Archive for the 'Term 1' Category

02
Dec
07

Reflection time….and the elimination of the supermarket

I feel like my research has been traveling at a million miles and hour and I really need to stop and reflect on what I have done before I go any further.

My proposal states that I am currently looking at 3 non-places that have the most relevance to me, the motorway, the underground and the supermarket.  My intention is to keep narrowing it down until I am looking at just one.  With this in mind I feel I need to evaluate and eliminate at least one at this point in time.  The course is only one year and I really need to start focusing down.

The non-place that I feel has the least scope for fulfilling my projects intentions is the supermarket.  I think this is mainly because it is the odd one out for me.  It is a singular destination whereas the underground and the motorway (more often than not) lead to multiple destinations.  

The underground and the motorway share a similar characteristic in that the persons that are using the non-place are all in transit, they are in a space between spaces, this changes how the individual acts and reacts within non-place.  This particular premise does not so much apply to the supermarket, yes the supermarket is a transient space but in a different way to the motorway and the underground, these non-places more largely embody the true notion of transience.  I feel there is something more compelling and interesting about the individuals relationship with the motorway and the underground. 

I think I will be more successful in achieving my projects current intentions if I focus on one of these two non-places.  

Even though the motorway and the underground are intrinsically defined by a more literal definition of transit, I feel that the contrast between the different types of transience that these spaces impose on the individual is also quite interesting.  The underground is a very communal space where at times your personal space can be very much infringed upon as you squeeze into the cabin making the transition between traveler to passenger.  In contrast the motorway is probably the most anonymous of all non-places as you share the space, more often than not, in isolation, you travel through the space in your car that is your own ‘personal’ non-place in itself.  These forms of transit and their demands on the individual are the antithesis of each other, even though they would overally be categorised together.

Another contrast is that the motorway is a space of continuous transience, we always have access to it therefore the movement never stops.  The underground however, for a period every night does stop, the stations shut down and are inaccessible to the public.  I am interested in what happens to the non-place when the movement is removed, and what connotations this has on the space during this time.  The underground lends itself more aptly to this premise. 

The main problem with the underground is that gaining access for filming at the times of shut down could be an arduous task, mainly because of health and safety and heightened security, this could make it very difficult to film successfully within this space, especially if my intentions are quite specific.  I don’t want to take second best with my project, so I will have to see if what I want to do can be achieved without serious compromise.

Depending on how my research progresses will determine which non-place has be best scope for successfully fulfilling my project.  I like the anonymity of the motorway.  The idea of anonymity has always interested me and this has been evident within my research.  I don’t want to rule out the underground just yet but the motorway is looking like the front-runner at the moment, and time is going fast…….     

 

01
Dec
07

Assessment evidence…..

Below is where to the find blog entries that relate succinctly to the experiments I have chosen to submit as my sample of work for assessment. 

It must be noted that there are also other blog entries that have shaped how these experiments I have come to be.  I have listed these under ‘other blogs of interest’

Also my research is always progressing as I continue to try and narrow down my subject matter.  So please see any more recent blog posts to further evaluate the position of my research at this point in time.

 

Experiments 1 + 2

November 21st: Movement is an ironic word when it’s just written down

 

Experiment 3

November 1st: Identtiy idnetity identity

November 24th: Place of accident

 

Experiment 4

November 25th: Shopping baskets and trollies

 

Other blogs of interest

October 25th: Driving dreams and the non-place

October 27th: Researching artists and the non-place

November 13th: A pure non-place

November 13th: Circle line to infinity

November 13th: Ghost stations

November 1st : A brief summary of the last 748802 minutes

 

The start of my research into non-places

Blogs from 25th October to present

 

Research that led towards focusing on the non-place.

13th September to 24th October 

 

29
Nov
07

The final proposal……..

‘If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which can not be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place’ Marc Auge (1992)

Working Title:

Non-Places:

To what extent is the non-place defined by our presence and movement through it, and in turn what ways does the non-place affect us?

Aims:

I want to explore the importance of movement within the non-place, and to what extent does movement enable the non-place to exist?

To find what informs our perception of the non-place with the intention of evaluating how the non-place affects us?

To look at how we experience the space, and through a process can the non-place become relational, historical or concerned with identity?   

Objectives

Through researching non-places that have been previously defined by artists and theorists, I want to look at how the non-place affects the individual and in turn, what is the individuals’ affect is on it.

