PEDESTRIAN SIGNS


This project is intended to promote discourse surrounding the value of pedestrian activity, not only for its environmental, economic, or health benefits, but considering the way communities are organized and how they function, and why this connection to one’s space is important.

My idea was to transmit a message through a series of signs, displayed in a sequential message, scaled down to be read by a person, through the act of walking. I decided to make signs on corrugated plastic, the type that are associated with political campaigns or cheap advertisements, subverting this vapid medium with something more thought-provoking. I opted for a long, narrow sign shape which would be optimally readable to a moving pedestrian. The signs are staked into the ground at a low level, where they can be easily seen.

A total of 19 signs contain two separate statements, the words of which are read sequentially through the act of walking, spaced in consideration of a pedestrian’s cadence. The distance between signs is based upon my own step-span when walking briskly.

The first message reads: “MOVING THROUGH SPACE CREATES CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT”

{from The Museum of Walking in Tempe, Arizona, a project founded by artists which contains a library and archive of walking-related content. The statement in context reads “Walking is a defining human activity with poetic and political resonance as well as mundane and ceremonial manifestations that play a central role in contemporary art, social and cultural history, health, and sustainable lifestyles. Whether alone or with a group, moving through space creates connections between people and the environment, as it promotes well-being and enhances creative divergent thinking.” The museum’s exhibitions are usually literal walks that are participatory experiences.}

The next statement reads: “A PROCESS OF ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT USING WALKING AS A COLLABORATIVE AND POLITICAL STRATEGY”

{from an article entitled “Gender, Urban Space, and the Right to everyday life” by Yasminah Beebeejaun,  a feminist critique of urban planning practices and advocates for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly spaces in which many types of people engaging in different types of work and domestic activity can thrive and feel empowered within the same space.}

In Michel de Certeau’s, “The Practice of Everyday Life”, there is a section about walking, and the ways in which mundane, unconscious, everyday activities can indicate an empowerment, an occupying of space. I liked the association of the word strategy, which takes this unconscious activity and associates it with planning and intention. Likewise, by understanding walking as “active engagement” with one’s community and surroundings, it takes on more meaning. As a political activity, it goes beyond just connecting people to their environment, but can have associations with grassroots movements, collective activity such as marches, or simply be understood as an active choice supporting sustainability.

The pink type represents pedestrian activity “walking” or “moving through space” while the orange represents some type of result, “creating connections” or a “political strategy.” The typeface was chosen to evoke the clarity and urgency of public signage.

This project is meant to confront a pedestrian and have them contemplate the significance of their simple act of moving through space. How does moving slowly, at a person-to-person pace, add value to our lives?

{“Certeau’s investigations into the realm of routine practices, or the ‘arts of doing’ such as walking, talking, reading, dwelling, and cooking, were guided by his belief that despite repressive aspects of modern society, there exists an element of creative resistance to these structures enacted by ordinary people.” —Andrew Blauvelt}



Kristin Smith     ︎     Chicago, IL