A compilation of my walks around NEW YORK CITY and an exploration of "walking".
Something to learn, something to love.
I was running by Chelsea piers from 23rd to 50th on Sunday and there was an event which was “walk to defeat ALS”. There was many participants in the walk, from people running to kids jumping around. It may have been because I was running and it cleared my head, and I have not gone for run in a while, but it got me thinking of this idea of intersubjectivity discussed in our earlier class.
How we know a space and orientate ourselves is by our background and experiences. The idea of walking for a cause, from people for other people. People can come from many different background and culture, but they gather for one day to share a common thing that they have experienced with. Some by direct association and some by distant relation. It could be that their personal reason during the walk is either for their family member who suffered through ALS, support the cause, or to just have the experience of walking with many different people. Kids may have been in the walk because their parents make them follow. Or some bring their ill family or friend to come take the walk with them.
However, there is a common understanding within the walking community. They understand this cause is for one reason, which is ALS, and they all have a relation because of this one reason. It is also a little wider than just a certain agreement, it is also a certain recognition of a cause between strangers. People empathize, sympathize and identify with one another in that walk. This walk works because people have a certain kind of relationship even though they vary.
And I thought it was very refreshing because I have never been into the idea of walking for a cause and have thought that walks doesn’t change the fact that the illness or issue still exist. It is also interesting because this idea of public gathering for a cause I was looking at for my second assignment which was the Occupy Wall St and it never really occurred to me to think why and how these public gathering work.
My walk to the East Harlem Waterfront had me think of the idea of territory that was discussed in the previous class. The boundaries that we see as foreigners at a place may not mean the same to the community living there. Perhaps what we see as physical boundaries may be our psychological divide in between cultures and communities. For example, “how can I feel welcome walking through a public housing, with faces staring at me, to get to the waterfront?” That is a question that I ask myself, but the community may have a different question relating to what they feel their boundary is - “how can the noise and danger of the FDR keep me safe?” It is interesting to note how close the housing compound to the highway is. But I wouldn’t necessarily think about that as I was walking since my thoughts are only psychological than having a physical and psychological attachment to the place.
It may be that my thoughts were formed by how I usually interact with people in my neighborhood, or in the case of Chelsea, lack of interaction but everyone is doing the things that I do, so that makes up a community. East Harlem’s community is largely Latino and they have a very tight knit community. This could also relate back to the concept of the field of self, how we define our place in a space is by the sets of interaction or relationships we have from the place, or the culture we come from,
While I was walking back from the waterfront, I passed by another public housing, which had what I think was a building lock party. There was music and some dancing, and a host talking to the crowd, which I thought was so great in building community engagement and simply to get to know your neighbors, which I realized, I have never come across living in Midtown / Chelsea area. I don’t even know who my next door neighbor is or what they look like, except for the fact that they have a dog.
We had a birthday lunch party at the park for two of our friends and had the traditional birthday wish and as I participated in capturing the moment I realized that everyone was looking through their lenses instead of properly celebrating. This creates this boundary of how we really experience the moment in comparison to what is captured by the screen. This relates to the discussion in simulation vs nature. For instance the phone creates an augmented reality to what has been filtered from the outside experience. From the gadgets it seem that everything is going well but in truth, we had a very stressful lunch with 11 people and mixed up reservation that led to us being separated into 3 groups of tables, is it was not a proper celebratory lunch until the dessert time. However, the viewers won’t know that from just looking at what was projected from the screen. Simulation of the virtual distorts what Is real and authentic even in the way we experience moments in our daily life
For my assignment 2 I went to Zuccotti Park to observe the characteristics of the space and the people who use the space and I was particularly interested in the patterns that it makes from the different moments I went there. I went there 4 times, each different days and somewhat different times and the above result is a generalized patterns of where Zuccotti’s inhabitants usually are, categorized by its many tourists, residents or passerby, pigeons, vendors, school trips, performers and tour sellers.
