Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Finding Place

First, a little background.

For of my proposal to Collective for the Critical Discourse Internship I appropriated the term 'non-place' from French anthropologist Marc Augé's book Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity as a way of describing the notion of being 'in-transit' from one 'place' to another. In Collective's case this was a reflection on their planned moved from their Cockburn Street gallery to the City Observatory on Calton Hill. I was drawn to the Augé's writing during my MFA when exploring the temporality of the Modern Movement (in physical architectural terms) and anthropological place expanded out on and indeed became an articulation of architecture's ability to service as a tangible gesture of a particular political/ social ideology. At the time of writing it seemed the most direct means of putting across this train of thought.

The places [anthropological place] have at least three characteristics in common. They want to be – people want them to be – places of identity, of relations and of history. (Augé, 1995, 51)

As anthropological place on the one hand feels very defined it also offers an armchair-anthropologist-come-artist like myself a level of ambiguity, allowing for appropriation. In an act of validation or qualification anthropological place can be regarded as being anchored by architecture. Physical structure can be employed as metaphor/ monument/ icon of the aforementioned identity, relations and history. It was the monument's of Cockburn Street (in relation to Collectives' identity, relations and history) and Calton Hill (in relation to Collectives' aspirational identity, relations and history) that led to the appropriation of place and non-place in describing my interests. The use of non-place was employed as a means of stripping identity, relations and history from those taking part in NWSP and specifically referring to Collective (as the name given/ appropriated as anthropological place) being in-transit not just between two physical and geographical locations but also metaphysically in-transit. This, on reflection, seems somewhat naive interpretation of Augé's work and requires some more research and scrunity.

It might therefore be more apt to consider this period of research during my internship as one of finding place anchored by Calton Hill as a monument to this new place - as yet to be defined. The focus may not be one of a found place, but the accumulation of thought and physical material (notes etc.) in finding this [undefined] place. The ongoing act of finding may in fact become the 'output'. 

I'll update as the search continues.

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