Mediated Earth: Footprints & Shoemaking

| May 3, 2011

Barefoot Sandal Sculpture

You are as quick as a spartan hound to pick up the tracks of the argument…

—Plato, Parmenides 128b-c

The question of footprints, of the traces we leave in our contact with the world, is one that runs through the history of philosophy of education. How do we know where we have been? And what does it say about the nature of our passing? What, in short, can we glean of ourselves from the tracks we leave? It is no mere curiosity then that the Futurefarmers’ new exhibition at the Guggenheim orients around the place of shoemaking, and the ways in which this contact is mediated by craft.

For the Guggenheim’s Intervals series, Futurefarmers is creating a ten-day “urban thinkery” centered around a shoemaker’s atelier consisting of a cobbler’s bench and shoe racks and installed in the Guggenheim Museum’s Rotunda. The atelier is an open interpretation of Simon the Shoemaker’s fifthcentury Athens studio in which Socrates supposedly had extensive philosophical discussions with Simon and local youth.

As part of this project they will perform a “Pedestrian Press” in which participants, wearing special shoes, will work as a kind of printing press, to lay out a large scale text. My collaborators and I, in FIG, will be partnering up with the leather crafters of ETWAS Bags, to introduce the Pedestrian Press this Saturday, as part of the Festival of Ideas for the New City.

We will be leading an extension of the work with Relational Drawing, which we presented recently at the Whitney Museum. The idea is to use movement and sensation as a way to understand the ways in which we leave our mark on the world, but also, just as importantly, the way in which the traces of this contact are imprinted in our body’s own movement and postures. Looking at the ways in which we walk and stand, we will explore ways to do this more skillfully. And with the help of ETWAS, we will make custom made huaracha sandals for participants to feel the ways in which craft mediates our experience of contact with the world.

At a time when to lead an “examined life” cannot afford to neglect the forms in which it is mediated, and produced, we have the opportunity to learn something about what it means to do this well… or one might say, artfully.

For more information, to register for this free event, and be a part of Futurefarmers’ Pedestrian Press this Saturday, go here…

Hush, hush! Let your footsteps fall lightly! Not a sound!

—Euripedes, Orest. 140