R URBAN ACTIVIS
interior urban activism introduction the encounter the occupation the installation chair walk pass the parcel brunswick derive discoveries chair installation signs signs ii brunswick derive/memory interior urban activism conclusion brunswick map
the next occupation of space was not stagnent like the previous. we formed a line of the bread crates tied together with rope and dragged it around the main shopping area stopping and picking up anything we could find to fill up the crates. the sound of the crates being dragged on the ground attracted the publics attention easily then the unusual nature of the activity again led to curiosity.
interior urban activism over the semester this studio has made me aware of people in public environments and their relationships to the public space, their relationship to each other and their relationship with myself. i have conducted some experiments and tested ideas within public space which have allowed me to gain a clearer understanding of how people act and relate to one another depending on aspects such as site specifity, time and demographics. some of the experiments focus was on gaining the publics attention and trying to force engagement with myself in an activity or conversation. within the ten experiments undertaken there has been varied outcomes ranging from successful to complete failures. these results led to progesssion within the studio and a greater understanding of people in public space.
Excuse me, did you
the first action undertaken was the encounter. this envolved attemping to get the public to talk to me using any techniques i could think of. part of the experiement was also to see how open the public were to being approach on the street and how far the conversation might go. outcome: this was a very difficult task which pushed me out of my comfort zone. i came up with two techniques which worked well. the first was asking people if they dropped a small torch i had and the second was continuing to walk with the person to keep the conversation rolling the public were more open to conversation than prethought. they seemed suprised by the random conversation.
this maze is an occupation of space which forced the public to either make a choice and walk through it or walk around it. the more complecated the maze was, the less likley the public were to walk through it and opted for walking around it.
the occupation within groups we ventured off to footscray to experiment with occupying a public space by playing games to see what kind of reactions we got from the public and to see if we could get anybody involved.
in the main mall area of footscray we lined up bread crates to play hop scotch. the reaction from the public was curiosity and people generally slowed down to view what what going on . no one was willing to participate.
the installation the installation was an experiment which gained alot of interest from the public. by making numerous homeless shelters along swanston street and inhabiting them we were able to understand the impact of being without a home in a city envoronment. Image source: (filipspagnoli.files.wordpress.com/2009)
the game was successful in engaging with the public. if people were unwilling to play we could simply throw the parcel in their direction and most would feel obliged to catch it. children were the most eager to play. on a whole people didnt play the game for as long as first imagined except for two men who participated for over 20 minutes. they began to try and get other people involved themselves.
above: a homeless shelter built on swanston street. the attention the homeless shelters gained from the the public was mainly staring. they seemed unsure wether to ask if we were okay.
chair walk we experimented with a chair walk through bowen lane and onto swanston street. the public were inquisitive.
derive wandering through brunswick with no plan of where i was going was an intersting experience. having not spent alot of time in the brunswick area i discovered many things i was unaware of that existed. i drifted through back streets and found unusual items and places which evoked memories of being a child. i put together a map of my experiences and journey showing some of the more interesting places and things i discovered.
discoveries pass the parcel this experiment was in collaboration with students from vca. we had the chance to explore an idea we were interested in within the southbank area. we looked into the idea of interaction between the pulic and ourselves. through the childs game pass the parcel we believed that we would be able to convince and entice people to stop for a brief period of time and play the game. the idea of winning a small prize may have also been appealing.
Site Specific Throughout experimenting with people and their relationship with public space it has become evident that site speficity plays a role in the way the public interact. I experimented with the game pass the parcel at South Bank where the majority of pass Byers were businessmen and tourists. I established that the majority of businessmen were set on a path from A to B and had no desire to stop and engage with others. Most avoided it all at all costs. Tourists however, were more likely to engage within the game. I found this to be due to the lack of plans they had. Tourists seem to wander and take in the city and the surroundings and are more open and aware of what is happening around them, similar to the de rive from the situationists. I believe that this discovery of is one that could be explored within a few locations within the city which are inhabited by different demographics of the public. By using a strategy which encourages the public to engage I will be able to identify wether different locations will sustain the same amount of involvement from the public, or wether different spaces create diverse attitudes towards the game and how the public for take it.
