Blake Morris, Ph.D

Walking Artist


The point is not to simply think, talk, read or write about walking, but rather to go on a walk. Skip the biography and walk straight out the door. Look below for walking exercises and instructions on how to create a memory palace. Better to be out walking.

Featured Walking Exercises

· Google Walk
· Slow Lunch
· 100 Helium Balloons


Information

· Upcoming
· Walking
· Writing
· About


CONTACT 
blake@walkexchange.org
bmorris@uel.ac.uk


SCORE 02

How to make a Memory Palace





Simonides was stiffed. Castor and Pollux were affronted. They brought the banquet hall to the ground. From the rubbish a memory palace was born.

The origin story of the memory palace, likely apocryphal, resides in the biography of Simonides, Greece's first for profit poet. At a banquet for Scopas, Simonides recites a poem filled with praise for the twin gods, Castor and Pollux. Scopas refuses to pay in full, demanding Simonides collect the other part of his payment from the infernal twins. Shortly after, a messenger hails Simonides. He leaves the building, but no messenger is to be found. Upon his exit, the banquet hall collapses and those inside are disfigured beyond recognition. Simonides, the only surviving member of the party, is tasked with identifying the disfigured bodies. He imagines the table and the positions of each reveller, and in this way attaches names to those beyond recognition. From the death of Scopas and his partygoers, the memory palace is born.
Memory palaces use the strength of human spatial memory to record and retrieve memories. A specific space is chosen, and vivid symbols are placed throughout it. Each symbol is linked to a specific memory; the more absurd the image, the easier it is to remember. To retrieve the memories, one simply imagines walking through the space.

I use memory palaces to remember the stories of walks, and I’d like to invite you to make your own. The process of building a memory palace is relatively simple: after your walk decide what you want to remember and translate it into an image. Imagine that image within a specific landscape (the location of your memory palace). The more absurd, vibrant or ridiculous the image is, the easier it is to remember.

Below you will find walking exercises that will guide you through the creation of a memory palace. It is best not to discuss it too much to begin; better, rather, to be out walking.





SCORE 02

Google Walk





Walking Networks: The Development of an Artistic Medium (2017) Ph.D Thesis
Google the name of your town, city, neighbourhood. Notice where Google plants its pin on the map. Put down your phone and leave all maps behind. Walk to the pin. When you’ve arrived at your destination, decide what you want to remember about your walk and transform it into a memory image—the more absurd the better. The memory image doesn’t have to be purely visual; feel free to experiment with sounds and smell as well. Imagine your memory image somewhere in the landscape. Commit the newly transformed area to memory. This is the location of your memory palace.


Google Walk was originally developed during Walk Study Training Course 2, a course I facilitated with the Walk Exchange. It was subsequently developed with the Footwork Research group and published in Ways to Wander. It was further adapted and included as part of my Ph.D thesis, Walking Networks: The Development of an Artistic Medium (2017), which is the version featured here.

SCORE 02

Slow Lunch





Slow Lunch (2013)
San Francisco & London



On your lunch break, do a 30 minute slow walk (that is, walk as slowly as you can). At the end of your walk, decide what you want to remember, and transform it into an image. Imagine your image somewhere in the landscape. Repeat the process 10 times.

Take a friend, lover, colleague or any other companion on a walk through Slow Lunch. Describe your images to them and imagine them together. Tell them your stories.




Slow Lunch was originally conceived while I was employed at Face It, a beauty salon and spa in San Francisco’s Castro District (July, 2013). I completed another version of the project upon starting doctoral studies at the University of East London (September, 2013).

SCORE 02

100 Helium Balloons





[Untitled Walk Project] (2008)
New York City

Organize a delivery of 100 helium balloons to a major parade route in your town. Walk the route (by yourself, or with a group) and hand out the balloons along the way.

After the walk, add an image to your memory palace. Imagine it alongside all the other images in your palace.




‘100 Helium Balloons’ was first completed on 23 November, 2008 as part of the [untitled] Walk Project. The walk followed the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route down Broadway.