Walking Stories

Walking Stories is a group audio-walk for parks and green spaces. In this unique outdoor experience, green spaces become part of an exploratory, interactive and fully immersive audio journey. Find out more →

…we were going to be in Larkey Woods and then we opted for the field…

On 23rd August we planned to take Walking Stories to the delightful woods in Larkey Valley, close to Canterbury. However, on the day we changed our minds and went to this amazing field with stunning views. Walking Stories had it’s first outing in a corn field – it went pretty well…

Walking Stories in Greenwich Park

A selection of photos from the premiere shows of Walking Stories in Greenwich Park 16th and 17th August. It went down a storm…

Here are a few comments from our visitors book,

  • ‘You will at one moment be running, feeling the wind in your hair and your heart in your chest, and in the next moment you will be standing in total stillness feeling like the world is motionless beneath you. It will give you the gift of time to yourself, and space to breathe and enjoy simple pleasures with a new and refreshing perspective. At once epic and intimate, this is a truly unique and beautifully crafted experience.’ (Abi)
  • ‘Just what I needed – a mental reframe’ (Hannah)
  • ‘Thank you for the journey. Feels like I have travelled somewhere and come back!’ (Para)
  • Stripped back superfluous thoughts and felt my thoughts/outlooks become essential for a few moments…Enjoyed the wordless co-operation of the group; a group of strangers agreeing on a creative play. (Vanessa)
  • What a walk! After 45 minutes I found myself staring at the bark of an oak tree like it was a computer screen that held the secrets of my future. And now I’m munching lovely pizza and still thinking! (Alan)

…and a snippet from the Bellyflop review by Flora Wellesley Welsey

“…Camaraderie and solitude come upon me at once. I, for one, feel exceptionally present throughout. I am interested in the others, unabashed about staring at them. There is a contagious, heightened self-awareness coursing through the group – each of us a player, a participant, and an enactor. And you really do have to make Walking Stories happen; the performers don’t do it for you…And it’s a piece that envelops its audience. Walking Stories asks us to do and to repeat. We pace, we observe, we absorb changes. We stop and start, to and fro, circle. How deft we are at doing! How easily we agree to part and reunite!…

…There are times when I find myself momentarily stumped, somehow having lost my footing. I have a sense of watching myself, my attention, throughout the journey – detecting the limitations of my imagination, noticing when I feel like I have missed or misunderstood something or a planted instruction has gone awry…

…I am prompted and sometimes I fall behind, like I do with reading when text on a screen scrolls up and out of sight at a speed I can’t keep up with. At these moments, I want more time for things to sink in and start meaning more to me. But it’s not a “slow class”. It is a repetitive one, though. Indeed, repetition of instructions is what allows patterns and echoes to emerge – and with these, my opportunity for meaning making. My teeth sink into the associative leaps and deviations I experience as well as the more focused episodes. It feels like something of a meditation on going with the flow. I love not having to make rational decisions about my journey – the bliss of being led.

There is joy in Walking Stories. I laugh at the muted barks of yappy dogs perturbed by a circular path we are treading, running, powering. I delight in my private laughter – the feeling of it, rather than the sound of it (it doesn’t disturb me or anyone else as it ordinarily might). These spontaneous occurrences thrive, yet there is nothing informal about this walk. This is no idle stroll. It’s a trip, a choreographic experiment, complete with external observers (the non-performing artistic team, who stand by trees and sit in the grass watching their plans unfurl, and passersby)…The desire to rebel dwindles as my suggestibility increases and I enjoy more and more how these simple instructions belie the intricate dance that they cue.”

Walking Stories captured by Pari Naderi

One morning during our time at Stour Valley Arts in the Kings Wood, Kent, we had the pleasure of being joined by Pari Naderi to take some photographs of Walking Stories in motion. Here is a little sample of the extremely beautiful pictures that she took. The sun was shining and Pari captured the forests and the energy of Walking Stories in its full glory: it’s speed and its stillness, the attention that it draws to space, to small details, to ourselves. June 2013

All photographs by Pari Naderi

Artists in the images: Jennifer-Lynn Crawford, Tristan Shorr, Tom Spencer, Charlotte Spencer, David McCormick.

Video from The Point

A little video edit made by the team at The Point, Eastleigh – quick glance at the project so far – what’s been happening… Cycle Stories and Walking Stories in process! Take a peak

 

Walking Stories audio trailer

A short little trailer of the music from our audio walk, Walking Stories – all original sound by Tristan Shorr and Tom Spencer. A little teaser for you in advance of upcoming performances in August and September 2013. Enjoy! Video trailer coming soon!

Cycling, maps, uncertainty – Jennifer-Lynn Crawford

Cycling, Maps and Uncertainty.

I have a particular flair for getting lost. I have many ideas about why this is, or comes to be, but they mostly consist of self-justifications for what is a skill highly under-rated in densely populated and constructed cities. How can I get lost around the corner from where I am staying in London despite staying in the same neck of the woods on every visit for the past 6 years? I know London is a big place – but I am not built like a goldfish. I do remember streets, houses, landmarks; just not, it would seem, in the same order as they appear on maps.

Doing more cycling in less familiar places has only increased my ability to get lost… I can now get lost very quickly. Because of a general reluctance to stop cycling once I am in motion, I tend to keep going, which means I increase the length of time it will take to ‘find out’ where I am. It also means I avoid consulting the map. Hence I get lost quickly and increasingly thoroughly when I’m not with anyone else. Another curiosity is that I tend to speed up if I feel very lost (rather than medium lost, or just plain lost) – probably out of a desire to find something that seems familiar (even if it isn’t).