Context – Installation Within public space installations are commonly unnoticed due to the current and constant existence of being there. Throughout the homeless shelter experiment I found the idea of taking an installation out of its usual environment and placing it somewhere out of context fascinating. When an installation is placed in a position which is it not commonly found in it captures the public’s attention directly. The reactions I received from building a shelter on Swanston street during the day were mostly people being curious to what I was building and why, however this was only communicated to me my looks and starring, there was no actual conversation made by anybody passing by. I believe I would receive various responses from this installation if it was in different locations such as Southbank or Toorak. Time of day is an interesting factor contributing to context. An installation or activity that may seem common during the day may be perceived completely differently at night. This is an idea I would like to explore further using strategies to reveal how space, time and context can shift the relationships and reactions of people in public space.
the signs turned out to be very successful in attracting peoples attention and then leading to conversation. the signs not only attracted attention from people walking past but from cars as well.
Engagement with the public During the time of playing the game pass the parcel I became aware of the fact that to entice the public to engage with you is a very difficult thing to do. We started off trying to pass the parcel to the public walking past. This did not work as well as we were hoping as people simply kept walking past. We needed to come up with an alternative to this which would be more successful. We decided upon throwing the parcel at people so they had no choice but to catch it. This worked extremely well as people were forced to engaged with the game. They then had to proceed to unwrap one layer of the parcel to retrieve their prize. This time period also forced communication between us. The act of giving them a prize also made people feel obliged to not leave straight away. This exercise allowed me to see how people need to be forced or enticed into a situation or game in public spaces as they are mostly not willing to be picked out of a crowd or identified. I have become quite interested in this discovery and would like to investigate it further to uncover how far you can push people into a unusual situation in public space which will take them out of their comfort zone and encourage them to engage with myself.
THROUGHOUT EXPERIMENTING AND EXPLORING DIFFERERENT IDEAS AND CONCEPTS OF PEOPLE WITHIN PUBLIC SPACE AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH IT AND EACH OTHER, I HAVE DEVELOPED AN INTEREST WITHIN HOW I CAN ENGAGE THE PUBLIC TO INTERACT WITH MYSELF MORE. I ALSO BECAME INTRIGUED WITH HOW INSTALLATIONS OF A PERSONAL CONTEXT SUCH AS A HOMELESS SHELTER CAN CREATE AN INTEREST FROM THE PUBLIC. BY USING SIMPLE TECHNIQUES AND EXPERIMENTS I AM AIMING TO CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS TO ENGAGE WITH EACH OTHER IN PUBLIC SPACES. THESE OPPORTUNITIES WILL INVOLVE USING SOME INSTALLATIONS ASWELL AS MYSELF TO TRY AND ESTABLISH A CONNECTION BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND MYSELF. I AM INTERESTED TO DISCOVER USING INSTALLATIONS WETHER I CAN PROVOKE CURIOSITY AND AN INTEREST FROM THE PUBLIC TO WANT TO INTERACT WITH ME. I ALSO AM INTERESTED TO SEE HOW PEOPLE ENGAGE WITH ME BY TRYING TO ENGAGE WITH THEM PERSONALLY ON THE STREET. THROUGHOUT EXPERIMENTING AND EXPLORING DIFFERERENT IDEAS AND CONCEPTS OF PEOPLE WITHIN PUBLIC SPACE AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH IT AND EACH OTHER, I HAVE DEVELOPED AN INTEREST WITHIN HOW I CAN ENGAGE THE PUBLIC TO INTERACT MYSELF MORE. I ALSO BECAME INTRIGUED WITH HOW INSTALLATIONS OF A PERSONAL CONTEXT SUCH AS A HOMELESS SHELTER CAN CREATE AN INTEREST FROM THE PUBLIC.
chair installation using chairs and a foot stool i created an installation in brunswick in two different locations to try see wether i could get the public to engage with me by talking to me as they are passing by and hopefully making the conversation last long enough for the m to sit with me. this installation turned out to be very unsuccessful in both locations as i was only approached by one man.
