Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Walking Encyclopaedia - The First Submission

We realise that in order to get as broad and comprehensive a survey of walking artist practices in time for the opening of The Walking Encyclopaedia on February 7th 2014, we've got to start early. The response top the call out for works has been encouraging and we're getting a real sense that there is a collective will to see the project happen successfully.

To that end, it was really heartening today to kick of the physical collection with a submission from Phil Smith, of Wrights & Sites, Mythogeography and Counter Tourism fame. We met Phil, along with the rest of Wrights and Sites, at last year's Sideways Festival of walking in Belgium and were lucky enough to share a small walk around the perimeter of a holiday camp we were staying in.  Phil lectures at Plymouth University where his research interests centre around performance and theatre, tourism and walking as a cultural activity.

Phil has sent us a large package, containing the following components and is the perfect start to the survey.

  • GeoQuest – A journey of exploration through the English Riviera Global Geopark - CD 
  • A Dawlish Warren Low Tide Walk - CD 
  • Counter-Tourism – A pocketbook  - BOOK 
  • Crab Step Cards and Maps – assorted cards and maps 
  • Atmospheric Maps – an invitation to explore around the route of Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway
  • The Great Walk – A documentary of sorts by Clive Austin  - DVD 
  • Mythogeography is…  - LEAFLET 
  • Mythogeography a Guide to Walking Sideways - BOOK 
  • Crab Walks  - MAPS 
  • The Discoverie of Signs and Wonders – Wrights and Sites - PUBLICATION 
  • A Sardine Street Box of Tricks  - BOOK 
  • A Mis-guided Tour - CD 
  • Tactics For Counter Tourism by Crab Man and Siobhan McKeown  - CD 

Wrights and Sites is a group of artist-researchers with a special relationship to site, city/landscape and walking, of which Phil is one quarter.

From their website
Formed in UK, 1997, Wrights & Sites are four artist-researchers (Stephen HodgeSimon PersighettiPhil Smith  Cathy Turner) whose work is focused on peoples' relationships to places, cities, landscape and walking. We employ disrupted walking strategies as tools for playful debate, collaboration, intervention and spatial meaning-making.
Our work, like walking, is intended to be porous; for others to read into it and connect from it and for the specificities and temporalities of sites to fracture, erode and distress it. We have sought to pass on our dramaturgical strategies to others: to audiences, readers, visitors and passersby.
The outcomes of our work vary from project to project, but frequently include site-specific performance, Mis-Guided Tours (e.g. Stadtverf├╝hrungen in Wien, Tanzquartier Wien and Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, 2007), published Mis-Guides (e.g. A Mis-Guide To Anywhere, 2006), 'drifts', mythogeographic mapping, public art (e.g. Wonders of Weston, CABE/Situations, Weston-super-Mare, 2010) or installations (e.g. mis-guided, Belluard Bollwerk International Festival, Fribourg, 2008), and public presentations and articles.
Today, walking and exploring the everyday remains at the heart of all we do, and what we make seeks to facilitate walker-artists, walker-makers and everyday pedestrians to become partners in ascribing significance to place.
MythoGeography  is a website for walkers, artists who use walking in their art, students who are discovering and studying a world of resistant and aesthetic walking, anyone who is troubled by official guides to anywhere, urbanists, geographers, site-specific performers, town planners and un-planners, urban explorers, entrepreneurs and activists who don’t want to drive to the revolution.

As part of MythoGeography, Phil presents a specific strand Counter-Tourism which encourages a mass re-perception of the heritage industry. It is an approach to place/space that celebrates the multiplicities of meaning in every heritage site and upsets the industry’s attempts at meaning-control and homogenisation. It’s what gives counter-tourism its emphasis on the sites of heritage, on the places themselves.

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