Introduction: "Walking Boxes"- the First Four

The purpose of these are to gather imprecise information in the form of a line to establish the happening of an experience. They are not boxes that walk, rather they are boxes you take for walks. It is a rudimentary way to gather data in hopes of exploring more profound themes of experience.

Step 1: Parts That Might Be Useful

A key feature of these boxes is that they were constructed with what was at hand and easy to come by. The basic idea is that you need something to make the mark (in this case the marker), something to mark on (shown here as receipt paper), a way to create the marks (springs to make the markers mobile, weights to make the marks, and boxes to make the distance and hold it all together.) Remember, the idea is to make an elementary box to make active records of your experience with it. This means it should be kept as simple as possible, while remembering that the construction of the box is going to determine the lines made almost as much as walking with it. 

Step 2: A Few More Items You Might Need.

Remember, simple construction is key. The  idea is that one can be fashioned easily and quickly. If preferred, a somewhat sturdier version may be constructed out of plywood. For this, you will need some more substantial tools than an x-acto and tape. My plywood box was constructed with the table-saw, a drill-press, saw and hammer.

Step 3: Construction Materials

The first four walking boxes were constructed  from : cardboard, plywood, and matboard. 

Step 4: Boxes

The first four walking boxes.

You may find it necessary to walk and think, walk and think about what you want your box
to be, and walk and not think before you decided anything about our first box. For example, on
the walks I took, I spent a fair amount of time considering why it was important to gather
information that wasn’t digital. On these preliminary walks I also questioned why I felt it necessary
to respond to my digital fabrication class in the manner I was.

As the boxes began to come together, these questions both faded and were magnified. In a way
it seemed unavoidable to need such a purely analogue method to talk about experience which
could not be quantified through more specific and accurate methods. Once I came to term with
the fact that I was doing the opposite of what I would expect to be doing in a digital fabrication
class I began to also find some answers. I saw this data collecting
as the first part of a two part project. The second part of the project would be taking this data and turning it into forms, which
in their final product would provide an experience of their own. Somehow the data needed to
come from a place as far away as possible from where it would go to be turned into forms.

Step 5: Results

The paper with the blue marks on it is from the polygon cylinder, in which a pen hung from a spring stretched across the mouth. A small bolt with two washers attached to the spring, and wire allowed the sharpie to hang down from this. A slit was cut in the bottom to allow the paper "slide" to insert at the appropriate height. The marks show both the walking and stillness. 

Two of the four boxes featured hand-turned paper which would create a continuous line. The marks are reflective of both the walking as well as interacting with this rudimentary machine. The paper with the blue marks came from the cardboard box, with paper wrapped around two cardboard tubes and a marker held over the paper with a rubber band. 

The papers with the black lines came from the plywood box, which featured a bike pump spring, a small travel marker, a nut, a bolt, two washers, and two small dowels.

I should mention that my first intention of the project was to build a phonautograph. Scott's patent is available online at and is something I would highly recommend
looking at. In my research I found the artists Ander Mikalson and Matthew Denniss. They both made intriguing work using the phonautograph, yet looking at their work eventually helped me realized that it wasn't the phonautograph as a whole which I needed to build, rather it was only elements of its process and results which I was after. The main ideas I took
from Scott’s manuscript were these: the recording of energy, the correlation of data as memory,
the potential application for the data in terms of the arts, and his description of the recording as a
kind of “writing.” So while this isn’t directly connected to where I ended up, it was important in
getting there.