I spent this afternoon wandering around Grizedale at the AND festival, mostly following Rob Ray’s ‘GET LOST’ disorienteering project.
I wanted to get lost. I had decided to try to commit to doing this piece of work. So I set off without any other map of the forest, just the booklet for ‘GET LOST’. (Actually I hadn’t considered taking another map, if the point was to get lost, then why would I need it?). The booklet asks you to put a compass in the middle of a page and follow the instruction that it points too. It also suggested that a GPS could be used, but the compass pointing to one of three options was much more satisfying, almost like spinning a pointer in a game to see where it lands by chance or by fortune. The GPS option just didn’t point so literally. I followed a couple of instructions which led me back to the same page without even moving so I started to follow the instructions more loosely. After a few e.g. to count the rings on a tree stump and imagine how big a tree my age would be, I soon found that I had no other options but to find Carron Crag. With no map of the forest, I had to ask other walkers and cyclists where it was, and follow some of the forest walk markers. (Strange that I’ve been coming to Grizedale most years since about 1975 but never really remembered names).
I’d thrown myself into the idea of trying to get lost, but stumbled at the first hurdle of actually almost needing another map to find a specific location…….. how was I supposed to get properly lost if I needed to get to a named location in the work? I’d have to be pretty lazy or unresourceful to not find my way there, and then I wasn’t lost. (or am I just being too pedantic, too efficient, too obedient or too literal?) I had a Garmin GPS with me and an iphone with GPS but neither had maps that went beyond road detail.
What I really enjoyed though was having time ambling around paths and try to get lost, not having a time that I needed to be back, but a booklet making suggestions of things I might do. Usually if I go walking I set out with a route, but this time I set off with the artwork as the plan, so it was good to break with habit and meander. I still stopped short of retracing my steps in order to follow an instruction, the compulsion to always go forwards is strong when walking. I’m probably not the ideal person for the work as many of the tracks I recognised and knew their spatial relationship and rough direction to the visitor centre. I stopped doing the work after about 1.5 hours when I was asked to go to anther location without a map to find it. I did a few more of the tasks picked randomly from the pages. In the end the artwork didn’t really change much for me, except for getting me out there in the first place, with no other purpose than to walk. It was great that I could do this alone, there was no obligation to make any of my reflections public, no reason to perform. So many ‘locative’ works make me feel self-concious in a way that restricts my movements and participation.
But I was glad I’d been led to Carron Crag, the panoramic views are amazing, especially with some snow on the peaks, the cloud base sitting just below the highest peaks, and the view clear to Morecambe Bay. In the mean time I had looked at the maps on my iphone where it was all green and roads and no names.
(ignore the address on the phone, it was the last place I looked for directions to).
It was interesting orientating to such an empty map – thinking about how it will be to orient to only water in my new work for Cheshire.
Also a nice chance to put old and new forms of mapping together, Trig points are like monuments to a time before satellite images.
Phone and GPS reception are both really good up there, so much so that I ended up having an incongruous feeling phone conversation standing on the Crag. And later was able to phone someone to say I’d just seen a deer on the path. Thinking about co-location, sharing events at a distance, wondering what it would be like if someone else had been connected to comob so that they could almost be with me while I walked.