Constitutionals

Since I wrote Graphic commons: Government sanctioned dérives, I have started to upload photos taken on my daily #coronawalks to a dedicated Instagram feed called Constitutionals.

It features much more of a variety of observations than just the graphic or typographic, as written about here, and is more typical of my usual Instagram feed. Depending on the amount of photographs I take, and my post-walk editing decisions, each addition has so far ranged from one to 21 photos. However, as Instagram restrictions only allow you to add a maximum of 10 photos in any one post, several days have multiple entries.

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It is an interesting exercise, (no pun intended). I did wonder whether I might run out of things to photograph as I am walking the same streets again and again, but so far, over the 12 walks I have done in 13 days, I have found new things on every occasion. Some of these are reliant on a specific moment in time, such as in the Metal Tree above and the Shadow Trees below. These images could only have been captured at certain times of the day or month, or in certain whether conditions. As a process I both try to ‘zone out’ a little, and allow occurrences to present themselves to me unexpectedly. For example, with Metal Tree, it was only in turning my head from scrutinising a nearby car park where I thought there might be something interesting to photograph, that this image presented itself to my retina. It caught me unawares, my intuitive-eye shouted at my brain, and I captured something I might otherwise have walked past. It is a strange sensation—I knew what the picture would be before I took my phone out of my pocket and composed it.

My walks are increasing in both distance travelled and direction—initially I was sticking resolutely to my immediate neighbourhood of the East of Ipswich, but today I ventured near to the town centre, and in doing so skirted my work place for the first time in three and a half weeks. I am still technically on annual leave this week, so while I have a little time in between prepping for return to work next week and a few other obligations I have, I may push further still before having to reel myself in and do these walks around the day job again.

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Each post is accompanied with an introductory slide incorporating the day’s date and the steps taken, (as according to the Stepz app on my phone). It feels right to do this considering these walks truly are ‘constitutionals’ for me. I started them after back problems I have developed over the past year,  but which I had under control, returned after a week of ‘remote’ working and sitting at a computer all day long. Typically when at work I would get a fair bit of exercise simply from being on my feet teaching for three days a week, walking across campus to attend a variety of meetings, and talking to colleagues at their desks rather than fire off an email to them. That, and the 20 minutes it takes me to walk to and from work everyday. But as we moved to online delivery from home, I found that in cramming to get content online, adapting lectures / feedback exercises for online delivery, running student video tutorials, and having digital team meetings in the last few weeks of March, that I was starting to seize-up. On top of that, I also found a desperate need to stretch my mind—just like countless others, the constant barrage of news about the spread of COVID-19, the announcements about the rising worldwide death toll, and personal concerns I had about my family, colleagues and students, it was all starting to weigh heavily. Since starting my daily walks I have found these constitutionals to be an absolute necessity for both my mental and physical health, and I dread the scenario of a tighter lockdown being imposed with no exercising allowance outside of the home.

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If you would like to follow Constitutionals, you can do so via this link.