Capturing the moon – reflections on Full Moon Walking

Night walk: pic by Pete Ashton

How can you share a walk beyond the walk? What can be the artifact that arises from, for example, our recent full moon walk, which drew 22 people into 'an expedition to explore our local waterways by full moon'.

A poem seems most apt as a way of processing the experience in text – if I had any skill in that direction. A walk report – doable, journalistic and a useful archive document but that's what I know and want to move away from. A Q&A or blog post to process the experience, as last time? A photo – there are some posted here on Walkspace, but they are Pete's photos not mine. A video – too dark. Some moon water – I did indeed capture the moon in water but spilled it to mark the lunar spell's boundaries. A map – I like that idea. An artwork, a collage? A single overriding memory? Some kind of feedback loop from the 22 people who came on the walk? Did their wishes, prayers and intentions come true, for example?

Maybe the walk is the thing. But creating an artifact from it makes each walk live on beyond the thing itself, and gives something to revisit.

If I have any kind of 'practice' it is the diary. My entry from the pre-walk check reads like a set of mythographer's travel notes:

…River Rea bridge troll, parallel tunnels, bridge ladder to a floating island, Lifford lake monster, Orion tracking/hunting the night walkers, the upturned Plough, tree of shoes, cachunking of the mineral automaton, a lost bridge, corrugated rusting barn, brutal concrete water tower, guillotine locks for chopping off heads of giants, moon water at the junction of waterways, the moon travelling alongside us in the canal, cat's eyes watching the alley behind the houses, the river stopped, freeze-framed in mid-flow.

Diary entry, 2 March 2020

While these notes conjure up the walk for me but they feel more like raw material for something else. The post-walk artifact is something I want to think about a bit more for future walks, and they are going to need some planning.

I particularly like Hamish Fulton's videos of slow group walks (especially his Penzance Beach walk) and Craig Mod's SMS book 'Pachinko Road Walk With Me' that tapped into the real-time activity of his long distance walk and created a book from his SMS texts (he explains the tensions of real time v asynchronicity in a great newsletter/video post).

There is also Richard Long's The Line and his other way markings. And a favourite from the recent Walking's New Movement's conference: Miranda Whall, who crawled the sheep tracks of Wales with a bunch of cameras attached and which led to an atmospheric multiscreen, soundtracked exhibition. Finally I love Sophie Calle's multimedia outputs and recordings, for example, her book log of surveillance activity and photos from when she walked (stalked!) a man from Paris to Venice.

These walk artifacts are what I aspire to but I've yet to figure out what I can create from a walk that will be of lasting value. Last year, when I expressed an interest in art, my mentor Kate Spence said to use this time for exploration and play. Be interested and interesting. So I guess you can expect more random walk experiments in the months to come.

And if you've come across creative outputs from walkers or walking artists. I'd be interested to hear about them. Please do leave a link in the comments.

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