Cycling with people that I feel to be both fairly skilled map readers and more experienced cyclists has been odd for me. There is always someone who knows where we are going. This in itself is a radically different way of being on a bike. There is also usually someone who knows where we are, according to a map, and occasionally, there are several people who have slightly different ideas about where we are/going.

I’ve been grateful for the fact that others understand how important arrival at a pre-decided final destination is and that they have hold of the map and not me. Particularly after mile 40.

Orientation is a question mark for me (it would seem); I enjoy not knowing where I am and/or having an ambiguous destination. This is definitely a useful thing, as I seem to have some internal scrambling device that activates whenever I get near a map. Or, another way to put it: my experiential map (how getting to a place feels/felt as physically sensed) and my 2-d map don’t communicate with a common language.

Lost

Language indicates ‘lost’ is a state, or a quality of a thing… an activity, a status, and also, refers to something past/no longer

“I got lost”
“I am lost”
“I will get lost”
“Lost and Found”
“Lost time”
“Lost in thought”
“I lost my head/temper/heart”
“A losing battle”

Lost is also gone – I lost something means that I no longer have it. To be lost in thought is to be absorbed (into something else). Maybe a base metaphor is that lost is not to hand? It is beyond my grasp, my knowing. Lost is taken (away) and lost is not-knowing. Lost is a state/quality defined by negation, as the absence of clarity or knowing. Lost is also a metaphor for death, the most permanent kind of absence. There are also, of course, winners and losers… ‘Loser’ being the preferred insult of my 10 year old self, if memory serves. Losing is less desirable than winning if not strategic in terms of games, arguments, money/possessions and vitality. But losing is hugely desirable if joining the body-commodification movement.

In being lost, I have lost my way – even if I don’t follow the map, I have a ‘way’, something that is mine. When lost to or in something, I am absorbed by the something to the degree that it becomes my compass. To existentialist-leaning sorts (like myself), this signals some shift in ontology, or how we ‘are’; there is less attempt at owning a situation and greater permeability to perceived elements in/making up the situation.

This is articulated in improvisation practices by Kent De Spain as ‘non-centred/de-centred intentionality’:

“…if I am commingled with the elements of the moment so that I do not sense or even care where the ideas and actions are coming from, I can go for a joyride, instead of carrying the car on my back.”

(feel free to replace ‘car’ with transport mode of choice)… but it is mostly the same phenomenon when lost-on-bike. Regardless, it is very hard to ‘lose’ this metaphor of purpose as destination and both as desirable. They indicate knowing.

Maps

Journeys make paths or follow them – paths are specific surfaces inscribed on the land. Paths are knowledge in that they tell us someone was here before – human or not, another creature has gone this way. In making a path from scratch, we make a statement to other pathway-takers that there is something going on. Obstacles are things or events that prevent us from following the path easily, possibly blocking it entirely. This is an easy relationship to draw across to our bodies and movement habits as well – those habits, those neural paths that we work daily (tooth-brushing, hand-writing, garlic-chopping) are pretty well-maintained paths. They are knowledge, knowing in moving towards destinations such as clean teeth and notes and a meal. We sense obstacles here when we cannot access our habitual way (such as using the same hand).

In my case, I am very skilled at becoming my own ‘obstacle’ when I have hold of a map – or I am very skilled at finding ways to avoid my destination. I’m not sure which it is yet. It might depend whether I think I’m going somewhere or nowhere. I seem to prefer the ‘joyride’ over carrying the bike on my back (i.e., aiming at the landscape from the map) and have difficulty negotiating the difference in ontology proposed by finding my way, rather than a-way (lost).

Maps emerge from the landscape… and then we paste them back on. This rests on our understanding of space as somehow structural – time flows, but space… endures. It remains. I reckon the land itself, as well as any creature blessed with any kind of perceptual system, would beg to differ that it remains the same. Space changes; space is always contingent and inhabited. Even if we refuse to annex space in terms of time, space shifts. Where does the notion of static space come from? A desire to get hold of something perhaps; to centre our knowing and make it portable within ourselves, or at least, something we can carry with us.

The notion of space as structure and thus inherently fixed is a particular Western/Euro metaphor. Attempts to address difficulties within this perspective go all the way back to Heraclitus and the river that we can’t step into twice. They move all the way forwards through Einstein’s Relativity to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and a choice to know about either a particle’s momentum or its location, but not both simultaneously. It goes past that through the popular acceptance of various versions of chaos theory, systems-based approaches, post-post frameworks… and where does it land in this work we are working on now?

Questions:

How do we practice space – or practice with space? How do we space a practice?

These are two questions I keep re-arriving at from various activities over the past several years. To some degree, I’m still lost here. But of course, these are not the sorts of questions that prompt arrival at destinations.

At the moment, they propose that we need to consider location as un-fixed – as interactive or better, something that we are implicated in/by – which is a clear follow-on from any kind of environmental concern, yet one that isn’t made nearly explicit enough in current social/political climes. It seems that we spend a good deal of time trying to forget that spaces are not fixed – or trying to ‘fix’ them into staying. To know that we are affected by space (think cave vs. mountain top) is also to know that we affect space (think empty stadium vs full). How is it then ‘forgotten’ that if we don’t steward our spaces ‘well’ (perhaps in some kind of sustainable, or even more mindful, practice), our spaces will no longer be? In order to work with space, even just to take care of it, we need to acknowledge that space changes. Space is not fixed. Even leaving space as it is, it moves, it rearranges itself, displaces itself, as much as time – this might also offer some explanation of Western philosophy’s favouring of time.

I suppose I wonder what we look at when we are looking at maps. And if we are we looking at flat versions of space, what does that tell us about our feeling for space?

To be continued….