Below, you'll see an assortment of Elastic City walk prompts, most of which can be adapted to new locations and varying numbers of participants. All prompts list the artist’s name, the walk title, its original location and the prompt duration. Some prompts suggest variations, alternate locations, necessary props and notes for clarity.

For some prompts, you'll see "[Demonstrate]" written. Often, participants find an instruction easier to follow if shown what you mean. Always feel free to demonstrate if you think it'll clarify a complicated or nuanced set of instructions.

The prompts are works-in-progress. Alter them to suit your needs, abilities, skills, location and vision––and please share! New and revised prompts will appear continually on this page.

Submit prompt ideas from your own walks along with any visual documentation to:


We are in the lobby of the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, home of the Department of Finance, Manhattan Borough President, Tax Commission and offices of the Mayor––among others. There’s even a NYC TV studio. Supposedly, this is a public building inhabited by folks who work for us.

Unfortunately, many of us have no clue who is working on our behalf or what they are doing in our name. In a moment, I want you to choose someone wearing a government badge––you’ll notice the city seal––who is waiting at the bank of elevators.

Surreptitiously follow that person for as long as you can––all the way to their next destination, if possible. Observe their tasks.

Meet us in the lobby after fifteen minutes or whenever you can no longer continue following them––whichever comes first.

Niegel Smith
"Follow the Leader"
Original Location: 1 Centre Street, Manhattan
Alternate Location: Government offices with public access
Duration: 15 minutes
Notes: This is an adapted version of Vito Acconci's "Following Piece"
Photo credit: Algirdas Sabaliauskas


Descend into the subway. As you walk down, be attentive to the change in climate, how does the humidity, temperature, and density of the air change as you go from above ground to below ground?

Board an express train uptown (B, D) to 34th Street. There’s a long distance between the stops in this station. If you look out the window, you’ll see a play of light and shapes. Imagine the window frame as the frame of a movie, maybe an abstract movie by Stan Brakhage. Create that movie for yourself, starting when you first look out the window and ending when you arrive at 34th Street.

Neil Goldberg
“Stories the City Tells Itself”
Original Location: West 4th Street subway station, Manhattan
Alternate Location: Columbus Circle, Manhattan. Take the A/D express train to 125th Street.
Duration: 10 minutes
Notes: For individuals and groups
Partner: Museum of the City of New York


[Distribute the pens and note cards.]

Space can behave as containers for human activity and accumulate a residue––a kind of spatial memory––of people who have passed through.

Walk into the lobby of the hotel. Look around at all the people. Choose a person in this lobby who interests you in some way. Sit next to or as close as you can to them. Observe them. Decide for yourself what their name is and where they are from. Is it their first time here or have they been here before? Think of three words to describe their state, and write them down. Take five minutes for this.

[Five minutes later]

Let's walk confidently past the guard to the elevator (if asked, say your partner is in your room with a key). Take the elevator up to the top floor. Wander around for fifteen minutes. Get lost.

After fifteen minutes, while walking by the succession of doors, choose one and stop walking. Stand in front of the door, facing the door. Think about the person you chose in the lobby. Imagine this is their room. Recall the three words that you used to describe them. Are they alone or are they with another person? Watch them moving around the room.

Mimi Lien
“Memory Palace”
Original Location: Outside of The Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Avenue, Manhattan
Alternate Location: A large hotel with an active lobby where you can skirt security and go up to the rooms
Duration: 25 minutes
Props: Note cards, pens
Notes: For individuals and groups of six to twelve participants. If you perform this prompt in another hotel, figure out beforehand a room number to mention if questioned by security.
Photo credit: Eric McNatt


Right here, next to New York County Supreme Court, this monument sits above us on a pedestal holding a scroll, shield and sword. This monument supposedly represents the defense of justice. One at a time, I’d like to offer each of you the chance to climb up into the lap of the monument and whisper something into its ear.

Niegel Smith
“Monumental Walk”
Original Location: Behind New York County Supreme Court: 60 Centre Street, Manhattan
Alternate Location: A figurative public sculpture or monument that has an ear
Duration: 2 minutes
Notes: For individuals and groups
Photo credit: Todd Shalom


Take a few moments to examine the colorful cluster of capped pipes protruding from the sidewalk to the right of the Apple Store. Think of a sonic gesture––just a short vocal flourish––that, for you, sums up the character (or describes the shape) of the pipe cluster. On my signal, perform your little vocal ode to the pipes. Everyone will vocalize simultaneously.

Pamela Z
“Site Reading”
Original Location: 103 Prince Street, Manhattan
Alternate Location: Where you see an unusual pipe/set of pipes sticking out of the ground
Duration: 1 minute
Notes: For individuals and groups
Partner: Urban Design Week 2011, organized by The Institute for Urban Design
Photo credit: Jen Plaskowitz


Gather around and stand on all four sides of one of the matrices of glass bricks embedded in the sidewalk. Looking down at the matrix, notice that each brick has various characteristics. Some are clouded or appear dark or opaque, while others are cleaner and clearer. Some are cracked, some are pitted, etc.

