Promenade Nº1

Beijing Haidianqu – 北京海淀区
5 November 2013
From 9h37 to 12h15 (2h38min)
8,1 km.
往北走 (Wangbeizou, going north)

This is the fist Promenade I did and, at that point, the concept of these walks was not totally defined yet. I just had in mind to walk in one direction with no goal and come back. With such a freedom of space and time, I ended up spontaneously creating something on the way. This became the first rule of the Promenades, “walk and, if possible, create something on the way.”

eltono-promenade1-01Departure at 9h37.

eltono-promenade1-01This is an interesting detail that I have seen a lot in Beijing. It is the clash between two politics, one that embraces modernity and civilized behavior (the campaigns for a “civilized Beijing” are ubiquitous in the city) and one more rigid and settled where money and influence rule. In this case, they re-did the pavement of the sidewalk with a very civilized yellow path for blind people, but then the “civilized politics” have come up against a wall.

eltono-promenade1-02At 10h57, I found that painted bamboo stick on the floor.

eltono-promenade1-03I automatically thought about my grandfather who, when we were going for an after dinner stroll on summer evenings, used to walk with his cane and who would systematically hit any fences on the way to make a sound. Starting from the point where I found the stick, I decided to do the same thing.

eltono-promenade1-04At 10h59 I started hitting every fences on my way recording the sounds with my phone.

eltono-promenade1-06After a few hundred meters, the stick started to acquire some damages.

eltono-promenade1-05I headed back home and hit fences for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

eltono-promenade1-05Bricks stack, they are everywhere in Beijing. It’s an element that will not end up in the trash when the sweepers come. I think they may be used to keep a space; people will use them also to sit while eating lunch or waiting for a bus.

eltono-promenade1-07The stick after a few kilometers hitting fences.

eltono-promenade1-08I left it outside in front of my doorway, it’s actually still in the same place today, one and a half months later.

During this first walk, I had some tape, a measuring tape and chalk in my bag, just in case. But I realized that it was more interesting to only use things I encountered on the way so I set rule #2, “only use material found during the walk”.

Finally, I generated an audio file with all the fences hit sounds (press play to listen and enjoy!).

eltono-promenade1-mapThe GPS track record; the green line is the path where I was hitting fences, it’s 4,3 km. long (click on the map to make it bigger).

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