critical perspectives
on the built environment
a free (walking) course

April weekends, schedule TBD

This course took place in the spring of 2023. Thank you to those who were able to attend!


an interdisciplinary ‘walking course’ with presentations, discussions & activities throughout the Portland area.

As human creatures, we’re each engaged in social, political, economic, and natural systems that extend well beyond our range of perception. In the practice of daily life we regularly rely on technologies of remote sensing, or “knowing at a distance” to navigate these systems: language, receipts, reports, images, video, and all manner of data. In the urban environment, these same technological extensions of our senses have shaped most everything we see or touch, from the zoning laws prescribing the widths of doors and heights of sidewalks, to the lines of code operating traffic lights and 5G cellular service. To live in an urban environment is to be naturalized into a hybrid landscape where program, routine, and protocol come second nature.

The aim of this course is to engage the natural body+senses as a site of critical perspective on the built environment, looking closely at architecture, civil infrastructure, media, and communications.

How are we compelled throughout our daily experience to map together far-flung and seemingly disjointed objects, spaces, and sensations into a continuous image of the mind?

How might playful experimentation with conscious and directed practices of mapping open up new possibilities of action and engagement within our environment?

The course will offer a pragmatic exploration of centralizing techniques of imperial and colonial power. A recurring theme will be to advance meaningful avenues towards ecologically distributed and sustainable ways of living.

Guy Debord Guide Psychogeographique de Paris 1957

Force-directed graph of WikiData entries: item "human", property "subclass of"

first-person views of an Amazon warehouse product "Picker" adjacent robotics floor, 2020

What to Expect:

This course will be offered in April across five weekend sessions. Each session will meet in a different location within the Portland area and include a short (<15 minute) walk to a final location. There will be a unique navigational prompt for each walk, followed by a group discussion around readings and related topics. Each participant will be responsible (individually or collaboratively) for a project that alternatively maps urban space. The format of the meetings will be loose and conversational, with the hope of adjusting subsequent sessions to encourage more continuous and organic inquiry.

This course is offered for free and is not affiliated with any institution. Care will be taken to be sure each location is accessible by public transit. Accommodations will be made for anyone with expressed accessibility needs. Some refreshments will be provided, so please mention any food allergies.


  1. NAVIGATION: Sensation, Ken, and Kennel

  2. MAPPING INFORMATION: Held by a Map / Body as Object

  3. MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE: Forensic, or Inductive Mapping

  4. MAPPING MEMORY: “Images of the mind” between Maps and Drawings

  5. KENNING SPACE: Architectural Responses to Ecology

About the Instructor:

Silliam Bims is a legal name, acceptable for a variety of official uses, from employment, to banking and debt collection. The name is suitable for emails, subscriptions, promotional offers, and all other organizational enterprises needing a semantic target for the biological referent. Bims has worked as a multimedia artist for over a decade, exhibiting and screening work internationally. Their recent work addresses environmentalism and the benefits of decentralization. Their practice entails research into the fundamental technologies of media and communications as well as implements for sustainable, off-grid living. They received a Masters in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016.