Cities Re-imagined - announcement

Cities Re-imagined  is a seminar to be arranged by BUU and Atelier Nord in Oslo on 8-9 May 2009. The event is being coordinated by Synne Bull and Jeremy Welsh.

There will be five panels and two keynote presentations. The themes of the panels will be:

Video in/of cities; how urban space is represented, reframed, reconstructed in the work of contemporary video artists.

Urban interventions; artistic strategies for occupying, exploring or revealing urban spaces.

Urban soundscapes; composing, capturing, recombining the sounds of the urban environment

Photographic explorations; using photography as a means to reveal hidden spaces and forgotten or overlooked aspects of the city.

Urban language; writing in, on, around and through the city, combining fact, fiction and theory.

Keynote presentations:

Nigel Coates - architect & professor at The Royal College of Art, London.

Steven Bode - Producer/curator, director of The Film and Video Umbrella, London.

Panelists include;
Synne Bull & Dragan Miletic, Justin Bennett, Vibeke Jensen, Amanda Steggell, Michelle Teran, Mark Curran, Doris Frohnapfel, Ron Sluik, Brandon LaBelle, Scott Rettberg, Geddy Aniksdal, Jeremy Welsh.

The seminar will take place in Atelier Nord's project room at Kunstnernes Hus, Wergelandsveien 17, Oslo on Friday 8th. and Saturday 9th. May.

Full programme details will be posted when confirmed. 


Traversing Decarie

go west on Cote St. Antoine

towards Addington

turn right on Girouard

the park on the far side of the corner


Scott Rettberg - electronic literature

Last night at Hordaland Art Center in Bergen, Scott Rettberg, an academic & researcher at University of Bergen gave a talk and presented some of his projects in the field of electronic literature. Of particular interest for BUU was a "sticker novel" entitled IMPLEMENTATION made by Rettberg together with Nick Montfort. The narrative was constructed in small segments that could each be printed on a standard sticker, and the texts/templates were posted on the net. Readers could download and print the stickers, then attach them to surfaces and things in the environment. The novel was therefore distributed across a range of locations in different cities (also rural locations) in the USA and Europe. The stickers were then photographed in situ and the photos posted to a website that holds the entire narative and documentation. In locations where a relatively large number of stickers were placed (Amsterdam for example) the narrative fragments could provide an alternative method of navigating the city space and open up new possibilities for reading that space.


Water and Glass

Water and Glass is a four-screen video installation made for Atopia, Oslo as part of their"Vitrine" project, where artists' video and film works are back projected onto street level windows during the hours of darkness. Water and Glass continues an exploration of place and time through images, combining elements of the natural landscape with heavily mediated imagery of fractured urban environments reflected in the glass surfaces of buildings. Water and Glass is on view from 24 January to 6 February. See Atopia's website and video documentation of Water and Glass.


Decarie wide open for you

The # 40 East and West still in very good shape

minus 15
windchill minus 20
you're looking at a 15 minute slow down right around Jean-Talon

a #15 northbound stall on the left lane at Queen Mary

The Ville-Marie closed at Peele,
your # 20 full all the way through the yards and the Turcot interchange,
Mercier bridge right hand stall,
Victoria bridge, you're looking at a 20 minute delay

Decarie North and South full up all the way from the bottom to the top

you'll see just a little bit of a slow down right around la Verendrye,
heavy traffic making for a very slow drive,

black ice on the Champlain,
make sure you've got plenty of windshield wiper liquid

The Métropolitaine still doing very well with just a little bit of a slow down

the # 20 slow all the way in from just before Norman,
if you're coming in from the south shore as you're making your way over,
Henri-Lafontaine slow

making for a very tough drive through the yards

# 15 North and South full up all the way from the # 20 to the # 40


Buscando al Sr. Goodbar

I thought I would post something about a project that I'm doing soon in Murcia. It will take place next Friday, January 23.

Entitled 'Buscando al Sr. Goodbar', or 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar', the project involves a bus tour through the streets of Murcia, Spain where we search for the locations and the (male) authors of the various YouTube videos made in the city. "Buscando al Sr. Goodbar" is included in 'Techformance", an exhibition that creates links between new media, performance and public participation. Including my own project, Techformance features works by Blast Theory, Diego Diaz and Clara Bo, Ramon Gonzalez, Roger Bernat, Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Gordan Savicic. It is being co-produced by Centro Parraga in Murcia and curated by Barcelona-based curator Oscar Abril. The exhibition will take place both in Murcia and at the Arco international art fair in Madrid. 

If the longitude and latitude coordinates are included within a video, when publishing it on YouTube, then it automatically appears on a GoogleEarth map and connects it to a physical location. I developed this tour by visiting Murcia repeatedly via GoogleEarth where I started to get to know some of the people living there through the YouTube videos they produced. 

Picture 113

On the bus are two women, one that acts as a voice to the city, an announcer of information and events, and another that 'drives' through the GoogleEarth map and plays the videos. The announcer is being played by Irene Verdú Soriano, an actress from Murcia. The map and videos are viewed on a large monitor on the bus. During the performance, the movements of the bus through the city are mirrored on the GoogleEarth map. The audience witnesses short glimpses of what the city has to offer. Somebody solves a Rubik's cube in under 2 minutes, a man is drunk on the street, a group of friends sing around a piano, a 14 year old boy shows off his headbanging skills, somebody chokes his friend and causes him to pass out, somebody is playing a video game,  a man teaches himself Arabic, two people are in love, a festival happens on the street. 

