Category: Weekly Lecture Notes

Lecture notes from week 5 – Walking Lab by Stephanie Springay

This week’s lecture was led by Associate Professor Stephanie Springgay and Sarah Truman, from the University of Toronto. Their presentation can be found here: walking lab lecture

Their website has tonnes of examples of walking oriented projects. Be sure to check it out: Walking Lab

Sarah Truman also presented this project: The Hamilton Preambulatory Unit

After the lecture, Kim Williams and Brogan Bunt from the WOTI (Waterways Of the Illawarra Group), took us on a walk, tracking Fairy Creek through Wollongong North. Photos to be posted SOON! In the meantime, check out information on their project here. Their blog can be found here. This is a good resource for seeing how local artists are engaging walking projects in the Illawarra region.

If you are feeling stuck for ideas, Brogan Bunt’s “50 ideas” for walking can be found at his website here.

Also – here’s a collection of readings that relate to project#2, Due on Thursday 21st April – only a couple of weeks away!

 

Readings/resources related to assessment #2

Michel de Certeau, Walking in the City

Tim Ingold: Footprints through the weather world

Tim Ingold: Culture on the ground, the world perceived through the feet

Jo Vergunst: Rhythms of walking: history and presence in a street

Liang Luscombe,  Walking is not a medium, It’s an attitude

Sarah Rodigari,  Strategies for Leaving and Arriving Home

Francesco Careri, “The wayfarer on the map”, in Walkscapes: Walking as an aesthetic practice, 2002: Wayfarer on the map

Ray P. Norris and Bill Yidumduma Harney, Songlines and Navigation in Wardaman and other Aboriginal Cultures: Songlines

Henry Thoreau: Walking

Brogan Bunt: 50 Walks

Stephanie Springgay: Walking Lab

Hamilton Preambulatory Unit

Tim Ingold and Jo Lee Vergunst: Ways of Walking

Books to check out:

Solnit, Rebecca. Wanderlust: A History of Walking.  New York: Penguin Group, 2000.

Ingold, Tim. Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description.  London: Routledge, 2011.

Turchi, Peter. Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer.  San Antonio, Texas: Trinity University Press, 2004.

Matthews, Freya. Journey to the Source of the Merri.  Charnwood, ACT: Ginninderra Press, 2003.

Beudel, Saskia. A Country in Mind: Memoir with Landscape.  Crawley, WA UWA Publishing, 2013.

 

Lecture notes for week 4 – Walking

1) See the presentation given in class: Week 4- Walking

2) Below are some notes related to the above presentation:


 

History of walking as aesthetic practice

“The act of crossing space stems from the necessity to move to find the food and information required for survival. But once these basic needs have been satisfied, walk­ing takes on a symbolic form that has ena­bled humans to dwell in the world. By modif­ying the sense of the space crossed, walking becomes (wo)man’s first aesthetic act, penetrat­ing the territories of chaos, constructing an order on which to develop the architecture of situated objects. Walking is an art from whose loins spring the menhir, sculpture, architecture, landscape. This simple action has given rise to the most important rela­tionships (wo)man has established with the land: the territory”

– Francesco Careri, Walkscapes

 


 

SITUATIONISM AND PSYCHEOGEOGRAPGY

Psychogeography is:

“the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” – Guy Debord

“And in broad terms, psychogeography is, as the name suggests, the point at which psychology and geography collide, a means of exploring the behavioural impact of urban place”. – From Merlin Coverly, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, in Psychogeography

“a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities… just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape” (wikipedia) Guy Dedord

Precedents in Dada and Surrealism

  • Calling forth and following deep unconscious drives
  • Believe in liberation of unconscious
  • Influence on surrealism is from the group of Pan-African poets and intellectuals who developed the concept of Negritude, for example the philosopher and theorists Aimé and Suzanne Césaire:

Surrealism, she argued, was not an ideology as such but a state of mind, a “permanent readiness for the Marvelous.”

Dérive: Central to the practice of psychogeography is the Dérive, or ‘drift’, which developed form an earlier idea of ‘urban wandering’, embodied in the concept of the ‘flâneur’, developed by the writer Charles Baudelaire

The flâneur: a bourgeois figure, generally male, whose idle wanderings afforded him the ability to observe, in a detached way, the rise of the metropolis

The concept of the derive was picked up by Guy Debord, who was a member/leader of the “Situationist Internationale” in Paris Guy Debord developed the idea further in a document titled “Theory of the Dérive” in 1958. This document serves as an instruction manual for psychogeographic procedures, executed through the act of dérive (“drift”):

“In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there… But the dérive includes both this letting go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities”  – Knabb, Ken, ed. (1995). Situationist International Anthology. Berkley: Bureau of Public Secrets.

