Scott Walden’s The (Paving) Stones of Venice



In 2022, Canadian photographer Scott Walden, trained his camera on what is usually overlooked in Venice: the stones paving the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal and pedestrian passageways throughout.  Inspired by John Ruskin’s “The Stones of Venice” Walden created a photo-installation on the floor of  The Emily Harvey Foundation’s gallery in New York and invited viewers to take part in a participatory event that this video documents.

Walden, who is also a professor of philosophy, centers his writing on the intersection of the philosophies of art, mind, and language, especially in relation to photography.  Finding resonance in Ruskin’s view that, “It is only by labour that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that can be made happy,”  Walden, in his (Paving) Stones . . . , juxtaposes photographs of the hand-crafted stones of the Rialto Bridge next to those of the machined wood planks and metal plates that cover the Accademia Bridge, as well as the distinctive paving stones of the Scalzi Bridge, and the blue-glass and ceramic tiles of the most modern bridge, the Calatrava.   Debris and other artifacts left on the bridges convey the presence of the pedestrians who constantly cross the bridges.

Walden’s thought process in assembling a choice of images from each bridge is inspired by the artist David Hockney’s schematic approach to representing his subjects, rather than attempting complete representation.  In the final hours of the exhibition, Walden invited each viewer to be part of the thought process and to select a photograph.

Completed 2024
Running time: approximately 9 minutes
Original format: HD digital video