I'd like each person to make decisions about sonic parameters linked with the bricks’ attributes. For example, levels of opacity could be indicators for pitch or volume, and the presence of cracks could be an indicator of timbre or degrees of roughness or airiness in the voice.


Please take two minutes and decide on your own sonic parameters.

[Two minutes later]

Now we will all perform the bricks in order. Read from left to right, starting at the top. I will beat time with my hand. Make one sound for each brick in the tempo that I indicate. I will give the signal to start, and everyone will perform the bricks simultaneously.

Pamela Z
“Site Reading”
Original Location: Prince Street (between Mercer Street & Broadway), Manhattan
Alternate Location: Any sidewalk that has glass prisms embedded in it
Duration: 5 minutes
Notes: For groups
Partner: Urban Design Week 2011, organized by The Institute for Urban Design


[Ideally, you will stage this so that the participants think that there is currently a live production on the stage above you. Before beginning the prompt, count the number of participants and get a sense of where they are standing in the room.]

Here we are in the pit under the stage. Despite the production going on above us, I’d like to ask each of you to give your most compelling silent performance. Your entrance will be when I shine the light on you. Your exit will be when the light is no longer on you.

[Shine the light on and off each participant to signal the beginning and end of each performance. Brevity is your friend. Choose each participant randomly.]

Todd Shalom & Niegel Smith
Original Location: Abrons Arts Center: 466 Grand Street, Manhattan (under the Playhouse Theater stage)
Alternate Location: Underneath a stage in any theater
Duration: 7 minutes
Props: Flashlight (a light from a mobile phone works but can be very bright)
Notes: For groups. Please make sure the space can become pitch black after you close the door or turn off the light.
Partner: American Realness
Photo credit: Ian Douglas


[Line up participants shoulder-to-shoulder.]

As you see in front of you, this tunnel gives great reveal.

Let’s take a moment to reveal ourselves to the park and to each other. Starting with the person to the left, one at a time, take your own walk through the tunnel and silently reveal a little secret via the way you walk. When you’ve reached the end of the tunnel, take a breath and turn around.

When the person preceding you reaches the center of the tunnel, start on your own revealing walk.

[Demonstrate a revealing walk for the group.]

Todd Shalom & Niegel Smith
"The Last Walk"
Original Location: Endale Arch, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Alternate Location: A tunnel with a great reveal at one end
Duration: 10 minutes
Notes: For groups
Photo credit: Santos Muñoz


Please split into groups of two.

Ask your partner to close their eyes. Bring them to a part of the museum that they have not yet seen. Describe the artwork in front of you to your partner. Remember that your partner’s eyes are closed, so focus on color, texture, scale, repetition, contrasts or theme.

After three minutes, switch roles and perform these instructions again.

Michelle Boulé & Niegel Smith
Original Location: New Museum: 235 Bowery, Manhattan
Alternate Location: Any museum
Duration: 7 minutes
Notes: For groups of two or an even number of participants
Photo credit: Caitlin Ruttle


Get as close as you can to the waterfall while minding your safety.

You'll notice that if you move your ears, it filters the sounds that you hear. If you turn your head, you can instantly change your stereo mix.

[Demonstrate by literally bending the upper and lower parts of your ear and moving your head from side to side.]

Over the next three minutes, I'd like you to make a composition for yourself just by moving your head and your ears. You might want to have a dramatic beginning or a soft ending. That's up to you. You're the only one who can hear it. I'd recommend starting with your palms over your ears, effectively clogging them, and then going from there.

[Cue the group to begin.]

Todd Shalom
Original Location: The waterfall by Prospect Park Boathouse & Audubon Center, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Alternate Location: A loud waterfall where the only sounds you hear are the water
Duration: 4 minutes
Notes: For individuals and groups
Photo credit: Nick Robles


We are surrounded by intentional abstract art and unintentional abstract art. [Point to and frame examples of each.]

Please split into groups of two. Decide who wants to "frame" first and who wants to "title."

Framer: When you notice something that interests you, stop and point and make a frame (of any shape and size) with your fingers.

Your partner, the titler, should align themselves (bending down, looking up, etc.) to see directly inside the frame.

Titler: Come up with a quick title for the composition inside.

Then switch.

Do this for about five minutes switching as you go. We'll meet [at the end of the street or pick a visible place].

Todd Shalom
Original Location: Outside of the "Prospect Park" B, Q, S subway stop in Brooklyn. Exit via Lincoln Road.
Alternate Location: Anywhere with abstract visual interest (that can be a visible pattern, graffiti, etc.)
Duration: 5 minutes
Notes: For an even number of participants. This prompt works well for the beginning of a walk.
Photo credit: Christian Kaye