Recently I came across the work of Dennis Adams and Laurent Malone, two artists that investigated walking from a truly unique perspective.
Starting at 8:00 am on August 5, 1997, they walked non-stop from downtown Manhattan, across the Williamsburg Bridge, to JFK Airport. For 11 hours and 30 minutes, they followed the straightest path possible toward their destination, crossing neighbourhoods, backyards, expressways and cemeteries. As they walked, they studied their surroundings, capturing changes in the landscape as they passed through it. They shot photographs along their route using a 35 mm camera that was shared between them. Prior to the start of the walk they had came to the understanding that either of them could take a photograph of their own choosing, at any time during the walk. When this occurred, the person who shot the photograph handed the camera to the other person, who then shot a second photograph in the exact opposite direction. For the second photograph, no attention was given to the subject, composition or technical adjustments. From the beginning to the end of their walk, they produced 486 photographs.
The work culminated in a book called JFK (now unfortunately out of print) that contains 243 sets of paired photographs in chronological order. The left-hand pages represent the selected shots that were composed and the right-hand pages represent the corresponding shots created by chance.
What is interesting about the walk is that they cleverly chose a simple route, a direct path through the city. This de-complicated the navigational aspects of the walk so they could concentrate more on the task at hand. The work is given a narrative structure, as the walk has both a beginning and an end; once the destination of JFK was reached, the work came to an end. The structured walk created limitations within which they could work, in order to create a more specific photographic response to the locations they walked through.
JFK is ultimately a photographic record of their walk, but for me what makes it highly original is the way that each location was captured as a pair of photographs, made in almost the same time. This enables us to see each location from two different perspectives. The curious thing is that we never know which of the two artists shot each of the photographs.