Sunday, 12 October 2008

where do I start?

Yesterday was the first official day of walking research for Re:::lay, taking us to two different spaces to create a piece for our first participants, Mik and Mike, friends continuing to stay in touch over the last couple of years between Edinburgh and Nottingham. Laura is in Edinburgh and I (Sorrel) am in Nottingham.

Unlike Laura mentioned in her last blog entry, my first challenge was how to lose myself in Nottingham, a city I have lived in for well over a decade!

When I say lose I don't mean get lost so I can't find my way home but more; lose - so that I can absorb the streets afresh, letting go of the distractions of my own association, memories and familiar routes.

With a closer look, I realized my 'knowing eye' had been misnaming streets and dismissing others. Once on foot the distraction of daily jobs was certainly the first hurdle; how to walk through town without being drawn into shops for bits and pieces, that bag I really need or the stamps i meant to get yesterday! I found that it took huge discipline to ignore these pulls, almost denying my eyes their usual landmarks.

Keeping my nose to the ground I focused on the idea of Laura walking in Edinburgh, us both heading for the same location (a corresponding point on both city maps we had chosen to walk towards the day before).

I found my focus in keeping my attention on the present, aware of each step, the unfolding view and weather. This journey did take me to a street I have never walked down before. Its position and accent allowing me a new view of the city.

When I reached the destination, I called Laura to hear where she was, but midway through her description my phone battery died. I continued my walk, willing her to do the same.

The ground and air was damp with a misty rain (reminding me of the rain that we have been warned about by several of our participants). This rain is the type that just makes you soggy and your hair frizz but it also seems to make things shine, and as the daylight fades you see the lights caught by its wet sheen.

As I head through town with the light almost gone, I decided to walk up Queen Street, the very street that was the starting point for our first collaboration in 2006-- with me in Nottingham at the intersection of King and Queen and Laura in Toronto where her King St. West and Queen St. West also meet.

I paused at the bottom of the street behind a lady dressed in a raincoat and clear plastic hood. She was looking and standing where I wanted to stand and look up the street. We stood there for a few minutes. It was really interesting because we were both really looking, being really being present on Queen St. I took a picture and then I walked on. The rest of these pictures I took on that street.

I wonder how many times I have walked up and down this street without really seeing it?

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