Alice Twemlow, Design Lector at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague and associate professor at Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University

In her presentation, Twemlow highlighted the "huge variety of ways to approach walking" used by artistic researchers. How do researchers, visual artists, musicians, and designers experience walking? How do they conceive the path, the rhythm, the direction of the walk? How do they choose to document it? And finally, what is the role of the walk in their work – is it an integral part of the working process, a preliminary stage to it, or an outcome?

Twemlow’s recent research project aims to map “the strategy of walking from an art and design perspective”: The project was accompanied by an exhibition featuring projects by KABK tutors and students in which walking plays a pivotal role; it was also followed by a publication by the KABK Design Lectorate, which is available online:

One important idea made by Twemlow was the link between walking and the current lockdown situation. The forced circumstances has sent us out walking not in order to get somewhere in particular, but for the sake of the act itself. In this sense, walking enables us to "rediscover our local environments, sensed through our bodies in motion" – an idea which correlates with walking as a creative and scholarly practice.

Lectorate Design KABK, Walking as a Method in Artistic Research, with Alice Twemlow

(9 March 2021, online)

Justin Bennett, teacher in the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory, the Hague, member of Interdisciplinary Research Group (Royal Academy of Art and Royal Conservatory, The Hague, and Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University).

Bennett uses his own walking experience to compose audio-guided sound walks featuring his own voice in combination with field recordings and sound effects. During the ARC session he introduced his strategy of exploring unfamiliar cities and preparing the audio guide: getting to know the new location, employing various methods for devising a route – planned or spontaneous, and rendering his first-hand experience as the narrative for the audio guide. The result is a sound work or a composed musical form that documents the creative and exploratory process of walking, and invites the audience to participate in the experience.

Dunne presented the artistic and research work conducted during her studies. One of the most important issues she addressed was the experience of walking as a struggle, from the perspective of a disabled body that has to invest substantial physical effort to overcome obstacles along the way. In this sense, the body of the walker becomes an archive in itself, containing traces of their personal history.

Rebecca Dunne, alumna, MA Artistic Research, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague

A text by Dunne, exploring different modes of walking:

Sophie van Romburgh, lecturer at LUCAS, Leiden University

Van Romburgh’s project has been ongoing since 2012. It features routine loop hykes in natural landscape: “I walk the trail 'tlil the trail walks me and I bring you the sand in my shoes.” During the session Van Romburgh delivered a text / performance piece she created at the very beginning of the project. It recounts the relation between the walker and nature – for example by presenting the archived traces of earth left in her shoes after each walk – and creates an out-of-time and out-of-space experience, in which the body of the walker disconnects from their normal working and living reality and becomes part of the surrounding ecology.

Sarah E. Truman and Stephanie Springgay are the co-editors of the book Walking Methodologies in a More-than-human World: WalkingLab. The book explores the “more-than-human dimensions of walking methodologies by engaging with feminist new materialisms, posthumanisms, affect theory, trans and queer theory, Indigenous theories, and critical race and disability scholarship.”

Springgay also created a series of podcasts and online scores with the aim to open up WalkingLab's content to the public worldwide and outside the academia. This body of work tries to address the limitations posed by the global pandemic and the resulting travel and movement restrictions – everyone is invited to listen and can follow the interactive routes from wherever they are:

During the session Springgay presented her WalkingLAb project: a group of walking practitioners who commit to “an ethical and political intention” in their organized walking tours. For example, WalkingLAb’s tours try to disrupt the common trope of the Flâneur – the traditional notion of the male stroller or idle walker – a notion which ignores race, gender, and disability and assumes the privileged ability to walk everywhere safely. WalkingLAb’s activist and critical approach also tries to re-address conventional narratives relating to land and place, for example by exposing Canada’s colonial history through guided walks / lectures.

Stephanie Springgay, director, School of the Arts and associate professor, McMaster University; co-director of WalkingLab