Urban Research Forum | Performance research

Film | Documentation | what remains

This project is reliant upon documentation. Although certain elements of it are based on the reactions which the actions occurring may incur, the evaluation and subsequent collective review is seminal to determine the potential applications of such performance research. 

The embodiment of the city; how does the body become a three level subject; the physical anatomical self; the social body; and the political body.

To consider the body an artifice for reflection as to the affects of urbanisation; modern progress and development allows a humanist discourse to form around the concrete slabs which form the densely textured urban scene. How the body is positioned in space; how it occupies and passes through various plaza, streets and passage ways can function as means for discourse as to the nature of affect the city may have on the psychology of urban human behaviour and simultaneously affords insight as to how the city is formed and cemented by the very patterns which human occupancy projects. This mutual dialectical relationship becomes synonymous to concepts as to how far cities are designed for people and how people essentially redesign and augment the fabric of urban texture. The embodiment of the urban experience by the human form becomes focus for this research; how far can the body enter a state of conscious reflection as to its use and positioning within the built environment to observe and how can such conscious observations be then potentially be reapplied to generate shifts in land use patterning and generate possible realms of progress within discourses of spatial planning.

The moving body in urban space becomes a fragment for the potential reinvestigation of the use of space; subjective and figurative; terms of the experience of the city; how can the body become reflective mechanism for the experience of the body in urban space; how can the body be positioned into a performative realm which may allow others to re-evaluate their own use of space use; how can such reflections be then translated into ‘useful’ potential applications for shifts within design schemes. The expressive non verbal art forms within this research process become potential tools for mass communication beyond conventional mechanisms of the representation of lived experience. Does writing or talking then limit human action and creative energy?

The body within this research acts momentarily as a heritage site; with the potential to retain physical experiences of the city; how far can the physical experience of urban encounter create a unique movement vocabulary? The city generates a systematic series of movements; walking in patterns which cannot necessarily be recreated in the rural environment. This vocabulary is somehow learnt and maintained; yet we often bury deeply into our subconscious the patterns and codes of movement we learn well. How far can the body remember the emotions of architecture? Can architecture have a memory and how far can the body be a site which can calibrate a sensibility of a location which exists beyond the ability of the written word or object to reproduce and narrate? 

I am keen to stress that this research process has focused on small scale projects; which at later date I may return to; the locations were selected due to their difference; I am keen to develop in the early stages of my research a series of micro practice based studies which can explore key questions to develop a framework for my research methods; as Gulick alludes; We need to appreciate the importance of small active scale of many city dwellers, at the same time not ignoring the reality of their larger receptive scales.’

Does Practising Space function as a tool to enable people to become more attuned and alert to their surroundings? Can such a tool be perceived as useful when the affects are so subjective? Can these affects be monitored and returned as critical discourse which can be relocated back to the site of impetus in effort and attempt to lay roads for new departures and potential shifts in space use. Can the body become apparatus in this context for regeneration? 

The city: as an endless choreography of bodies meeting, passing, forming groups of actions and ideas which merge effortlessly into mechanisms for research. The body; as object; stimulus arrives in various modes of preparation; some formed precisely after years of training and honed into shapes; which it cannot uphold without regular  and sustained interaction and discourse between body and mind. This project has worked with dancers and non dancers; a critical point of difference in the occupation and evaluation of spatial use. The body as it can be contained within such arena; passing for the normal figure of discourse can perhaps be rendered as a malleable and fluid entity; perceiving perhaps that we might be able in some certainty and uncertainty to call it a ‘playground’. Bodies make and are made into various constellations by space and their various states of being and modes of function enable certain qualities and texture of space to arise. The perception of the body in turn enables landscape to develop into a mechanism of embodied spatial research.