“Walking Art Observations in a Mindful Landscape” is a participatory art-in-nature meditation, site-specific to the landscape interventions at S.U.N.F.A.R.M. Axial pathways lead participants to find a connection between the axes in the landscape and the sky above. The paths are aligned to the East-West and North-South directions and act as sundials, instruments of timekeeping by revealing the apparent solar path in the sky. The dynamic perception of the local landscape and surrounding sky promotes states of mindfulness; participants become aware of where they are in space and time in a dynamic meditation that promotes focus and relaxation.

The selected axial path is Breath Path with Time Helix as the focal point. Breath Path evolves from the 2007 gravel pathways called Meditation Path—which became overgrown. Breath Path is 135-foot long, 30-inches wide and aligned to the north-south axis and marked by a checkerboard of red and grey pavers. The checkerboard pattern provides a rhythm for the walking meditation: recorded instructions lead participants to walk on the same color alternating pavers on their way south and the opposite color for the return. Each step is marked by a breathing cycle of inhalation and exhalation. The north entrance of the path is framed by Mindfulness Torii, a timber archway that marks the transition between places and the beginning of a meditation on the environment, recalling the Japanese tradition, where the torii is a physical gateway metaphor for the boundary between profane and sacred spaces. Walking through Breath Path initiates the awareness of being part of a system, made by ourselves and the environment. The act of walking through this path, while being aware of breathing and experiencing different events in the landscape and the sky, is a reminder of this interconnectedness; it also creates awareness of the presence of the participant in the surrounding environment in the time-based transformation of the geospatial coordinates of the participants. The counting of steps on the pavers accompanied by breathing cycles also develop the walking activity into a focused attention meditation.

During the first iteration of the online presentation on June 20th, the walking meditation was accompanied by a recording of the sound composition “Codex 126012” by Ak2deru. The sound installation has been realized to accompany visitors along their walking path within: it surrounds and supports slow walking, conscious breathing, ultimately the search for connection with the surrounding environment, and the artworks framing the meeting between earth and sky.

This project can be contextualized in the practices of walking art and walking meditation, finding a convergence between the two in the perception of the landscape. It also draws from the tradition of the Hudson River School, by revisiting the almost mystical view of the American landscape in a post-romantic appreciation of nature. Any participant can make art by the act of walking; perception itself becomes an artistic creation, in the meeting between the participant’s body with the land and sky, capturing the sublime of nature. “Walking Art Observations in a Mindful Landscape” also provides an educational opportunity for field learning with an introduction to naked-eye observational astronomy. The naked-eye observation of celestial events, mainly of the apparent solar path, was integrated with the overall life of traditional people, as documented in the monuments of archeoastronomy. Revisiting archeoastronomy and indigenous wisdom in the contemporary world can support the transformation toward a sustainable economy and lifestyle.

The event will be held virtually with Zoom on June 20th, 2021 from 4:00 pm-6:00 pm EST. Please register on Eventbrite here. In the near future, S.U.N.F.A.R.M. will be open by appointment for in-person visits. Please check the website (https://s-u-n-f-a-r-m.org/) for updates. 

“Walking Art Observations in a Mindful Landscape” and S.U.N.F.A.R.M. have been designed and realized by Daniela Bertol with assistance from Zoe Bertol-Foell for web development and art-in-nature constructions.

This event has been made possible in part by a grant from CREATE with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program.