March 2011 Archives
Here we have some evidence of success. I've gotten lots of comments from people that include adjectives like "fantastic' and "amazing".
Working title is: Devices for the Aerial Investigation of Public Space
Collaborative team: Tony Carton, Daniel Dean, Meena Mangalvedhekar, Emily Stover
- photo by Kara Harm
IMG_3110.MOVvid by daniel dean
I believe that identifying and preserving a public space for metaphysical connection is a vital issue. It is essential to break the routine of malnourishing spaces and reintroduce playfulness and transforming nature of public spaces. With the layers of snow, urban area shrinks to its veins and public spaces collapse to the activities based on gravity and confined to ultra-familiar comfort and objects. It continues to be the identity of that public space. Our opportunity to install functional devices became investigative tools for the visitors. When we created a prototype with aircraft cable and flat round disc, it was a functional piece with very few controllable errors but it was missing the eternal connection, thin and gray nature of aircraft cable was a bit too dry. So we introduced fibrous rope and patterned wood with comforting and inviting curvature. While sanding and finishing rough routed wood, the only goal was to accentuate these two features. I guess the overall feel made it easier to trust our long hanging swings and everybody seems to enjoy them. We observed that participates invented many creative ways to incorporate architectural features while enjoying these swings. Jump start from steps, snacking from tables, reaching out to coffee resting on vents and conversing with friends peeking down from upper level to name a few.
When the swings occupied atrium, the space appeared much larger than we normally sensed. It became a point of fascination to revisit memories, to feel weightless and also to feel energetic. The touch of the rope was very friendly and comforting. Rope also became a mode of temporary documentation of history as it would expand with weight and shrink back to it's original position in half hour when unoccupied. After the period of installation the atrium shrunk visibly, everything that was already still appeared stiffer and heavier than ever. With swings, hammocks and party spot, casualness and alternative habitat was gone and space turned formal, all seemed to follow rules once again. It was fun to have a taste of freedom and a space that would make laptops & cellphones feel awkward and out of the place.
Here are a few images of the corner that I have chosen. The woods that I mentioned in class is to the right, (in reference to the bonfire pit idea that I had, to cater to 'nightlife') which is usually mowed in the summertime. As you can see, the park is outdated and I would love to do something interesting to grab more attention and add life back into the playground.
I believe that I will start with surveys, gain some history on the playground's life and activities. I also thought of just holding an event there that would hopefully add more of a community-feel into the neighborhood. I grew up with this park, because it was added shortly after my family moved into the neighborhood when I was 7 years old. I have also brought many kids to that park which I have been a previous nanny/babysitter for, so making this place more inviting for both the adults and children is important to me.
REFLECTION ON HAMMOCKS:
I enjoyed putting the hammocks up, it was an easy process after we got the materials necessary for their installation. I saw people enjoying them for naps and simply hanging out with their friends in them between classes, which was fun to see. It was sad finding them gone, because I missed their "laid back" presence. The hammocks brought relaxation and a kind of 'outdoor' feel to them, in my opinion, because they reminded me of camping during the summertime. The space is now very empty, neutral, and businesslike, which is boring to me. Hopefully something goes up in the hammocks' place soon.
Ephemeral Installation Reflection:
I learned a lot from our project. We discussed many options and possible ideas, but in the end, the materials we ended up using dictated the outcome in many respects. Different materials could have changed the way that we made the space feel. Our experimentation with construction was very direct, and could have been done more in the planning stages. Our initial interest was the transform the experience of the space, rather than think functionally about the use of the space. We were certainly able to insert an intervention that altered the experience of the space. Over a longer period of time it could have been interesting to watch the installation evolve and grow, continuing to add and subtract from the experience. Ultimately, the most interesting way to understand what we were doing was to understand the experience as a performance of an event that died before it ever happened. I like the implications of reflecting on the death of our endeavors, even before we have fully manifested them.
I am drawn to the corner of 22nd Ave S and 5th St because I walk by it every day, it has a number of pedestrians, even if there is not much of interest at the actual site, and it connects a view of the river with the concrete of our urban campus environment.
