© 2009 laurene library

coming to the end – trying to make sense

I initially set  a time frame for this project, the dates of my travel from Australia to the UK and Europe – August 25, 2009 to October 4, 2009. Although it could be said that the Camino walk was the main part of the trip (which it was) it was/is not the only part. As I said in yesterday’s post, I believe that my Camino has been this whole time and not just the time spent in Galicia. The walk in Galicia was most profound. It was (perhaps still is) a great opportunity to take what was known theoretically and to experience it in practice. As walking is also often referred to as a practice, this was practice in practice.

In the practice of design we have many methods to try and envisage what something will be like when it is realised or used within its final context, but until it really happens we don’t really know. This I suppose is the nature of the design proposition, to envisage what could be and then to try and make sure of its relevance or appropriateness as best we can before the design outcome enters the world – comes into being. And this is the limitation and the challenge – the paradox perhaps. We can never really know, we must always, as designers, accept that what we create will be changed, modified or adapted by the end user/customer or what ever name we give them. Does this mean that the design is a failure – no. It is just a fact. A proposition, a conjecture, a theory will always be modified in application and that is the fantastic thing. For there isn’t just one realisation, there will always be as many as their are people participating in the outcome and each moment of engagement can be equally rich with possibility and newness. In the paper that I did at Manchester at the start of this project I discussed ongoing design through the practices of lay-designers. Framed through fashion and the practices of dressing, I explored the way that people re-design garments and collections of garments everyday as they place them on their bodies. This lay-design practice is undertaken by most people, of both genders and all age groups. For some it is a more conscious and confident act than others, but it is a design practice of the everyday.

How does this relate to the Camino and walking and space and mapping etc? I think it does. In this larger walking project and my engagement with what the Tibetan’s call the schul – the trace or path of Camino in Spain and the history and expectations of pilgrimage. By looking at this embodied practice of transformation -pilgrimage- I have been able to start to think about our being in the world and the nature of the experience of being. The repetitions, rhythms, challenges, the elation, the solitude and the collective nature of experience. In the case of the Camino, we have a situation where millions of people undertake a ‘similar’ act, where they follow and connect with the actions of others, some repeat it many times, what they do is both ancient and new and realsed everyday. Although I do not feel able to name it all yet, there is much in here for those of us who are designers of spaces of community and places of connection and transience to consider. And this is one of the things I will continue to work on around the project when I get home.

In the brief for this project I explained that the intention of the project is to explore

  • the nature of walking and mapping
  • pilgrimage and its relationship to tourism, travel and reflection
  • the keeping of travel journals – digital and analogue/public and private
  • the creation of one off or limited edition travel texts

In all that I have read and done I have started to make a bit of an indent into this.

Last night I went to see ‘Inherit the Wind’ at the Old Vic theatre. A play about a case in America where a school teacher is put on trial for teaching about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Set in the Southern States with its heat and evangelical Baptist church elements, I was reminded of the power of organised religions to create belief and fear and how this can limit the ability to think. This got me thinking back to Santiago, the cathedral and all the people who travel their as part of the religious practices. This cathedral adn the pilgrimage are another form of such control – its manifestation historically is both political and spiritual. And this lead me to wonder about how much of this is true today, for the pilgrims who walk now. It seems to me, this walk is more a space for thinking and reflecting than one of unquestioning belief. If this is the case, does this historic and religious tradition provide the infrastructure for a new kind of spirituality or has this always been the case. I think that like the realities of lay-design, as many solutions/answers as there are walkers.