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Synopsis & Breakdown

Text: Reimagining Walking: Four Practices. By Ben Jacks.

Reimagining Walking is an essay which appeared in an issue of the Journal of Architectural Education in 2004. It explores the simple, human act of walking within the context of modern/postmodern society. Jacks argues that the act of walking in the contemporary landscape, in the face of technological advancements that seek to limit our physical exertion and speed up the pace of life, has become an act of subversion and rebellion.

Even though contemporary society, through its technology and devices, imagines a future where walking from one space/place to another space/place could well fade into obsolescence, Jacks argues that walking as an activity persists, and speaks to the essence of what it is to be human, to have a body (or specifically an abled body).

Citing various authors, artists and cultural texts, from the mid-19th century to the present day, Jacks defends the importance of walking as essential in order to understand, relate to, belong to, connect with and design within the world we inhabit intellectually, spiritually and physically. Jacks does this by exploring four walking practices (under the headings of Sighting, Measuring, Reading, Merging) that challenge current conceptions of the activity of walking, and how such practices are of value to (in this case spatial and architectural) design.

He goes on to draw connections between walking and perceptions of beauty, mindful awareness, justice and aisthesis: a perception using all the senses and other less sensorial impressions. He encourages us, in the face of progressive modernity, to take an holistic approach to sensing, quantifying and interacting with our environment; and that employing the “fiercely human” and subversive act of walking is a means to that end.

Reimagining Walking: Four Practices Author(s): Ben Jacks
Source: Journal of Architectural Education (1984-), Vol. 57, No. 3 (Feb., 2004), pp. 5-9 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc.
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