#45: Walking in the Epicenter of the Epicenter

Plus, creativity is like breathing, Way of the Walk Instagram and The Great Walk mockumentary

How are you? Who are you? Where are you? Are you safe? I hope so. If you’re still reading this newsletter, thank you! I want to hear from you too. Tell me about your newsletter or your project or you Instagram. Or about your walks. Drop me a line info@bryanformhals.com

I’m Bryan and this is my weekly newsletter on walking, photography, maps and New York City.

Walking & NYC: The sirens are faint, and constant. By now, we all know where they are going and why. There’s no way I can disconnect that sound from the first person essays I’m reading from covid patients, first responders and healthcare professionals. I can’t look away. I refuse. It’s too close. I’m taking all of the necessary precations but I still feel it’s only luck or perhaps genetics that are keeping the sirens from coming for me. How long before that luck runs out? Just today, as I finished my morning walk I watched an ambulance pull up to my apartment building. It’s all around. Queens is now the epicenter of the epicenter. We can’t leave, we shouldn’t leave. All we can do is wait and follow the rules. Be safe is the mantra of the times.

I’ve been keeping up with my daily walks at a distance and with a scarf wrapped tightly around my face. My prediction is that we’ll all be wearing masks in NYC for the next few years. The information about even going outside is contradictory. I’m of the feeling that the air, the sun and movement are worth the slight risk (follow the rules!) It’s mostly some heavily exhaling joggers that concern me. I bolt across the road when I see them coming.

Keep walking, pick up the pace, keep your distance.

This week on an early morning walk, the quiet finally struck me. I felt guilty for enjoying it because I knew it was abnormal. The city is different and I’m not sure anyone here can fully articulate the vibe in public right now. Each day it seems to change. There’s no escaping the sense of tragedy, like the virus, it seems to be everywhere.

Life in tumultuous flux for all of us. And as with many others, I now find myself looking for new job opportunities and gigs (find me on LinkedIn.) I’m open to new collaborations and have new one coming up next week that I’m excited about.

#desirepath Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens // @bryanformhals. .
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Link in bio for Episode 1
March 26, 2020

Podcast: If you listened to episode one, thank you! The feedback as been good. We’re getting ready to release the next episode, and this week started posting to Instagram, sharing photos, books and maps. Naturally, we’ve gotten a little off track since we can’t get out into the field to record right now but we’re kicking around some ideas for producing it remotely. If you know of any interesting walking projects or artists that would make good guests, let me know!

This is from a long-form comic on my website called “Eight marvelous and melancholy things I’ve learned about creativity.” Click the link on my profile to read the rest.
March 25, 2020

In another study, a collaborative team of neuroscientists and psychologists at Dalian University of Technology in China and the University of Oregon in the US tested participants on divergent thinking tests before and after short-term meditation (30 minutes per day for seven days). The control group practised relaxation for the same duration. The researchers found that creativity can be significantly enhanced by meditation. - Talent, you’re born with. Creativity, you can grow yourself

Creativity: The oatmeal has a nice long form piece on creativity that resonated with me. It’s been tough to focus on projects the last few weeks but I’m trying, as I’m sure you are as well. It’s been inspiring to see so much creativity shared on Instagram the last few weeks. I’m hoping to get into a groove this week now that I have a bit more free time (did I mention I’m open to new gigs!) First up will probably re-design and update my website, and then some editing that I’ve been neglecting.

Walking & art: Photographer Stuart Murdoch dropped me a line recommending this film. Naturally, it seemed relevant so I dug into it. At first, I thought it was a documentary but about 15 minutes in, I started to realize, nope, this is not what I think it is, definitely a mockumentary. Still, it was an enjoyable send to the earnestness of psychogeography which from my experience seems to be more predominant in the UK than the US, although it has many tentacles, and I’m not all that dialed into it yet. I find it sometimes confusing which why I tend to refrain from writing about it, even though I’m operating in that territory. All of this is to say, some parts this walking odyssey make me uncomfortable at times, which is good. So, watch at your own risk.

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I’m a photographer, editor and creative collaborator working in New York City. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram & Twitter

This newsletter is a weekly digest mixing updates on my current projects with the articles and media that catch my attention during the week. Topics I’m focusing on these days include walking, urbanism, New York city history, news about photography and photobooks, the attention economy and existential dread.