The psycheogeographic dérive is anti functional, anti instrumental (anti-architectural), focused on the ‘ludic’ (playful) – focus on tangents, poesis, emergences, and a desire for constant exploration, of being “drawn by the attraction of the terrain and its encounters”. (Guy Deboard, Theory of the Dérive)

More notes of the Dérive:

  • It is regarded as both ‘anarchistic’ and ‘utopic’ praxis.
  • An imaginitive re-working overlaying desire onto the given city.
  • An activity of disorientation in which participants would walk in order to lose themselves in the city
  • Looks to familiar/banal surroundings as a site for passage in which we can experience the city in new and unfamiliar ways.
  • This is positioned as a creative agitation in response to the ‘society of the spectacle’, it calls forth creative, participatory engagement with urban fabric such that individuals become fully aware, fully engaged inhabitants of the city.

Associated Variants:


 

WALKING AS CULTURAL PRACTICE

Pilgrimage (Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist)

A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs. (Wikipedia)
“The pilgrimage to Rome, in fact, was very frequent. Rome in the Middle Ages was – together with the Holy Land and Santiago Compostela – one of the top three major pilgrimages because, besides being the papal seat, was the place where the apostle Peter was buried”.

See: http://bistrocharbonnier.altervista.org/il-dilemma-della-via-francigena-nel-salento/

“All roads lead to Rome.” http://www.italiannotebook.com/places/sutri/

For more text related to the idea of pilgrimage see the essay Pilgrimage and the desire for meaning:


 

Hikoi – protest march – Aotearoa, New Zealand

“A partial consequence of the 1975 Hikoi was the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal under the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. The 1975 land march was able to highlight Maori grievances and raise awareness of the injustices suffered by Maori. Injustices of which were supposed to be null and void as a result of the government following its promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi. However, the government did not act accordingly and the land march exposed this with its gained media attention and huge support from both Pakeha and Maori. The tribunal was therefore formed to report on and make recommendations on claims brought to the tribunal by Maori. These claims are Maori grievances relating to the Treaty of Waitangi and government actions that are against its clauses. Originally the tribunal could not look into past grievances and therefore was largely ineffective in working with land issues. The 1975 land march was instrumental in alerting New Zealand society of the unlawful actions of the government with regards to Maori land, resulting in the creation of a permanent commission of inquiry”.

Above text taken from this site: http://maorihikoi.weebly.com/1975-hikoi.html


 

Civil Rights – Selma

“In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. led several attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery as part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement. The protesters encountered violent opposition from authorities and segregationists. But with federal backing, the demonstrators successfully made the four-day walk, a 50-mile stretch. That year, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which gave African-Americans the right to vote”.

Text taken from: http://interactives.ap.org/interactives/2015/selma/


 

Australian Aboriginal Songlines

Within the animist belief system of Indigenous Australians, a songline, also called dreaming track, is one of the paths across the land (or sometimes the sky) which mark the route followed by localised ‘creator-beings’ during the Dreaming.

Songlines are effectively oral maps of the landscape, enabling the transmission of oral navigational skills in cultures that do not have a written language. In many cases, songlines on the earth are mirrored by songlines in the sky, enabling the sky to be used as a navigational tool, both by using it as a compass, and by using it as a mnemonic (from Ray P. Norris and Bill Yidumduma Harney, Songlines and Navigation in Wardaman and other Aboriginal Cultures.

For a map related to the above see:

http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/yiwarra_kuju/essays/listening_to_country/protecting_aboriginal_knowledge

Which shows a “Dreaming map based on work by Kim Akerman in the 1980s showing multiple sites and songlines that would restrict mineral exploration in and around the northern end of the Canning Stock Route, adapted with input from Daniel Aime Vachon and Putuparri Tom Lawford”.


 

WALKING AND CONTEMPORARY ART PRACTICES

If contemporary capitalist culture demands productivity, which is dependent on speed and efficiency, then the slow pace of walking becomes a form of resistance, suggesting an ‘ethics of slowness’.

