Walking around the park, letting Spotify feed us music it thinks we might like, we found ourselves listening to two minutes of Laurie Anderson that caused a big SHIFT into our perception of walking.

You’re walking
And you don’t always realize it
But you’re always falling
With each step, you fall forward slightly
And then catch yourself from falling
Over and over, you’re falling
And then catching yourself from falling

And this is how you can be walking and falling
At the same time

Could we really be falling in the seconds before we took a step? Mathematical models run by Manoj Srinivasan, who runs the Movement Lab at Ohio State University, bear out that each step we take is really a tiny fall.

We found ourselves walking slower and slower to examine what exactly happens to us as we walk. Sometimes we felt that we weren’t falling but balancing in that brief moment between steps.

It made us think of Francis Alys’s beautiful little film of walking around Havana wearing boots embedded with magnets. By the end of the walk, they were encrusted with all sorts of metal treasures: nails, washers, coins, bits of things. It led us to Alys’ thoughts on walking found in Russel Ferguson’s interview with the artist for the monograph Francis Alys:

Walking, in particular drifting, or strolling, is already – within the speed culture of our time – a kind of resistance. Paradoxically it’s also the last private space, safe from the phone or e-mail. But it also happens to be a very immediate method for unfolding stories. It’s an easy, cheap act to perform or to invite others to perform. The walk is simultaneously the material out of which to produce art and the modus operandi of the artistic transaction. And the city always offers the perfect setting for accidents to happen.

There is no theory of walking, just a consciousnessBut there can be a certain wisdom involved in the act of walking. It’s more an attitude, and it is one that fits me all right. It’s a state where you can be both alert to all that happens in your peripheral vision and hearing, and yet totally lost in your thought process.

Los Zapatos Magneticos, Francis Alys

Walking as falling, wisdom, resistance, private space…

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