MediaArchitecture project: soliloquy - Ongoing project

2021 summer

Bauhaus University - Weimar

project theme: interface alternatives for re-connecting public in

                     the context of pandemic

advisors: Vertr.-Prof. Jason Reizner

WHAT CONNECTS US IN PUBLIC SPACE?

common feelings? need for connection? need for visibility? trust? What will convince us to go out of this ‘virtual cave’ that we’ve been in captivity? The projects focus is on researching / creating ways of gathering and connecting through the public sphere.

HOW CAN WE BE HEARD?

The question is: Can we create A collective voice that is alive? -that can grow with participation, that can exist in Current instead of being recorded? An interface is designed to record the voices of users and then involve that individual voices into the voice of the crowd, a real-time composition. Can we visualize the words in the voices, and represent them according to their frequency of use.

HOW CAN WE BE SEEN?

We’ve been ‘def spectator’ long enough, current use of social media prooved that there is a need for Visibility. Art /culture scene has been hosting gatherings. Via Hybrid staging, the project aims to recreate ‘party culture’ both virtually and physically.

 

PHYSICALLY?

I would like to emphasize here the word ‘madness’ which can be seen as a reference to the social situation that the public is going through during the times of pandemic. But It also recalls the public’s reactive manner in the aftermath of similar experiences; like social crises, climate crises, natural disasters, wars, epidemics…

             “an intense emotional response to a perceived provocation,                 hurt or threat” [4]

 

I prefer to approach the pandemic as one of the greatest traumatic experiences the world is going through. That is why I draw an analogy between the psychology of today’s madness that we are experiencing and the madness of similar traumatic experiences. However, I also search for ways to break the seriousness of the topic by adding the element of ‘fun’, and turn it into ‘collective fun’, which can also be seen as a coping mechanism in post-traumatic situations. In this way, what my work may do or how it may function leads me to the term of ‘Relational art’, “a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.” [5], as it was described by French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud.

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“…the premise of relational art: the desire to create new forms of relationship in museums and galleries, as well as to produce modifications in the urban environment to bring about a change in the way it is perceived. In this vein, we might recall a recent attempt to identify the production of artistic artifacts and the manifestations of new forms of social relationships - namely Lucy Orta’s transformable objects. Created as part of a collective dwelling project, these objects can be used as a ‘home’, and as a form of a ‘collective link’ that work to forge ‘lasting connections between groups and individuals’.” [6] Photo: Lucy Orta: Nexus Architecture (2002)

RE-START PUBLIC SPHERE N/HOW - the emergence of rethinking the public sphere

What happens to a world that is hit by an invisible agent?

- An agent which must connect to other life forms to be alive

 

SARS-CoV-2, a virus, commonly known as ‘coronavirus’ is not only the 2020’s most searched word on Google but also an invisible entity that was able to shake our lives up. The drastic changes it has created and is still creating will long be perceived both physically and psychologically. Pandemic measures regarding ‘isolation’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘physical distancing’ both in the private and public space are now defining the spatial organizations of our lives, thus, how we are connecting to each other.

 

How do we connect?

It is one of the questions I am trying to reflect upon through this project, both in its research phase and its prototyping phase. “In humans, one of the most social species, social connection is essential to nearly every aspect of health and well-being. Lack of connection, or loneliness, has been linked to inflammation, accelerated aging and cardiovascular health risk, suicide, and all-cause mortality.” [1]

Social connection has been recognized as one of the fundamental needs of social animals. Such need for connection to others is one of the reasons why a great deal of our effort is spent on the subject of ‘connecting’, ‘staying tuned’, ‘getting online’… We want to connect to each other almost as if we have to prove we’re alive. Or do we have to connect to be alive?

 

             “Connection is the energy that exists between people when                 they feel seen, heard and valued…”[2]

 

‘Being seen, being heard’ these feelings are essential to our existence, and only after those we can be valued. Only after we express ourselves and our expression is transmitted to a receiver, we complete the cycle of communication and finally one can feel being perceived. How else can we prove to be real? that we exist? Or Can we prove it at all, can we confidently say that we are real?

 

How we are connecting, how connected we are, in public space?

 

The links between entities in public space seem to be more subtle, more defined, limited and temporary in comparison to private ones. There is a certain way that we were taught to ‘act’ in public space. There is a certain set of movement vocabulary from which we can choose to use, but carefully. Since we were taught to ‘behave’, when someone acts outside of that certain set of movements, is very likely to be shamed, humiliated, or ostracised.

That’s what mostly happens when ‘one’ person is acting such. But what if a group of people acts out of the ordinary or beyond the conventional, collectively? Then it is less like to be that the person alone, would feel excluded from society, especially when there is one to blame: ‘Art’. In the name of art, whatever you do will be more likely to gain acceptance by the public. The collective action, so to say, the collective madness will turn into collective fun that can grow and be shared with the participation of the public. This way, art would be brought out of the museums and galleries, beyond its conventional limits, and put in the role of catalysts, in order to bring people out, and out of their ordinary limitations. The aim of the artwork, and in this case, of this project, eventually is to blend in the ‘real life’ by creating ‘its own reality’ which is interwoven with ‘recreated reality’.

