21 oktober 2011

Experiment, 05.10.11

As part of our thesis research, we were asked do think of an experiment that would make yourself experience something that one would otherwise not encounter easily. I considered this as being rather personal/intimate rather than consisting of some action that provokes a response from others. I presented myself with following questions:

How to experience a feeling of alienation in a public space? Or better, what does it take for me to feel alone in a space? 

The idea would be to put myself in an unfamiliar (or uncomfortable) position and to create a feeling of isolation. I chose Columbus Park in Downtown Brooklyn as the scenery for the experiment and brought along the following:

- mp3 player (to filter out sounds of the city)
- a small sketchbook and a pensil (to write down my thougths)
- Diana F+ Mini Point&Shoot camera (to document what I observed)
- Pentacon Praktica MTL3 SLR camera (to document what I observed)
- sunglasses (to avoid eye contact with bystanders)

With these items around my neck and in my pockets I sat down near the C. Columbus Statue at Columbus Park. I had decided to stop talking and ignore everyone around me. 11:29

I stayed there on the ground for about five and a half hours. Despite people trying to ignore me, I can assume they would find it rather strange for me to be sitting there. Because it was a sunny day, the park was pretty crowded. Still, I didn't find it hard NOT to pay attention to my surroundings and listen to music instead of the sounds of the park. Systematically I wrote down my thoughts. It was after about an hour or two when I started feeling anxious. What was I doing here?
It took another three hours before I started to feel agitated and was moving about nervously where I was sitting. It became harder and harder not talking to myself or somebody else and the frustration kept on building up. Someone on the benches not far from where I was sitting had been yelling at everybody. I wanted to yell back. At that point I decided to stop. 17:42

My final note: "I've had enough"

Collective Culture: presentation at Columbia University 29.09.11

How do people collectively express their culture? How do they color their surroundings?
In order to find answers, we approached this matter through four types of public spaces –the community space, representative place, streetscape and the virtual realm- inwhich people demonstrate their collectiveness. We considered them as being equally important.

Community gardens require an engagement to be part of the collective culture, which distinguishes it from the general public space. It makes this community space by nature often exclusive. This exclusiveness could also be taken literally because of the fences around the gardens.
What is your influence as a designer? Can you allow the exclusiveness in terms of boundaries but design them differently so that they can be something more inviting?
Could you interfere in something which exists only of an informal group of people and doesn’t want a high end design? Or could you only be a gardener in the community space?

We noticed a shift in representational space in terms of the big classical ideas to the contemporary.
Obviously, nowadays we don’t have institutions with that kind of power anymore and the representation of new public spaces has changed to the local and the temporal. Things that can be built up quickly and go away again. So what can a designer do to create new public spaces? Is it limited to small scale design such as painted public spaces and temporal installations as a container bar?

There is a diverse and active urban culture in the streets of Brooklyn. Whether it is about expressing discontent with institutions, like a mural, or a form of poetry on a large facade, the built environment can serve as an art board for inhabitants. One could say that the streetscape has the capacity to generate urban activity and invite people to interact with their environment.
Could this capability be more profound if a designer was asked to redesign Brooklyn’s streetscape?
Or do sidewalks and streets need to be designed like the great parkways that cross Brooklyn’s grid?

The virtual realm is a relatively new public space which supports collective culture in general. People can join online communities, which reflects a feeling of belonging. The Internet is an easy way to reach out ideas to a large group of people and bring them together for a common goal or interest. There are a lot of blogs in andabout the different neighborhoods in Brooklyn.