Walking centres the body in a research practice. The body that gets cold, sweaty, thirsty, or blistered. The body that encompasses feelings, emotions, prejudices, as well as intellect. The body that gets impatient, bored, or overwhelmed. The body that, if we are lucky enough to have functioning locomotive and sensory faculties, is an instrument, as-yet-unparalleled in its potential for the sensing, sifting, and assimilation of data. Walking as a research practice is about consciously deciding how to put that instrument into motion within an environment, and which types of data to sense, sift, and assimilate. It is about the visceral exchanges between a sensing body in motion and the bodies of knowledge sequestered in the phenomena that make up a site of research. Whether they engage with pixels and memes, rocks, insects, birds, instruments, mud, other researchers, memories, clouds, microbes, shop signs, roasting coffee particles, emergency vehicle sirens, pages, or rats—walking allows a researcher to surface new layers of understanding about a physical, digital, or social environment, and sometimes about themselves. This special issue of Soapbox is the result of a collaboration with the "Walking as Research Practice" research group. It was compiled to share with a broader audience what was presented and discussed during the international conference of WARP in Amsterdam, with the hope of prompting new research collaborations and other research inquiries.
- Editor’s note
Lynn Gommes, Jana Sofie Liebe
Alice Twemlow, Tânia A. Cardoso
- This Walk is a Pause: 1
What: An actual and/or metaphorical sound walk
For whom: A gift for those who never stop
When: When in need of a pause
Where: Wherever your feet take you
Duration: 50 min (or a longer while)
- In search of the unpredicted: Walking in spaces of open enquiry
The writing of this paper is an opening for the unpredicted. It seeks a non-linear path but frequently fall back into line. It meanders, looping back, to re-tie and rearrange the threads. Walking, sewing, and writing are brought into an active dialogue, and collaborations are explored between artistic research and other forms of academic inquiry. In the absence of a pre-planned structure or destination, the writing becomes a vessel for chance happenings. It responds to interruptions, crosses formal boundaries, and diverts into physical experiments. Discovery is not held within the pages but permeates the spaces between words, reader, writer, and actions. The need to pay attention to the unpredicted is posed both as a conundrum and as a vital task for all forms of research.
- Walking with speculative artefacts in public space of Amsterdam
This article explores walking as a research practice in the urban public space of Amsterdam. This text brings selected observations and prototypes from artistic research together with experiences of participants from the “Walking back to Amsterdam” walkshop during the Walking as Research Practice (WARP) Conference in 2022. It is my drift between the vision and the reality of life lost and found in broken artefacts in the city, from a general look at the body of the city to discovering its details and dirt from the cracks. I aim to look through a magnifying glass held by a walker, who regulates the zoom for us. The idea is to help understand public space as overlapping layers of the many spatial dimensions–with a particular focus on the materiality (physical space) and the imaginary (symbolic space)–that act as social tools for new possibilities of a common future. This drift asks for the creative potentiality of an ex-centric public space and for the power to ‘co-create communication’ with other-than-humans.
- Walking between the disciplinary and the tactical: An embodied view of Certeau’s everyday practice
This paper examines Michel de Certeau’s account of everyday tactical resistance by exploring walking in the city as a sociomaterial practice. Although Certeau stresses the need to critique the centrality of the scriptural apparatus, of writing over other human operations, he still privileges the textual and linguistic domains. Adopting a posthuman perspective on the body, the sociomaterial processes of normalisation present in the everyday make me question the heroism of the disembodied ordinary individual. However, instead of discrediting quotidian forms of resistance, I reframe the everyday as a domain where reality is perpetually ordered by human-nonhuman interactions.
- Deep canine topography: Some simple steps
For the last three years I have been making walks with my canine companion as part of an AHRC UKRI funded practice-led, autoethnographic PhD at Nottingham Trent University (UK), which seeks to explore the potential of more-than-human co-authored walking practices; to radically trouble human-canine-landscape relational ontologies. In this short paper I propose and reflect upon the practice of deep canine topography, bringing together walking, as a contemporary artistic medium, and critical animal studies in art to explore human and more-than-human collaborative practices.
- Pilgrimage as a tool for perception and a form of counter-cartography
Roxana Perez Mendez, Mario Marzan
Since Hurricane Maria’s catastrophic blow to Puerto Rico in 2017, Puerto Rican artists Roxana Pérez-Mendez and Mario Marzán, as Campo Research Studio, utilise pilgrimage as part of an embodied walking art practice to generate richer kincentric relationships with the natural world. By viewing pilgrimage paths as a site for creative inquiry, participants on their journey become works of art in themselves—part radical cartography, part emergent strategy, and part social practice. The trace elements of the experience serve as a field guide on relating meaningfully to the environmental, political, or social changes of our moment.
- A walk in the forest with trans*ness
This paper explores how a walk in the forest with trans*ness turns towards the sensorial, the perceptive, and affect as rhythmic forces through which trans*ness and walking can merge. Can this enmeshment provide a new lens to look at trans*ness, and maybe new questions? Through the inextricable co-dependency and co-becoming between the trans* body, the walking, and the forest, a walk with trans*ness becomes, not only walking across the forest, but trans*(it)ing through.
- Bringing into conversation two walking practices to explore the palimpsest of space
Natalie Bamford, Simon King
This paper is the result of a coming together of two walking researchers whose paths may not have crossed if it were not for the Walking and Research Practice (WARP) conference, at least not in person. The meeting of Simon and Natalie during the conference led to multiple invigorating discussions and ultimately a collaboration that this text discusses. Demonstrating how two different voices can exist together within the same walk, this paper presents individual responses from each author to their shared walk. Each reflective of their practice and writing style, the responses differ but ultimately come together in a cohesive and progressively building narrative of correspondence, a reading of the built environment, and a development of both our practices.
- A DIY walk on paper
The invitation to wander and physically engage with a private (urban) space is an essential feature of the experimental method that will be unfolded here. Just as I invited a passer-by to share their daily walk inside their private space with me, here I give you the opportunity to do the same with someone else.
- This Walk is a Pause: 2