REPORT |Projects: Fieldworking and Long Time, No See?

Posted on 16/10/2014

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This week I completed, to full draft, the Fieldworking project, which was funded by the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council. Fieldworking was intended as a year-long art writing project that would topologically and topographically examine public art and cultural space. In a general sense, this is what I am referring to by the idea of ‘field’. The intention was to focus on relational and connective spatial processes and practices. Due to a range of personal, health and family issues, the project took significantly longer than a year to complete.

In designing the approach for the project, I sought to write topologically, linking the writing and walking process through a process of field work. This involves several elements: undertaking walks in various localities, taking panoramic photographs at points along the way, and integrating ‘writing as research’ which required writing in a reflexive and careful way in the experience. The project weaves through the writings of Tim Ingold, Francesco Careri, Yann Calberac and other theorists to explore the flows of walking, space and topology.

Fieldworking is comprised of two major essays. The first is an exploration of a walking trail along a waterway in suburban Brisbane and the second is an exploration of SCAPE7 Public Art Biennial Christchurch in the post earthquake context.  I hope you will read them online. I welcome feedback, so please be in touch if you feel inclined.

A side project – I spy … scenes from micro-suburbia – also emerged from Fieldworking, co-produced with JM John Armstrong. In the process of walking around the suburb, I become much more aware of the social interactions and processes that shape the place. This publication captures scenes from my locality which show some of the nuances and subtleties of suburban environments. While there has been a blossoming of engagement with DIY and tactical urbanism, it tends to overlook the complexity and difficulty of suburban contexts. It also tends to overlook the activity that is already part of the suburban environment. This project endeavours to present personal accounts and narratives as a counter to the sometimes anti-suburban tone of current design, planning and academic discourse. It presents small scale encounters that indicate the suburbs operate at multiple scales and offer a diverse palette of engagements and actions.

I was fortunate enough to be working on another major collaborative project concurrently and both walks relate to the Long Time, No See? project in which participants are guided on a walk using an app (also available as a Field Book) that sets out nine stopping points at which participants contribute text, image and/or sound to an online interactive work that reveals ‘care’ as a relational and territorialising intensity. Each completed walk is remapped, through mobile GPS, to create a visual representation of the territory that has been walked. Once posted online, keywords (or tags) link the walks to each other revealing a networked cartography of experience, place and thought. This is set against a backdrop of image and audio that is generated by massive environmental and demographic datasets. The poetics of the work are based on cartographic and meteorological metaphors that endeavour to reveal contours, wayfaring and patterns. A recent article about Long Time, No See? was published in eARTh eMag at http://issuu.com/earth-emag/docs/earth5_final … See p. 43 ff.

Long Time, No See? is developed by an interdisciplinary team of artists, urban practitioners, designers and web developers. Because Long Time, No See? is a multi-platform work, a framework and an artwork, we have been able to work with it in quite innovative and experimental ways, encouraging others to use it as a starting point in their own explorations. My walk in Christchurch for Fieldworking uses the Long Time, No See? Field Book. More recently, Canberra based media artist Tracey Benson is developing an augmented reality intervention to the project.

“I was very interested in the concepts that frame LTNS – the poetics of place, the walker and participant as story teller, our potential to shape our experiences and to be more mindful” Tracey said.  More information about Tracey and her work with Long Time, No See? is online at http://community.long-time-no-see.org/?p=794

More information about the Long Time, No See? Project is online at http://community.long-time-no-see.org/ – please follow the links to download the app, take a walk, organise a community dialogue, contribute …

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