I want to look at the non-places that have the most relevance to me, these being the motorway, the underground and the supermarket.  My objective is to research these examples of non-places to find any similarities between them and also to find what individually characterises them, what sets them apart from each other?  My intentions are to at a point in my research focus this down onto just one.  The work I produce in this period will be my final project.

I want to see if I can find some identity within the non-place. For example the supermarket trolley which we use to fill with our wants and needs to the locations of car crashes on our roads and motorways. Through a process can specific objects or events that occur within a non-place embody it with a certain identity? And if so, how can this process be physically and visually communicated

I want to investigate the importance of movement within the non-place.  I will start by investigating and documenting the different types of movement that occur in the non-places I have chosen to focus on.  I want to look at how the movement of human beings and other objects that characterise the space affect how we perceive it.

I am also interested in what happens to the non-place when movement is removed?  I hope for my observations to question to what extent this premise defines the non-place.

I will make video work that is a reflection of my observations.    

Rationale:

This proposal originated from a broad investigation into how society affects our perception of reality.  My research has progressed towards focusing on a particular aspect of our reality, the non-place.  This focus derived from an investigation into how our modern society affects us, and how we exist within this space.

‘If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which can not be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place…. Place and non-place are rather like opposed polarities: the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed; they are like palimpsests on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten’ Marc Auge (1992)

Adding to this foundation of what defines a non-place, authors such as J.G. Ballard, Italo Calvino and Iain Sinclair have speculated over a new ‘transience’ perpetuated by the onset of super modernity.   

‘What you find on the periphery of Greater London…..is there is kind of diffusing airport culture that involves CCTV cameras, dual carriageways, video rentals, marinas, endless low cost executive housing.  A new kind of England with quick access to the nearest airport.  This is a world where a new transient England has come in to be.’ J.G.Ballard (2002) 

I intend to question contemporary  artists and theorists’ views of the non-place with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of the individuals’ position and connection with it.

The non-place has been the subject of many artists work.  Andreas Gursky in his piece ‘Ruhtal’ presented a series of photographs that looked at the motorway as a non-place of super modernity.

 gursky_ruhrtal.jpg

The vast motorway flyover that looms over an almost idyllic green field makes the work quite unsettling.  This gigantic product of super modernity dwarfs the individual walking beneath it.  It personifies alienation and a loss of identity with our landscape.  This is one premise that I intend to oppose within my own work. 

Visual artist Hans Op de Beeck approached he concept of the non-place with his installation ‘Location 1

 image_1798.jpg

The scene depicts a desolate crossroads landscape.  The only movement that remains here is the traffic lights repeatedly blinking through their automated program with nobody present to obey their commands.  This work shows a non-place (albeit an artificially constructed one) that at this point in time is not being affected by the movement of bodies through.  Although this work allows us to reflect on space, it completely detaches the individual from it and this alludes to a certain negative quality.  I feel there is more to the non-place than this, I want to find some beauty within it and a relevance to us. 

This ‘modern’ way of moving through a space that Ballard for one refers to is what I want to explore.  I want to investigate in what ways does this movement of transient bodies through the non-place affect and define our perception of it? Is the non-place defined by our interaction (or lack of interaction) with other human beings within it? Does this new transience to any extent overlap into our definable  reality, places as opposed to non-places, and can it potentially become concerned with identity?   

Outcomes

I want to experiment with the figurative and the non-figurative and also a juxtaposition of the two.  This most probably will be presented in the form of a video installation using sound, light and video. 

Currently I have two ideas:

I may project a collection of films that show non-places  that have been redefined by personal experiences.  For example, I might film locations where car accidents have happened,  I would present these as a series of dates, then using motion sensors, allow the viewer to touch the projection to choose a date and be able to move around the space to some extent.  Methodology wise this process would offer the viewer some control over how they experience the space.  It would also contradict the fact the victim of the car accident had little control over their experience on that date. 

My other idea revolves around how we interpret movement within the non-place.  I want to film my movements through non-places with the footage deliberately out of focus.  The idea is that this process will remove all definable objects within the space and all the viewer will be left with is the movement of the shapes and colours.  By just presenting the movement I feel this may show the non-place in a more pure form, stripping back the definable objects that may affect our perception.  I would want to show three films simultaneously on a medium to large scale, and imply the use of motion sensors that would allow the viewer to start and stop the videos using their own movement.  My intention is for viewer to question how their own movement affects the non-place as well as the movement of others.

