Tagged: Walking

How natural is the natural environment? Post 4: Walking to Ken Ausburn Lookout

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Considering that my previous two walks had encountered many man made structures I decided to intervene.

The destination for my third walk was the Ken Ausburn Lookout on Mt Keira.

To document where I went, I once again choose my trusty Strava App.

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Before my walk I thought how my previous two destinations were man made objects, then it clicked. By choosing a man-made object to walk to, my chances of encountering man-made obstacles were going to be higher.

I was hoping that by choosing a more natural destination I would be exposed to a more natural environment.

To some extent my walk was very natural, I got to walk on a mountain side surrounded by trees and the sound of animals. But at the same time I still felt like the experience was affected by humans.

Once I had made it to the base of the mountain and the start of the walking trail, man-made objects were everywhere. Even though I was walking up a mountain I found myself walking next to a concrete path that followed the contours of the landscape. Once the concrete path had finally finished I was expecting a nice natural bush walk, but instead I was met by hundreds of pieces of timber nailed, screwed and glued together to make a staircase.

Even once the staircase ended, planks of wood had been placed all over the mountain side to stop erosion. In the end I managed to make it to the lookout and it was beautiful, definately worth the short hike.

But no matter how beautiful the journey was, I was still unable to make it the whole way without walking on a man-made object.

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Overall, I took 1733 steps, 62 of which were on a concrete surface.

Considering that I tried to choose the most natural landmark in the area, I find it quite sad that no matter how hard you try and avoid human interaction whether it be via the physical presence of a human or a wooden staircase, you can’t escape it.

With Mt Keria being transformed by all these man-made objects, it was at this point that I realised that is was engaging in the notion of the artist as. Through my walks I had developed a passion and new appreciation for the ‘natural environment’.

My walks were developing a new purpose, one where I would document my findings and diseminate them in a form of activism.

My passive documentation methods were a good start to recognise what was going on around me, but now that I had found a problem that needed to be heard by the masses, I found myself talking to my housemates about how much of our ‘natural environment’ had been destroyed.

Although the severity of human impact is serious and upsetting, documenting the walk itself with my GoPro was very fun and enjoyable.

I was going to do a running commentary throughout the walk, but I was struggling to walk up the mountain as it was.

How natural is the natural environment? Post 3: Walking to Wiseman Park

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For my second walk I decided to go in a different direction to my last walk and see what I would encounter.

My end location was going to be Wiseman Park. I knew that the distance to Wiseman Park was going to be shorter than the International House walk, so I assumed that I was going to encounter a lower number of man-made obstacles.

In the end, the results of the two walks were much the same which was surprising. I honestly though that I had choosen a route that would use the ‘natural environment’.

To my understanding, the route that I took was the best one possible. I was constantly scanning ahead for any large patches of grass and thinking about which side of the road would have less obstacles. I feel as though I did everything I could.

In the end, I was pretty disappointed that I had walked on so many man-made structures.

Maybe I should make my rule that I have to walk on man-made structures, because at this stage I am not avoiding them very well.

Just like my previous walk, I used Strava to track my geographical location throughout the walk.

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Once I had finished my walk and checked how far I had actually walked, I couldn’t believe how hard it was to avoid footpaths and roads in such a short distance.

To make it easier for people to see how many times I was forced to walk on a man-made structure, I downloaded another IPhone App before my walk. The App is called Pacer and it is an App that counts you steps (a pedometer App).

The idea behind using this App was to count how many steps I took throughout the whole walk as well as count how many steps I took on man made structures.

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Although the App could count my total steps, it was up to me to count in my head how many steps I took on a man-made surface.

Out of the 3184 steps that the Pacer App counted, 533 of them were on concrete or alike. If we were to put these numbers into a fraction (3184 divided by 533), it would mean that roughly one fifth (1/5) of my steps were on a surface that I was trying to avoid.

From this data I am able to take away a few things;

  • There is a lot of man-made structures around and no matter how hard you try and avoid them there will be times you are forced to walk on them
  • I am pretty average at designing walking routes that avoid man-made obstacles

I created another video to show all the obstacles that I was faced with on my walk to Wiseman Park.

 

 

How natural is the natural environment? Part 2: Walking to International House

For my first walk, I decided to walk to International House student accommodation.

I had two reasons for choosing this location;

  1. I use to live there during my first year of University
  2. A lot of people use to say how relaxing and natural the walk was to and from uni was when I was living there

    To help document this walk to see if I could get to International House by only using the ‘natural environment’, I used my mobile phone to take pictures and to track where I walked.

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    To track where exactly I used an IPhone App called Strava. This App was fantastic to use, not only did it show where I was walking, it also was able to tell me how far I walked and how long it took me.

    Before I started my first walk I assumed that I was going to have to walk on a man made structure between 5-10 times. I know there is a lot of roads and footpaths around, but I believed that if I structured a derive around my gut feeling and following where there was lots of grass, I would be able to get to my destination without encountering a lot of obstacles.

