Networked_Performance

Live Stage: Ephemeral City [ca Montréal]

Ephemeral City: Speakers: Kora Van den Bulcke and Thomas Soetens (Workspace Unlimited), Jason Crow, M.Arch Ph.D. candidate, Department of Architecture, McGill University; Direction: Chris Salter :: December 3, 2009; 6:00 – 8:00 pm :: CCA/Centre Canadien d’Architecture, Maison Shaughnessy. 1920, rue Baile, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

What can games and gaming experience reveal about the city? How does play in public spaces differ from solitary play. What new aesthetic social practices might arise as a result of the mixing between the physical urban space and the digital realm. This forum will feature research and artistic projects that take gaming beyond the single computer screen and into the urban realm, both real and imaginary.

IRHA (L’Institut de recherche en histoire de l’architecture ) is a non-profit research network comprised of the CCA, McGill University, University of Montréal, and Concordia University to investigate issues related to the history and theory of architecture, design and urban practices. For the year 2009-2010, IRHA will focus on the theme of the Ephemeral City – how contemporary urban space is increasingly shaped by new dynamic and temporary forces from economics to design and new technologies.

The modernist city that was formerly dictated and constructed chiefly by architecture and planning models is increasingly being confronted daily by temporal forces: the dynamics of unstable financial markets and fluctuating economic patterns of consumption and leisure, the rise of ecological processes and practices, the transformation of public space by the methods of branding, interaction and multi-sensory design and last, but certainly not least, the dissemination of new ubiquitous technologies of surveillance and monitoring that are rapidly revising our concepts of urban construction, fabrication, orientation and experience.

The Ephemeral City thus aims to grapple with issues in the urban context of Montréal related to temporal, performative phenomena that go beyond programs, plans, models and other static representations of the urban environment. Research proposed will focus on broader concepts such as performativity in urban space, the role of transience, liminality and improvisation in the city and its citizenry, the different interpolations of ecology and sustainability, urban experience economies generated by marketing in collaboration with design practices perception and sensation/sentience that goes beyond visual perception and co-structuration between inhabitants and the urban environment as a result of new technologies.

In the 1960s, radical individual architects and collectives like Superstudio, Haus-Ruckert-Co, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Archigram, Archizoom, the Smithsons, Reyner Banham, Hans Hollein, the Metabolists and Constant Nieuwenhuys, to name but a few, already began to employ ephemeral techniques to alter urban conceptions of urban space. Temporary actions, demonstrations, performances and interventions were designed to shift the political-social relations between what Michel de Certeau described as the bureaucratic, “strategic” structures of the city and its “tactical” inhabitants. While these architects and designers turned toward the ephemeral to challenge the very essence of architecture as a form of knowledge made possible through the concrete act of building itself, this embracing of temporal processes took place in the general context of societal upheaval of the 1960s, particularly in Europe and North America.

Now marked by the same atmosphere of societal metamorphosis, the urban spaces of the twenty-first century are distinguished from their 1960s counterparts by new kinds of intertwined, time-based phenomena that increasingly destabilize and constitute complex relationships among the economic, cultural, social and technical. The awareness of ecological crisis and the urban citizens’ role in its containment, the transformation of urban spaces by marketing and design and the shift towards what Mirko Zardini described as “a rediscovery of phenomenology, experience, the body, perception and the senses” that goes “beyond the realm of the visual” (Zardini 2006), all demand new concepts and frames of analyses for architectural theory, history and practice. Actions, interactions, participations and adaptive processes now characterize the conditions of urban space. Architect and University of Calgary professor Branko Kolarevic describes performative architecture as that which can “respond to changing social, cultural and technological conditions” and in which “culture, technology and space form a complex active web of connections, a network of interrelated constructs that affect each other simultaneously and continually” (Kolarevic 2007).

As a discipline assumed historically to be constituted by permanence, architecture is increasingly being challenged to envision built space in “indeterminate ways, in contrast to the fixity of predetermined, programmed actions, events and effects” and through forms in which technical and social behaviors dynamically emerge through how its inhabitants or participants’ temporally use and transform the urban realm. Indeed, with the everyday as a performative platform and the quality of urban ways of living hanging in the balance, it is clear that the problematic of the contemporary urban built environment can no longer be confronted through isolated disciplines alone. The Ephemeral City thus aims to bring artists, designers, architects, planners, anthropologists, sociologists economists, cultural theorists and other thinkers from the Montréal academic and cultural communities together to think through the hybrid ecological, economic, cultural and social “imbroglios” that are historically and conceptually marking and making the city in the twenty-first century. — Chris Salter


Dec 3, 09:01
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