Walking and Mapping
Contemporary artists beginning with Guy Debord and Richard Long have returned again and again to the walking motif. Debord and his friends tracked the urban flows of Paris; Long trampled a path in the grass and snapped a picture of the result (A Line Made by Walking). Mapping is a way for us to locate ourselves in the world physically, culturally, or psychologically; Debord produced maps like collages that traced the “psychogeography” of Paris. Today, the convergence of global networks, online databases, and new tools for location-based mapping coincides with a resurgence of interest in walking as an art form. In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke explores a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. Some chart “emotional GPS”; some use GPS for creating “datascapes” while others use their legs to do “speculative mapping.” Many work with scientists, designers, and engineers.
O’Rourke offers close readings of these works—many of which she was able to experience firsthand—and situates them in relation to landmark works from the past half-century. She shows that the infinitesimal details of each of these projects take on more significance in conjunction with others. Together, they form a new entity, a dynamic whole greater than the sum of its parts. By alternating close study of selected projects with a broader view of their place in a bigger picture, Walking and Mapping itself maps a complex phenomena.
About the Author
Karen O’Rourke is a multimedia and communications artist whose work has been exhibited in Europe, the United States, and South America.
“At once searching, lucid and engaged, Walking and Mapping is a remarkable primer for the study of an important and increasingly prominent cultural overlap.”—Cartographica
“Walking and Mapping is a veritable trove of generative ideas systematically unearthed as a ‘subjective science’ for inspired modes of engagement with the ground of everyday life. From Oulipian Pataphysics and Lettrist drift to Stalkers traversing the periphery of Rome, and from artists tracing Mexican and Moroccan border and immigration routes to microscopic landscapes and Intifada checkpoints, O’Rourke’s book is a landmark contribution to authentic countercultural thinking.”
—Kristine Stiles, France Family Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University
“Karen O’Rourke clearly has wide knowledge of the field and has provided a valuable and informative book. Walking and Mapping brings together, in an intelligent fashion, the state of the art in walking artistic practice. I am sure that for many readers it will be an engaging volume that will spark lots of new ideas.”
—Martin Dodge, Geography Department, The University of Manchester, and coauthor of Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life
“In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke links the ‘territories’ of art and cartography. Other works have addressed this as a series of conference-delivered chapters, but Walking and Mapping provides a detailed investigation of the topic—from the artist’s perspective.”
—William Cartwright, School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University