Towards the Serpentine
Tom Jenkins, Joe Malia
Royal College of Art, November 2004
Identify an existing group of people using the park and bring them into the Serpentine Gallery. This may be an actual visit or an extension of the Serpentine's presence into the park or beyond; raising public awareness and understanding in the gallery's cultural and social interests.
Parks represent free spaces in a city otherwise defined by architectural blocks, subways, roads and pavements. They are an escape from an often-sedentary city life. The park is the only place you can walk off the path, picking your own meandering route. Early investigation and interviews explored the existing behaviours and paths of the visitors to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, resulting in 2 proposals Today’s Walk and At The Heart of the Park.
Today’s Walk is a service for park visitors to be taken on guided walks by dogs trained to follow aniseed scent trails. A kennel in the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery provides a home for a small group of retired Trailhounds, adopted from the Lakeland Trailhound Trust, a charity in Bewaldeth, Cumbria that seeks to re-house ex-racing dogs.
A new scented trail is created periodically, taking walkers off the paths to locations of interest overlooked by most park goers, the dogs acting as guides along these invisible paths. For example, a series of stones that marks a medieval boundary line between Paddington and Kensington parishes (below).
At The Heart of the Park
Planes viewed above the park and the Serpentine Gallery
Every few minutes a plane passes overhead, just south of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine Gallery, breaking off from the almost perpetual cycle of aircraft in holding patterns over the city. They follow this flight-path at low altitudes, as they cover the final few miles before landing at Heathrow Airport to the west. The park is a prominent geographical feature for the airline passengers looking down from above, but while those in the sky can see the park, they cannot see individuals looking back up at them.
The network of lights
At The Heart of The Park sends pulses of light skywards, flowing in sequence down the network of pathways towards the gallery. Like the grand designs of the yearly Serpentine Pavilion, the lights aim to draw in visitors from around the city. In the gallery's grounds a miniature version of the lights mirror their progress, giving visitors an impression of the view from above. For those within Hyde Park a single push switch below each spotlight allows it to be held on independently, displaying an individual's otherwise invisible presence to the sky. This action also temporarily halts the flow of light down that pathway, before releasing it to continue towards the gallery.
Open until midnight every night, Hyde Park has an existing infrastructure of path lighting that could be extended to provide physical structure and electrical power.
Airport advertising for arriving passengers