“Although we no longer share early twentieth-century dreams of collective rhythmics or of Futurists and Constructivist symphonies of the new mechanical world, we continue to believe that art has to leave the art world to be effective in ‘real life’: we continue to try to overturn the logic of the theater by making the spectator active, by turning the art exhibition into a place of political activism or by sending artists into the streets of derelict suburbs to invent new models of social relations.” [3]

 

REFERENCES

1. Social connection. (2021, June 24). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_connection

2. Brown, Brené (2010). The gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Hazeldon.

 

3. Rancière Jacques, & Corcoran, S. (2016). Dissensus on politics and aesthetics. Bloomsbury Academic. p.137

 

4. madness. (2020, December 30). In wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madness

 

5. Bourriaud, Nicolas, Relational Aesthetics p.113

 

6. Rancière Jacques, & Corcoran, S. (2016). Dissensus on politics and aesthetics. Bloomsbury Academic. p.146, p.147

 

7. Allegory of the cave. (2021, July 21). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_cave

 

8. Cvejić Bojana, & Vujanović Ana. (2015). Public sphere by performance. B_books.

9. Berger, J. (1972). Ways of seeing. BBC and Penguin. p.129

10. Editor. (2020, May 19). Salgın Kayıtları II: Rahmi Öğdül. Post Dergi. http://postdergi.com/salgin-kayitlari-ii-rahmi-ogdul/ (Translation: Belcim Yavuz)

 

11. Grosz, E. (1999). Bodies-cities. In Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader Taylor & Francis. Retrieved from 12. Sadler, S. (1998). Situationist city (Sadler). MIT Press.

Using TouchDesigner, the project aims to create a collective sound that interacts with the virtual bodies of participants.

3 Questions:

1. How was your experience with Isolation-social distance? How did you feel in the time of strict measurements?

2. How do you think feels like getting back to ‘Normal’ or to new Normal?

3.Do you think this experience changed our habits in public space completely?

Since the starting point of my project was to investigate the common feelings of people that are going through the same experience together, but also separately, and to make connections in between these individual realities, my work stands on a concept that is inseparable from the social and psychological context of the public. Even though all the people are living a similar reality, we all have been living this reality individually, in times of isolation and quarantine. I am aware that reality is appearing in different forms in every part of the world but also in a very connected way which is something that this pandemic has proved. A virus revealed (or reminded) in a way, the quality and the quantity of the connections that the world, nature and the people have, which were not perceived that obviously or perceived differently, or ignored before.

 

Witnessing how connected we are, how one single event happening in one part of the world can become our own reality in a short time, proves that this connection which was praised in the name of globalization or technological advancements before, can also make us very vulnerable. We are more vulnerable than we were told! The ‘connection’ here does not necessarily refer to the emotional connection between people around the world, but rather the economical ones between states. The first type of connection, the connection of collective emotions, is rather the one which was ignored or in some parts of the world was even banned.

The expression of the collective mind and the demonstration in public space were banned by some autocratic states during the pandemic by using the excuse of a pandemic: in forms of censorship, forbidding the right to demonstrate against the violation of human rights, racism, social inequalities… and It is the one that I am trying to investigate and to work with. What I am questioning here is ‘Can we reveal those invisible, or in a way, damaged connections between people and make them more visible? and ‘Can we try to make new links to strengthen the almost disappeared bounds?’ In this way, ‘Can we become less vulnerable and enhance the collective action and reaction the in public sphere?’

... Who, oh wretched one, shall dare it? He who can no longer bear it. Counts the blows that arm his spirit. Taught the time by need and sorrow, Strikes today and not tomorrow. Everything or nothing. All of us or none. One alone his lot can’t better. Either gun or fetter. Everything or nothing. All of us or none. Bertolt Brecht

Reflections, shadows, mirrors, screens…

The current pandemic measurements all around the world brought along isolation which implied being at home, working at home office, studying online, socializing online… All these tasks required being in front of a screen, or screens all day long no matter if you are working, having a break, or socializing. So many workspaces were transformed into virtual spaces, people started to chat with their colleagues in online rooms, students were taught in so-called classrooms in the virtual world… all these new ‘spaces’ are not actual spaces but only digital representations of the actual ones, of the ‘reality’. Yet, they constitute a ‘new reality’. This shift in our reality must have surely affected the way we perceived the world. The world that we’ve been perceived through our senses is now boiled down to mere reflections, so to say shadows just like in Plato’s Cave.

“In the allegory, Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality, but are not accurate representations of the real world.” [7]

Other humanly senses like smell and touch are suppressed by ‘the supreme eye’. How do we know that there is a ‘public’ out there while looking at the shadows on the wall of the cave, or in our case ‘reflections of reality on our 2D screens. Is public real?

 

Or is public phantom?

 

“According to Dewey, public isn’t a phantom; It is in eclipse, “lost”, “bewildered,” “uncertain and obscure”, and “remote from government.” Its main characteristic is “indifference”: Indifference is the evidence of current apathy, and apathy is testimony to the fact that the public is so bewildered that it can not find itself... What is the public?” [8]

 

What this new way of perception -our new reality- brought us is more images: visuals from thousands of different sources, vivid colors, catchy phrases, little texts...these are what we have to look at, what is supplied to us -consumers of the different interfaces that we can not live without. The limitations of the interfaces are becoming our own limitations, they dominate the way we perceive the world.

“In the cities in which we live, all of us see hundreds of publicity images every day of our lives. No other kind of image confronts us so frequently. in no other form of society in history has there been such a concentration of images, such a density of visual messages. One may remember or forget these messages but briefly one takes them in, and for a moment they stimulate the imagination by way of either memory or expectation. The publicity image belongs to the moment.” [9]

Phantom bodies, concrete shadows…

 

“Social distance applies to the bodily existence.
In the pandemic environment, those who feel
their body as a burden, are freed from their
burdens, as they become bodiless in the garden of internet. The Garden of internet is the
place of disembodied existence, just like the
Garden of Eden. I am afraid of getting used to
it.” [10]

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