Learning From Footwear

| October 24, 2011

Recently brought to my attention, this preview of the feature, The Shoe, by Saraiva’s Cheeky, goes right to the heart of the matter.

Long Weekend With André on Nowness.com.

On the one hand, shoes seem to slip by our attention, too close to the ground, beneath our consideration. On the other hand, we would be surprised to see how much we feature them in the drama’s we tell and live.

And when we do find our attention brought to shoes, or rather, when shoes are used to gather attention, we find another doubling. The shoe as attractor of  both kisses and punches.

We, it turns out, notice shoes. They differentiate us.

And like the classroom chair, the very fact that we have a hard time attending to what they do, or taking them seriously except as a self-conscious fetish that we can laugh off, I would suggest, is indicative of just how much we rely on them.

I will go further. Shoes are one of the major interfaces of our our lives. Together with chairs and screens they form a triad of behavior and experience that is hard to escape.

The question is, what do we have, still, to learn about how this goes? What is our relationship to shoes?

I’ve written a first foray into situating the shoe in a larger context, previously, and with some colleagues of mine, participated in the Futurefarmers exhibition at the Guggenheim, where we explored shoe making as a craft, and how we make contact with the ground.

Coming up will be a few further attempts to move us into a place where we can attend and work more closely with the dynamics of shoes.

Urban Homesteading
Union Square PavilionSaturday, November 5th

The Art of Walking and Making Sandals
Textile Arts Center
Thurs 6:30 – 9:30 PM, December 8 – December 15

This Spring I will be looking at shoes in the larger context of culture, function, and design. Examining “shoes as interface,” we’ll dig in to see how the current interest in minimalist footwear can be engaged with and pushed even further. The wager is that this has implications that go well beyond fashion in it’s diminutive sense, to permeate how we live and fashion our engagements in the world.