|Chapel above Digne-les-Bains (Wikimedia).|
In response to the philosopher René Descartes' famous saying, Cogito ergo sum ('I think, therefore I am'), his 17th-century contemporary Pierre Gassendi replied, Ambulo ergo sum ('I walk, therefore I am.') Gassendi had a serious point: mind and body are inseparable, in Gassendi's view, whereas Descartes believed that the mind could exist separately from the body. The act of walking perfectly illustrates the intimate mind-body connection that Gassendi had in mind. Inspired by Gassendi, the Dutch artist, Hermann de Vries, constructed an installation near Digne-les-Bains, France, Gassendi's home. He created a path up a steep mountain-side, marked with gold-tipped spikes and a stone on which are painted the words, Ambulo ergo sum. De Vries wanted the path to be difficult so that the body and mind of the walker would register the effort required.
Digne-les-Bains, capital of the French department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, is also the site of a trail connecting a series of stone sculptures and walkers' refuges which were designed and constructed by British land artist, Andy Goldsworthy.