UCL Cities Methodologies 2012

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hello everyone,

I saw this call for participants (pasted below) on an email list and thought it might be interesting for some of us – I initally thought I would submit some work but they want you to propose an event as well…….

I’m forwarding UCL Urban Lab’s call for participants for their annual Cities Methodologies themed showcase – not just for contributors from UCL but for ‘the wider community of urban researchers from any discipline’.

It’s usually quite an eye-catching mini festival. They are asking for proposals for exhibits and events which engage with the topic and which could range ‘from archival studies to statistical analyses, practice-led art and design work, oral history, writing, walking, film-making and photography’.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/urbanlab/en2/index.php?page=1.3.0&getlistarticle=152&listrange=current

They mention one of the themes as ‘housing and dehousing‘ and while I don’t know what dehousing means, I guess at things like eviction, exclusion from housing, deprivation of rights to housing, lack of control over housing or the home environment perhaps (which I suppose could include things like noise nuisance and conflict, deprivation of peace in the home, which would also include violence in the home, but that might be getting further away from their point).  This prompted me to recall my sketchy seriesHome that some of you might remember I presented about ages ago.  (Note for the avoidance of confusion my name was Claire Haslam then and so is still on the blog as that – I am the same person!)  Part of the point of that project was overlaying the text of a Neil Kinnock speech onto images of my then home as a way of trying out how to add text to an image, but also how to add text (or meaning itself) to a place.
Which connects to the canary wharf walk that Alex, Christian and I did, where I put some of Alex’s text onto combinations of my pictures.  This was again a way of trying to bring out some richer sort of meaning than the pictures alone would do.  When wriitng it as a post for the Crossing Lines blog I wanted to add epigraphs as another layer of added meaning and reference to other imagined places, something I do often, eg:
Like English life as a whole, nothing in Brooklands could be taken at face value.

JG Ballard, Kingdom Come

There still is life, however.  Birds chirp; sparrows, they must be.  Their small voices are clear and sharp, nails on glass: there’s no longer any sound of traffic to drown them out.

Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

Connecting these is now making me wonder about the possibility of organising a walking event along so-called High Street 2012, or Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road, Bow Road and Stratford High Street, as the ‘locals’ know them.  I’d like to propose a way of choosing particular locations along this 4-5 mile stretch of road and holding a walk with stopping points at which a group of participants would gather and read out some texts that relate in some way to the significance of that site, changes it has undergone, histories of that place that are uncelebrated, or I’m also thinking of things like Ballard or extracts from novels or oral histories or plays or political speeches that would bring out something about the place that counters the hegemonic triumphalist narrative of High Street 2012.  I despise the politics of this project which repeats yet again (or reinscribes, in the jargon) the diminishment and non-importance of the local people who live in extreme poverty and social exclusion just steps away from the ‘high street’, as well as living alongside well off folk like me, and who also always get excluded from middle-class arty projects like this one, so I would have to find a way of working on that angle too.
Kinder Low, on the Pennine Way, by Claire Reddleman

Kinder Low, on the Pennine Way, by Claire Reddleman

I’m also thinking about the Pennine Way which is a 270-mile long-distance walking path going north (or south) from the Peak District to the Scottish Borders.  I’m thinking about this because that’s where I’ll be while the Olympics are happening, partly in order to avoid seeing the military in the city which I am so horrified by that my only response is to leave while it’s happening. I’m thinking about using text of the Pennine Way guide as a structuring theme for the Hight Street 2012 walk, perhaps reading a small section at each stopping point before hearing other readings.  This relates to the Situationist International using maps of another city to navigate the city they’re actually in (or was that Andre Breton? Can’t find it online). So the idea is not new in that sense, but I think the doing of it might set up an interesting alternate experience of the street.
So, please do have a look at the link and let me know if this interests you at all (even just to take part rather than be involved in making a proposal).  I am disregarding their thing about urban research methods being ‘innovative’ because I think it’s ridiculous – going for a walk and having a think about stuff with other people does not have to be innovative to be worth doing.  Don’t believe the hype and all that (but we all fall into using it sometimes!)
Sorry I can’t be at the next meet-up so maybe we can discuss over email if you’re interested.
All the best
Claire

Deadline 1st May…

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