The Walk project is an idea that came to me in 2004 while doing my regular noontime walks through a local park in my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. That walk takes me from a downtown, very urban environment, over a major river, through an old residential area and into the very different world of. It's a great park because it is barely "civilized". There are a few playing fields, one or two signs, and some gravel paths. But otherwise it's a park gone wild. There are river bottom forests, elevated train tracks and bridges, shopping carts, remnants of late night parties, graffiti and the rough constructions of freeride cyclists.
My very first attempt at creating a “Walk_Journey” was along a one hour walk through Lagimodière Gaboury Historic Park on a warm fall day in 2004. My intention was to use all images taken along the trail and in the order they were taken. I envisaged a fairly straightforward lining up of the pictures, one after the other, to more-or-less replicate the journey. However, once I started assembling them, the potential to intensify the experience through blending and flipping became apparent. All the photos were used and in the sequence they were taken, but the blending started to lend the dreamlike continuity, which becomes much more apparent in my later Journeys.
The first official Walk_Journey was Walk 1, a trip along the trails of Port Moody, British Columbia. The walk and the photography occurred early in the formative stages of the project. I had not worked out exactly what the final results would look like. However, the typically overcast West Coast conditions led to a slower shutter speed and, from this experiment, the blur became a much more pronounced technique for emphasizing movement in the project.
After Walk 1, I wanted to explore, in a more manageable format, the techniques for creating blurred motion studies as well as methods of digitally knitting the individual pictures into one cohesive, final image. This resulted in the Walk_Sketches series, aptly named as they are indeed like quick charcoal studies that would be used to develop the final, full-colour canvases for the Walk_Journey series. Walk 2 and Walk 3 are both informed by the knowledge and skills gained in creating the Sketches.
While developing the physical techniques for this project was important, the interpretation of what I was experiencing along my walks was equally important. If you carefully dissect the places passed through on a typical foot-powered journey, they are often quite varied and, while we tend to remember what might be classified as “beautiful” or “attractive”, on the same trip we quite often have to pass through zones considered “ugly” or perhaps just too ordinary and mundane to even register in our minds. An idyllic path might lead through a tranquil wooded lot, but there are still the signs, the parking lots, the cars, the outhouses and the trail itself, background details of the journey that we may not be conscious of (as we concentrate on the beautiful trees and what-have-you) but do have a defining impact on that tiny portion of the world just traversed. I want to capture those dramatic changes of environments I encounter during the course of a walk.
Walks 1, 2 and 3 resulted in unwieldy images that are up to fifty feet long. I have thought of various ways of presenting these: they could be hung in long corridors, or completely wrap around a room or gallery, for example. However, it was important to me that I find a way that made the pictures accessible on a continuous basis and without the need for a large installation. I chose the book form. Each is presented in its entirety as an accordion-folded image in a hardbound casing. The long picture can be viewed page-by-page as a hand-holdable book or it can be pulled out (in a very large room) and displayed as one long continuous image. The image is printed on a kozo (mulberry) Japanese paper, lightly coated for inkjet printing. This is one of the few papers that could be folded across the image, was tough enough to be handled, and still allowed a decent image quality (vibrant colours, deep blacks). The hardcover casing is covered with a rich Japanese bookcloth. I like that, hidden within its sedate elegant covers, a riot of colour and chaotic energy is waiting to escape.
Keywords:artist, artist books, book, giclee, hand made book, inkjet, omand, photograph, port moody, vancouver, walk, walk project, winnipeg
© David Firman