Photo: Susanne Kudielka (Dogs and their walkers in Auwiesen)
An interactive experiment / Cartography
Artists: Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley
A project commisioned by the Festival der Regionen, taking place between the 9th of May and the 1st of June 2009 in Auwiesen (Linz, Austria)
Festival visitors can borrow a dog and take this dog for a walk through Auwiesen. This simple act, for many people a daily routine, offers the potential for a unique interaction with Auwiesen, and the chance to view Auwiesen from a very particular perspective.
Walking a dog leads to unavoidable contact with other dog owners. The dogs tend to force the conversation, as they excitedly perform a parallel get-together and bring the walk to a temporary halt. The starting point for the conversation is almost always the dog. How old, male or female? You find yourself talking openly about a very personal and private thing.
Auwiesen is a place of dogs and dog owners, complete with ‘Freilauf’ areas and the provision of plastic bag dispensers along the main road. During an hour-long walk through Auwiesen, we documented twelve encounters with dog owners who were taking their four legged friends for a walk. The people we met spanned every generation and came from a variety of backgrounds, a cross section of the Auwiesen community. You usually found yourself saying hello to the dog first. If we had not said hello to their dogs, we would probably not have had a discussion with the people we met.
The route taken when walking a dog is a joint decision. Dogs have a way of guiding their owners and controlling the pace with which you walk. We would like to investigate ways in which we can map the routes that are taken and the specific encounters that are experienced by participants, exploring the use of both GPS technology and memory based mapping. How does the architecture guide the dog-walkers, how do the dogs guide the dog-walkers? Do patterns of daily life and daily routine emerge? This ongoing cartographic documentation would emerge as the festival progresses at our designated base.
The idea also touches on our own actions, as artists coming into a community to explore its potential for a future project. Sniffing around in a state of heightened interest, we found the place fascinating, taking photos of people’s private spaces, and looking for conversations or contact with ‘the locals’. This led us to consider the cultural tourists that might be coming to ‘experience’ Auwiesen or take part in participatory events during the festival. Providing visitors with a dog could be read as a form of camouflage for cultural tourists.
If you want to come into contact with the people of Auwiesen, you are probably best off getting a dog.