Sometimes the bus stops and we try to find some of these individuals and reenact some of these performances. We have been in touch with some of the videos' authors and they have agreed to let us into their homes and show off their different skills. At first I didn't know how people would respond when they realized that we knew where they lived. I know this is a bit strange, since they put down the locations in the first place. But, for example, recordings made on a mobile phone probably automatically geotag the videos without people's knowledge. Also, although these videos, shot in their private spaces, are available for public consumption, it's a bit of a twist to allow the public (the bus audience) back into the private space. But some have been quite open about it. 

Picture 12

This for me is a very Unstable Urbanism. Unstable in the blurred boundaries between the private / public, live / recorded, physical / mediated. But unstable in the sense of any performance involving live media, technology and urban material. That it might not work! That there are pleasant and sometimes unpleasant surprises. But this is what makes life exciting, don't you think?


Anne Wilson Topologies

As part of a seminar this week entitled "Neo-conceptual strategies in material-based art" we had a presentation by Chicago-based artist & professor Anne Wilson, whose project "Topologies" was of particular interest. It is a series of "table top" installations made from found textiles on large white boards, arranged in a way that evokes models or representations of fictive urban spaces. The work becomes a kind of spatialized narrative investigation of the conditions of architectural space. Each version of the work becomes a reconfiguration of the same set of ideas and principles, responding to the particular space in which the work is installed and to the impulses and preferences of the collaborators involved in realizing it.


private steals public and goes public

The examples DF Doris shows of Cairo reminds me of a peculiar architectural tendency I have noticed while I was living in Chisinau and some told me there is even a name for it: PRISTROIKA. Obviously or unfortunately there is not really much written about it yet... Anyway: it roughly means small attachments to existing larger buildings. The term EVROREMONT is also often used. Due to the privatization in the last 2 decades in the former USSR many (new) flat owners extend their flats with extra space(s) The Khrushchovka seems most suitable for this. It usually starts on and around the balcony. Most of the time there is no official permission or even a dialog with the direct neighbours who often loose their view or daylight. It 's just done. It also implements that space which used to be public becomes private... As far as I understand slowly local authorities are waking up and see the disastrous consequences but in most cases money talks. On the other hand some unexpected masterpieces of art appear like for instance the family who decided to have their own front-door on the backside of the communal flat entrance using bathroom tiles as main building material!


Nile City

End of December 2008 I have been in Cairo (1). lots of buildings are built illegal (2). the city is hyper-dense populated. one installation (3) at the 11th Cairo Biennial, in front of the Palace of Art on the Opera or Exhibition Grounds situated on the island El-Gezira, was made in reference to the general often unfinished construction "style", light concrete framework filled with bircks. ...
(4) the site of the Egyptian Museum
(5) on Sharia As-Sabiyya
(6) and Giza.


Presentation of power, sociality and economy

I love the title of the blog and I am delighted to take part in this trans-national network addressing contemporary urban space, ways of thinking about or acting upon changing urban phenomena. I will introduce some thoughts and questions:

During my graduate studies in London I undertook many dérives inspired by the Situationists. Through my camera I discovered the great detail and texture of the city and its spaces. I crawled on my knees on the sidewalks, scrutinized grates and cracks and pipes and traces of urban life and infrastructure. In the darkroom I developed images suggestive of body parts, time and labor. The close-up views and encounters intrigued me, I fell in love with the city, the smell, the touch, it's scarred and marked surfaces - the intimacy was almost embarrassing. Another take on the
Urban Readymade debate?

urb.porn. London 1990-91

After London I moved to New York, a city that has changed tremendously since the early 90's when it was still pretty wild. I found my dream loft in Midtown Manhattan. It was located in the Garment District in the backstreets of Times Square. The block had sweatshops, fabric stores, a prostitution hotel, a Mexican restaurant, and a few coffee shops. People who live here want an anonymous life with little interference by neighbors. The commercial building was illegally rented to me and my neighbors: a crazy Hassidic Jew who recited Proust in the doorway, 4 call-girls who got picked up by Limos, the super’s wife and daughter, a truck driver and a prostitution business that got evicted and replaced by a family of psychic readers. When I moved in, the huge picture window to the street was boarded up. Inside was a room with two bunk beds, and about 40 wired phone jacks. I did not ask too many questions but made myself at home. The street life was amazing. Hookers and pimps like straight out of a Blaxploitation movie, transvestites, crack dealers, under cover police and drug addicts, men pushing carts full of fabrics, tourists and families gone astray, designers in fancy suits…

streetwalkers, NY 1997

The street was flooded in light at night due to then Major Giuliani’s crime-light program. This provided perfect lighting for my video recordings. A parasite on the invested efforts, I was able to explore and uncover the raw beauty and power of the street life, the secret gestures and deals, the tricks of the trade, the plots and under cover operations. To make a long story short: After years of Giuliani's no tolerance policies, most of the criminals were locked up or moved, the streets were cleaned up and Times Square transformed into a Disneyfied family entertainment center. 9/11 and the terror alert era caused more change, and consequently, I have been concerned with surveillance, power and control issues in the urban space.

LineUp, NY 2005

I am writing all this to address the issues of instability and change in urban space in respect to (re)presentation of power, sociality and economy. Public spaces are arenas of difference and controversy. These constantly change and can be readdressed through art as political statements in the public sphere. How do we redefine or think through our changing situations both as individuals and in relation to one another? How do we offer alternative ways of being, influence change and reflect on habits? What about the fictional aspect of art as a way to propose alternatives? How do we affect our life situation in a direct way?


Readymade episodes of urban instability

So, here are two Readymade episodes of urban instability (otherwise known as "REUI"s) from the festive season in Berlin; the day after the night before.

Episode 1: Unstable Santa: 25th December 2008, Kreuzberg

The day after 01

The day after 02

Episode 2: After the blast: 1st January 2009, Prenzlauer Berg.

The day after 03

happy new year!