    Although I had a lot of faith at the start of the walk, the harsh reality soon became very evident. By the time I had reached the halfway point, I had already stepped on a road or footpath at least 20 times.

    By the time I had reached my final destination, I had encountered roughly 50 obstacles. To be honest I was very surprised that the number was this high. I understand that the area is densely populated and a high traffic area, but 50 obstacles is a lot, especially when your main goal is to avoid them.

    Throughout the walk my main two obstacles were having to cross roads and facing driveways that were to long to jump over.

    Hopefully this video will help to show the many obstacles I encountered when trying to travel via the ‘natural environment’.

How natural is the natural environment? Post 1: Introduction

Walking

For millions of years the earth in which we live was a natural wonderland, trees covered the mountain-side and animals wandered the vast landscape.

Now days, earth is very much a different place and the ‘natural environment’ is anything but natural.

As a collective, humans have made major changes that are seemingly irraversable, and there is no denial that the ‘natural environment’ is being destroyed more and more each day.

In order to find out exactly how little remains of our ‘natural environment’, I plan on following one rule.

I am only allowed to walk on the ‘natural environment’ to get to my destinations, e.g. grass, dirt, rocks.

By following this rule, I feel as though I will be able to get a good idea of how humans have effected the ‘natural environment’.

The way in which I will carry out the process and documentation is…

  • Pick a number of locations around the Wollongong area
  • Start at my house and walk to these location
  • Document how many man-made structures/obstacles I encounter on my walk/s
  • Any time I have to walk on concrete, roads, footpaths or any other structure that has been made or placed by humans, it will count as obstacle

This strategy has been developed from two key areas;

  1. My personal interest on how the ‘natural environment’ is constantly being transformed
  2. The walk we went on with the Waterways of The Illawarra (WOTI) group

By combining my personal interest with the structure of how the WOTI group carried out their walk, I want to see if it is possible to get from one place to another by only walking on the ‘natural environment’.

To make sure I get a good feel for the impact humans have made, I will conduct four walks that lead in four different directions. By repeating/iterating the process of walking around different areas and analysing the ‘natural environment’, I will be able to understand the relationship between social intersections, human activity and the ‘natural environment’.

Walking Exercise ‘The Pitch’

Walking.

When I first considered this assignment, a daunting shroud of doubt was difficult to shake. I had no idea of where to start.

To my dismay, I took to Liang Luscombe’s reading where I was struck by the first mere sighting of the words, “walking is not…”

Well I have to say. I was surprised. “Walking is not a medium, it’s an attitude”

Although, then again? It does make sense.

What I have always seen to be a senseless “mode of mobility and convenience” has been shown to be a leisurely activity that holds the power to bring relaxation, an ability to relieve and unravel the senses, while romanticising the simplistic nature of the “rhythm and speed of placing one foot in front of the other”.

This idea of focusing on the everyday holds its origins in Zen Buddhism, and I am not surprised. The beauty of focusing on the everyday has resonated into the art world, where the practise of such ‘Simple actions’ has blurred the line separating art and life.

As per standard practice, I will use “… art as a tactic for ‘defamiliarising’ the terrain of the everyday as a way to bring about change”.

But what will I introduce to the everyday action of walking to initiate change?

In reflecting on how I can initiate a change in the everyday action of walking, I remembered walking around my neighbourhood in the search of ‘toothbrush twigs’. I’ve walked that route a thousand times, but on this particular occasion, I found that my knowledge of the area was actually quite ignorant seeing as my walks are often for the purpose of exercising and entertaining a dog.

In light of this, I took to the walking map, which I posted for Assessment #1 (below).

Wollongong Area. Within <1km of Jutland Avenue

As you can see, trees were the variable that affected my route. Through the drawing, it is obvious that there are many areas of the park (green area) that I have had no interaction with.
Plot points. Plot points are the factor. But prior to walking the said route, I had no map.
This made me think, “What if I was told to walk to those plot points, but without a map to show me?”

How can I create an alternative way to interact with this familiar space? And how can I get participants to interact with the ground, trees, nooks, crannies, bricks and drains?

A scavenger hunt.

Now. I am inviting a few friends to take part in the activity therefore I have decided to limit the scavenger hunt to a familiar region of Wollongong, where we are all accustomed. The reason for this is the fact that the familiarity of a space in which the walk will take place is irrelevant to the goal of the exercise, given that participants will be interacting with the space under exotic circumstances, allowing for an unfamiliar experience.

The question in which I ask myself now is.

How can I document this?

Well, the answer somewhat lies in the rules.

RULES:

  1. Participants will begin with ONE clue at the entrance to my house
  2. After the first clue is found, find the NEXT clue, and so on
  3. Participants must work as ONE team
  4. Participants must film the scavenger hunt from beginning to end with the provided camcorder.

Additionally, I will be filming with a GoPro 4+ Silver Edition with a tripod in order to attempt a neutral, third party documentation of the activity, while the camcorder being used by participants will provide a team video diary.