Limited edition laser-cut plaques for those who know where to find them.
This term I’m doing some Visiting Tutor work teaching into a project for the second year BA Art & Design students.
The original idea was ‘Body Architecture’. Here’s what the brief evolved into after my recruitment:
Watch the following music video:
We see someone wearing a succession of body sculptures (is it fashion? art? architecture?) as they walk through the city and prompt a variety of responses from the Normal People.
When we work in the bubble of an art school, it’s easy for us to forget the world outside and how our work might be perceived by those who have not encountered similar things before. We’re going to take our work outside.
Starting at the Margaret Street school of art, walk, run, slide, skate or use an alternative mode of locomotion for 3 minutes 50 seconds (the length of the music video). The place where you find yourself at the end of that time period is the place you will locate your work. Make sure you have arrived at your own space and are not within 20 metres of another Mis-fitter’s location.
Your brief is to design, construct and ultimately wear a body sculpture that responds to and in some way fits your location, whilst at the same time misfitting people’s expectations of what they might encounter in that place. Find a niche or other point of leverage at your location for your construction to echo – a bit like how the guy in the video’s costumes echo the things that are thrown at him. You will be wearing your work, so you also need to consider how it relates to your body and how you will move whilst wearing it.
You will document the process of arriving at your location, finding the bit to riff off, constructing your attire and any interactions that arise out of you and your costume inhabiting your location.
The project launched yesterday and I joined them in the afternoon to give a lecture on the-sort-of-stuff-I-do-and-the-things-I-think-are-interesting-about-working-in-public-space. This included: an overview of Dust, leading on to the importance of interfaces; objects as permission-givers; magic vests; triangulation; vibrant social spaces; interactions with/between strangers; Urban Sensation Transformers; silly hats and the implications of different design aesthetics; city as playground; rule-bending and transgression; comfort zones and accumulation of actions.
Following this we went outside into Birmingham city centre (Victoria Square and Chamberlain square for some blindfold work and giving the students a way in to working (and being vulnerable) in front of an incidental audience.
Working with one blindfolded person and one chaperone, they were given the following exercises:
- Blindfolded person to describe everything they sense/notice/feel/are aware of as they walk around.
- Chaperone curates a series of sense experiences foe the blindfolded person.
- Try to facilitate some interactions with stranger by making the first approach – ask people for the time or for directions etc and see if they then come back with questions or conversation.
We’ll be unleashing works in progress and the final pieces onto the streets around the school of art over the next few week, so keep an eye out for any unusual goings on …and don’t be afraid to say “what are you doing?”
I’ve been going back through my notes from the Guggenheim Lab events and workshops I was involved in last year and following up on various references. Currently I’m digging deeper into triangulation.
A sign of a great place is triangulation. This is the process by which some external stimulus provides a linkage between people and prompts strangers to talk to each other as though they were not.[source]
The video below is an extract from William H. Whyte’s ‘The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces’ and at 42m29s there’s some discussion and examples of triangulation. The whole video’s worth a watch if you’ve time, though…
I’m thinking of some of the urban spaces I encounter on a regular basis and wondering what sort of triangulation + mayor combination it would take to inject some social life into them.
I’ve been tempted before to adopt a non place and make it the subject of my projects until it becomes adopted by a wider community, this film has added fuel to that fire.
What space would you target?
The last 5 months have largely been dominated by my involvement in helping organise the Still Walking festival. All this work recently came to fruition with the various tours and events wending their way across the city.
I wasn’t able to show my accompanying slides on the night, so I’ve superimposed them over my audio in this video:
Many thanks to the Salon for inviting me to take part: it was a good opportunity to push some of the things I’ve touched on before a little bit further, particularly what I might mean by “ownership”.
Do make sure you listen to Alistair’s recording too.
Birmingham Salon – a friendly bunch who take ideas and debate seriously – has invited me to speak at their upcoming event “The Sanitised City: How public is public space?”
[...] what could bring our sanitised cities back to life? What represents acceptable behaviour, and who should decide and how? Is the way forward to be found in better design and new models of ownership? As from Cairo to Tunis and from Athens to Madrid, civic space has recently been thrust back into the spotlight, this session asks ‘what is public space?
The main speaker will be Alastair Donald: associate director of the Future Cities Project, and co-editor of The Lure of the City: From Slums to Suburbs. He is an urban designer, researching mobility and space at the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies, University of Cambridge.
