I’ve always had an obsession with places. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved spending hours upon hours staring at maps, recalling places that I have been and imagining places unseen. I pride myself on having an impeccable sense of direction, and I can usually find my way to my destination wherever I am. Something about places intrigues me – not just the physical geography or the man-made overlay, but what has been described as the “psychogeography” of places. Every place has its own unique feeling, its own unique spirit. We cannot simply pass through places without being affected by them, and in turn affecting them with our presence as well.
So it’s not a stretch to imagine that one of my favorite pastimes is travel. I love to travel, but for different reasons than most. I travel to accumulate places. I am a collector of places, of impressions of places. Sometimes this passion can reach the point of addiction, where I am always longing to visit someplace new or somewhere that I have not been in a long while.
My connection to places is often tied very closely to my means of traveling to and through them. I think that this goes back to a childhood spent exploring my hometown by means of foot, bike, and skateboard. Travel by car, at least in the US, disconnects us from place much more than it connects us. Car travel is concerned first and foremost with efficiency above aesthetics or any other aspect of experience. Freeways seldom travel through places with deep meaning and history, or even through places with nice views. To truly experience place, one must travel by much slower, simpler, and less efficient means.
Walking, biking, and skateboarding allow a person to interact and react to the landscape. Instead of being sheltered behind glass and steel, I am open to the elements in all of their fury and beauty. I can notice the small and insignificant elements that make up the reality of a place. I can interact with people I see along the way, even if it’s just with a quick moment of eye contact or a simple head nod. In a spiritual sort of sense, I can become one with the place through which I travel.
My goal is to explore the power, beauty, and meaning of place and the means we use to move through it. Places are never static. Motion is a fundamental property of matter. The connection between places and movement is essential – if places are not alive with motion, they are not really alive at all. Even seemingly still places like the heart of the desert are teeming with motion, if one only takes the time to look and listen closely. I want to find the movement in the heart of places, whether in built-up places or natural ones. I want to challenge the tired dichotomy between journey and destination, since they are both one and the same.