The Monument Project

Just launched is artist Chris Meigh Andrews' digital panorama, The Monument Project, in the City of London. The installation can be viewed online as well as on a dedicated display at the site - Monument - which has recently undergone a major renovation. The installation transmits a 360 panorama of the view from the top of the monument 24/7. The camera rig is controlled by sensors that constantly monitor environmental conditions, including wind speed and temperature. Images can be viewed at The Monument Project website.


RPfmDP and Urbs Animalia

I have just come back from a talk by Lisa Torell at Hordaland Art Centre in Bergen where I became enamored by her series of works that go under the title: "Reserved places for more diffuse purposes".

So what is a reserved place for more diffuse purpose? In Lisa's own words, it is .....

A monument for the future and a space specific installation that deal with thoughts around space, time, control and will.
It constitutes of; on spot founded objects as stones, concrete pipes, boughs and limbs, all fixed to fit with the added sign-posts in aluminium where the weather laminated A3 are placed.

What I so much enjoyed about this series was that, while her narrative texts have been developed for specific sites/places, they also work outside that context. They are, as described in the announcement of the event, pedagogic in approach but with a certain ambiguity, from the site, they spin out into more general themes and discussions - and they are targeted directly towards "you".

Read here!

I talked to Lisa briefly afterward her talk, and she gave me a cd with a recording made for Sveriges Radio in 2003, narrated by Emil Homer. Its called Urbs Animalia - Statens Djur, Statens naturilga invanare. A quick and dirty English translataion: "Urbs Anamalia - the City's Animals, the city's natural immigrants." I can't wait to listen to it! However, there is a dilemma in my translation of the title - "Staden" in Swedish. Does it mean just city, can it mean, Nation, National State, or govenrment too? If so, then the title takes on another meaning. This is, I think, a part of her work - to make mistakes in translation does not matter, or rather it is a good thing if it creates more thought.


Are we not men? We are DEVO! ... or what if everything on our planet would be here to stay?

I write this because of the previous contributions about Barcelona and Seoul. Are these both the same kind of gentrifications? Or could we speak in one case of city development and in the other of city destruction? Just asking. I have a confession: I had to look up the word Gentrification and realized I should have known the word decades ago but I guess it is one of those fashionable expressions like zero emissions, self sustainable building and new market economy nobody knew a while ago or remembers in a few years time. I continue with a second confession: I am conservative which means I treasure what I know and doubt the new. The progress I see around me is often of a de-evoluting kind. Now that Darwin is mentioned: Fittest in survival of the fittest is usually interpreted as the strongest but actually just means which fits best. The weakest or strongest do not fit best. Oh, look around you. Tell me what do you see...lalala etc.

Our human planet is multiplying fast. To deal with its growth of inhabitants drastic measurements are needed or we should stop reproducing right now, which is as disastrous, at least for humans. I am just a former contemporary artist, born in the Lowlands, and I have no answers to it but I am still willing to ask silly questions in public. Communism and capitalism have in the last 2 decades proven to be inadequate systems for future progress. All people who live today solely for financial profit can be classified as living dinosaurs. I know I do some wishful thinking here. Time for me to put both legs on the ground again. In Bergen that means into the snow for the moment.

Already in an earlier post I wondered about the time issue of things. I like to introduce a new term: TURM: Temporary Urban Ready Mades. (In German Turm means Tower). I want to use it now especially for the snowmen which have risen around me in fast amounts in the last few days. I live on an urban estate in Bergen with 149 other families with young kids. Our population has increased in the last 4 days with 23! Although not unwanted these persons are still not to stay. Already melting away while I write this. Beautiful they are but nobody gives a f... when they have left the planet again. One or two children tears might me shed. Would it not be a blessing if more things behave just like the snowmen and why did Darwin or God not include them in their theory? I know... I am a flying snowman.

I also realize that my selection of pictures could have been a little bit more modest but this way 11 of these snowmen and snowwomen are longer lasting or even virtual-eternal.


Poblenou Barcelona

I have been here in Barcelona for the last few weeks looking at "public" spaces which have been constructed since
the time that I lived here. Poblenou is a former industrial neighbourhood which has gone through an accelerated
process of gentrification - before it even started to become "creative" or "hip" it was taken over and sold off.
Maybe the economic crisis will slow things down a little, but there is little sign of that on the street.

I thought I'd just share these photographs with you:

This is next to Can Ricart, the former factory complex where the artist's centre HANGAR is located.
firstly in 2007.

and now in 2009 - a park designed (partly?) by Jean Nouvel and incorporating a round podium for
dancing the Sardana, national dance of Catalunya. Not seen anyone dancing here yet. In fact it's a
very quiet park.