Then there’s me. I’ll be responding to Alistair’s introduction with my Splacist hat on and exploring what implications thinking about mass participation and the organisation of cities has for the Splacist manifesto and vice versa.
Hannah and I still very much see the manifesto as an ongoing work in progress as we debate and experiment to find out what it may mean. Feel free to add a comment if you have any thoughts to share on things such as:
- rules and regulations
- accepted/expected civic behaviour
- homogeneous city centres
- privately-owned public space
What is public space? Join us on Wednesday the 8th of February at The Studio, Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP. 7.00pm until 8.30pm and in the pub afterwards.
A few days ago I was on the Mobile, Location and Games panel at the Hello Culture conference.
Along with Oliver Williams (chair), Jon Bounds, Katie Day and Jason DaPonte we were tasked with talking to cultural organisations about “developing a new generation of mobile and location-based experiences and services”.
The audio for the whole session is available (very quietly) on this Hello Culture site. Below is the audio for my presentation alongside the slides I used. I gave an overview of the main things that get me about working in this area, with illustrations from various projects and experiences.
Looking at them now, the slides seem to be mostly people pointing and gesturing towards the things around them – I think this is A Good Thing!
Some time ago I was approached by MADE – an architecture and built environment centre based in Birmingham – to design and deliver a day of CPD for the cohort of artists on their ‘Learning Spaces Living Places 2′ programme.
Plans are now well and truly afoot for this and we’re so excited about it we’re opening up the day to a limited number of architects interested in collaborating with artists. Further information can be found at http://www.made.org.uk/news/view/bursaries_for_architects_available/, please email email@example.com to register your interest.
Alongside the daytime activities where we’ll be questioning exactly what the Splacist manifesto might mean in practice, there’s an evening event open to all interested in this sort of work.
It’s difficult to pin down exactly what we mean by “this sort of work”. On the MADE blog posts it’s illustrated by Mr Pete Ashton stood in an alleyway gently holding a bundle of bubblewrap that vibrates in response to GPS data. This indeterminacy is in part why we felt the need to write the manifesto: to try and begin to mark out the territory…
So, to be part of the conversation, please do join us:
Who are the Splacists? // 5:45pm – 8:00pm // MADE 7, Newhall Square, Birmingham. B3 1RU // Free, registration required
We’ll be describing the context and development of the Splacist manifesto as well as reporting back on the outcomes of the daytime experiments. We will also be presenting an as yet unknown thing…
MADE have commissioned Hannah Nicklin and I to make a work in response to the manifesto. This is all very exciting for a number of reasons!
In the weeks leading up to the 30th of November, Hannah and I will be challenging ourselves to put our art where our mouths are and make a Splacist work. In three days.
We don’t yet know what will emerge from this collaboration, but we’re very much looking forward to finding out! If you bring warm clothes suitable for the weather, we’ll provide the talking points and a few mulled somethings. Please register here so we know how many people are coming: http://www.stubmatic.com/made/event/6899
We will own this city.
We will take it back.
We will link and shift; across time, space, people, places and processes
We will weave throughout the fabric of people’s lives.
We will unpick it.
We will affect and be affected.
We will glory in the moment, the collage, the marking and then passing on.
We reject your shopping centre, your pavement, your cultural quarter;
We will under mine pre-defined spaces. We reject them.
We will reclaim the city, not for you, but with you.
We are you.
The current iteration is located in the borough of Manhattan and features a collaboration between composer Arvo Pärt and the New York City and Oslo-based architectural firm Snøhetta.
Five sites have been selected, each with a musical piece and one or some large weather balloons installed at them. Each provide space for contemplation and slowing down.
Each of the locations were something special in their own right – you can see a slideshow of all my photos – and the addition of gorgeous compositions resulted in some moving experiences.
Several times I was also aware of how we looked from the outside – particularly at those sites where the musical accompaniment was secret to us, listened to via headphones.
It brought to mind recent conversation with Hannah Nicklin about creating ‘magnificent moments’, but I’m still trying to decide if these were they or not…
Hannah Nicklin speaking eloquently and passionately about remaking the city; ubiquity; not wanting to live in a world where there is such a thing as a girls’ drink; magical realism; putting bodies at the centre; the need for art to use technology as material, rather than as tool; and cabbages.