one man i spoke to offered me a trade. if i held his coffee while he put sugar in it then he would hold my sign
as a method of attracting the publics attention i used cardboard signs with humourous messages on them and stood on sydney road. by grabbing peoples attention with the sign i was aiming to evoke peoples curiosity and engage with conversation.
group of people. Its fantastic. Me:
AFTER EXPERIMENTING WITH THE SIGNS AND THE TASK BEING SUCCESSFUL I DECIDED UPON COMBINING THE IDEA OF THE CHAIRS AND THE SIGNS TOGETHER. BY ENGAGING THE PUBLIC FIRST WITH THE SIGN AND THEM TALKING TO THEM I MIGHT BE ABLE TO STOP THEM FOR A PERIOD OF TIME AND ASK THEM TO TEACH ME ABOUT THE AREA OF BRUNSWICK AND CREATE A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TWO COMPLETE STRANGERS.
CONCEPTUAL STATEMENT TO ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE IN BRUNSWICK USING DIFFERENT METHODS WHICH ALLOW ME TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE ON THE AREA AND CREATE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MYSELF AND THE PUBLIC.
Yea I can see what you mean, I live on the other side of the city in South Yarra
Your brave! I work over there.
Do you. Yes I like the feel of the area over here as well.
Yes it’s a bit more human over here
Lady two: South Yarra is more like Sydney. I use to live of that side about 20 years ago. It is beautiful but this side is more alive. You don’t have to worry about what you look like when you go out here either. Yes, is no so much about how you look over here. Lady two: Yes I don’t have to get myself done up to go to the shops. We can look like bag ladies and that’s ok! Have you had any people telling you anything interesting?
Yes it is, they have great food. They haven’t put their prices up since they opened when I was in high school, it’s amazing. Sydney road is a bit shit for coffee though, I usually go to Rathdowne st in Carlton. It’s much quieter and calmer there. Me:
I’ll have to go and have a coffee there! Where are you guys off to now?
Lady one: shoes.
We have just been shopping for
I can see you have just bought a
Lady one: Yes it’s my mums birthday tomorrow so this is her present. This is my mums best friend. Is there anything else we can help you with? Me:
No, you guys have been great, thankyou so much!
No problem: have a great day! Bye
Well I have only just started really. I spoke to one girl and she said that Greens was the best café in Brunswick.
sign & chair encounter i used new signs (below) for this encounter to try and engage with the public but kept the same format of hand writing on cardboard to the message seems personal.
Me: Excuse me can I ask you a question? I was wondering if you have a favourite story or memory that you could tell me about Brunswick? Man:
How old are you?
When I was 23 I worked in that building.
The hot potato building?
Man: Well in those days in was a Ford Dealership. The one next door to it was a used car yard. Me:
So you sold cars?
Man: Trucks. I worked there for 4 or 5 years the first time then came back. Me:
So have you lived in Brunswick your whole life?
Man: No, Im from Adelaide. In those days I wanted to go somewhere. So I got on my motorbike. I still have my motorbike. Me: Me:
Hi can I ask you a question?
Is there something you can teach me or tell me about Brunswick or a favourite memory you can tell me?
Lady one: once!
I had a gun pulled on me
Yea, Is that a story?
Me: great story.
That’s a story, that’s a
Lady one: Welcome to Brunswick! Lady two: It’s the place of a few underworld shooting. Me: shootings
Yes all the underbelly
Lady one: Yes it was just up the road at the Brunswick club, just about two blocks up. It’s a pub where guys start drinking there at like 8 o’clock in the morning. That’s where one of the Morans was shot. Me: So what happened with you and the gun? Lady one: I was getting money out of the atm, one block up and I was a student and I had no money. I was planning on going to the pub so I took 20 dollars out, I only had 24 dollars and there was this guy sort of hanging around the pay phone next to me. He was all shady and you know how you can just tell they are off their face! Then he came up and pulled a gun out and said “gimme all you cash”! It sounds like it’s out of a movie. Me:
Oh my god!
