Wednesday

Ambit - a pilgrimage


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A pilgrimage is a ritual journey with a hallowed purpose. Every step along the way has meaning. The pilgrim knows that life giving challenges will emerge.
A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which significant change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained… On return from the pilgrimage, life is seen with different eyes.
Nothing will ever be quite the same again.
” Macrina Wiederkehr


Walking is an act of hope, an act of rebellion, a gift, an act of suffering, an act of determination, an act that links us to our ancestors, an act that opens opportunities for our descendants. 

Walking is precious to me as my body stiffens and flares with arthritis. Every walk is for me an act of defiance, a joy, a statement of freedom. 

Ambit is a durational performance for MfOR’s Neither Use Nor Ornament which involves physically connecting with 6 artists by walking and taking public transport to get from my studio to theirs.

I will create a knitted ‘drawing’ as I travel; knitting being a metaphor for connecting people and community. The (neither useful nor ornamental) object I create will evoke the white road, the beaten path made by thousands of feet across thousands of years along the hills and valleys of Britain. Every stitch a step, a braid of stitches crisscrossing every inch and representing one mile journeyed. There are 488 miles between myself and the other artists.


Many of the old paths, Drovers roads, country lanes and pilgrimage routes that once crisscrossed Britain are covered now with grass and fields or subsumed by tarmacked highways. The journeys that ravelled along them still exist in memory and in the evidence written in our DNA. 

Humans are travellers. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are walking across the Earth to escape war, hunger and poverty, just as our ancestors have always done. Today, people walk also because of the damage richer nations have done to the planet's atmosphere, causing environmental devastation on an epic scale.

My own acts of walking are done mindfully; a small act of solidarity with fellow humans/refugees and the billions of creatures; insects, birds, fish and animals who are beginning their own mass journeying in the wake of the changing climate.



Tuesday

Data list 1. 2 walks for Neither Use Nor Ornament project


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Duration: 4 days 
Sections done: 
Stourbridge to Kinver 17 Aug 18, 
Knighton to Rhayader via Abbeycwmhir 22-24 Aug 18.

steps from Stourbridge to Kinver: 17,150
steps from Knighton to Abbeycwmhir: 50,949
miles walked: 34.04 miles
meters climbed: 860

List of items taken on the Wales walk:
Walking poles
Voice recorder (unused)

Pedometer
Yarn
Knitting needles
Smartphone
Phone charger
Solar charger
Water bottles
Water tablets (unused)
Sleeping sheet
Shawl
Ground sheet
Airbed
Travel pillow (discarded)
Tarp
Aluminium Tent pegs
Gas stove
Tin cup
Wooden spoon
Two lighters
Headlamp
Maps
Money
Knee brace
Blister plasters
Micropore tape
Toothbrush
Towel
Painkillers
Suncream (unused)
Deodorant
Handknitted wool sweater
Waterproof coat and trousers
Handknitted wool hat
Cotton bandana
Spare knickers
Two pair spare socks
One pair wool socks (handknitted)
Spare t shirt
Two pair cotton leggings

Data uncaptured
sleep hours:
calories burned:
calories consumed:
number of blisters:
duration of rest stops:
number of rest stops:

wind speed:
precipitation:
sunlight hours:

number of sheep encountered:
number of ravens:
number of red kite:

list of tree species:
list of fungi:

gates opened:
stiles crossed:

list of songs sung:
number of times expected heart attack from effort:
biscuits consumed:








Monday

Walking with Rachel Henaghan

The finished drawing made by Rachel Henaghan using my drawing device

Part of the work I am researching for Drawn, is looking at how I can capture emotional responses to being in certain landscapes using both lo tech and digital drawing devices.

Due to various technical and non-residency issues, I have been struggling to get the digital drawing devices to become a reality. However,  have had some successes using the lo tech device, recording an emotional response to being in the environment by using different coloured pens, corresponding subjectively to an emotional state.

The red ink represents moments of high stress, purple is lesser stress, green is low stress.

Recently I had an opportunity to go for a short walk with artist Rachel Henaghan (listen to the podcast here). I got Rachel to carry a lo-tech drawing device and select from 3 coloured pens as she walked and experienced the environment. We walked through a small town centre and into a country park. The majority of the time we were in the park.

The various marks are created by the movements made while walking. 
I received great feedback from Rachel, who enjoyed listening to the podcast and who felt that walking and using the drawing device might have "great therapeutic potential." Which is exactly what I hoped would be the outcome when using the devices. I am now keener than ever to walk with other people and allow them to experience and give feedback about using the devices.

Friday

Diary Entry: 5

I gave a workshop at Width of Circle gallery on the 21st July in which participants made their own origami drawing devices and then took them on a short walk.

The workshop seemed to go well. A mixed group, including one child. I forgot to create evaluation forms though. People seemed engaged by the first part of the workshop in which we did some simple drawing exercises, drawing houses and thinking about mark-making.
I should have spoken more about my own practice I think.

The walk was interesting, we went along a local canal which gave us lots to look at. It was difficult to have conversations with people as we walked though, they scattered just as my class would have done, so will need to have breaks for the groups to stop and come together if we do this again.

There were satisfying gasps of delight when people uncovered their walking drawings and saw what they had made. It was also very interesting how they were all very different, just as the ones made during the SENSE walk.

Although the origami drawing devices are easy to make, they are not very beautiful. So I need to give some thought as to how to make them lovelier. Also, I need to think harder about the outcome for the participants. If they could frame their pieces in some way maybe.

Things to do: Research generative art.
Use digital pen
Blog
Think about outcomes for the walks
Keep a record of daily distances walked
Research tracks, paths, ley lines.

Diary Entry: 4

Thoughts on the project so far: Cybernetics – the study of closed-loop systems

The Crone – a buggered-up human + implants. Walking in a dress. Gender and age.

Radio programme today: a talk about how social media = emotion. Emotional expression, gathering emojis and ‘likes.’ This has the danger of belittling emotional responses (to disasters, death etc) but also conversely who everything has to have an emotional response – even robots and AI are valued when they are emotional (look at Kitty AI and love)

It struck me that I want to my work to come from an unemotional place – the hard data though, coded to be beautiful. The wind that moves the pen is dramatic, dynamic, but it is not emotional.
The drawing that ensues is exciting for me because it is both beautiful and surprising.

So I am exploring how to take the data generated by my own body and use it to draw. Like the wind does. But the wind drawings say nothing about ambient temperature, altitude etc. Though they do say something about wind speed and direction.

Also: using data to make a palimpsest – ie; with walking, each day’s drawing layered and becoming dense over time.

Diary Entry: 3


Walking into my local town centre I realise that what I would like to do is develop a Cyborg construct.
This fits in with my autistic neurology and sense of difference and the interest I currently have with robots, cyborgs and AI.

I want to explore this cyborg construct in relation to it’s relationship to the environment. Imagine a soft-bodied cyborg being wandering about in a post (or even pre-) apocalyptic world. Or the being exploring the Anthropocene landscape, noting climate change, wind speed etc; as well as it’s relationship/physical response to this.

Maybe the cyborg has been sent out to record the destruction of Earth by humans.

The cyborg would be equipped with certain data-capture devices which could be upgraded as the thing learns. We would need to be able to capture essential data about the cyborg itself, to know where it is and what it is doing. But the cyborg also needs to be able to capture objective and subjective data about its environment.

This data will then be turned into images.

It is focussed on responding to its environment, not people.