FIELDWORKING | Epilogue

Posted on 09/10/2014

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PROLOGUE: Straight, Forward
ASPLEY, AU: Along Little Cabbage Tree Creek
CHRISTCHURCH, NZ: SCAPE 7 Public Art Biennial
EPILOGUE

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The encounters documented and described in Fieldworking tell us something about the tendencies, often invisible, that are respectively inflected in the rebuild of Christchurch and the lived experience of suburbia, something of the habitus or structured/ing structures. In my walking for Fieldworking, I have often found and referred to infrastructure and the infrastructural. Public art can have an infrastructural aspect when located in a field of relations and flows, a field that is formed by convention and practice. Sometimes, I will hazard, those relations and flows are discursive. It is where wayfaring as method can be further explored in relation to a field. Infrastructure, including the ecological, offers support and possibilities for the future and to consider artworks in this way is a shift in thinking about their role, impact and relations. My own perspective has changed from writing in the field, to writing for and/or with the field as an act of agency. Ingold believes that knowledge is carried on through wayfaring “along paths of movement” that form trails and meshwork.

For Varnelis, the contemporary city is shaped by all kinds of infrastructures which “are networked, hypercomplex systems produced by technology, laws, political pressures, disciplinary desires, environmental constraints and myriad other pressures, tied together with feedback mechanisms”. In recognising the prevalence of these networked ecologies, the city is not experienced as a terrain but as an “inextricable and impossible” network, “like balls of yarn after visitation by a litter of kittens”.The experience of Fieldworking has triggered anticipation for new kinds of public art that can yield new typologies, networks and systems of infrastructure. This does not exclusively mean the skillfully integrated public art that softens the blow of major infrastucture projects on surrounding ecosystems, landscapes, streetscapes and communities. It means the kind of artwork that can change the way we experience, use and make infrastructure as socio-technological networks that are integral to the making and working of a place or ecology. It might mean that ecological thinking and thinking ecologically are the foundations for placemaking for a shift into place ecology as fluid and emergent networks and tendencies. To work and walk with what is already there is not so much to make place but rather to work in, with and for a field. The walking has also traced a redefinition of public art as infrastructural. Is this also the work of the mobius strip or other topological object? I have entered the networked and transitional public art field of specific locales, encountered a living and immanent geography, and walked out of an infrastructural field as an emergent and enmeshed remaking or rebuilding of the urban and suburban.

The walking has also reveal something of new, intersecting and emergent infrastructure typologies and ecologies. For Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey Bowker, with reference to Gregory Bateson, infrastructure is a “relationship or an infinite regress of relationships. Never a ‘thing’.” Consequently, a dependence on context and situation is identified. Quite likely, it is insufficient to merely assert this infrastructural emergence without interrogating how these works function or perform as infrastructure or as part of grounded infrastructural ecologies in which the technological, spatial and social interconnect. Whether these infrastructures are possible, real, storied or imagined. This is the subject for further research and other writing. This project has been, on the whole, more descriptive than analytical or critical. It has taken several turns. The panoramic view and the fieldworking process, reliant on Ingold’s elucidation of meshwork, has revealed an infrastructural tendency but it is important to delve more deeply to understand interaction and story-networks circulating at many spatial and social scales. Curating plays a particular role in this process: it is not just about curating things in public space, but about lines and mesh, participation and relation. There is not so much concern for fields, but for folds, tangles and lines. This is, I believe, an underexplored aspect of infrastructuring, or of infrastructuring the world, and of curating, or curating the world. This is where other aspects of topological thinking and writing about these ‘public [art] works’ as infrastructure for-the-world can be further stretched.

–oOo–

PROLOGUE: Straight, Forward
ASPLEY, AU: Along Little Cabbage Tree Creek
CHRISTCHURCH, NZ: SCAPE 7 Public Art Biennial
EPILOGUE

–oOo–

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