Step 1: Survey the scene

 

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HOW DOES A NETWORK ACTIVATE A PUBLIC?

The public is a network. The public is an artwork.
The network is not always active.
The public is dispersed.
The public is connected.
Communities are connected.
Networks are communities.
Mapping networks makes connections.
Ideas are distributed across multiple modes.
Flows of people and goods travel on roads, cables, waterways, railways.
New vehicles are designed for old roads.
New ideas are designed for old media.
Vested interests hijack social media to distribute a commercial message.
Provocative, important, timely ideas hijack any and every distribution system to activate the new.
The network moves, responds, accommodates.
The public is activated. The public makes the public.

STEP 1: SURVEY THE SCENE

This workshop catalogues the public activation potential of the 2010 South Project’s immediate environment: the commercial space outside of the West Wing. Melbourne Central is a retail and transport hub, a highly regulated space that accommodates the movements of tens of thousands of people each day. With each individual embodying the flow of countless networks as they come and go, what opportunities exist for artistic intervention? How can a network activate a mass of individuals?

Our first step is to survey the scene.

What are your lines? What map are you in the process of making or arranging? What abstract line will you draw, and at what price, for yourself and for others?… For politics precedes being. Practice does not come after the placement of the terms and their relations, but actively participates in the drawing of the lines; it confronts the same dangers and the same variations that the placement does.
Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

With forensic care, we will set upon the entire survey area with a range of tools and perspectives. Our aim will be to observe repeated movements, and identify and record their elements, such that these elements can be understood as the activation points of a network. These are the system’s moving parts, and their distribution fabricates a public that has common interests, common tastes and moves in a common direction.

/ EXAMPLE OF ONE OBSERVED MOVEMENT
One person approaches a donut shop, buys one donut, watches donut get placed into one small bag, exchanges money, discards bag, eats donut immediately, scrambles into train station. Repeat.

/ EXAMPLE OF ONE OBSERVED MOVEMENT
One person orders a coffee. Barista creates leafy pattern with milk, sits glass delicately on plate atop branded serviette, serves. Person drinks in quick gulps, leaves serviette in plate. Repeat.

/ EXAMPLE OF ONE OBSERVED MOVEMENT
One person mounts the escalator running late for the train. Observes crowd, taps foot, does not try to sidle past people standing left and right. Breaks into a run once off the escalator. Misses train by seconds. Repeat.

We will return to the West Wing to analyse our findings as a group, determining the sets of conditions for step 2, in which co-option projects something. (Participants should note that only step 1 of the work will be attempted via this workshop.)


STEP 2: DEVELOP THE WORK

Over to you.

 

Step 1: Survey the Scene was a workshop for site-specific practitioners interested in developing new approaches to highly regulated, highly programmed spaces. It was presented as part of The South Project 2010 international gathering How can a network activate a public? and took place at West Space’s The West Wing in the Melbourne Central shopping centre. Participants were artists interested in extending their practice into the public space. Each chose a location (identifying it with a red dot), observed flows of gestures, movements and objects, analysed repeated movements, and returned to a discussion on how to hijack those flows as sites for distributed artworks.