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Walking in rhythms: place, regulation, style and the flow of experience

Edensor, Timothy J. (2010) Walking in rhythms: place, regulation, style and the flow of experience. Visual studies, 25 (1). pp. 69-79. ISSN 1472-586X

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Abstract

Following Henri Lefebvre, this article investigates the distinct rhythms of walking and the ways that it intersects with diverse temporalities and spaces. Because walking is practised and experienced in innumerable contexts, generalisations are problematic. Nevertheless, this article identifies some of the ways in which walking produces time-space and the experience of place. I subsequently discuss how walking is inevitably conditioned by multiple forms of regulation but possesses peculiar characteristics that always make these orderings of space and body contingent, facilitating immanent, often unexpected experiences. I further examine how walking is surrounded by notions of style that reproduce particular rhythms. Walking is inevitably, therefore, suffused with contending notions about how and where to walk, by ideals and conventions laid down by the powerful and not-so-powerful. However, I pay attention to the multiple phases and moments of walking. Both the conventions of walking and its unfolding, sensual and contingent apprehension are difficult to elucidate in academic prose, and luckily there are several challenging walking artists whose work highlights these issues and the rhythmic dimensions of walking. Accordingly, I draw upon the 'textworks' of Richard Long, Francis Alys's series of walks entitled Railings, and Jeremy Deller's 2009 Procession to elicit some of the rhythms of walking.

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