My conference project maps an invisible, imagined geography. It is a choose your own adventure/scavenger hunt hybrid which leads the participants to inhabit an invisible forest which overlays the campus landscape. My project changed overtime because I initially planned to write several different stories. Instead, I decided to write one story that allowed the participant to inhabit the roll of the main character and make decisions about what to do next. I thought this might be more revealing of the psychogeography of the individuals. The only complication was that someone left with all of my #8 notes so I will have to recreate those. I was inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. I wanted to create an imaginary landscape that has its own specific affect, just like the cities Calvino describes.
My project is a hybrid narrative- choose your own adventure- scavenger hunt. Participants will read the story in pieces and make decisions about how to navigate the landscape. They will be given a map which will help them to determine the location of the next note/story fragment. Above is an image of what the first note will look like. Below are images of the site where this will take place and some details of places notes will be hidden. The invisible thing that I am making visible is an imaginary landscape. The narrative I am creating is intended to lead the reader to identify themselves with the narrator and navigate the landscape as though it is, as depicted in the story, a forest. I was inspired to do this project in a choose your own adventure format after reading Psychogeography. I thought that the way individuals choose to engage with the story would ultimately be reflective of a type of landscape navigation, much like there are several different types of psychogeographers (ie stalkers, flaneurs etc). I was also influenced by Ghosh’s novel, Shadow Lines because it provided a kind of narrative mapping that was very interesting to me, and is similar to the project I am undertaking.
Our group visualized our identity as the Flaneur in several ways. First, we wanted our work to embody the wandering qualities of the Flaneur by creating different visual attractions to guide the eye in a wandering fashion around the landscape. Second, we chose to use a reflective material so that the viewer would be both an observer of the landscape, as well as being able to see themselves reflected in, and a part of, the landscape. This was inspired by the Flaneur being both a part of the city as the navigate it, and an observer. Our work is an example of psychogeography because it is intended to alter the viewer’s perception of the landscape. To begin with our site is one that is often overlooked, making the mylar a drastic change to the landscape. The piece both works with, and contrasts with, the landscape by contrasting natural and unnatural materials and shapes. The bizarre and shiny nature of the landscape now entirely changes the way it is perceived and interacted with. Passersby stop to stare at what was once overlooked. We were influenced by the idea that “our own journey [through the landscape] is entirely imaginary” and used this idea to try to create a landscape which would inspire the imagnings of the viewer (Coverley, 70). We also chose to tackle the Flaneur’s task of “reconciling the contradictory roles of everyday reality and unconscious desire” (Coverley, 73). The exsiting landscape represents our everyday reality and the abstract and brightly reflective shapes reflect unconscious desire. The artist that we were most inspired by was Andy Goldsworthy. His work is very site specific and encorporates materials found at the site. In our interpretation, we use the elements of the landscape such as rocks and trees, yet we chose to add and alter elements of the landscape in order to create disonnance between the viewer’s expectations and their visual experience. (Group 2: Mariko, Rebecca, Hillary, Mikey, Xara)
Group 2: Mariko, Mikey, Hillary, Rebecca On our derive we utilized some techniques that would be common for a flaneur. 1) Aimless strolling 2) Observing passersby 3) Following people and things that struck our interest 4) Participating in flows of movement around the campus while retaining individuality 5) Followed pathways that were aesthetically pleasing
Here are some photos of the last part of my self portrait map. As It was hard to photograph my map on the wall, I included a detail that gives a better sense of what it looks like up close, as well as an image of the surface which I created digitally. Ultimately my project came out fairly close to the way I envisioned it, but with some rough edges. I would have liked to add more color and details to the surface using Photoshop. As a result of technical problems and time constraints, I included only the most essential elements of my surface. Additionally, I greatly limited the amount I did by hand in order to meet the deadline. My original plan was to include extensive text, beyond that on my draft, which I was unable to do. I also hoped to create texture using different papers which I hoped would give the illusion of depth. I think my project would have benefited from these changes and regret that there was not sufficient time for them. If I were to do something differently it would be to follow a different schedule than the others in class who were doing purely digital projects. It would have been best for me to have printed my map several weeks in advance so that I could add all the details I had planned. I was influenced by Shadow Lines and the way in which the narrator’s sense of self and geography was so informed by others. The space I chose to map my self portrait onto is a shared space which is significant to everyone in my family. Reading the novel drew my attention to the fact that I really wanted to honor my individual perception of, and relationship to, that space. I wanted the space I was mapping to assert my individuality over the collective identity which it normally reflects. Ultimately my map reflects my experiences and proposes that life is cyclical and in my life I will return to the knowledge and experiences that I have had. I hope to use this circular map as a reminder to myself and others to allow our experiences to build on and inform one another so that we may learn for what we have been through.
