I have, as discussed in my methodology, categorised as much data as possible from the nine surveys and four blog entries that asked questions about the experiences had on Hamish Fulton’s Group Walk. This is some of my initial data presentation.
Figure 1 shows the key themes that emerged from responses about how participants paced themselves throughout the two hour walk, and is calculated from the number of responses that fell into each theme as a percentage of the total number of comments from the nine survey responses. The ‘practical and walking’ category relates responses about physical reactions to the walking task (shifting of feet, the size of the steps taken, crossing of arms and crouching down to retain warmth). Thought-based responses included comments about thinking about family, about other people they knew who were participating and wondering whether they were ok, or thinking about time. ‘Observations about the environment’ is relatively self explanatory, and included quotes such as “I was looking closely at plant life growing in the cracks, rusty bits of metal, graffiti, oil spills,” and “I considered the graffiti directly opposite me. I mentally retraced the artists’ hand holding the can.” There were various comments, good and bad, about the landscape, the buildings, and a few mentions of the future High Speed 2 development planned for the site, and how it might affect the area and redefine the city. The ‘actions’ category included comments about texting and Tweeting others, looking at mobiles, reading, writing and playing with pebbles.
Figure 2 shows the key themes that emerged from responses about the connections participants felt with the landscape and their immediate surroundings, calculated using the same method as in Figure 1. It was evident from the response data that other participants in the walk were as much a part of the landscape and surroundings as the built environment. This is why Figure 2 shows information from four questions grouped together, as answers to questions 16 and 17 had started to answer those in 21 and 22.
Many of the categories in Figure 2 are similar to in Figure 1. ‘Connection with a Micro-environment’ refers to comments about participants’ affiliation with their line. ‘Emotional or intellectual connection’ relates to comments made about whether the space was of visual interest, or feelings about Birmingham’s skyline. ‘Connection to the sonic environment’ referes to the noises of seagulls, trains, cars and other people. ‘Connection to other participants’ included Tweeting, smiling at each other, and other interactions. Some participants stated they did not feel any connection with the landscape or their surroundings, most stating the weather and the duration of the walk being the reason: “I was quite interested in obtaining a new perspective on the city centre, as I hadn’t been in this car park before, but I spent most of my time looking at the floor or other people,” and another stating “If the purpose of the walk was to engender a greater connection with the landscape then the rule should have been less restrictive.” The largest number of comments (26.5%) related to the connection participants had with each other. Some referred to it as group solidarity – that they were all in this unique experience together, and as a resulted, had ‘bonded’ and become ‘stronger’. Fulton states, in relation to another of his slow walks, Slowalk in Spain 2008: “The (walk) participants are also the (art) observers. The walk is a fact for the walkers, and fiction for everyone else” (Fulton, 2012: 36).
The second largest number of comments (16.3%) were about the connection between the participant and the spectator, and with the visual environment. In many instances, the former referred to the thought of passengers on trains wondering what was happening. Also mentioned was a group of skaters, and the official photographers, who some felt were imposing on their experience. Comments about the visual environment included observations about graffiti, tin cans, concrete, buildings, clouds, roads and the passing trains.