#71: Walking in the Apartment & Other Assorted Inspiration

#71: Walking in the Apartment & Other Assorted Inspiration

We’re now officially in summer. It’s been a scorching June already in Minnesota with drought conditions and a record breaking streak of 90 degree weather. It has been tough to get out for long walks, although I have a few under my belt.

It’s interesting how the seasons can change our routines. I have always preferred to walk first thing in the morning when I have the most energy and a fresh mind. But since my move to Minnesota, my walks have tended to be in the afternoon.

However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been walking in the morning. The walks have just been much shorter. I walk from my bed to the kitchen, and from the kitchen to my desk, and then into the bathroom a few times.

There aren’t many places to go. From time to time, I will pace back and forth when I am stuck on a project and I want to get into divergent thinking mode. This is as close as I get to taking a walk in my apartment!

I never thought much about these patterns, or what they might represent. Walking inside was a blind spot. But I’ve learned if you give the internet time, you’re likely to find amazing art and ideas that help you understand your blind spots.

In this issue, I am sharing a few projects, articles and ideas that have inspired me recently. Enjoy!

Walking & Art: British artist Oliver Beer made a splash a few years ago with their exhibition ‘Vessel Orchestra’ at the Met Breur. I didn’t catch that show but I did catch this tweet about his 2008 piece ‘Oma’s Floor.’

It’s a fairly simple concept and when I saw it, I immediately thought about the desire paths I find so fascinating. In both cases, the markings are made by repeated, almost ritualistic walking. I can only guess here but I would say the kitchen might be the room that gets the most foot traffic in a house, so looking at Oma’s patterns has me thinking about our ritualistic walks in a new way. There’s a lot to unpack here if you dig deeper about domesticity, family roles and the basic functionality of how our homes are constructed.

What is Hyperart Thomasson?

Thomasson or Hyperart Thomasson (Japanese: Tomason トマソン or Chōgeijutsu Tomason 超芸術トマソン) is a type of conceptual art named by the Japanese artist Akasegawa Genpei in the 1980s. It refers to a useless relic or structure that has been preserved as part of a building or the built environment, which has become a piece of art in itself. These objects, although having the appearance of pieces of conceptual art, were not created to be viewed as such. Akasegawa deemed them even more art-like than art itself, and named them "hyperart." In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in Thomasson, especially since the publication of Akasegawa's work on the subject in English in 2010.

Urbanism & Art: I finally learned thanks to a Twitter DM from my pal Nick Vossbrinkwho has been blogging about photography for about as long as anyone I know.

Naturally when I read the description on Wikipedia, I got excited and wondered how I had not come across this already. But holy shit! If you walk enough with an artistic mindset, you’ll certainly have come across these type of structures and thought immediately that they could sculptures.

Now I have a name for them. I don’t know what’s in my archive that might fit into this category (the stairs in the intro photo?). Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s more rare than what I am perceiving but I definitely need to do some further research to learn more.

Interestingly, the paperback book ‘Hyperart Thomasson’ is going for $907 on Amazon.

I have one particular series from New York that I think relates to this but I have been procrastinating on putting it together because there’s video involved and that complicates matters for me.

If you have any examples, please send me an email: info@bryanformhals.com

The Map of Postman Idris Mathias

Maps: If you click through on the Tweet you can find additional parts of the map or you can view it here on the website of the National Library of Wales. I couldn’t find much more on Mathias. It looks like they wrote a book as well.

But this map is remarkable and I love the connection to walking and work. It’s such a great example of finding a way to inject art and creativity into your day job. It’s interesting how postal works have such a strong association with walking.

It’s not surprising to me that you’ll find a large number of artists amongst them as well. I have to admit I have contemplated what it would be like to experience this type of work as it would allow me to walk every day. As I live in Minnesota though, that would require walking in the dead of winter which is not a pleasant experience.

Wandering City by Dinah Diwan

I started the “Wandering City” series in 2018. It began with a piece of my diary that I wrote in 1975. I was writing every day in this diary, describing a lot of paths that I used to walk in Beirut when I was 13. I was really struck by that. We were extremely free at that moment; we could do whatever we wanted, but we were well aware of the political situation. I would write everything that was happening in Lebanon during the beginning of the Civil War.

The process is, I transfer my map onto the cotton canvas and I pin everything and then I draw on top of it with acrylic pencil, layer by layer. Only the writing is stitched. When I do my maps, it takes forever, but it’s a kind of meditation and I don’t want it to finish. It’s a way to stay in my childhood. I’m trying to say goodbye to Beirut, but it’s not working.