My first ephemeral transformation brings elements of my installation work to the site, intersecting them with the snow landscape and the light. I am interested in the way that the snow references other natural phenomena of different scale. To that end, I am most happy with my insertions when they also begin to reference clouds or cosmological elements of a different scale than the actual objects. I am also interested in placing ephemera so that it appears to might possibly only be the debris that is offered up as the snow melts.
The hammock project began as a way to create an open space that would invite users to relax, and, unpressed by their daily routines, allow them to initiate in conversation with those around them. The hammocks were created using old banner material and rope, and tied to existing structures which, aesthetically, played a similar role to trees. This design decision illustrates a focus on recreation. By referencing a familiar setup for hammocks, the idea was that, at least psychologically, the space would feel like an outdoors space, that is, as a contemplative space where one could recharge.
In practice, new furniture pieces at the U have been and are typically appropriated for use in sleeping, and the hammock project was no exception. This reflects something about the nature of student life, a life that revolves around the most basic routines of eating, sleeping, study and work. Our original prediction that the installation would encourage the formation of conversation groups shows a bias in our assumptions about the role of recreation in student life and in art. In reality, recreation, even in the art building, is a negligible interest on campus and perhaps indicates that recreation should better be thought of as explored in separate spaces. Indeed, most if not all of a student's routines are done in separate, distinct, and often distant spaces. Transitioning from one space to another can vary from being a slight annoyance to a being a great disruption in the flow of a day's productivity. For instance, art students in Regis often make huge treks back to Washington so as to commute to other campuses or their homes. To sleep, therefore, students must quit spaces of work, study and eating and, in the process, commit a huge amount of time to travel. This encourages the practice of napping in temporary spaces, such as the library, and appropriating whatever furniture is available to use in sleeping in order to maintain a sense of continuous productivity.
While the hammocks were not surrogate beds, they did provide temporary napping zones. I believe that, in many cases, this allowed students to stay on campus longer and enjoy a more continuous period of study and work. For art students this might have meant that they could work beyond the limits bound by class time. For other students this might have meant longer periods of study, uninterrupted by travel to Coffman, Willey, or other popular napping areas.
The proximity of the hammocks to the vending machines and cafe in the East building provided students with an ability to indulge in three of their four routines in a single space (provided they did not work at Regis, in which case all four routines would be serviced). When the hammocks and swings were removed, the space returned to an area meant for consuming food and as a transition space for classes. With their routines divided again into separate spaces, the removal of the hammocks would have been a wake-up call, alerting past users that future productivity would once again come at the cost of long periods of wakefulness and/ or strategic travel plans. No longer could student life unfold organically in a single space; it would now be conducted sporadically.
The removal of the hammocks, therefore, would have created room for discussion on topics such as the space between habits, the use of time and its effects on productivity, the convenience of one-stop spaces and the possibility for dependence on these spaces, the modular use of space in society, and the challenges of negotiating routine and travel in life today. Installed, the conversation would likely have remained fixated on issues of convenience. It was only by de-installing the work that a fuller discussion could be initiated.
In summary, the hammock project illuminated, and challenged, some key assumptions about art and recreation in student life. A space which provides relaxation is not necessarily the same as a space that encourages recreation. For students, relaxation means rest, usually in the form of naps. Furthermore, art does not necessarily play a recreational role, even though art shows are typically used in this way. In a public space, art is not automatically an intervention, but rather its default, in the case of the hammocks, is as a bystander to life as it is constructed there (While the swing project might suggest this is not the case, that one can promote these kinds of interventions, realistically one must consider the role of administrators in allowing this to take place and in moving the tables in the first place. Were the swings set up around the tables, an actual intervention might have occurred. In my opinion, the party space came the closest to this effect by disrupting and interweaving elements from its surroundings). We did find, however, that, on large enough scales, on the scales of campuses and cities, artworks can change the flow of everyday life, altering transitional spaces into one-stop living centers. Art in this context has the ability to change the structure of everyday life and, with its removal, initiate a discussion about the construction of these structures.
