Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

ROAM: Walking, Mapping, and Play: Wanderings in Art and Art Education

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

ROAM: Walking, Mapping, and Play: Wanderings in Art and Art Education

Article excerpt

This article explores the use of walking in the artistic practice of contemporary artists Francis Alÿs and Jorge Macchi. The authors propose that these artists use walking and mapping to frame and reframe questions pertaining to social, political, aesthetic, and cultural issues related to structures of power that operate within the cityspace. The spatial theories of Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, and the Situationist International provide a framework for analyzing the notion of space and mobility within the urban landscape. The authors also contend artists' spatial experiences within the urban city-space create encounters that can provide new territories for art and education. To contextualize the pedagogical implication of the proposed research, in the last section of this article the authors discuss ROAM-a mobile game application that expands critical investigations of walking, mapping, and play. ROAM asks players to let go of control, to intentionally "get lost," and to create critical and creative engagement with space.

This investigation into spatial theories and walking and mapping as artistic process and method guides the research interests and artistic practice of Adetty Pérez de Miles, a professor of visual studies education at the University of North Texas (UNT), and Julie Libersat, a graduate student pursuing an MA in Art Education and MFA in New Media at UNT. The authors propose that, in an increasingly digital and networked society, physical and situated local knowledge of space creates artistic and educational opportunity through visual, performative, and embodied interaction and play with the urban landscape. While the emphasis of this research is on the urban city-space, the critical artistic experiences discussed here apply equally to explorations of rural and suburban spaces. The authors contend that artists engaged in walking and mapping as an aesthetic practice are compelled to respond, critique, and create new hybrid spaces and experiences as they interact with the built environment.

This article examines spatial theory in the work of contemporary artists Francis Alÿs and Jorge Macchi and the art practices they employ to explore place. Through their discussion of ROAM, a mobile game application created by Libersat, the authors demonstrate how these explorations connect to their own art research/ practice and the experiences they design for viewers/students. ROAM helps players "get lost" during an open-ended journey that emphasizes travel over destination. Getting lost in this context represents a state of fluidity and flexibility, which invites disorientation and its constant process of (re) orientation. We want to be clear that disorientation in the context of ROAM is a playful act of wandering, rather than a bewildering or discomforting experience. Creating a framework for getting lost enables enhanced observation, facilitates immersive participation in the physical environment, and provides a tool for artists and art educators. Last, this article highlights the artistic and pedagogical potential of observation, exploration, and experimental cartography, all of which emerge when critical walking and mapping connect directly with lived experience and embodied knowledge.

Walking and Mapping as a Method of Aesthetic Cartography

Walking is a form of mapping in which we learn through movement. Maps and mapping language are grounded in the history of human conquest, exploration, and navigation (Dussel, 2012; Mignolo 2011). While there are nonEuropean mapping traditions, such as Native American maps based on storytelling, there is an inclination in Western research to correlate maps with the discourses of the powerful. This tendency creates one-dimensional views of maps and mapping (Pinder, 1996). Throughout history, people have used existing maps to contest the exercise and control of hegemonic power. They have also created alternative types of mappings to subvert Western cartographic values, desires, and conventions (Huggan, 2008; Pinder, 1996). …

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