Bajada 2014

Video from the walk:

This is my original application for the project but in the end I walked it instead of biked it.

I am applying as a collaborator with Sistemas Efimeros

  • Title: Bajada
  • Discipline: Journey, Photography, Physical / Human Geography, Writing, Cycling, Website.
  • Duration: 7-10 days

Full description:

The dry fluvial system starts as a surface catchment area on the side of the mountain becoming a man-made water catchment system, a barranco and ‘rambla’ before reaching the sea. Along the way it may become a small stream or develop into a reservoir, disappear or evolve into multiple channels. The only unifying feature is the action of water and human interference with it.

Bajada is an aesthetic study and 100km self-sufficient journey by bicycle carrying minimal camping equipment through a landscape formed by human and natural forces. Beginning at Cortijada Los Gazquez the journey will follow the dry fluvial system from source to sea.

The dry fluvial system will be followed from rural to urban exploring the input & outputs on the system and its significance as a cultural and geographic feature.

When studying MA Design Critical Practice I became interested in mindfulness and consciousness. An experiment by Zoran Josipovic, a research scientist and professor at New York University placed Buddhist monks into brain scanners while they meditated [1].

"One thing that meditation does for those who practise it a lot is that it cultivates attentional skills"

From my limited observations exploring a section of the system, focus is embodied in the physical geography as a channel cut by a unified flow. The flow of water acts in dialectic material agency. From the heavy rocks and the high altitude of the mountain, through the sheltered, reflective tree cover, the worked lands of the almond groves and the ploughed terraces, cutting into the subterranean geologies of the lower reaches, the environment reflected states of contemplation. This is similar to some of the concepts in the Bachelard's Poetics of Space [2].

Up near the roof all our thoughts are clear. In the attic it is a pleasure to see the bare rafters of the strong framework. Here we participate in the car­penter's solid geometry. As for the cellar, we shall no doubt find uses for it .. It will be rationalized and its conveniences enumerated. But it is first and foremost the dark entity of the house, the one that partakes of subterranean forces. When we dream there, we are in harmony with the irrationality of the depths (Bachelard, 1994, pg 18).

A common theme in Bachelard's text is the point at which the description of the inhabited space takes flight from the physical into the dream realm.

I found myself drawn to geographical features that raised questions about the landscape's formation which triggered an internal response.

A huge slab of rock invited play to climb, see it from different angles, rub the surface to feel its texture. It evoked surprise when the surface turned from a stone grey with dappled pinks to an ochre yellow which rubbed off on my fingers.

A tributary into the main channel was strewn with huge dark grey granite boulders. An embankment made from a rich deep red material raised questions about the geologies that the system passed through.

Points of Enquiry:

  • What is the significance of the dialectic between external stimuli and internal response? What process is being evoked?
  • What is the relevance and value of 'natural environment' and 'wilderness' in terms of preconceived notions of Wilderness.
  • A testimony to your experience as you cross spaces and places en route to the sea."
  • What signs are there of human influence. How do these relate to the human condition. E.g. landscape as resource?

Equipment

Bikes - Options

  • Older (21inch / XL) steel framed mountain bike.
  • Modern touring/mountain bike.
  • 'Fatbikes' - popular at the moment, a good match for the task. Active UK communities exist for second hand options but likely to be the most expensive option.

Camping

  • 'Bike packing' style - strap the luggage to the frame, bar bag, seat post rack.
  • Light sleeping bag, bivvy bag, stove, mat, camera, clothes.
  • Example bike image http://www.whileoutriding.com/

Bikepacking bike

Outcomes:

  • Photography, geolocated blogs and tweeting
  • 'Headwater of information'; a repository of landscape metadata forming access points for others into the work.
  • Working in collaboration with a publisher I will produce a book with map, text and photographs.
  • Project curated by Joya: arte + ecología, as part of Sistemas Efímeros
  • Centred on my empirical observations relating to human geography.

Synopsis:

A mountain bike ride from the mountains at the source of the water catchment system, following the dry fluvial system (dry river beds) down to the sea. Documenting via photography, leaving repositories of 'metadata' with my observations of the physical and human geographies via geolocated blog posts to serve as access points for others into the project

Context to previous or future research:

Biography:

Technical Coordinator of Joya: arte + ecología, Andy studied MA Design Critical Practice at Goldsmiths (distinction). His personal projects span qualitative mapping, open product and open education design. Andy has run his own design business, worked as a mountain bike guide and traveled extensively by bicycle around the world starting from England to India, Nepal and Mongolia and wrote a book, 'Weave of the Ride’, about his experiences. He is developing a mountain bike tour company in Georgia called Georiders. Andy is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

Links to previous research:

  • http://www.andywelchphotography.co.uk
  • http://www.andrewwelch.info

References

  • [1] BBC, Title. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12661646

  • [2] Bachellard, G., 1994 Edition. The Poetics of Space. Beacon Press.

  • http://philpapers.org/rec/RAOTFO

  • http://consc.net/mindpapers/8.5d