W is for Walking (backwards)

| April 8, 2014

“…moving quickly, trying to get through the crowd to catch the bus. You have two blocks to navigate, and the crowd makes it difficult. You weave through the people, taking bigger and smaller steps, looking for holes and then filling them, inhabiting them momentarily before they close”.

Yet, “Walking ‘alone’ does not exist. Walking in/with the world: the only kind of walking” (Manning, p. 29)

From Colossal.com:

What you’re watching is just a short preview of a 9-hour movie that was aired in its entirety in France called Tokyo Reverse, part of a bizarre TV programming trend called Slow TV that has been regarded as a “small revolution.” According to the BBC, similar video projects aired in Norway include a 6-day video of a ferry journey through the fjords which attracted viewership of more than half the country.

In urban spaces, especially in densely populated cities in advanced capitalist societies, movement and walking in particular appears to be highly regulated. The regulative principle for walking is, as in most regulated activities under a capitalist model, effectiveness. We, who live in advanced capitalist societies for most of our lives, take this principle of effectiveness for granted. And yet, traversing space effectively often means going through places ignoring context, disregarding its aesthetic qualities, neglecting the attractive and repulsive features of the environment.

However, far from the natural semblance that effectiveness projects as general method for motion, from anaesthetic point of view, effectiveness is quite unnatural. Effective motion can appear, from an aesthetic perspective, as absurd. And sometimes, to reveal qualities to which we are blinded by habit, it helps to adopt a different point of view. That is precisely what THE ARTIST does when walking in reverse through the streets of busy Tokyo—and if you are looking for effectiveness in walking, Tokyo is your place.