My self portrait is inspired by a family property in the mountains of Northern California where I spent much of my childhood (pictured above). Many important events in my life are associated with this place and I have mapped my emotions and states of being onto different parts of the landscape, or my interpretation of it. In order to express some of the thoughts and stories behind my associations, I decided to outline paths, rivers, and mountains with my words and memories. As shown in some of these sketches, I initially pictured this map in a rectangular shape. I had to start my draft over recently, however, because I am currently favoring the round layout, shown in a rough sketch above, because it would represent my repeated return to this place at different stages in my life. Further, many of the things depicted in this map are things that have not yet come to be, or will occur again in my life and I feel that the round map would reflect that. I was inspired by the Denis Wood chapter, “Maps Blossom in the Springtime of the State”. The idea that struck me was that maps are often representations of things we may recognize or know, but are portrayed in ways that tell us something we didn’t know before, or could not know without the map. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to map a place that I have in common with my family members, but in such a way that only I could conceive or perceive it. For this reason I chose a familiar place and inscribed my experiences and associations (ie death, love, fear), as well as narrative accounts of my memories onto it, making myself visible in the space. I am also considering using different paper to create depth and texture. I was inspired by the collage maps by Chris Kelly (Observatory, Map Circle) which use cut-outs of different images to create a unified but unique composition. Another artist I was inspired by was Mark Anthony Mulligan (Minni Pearl Dale) whose map has a distinct, hand-drawn style. His use of images and writing evokes a sense of a place-memory being recalled years later. I plan to print the outlines of my map using photoshop and add the rest in by hand using various materials.
In looking at the successes and failures of my implementation of my conference project, I wish I had been able to make a model/draft of it before installing it. The biggest problem I ran into was that I had not planned on my tent being so tall and so I ran out of bubble wrap! I returned to the store to purchase a second roll, but it was sold out. In an improvised move I used material to cover the back of the tent (which ultimately I like) but I would have liked to have known that this would happen so I could better prepare. The other problem I encountered was the resistance of the paint to the duct tape I was using to secure the tent. The tape peeled off and required substantial reinforcing which made it look less like it was floating than I had originally planned. Where I think the projects succeeds is in my attempt to reclaim space within an impersonal structure and make something cozy and personal, much in the same way our living room did. I also feel that the affective quality of the tent is unlike most spaces on campus, in that it reflects the spirit of those inhabiting Heimbold (or my perception of them). If I could change the project I would attempt to make it more interactive, perhaps by making it bigger or by creating incentives to engage with the space (a la the success of the doughnut box). As with several of my projects for this class, the process of creating it was a great opportunity for learning about myself and my goals for creation. Also like those other projects, the opportunity to do a second draft would have helped me in structural and logistical ways.
Here are images of the materials I have added to my project. I chose these lights because they are cordless and create a calming atmosphere. I am in a bit of a waiting game now because my hula hoop has not yet come in the mail. I’m going to use the tape shown to cover the hoop. and the other materials will hang from the hoop. My current plan is to install my project on monday (dec 8) because my hoop is supposed to arrive on friday. It is somewhat frustrating to not be able to put together the project just because I am missing an integral piece which is central to its construction. After our discussion before the break about the Beach Beneath the Street I have been thinking more about what my project means in the context of the situationists. This is important to me because I have always conceptualized my project in the context of creating a unique situation through the engagement of passersby with the space I have created with the tent. It is important to me that it is not a purely visual piece because the ‘situation’ is created through the experience of being inside the tent and moving from one, very static, bland space, to one of relaxation and creativity. To this end I have been thinking about how I can make my tent an inviting space. One idea I have about making this space accessible is to hang a sign over the entry which might invite people in. I have been thinking about how to relate it to the community in light hearted ways for example a sign saying ‘conference-free zone’ or something of that nature. Once I have installed my project I will have a better sense of whether it appears inviting or not.
