Katie Yun


Seminar Bridge 2: The Art of Walking

Class: Integrative Seminar 2

Assignment: Perform a Derive walk around the city. Let your walk wander as your mind wanders. Reflect on this experience.

The hardest part seemed like the simplest part: not having a goal. Maybe I have always sought to work towards a goal. Maybe it was this society that tells us to constantly keep working towards objectives. Even the simple task of getting from one place to another does not seem hard, but I found that the most difficult. The purpose of this derive walk was to wander mindlessly in the city. Initially, I imagined the specific landmarks to go in the city, but that would defeat the purpose; it was a struggle of not knowing where to go versus where I had to go. I started my derive walk from my dorm towards Greenwich, a familiar part of the city. My walk ended near the piers on the Hudson river. I had walked the piers before, explored the park before, and played mini golf before. It was as if I was walking through my memory, hazed heavily by the layers of fog called time. However, this time, the visit felt strange with the weather being so cold and without having a specified purpose of needing to be there. Time felt as if it were moving slowly during my walk, but at the pier, it moved even more slowly. I also had a strange feeling of deja vu; the scenic view of the river alongside a row of buildings reminded me of home. The people changed from fast walkers to joggers and dog owners. The space had cleared with less towering buildings and were replaced by openness. The river was a stark contrast to the city that felt like a closed space. Although the Hudson River was in front of me, I felt the Milwaukee River twisting through Third Ward and leading to Lake Michigan. Each shoreline is distinct in its own way, but altogether, they were connected in their atmosphere.

Despite of having been at the pier before, I took note on what I noticed differently about this walk and saw a common factor. What I had listed were shapes, colors, and textures of small details that put together the space as a whole. The planks of wood that made the walkway of the pier, the fake soccer field grass in the middle, and the color the of street lamps. My self consciousness was well behind me as I was more interested in the small parts of a larger scene. I felt as though going back to a location I have already been to before made it possible to see finer elements as opposed to walking into a new location and being overwhelmed with everything new. Going back to the pier and seeing it in this way allowed me to overlook what I had already seen and already knew. I felt as if the act of deriving was drifting me from needing a goal. For once, there was no need in an objective or schedule, but just mindless wandering. I focused on the pier because it was a place that seemed to derive from the city as well. It was a feeling from being detached of the typical city imagery and entering a nostalgic memory in the way it connects with other shorelines.

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