all the way from switzerland, san keller lectured at PSU on Monday night. (5-7-06) it had been announced that he was also inviting proposals for a 48 hour project. feeling quite busy, i did not think i would be submitting anything, but went to the lecture nonetheless. within minutes of listening to san, and hearing about his action projects, i was fully engaged, and totally inspired. i knew i would at least run the urban hike by him as a possible piece to his 16 part, 48 hour action fest. his project was called "make my day."

so, my proposal was accepted, and selected for the 2 am to 5 am time slot. (5-11-06) many people would cringe at the idea of "doing art" or doing anything at this time of the day/night, but i was immediately excited and considered it an adventure.

so, i picked up san at his previous spot, and off we went to nw portland. kiev was along to videotape all 48 hours of san's project, and i am hoping to get permission to use some of those clips for this page. we'll see.


the walk

for me, compared to all the other times i have done the urban hike, this walk was an extremely different experience being from 2:30 am to 5. without the daylight, there simply isn't as much to take in with the senses, and it seemed much easier to zone out, and just feel like we were getting through it.

san keller has done quite a few walking projects (one of the the reasons i was inspired to talk to him about this repetitive urban hike idea) but in all of his walks there are definite destinations (people's homes and paris, for example). he was drawn to this urban hike specifically for the repetition, and a new focus in the walking. and the first thing he asked me when we started walking was, "do you have a lot of repetition in your life?"

and i think in many of his walking projects, san is perhaps mindful, and conversational, but the focus has been on the destination, and getting there. i mean, perhaps the focus was to have genuine exchange along the way, but with the destination in mind as the finality for the project. and so despite the fact that we were limited by time, i was trying my best to impose this sense of timelessness about the whole concept of what we were doing.

but after our first hour which was mostly spent in silence (something i previously thought would be somewhat necessary for the urban hike, in the meditative sense, if the "correct result" was to ever happen) i realized that we were just sort of getting through it. and even though we repeated our route, there was indeed a very definite destination: being finished.

so, i decided to try to infuse some more awake-ness into the whole thing, and started asking san about his projects, and his travels. we talked about representation a lot, and that was cool. he had a lot to say, and definitely seemed to wake up, and i think he enjoyed the last half as much as i did.

but the thing i seem to have reflected on most in the past day since the walk is this:

the urban hike is truly about considering the exchanges that are happening between:

the other person and me - physically as spatial beings, emotionally in conversation, psychologically in the context of where we both are in life, so to speak - and -
my feet and the ground - the pain in my feet
my eyes and the surroundings - the light passing into my head and brain
the air passing into my lungs - and the carbon dioxide leaving my body
the thirst and dryness of my throat -
the cars passing by wondering what we're doing - or not even seeing us
the horizon and the sky
the stars in the sky
the birds chirping
the pieces of trash on the ground.....
the different and same ways that each person on the walk is experiencing the same thing and basically that whoever is on the walk can become as mindful as they want to be, or actually do whatever they want to do.

for me, the urban hike is a way to build mindfulness, and i think i wanted to impose that on all who participated. but i realized that this is just my way of looking at it. and i can communicate that, and then others can do whatever they want. and so if i am to remain mindful, then it becomes a goal, or a focus, to be aware of what exactly it is that the other person is getting out of the whole thing, and perhaps asking them to explain it somehow. that becomes part of my mindfullness, even if i have some sort of judgment that they are not being mindful. (i wasn't thinking that about san, just thinking about the urban hike in general.)

as i think about it now, i realize that there is just as much of a destination on this walk as there is on any walking project san has done. in those walks people ended up at home. in this one, we ended at the same place we started. in both settings there is also a journey that takes place across a distance. but the ""art action" and its representation are truly expressed most purely by the walk itself. and the more i do the walk, the more i feel ok about that, and accept it.

i will continue to try to be mindful of the relationships around me, within me, and with others, as i continue to walk on. the urban hike is a good reminder of that, and i will return.

so, at 5 to 5 am, we stopped at 20 laps, (nearly 7 miles), 20 paper clips on the fence marking each lap, piled into the truck, and headed to the nearby coffee shop to drop san off with another guy who had multnomah falls planned as san's next spot. grabbed some coffee, chatted for a minute, said goodbye, and away they went.

i would love to know san's thoughts about the walk itself, but also as it fit into his 48 hour craziness. i know he's a pretty busy guy, travelling all over and doing lots of great things all the time, but it was an exciting honor to have san keller along for the urban hike.