walking art

I was vaguely aware of walking as a mode of artistic practice and I had started to do an e-book (it was envisioned as an image-text book); but I lost my way and I let it slide. I needed some sort of guidance and I didn’t know about Alan Huck’s I walk toward the sun which is always going down; I didn’t have a working knowledge of the literary walking tradition; I knew nothing about how the German writer and photographer WG Sebald‘s exploration in hybridity of genres.

I went back to basics. I started to make the odd video with my old iPhone 6 and I’d vaguely considered exploring making videos further. Making them more sophisticated as it were. However, I bulked at what I would need to set things up professionally — video gear + software etc — given my current constrained finances. I quickly realized that I am not a sound walk artist or creative, and that the video’s were an extension of my photography.

quartz vein, Waitpinga

I was frustrated by the limitations of the blogs/website. Even though I saw poodlewalks in terms of a visual diary, I was trying to step beyond their boundaries; to be able to make art works of some sort based on walking that started to explore the multiple-sensory experience of walking.

Initially, I had been thinking along the lines of a series of photobooks mainly because in the digital era with its tsunami of images photographers have found in the photobook the ideal medium for showing a project in a coherent way. Unfortunately, the financial constraints kicked in. The turn to making small videos, such as this one, enabled me to link image, movement and sound. So that was a start to going beyond the boundaries of the blogs and website. The blogs offer a pathway–that of an image-text.

littoral drift, Petrel Cove

Unfortunately, the create dimension of the walklistencreate website is orientated to sound and writing not to the visual arts or to an image-text. There is a long history in art combining written text with images. Medieval manuscripts in Christian Europe are interlaced with pictures that exist in a rhetorical relationship with the written text to create layered meaning and verbal/visual puns.

William Blake, eighteenth century British poet, published books of his writing with his own illustrations and quickly learned that the synthesis evoked meanings beyond the power of words or pictures alone. Dadaists and Surrealists in early twentieth century Europe combined fragments of found text with appropriated photographic images to open alternative, sometimes irrational, paths of communication they felt were missing from straight art.

WG. Sebald also explores the possibilities of an image-text. The images in his books are not just illustrations added to support the text, but are as fundamental to his work as the words with which they share the page. The pictures of the Suffolk coast that punctuate The Rings of Saturn: An English Pilgrimage  are like postcards (without captions) sent by Sebald to the reader, and these enable him to weave together text and image, geography and history.

A similar image-text pathway is S.D. Chrostowsk’s, Permission: A Novel which has a variety of ways in which photographs interact with and act upon the text.