Within the Walk21 conference in Vienna, we want to deal with the specifics of selected Viennese urban areas and moving around as URBAN HITCHHIKER through the meshwork of the city. The project is going to be practiced in several cities during the following months and is further to be developed into an instrument that allows a social character and to provide local knowledge and exchange.
Walking itself is primarily a way of natural movement and thus a means of individual appropriation of space. Walking brings the individual surrounding environment in a dynamic that follows the direction of walking. It is an activity in the present into the direction of the future, which opens space by the movement itself. In addition, walking is a subjective form of expression and attitude that is visible through a physical activity, within going in the space. This visible-making moment of the action makes walking an important format of understanding the city and urban processes.
Within the Walk21 conference in Vienna, we, Thomas Kerekes and Karsten Michael Drohsel, want to deal with the specifics of selected Viennese urban areas and moving around as urban hitchhiker through the meshwork of the city. The idea is to offer ourselves as a company of people who agree to take someone on their way and prepared to answer questions regarding their route, the site and the localization in the neighbourhood. During the walk, we can also perform minor works, for example carry shopping bags, write short text messages, quickly move into a store and get something or hold the leash of the dog.
The main focus is on the mutual experiences which can be made on arbitrarily held everyday routes by people who have a concern in the chosen municipality. Key questions are: Which people are on the move? What are the people doing in their neighbourhoods? By whom we are addressed or who is speaking to us? Who takes us and whither, therefore, about whom we trust in public space and who trusts us? In addition, we are interested in: Whom or what we have learned? At the end of the day, what is the knowledge across the streets, the neighbourhood and the district or the city? There are thence also especially the aspects and issues related to their own perception and experience in focus. The gathered information is to be collected and depicted in reports and maps. In this way, in retrospect they can be analyzed and exhibited and discussed .
The Urban Hitchhiker project is going to be practiced in several cities during the following months and is further to be developed into an instrument that allows a social character - the urban hitchhiker - to provide local knowledge and exchange. Over time it results in a local communication network and a learning system through this experiences can be generated or being exchanged. Participating individuals are both knower as experiencer and thus act as an analog Wiki for local knowledge, which can be important for downstream processes such as planning and spacial design.
Urban Hitchhiking is inspired by the idea of the Mobile University of Berlin and the Walking Libraries. Both formats deal with the sharing of spatial knowledge and the strategies of spatial practice. Urban Hitchhiking has the potential to play a future role as a method in planning processes. We understand walking as a way of concrete space perception training because walking itself is always concretely space.
In view of the analysis of Hitchhiker walks it is particularly the call for a concrete action between specific places of interest: By walking, spaces are arising which can be read and analyzed in the lookup. These spaces follow the movement of the acting person, which can combine a particular purpose with their actions.