From 2017-2018, I became enthralled with walking as a way of learning and experiencing. At the same time, I was intrigued by the way that phones affect walking in the urban landscape. Below is a spatial installation I created in 2018, and the many iterations that led up to it. At the same time, from 2017 to 2018, I was creating a piece of choreography that is depicted below the installation. Both pieces relate to pedestrian movement as it is controlled by cell phones.
walking, a state of being
Includes: Step, step, look up, look down, look around. Say hello, take out your phone. Make eye contact, not too much. Step, Step.
Walking is the most simplified form of dance. As a dancer and choreographer, I am attuned to the ways in which people move through buildings, on the sidewalk, or down narrow walkways. The wonder of walking is that no moment can be replicated. Each movement is fleeting and forgotten, and often a response to either your physical environment or the people around you. I work in many different mediums, to abstract and replicate moving bodies and create rhythmic spaces. There is beauty not only in walking, but in the way that we view the world while we move and learn with our bodies. This beauty and ability to engage with our environment is often obstructed by technology, and our daily rhythm of movement is dictated by our cell phones. Within this room, I document an experience of being alive in the digital age. I created a fictitious landscape that blends organic and technological elements, a juxtaposition to the rest of Wilson Hall.
I learn through movement, through experiencing, and it is through this interest that I create art. As a child, I never wore shoes, and preferred the feeling of the mud, sand, and grass moving through my toes. For me, the natural world is one of the few places that releases me from my devices. For this reason, I chose to transport the entropic world of nature into this small room by covering the floor with rocks; each one is individually created by the natural world, a stark juxtaposition to the calculated, mechanical character of technology. The rocks heighten your awareness and amplify the sound and sensation of walking. Each day we enter the public stage with our phones, and constantly switch our attention between what’s going on around us and our screens. Our phones are windows into different places, people far away, a lens through which we see the world. You are welcome to use your own phone within the space to frame your experience. Marcel Duchamp once said that a work of art is completed by the observer or listener and that is what this piece should be; the interaction of the viewer is the last component of this work that fortunately, I cannot control.
My question to you as you enter: are places and the people within them losing their significance as we become lost within our devices?
The projection on the floor, and two screens:
Choreography: Sara Dotterer
Music: Dance IV by Philip Glass and Spindrift by Colin Stetson
This piece is based on my research of pedestrian usage of smartphones in NYC. A recent article in the New York Times reads, “You see them everywhere: people walking with their eyes glued to their mobile phone screens on busy streets. But walking and texting can be dangerous.” The pedestrian-smartphone relationship pervades the streets, sidewalks, and parks of America. There is a choice that individuals make between two types of presence: virtual vs. physical. Which do you place precedence on as you walk down the street?