Melbourne was recently placed into its 5th lockdown since the pandemic began. I found this one more taxing the previous ones. By about the 7th day I decided I needed to get outdoors. I decided to walk aimlessly. Walking aimlessly is harder than it sounds.
So I decided to walk into the park adjacent to our house. Then once on the other side of the park wander in the direction of some incongruous land. This land runs between a rail siding and the medium to light industry either side of it. This gives me access to places that are inaccessible any other way. Carrying a large camera (and tripod) in this instance may not have been permitted by the lockdown rules I suspect. So I carried my small Canon point and shoot as well as my iPhone 12.
I walked for about one and a half hours. I took approximately 6639 steps. Sadly I forgot to run my mapping software as I walked, so I’m using other software to trace my route. In this instance Aperture. I took very few iPhone pictures it seems, anyway. I manually added these images to Aperture’s map feature.
All up I took 189 pictures. Below is a small selection of them in chronological order.
The whole experience was definitely one of heightened senses, visual, aural and olfactory. This in my mind made the journey one that was entirely psychogeographic, even if only partially aimless.
Some changes are occurring in this area also. I have walked this area on and off since moving to Sunshine in 2000. When I next walk it, who knows? The ninth picture is about to undergo a major infrastructure project. This is one of the reasons I walked there. I shall return and use a film camera soon hopefully.
My current Photobook’s silver gelatin contact prints are taking a bit longer to print than I initially imagined. After about 20 plus hours I’m at the half way mark. Just over 20 prints.
In the interim, between dealing with other aspects of my life, I have been considering the text component of the book. These ideas sometimes come to me while in my darkroom.
So using a pencil, I scrawl them down in a notebook that lives beside my enlarger. After I finish up, I digitise them and then add them to my notes both Apple note and Voodoo Pad . I then digitally transcribe them to make searching them easier later. Some ideas include the idea of the flaneur and by extension ‘The Situationists’ and the idea of the derive. Society of the spectacle by Guy Debord is proving especially fruitful.
I actually ran out of silver gelatin paper and had to wait till the shops opened to buy some more. Adding another delay.
The response to the pandemic in the arts industry has been overwhelmingly positive. SALA is running its entire festival through artists websites this year. I have been very fortunate in that Gary Sauer-Thompson via his studio in Encounter Bay invited me to exhibit with an idea that explored the pandemic. The online exhibition is entitled, ‘Walking/Photography’, its premise is simple:-
“The exhibition explores the interrelationships between these two modes of being-in-the-world. The ethos is to go for a walk in your local area, where you can find what you don’t know you are looking for. It is a step into the photographic unknown that uncovers the forgotten or buried history of the area.”
The ‘exhibtion’ opens on the 1st of August and runs until the 30th of September.
A lone walker is both present and detached, more than an audience but less than a participant. Walking assuages or legitimizes this alienation.” – Rebecca Solnit, from Wanderlust: A History of Walking.
There is something therapeutic about going on walks and taking pictures – sometimes aimless, sometimes with calculated, project-based parameters in mind. It’s a road trip on foot. It’s about pause, introspection, mindfulness, and maybe some visual mile-marking.
In today’s socially distant, quarantined world, walking (safely!) can be a form of personal liberation – one of the few things we can do outside.
For Humble’s next online exhibition, we’d like to see your images related to walking.
Interpret this however you like. This will be co-curated by Bryan Formhals and Humble’s co-founder Jon Feinstein.