Sunday, January 17, 2010


A little video offering that came about as my contribution to a class exercise over at Performing Vancouver that asked students to use Michel de Certeau's famous essay as the impetus for their own walkings of the city.

In my case I used my mini-DV camera to retrace two partial routes I took back in February 2009 and September 2008 as part of separate site-specific performance works in the DTES, and about which I have previously blogged here and here.

As de Certeau suggests, my attempts at capturing and recording a "nowhen" that has long since passed me by, was an interesting exercise in forgetting.

"It is true that the operations of walking on can be traced on city maps in such a way as to transcribe their paths (here, well-trodden, there very faint) and their trajectories (going this way and not that). But these thick or thin curves only refer, like words, to the absence of what has passed by. Surveys of routes miss what was: the act of passing by. The operation of walking, wandering, or 'window shopping,' that is, the activity of passers-by, is transformed into points that draw a totalizing and reversible line on the map. They allow us to grasp only a relic set in the nowhen of a surface of projection. Itself visible, it has the effect of making invisible the operation that made it possible. These fixations constitute procedures for forgetting. The trace left behind is substituted for the practice. It exhibits the (voracious) property that the geographical system has of being able to transform action into legibility, but in doing so it causes a way of being in the world to be forgotten." (Michel de Certeau, "Walking the City," 97)


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