Individuals tend to go to where their general groups are which I thought was very fascinating. The park can be just a walkway, a dining space, a food court, a park, a living room, a dance floor, an attraction, a zoo and many other things to each of the people group. For example the Occupy Wall Street group; it is a gathering space, a living space, a space for knowledge and a space for a political stance.
This can relate to the Situasionist theory in Debord’s Naked City, where they don’t necessarily see the space as what it is for but they make a content of the space, incorporating it as an element of social practices, whether it be eating or occupying. As said in the reading “space is a part of the process of ‘inhabiting’, enacted by the social groups”. This also relates to the topic from class discussions in previous weeks about a how a space doesn’t make a place until someone gives it a name or a meaning, for example the school classroom - where it is not a classroom until it is labeled and that there is a figure of a teacher and a learner in the room.
It’s funny to see the pigeons actually following the human crowd instead of flying away and to look the humans run away from the birds. I also felt as if I visited 10 different countries and went through all continents in a matter of a couple of hours by the many languages spoken by the visitors of the park. It was such a rush!
My interpretation of this word during the first assignment presentation of derive was “process of taking an illiquid asset, or group of assists, and through financial engineering, transforming them into security.” I wasn’t understanding or it may be that I wasn’t aware of the City’s eyes. Eyes that follow you everywhere and record.
From the first definition I thought it was more of taking away the freedom of living at a certain space, which I didn’t quite understand, perhaps it is the new modern developments in the Downtown area.
Now I understand it as an effect from regulation, or fear. People’s fear of crimes, of “the other”, of terrorization. An example I would like to put forward is Union Square Park. It seems like a normal park, where, in a public place you have your own private moment - at least that is what I always thought when going to a park. But with the City’s eyes, the security cameras specifically in Union Square, that sense of privacy I had was striped away immediately.
Of course there is a sense of safety since you know that you are being watched by a “security” camera. But how safe are you from the observation of the ‘authorities’? What kind of activities have they seen and record, what do they do with it, is there any certain kind of people they observe. It can be argues that there is a play on power, for example to relate back to the panopticon idea - you see the cameras and automatically think it is for safety, but you don’t actually know what they are able to view.
Thinking back to the Goethe’s approach to understand phenomenology, I began to try linking the method to my environment. While taking my usual Sixth Avenue route home from school on Friday night, I decided to take time to absorb my surroundings instead of just rushing to be home. Keeping in mind the 4 steps I decided to look in directions up and down, which I normally don’t do as my head is always straight to get to the destination. On 20th Street and Sixth Avenue, I saw a very big “LOOK” sign with a play on the “O’s” as eyes. I thought it was an interesting reminder for the civilians, however this is the first time I really noticed the sign. I was always so wrapped up in looking ahead that I don’t look sideways or upwards/downwards. Looking also at Goethe’s second step of observing the lifespan of an object, I began to notice gum residues on the streets, relating to the idea of how a motionless space has been through time and movements from different people and objects.
The one thing that I learned about the compass; as long as the red arrow is in the red outline, I will get to my destination.
I see a mother looking over her child playing in the snow, an old couple holding hands enjoying the sight, a man drinking his coffee and Rolando and I, our hands in our pockets. I wished I was dressed appropriately. I’d like to know what the real wilderness feels like. This is urban nature, and we have our own compass and map - the tour guide. According to Hall we orientate ourselves by creating our own map. But how do we orientate if we don’t orienteer ourselves first? It is interesting to see how much people depended on technology or a leader in an unfamiliar surrounding or in this case the “wilderness”. I am also guilty of not trying to really learn how to use the given map and compass but rather was playing around with the frozen snow and not paying attention to the tour - therefore I wasn’t orientating myself to the environment.
Safe to say I won’t be able to survive the real wilderness.
Fun fact! The serial number on each of the 200 lamp posts situated in Central Park is numbered in a way that the first two numbers are street numbers. So if one ever gets lost, go to the nearest lamp post!