I think we can reflect on the success of the Devices for the Aerial Investigation of Public Space by the interactive activation of the space. The attraction to a swing is probably ubiquitos, in part because of an understanding of the framework for swinging learned during childhood. Swings allow rhythm and movement in a space, and remind us of the warm summers of our childhood and adolescence during a period of winter that seemed to drag on and on. Swinging brings its own type of interaction to an atrium space generally used for moving from outside to inside and maybe grabbing something to eat.
I wonder if there are currently too many tables and chairs. Walking around campus I notice that individuals will try to sit at their own table. I see a lot of people sitting alone at a table, even when some people are sitting on the floor or obviously waiting for a seat. I think the success of the swings involves their initial, static isolation. Their movement is activated only once someone begins to swing, so at that first moment a visitor will be welcomed with a single seat, with ample personal space. The swinging framework kicks in and as movement slowly initiates, visitors begin swinging closer and closer to other swingers, creating an interaction of rhythmic proximity and distance. Likewise, as the swinger travels through the air, they are aware of the physicality of the space. The railing moves farther away, and then nearer to the body schema on return, as one is aware of the body's interaction with a doorway, little conscious thought is required, but the door jam generally misses the shoulder. Swingers are mindful of the physical elements in the room as they jump from the highest stair aiming to touch the opposite wall.
In Rules of Play, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman discuss, among other things the definition of interaction especially as it applies to play. One of the concepts is that "playing a game means making choices within a game system designed to support actions and outcomes in meaningful ways." I think this can be extended to a public interaction, so...
public interactive art could mean being given the opportunity to make choices within a system designed to support actions and outcomes in meaningful ways.
Some background. The corner is part of a WWI memorial parkway, also part of the extensive Minneapolis green-way system, used for biking, running and walking. The neighborhood, according to the census data is generally educated to a minimum bachelor's degree, with some more advanced, especially as you get closer to the hospitol down the parkway. This affords time for recreational exercise and walking, which is obvious from the volume of trail users.
Tapping into Sam Gould's definition of public art as conversation, and the discussion of the use of recognizable frameworks, I wanted to use an understandable framework, or two, to participate in a conversation that local users would be ready to participate in.
By placing the Hi5 counter adjacent to the walking path, I hope to tap into the framework of the High 5, something that most midwestern Americans readily understand. It's an action that is tied to physical activity, athletes give each other high 5's when running, or lifting weights, or during just about any sporting activity. Additionally, when someone sees a large red button, they generally know what to do with it--push it.
The apparatus of the Hi5 is a simple, high-contrast poster of a hand, with a large red button and a counter. When the button is pressed, the counter ticks off one Hi5.
There are a few more images (formatted for a proposal I put together to make a bunch more of these)
And some Sketching
Sean and I have been thinking about collaborating for the corner project. We have a few ideas:
space behind barker and art building- there is a nice white wall for projection, it is a nice link from campus into the community. There is a vast history in this area. Last semester we took a Twin cities history class, and it would be interesting to share some of that history. My final paper was on West bank's history of the arts. I've been interested in social histories and space, so this could be an option to explore.
-triangle park on riverside ave- this is the most bizarre park ever. I don't think I have ever seen anyone in it. It is small, there is high car traffic, and it isn't all that attractive. It would be great to claim that space by doing something there. Some ideas I have had have been to through a bunch of seeds in the park that would hopefully grow into something (inspired by yoko ono's painting for the wind).
Sean and I have been talking about having some sort of event that draws people to the space, or projection for the passing cars.
-sidewalk around seward co-op- sean and i have for a while been talking about giving gifts to people in some sort of booth or in costumes. this is a space where we go that has a lot of foot traffic and could be a good place to have a gift exchange.
