An Experimental Approach to Automated Walking

Walking is the simplest form of locomotion. It probably is the most democratic one too, at least for able-bodied beings. At the same time, walking as a way to move from place to place has lost some of its prevalence, there are faster ways to reach your destination. Its slowness, however, is what makes it such an engaging activity for exploration, investigation, daydreaming, or, on the other hand, meditation.

For me, walking is as much about moving as it is about looking. The hours and hours I’m walking, camera in hand, looking for interesting subjects, looking for small details often overlooked. Creating a photograph by moving back and forth, aligning the world around me through the lens of my camera.

There are times when I let my body and mind wander, letting me pull into different directions. Backtracking, exploring a side street, a yard, sometimes prompted by sight, sometimes sound, or sometimes even smell.

And then there are these other times when looking and walking aren’t those magical activities that one can get lost in. When I left the house full of anticipation of a walk, and then the magic doesn’t happen, the world does not align. Other times, I lack the motivation to even step outside, thinking that I have seen everything in my local surroundings anyway, nothing left to explore.

What if I could build myself a tool to reframe my “I have seen everything, nothing is left to explore” thinking and get me out of the house, ready to explore?

I’ve been working on a tool able to generate a randomised walk. Give it a starting point and an approximate length, and it will take real-world map data into account and generate a walk. And so flânerie was born.

There is still a lot of fine-tuning needed, routes sometimes backtrack on themselves, or the waypoints are so close to each other that it makes you zig-zag across a square that really is too small to do that without feeling like a fool. But maybe that’s the point, taking the route generated by a simple algorithm. Taking the digital to the real-world, trying to follow it to a tee, and by failing to do that bringing some humanity into the process.