The path is an extension of walking […] Thus the walking body can be traced in the places it has made: paths, parks, and sidewalks are traces of the acting out of imagination and desire. (Solnit 2006)
The natural world allows us to leave our mark through the footsteps we make in the sand, and through the wearing of the turf as we create short cuts to our destinations. It is these individual, unique distinctions that track our movement, yet due to natural world phenomena we may not see or experience these exact same routes again. The footsteps are washed away and the desire line once created by a shortcut may become overgrown as a new, quicker route takes its place.
GPS datalogging devices now enable us to track our routes through space. A walk across the worldly landscape can now be saved into the digital landscape, a world of multiple pixels and in many instances two-dimensional flat plains. De Certeau writes of the ‘walker’ who experiences the routes through the city, in contrast to the ‘voyeur’ who views the city’s design from the rooftops above (de Certeau 1984: 92). Now, both the walker and voyeur are in many ways coexisting simultaneously through these technologies.
- Alison Gazzard (UK) is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in New Media at the University of Bedfordshire, UK. Her research examines the boundaries between the virtual, the real and the spaces in between most notably through videogames, augmented reality games and location-based media.
Full text (PDF) p. 509-511