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walking papers

walking papers


The walks collected and presented in Walking Papers were the result of the Civic Studio participants' ongoing discussion on the meaning and created definitions of "space." The projects are bound by a shared knowledge gained through study of both public art and theories of public space. Each walk is, however, informed by the individual participant's own questions about public space.

Some of the walks are focused on a particular goal and present very specific instructions for utilizing the act of walking as a tool for understanding spatial issues. Some of the walks use fantasy and impossibilities to contextualize "space" in new and interesting ways.

(Anthony Stepter, Project Curator)

The walk instructions are reproduced at right, or view the original tabloid sheet in PDF format (121k).

Everyday Dérive Overlay

Think of a walk that you take every day or frequently. Consider the direction(s) you move in, and the distance you move in those directions. Starting at the Rock Shop with that normal walk in mind (as in muscle memory), take the same walk in this new place.

Where do you end up? Are there barriers that prevent you from doing the walk? If there are barriers, how did you/could you oversome them?

(Rachael Jacques)

A Walk to Induce Empathy and Make Noise

Purposes: Induce empathy from strangers. Make a recordable unique noise of ice falling to ground. Make walker realize that cold weather is much worse when covered in frozen water.

Walk to the river wearing a wetsuit (be sure it is chilly, below 32ºF outside).

Jump in.

Duck below the water's surface. Stay in the water until your body is covered in a thin layer of ice.

Let it flake off the frozen suit as you walk. A soft tinging noise will be made.

(Jenny Pope)

Looking Up

Simply pick a start location, lay down flat on the ground and look up. Take in a perspective that you typically don't see. Every 5-10 steps repeat. You will be amazed at all the things you don't typically see even in an area that you are familiar with. Stop or start wherever you like. I suggest taking a camera or a sketch book and documenting and framing up the interesting things you will find.

(Annamarie Buller)

An Unexpected Dérive

This walk accompanies a map that was on display in the Rock Shop.

By attempting to follow the path on the map one will encounter blocks and distractions which invoke feelings of confusion, curiosity, and awareness.

The path begins down Plainfield in a predictable way but quickly asks the walker to confront the impossibility of the path by including such instructions as flying over buildings and walking across water.

The point at which the walker discovers that the path is impossible to follow is a turning point, forcing him of her to seek solutions to the inherent problem and make the connections/disticntions between his or her imagination of the walk and the reality of the space.

The intention of the walk is to bring the walker within sight of interesting areas, then leave him or her just out of reach of them. The walker then must decide to go out of the preplanned route and look into something interesting or continue on their way.

(Emily Egan)

Untitled Walk

This walk is a self contained porcelain devise. Small and delicate porcelain boxes are given to the walker. The piece of paper inside designates a time frame for the walk to take place and the other direction is to collect. The walker goes out on his or her own path and is guided to discover small objects to collect and place inside their box.

(Becky Siegwart)

Walk For One Person

AIM: To explore our relationship to the building and its surroundings through introspective experience. To examine the difference between visual and audio experiences and the way in which they change when translated into verbal/written language.

Begin in the central hallway of the top apartment floor (above the Rock Shop). Spend one minute looking around you at everything in your field of vision. You should pay attention to anything that interests you visually. Without changing position, close your eyes for a further minute and listen to everything that you can hear around you. Listen and imagine the space through everything that you hear. Immediately upon opening your eyesyou should write down the first word that comes to mind. This should be spontaneous and without logical thought.

Walk downstairs to the next apartment floor and repeat the exercise. Do so again on the ground floor of the shop and then again in the basement. You should have a list of four words relating to your experience.

Now walk outside and stand on the sidewalk opposite the shop. Look around you for a minute, listen for a minute and then write down the first four words that come to mind.

You should now have four words relating to inside the building and four relating to the immediate area outside. These can be compared to examine the differences and similarities between our experience of interior vs. exterior.

(Kate Aughey)

Walking In Rhythm

This walk is an audio based experiment in perceptions of space. Several audio clips have been combined into an approximately 15 minute audio file that will serve as a guide for the walk.

