The purpose of this article is to consider walking artist Hamish Fulton’s ‘walk-texts’ as ethical responses to the environment. In light of the environmental crisis that manifests in the proposed stratigraphic designation ‘Anthropocene’, Jane Bennett’s writing on enchantment offers a direction for thinking about how an ecologically ethical sensibility might be cultivated. Fulton’s communicative response to his walking art, I argue, embodies the discernment of ‘things in their sensuous singularity’ that Bennett identifies as a key attribute of enchantment. Yet, in his own writing on his art practice, the walk-texts are conceived as secondary – a necessary counterpart to walking as an experiential activity. By honing in on two recurring strategies we find in Fulton’s Cairngorm walk-texts – the list and the return – I argue that his work offers a linguistic mode that holds great potential for tuning us to environmental ethics in the Anthropocene.
Alan Macpherson is a current AHRC-funded Ph.D. candidate in English and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen. His thesis addresses intermedial ecopoetics in the work of Kathleen Jamie, Hamish Fulton and Patrick Keiller.