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Mooi! – Wandering through landscape

Column by Abel Coenen.

Working all days indoors behind our desktops, we students tend to forget the reason we all chose to study landscape architecture or planning. Often the landscape is only visible on our computer screen or through the window. And that while wandering through landscape can offer us so much richer experiences.

All images by Tim Knowles.

Walking as a primordial and natural human activity. As a deeper connection with environment. As a moment of mental restoration. Literature about wandering through landscapes can learn us about the positive effects of walking and its influence on our perception. Walking as a method to raise stronger awareness of landscape experience. That wandering can be even more than that is proven by British artist Tim Knowles who explores interactions between physical environments and human behaviour. With his projects he shows the beauty and the art of walking.

The Nightwalk projects show his adventures in the darkness, with a path enlightened by a torch and captured on long-exposure photograph. The photos show an abstract representation of the environment, creating an alienating view on a landscape. It emphasizes the singular character of a walk through a deserted environment. Like a liquid trail through a dark substance.

The theme of the Windwalk series is the activity of walking steered by a natural power. By using both a GPS tracker and a kite-shaped construction on a helmet, the artist walked through the landscape. The wind, distorted by buildings, walls, railings, ventilation shafts and parked vehicles, guided his way. The resulting image is a map of the exact route that he walked, revealing “glimpses of the city’s structure”. A very inspiring idea, that potentially could be used as a method to analyse the microclimate within cities.

Knowles’ poetic approach is fully explored in Waterwalks – Path of Least Resistance. This project also uses GPS trackers carried by different participants. Each person is asked to start at a different location in the landscape, indicated by a flag. From there, they are only allowed to choose a way downhill. The pattern shows a collection of flows as if they were streams of water starting as different small brooks, flowing into bigger streams, assembling into one river. Human behaviour of walking is made visible just as a product of nature.

The projects of Tim Knowles prove that not only the act of walking and wandering can be a source for mental inspiration, but also that the recorded pattern of a walk offers interesting views on human behaviour within a landscape. Mooi!

See the website of Tim Knowles for more information about his projects on walking. And, if you are there anyway, please check out also the nice sketches made by trees and his series on the postal works.

And see this video of a lecture by Tim Knowles at the MIT University.

Nightwalk – Valley of Rocks #1.

Windwalk – Seven walks from Seven Dials.

Waterwalk – Path of Least Resistance 1.

Waterwalk – Path of Least Resistance 2.

november 20, 2014

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