When I first proposed the Placing Project, I had asked the Alice Angus and Giles Lane of Proboscis if I could explore their Diffusion Generator as a publishing platform. They generously agreed and my intention is to produce a series of pamphletts as the project develops.
In the meantime, Proboscis has kindly invited me to contribute to their Diffusion Series titled Transformations. The task is to respond to two questions from different perspectives, why are we who we are? and what do we want to become? “As we get into the swing of the 21st century our notions of identity, personal and societal, are subject to new arrays of emerging pressures and responsibilities. Our aspirations for change and growth are being re-throught as we grapply with the growing awareness of environmental changes which may already be beyond our control. How have we reached this point? Where do we go from here?”
Transformations seeks to address these fluid notions of identity and aspiration by commissioning works that subtly relfect on individual identities, urban identity and pharmaceutical, biological and technological interventions. Over the next few years, Proboscis will be inviting selected contributors to add their voices into this mix – through essays and artists books (eBooks) as well as in three dimensions (StoryCubes).
Through my contribution to the Transformations series, I hope to undertake a series of negotiations about identity, narrative and place. These negotiations, like Umberto Eco’s Walks in the Fictional Woods, will explore a particular incident concerned with the questions “why are we who we are?” and “what do we want to become?”. Negotiation is a vital idea in that identity emerges from dialogue with others – the ‘we’ of the question refers to a collective and a relationship between the individual and the group, between the individual and culture. Thus, my texts and storycubes – I will aim to produce three of each – will negotiate the space of that relationship as a a cultural relationship and as a space for transformation.
These works will be contextualised by outer suburban life. I moved to the outer suburbs some years ago and have been perplexed by this ‘way of life’, endeavouring to realise alternatives and seeking out spaces for conversation. In Sprawltown: Looking for the city on its edges, Richard Ingersoll evokes synoikismos, as an ancient process of city-making through agreeing to live together in dialogue. In synoikismos, Ingersoll presents a poetic possibility – “to accept one’s responsibility toward others, to take care of the environment, to participate in dialogues that define and resolve collective problems is to negotiate ways of finding freedom, even within the confines of consumerism. The polis was a city based on dialogue. Sprawl is conducive to escapist monologues.” In particular, I am interested in how change has been or is being negotiated in this environment.