The walk can take place most anywhere. However, it is ideal for neighborhoods. The walker is to listen to the file on headphones and wait for the first clip to begin.

The walker will then begin to walk away from the shop, actively seeking sites or happenings in the area that fit the mood that the song/ audio clip has inspired within them.

If the walker has a camera, each image/ occurence that they find to match the mood of the song can be documented.

The purpose of this exercise is to highlight the multi-functional nature of a given area. It is very easy to form a single identity for a neighborhood/ area/ space and this walk encourages the walker to look for characteristics of the space that match the shifting and diverse moods of the audio.

Download the audio at

(Anthony Stepter)

Rhythm and Riddles of Rubbish

A walk for the brave and the slightly mad.

Necessities for walk:

• Writing utensil
• Writing surface
• Plastic bag (AKA Plastic satchel)

(1) Choose point of departure, armed with the three necessities.

(2) Begin walking to a known or created beat in your mind. The beat may (if you wish) be influenced by sensory perceived rhythms, as if a movie montage/ stroll/ canter/ saunter, etc. with your beat as your guide.

(3) As you spot litter (rubbish for our purposes), begin to feel your rhythm as you incorporate the mechanical rhythms of bending down, lifting rubbish, standing upright and placing the rubbish in your plastic satchel.

(4) Upon return, reflect upon what you collected and your rhythm and their possible connections/ meaning. Written reflection is optional.

(Anne Hale)

This walk will be designed by Google and Google Maps and your ability to come up with words spontaneously. In order to create this walk, you will need access to the internet.

Go to Google will be your access to the world wide web, to help you better understand your local neighborhood.

After accessing, enter "49505"+ "Grand Rapids" in the search box. 49505 is the area code that covers the Creston Neighborhood and Grand Rapids is the city in which Creston Heights exists.

In the search box, you will have enetered "49505"+ "Grand Rapids", now enter a third word. Here is an example: "49505"+ "Grand Rapids"+ "balloon". After you have entered this third word into the equation, hit Google Search.

Do this ten times, each time changing the third word in the search equation. After recording ten different addresses use the internet to access Upon accessing this, click on the directions tab. The site will ask for starting point address (i.e. starting point: 1515 Plainfield, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Ending point: 3000 N. Monroe, Grand Rapids, MI). This process will give you directions from the first address on your list to the second address. Write down the directions and then repeat the same process for the second and third addresses on your list and so on and so forth. After this process, you will have a wonderful walk through your neighborhood.

(Ben Schaafsma)

Untitled Walk #2

The following are written instructions for the map on view at the Civic Studio Rock Shop.

Walk alone or with a group of people during this experience. First walk out of the Civic Studio front door and go left to the next block to the bus stop. Wait until the first #11 bus stops and get on. Ride this bus through the city until the stop for Monroe Center is called on the speaker system. Get off the bus, cross the road going East with the ice skating rink and the new construction on your right. Follow the sidewalk until Ottawa Street. Go South one block, then go East on Louis, which eventually turns into Fulton. Continue East. When you eventually arrive at Sheldon Street, go North. On the West side of the street, up two blocks, you will find the UICA. Go inside. There is good art there.


Rail Bridge Walk

The walk starts at the studio and heads toward the railroad. Walk west from the studio on side streets, and when you come to the railroad follow it North. You then cross the railbridge over the Grand River, after seeing the water filtration plant from behind. You then approach the studio from the rear, hop the garage wall from the street behind Plainfield, and enter the studio through the back door.

(Neil Hubert)

Roll To The River Like Water

1. Start anywhere on Plainfield.
2. Be water and flow to the River by walking.

Be broadly guided by getting to the River. At each point in the walk, be guided by how water would flow on your immediate topography. Bring along some water. If at any point you don't know which way to go, pour a little water on the ground and follow the path it makes. When you get to the River, touch the water with your toe.

(Paul Wittenbraker)