Old Town




Bridlington Centotaph



Repaired shrapnel damage from the Second World War



Even in February it is easy to find a bucket and spade for the beach



Plenty of multi-coloured sugar available



Modest monument to T. E. Lawrence,
unfortunately the gnomon is now missing



The Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club HQ appears ready to set sail



A view of the harbour with 'The Anchorman', 2015 
keeping watch (Sculpture by Ronald Falck)


This year's walk for Terminalia 2022 has been very enjoyable and we were very lucky with the weather. Who knows where next year's walk will be? We look forward to it.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

'Experience Mapping' at 4WCOP 2021

The annual Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography was held this year on Saturday 4th and 5th September 2021. For this event Dr. Nina Yiu and I proposed a project we called 'Experience Mapping' that aimed to record the collective experience of participating in the congress. 




Maps are often depictions of actual locations, a record of the activities of a person or group of people, or even directions enabling someone to arrive at an intended location.

Rather than creating a map of the actual locations around Huddersfield University and its environs, we wanted to collate the experiences of different participants during the weekend, wherever they were, and combine them into a virtual map that could represent the collective experience of participants of the 'Experience Mapping' project. 

This approach required us to invite participants to take photographs of their activities sometime during the weekend of the congress and to send them to Nina and I, along with a note of the time the photograph was taken and a comment about the feeling at the time or a description of the environment. 

These photographs would then be transformed into drawn images and subsequently incorporated into a map that integrated the disparate elements into a seemingly logical map.

Nina and I presented the project concept on Saturday 4th September at 10:00am, and a recording of the presentation can be viewed below (or viewed at https://youtu.be/Ead6fwzgYY8)



Project presentation at 4WCOP 2021, 4th September 2021


Five people eventually responded to the open call by submitting photographs: Elspeth Billie Penfold, Sonia Overall, Aled Singleton, Steve Goldman, and Time Chapman. In total, we had twelve photographs to work with.

The first stage was to transform the photographs into graphic images by hand. As this process took some time, it allowed us gain a 'feeling' for the image and what was being captured, almost as if we were there ourselves, quite a lyrical approach we discovered. These days most of us are under pressure from deadlines and it is not often that we find ourselves with the luxury of patience. 

Being patient is sometimes what is required and in this project it was essential. The entire process was also unexpectedly delayed when life intervened, and an unexpected family bereavement brought the process to a halt. It was several months before we were able to establish the correct frame of mind to retrace the previous thought processes.

As the images were created one-by-one, they were juxtaposed each time and a story gradually began to reveal itself as the images accumulated, and this emerging story became the guideline we used when composing the final map.

The 'Experience Mapping' project was a pilot project as it was the first time that it had been tried. There was inevitably a learning curve to negotiate within the process. In future, it is hoped, more complex maps would be attempted, if the opportunity arose.

Below are the twelve photographs used as the inspiration for the map, the twelve images transformed into hand-drawn images, and finally a screen-capture of the resolved map.



The twelve photographs submitted to the project




The twelve drawings created in response to the photographs




The final map as an A3 pdf

Monday, November 1, 2021

IFFTI 2021 - Fashion Resurgence: Our Time is Now. Conference Paper Presentation.

On October 28th 2021, Nina and I presented our paper: 'Weaving Experience Into Memory': A cross disciplinary project investigating the intersection of Art and Design at IFFTI 2021 at The Pearl Academy, India that was held virtually this year to the pandemic.

The annual conference is organised each year by The International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes and this year the conference was hosted by The Pearl Academy of India.

The abstract of the paper ran as follows:

‘Weaving Experience Into Memory’: A cross disciplinary project investigating the intersection of Art and Design. 

 

This paper outlines the initial stage of a collaborative research project that began with an artwork, its development into a fabric print design, the creation of a single test garment, and eventually a small collection of related wearable items presented in the form of a public exhibition in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The project that is the subject of this paper sought to explore several issues: can an artist and a fashion designer work efficiently and effectively together given the seemingly disparate nature of the two fields? What technical resources are available within the local industry here in Ho Chi Minh City?, and how could these resources be employed in order to reduce material wastage as well as manufacturing time and costs? In addition to this, could the project serve as a case study to inspire students?

In order to explore these questions the paper will detail the collaborative process beginning with the conceptual methods used in the initial artwork creation involving walking, observation, the collecting of data, the draft stages and the final digital art print. This will then be followed by a description of the test printing of various fabrics, natural and man-made, the sourcing of local digital fabric printing companies and the creation of an initial test garment. Following the description of this initial testing phase, the paper will then seek to describe the design and construction of the subsequent garments and wearable items for presentation and finally the curation of the public exhibition along with the compiling of the accompanying catalogue. 

As the collaborative process is unpacked, the paper will address issues such as sustainability, fabric wastage, 3D virtual prototyping technology and short-run fabric printing technology. The majority of these new developments seek to eliminate the wastage inherent in traditional iteration processes, for example, extended lead times and high sample numbers. The team consciously attempted to adopt a zero waste policy and exhibition items such as the parasol and the wooden information hangers were clad with any useable remnants of surplus printed fabric left over from the garment fabrication.

The resulting exhibition, forming part of the ‘Vietnam Festival of Creativity and Design 2020’, presented the entire creative process with reproductions of notebook pages, paper patterns, fabric samples, garments, footwear, a parasol and a video monitor screening computer simulated apparel designs and a 3D virtual fashion show with avatars wearing multiple variations of the designs on display. 

 

Keywords: Maker culture, cross-disciplinary design, 3D virtual prototyping technology, apparel simulation


A recording of the paper presentation can be viewed here. 


The IFFTI 2021 Conference website can be found here.


The full paper can be obtained upon request.