I tend to be wary of adding another screen to a world already saturated with screens. I assume a certain level of difficulty in making that something positive because so often our experience of screens is negative. Before reading ‘The Societal Potential of Urban Screens’ My perception of urban screens was largely connected to an image of times square. Times square is not a human space. By that I mean it is overwhelming and somewhat displeasing on a sensory level. Further it feels like an imposition, a one way transfer of images and ideas, not a dialogue. I believe that for something to be a positive contribution to a space it has to reflect an aspect of the community, connect communities or individuals, or inspire them. This rarely occurs in commercial spaces with screens like times square. Struppek’s article was particularly eye opening for me because it gave examples of urban screen projects that successfully fulfilled my definition of positive contributions. Struppek describes urban screens that are populist, that reflect the thoughts and designs of individuals who otherwise are unrepresented. Also, and most interesting to me, she writes about the interactive elements of many of these urban screens. Particularly fun was the video screen installation which allowed interaction between people waiting at bus stops. I think that interactive elements are an important aspect of reclaiming space as public rather than private. So how does our text project measure up against this? It is not interactive which I consider to be a limitation. However, it is a means of taking back and reframing space through adressing our questions about it. Further, we do represent a sample of this community and as students rather than administrators, we are changing and challenging who controls the visual space. Ultimately I do think that our class is making a positive intervention with our urban screen.
For my box project I made a couple of boxes for people to put their thoughts into. I left slips of paper and labeled the boxes ‘thoughts to discard’ and ‘thoughts to share’. These labels were intentionally open ended in order to make it more accessible for anyone to participate in. I posted a photo of some of the thoughts to share papers. The responses ranged from quotes to admissions to silly comments. I was pleased with the result of the project. I’m happy that people participated.
Here are some photos of our hallway-livingroom intervention. It represents my idea of a new urbanism. Contemporary cities, though shaped by humans, are devoid of humanity. They are overly structured and lack individual engagement. They are built to maximize efficiency, not to inspire and allow for creativity. In my ideal notion of a new urbanism, spaces like this hallway would be open to creative reframing, like we have done here. As a result the sensory feed back we would get moving through the city would not be from advertising, but from individual creative input.
For my conference project I am going to make a a tent out of bubble wrap. I want to put lights on the inside and cushions on the floor and make it a space that contrasts with the cold impersonal tone of heimbold. As you can see from my bizarre and out of scale sketch; I am thinking of putting this space on the first floor next to that strange space with the low ceiling in the hallway. Sassen writes about the overwhelming enormity and anonymity of contemporary cities. When we described the visual code of heimbold as a class we attributed similar adjectives to the interior of the building. With this tent I hope to create an example of, as Sassen puts it, “modest public spaces, constituted through the practices of people and critical architectural interventions that are on small or medium level scales”. In the lower level of heimbold I see “possible architectures where there now is merely a formal silence”. Through this intervention I hope to bring that possibility to life with a structure that alters behavior.
Is space a quantifiable thing, or simply a human construction? If it is an idea developed by people, do all people conceive of space in the same way? Even within a single individual is the definition of space malleable? For instance, is space contained in, or between, buildings or objects, or do all things exist in a single expanse of space, or can it sometimes mean one and other times the other? Why does the human understanding of space organize what we perceive to be different spaces into those that are aesthetically pleasing and those which are not? Within that, what makes certain spaces exclusive and others inclusive? How our society’s perception of space different than its perception of nature? In this context, are cities constructions designed to organize and tame space, in the same way that they separate society from nature? In that sense is outer space just space that is uninterrupted by human intervention? In cultures which have not created a nature-culture divide, is space constructed in the same way? I think this image is an interesting visual representation of the idea of organized vs disorganized/open space and social space vs natural space.
What is it about our particular society that makes us so uncomfortable with disorder? One of the primary characteristics of a city is its structure and planning, each element deliberate. I believe that this ‘ordering’ of space contributes to our isolation in that we primarily encounter that which we have chosen, through the design of the city, to encounter. One example of this which I find particularly troubling is the social, geographic, and philosophical dividing of humans from nature. Our desire to master, organize, sanitize and control nature has left us disconnected from some of the most essential things to our survival. I am mainly interested in how this dichotomy between nature and culture has removed us from the source of our food supply. When one considers it, supermarkets, with mounds of homogeneous, clean, packaged foods, are fairly bizarre. The product we receive has become just that, a product. We know little about its origins and remain intellectually disconnected from it. However, the reality is that we are deeply ingrained in our food system. I see a need to re-conceptualize ourselves not as isolated consumers but as active participants in these structures. In looking at Heimbold specifically, I wanted to draw attention to the very sterile and structured spacial narrative. Its industrial, blank feel echoes the desire for order which I mentioned earlier. Because of this, I chose to reframe Heimbold using nature. My sticker project is an image of a vine growing out of the wall in the hallway in which we have class. In this way I am choosing to reframe both the vine and the building by connecting these supposedly incongruous elements of nature and society. I am inspired by those who challenge this dichotomy, such as urban and guerilla gardeners. I had some technical difficulties with the sticker printer and my paper so the installation has not occurred yet. photos to come.