And just around the corner, obviously these locals aren't going to let the development process
spoil their enjoying the sun...



First of all, I am really happy to take part in this trans-national networks’ discussion of contemporary urban space. I would introduce some of my previous projects and share with you some of the questions that inform my work:

During my residency at Flaggfabrikken in Bergen, I conducted interviews of local cultural workers, including artists, curators, designers, writers, musicians, dancers, and architects from different groups in the community, that I met randomly during my stay.
My project will develop from both an independent and a collaborative-basis. I would like, for instance, to invite local representatives from various disciplines within the community, including artists and cultural workers, to participate. The idea is to enable the invited cultural workers to make self-portraits as descriptions in words or through speaking (by using narrative), and for local participants and communities to produce and participate in art production. For example, as a departure point, participants will be invited to reply to questions: describing themselves, their work, their future plans and how cultural workers help with gentrification, urban renewal, the creation of a service economy, etc. What roles do/can the arts play in the city as social engagement?

I am fascinated by the renewal of housing and the accompanying neighborhood change represented by the gentrification of Seoul given that I witness it daily. For example, I'm sick of having a Starbucks, and a 24hour convenience store on every street corner of Seoul. Especially since this means I am losing my small corner shop where I used to go and buy milk, etc.

According to news reports, gentrification in Korea is still an ongoing process- and many parts of Seoul have undergone radical transformation in the last two decades. Low-income neighborhoods, poor people, rundown neighborhoods and their historic identities, are vanishing because of gentrification and urban redevelopment. In most cases, residents have been forced to sell and move out of their homes and small businesses due to increasing property taxes and irresistible offers from developers and an influx of rich residents. It is becoming common that there are no longer any of the original inhabitants left to enjoy any of the new benefits arising from the renovation of the area, but their absence also means that the character that made the area interesting for urban re- qualification is also lost.

I live in place where high-rise buildings block my view. This is commonplace for many citizens in Seoul, by the way. We have to put up with the noise of construction sites. Citizens lose their views, as the high-rises sprout up in front of their windows. The views continuously appear only to then disappear.
Fences like this one appear and disappear everyday.

These photos were taken in my neighborhood in Seoul/2007

The two photos above were taken from the other side of the fence – inside the construction site, slightly up on the hill.

There used to be two and three-story houses along this street but they are being torn down. I have spoken to local people who used to live in a house with garden, and they often say that they no longer feel comfortable living in the one or two-story houses because they wouldn’t be happy surrounded by the high-rise buildings or apartments. So they have either built their own modern looking four or five-story building or decided move out and into a new high-rise apartment. Imagine that if you do not want to become part of a high-rise block in the future, they will still block you in and you will either have to agree with the property developer or build your own building.
As artists, what can we contribute against this disappearance? For example, I was interested in collecting acts of looking out the window and not the window itself. I’ve randomly asked people (future participants) to take pictures of the views from their houses in various locations in Seoul. They often say they now have no view; another building is all there is.

Photo taken by Minsun Kim who lives on the south side of river in Seoul.

Minsun says:
“ When I look out the window of my place I see only two big high-rises. I can always see the rooms of residents who have left their curtains open during the night”

Home is a place concealed from the public eye but currently the view is invaded by another view. Whether you like it or not, you have to deal with it.
Looking back over only five years, I cannot help being astonished by how much the city of Seoul, as well as my own neighborhood, has changed.
Therefore, I’m investigating, seeking certain elements by taking a picture of a view at exactly the same place once every 6months, a year, or over many years and this view will have progressively changed by the effect of architects on the local. At the same time, in conjunction with this, I’m interested in recording the sounds of the same environment.
As a parallel approach, I’ve decided to begin comparing how 24hr convenience stores and the small corner shops in my neighborhood run their businesses.

Recently, in Yongsan in Seoul protesters occupied an apartment building. They were protesting against the idea of gentrifying this neighborhood.

Below is an article about this incident:

Six dead, many injured and arrested after police attack protestors near American Military Base.

