Walking as a mode of art practice has its roots in the Dada and Situationist movements of the early twentieth century, with significant developments during the conceptual ‘turn’ of the 1960s. High profile art practitioners known for their use of walking, such as Hamish Fulton, Janet Cardiff and Francis Alÿs have continued to establish the act of walking as art practice into the twenty-first century. Over the last ten to fifteen years a much more extensive, rich and interesting field has emerged crossing disciplinary boundaries in the arts, with artists, architects, filmmakers and writers employing walking as a means of creatively appropriating the city. Architects have been particularly active in this development, with writers such as Jane Jacobs and Jane Rendell, and practitioners such as the Stalker group in Rome, transforming the way that public space, the built environment, and everyday interactions can be understood, shaped and framed by walking.
The studio will look at these phenomena with particular attention on our own city, London. The studio will use extended walks through London as well as texts, films and artworks which are structured in the form of guided walks, take inspiration from walks, or are developed on foot. We will place particular focus on the role that walking might play in the formulation of an artistic practice or design methodology.
You will ultimately be asked to lead a walk of your own devising – a journey structured around a particular theme. Its documentation in words and images will form the basis of your dissertation. The studio aims to encourage ways of looking at the city ranging from the architectural to the literary, the economic to the biographical and to explore ways in which those different kinds of observation might inform each other. By inviting you to construct the narrative of your dissertation with attention to the needs of an audience, we also hope to encourage your development as writers.
Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities
- Join the Walking Artists Network. The network has an active jisc-mail list which members use to share details of walks, and walking work. Join the list to start getting an idea of the range and breadth of creative walking practice happening right now.
- Watch an extract from Astra Taylor’s film Examined Life in which philosopher Judith Butler and activist Sunaura Taylor walk together
- Read Morag Rose’s ‘Buzzing, Bimbling, Beating our Bounds’ in LivingMaps Review, Issue 3 (2017)
- Listen to a podcast from Walking Women, a 2016 programme of events at Somerset House and Edinburgh Festival fore-fronting the work of women walking artists
- Walk an instruction from the book Qualmann and Hind, Ways to Wander (Triacrhy Press, 2015)
- Listen to artist Lottie Child discussing her ‘Street Training’ project
- Read Francis Alÿs, Seven Walks London (London, Artangel, 2005)
- Watch artist Michaelangelo Pistoletto take a sculpture for a walk through the streets of London
- Read Guy Débord’s theory of the derive
Studio 01: Imperfect Theories
Things can lead to theories. They can point to a way of seeing artefacts or objects that is more significant than the thing itself.
Studio 02: Narrative, Storytelling and Time
This studio focus on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We particularly focus on time in narrative, and the studio undertakes a brief aesthetics of time and thinks about how art and culture has imagined time.
Studio 03: Memento
The Memento research studio employs a critical, layered and multi-disciplinary approach to the problems around memory and society.
Studio 04: Knowing Audiences
In this studio we will be thinking about audiences, how they can be understood, theorised and researched.
Studio 05: Small Encounters
Emma Davenport and Gina Pierce
Textiles present exciting material and theoretical opportunities for us to think through our practice, to make sense of the world around us in the past, present and future.
Studio 06: Performative Acts: Art, Architecture and Writing
Nico de Oliveira
In the last decade or so we have moved from objects to subjects or audiences. In parallel, the word performative has been adapted from a theoretical term to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art, architecture and beyond.
Studio 07: Meaningful Work
"The aim of art is to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy the hope of producing something worth the exercise." William Morris
Studio 08: The Liminal
This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.
Studio 09: The Form of the Text
Studio 9 encourages you to approach the dissertation as a crafted textual project. Through workshops and seminars we will consider some of the elements and activities of which the dissertation is comprised, and look at innovative and exciting ways to work with the form of the text, and the act of building it.
Studio 10: Science Fiction Futurity
The utopia of technology never quite arrived. In the 1960s, you often hear, we were promised flying cars, space settlements, robot butlers and the end of work. But then, curiously, the horizon of futurity diminished.
Studio 11: Commonism
Commonism – with an o in the middle – explores how political activism, participatory design processes, interventionism, collective action and shared authorship are transforming the world of art, architecture and design.
Studio 12: Globalism
For good or ill, we live in a global world. Whilst this may appear to be obvious, globalism is only a relatively recent term as is the phenomenon itself. What do we mean by this? How did we arrive in this place?
Studio 13: Data Stories
Dissertations produced in this studio will be informed by critical research into how data is collected and then used as raw material with which to make or mediate architecture, design and art work.
Studio 14: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture, and Liberation through Music and Performance
This interdisciplinary studio reflects the widening of music and film studies in the last thirty years to include popular music, and popular culture linking art, music, film, advertising, social issues and minority struggles for liberation.
Studio 15: London Walking
Walking as a mode of art practice has its roots in the Dada and Situationist movements of the early twentieth century, with significant developments during the conceptual ‘turn’ of the 1960s.
Studio 16: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.