This project has been made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Council of Brown University.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bodies, movements, place

I want to follow up my last comment in the previous post with another quote from Bloomer and Moore:
The interplay between the world of our bodies and the world of our dwelling places is always in flux. We make places that are an expression of our haptic experiences even as these experiences are generated by the places we have already created. Whether we are conscious or innocent of this process, our bodies and our movements are in constant dialogue with our buildings. (1977, 57)
In the large body of scholarship on place and space theory there is an interest in the way that the movements of bodies through spaces change and create places. It might be helpful here to think of Yi-Fu Tuan, who once distinguished place from space by saying that place has value invested in it, since space becomes valued the moment that our own bodies are present in it.  This "dialogue", to use Bloomer and Moore's term, between bodies and buildings is exactly what I am trying to get at. Although in my work, in addition to this dialogue occurring unconsciously as people walk down a street or climb up a flight stairs, it is a dialogue consciously sought after and delved into, and intentionally created to be shared with others through performance.

Taking a step back from the performance with which this project will culminate, my actions as I undertake my research also fall into the category of place making. My body is engaged in a conscious dialogue with the Arcade as I observe, listen to, walk around and talk (to and with others) about the site. My place making today took the form of creating a video walk. I wanted to record the footage to have as part of my research materials, or personal archive of the site, but I also was aware of the implications of my place making actions. For most of the other people around me, my actions stood out as different, unusual, and I attracted more attention than I would have done if I were just walking. I singled out the area in which I was walking and recording as having more significance in that moment than it might have otherwise had for the people around me, and in doing so shifted their perceptions of that place, however briefly. In that moment, places were re-made.

In the video you will notice that there are a numer of empty drinks cans around the two porticos- some sitting upright and some tucked into the railings. These were not present the last time I went down to the Arcade. It is most definitely a lived place. 

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