Walking Around the World Without Moving

DOWNTOWN — Four of the most recognizable walkers in St. Louis have apparently been on quite the journey since they came town, and they’ve covered so much ground without moving an inch from their original location.

In yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Doug Moore had one of those stories that stands out for its inventiveness and its unexpectedness.

Moore revisits Citygarden, a walking area in downtown St. Louis that is a wonderful jumble of artwork. Two of the more captivating — and, for some, unnerving — pieces at Citygarden are the digital walkers.  “This is Kiera and Julian Walking” and “This is Bruce and Sara Walking” are digital boards that show four figures, two in each frame, striding ever smoothly toward nowhere. The figures are faceless, they’re clothes are yin-yang opposites, and yet their gait is so eerily real and relentlessly rhythmic that the artist, Julian Opie, has made the casual stroll into a work of art.

Here’s where Moore’s creativity comes in.

He wondered if the figures won’t restrained to their little digital boxes at Citygarden and just walked away from the art how far they would have traveled since coming to town 2 1/2 years ago.

"Julian" and "Kiera" walking as part of the artwork in Citygarden -- a photo from yesterday's Post-Dispatch, taken by Erik M. Lunsford.

With the help of the artist, a mathematician, a working knowledge of direction and the globe, Moore was able to show how far each of the walkers has, well, walked:

— JULIAN takes 24.2 steps per minute and would be nearing the coast of Japan. Total distance traveled: 12,324 miles.

— KIERA takes 22 steps per minute and is working her way through China. Total distance traveled: 10,678 miles.

— SARA takes 21.4 steps per minute and is in western China. Total distance traveled: 9,499 miles.

— BRUCE takes 19.2 steps per minutes and is ambling along through Tajikistan. Total distance traveled: 8,816 miles.

From this info, Moore and his sources are able to calculate when the digital walkers will “return” to St. Louis, thus completig a virtual walk around the world. Julian would walk down Market Street to the finish line in August 2013.

The race is on, but the pace was set long ago.




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