Mice! Mice from my hair! Aieee!
April 16, 2007 5:41 PM   Subscribe

"Paths are made by walking" as these artists prove by walking in the park for five days. Other projects include knitting a sweater for a giraffe, slowing down a shooting star (to allow for a lengthy wish), sprouting a seed in their hands, globes drawn by memory, and more.
posted by ewagoner (27 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
""My love was accumulated without a purpose or an expectation of return."

Give it up, sister. If you give a giraffe a sweater, he's gonna want a pair of skiis.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:03 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

Wow, this is connecting so many threads of things I've been looking into recently -- from the performances of Tehching Hsieh to Michel de Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life. Cool find ewagoner, thanks.
posted by jrb223 at 6:15 PM on April 16, 2007

On such a horrible day, this really cheered me up. Thanks.
posted by gwint at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2007

"Paths are made by walking"
In order to determine whether the above phrase was actually true, we kept running in a park for 5 days.

Well what did they think, some benevolent sky fairy made them?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:01 PM on April 16, 2007

gwint, it did the same for me. Especially candy.
posted by ewagoner at 7:02 PM on April 16, 2007

Sweet. Thank you.
posted by alms at 7:12 PM on April 16, 2007

This is really, really wonderful. Thanks!
posted by amyms at 7:56 PM on April 16, 2007

Enjoyed that. Neat to see the path being worn by treading it.
posted by nickyskye at 8:09 PM on April 16, 2007

Holy moly, I really liked the candy one. They made it themselves? I cannot help but wonder, though, if it didn't get sticky and gross over time. I've some many questions! How do you make your own gigantic ball of candy? How do you keep bugs away from it? Is your tongue constantly candy colored? Sore?

All of their projects have a wonderful sense of whimsy about them...
posted by Mister Cheese at 8:38 PM on April 16, 2007

I hate to be the grinch -- but I'm see so much stuff like that and I wonder what the ultimate point is. It's a few seconds of whimsy -- but is it worth immortalizing and paying for it as art?

If they were just doing it for their own fun, more power to them -- but they're "professional artists" -- why is this worth grants, gallery shows, critical acclaim? Does society benefit sufficiently by supporting these people full-time to do things like lick candy balls? Will anyone really care about this in 5 years, let alone 50?

And yes, I'm very well informed about performance art -- I'm just a little sick of it after several decades of it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:02 PM on April 16, 2007

I think you could ask the same questions about nearly any kind of art.

E.g., I don't like the music you're making; why are you getting grants for it? Your sculptures suck; why do critics like them? Why should society care about your stupid paintings?

You seem to be implying that performance art is somehow a less valid art form. I don't see why it should be.
posted by smably at 9:20 PM on April 16, 2007

And the bandwith-restriction devil thrusts in his filthy pitchfork.
posted by eritain at 9:38 PM on April 16, 2007

Linky no worky no more.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:48 PM on April 16, 2007

It's like .mac has some beef with it's users being successful, like geocities.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:16 AM on April 17, 2007

Anyone have some working links?
posted by pracowity at 1:01 AM on April 17, 2007

I remember hearing once that when the grounds of Howard University (?) were being designed, a discussion of how to lay out the sidewalks came up, and someone suggested that they put in no sidewalks -- just grass. Over a period of several months of regular use, the paths trod through the grass would then indicate the best placement for sidewalks. It may be purely apocryphal, but it's a story that always appealed to my libertarian sensibilities.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 4:15 AM on April 17, 2007

You seem to be implying that performance art is somehow a less valid art form. I don't see why it should be.

Oh, not at all -- not intrinsically anyway, though I do run into a lot of terrible performance art.

But then, these days I see a lot of terrible, terrible paintings in galleries (seems around here (NYC), with a few very memorable exceptions, the fashion is for abstracts that don't even have attention to brush strokes and composition -- I wonder why people who seem not to care about brushes, paint or canvases get involved in painting until I find out what their masterpieces sell for. Do note that such a critique does not apply to e.g. Pollock who cared very much about all three...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:47 AM on April 17, 2007

I remember hearing once that when the grounds of Howard University...

I heard the same story at another university. It probably started with some truth (I'm sure universities do turn muddy trails into concrete sidewalks if enough people ask for it) but also with the transition of "it would be a cool strategy" to "it was a cool strategy" over time. While such a strategy might work in many simple cases, there are two reasons not to use it as the only means of laying out sidewalks:

1. You don't want people walking straight across every lawn and garden and roadway between them and their destinations. Because they are lazy, selfish, stupid, or hurried, people often take the shortest path from A to B when it would be better if they would walk slightly out of their way (around the garden, for example), from A to C before continuing on to B. If you have a ring of ten buildings on campus, you probably don't want a fully connected graph of, um, n/2*(n-1) = 10/2*10-1 = 5*9 = 45 concrete sidewalk segments making a concrete mess of the central lawn, you want a simpler and cheaper arrangement, perhaps a ring, hub, and spokes, for 19 (9+10) concrete sidewalk segments with more unbroken grass in between.

2. You don't want to make people have to slog through mud for several months and then have to walk around your late sidewalk construction effort when you finally get around to building sidewalks. You want all sidewalks (or at least the main ones) in place from the beginning, all smooth and clean and ready to make it pleasant for everyone to walk from A to B to C. Engineers with experience and common sense can figure out a pretty good sidewalk strategy on paper.
posted by pracowity at 5:29 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

That story appears in "How Buildings Learn" by Stuart Brand. I can't remember the name of the university off the top of my head though.
posted by markdj at 6:12 AM on April 17, 2007

I just looked. On the top of page 187, the book doesn't actually mention a specific school. "PAVE WHERE THE PATH IS. An oft-told story (perhaps apocryphal) tells how a brilliantly lazy college planner built a new campus with now paths built in at all. She waited for the first winter and photographed where people made paths in the snow between the buildings. Next spring, that's where the paving went. Some design is better if it's postponed."

If you ask me, I can't imagine any client who would be open-minded enough to allow them to build a campus with no sidewalks. I could see adding additional paths, but no paths at all?
posted by Dave Faris at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2007

(oh, and I'd always heard it was Skidmore.)
posted by Dave Faris at 7:51 AM on April 17, 2007

Curse you, .mac!

Sorry to those of you who missed it. Try again next month, I guess.

And why did it take looking through tens of pages plus downloading a 34 page PDF to find the bandwidth limitations of a homepage.mac.com account? (It's on page 33 of the PDF, btw: 10 gigs a month.)
posted by ewagoner at 4:25 PM on April 17, 2007

Obligatory "/.ed."
posted by rleamon at 7:37 PM on April 17, 2007

I remember hearing once that when the grounds of Howard University...

I believe the technical term for these sorts of paths is 'Desire Lines'
posted by dhruva at 8:00 PM on April 17, 2007

The urban planners I've read (not many, but J. H. Crawford and Christopher Alexander) call them 'cow paths'.
posted by eritain at 9:58 PM on April 19, 2007

Note to self: scope this out next month. :(
posted by darkstar at 12:43 PM on April 20, 2007

Ah! Just saw them...cool site, if a bit limited. I'm tempted to do a couple of these projects myself...
posted by darkstar at 12:53 PM on May 4, 2007

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