On notion of “Capitalism’s call to efficiency”, see Pamela Lee’s book titled Chronophobia: on time in the art of the 60’s, 2004

 

Michel de Certeau

“walkers entwined paths give shape to spaces. They weave places together. In that respect, pedestrian movements form one of these real systems whose existence in fact makes up the city. – Michel de Certeau, “Walking in the City”, in The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984

 

Walking’s relationship to mapping

In the works discussed, mapping becomes a very evident form of documentation of a ‘locale’ or situation.

Walking allows for a slowing down, which then enables the walker to perceive things that could not otherwise be seen if you were zooming past in a car. These details often become the material for observations and documentation by artists such as Charlie Sofo.

 

Charlie Sofo

Uses the strategy of collecting from his range of walks, with his attention drawn towards the low key and the incidental, such as used condom wrappers, disused ipod headphones, old bricks used to secure the wheels of trailers parked on the street, while also noticing things that we take for granted such as the way solar panels are positioned on roofs or the marks left by human encounter, passage and inhabitation (like the oil stain on the side of a building inhabited for 40 years), or tracks worn from passage (‘desire lines’)

This kind of observation is not detached (like in the figure of the flâneur), but involves participation: “walking here becomes a mode of local thinking and engagement with the dynamics of public space” (Liang Luscomb, Walking is not a medium, it’s an attitude)

 

Francis Alys

The Green Line (sometimes doing something poetic can be political and sometimes doing something political can be poetic), 2004

Based on the armistice border, dividing Israel from Palestine. Moshe Dayan determined this by drawing a green line on a map in 1948. That abstract line then becomes a ‘script’ which Francis Alys uses to perform within the actual site.

 

Sarah Rodigari

“The rules set up for the walking project, turns walking into a means of survival so that performance and life becomes indistinguishable” (Liang Luscomb)

See her fascinating project, Strategies for leaving and arriving home, which involved her relocating her life from Melbourne to Sydney, by walking between the two cities.

 

 

Some more Writers/Theorists

Henry David Thoreau, Walking

Saskia Beudel, A Country in Mind

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust

 

Contemporary Artists

Janett Cardiff ­ – Garden of Forking Paths

Francis Alys

Teching Hsieh

Tadashi Kawamata

Andre Cadre

Richard Long

Simon Pope

Tom Nicholson

Brogan Bunt

Stephanie Springay

Freya Matthews – Journey to the source of the Merri

Sarah Roodigari

Christoph Fink

Charlie Sofo

 

Lecture notes for week 3 – modes of engagement – “the artist as”

This week it’s all about “modes of engagement”.

Before you read on, here is the presentation which reiterates what is expected of you for assignment 31, and some images focusing upon documentation:

Recap from last week, plus looking at the role of documentation

 

 

Ok – My lecture will focus on a number of modes which might each be introduced by the words:

“THE ARTIST AS …”

For each mode, I’ll give an example or two, and discuss briefly how it has played out in particular situations. The intention here is to give you a broad range of approaches that you might consider adopting, adapting, critiquing, mixing, matching and mashing in your own practice.

(Standard disclaimer: the list is not exhaustive; the category-modes are mutable, arbitrary, overlapping etc; the examples given are convenient and not intended to be canonical; the analysis is necessarily shallow; and so on. In other words, caveat emptor!)

Continue reading

Lecture notes from Week 2

Here’s a link to the powerpoint presentation on Allan Kaprow, and the social context of his work:

caos201 2016 lecture week 2 kaprow

Notes related to the lecture:

week 2_lecture notes_10-03-2016

 

Reminders and follow up for next weeks class

You guys brought some insights into class today. We travelled in lots of directions because of the intersections that kept emerging. This makes for a great teaching-learning experience and it’s an excellent start to the semester.

 

Your ‘activity project’

Don’t try to think up a ‘special’ activity. Just choose an ordinary everyday routine activity. Something as simple as brushing your teeth, like the example in class today. If you are having trouble – look at your diagrams that you’ve already made, think about the kinds of activities that you do when you go from social space to social space throughout the days of your week.

 

Also remember to check out the examples form past students, which you can find here:

Assessment Task 1 – Activity Exercise

The important thing is to test out how to do it a bit differently, to change the space where it happens, to play around with the timeframe/duration etc.

 

Even more importantly are the ways that you record (‘document’) this activity and then how you think about what you have done. The key here is your critical reflection upon the activity!

 

So – this week. Just do an activity. Test it out. Come to class and talk about it. We’ll all give feedback and brainstorm the next step together. We’ll talk about documentation, we’ll run through how to post on the blog if you are having trouble with that, and we will prepare for the presentation in the following week.

