torstai 27. marraskuuta 2008

one cityscope ready for action!

After busy 3 hours my cityscope is now completed - dear thanks to Taik metal & glass workshops for helping me out & letting me use their premises! I'm pretty pleased with what I've got. The view could be bigger but the thing looks quite like I imagined it and I think it will demonstrate my idea well. I'll attach the thing tomorrow on my way to Sörnäinen.

The overall project budget was 6 euros, with 5 euros spent on a rectangular metal tube measuring some 6x15x200 cm. A piece of bathroom mirror that luckily readily was 15 cm wide cost me one euro. I've got an old bicycle tube at home that I'm going to use to soften the rims of the cityscope a bit. All material was bought from the Recycling centre at Kyläsaari. I'll probably use a chain to mount the work to the railing, and lock it, too, but hope to get these back when I remove the work or what's left of it on sunday.

One thing that has bothered me a bit is a permit for the work. I still don't have one. In the beginning I saw it impossible to get one from the city in just 5 days, and as it took a day still to decide on the site for the work, I decided to ask for an oral permission on the last minute if I had time - I didn't. This is actually bothering me for two reasons; First, I think the procedure of getting funding and permits needed is an essential part of making public art, and a thing I want to learn to master. Therefore, I usually try to go on with my works trough the official way, even if it meant that the pieces never materialise - in that case I just take it as a learning experince on how the society works in this respect. This time time was just too short for this, as I didn't know that the permits were not arranged for us beforehand. The other thing is, that I'm growing keen on my cityscope, and wouldn't actually want to loose it anymore, at least not in a way that the city parks department would collect it away as trash. As a public piece I can't help it if it gets vandalised, but I'd hope it would stay in its place over the weekend. I have to sleep on this - perhaps I try and ask for a permission truly on the last minute, tomorrow morning.

It'll be interesting to see tomorrow what the others have come up with. Designing the work by blogging was an interesting experience enough, but I think I'll continue this process face-to-face from now on, with hopefully nothing but good to say about the likely very different approaches by people on this theme:)

tiistai 25. marraskuuta 2008

studying the site

Today I measured the height of the bridge. The height is now marked on the rope that I used lower my digicam down to record sightings from the 'underground'. I put the camera on REC and gently lowered it down. The view was interesting enough, with the bridge pylons, huge beds of round stones and half-frozen water - a totally different world to that above the bridge. I could see no-one camping there though, which is of course great. I might have to lower my expectations on finding a new human layer here however.

Later I learn that the school has no material to sell - I will likely have to go with whatever I can find from the Recycling centre tomorrow. As we can only work until 4PM, I'll have do all my work there on Thursday.

and off we go..

With very little introduction to the theme of the workshop, I decide to further with the idea I already had when writing down my preliminary thoughts about urban acupuncture – opening views to unseen layers of the city. Time is short and with no real limitations and no material to begin with I see it important to start realising the actual piece as soon as possible. It will be a periscope, attached to a side of a walking bridge close to the area envisioned by Marco.

The location is one crossed by hundreds of walkers and joggers daily, with all the train traffic to and from Helsinki flowing next to it. It is also one of the sites where I’ve heard homeless people would be sleeping in the open, under the bridges. Two flows, one in an upward movement, the other one at a complete standstill. Two layers, invisible to one another. I hope that my periscope would stop the rush on the upper layer for a moment and offer a new viewpoint to the city, and hopefully bring these two layers closer to one another, towards a better balance. A big hope I know, but hopefully this would be a stimulation that in the long run would have that effect.

I actually find the concept of urban acupuncture a very nice metaphor. Sadly only a couple of the texts and works done on the theme by C-lab were presented in the opening lecture however, not to mention any other background material. Because of the other constrains of the workshop I have limited time to do any research myself, so I will leave further elaborations of the ideology behind the work for later and partly for chance, depending on how my presumptions on the location and on the issues I want to address happen to meet reality (partly they will be left to be discovered by the viewer later on). I just hope I will have my acupuncture-periscope ready in time. If all else fails, I decide to throw a rope-ladder over the rail of the railway bridge to give people a way to go and see the other layers of the city by themselves.

The fact that we have no material possesses the first obstacle. I was thinking of using slightly rusted steel to give an impression that my piece had always been in its place and that it was left there by accident. However, with the soon 30 cm of snow we had in two days, it is virtually impossible to find anything useful lying around or dumped on a trash skip. I tried checking the Recycling centre, but to everybody’s surprise the market value for rusty metal is too low for them to stock it (it is a small surprise actually, as it is quite widely used for decorative purposes these days). A demolishing business near by had all I need, but for some reason they refused to sell me any.. If I can’t think of anything else by Wednesday afternoon I will have to go for the shiny round ventilation tube that Recycling centre had a couple of meters in stock. I could do the piece out of wood, but as it started to look like there’s little to learn in terms of practicalities in making public art, I decided to take this mainly as a possibility to find out how I can use the school premises, and the metal workshop is on the top of my list.

sunnuntai 23. marraskuuta 2008

I have never tried acupuncture before. I actually know very little about it. For all  I know, acupuncture deals with the nerve endings or energy nodes of the body, stimulating them in the right proportion in the right places to reach the desired effect. It's aim is to aid the energy flow between different parts of the body, stimulating flow in one place and limiting it in the others, where an excess flow threatens the balance of the body. It's all about balance, helping the body to reach a natural state where the flows of energy are constant, but on  a level that does not put an excess stress on our systems. This sounds great to me, but will it hurt? And how long does it take to reach the balance? How many needles need to be inserted? Does it actually make a difference? Wouldn't it be easier just to take the pill?

A city can and indeed has many times been refered to as an organism, with energy flows of it own. Looking at our surroundings, it is easy to see that these are seldom in perfect balance. The individual cells of the city organism see things from different perspective of course, but common concerns can be found, too, that are in a need of a treatment. Equally obvious is that our pills haven't worked too well. But what could the treatment be then? How could one give acupuncture to an organism the size of a city?

Perhaps one way of looking at this might be starting from the description of acupuncture given above. It is about stimulating nerve endings, springs for little streams out of which rivers may form. In a city these could be individuals, events, locations, activities - anything where energy is being voluntarily guided towards some sort of activity that could be seen leading to fix the balance, if only a little. Therefore, by aiding these activities in some way their flow could be enhanced and a change ignited.

Second, the idea of penetrating through the skin of the city could be used. If taken literally, skin could be the outer layer of the city's structures that block us from seeing what things are made of. Under the stone walls, tons and tons of different material lie hidden, possibly inhibiting natural flows and suffocating the buildings and the people occupying them. By seeing what we have enclosed ourselves with, we could perhaps start the process of questioning the solutions in use today and try to aim for a better balance between our needs and our choises.

If taken further, this could mean penetrating through the structures altogether, to see what kind of possibilities locations shielded from the public eye could hold. The city is never completely open to all, not even on the eye-level. Courtyards, construction sites, sewers, storages, all kinds of places could be within our reach just by drilling a hole in a wall. What kind of inventions and new uses could these little holes ignite, if drilled into some well-chosen locations within the city? Could they start processes that would lead into energy flows in places never thought of or forgotten? Would they eventually guide the energy flows of the city towards a balance, or just enhance the flows already too strong?

The role of the artist here to me is to help people to locate the nerve endings and to be stimulated by the new openings into issues. In the spririt of acupuncture I would never see the artist as a doctor solely trying to heal the patient, but as a helper in setting the energy already present in motion. By pointing out imbalances within the organism we are all part of and showing ways to counterbalance these te artist can only go so far in the healing process as the patient itself is willing to go, despite the passing pain and possible side-effects.