walking cities: categories of esthetic experience

May 15, 2010

I look to enhance the frequency of esthetic experience in my life, and enjoy when I hear how others do the same.

esthetic experience for me is a combination of appreciating creativity [including my own] and sensation.

the senses for esthetic experience:



tactile: two examples
blindfolded, feeling the top of the Sydney Opera House with my hands [with the iconic imagery in my mind’s eye]
reflexology on main boulevard in Viang Chang [aka Vientiane]

kinesthetic: stationary placing all or some part of my body in some way, e.g., climbing into the space of a public sculpture

kinesthetic: moving moving some part of or all of my body in some way

intellectual: when the intellectual creativity is strong enough to
produce a physiological feeling


Improvised-Sequence Score, Parque Benito Juarez, Leon, Mexico

May 14, 2010

the following are instructions I wrote for myself when [I’ll look up date] I was in Leon, an industrial city in Mexico. I was in the plaza
section of Parque Benito Juarez. I had gone to the park because it was at the end-of-the-line of the [look up name of distinctive transit system in Leon. Optibus or something like it] I wanted to remember the plaza, so I decided to do an improvised-sequence score.

As a score it was a set of individual instructions.

“improvised-sequence” means the realizor [myself in this instance] would carry-out [realize] the instructions in a sequence I developed as I went along — in effect making an esthetic choice about what the next instruction I would follow, upon completing an instruction

sit [with feet on ] ledge 1

touch a tree behind wall 2

sit on pool ledge w legs up; countdown 17 w >six counts straddle pool wall 3

write with stone 4

blend-in dance across both chains 5

observe direction of clouds over shadows 6

Touch tree here 7

measure one dimension with a unit 8

blend-in dance in three directions, include statue of Juarez 9

lean against wall 10

move [a] stone to protect something 11

sit and shift ledges w/o using hands 12

ending : verbalize aloud in two languages 13


March 6, 2010

I like to jog to a spot and take a pose.

the jog is usually just a few steps, but they are enough to give me the physical enjoyment of the transfer of energy from moving to holding still.

I frequently do this routine when I see a disc design on the sidewalk or other pedestrian walkway. Say the size of a sewer cover.

When I see the disc I jog to it,
stand on one foot
while thrusting my midsection forward, and arching back both above and below

I lift the non-standing foot off the ground and bend the leg at the knee approaching parallel to the ground with my lower leg.

I throw my arms up and back to continue the feeling of arching.

I hold the pose for several seconds and use it look upward at buildings, trees, etc.

after holding the pose on one foot, I’ll shift to the other foot and do the same.

it’s more fun, though, when there are a series of discs.

One I experience regularly is in Candler Park, Atlanta. Uphill on a path from the playground south to McClendon, there is a series of circular concrete bases of long-gone streetlights, about a foot each in diameter. I jog to the first, pose Mercury on one foot. A few seconds I jog to the second and pose. I repeat as many of the series as I feel like. I haven’t counted, but I believe there are at least six such bases.


March 5, 2010

as an avant-garde pedestrian device:

First: Research
1] research to learn at the present time what the tallest building in the city is. Call it TN [= Tallest Now] Learn the year in which TN was built.
2] then research the tallest building in the city [TBTN] before TN was built
3] and then the tallest building before TBTN,
4] regressing back in time, until information is not precise
5] TN, TBTN, et al were all TATT [= tallest at the time] when they were built are collectively the TATTs for the city.

Second: Find View Spots [VSs]
Try to find at least one View Spot in the city from which you can see all the TATTs.
If you cannot find an ideal View Spot to see all the TATTs, find two
or more VSs from which you can maximize the number of TATTs in th city you can see.

The idea for TATTs came to me when I read a booklet from a historical/tourist organization in Memphis in 1999 while I was preparing the “Knowing Cities” Walking Workshop for the annual AHS meeting. In presenting a few dozen buildings as tourist-worthy, I noted for five of the buildings it was said they were the TATT they were finished.

One of my favorite experiences was Tampa when Donna Huse and I were conducting the AHS Walking Workshop in 2005. I found a small area across the river [on the campus of Tampa University] from where we could see all six TATTs as far back in time as a pre-modern hotel.

I define PRE-MODERN in architecture as pre-Seagram’s Building.


March 3, 2010

A fun of my life is writing SCORES for PUBLIC SPOTS.

A “public spot” is any specific locale or place accessible to viewing and locomotion by the general public. This means whatever we do there we do without interference from any internalized “generalized other” which might inhibit us because we fear “they’ll think we’re crazy.”

I think of SPOTS as small, of human scale. SPOTS can be a work of public art, an area demarcated by cracks in the sidewalk, a bannister along a public egress, etc, etc.

“A SCORE may be defined as a set of instructions for carrying out activities.” That’s how I defined “score” in an article published in Volume One of the CLINICAL SOCIOLOGY REVIEW. It’s on page 124 of an article I called “Scores: Unconventional Happenings for Teaching Sociology.”

The word “HAPPENINGS” indicates the context of “scores.” It’s a context of transmuting an everyday experience in one of participatory art and esthetic enjoyment.

definition: Avant-Garde Pedestrian Device [=AGPD]

March 2, 2010

By “avant-garde pedestrian devices” I refer to a repertoire of methods I use to create participatory art experiences while walking in cities or any other kind of environment which can be walked through.

I use the term “avant-garde” to signify I’ve derived the devices from genres used by avant-garde artists.

There was a catnet of avant-gardists in the 1950s and 1960s who developed genres in order to be able to take any quotidian situation and frame it as an artistic situation.

in retrospect these artists have come to be collectively known as “Fluxus.”

Fluxus was a designation created in the 1950s by one individual [George Maciunas] to signify his particular approach to avant-gardery. He created both performance events and publications which compiled works by various avant-garde artists.

I find Maciunas’ term “fluxus” has come to embrace all of the avant-gardists of the 1950s and 1960s even though some, such as Allan Kaprow creator and codifier of “happenings,” were distinctly not part of Maciunas’ catnet.

A paradigmatic representation of the Fluxus approach to situations is Yoko Ono’s book GRAPEFRUIT. A wonderful consequence of her relationship with John Lennon was the reissue in 1970 of GRAPEFRUIT by a major corporate publisher. According to my copy of the reissue, GRAPEFRUIT “was originally published in a limited edition of 500” in Tokyo in 1964. Hurray for Beatlemania!

A beauty of GRAPEFRUIT is its demonstration of creating “pieces” [=artworks, art experiences] which are objects and pieces which are performances plus pieces on the continuum between pure art object and pure art performance.

Knowing Cities: Esthetically, Sociologically, Kinesthetically

March 2, 2010

By “Knowing Cities” I mean knowing what to do in any city you’re in order to simultaneously experience that city as participatory art, social structure, and body movement arena.

I’m writing this “book” to demonstrate how you or anyone else can do this using only your “available resources.” [= AR]

Your AR for knowing cities are your own “self” [sensibility, mind, & body] and anything you might want to have to take notes–I always carry a pencil and very small pocket notebook. You don’t need anything else!