 

 

This weeks set reading is here:

Scroll down to week 2, Nicholas Bourriaud, “Relational Aesthetics”

http://www.caos201.medadada.net/weekly-readings/

Remember to do your reading! Underline things of interest and points of confusion. Come to class prepared to discuss at length.

 

Things to bring to class next week:

We are going to be spending most of the workshop time on your activities. Come to school with the equipment and tools you need to work. Things I can think of are cameras that let you take images and video, your laptops, pencils, textas, paper for drawing ­– things like that.

 

 

WELCOME TO CAOS201 – Autumn Session 2016

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WEEK 1 – INTRODUCTION

There are two readings to complete before next week:

Pablo Helguera: Education for Socially Engaged Art Practice Chapter 1 – Definitions

Alan Kaprow: Performing Life, and a sample of his Activities

 

Powerpoint presentation of lecture:

01_intro_lecture_CAOS201_small_02

 

Reflections on the day:

So we met in a space that was lined with chairs and tables, all oriented towards the front of the class. The first thing we did was move all that heavy furniture to the walls and corners, clearing room in the centre for us to sit in a circle. I asked you to introduce yourselves, but to do so by joining in pairs, sharing your story (Who are you? Where do you come from? Why have you chosen this subject?). When time came to tell these stories, we took turns introducing one another to the group. This took some of the heat out of speaking. It was fun. We learnt things about each other that we probably wouldn’t have if we had to tell our own story. Our initial conversations drew out some interesting tangents and this set the tone for the first class. The initial tension of the first day opened out into something animated, alive. We effectively intervened into the spatial structure already set up for us through the institutional context (desks lined up in rows facing the front of the class). We discussed this is an example of how spatial and social relations are interrelated and constructed, and how our small intervention into that structure –a subtle change of furniture – can alter how we relate to each other. Welcome to CAOS201!

Then we tested out some Augustus Boal theatre exercises and things really got warmed up. We tried out ‘tangle’ involving walking around randomly then grouping ourselves according to arbitrary commonalities like:

Stand in a group with those who are dressed the most similar to you!

Stand in a group with those who share the same eye colour as you!

And so forth.

It was amazing to see that 5-6 people turned up on the first day dressed almost identically – wearing white t-shirts and pastel coloured shorts! This was something that I didn’t notice, at all, throughout the class until this very moment. It demonstrated how identification works – by choosing a point of connection and then forming a group around it, which then identify together. Humans do this all the time. We talked about how at the extreme end this can lead to war.

After the joyful cacophony of carrying out ‘carnival in rio’, led by Harry and then Brad, we then simmered down with a ‘walking meditation’: simply walking slowly around the space and listening out for whatever there is to be heard in that very moment.

What did we hear? The sound of the fans doing their best job on a sweltering morning, and of our feet scuffing the carpet. Someone pointed out that they could hear the sound of people’s ankles clicking. And there were birds too, calling to each other on the outside. We discussed how this exercise helps us to experience the aural dimension of space – and how space is never really silent but textured with all manner of sound. We also heard how our participation actively changes our context, because our activity partly ‘makes’ the environment that we are immersed in. We continued to unravel the idea of participation – and how everybody’s contribution (from subtle to bold), gives shape and feel to the context. Like if five of you were not there, the morning would have been different.

The more ‘formal’ aspect of our session involved an introductory lecture, which can be found here, in case you missed it:

Intersections abounded in session two. We discussed the current big picture- about living in ‘post-democratic’ times (and what we might do as creative people to address this larger socio-political context), the concept of the Anthropocene and notion that we are already in the 6th mass extinction. We watched ‘when faith moves mountains’ by Francis Alys and touched upon the question of ethics and the role of art which depends upon community participation. And we talked a bit about Aboriginal concepts of Country, and deep knowledge embedded in land and how we might not simply acknowledge it, but also be transformed by it in how we go about making our work.

Reminders for Next Week:

Things to do:

Do your ‘map of the week’ where you make a diagram/mapping of all of the social spaces that you occupy throughout the duration of a week. Aim to make this on an A3 sized piece of paper (or larger if needed). Start off by brainstorming a list, then turn this into a diagram. Think of all of the spaces and the different social groupings that you encounter. You can make this diagram as straight up/pragmatic, or as aesthetic as you please. Go ¡nuts!

Read the two readings above. We are going to have a good old discussion about them during the first session of class.

Things to bring to class

  • bring a toothbrush (this is essential for our scheduled workshop!)
  • Bring your diagrams, for show-and-talk session