Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Unavoidably Dark Practices

to be done between 16. - 22.11.

Spatial urban practices are about our usage of urban space that consume and use, also possibly abuse the codified urban space in some ways. And that manages to produce the space, to change it - not necessarily changing its physical elements, but creating routes and workarounds.

The assignment can be done in groups. If you cannot find a group, you can also do this by yourselves.

1. Choose an urban spatial practice somehow linked to darkness. You can think of things you do yourself, practices you know - or you can also first choose a location and then go there and observe and identify a practice going on in the space.

2. Go to a chosen urban space and do sc. participant observation: observation by being present in the space. Possibly trying out the practice yourself.

3. Think how you will document your observations. Consider using drawings as an option, or written notes. Of course it is also possible to take photos or videos. Drawings, notes, photos, videos do not need to look good or artistic, they should just help you document and map the practice.

4. I’m using here the term “mapping the practice” - you could take this kind of literally: putting the practice on a map. What kind of map? How to put it there? Where it happens? How it changes the space? What kind of route it makes? Etc.

5. You could also think of the metaphors dealing with language: what is the practice saying? Can you think of some linguistic term to use for it - is it poetry? A question mark or an exclamation mark? Silence?

6. When thinking about reporting the practice you of course simply describe what it is. In addition think of how it affects the space, how does it make use/abuse of the space?

Unavoidably Dark Dérive

to be done between 9. - 15.11

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

Text contains excerpts from Debord's The Theory of Dérive

1. One can dérive alone, but all indications are that the most fruitful numerical arrangement consists of several small groups of two or three people who have reached the same level of awareness, since cross-checking these different groups’ impressions makes it possible to arrive at more objective conclusions.: Dérive is a group assignment:

2. a dérive rarely occurs in its pure form: it is difficult for the participants to avoid setting aside an hour or two at the beginning or end of the day for taking care of banal tasks; and toward the end of the day fatigue tends to encourage such an abandonment. But more importantly, a dérive often takes place within a deliberately limited period of a few hours, or even fortuitously during fairly brief moments; or it may last for several days without interruption.

3. But storms or other types of precipitation are rather favorable for derives: dérive into darkness, to study the appearance and significance of darkness

4. The spatial field of a dérive may be precisely delimited or vague, depending on whether the goal is to study a terrain or to emotionally disorient oneself.

5. In every case the spatial field depends first of all on the point of departure — the residence of the solo dériver or the meeting place selected by a group. The maximum area of this spatial field does not extend beyond the entirety of a large city and its suburbs. At its minimum it can be limited to a small self-contained ambiance: a single neighborhood or even a single block of houses if it’s interesting enough (the extreme case being a static-dérive of an entire day within the Saint-Lazare train station).1. The exploration of a fixed spatial field entails establishing bases and calculating directions of penetration. It is here that the study of maps comes in — ordinary ones as well as ecological and psychogeographical ones — along with their correction and improvement. It should go without saying that we are not at all interested in any mere exoticism that may arise from the fact that one is exploring a neighborhood for the first time. Besides its unimportance, this aspect of the problem is completely subjective and soon fades away. 

6. Our loose lifestyle and even certain amusements considered dubious that have always been enjoyed among our entourage — slipping by night into houses undergoing demolition, hitchhiking nonstop and without destination through Paris during a transportation strike in the name of adding to the confusion, wandering in subterranean catacombs forbidden to the public, etc. — are expressions of a more general sensibility which is no different from that of the dérive. Written descriptions can be no more than passwords to this great game.: Give a thought to documentation, and the form of presentation. Maps? Passwords?

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Course Schedule

Unavoidable Darkness looks at the cultural and material codes of our environment
that condition our ways of living and acting, focusing on the significance of
darkness. We will study the actual conditions of living in Helsinki in the
darkest time of the year. This framing includes several possible aspects: the
physical facts of the human body and our surroundings that condition our life
during those weeks, as well as the cultural arrangements that exists due the
short days and long nights. What does the darkness mean for us, who live here
and share the situation?

Students are introduced to the concepts of urban dérive, spatial
practices producing urban space and artistic urban intervention, and apply each
concept through practical assignments.

8.11. Introduction to the course, its schedule and its methods. Few words on kaamos and darkness in Finnish culture. A Dark Group Assignment.
9.11. Lecture on the International Situationists and the concept of Derive.
15.11. Derive assignment, presentations and discussions.
16.11. Lecture on everyday practices.
22.11. Practices assignment, presentations and discussions
23.11. Guest lecture on the psychological significance of darkness and light by Timo Partonen

29.11. - 2.12 and 7. - 9.12 intensive workshop on artistic works on the topic of unavoidable darkness.