Media

·      For compositing and video manipulation I want to learn how to use the program ‘Motion’

·      For the colour grading process, I want to learn how to use the program ‘Colour’

·      For video editing I will continue to learn how to use ‘Final Cut Pro’.  

·      For audio I will use ‘Soundtrack Pro’

·      For motion sensor technology, I will use the program ‘Pure Data’.

·      Video Projector, DVD player/computer.

·      Motion sensors (The implementation of an Arduino board to trigger an object sensing a presence)

·      Audio speakers and equipment.

·      For motion sensor technology, I will use the program ‘Pure Data’.

·      Video Projector, DVD player/computer.

·      Motion sensors (The implementation of an Arduino board to trigger an object sensing a presence)

·      Audio speakers and equipment.

Methodologies

I want to explore how we experience the non-place. My research into artists and theorists that have approached the concept of the non-place will formulate the foundation from which I will make new observations.

I want to utilise motion sensor technology to allow the audience an element of control over how they move through and experience the space.

To achieve this I will use the program Pure Data.

I want to experiment with dialogue and visuals to see if I can connect that space to another individual’s experience of it.  I want to see if this process can redefine how we perceive a space.

I will use my blog to record all my developments.  I hope to keep this quite informal by documenting my thought process and personal observations of my own position with regards to the non-place

My processes of experimentation both visual and literal will be evaluated using an action/reflection methodology.  I want to record all the successes and failures of my research as it progresses and use this to further my engagement and understanding of my subject matter.

I want to use mind maps to connect my thoughts. 

25
Nov
07

Shopping baskets and trollies and transient identity……

‘… a foreigner lost in a country he does not know ( a ‘passing stranger’) can feel at home there only in the anonymity of the motorways, service stations, big stores or hotel chains.  For him an oil company logo is a reassuring landmark; among the supermarket shelves he falls with relief on sanitary, household or food products validated by multinational brand names.’ Marc Auge

Looking for examples of identity within the supermarket, the shopping basket or trolley becomes our identity and also part of our contract to this specific non-place.  We fill these carriages with all our wants and needs and we may judge others by the contents they are carrying.  But this is a transient identity, it only exists for the period of time that we spend within the supermarket, once it leaves the basket or trolley and enters our cupboards, fridges and freezers it disappears.  This is a premise that Marc Auge draws attention too: 

 

‘Anthropological place is formed by individual identities, through complicities of language, local references, the unformulated rules of living know how; non-place creates the shared identity of passengers, customers or Sunday drivers.  No doubt the relative anonymity that goes with this temporary identity can be felt as a liberation, by people who, for a time, have only to keep in line, go where they are told, check their appearance.  As soon as his passport or identity card has been checked, the passenger for the next flight freed from the weight of his luggage and everyday responsibilities, rushes to the ‘duty free’ space; not so much, perhaps, in order to buy at the best prices as to experience the reality of his momentary availability, his unchallengeable position as a passenger in the process of departing.  Alone, but one of many, the user of the non-place is in contractual relations with it.  He is reminded when necessary, that the contract exists.  One element in this is the way the non-place is to be used; the ticket he has bought, the card he will have to show at the tollbooth, even the trolley he trundles round the supermarket, are all more or less clear signs of it.  The contract always relates to the individual identity of the contracting party.  

To get into the departure lounge of an airport, a ticket always inscribed with the passengers name-must first be presented at the check in desk….So the passenger accedes to his anonymity only when he has given proof of his identity; when he has countersigned (so to speak) the contract…. There will be no individualization (no right to anonymity) without identity checks’  

 

The possibility of a transient identity that only exists within the non-place is a poignant observation for my research, to what extent can it affect how we perceive ourselves and others within the non-place?  I have made an experiment that aims portray this observation and draw attention to this idea of assuming a transient identity.  

 

24
Nov
07

place of accident…

One of my objectives is to find possible examples of identity which may alter how we may perceive the non-place.  With regards to the roads and motorways I postulated that areas that had been the locations of car accidents could for the individuals involved change their perception of that space.  Through a process this otherwise non-place could become relational and more concerned with the identity of the persons who experienced this event.  (For the origin of this concept please see ‘identtiy idnetity identity’ blogged November 1st) I returned to the scene of my car accident, and filmed the space from the direction I was traveling in.  

 

 I don’t intend to reveal all the gritty details of the event, all I want to highlight is the fact that something happened in this space that had a significant impact on an individuals life.  I wanted to remove the movement so the viewer is not distracted by anything else.  The viewer is left to envisage the movement of the event.  

