Imagining Space: Notes from the underground, from above, from behind and within

I'm quite happy to be joining the BUU and intend to be contributing over the next while. I am a media artist from Canada, currently residing in Berlin, whose practice looks at the relations between media, architecture and the body, dealing with situated actions, performances, and events taking place throughout a city near you. 

I thought I would start off by talking about a workshop that I recently taught at the Bergen National Academy of Arts - KHIB. Imagining Space: Notes from the underground, from above and  within was a two week exploration of urban spaces, how they are observed, sensed, re-interpreted, accessed or occupied, where the strategies of live art, public intervention, cartography and visualization were introduced. 

In the first week of the workshop I held five lectures over five days each having a different thematic take on how to perceive, understand and describe urban space. The first day dealt with 'defensible space', a term coined by geographer Stephen Flusty to describe  'Architecture of Fear' or systems that are designed to shape user's behavior - with the emphasis on the 'control of behavior. The second lecture covered the architectures of the imagined, hidden or unseen, focusing on underground networks, informational space, myth, fantasy and conspiracy theory. In the third lecture, we looked at how cities can be described in terms of their weather systems and the effects of weather on the human condition, specifically focusing on northern climates. Lecture four looked at the ways that spaces and bodies can be extended through technological and non-technological systems and networks. Finally in the fifth lecture we dealt with the senses of smell and sound as an alternative to vision in sensing spaces and developing a character of place. 

Each lecture was followed by some accompanying action, group and individual excursions out into the city, collectively witnessing an event or a film screening. For me, one of the highlights of the week was to be able to enter into the underground sewers of Bergen.  This we did on the second day and were in several underground spaces for most of that day. Other things we did were watch a sunrise together over a robotically controlled webcam in Utah, create a series of smell and sound maps, and watch a documentary on gated communities in the European Union. 

In the second week, the workshop participants started to developed their own projects using as their starting points some things experienced in the first week. I encouraged the idea of sketches and conceptual brainstorming and tried to influence the generation of ideas not constrained by the limits of time (a short two week workshop) or resources (an almost non-existent materials budget) referring to different artistic practices where the sketch, instruction, or recipe become artworks in themselves. 

A link to the workshop blog can be found here: Imagining Spacewhere I've also posted pdfs of all the lectures I gave.

Unfortunately not all the students posted their documentation. Not everybody likes to blog! However at least a few examples as well as a link to our Flickr Pool.

1 comment:

  1. I think the model you used for the workshop was a useful one and has aspects that can be explored and utilized in other contexts - i.e. for "professional" workshop activities, research exercises, etc. There are several themes that would be interesting to develop further and that impact on projects and working methods that are common to a number of BUU participants.


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