“Yongsan in Seoul is to be "redeveloped", that is gentrified. This is affecting not only residents, but also many small family-run businesses in the area. Members of the Committee of Residents Forced Out of Yongsan District 4 in Seoul and the National Coalition of Forcefully Relocated People decided on Jan. 19 to occupy a building in protest. The developers want to build an International Monetary Center there.
The next morning, Jan. 20, the SWAT team commandos attacked before 6:45 AM. About 1300 police were mobilized into action against the 40 people in the building. About 100 commandos landed on the roof.
What happened next is not clear. Police claim that protestors were throwing Molotov cocktails and somehow the roof caught on fire because of this. But anybody who can recall a few similar situations knows that police have been known to start fires on rooftops to get the occupants out. The place went up in flames. 5 protestors and one police officer died. 28 people were arrested. 23 are injured, some seriously.
Families wanted to see the bodies of the victims but they were carried away without the families being granted access. It looks as if many of the victims were middle-aged, the oldest victim a 70-year old man. A large demonstration was held that night and demonstrators clashed with police. http://www.newscham.net/news/view.php?board=news&nid=51283
Disputes over gentrification are becoming more and more frequent in Seoul. I think it is normal. There is a lot of corruption and money involved and poor and working class residents are often ripped off as they are displaced usually with only a paltry compensation. http://libcom.org/news/seoul-police-attack-occupied-building-kill-protestors-21012009"

I’m currently collecting documents that address Urban renewal and neighborhood change: video footage, pictures, information, audio and text on the topic of gentrification. Do you have any media material about this topic? Would you like to share it with a community of similarly minded media-makers?



I apologise for the late posting of these images, from December.

This photographic piece -
Dialogue by Anna Leoniak and Fiann Paul - showing hundreds of faces of children from all over the countryside in Iceland, has been on display in town centre of Reykjavík since the Arts Festival in May, and is "a tribute to the generation which will decide about the future fate of the outskirts of the island, and it is also a reminder of the beauty and value of the remote areas of Iceland."

Just around the corner from this piece, people have been demonstrating outside the Parliament every Saturday afternoon, since the economic crash in October. These photos were taken on the 10th Saturday, on 13 December, when some activists had stuck stickers
bearing the words "11,182,000 Kr - SOLD!" on the faces.

And then... I noticed yet someone else had added another touch to one of the faces, by sticking a price tag "Special Offer - 295 Kr".

I just *love* this kind of public interaction - and the message was very clear and strong too.

You can view some other images from the afternoon at:

Freeze 2

Heading up to the hillside overlooking Bergen yesterday and viewing it form the sky down, the city appeared to be frozen in time - static, stable and very quiet.

P1050111 P1050110

From the earth up, the road links the city with the hillside ....


On the tops of the hills transmission towers at Blåman and Ulriken's top silently send signals across the city ....

P1050182 P1050187

P1050166 P1050137



The recent wintry weather certainly illuminated an inherent instability in the infrastructure of Britain's cities, transport systems and infrastructure in general. 10 -15 cm of snow can bring one of the world's most developed nations grinding (or sliding) to a halt. Bergen, meanwhile, which often escapes winter entirely, has actually been "enjoying" sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice. It makes a welcome change from rain. Today, with freezing temperatures and brilliant sunshine, was the perfect day for a winter urban safari. Tomorrow it could be warm and wet again, it has to be enjoyed while it lasts!


Cheap invasion

The underground stations of central Oslo have been taken over by super-sized black sheep courtesy of TELE2.


TELE2's previous advertising campaign declared that "we bring you small bills", now they are bringing us big billboards. They are stuck over walls and pillars everywhere, and are totally invasive. Wherever you walk, stand or sit you are seen to be in relation to the the campaign visuals.

Cheap_03 Cheap_04 Cheap_05 Cheap_02


Sign of the time

On Monday 1st Feb, and in freezing conditions, Roman Minaev's Digiluck clock was mounted on a wall opposite the National Theatre tram stop in Oslo.


It is a misbehaving digital clock that shows fluxing sequences of nine, mainly four-letter words rather than the time. It also appears to go wrong and plays pong with itself from time to time. Luckily its red led lights are extremely bright, allowing it not only to compete with a whole host of light board advertisements, but also to be seen blinking in the night sky from the panoramic bar on the 21st floor of the SAS hotel a little under a km away. So it can compete in terms of luminance, but what about attention?

Digiluck stems from a smaller version of itself developed for the Electroboutique. Media Art 2.0 project, of which one of the aims is to infiltrate public space and private homes with consumer friendly, readymade media art objects to provide an alternative aesthetic in everyday life. Digiluck does this with ultra bright simplicity and humor, though its vocabulary is somewhat limited by the memory capacity of its microchips.

Digiluck_hell Digiluck_pull Digiluck_pu Digiluck_cool

Words such as HALO, PULL, COOL, LOSE and GOAL appear, flash, transform and reappear intermittently and repetitively such that, after watching for a while, it brings with it a feeling of superficiality - of being locked up in its own system (which of course it is) rather than a "telling" machine in dialogue with the city. On the other hand, should Digiluck simply be taken for its face value - a playful sign of the times?