What is interesting is that before ‘adding’ this narrative the space remains as a non-place.  Marc Auge highlights that ‘Place is completed through the word, through the allusive exchange of a few passwords between speakers who are conniving in private complicity’ .   This dialogue potentially redefines this particular area of a non-place into more of a place, and Secondly, as all movement is removed the viewer has the opportunity to stand still and reflect upon this narrative.

It is difficult for me to evaluate the success of this piece because I am directly involved with its concept.  I do feel that by adding a narrative it does change how you may view the space, yet it still remains a negative space and the dialogue adds to this negativity.  It is successful (?) for the fact that it could potentially alter how you perceive the space, it could evoke a feeling of empathy within the viewer, but is it ultimately unsuccessful (?) because due to the chosen subject matter the negativity that we normally associate with the non-place still remains.  Has it really changed at all?

21
Nov
07

movement is an ironic word when its just written down…

I have become increasingly interested in how movement affects the non-place and how largely does this contribute to what we perceive the non-place to be? 

When we are within a non-place we create our own movement as we pass through it, yet we are also exposed to other forms of movement, be it the movement of other humans (this is most experienced when using public transport) to the movement of less organic objects such as trains, planes, cars(that are all a non-place within themselves) cctv cameras, escalators, automatic doors, barriers, luggage carousels, digital timetables, television monitors etc.   

This observation opens up a plethora of material for me research, film, document and reflect upon.I want to experiment with different ways in which to visually display the material.  I am interested in trying to just show the movement, to reduce all moving objects to a state where they are undefinable, and all that is left is the movement they create.  

I have made 2 experiments to test out this premise.The first film was originally some shoddy footage shot of my journey back home one night down the A13.  The camera was just resting on the dashboard and I shot it deliberately out of focus and blurred further during editing.  Both films are composites of two different times of the journey, the left is the movement on the side of the road I am traveling down and the right is the movement of the traffic flowing in the opposite direction.   

I wanted to show two different types of movement, one being my own transit through the space as inanimate objects such as street lamps and barriers appear to come to life and rush past you, and secondly more prominently the movement other people through the space, when the only thing that we have to identify these humans with is a glimpse of two headlights speeding in another direction.

 The second experiment is a similar idea to the first, this time shot whilst traveling on a train on the underground.  The two films show the same journey in opposite directions.

 

I want to experiment more with this idea of just portraying the different types of movement within the non-place.  I found this process to be quite prosperous in a way.  I now need to think more carefully how to capture this imagery.   

13
Nov
07

Ghost Stations………

 

‘I believe in the poetry of abandoned hotels,’  J.G. Ballard

This sentiment coupled with my current interest in the Circle Line  has lead me to question whether there is any ‘poetry’ in the abandoned stations of London Underground.

Through internet research I’ve found 43 abandoned stations on the underground, or as they have been dubbed ‘ghost stations’.  One example being Holborn station where there are 4 platforms currently in use but there are also 2 platforms hidden and no longer used.  Platform 6 however is not only a platform, it also has an area that was dedicated to the station staff during the 1930’s.  The photos below are from http://underground-history.co.uk/holborn.php.

hol7.jpg 

hol12.jpg

hol6.jpg

 

hol15.jpg 

What have the ghost stations become?  They have lost the transience that once defined them, they are frozen in time, and they no longer have movement.  So what are they?  Do they now have a historical relevance?  If so does this then transform it into more of a place?  I think the answer is yes and no. 

They do take on a historical form, which is one of the elements Marc Auge suggests needs to be present in order to define a place but I feel there is more to these spaces that just a historical observation.  I think there is something quite compelling about how this space has been defined and redefined. 

The signs we once used to make sense of it do not make sense anymore.  The space that once used as a cafeteria or the sign that once defined where the cloakroom was no longer has any aesthetical relevance, it has been transformed yet again and communicates less with us on a less visual level, it transcends this and becomes something else.  

In order for this space to fulfill its (designated) purpose depends upon the movement of people through it, and their experiences with it.  Once you remove these elements, it loses all clarity.  It is a discarded space; it has been reduced back to its original form yet now it shows signs of its collision with the human race. 

For now it stands still long enough for us to reflect on it; it becomes more poetic, it reveals a narrative that speaks to us silently through the broken earth and litter that once transformed it, it stands still scarred by particular space in time.