View possibilities for corner... in a larger map
I was surprised by how many people used the hammocks. I was really pleased by this outcome. Though I don't think the conversation part of the hammocks ever was quite resolved, they were a nice addition to the space. I want them back up because now the space seems so lonely and uninviting. It was nice for a little while to see so much happening in a space that is normally so static and cold feeling.
Having taken the the pieces down and seeing the space go back to its original state there were a lot of things that surprised me. I noticed the lack of color the space has and how our project added some life and festivity to the space. While the pieces were up I enjoyed how the they interacted with one another. One the on hand, there were the hammocks that were very relaxing and peaceful and then the swings with were were lively and fun. Having the fabric installation between was a good divider. I would see people having to duck and maneuver around the fabric installation in order to get from one space to another. Having the fabric piece there was a way to have multiple groups enjoy both pieces at once. I also wanted to congratulate the other groups for a job well done-they really accomplished what the class had originally set out to do. They provided a space for students to come and gather.
As far as the composition of the fabric piece, it is funny to think back on. Our thought process as a group went so many many places throughout the design process. As it went up it seemed to reflect the many different directions we tried to take. In a way I am really happy we had this project first because the lessons that were learned. It's hard to find the balance between planning and actually getting started.
So when Gail DuBrow was here, some of you heard me talk about my proposed corner - that occupied by the shuttered Viking Bar. I've been working on several interventions and possibilites for events inspired by the Viking's 40 yr role in the musical and cultural geography of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The Viking opened during the hippie heyday of the neighborhood when the West Bank was known as the Haight-Ashbury of the Mid-west but remained throughout the crime-ridden 80's and up through the area's transformation into complex haven for refugees, gutterpunks, students and the few hippies that remain. With many other established and thriving bars in the area serving up some of the same music once performed inside the Viking, one might not recognized what it's absence signifies. By degrees, perhaps there's not much missing; another dive bar, worn tables and chairs, cheap beer, etc. But it's not the place so much as the music and the people gathered around the bar over many years that can't be replicated. I propose a series of actions centered around a the bar's musical legacy that I refer to as Viking Radio. Here I am purposefully co-opting the Viking's name to create a direct connection but also for its synonymous association with pirate radio since I intend to pursue some of these actions without permission or within a gray legal area.
Beginning with a very basic mobile setup, I strapped an amp, speakers and car battery to a dolly and wheeled it up to the Viking's door. I plugged in my iPod and began to play my Viking Radio playlist, composed of audio files stripped from YouTube videos captured inside before the bar closed on 2006. The audio isn't perfect, like the bar, and you can hear the chatter and ambiance of it's former life while rough cut blues blared forth from my DIY radio setup. The only way to experience this version of Viking Radio was to walk by and many did - I even met the daughter of Papa John Koerner when she recognized his song playing from down the street - he used to play a weekly set at the bar and is still one of the legendary figures attached to the history of the Viking and the West Bank. I'm gonna go meet her brother, Cadillac, who plays a weekly Sunday set at Nomad this week, feel free to join me. And this Viking corner for for more music and activity to come:
The Corner I chose is 6th St SE and 2nd Ave. SE.
I chose this corner for its diversity of buildings and its historic appearance. There is an apartment building, a printing press, the restaurant, Brasa, and the Telephone Building which houses various companies including an art and design grad school. I wanted to research this corner's history starting with the 'Telephone Building'
I contacted the occupants of the various buildings and soon found out how very little they knew about the history of this corner. They were very curious however and were interested in hearing about any history I learned during this process. Because of the general sense of excitement I received in response I decided I wanted to visually capture the corner's history and display it for the neighbors to see. Here is something I found on nc artblog. I wanted to do something similar to this idea.
Here is a close up.
I believe the hammocks were successful as they were visible, easy to use, fun, simple, transformative, and were useful to people. The hammocks often slowed down the fast pace of a person's day. I also like that the hammocks claimed the space and read as handmade objects from students of the University. As a collaborator, I was impressed with how simple it was to build and complete the project. However, I also believe that our concept could have been further developed. Perhaps we could have extended the idea of hammock: the hammocks could have been more abstract and uniquely shaped.