Promenade Nº2

Beijing Haidianqu – 北京海淀区
12 November 2013
From 10h42 to 14h45 (4h03min)
20,5 km.
往东走 (Wangdongzou, going east)

When I started the second Promenade, the experience of the first one made things clearer for me. I realized that in between each stroll I would automatically start thinking about what to do during the next walk. But as I was interested in the spontaneity and I didn’t want to think about any ideas beforehand, I made rule #3, “only execute ideas created during the walk”. I also added rule #4 “enjoy the walk” because I realized that too much pressure to do something could just block the creative process.

Departure at 10h42.

After a couple of hours walking east under the beautiful winter sun of Beijing, I ended up on a busy street corner, with an pedestrian overpass, a couple of bus stops and several meters away, an express bus station. It’s the kind of spot where you always expect an endless flow of people. And some guys know it. Almost every time, in that kind of busy spots that are not too close to the city center, you will find a lot of little posters pasted with double sided orange tape advertising (for the most part) available rental spaces.

In that spot, the accumulation of small bills was particularly dense and quite chaotic. I decided to organize the mess a little bit.

I’ve heard once people talking about poster pasting for political campaigns, they were saying that if you want your posters to be noticed, it’s better to put a lot of them together in a few spots than to post them one by one in a lot of different spots. So I thought I could help these autonomous announcers, giving them a little marketing push. I collected all the bills I could find in the area.

And I started to put them all together on one spot. I stepped back to see the results and took the first picture.

At that very moment, one of the local “Bills Removing Squad” member (you recognize them by the bike, the spatula and the front basket full of paper) that was patrolling showed up and mechanically started to remove the bills. My idea was to add more to the improvised “bulletin board” but I had no time!

30 seconds later everything was gone.

I was very excited to witness this but what amazed me the most was that the guy had no particular reaction at all. He has probably never seen that many bills from different announcers all well organized together but couldn’t care less, once the job was done he just moved away to clear the next spot.

At that point, I was 10 km. away from home so I decided to walk back.

I spotted an interesting stack of bricks made into a seat.

On the way back, I saw more bills and started collecting them.

Unsticking them is easy but keeping them is not because of the double sided tape.

But I realized by looking around on the floor that it was very easy to spot the white strip that had been pulled away from the tape. I started collecting them too.

I stuck them back on to the backs of the papers – In a lot of cases I could find the exact strip that was pulled from the tape, both strip and tape matched perfectly!

Once the white strip was back in place, the bills were easy to store in my pocket.

I followed the bills, they were all of the same kind, almost systematically I was able to find the white protective strip. I collected 18 bills along a couple of blocks and suddenly the track stopped, I couldn’t find anymore.

So I pasted them together on the first suitable spot I found and kept on walking back west.

Several hundred meters later I found a guy pasting his bills directly on cars. I thought that guy really needed help with marketing. Does he think people are going to look at his ad and call to rent his room if he sticks the bill with strong double-sided tape directly on their brand new cars?

Almost all of them ended up on the floor, obviously.

Upside down?

I collected the one I could.

On the way, I found this example of possible pasting spots.

Later on, I came upon this really interesting method which prevents the sticking person from throwing the white strips at the floor. I don’t know why they do that actually, to keep the streets clean? Do they really care if they are fly posting everywhere? Not to be reproached by others when they throw things on the floor? But anyway, it’s a better solution for me, I don’t have to look for the protective white strip.

A vehicle from the local “Bills Removing Squad”, easily recognizable by the spatula and the basket full of removed posters.

I could find a couple more bills along the next blocks.

The “Bills Removing Squad” has been busy on the last block I was walking by, I only could find a dozen bills in total, I was already very close to home so I decided to paste what I had together. I didn’t want to do that too close to my house because whatever you do in China, you are very noticeable when you are not Chinese; then gossips go fast in the neighborhood and I don’t want to have to explain what I was doing to my local watchers, I think they would never understand.

A member of the “Bills Removing Squad” in full effect. I estimate that they patrol each street two to four times a day. Probably much more when you get closer to the city center.

At around 3pm I arrived back home. I found this experiment quite humorous and actually I noticed that people were looking at the group of posters I had pasted more than when they are found individually on the street (of course without counting the people that saw me pasting or taking pictures).

This experiment was repeated in Promenade #5 and #7 where it gave more interesting results.

The GPS track record (click on the map to make it bigger).

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