Mosses Again a Source of Wonder, Room 18

(Performance/ Installation work showed in Rm 18, Bonington, Nottingham Trent University)

This ongoing research project seeks to pare walking back to its most basic form, focusing on the act of walking itself through the sense of touch, and on the feet as site of exchange between outside and inside. In doing so, this responds to that core phenomenological pursuit of shedding those thoughts, layers (physical and otherwise), assumptions, and presuppositions which dilute and mask experience, and returning to the experience as it is lived. This practice of walking then becomes new to me as I disrupt my usual ways of walking and find a greater receptivity in which the walk is experienced differently. I become, perhaps, unexperienced walker in that the act of walking becomes strange despite its familiarity and a sense of wonder is found.


This revelatory disruption of the act of walking is extended to art-making as photography, a tool I regularly use in my practice and everyday life, is similarly pared back to a more basic form. Analogue photography makes photography strange to me and introduces a materiality to the process which necessarily makes taking and printing photographs a phenomenological practice in the same way as walking. Cassette tapes and analogue audio-recording methods likewise offer a new practice, dramatically different to using a digital Tascam recorder and editing sound on a computer.


This simplifying and defamiliarisation of both walking and art methodologies aligns with the epoche-reduction of phenomenology in that reducing both practices to their most immediate and unprocessed forms acts as a kind of bracketing. This is a bracketing of the thought and language which affects how we receive experience, however also acknowledges that this is not a task that can be completed absolutely, and instead acts to acknowledge what is brought to experience in order to introduce a greater openness.


The methodologies themselves allow the process to become evident in any artwork shared as imperfections necessarily translate and make obvious the analogue nature of the methods use. An underdeveloped film, a crackly audio-recording, windswept hair flying into shot, all translate something of the original experience and communicate something of what it was not just to walk, but to document the walk.


This transparency in the documentation of the walk corresponds to the vocative voice, another aspect of phenomenology critical to this project. The vocative allows the experience to be conjured, translated to others, and given over so that they can receive it and have a subsequent experience as a result. The glitchiness of the walking and documenting act as visceral raw effects in contrast to hyper-processed special effects which distance themselves from any original experience.

This moment of sharing, the first of an anticipated sequence of iterative moments of sharing within the project, saw me trial a performative means of presenting my research.


Over the course of the research project, documents from barefoot walks are accumulated and become an index from which narratives can be drawn according to different factors, and which may introduce particular socio-political commentaries or questions. The curation of documents into artwork in the form of installation/ performance allows for these iterative moments of sharing.



Mosses Again a Source of Wonder, Room 18 invited two people into the space to sit at a prepared table upon which a folder and micro-casette recorder were placed.


Once seated, the performance began as I sat in the opposite seat and read from a text which gave a linguistic account of the experience of moss and mud on barefoot walks. As I read I slowly and intentionally placed photographs on the table facing the two people.


About two thirds of the way into the text I began the cassette player which played sounds of walking (distorted footfall, birdsong and ambient sounds).


I continued to the end of the text and placed the sheet of writing on the other side of the photos, then allowed the casette to play for around a minute more before stopping this to mark the end of the performance.