Ji Sun Kim

walking has always been the most important means of getting accustomed to a place for me. i often make spontaneous walks alone, and thus it has been established as an individual activity. when walking alone in silence i frequently find myself deeply immersed in the action, which enables me to retrospect it as a distant, objective experience.

Siena is a unique place for walkers. it’s easy to get lost, but it’s also easy to find the way back. it provides comfort in getting lost. also, everybody walks. from the first month of living here i have made repetitive remarks that i rarely saw an elevator in the buildings. while in my home country people campaign to walk, walking is more of a norm in this city.


my initial interest in the numeric approach to my experiences was focused on counting the time and steps taken to reach a destination. besides recording the statistics of my daily routine, i also experimented with taking different routes to reach the same destination, and inevitably getting lost in the process.

20.4 Via Roma – Piazza del Mercato 2973 steps 26.55 minutes

Piazza del Mercato – Via Roma 1717 steps 15.34 minutes

Via Roma – Porta Ovile 1902 steps 21.40 minutes

21.4 Via Roma – Porta Pispini 3265 steps 30.01 minutes

Via Roma – Piazza Gramsci 2032 steps 17.15 minutes

22.4 Via Roma – Via Tommaso Pendola 1821 steps 22.24 minutes

Via Tommaso Pendola – Piazza Gramsci 984 steps

23.4 Piazza del Campo – Piazza di San Francesco 2488 steps 35.11 minutes

Piazza di San Francesco – Via Roma 1590 steps 18.00 minutes

25.4 Via Roma – Via Tommaso Pendola 1071 steps 16.26 minutes

.visual application: maps

but walking and counting every single step is a laborous process. you don’t have the slightest clue of where you are, you are circling the same streets over and over again, yet you have to count your footsteps. and you have to find your way back home. getting lost is knowledge, but getting too lost didn’t teach me much. i was still interested in numbers though, and how such an abstract information can tell about a place. so i had to to take a turn. i needed to dig deeper into my walking habits and experiences to take this idea further.

at the very beginning of the project, i was caught up with questioning the purpose of maps to people. i remembered that because i am terrible at reading maps, i tend to rely on street numbers in New York to find directions, and when i was lost on the way back home after the first day of school here. constant traveling makes me conscious of numbers: street numbers, bus numbers, flight numbers, ticket prices, terminals, platforms, time, all of them i have to be aware of in order not to be lost. therefore, i started photographing the numbers i notice in the journey, making the experience objective and entirely personal at the same time.

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.final project

the idea spoke to me better than i thought it would. numbers on streets, receipts, digital clock and price tags became a map entirely of my own. as i get familiar with certain streets that i walk frequently, i noticed more than street numbers during the journey and i included them. i moved away from placing the numbers in relation to the directions on the geographical map (which i actually did on my draft piece) because as it is a personal map, one doesn’t have to know. few viewers noticed where some of the numbers come from, and it was a response that i hoped i could receive from them.

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