Lady one: And I went into a state of pure adrenalin and just laughed at him and he panicd because I was laughing and then he just ran off. Then I went to the pub as if nothing ever happened! The next day I was like (Gasp) “fuck!” Me: terrifying!
That would have been
Do you still ride it?
Man: Not that one no. I worked about NSW for a while doing mechanical work and I use to come here (Brunswick) to buy spare parts. I ended up applying for a sales role at Ford and he said go and get yourself a suit. But I had no money. But I knew a bloke who use to get suits from China. So the local dry cleaning lady measured me up and sent my measurements off to china and back came the suit. It was dirt cheap and so much better quality but the leaves were about 2 inch’s to short. I felt embarrassed wearing it so I always just carried it over one arm. I enjoyed working there. There was man who was an old Brunswick identity. Do you come from Melbourne? Me:
I don’t, I am from Newcas tle.
Man: There is a good motorbike place up there. Me: you!
You love motorbikes don’t
Man: Oh yea! Around the corner he had a big workshop. Next to it was a huge block owned by a Sydney fellow. They had a Holden dealership in Sydney. He owned a lot of the land behind here (Sydney road). His name was Kevin McGrath. He use to make trailers and he was here for many years and employed a lot of people. We use to sell a lot of cars by going door to door. Me: well?
Door to door? Did that work
Man: Well I bought up a family of six, paid off a house. But we had to work hard. The Ford dealership has been gone for a long time, they built a new factory out in Coburg. Interestingly enough, just around here, is an old warehouse where they use to have auctions of things like army cars. Also where the zoo is now Me: No I’ve got my recorder so I will be able to listen to it again! Thankyou so much, you re very knowledgeable on the area!
Lady one: Yea, it was! And that’s my Brunswick story! Me: I think that’s going to be the best one I get today! Where are you guys from? Lady one: for 8 years.
I’ve lived in Brunswick
Lady two: from Sydney
I have just moved back
Me: Oh nice, im from Newcastle originally. Lady two:
Oh yes im from Hornsby.
Me: here for?
What did you move back
Lady two: All my family are here and I like the feel of around here. Lady one: Yes I love the way that now, especially with the property market going up and up and up you get this really awesome multiculture. The wealthy couple with the young child, the old Italians that have been here forever, it’s just such an eclectic
the experiment with the chairs and signs was a success! the chairs didnt get used however the public were willing to stand around and let me in on some of their favourite memories of the area. above are two of the most interesting people i spoke to on the day and some of the transcripts of conversations had. to progress my ideas and knowledge further i decided to move from the location on the corner of sydney road and move up the street further north to see what else i could learn about the area by engaging with the public. for the last encounter on sydney road i decided to go back to the original meothod of talking to people on the street by using no props and simplying using conversation as a tool similar to the first encounter at the start of semester. this process worked extremely well and i gained alot of knowledge of the public. at this stage of the process i also was interested to go back to my derive and try and learn about a few of the interesting places i stumbled across on the journey by the local people and to see if the se places evoked any senses of memories within them.
Me: Hi I was wondering if there was anything you could tell me about Brunswick that I wouldn’t know or any memories you have?
EXPLORING BRUNSW RIVE, I DISCOVER NORMALLY NOT COM WERE ON OVENS ST OF
Pink Beanie: Geez…. Well its great. I’ve lived here for a few years. Last week I was talking about how I loved it so much because I parked my bike unlocked outside the printing shop up the road where I get stuff printed up near Albion St and I walked home forgetting about my bike and came back the next day and it was still there. It was really good. Me:
SEEING THE PRAM FO OUT OF THE NORM AN THE LABRINTH COME
Pink Beanie: I know it was on a Friday night as well. Um what else! There are a heap of good cafes. But my favourite part of Brunswick is probably the street art that keeps popping up. There is a lot of dialogs between the street artists and the people who keep adding to the artworks. It’s pretty dirty but I like it. I mean there are things like this (uneven pavement). The council have done a lot of work here recently and they have done a really bad job of it. Somebody has come along and written on it ‘the council doesn’t care for you safety.’ This is only recent so hopefully something will be done about it. I was thinking of fixing it myself because I work here at mitre 10 and we have got heaps of concrete in there. But… it’s a bit cold out here today! Me: today.
