We propose to stop at the most busy place, at the very heart of the networks, in the eye of the hurricane, at the focal point of the Parisian megalopolis. The voyage immobile, or motionless journey, or travel-point condenses the energy of the journey into one carefully chosen location. The experience was conducted by several people using a protocol that each one of them interprets as he/she wishes : the book Voyages immobiles au Forum des Halles (in French only) brings together the texts of ten of these travellers.
NB. The journeys take place in the Forum des Halles in the late 2000s, before its renovation.
The Forum des Halles in Paris is a place with which we have a false familiarity. The collective representations associated with it are built from the accumulation of fleeting, daily repeated impressions of millions of passers-by :
Mystique of the Great Escalator
Labyrinth of Depths
Are these millions of imperfect pieces of knowledge less real, less valid, than an improbable "truth" of the place ? Repeated ad infinitum, partial perceptions become reality.
We have proposed the experience to several travellers, by giving them a few rules. Each one interprets or diverts them as he wishes :
The journey is made alone (it is however possible to meet people "on the way").
The traveller remains motionless (once he has found his place, he will not change it again).
The trip lasts a minimum of three hours (the maximum duration is not fixed : it is up to the traveller to decide when to end the experience).
The traveller does not engage in any time occupation (no book, walkman or other, unplug the cell phone).
We suggest a list of favorable locations. The traveller can also suggest one of his choice.
Do nothing : abandon any utilitarian relationship to the city, any use of urban space oriented towards a goal. Abandon any aesthetic relationship to the city. The goal is not to contemplate the landscape; rather, to be part of it.
We collect a non-representative sample of points of view. They are, strictly speaking, travel stories. As such, they can be inaccurate, incomplete, exaggerated... A trip is not a sociological survey or research aimed at objectivity or exhaustiveness.
We ask travellers to analyze rather than describe, to record the thoughts that come to them during the trip, rather than a simple recording of what surrounds them.
On August 14, 2007, Stéphane Degoutin remains motionless inside the metro and RER interchange hall, at the heart of the flows of a permanently circulating crowd, while Gwenola Wagon settles in the centre of the Place basse, in a meeting place.
On 21 September 2007, Julie Vayssière sits at the top of the mound overlooking the Place René Cassin. Alexis Chazard makes a journey in the void of the Porte du jour. Cécile Bicler takes notes between the shops on level -1 of the Forum.
On November 24, 2007, Joffrey Dieumegard becomes a writer-inspector at the entrance of the post office, Porte Lescot at level -4 while Rebecca Hargreaves directs her gaze towards the Place basse, behind the glass of the restaurant Oh Poivrier !
On 8 December 2007, Marie Daubert settles in the centre of the UGC cinema, Julie Morel above the escalators of the Lescaut door, while Elie Kongs, between the exchange room and the Square, monitors the illegal activities of some RATP controllers.
On 15 December 2007, Caroline Delieutraz stands at the top of the escalators, a few metres from the Café Nolita, on level-2.
On 1 February 2008, Alice Leduc travels to level-1, on the east side, overlooking the Place basse, between two ficus. Alex Knapp sits near the hip hop dancers' corner, under the UGC cinema.
Vanina Sopsaisana, who came up with the idea for the trip, travels side to side vith a ventilation tube.
On June 28, 2008, during a workshop organized by Ars Longa, Samuel B. zigzags between the Place basse and the Place carrée, Jean Bescos stops on a bench in the garden, Ali Diarra sits on a lawn, Cristhian Galeano stands as an observer of the Grand trou, Geneviève Hergott settles down in allée Garcia Lorca, and Alex Knapp sits near the corner of the hip hop dancers, under the UGC cinema ; Boris Beaude watches the Place carrée; Corinne Laurent Dell'Accio teases the pigeons and the teak dancers of the Lautréamont terraces and Patrick Poncet observes the men who accompany their wives to the Kookaï shop.
On March 27, 2009, Elodie Goddard asked passers-by to redesign the police officers' uniforms.
Olivier Razemon, "Voyager sans autre but que se déconnecter du quotidien", Le Monde, 12 août 2009.