Maps & Art: I love these colorful maps from artist Dina Diwan. You can see more of them on their website, and read more about the project over here.

It’s encouraging to see these type of map projects. It gives me the inspiration to keep going with my experiments. Maps are so deeply embedded in our psyche and I’ve been wondering how that works when you are out walking.

I make ink and paper drawings of every recorded, and recently spent some time flipping through my notebooks to see how I would react. My overall thought was that each walk, and map felt unique, and individual, a singular imprint on my memory, which is really the essence of life. Every day is unique, every day we can create a new map.

Interview with Josh Lipnik of Midwest Modern

The images on Midwest Modern can feel familiar, even if you’ve never seen them before, because they are often echoes of places you do know. They’re as much nostalgic as they are aesthetic. The account is about documentation, but it’s also an invitation for Lipnik’s audience to collaborate on what these places mean, an opportunity for architecture to come alive through collective memory. “What I hope—and it happens pretty often—is that people will actually tell me stories about the buildings I post, Lipnik says. “Either it’s an older person who remembers something that it used to be, or someone who has some memory, or there’s one guy that will always reply ‘I smoked weed there.’”

Photography & Architecture: I started following Josh a few months ago. His feed is a great mix of curation and original photography, and as I am now living in the midwest, it the architecture feels very familiar. It might be too niche if you’re more interested in art photography.

But I enjoy this type of deep dive into a topic and looking at the architecture helps build a visual library in my mind. It’s also a good use of Twitter. I enjoy when his posts float through my feed.

Westward Consumption by Jason Lazarus

The idea of the project, titled “The Westward Consumption,” arose naturally during the hands-on process. Whilst waiting in the darkroom for images to expose or for prints to process, there is a lot of time that can be spent on thinking, brainstorming, and processing ideas and thoughts. Combined with Lazarus shooting new material in the American Southwest, it gave him a reason to pursue this project.

“You start thinking about what sort of imagery works best with the process, how you can use and manipulate the process to encourage a story or theme, and then, if it’s something you’re keen on developing, your passion for the subject matter fills in the rest of the blanks,” he explains how his projects originate. Although any planning prior doesn’t completely eliminate “misfires, failures, and restarts.” In fact, Lazarus welcomes them as an important part of the learning process as well as that of creative exploration.

In the past I have been overly skeptical of projects that originate in darkroom projects. But as I have become more experimental in my own process, I have realized that process and experimentation can help you uncover meaning.

In this article, Lazarus does a good job of articulating how that works with his own work. He’s clearly a very thoughtful photographer and artist, and damn, I just love the aesthetics of these photographs. They hit on all cylinders for me and you can tell, he’s continuing to push the ideas, especially when it comes to subject matter, and that’s key!

Challenging Our Understanding of Time

Birth is one of a growing chorus of philosophers, social scientists, authors and artists who, for various reasons, are arguing that we need to urgently reassess our relationship with the clock. The clock, they say, does not measure time; it produces it. “Coordinated time is a mathematical construct, not the measure of a specific phenomenon,” Birth wrote in his book “Objects of Time.”

That mathematical construct has been shaped over centuries by science, yes, but also power, religion, capitalism and colonialism. The clock is extremely useful as a social tool that helps us coordinate ourselves around the things we care about, but it is also deeply politically charged. And like anything political, it benefits some, marginalizes others and blinds us from a true understanding of what is really going on.

The more we synchronize ourselves with the time in clocks, the more we fall out of sync with our own bodies and the world around us.

Time: I have read this article three times already. I would follow a publication that was just devoted to issues, stories and art about time.

One interesting idea I have been thinking about is the notion of walking time. When I am out on a long walk my relationship and perception of time completely changes. The beginning part of the walk is normally a rush and I feel like time is speeding up for me. But once I hit the middle of the walk, maybe around mile 5-7, then I start to feel it slow down.

At the end of the walk, the final miles can feel like they are taking hours. It’s an interesting part of the experience, and one reason I enjoy the long walks so much. It’s like a trip to a different dimension of time.

Video: The Photography of Hill & Bernd Becher, the importance of memory.

Photographer Tatiana Hopper has a year old Youtube channel that has some interesting videos on it. She splices archival footage with the photographers work to create an insightful narrative. They are basically an introduction to the work, and meant for educational purposes, but I think they are well done, especially given most of what you see from photography channels are tips and tricks, or personality driven.

Further Reading

I’m a photographer, writer and strategist from Saint Cloud, Minnesota. This is my newsletter on art, walking, and mindfulness. Each issue, I share new work from my projects and try to make connections between ideas, articles and people that fascinate me. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram & Twitter