THE WOMAN I SPOKE T TO HER REMINDER HER USE TO PUSH HER D WHEN SHE WAS A CHIL VERY UNUSUAL AND R
Yes it is freezing
Pink Beanie: Yes but its still buselling. There is usually a busker over there out the front of spotlight. Either on the harmonica or the accordion. Busking for me really slows the street down. It creates more of a social feel. I have noticed that it is also really changing, I have lived here for 2 years and as you can see down there street there are two huge building that have gone up in the last 6 months. So it’s going to be a lot busier. Me:
EXPLORING BRUNSWICK THROUGH THE WAY THE SITUATIONISTS DID USING THE DERIVE, I DISCOVERED MAY LOCATIONS AROUND THE BRUNSWICK AREA WHICH I WOULD NORMALLY NOT COME ACROSS. TWO SITES THAT I BECAME QUITE INTERESTED IN WERE ON OVENS STREET. THE FIRST WAS THE PRAM WITH THE CACTUS GROWING OUT OF IT AND THE ANYTIME PLACE ACROSS THE ROAD.
Are they residential?
Pink Beanie: Yes they are. So there is going to be a lot more people in this area. I feel that this is kind of the middle class area. The further you go up Sydney road it changes again. You get a lot more Lebanese shops and more industrial with bigger shop complexes. The pubs up the street are different as well, here they are a lot more grungy and music based where as down there they have a slightly different culture of eating and drinking.
MY THOUGHTS/MEMORIES OF PRAM: SEEING THE PRAM FOR ME REMINDED ME OF QUIRKY CHILDHOOD MOVIES WHERE EVERYTHING IS OUT OF THE NORM AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. MOVIES SUCH AS ALICE IN WONDERLAND AND THE LABRINTH COME TO MIND.
THE WOMAN I SPOKE TO SAID THE PRAM TO HER REMINDER HER OF A PRAM SHE USE TO PUSH HER DOLLS AROUND IN WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD AND FOUND IT VERY UNUSUAL AND RANDOM.
Me: Yes it’s interesting to see what I have learnt about the area off different people so far. I was talking to an older man last week and he knew so much about the area about 50 years ago. Pink Beanie: Yes I get to talk to a lot of old people at work when they come in and they all seem to complain about how dirty the area has become. Like about how all the gardens in the area have slowly decade. I also think that there is a big resurgence by people around here, like in my street anyways, where we live in warehouses and there is a huge emphasis on making gardens and digging up concrete. Where do you live?
WHEN I FIRST CAME ACROOS THE ANYTIME PLACE BUILDING I WAS CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT EXACTLY IT WAS AND ASSUMED IN THE END IT MUST BE A HOUSE. IT ALSO REMINDED ME OF CHILD LIKE MEMORIES DUE TO THE WRITTING STYLE USED AND THE ECELTIC GARDEN LOCATED OUT THE FRONT.
Me: I live in South Yarra, I haven’t really had the opportunity to spend much time over this side of the city, so I have really enjoyed learning about it from different people. Im from NSW originally. Pink Beanie:
WHEN I RETURNED TO OVENS STREET I ASKED A MAN WORKING IN THE AREA IF HE KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ABOUT THE BUILDING. HE CONTINUED TO TELL ME THAT THE ANYTIME PLACE BUILDING WAS A STUDIO FOR ARTISTS AND THEY SOMETIMES HAD BANDS PLAYING IN THERE. WHEN ASKED IF IT REMINDED HIM OF ANYTHING HE SAID “ARTY PEOPLE.”
Oh nice. Yes I think that South Yarra has quite an arty feel to it as well.
Me: I don’t think it does as much as it does over here, but there are a lot of exhibitions close by to where I live, although I find that most of the artist are usually found around here. Pink Beanie:
I guess with the cheaper housing and studios over here.
well I should get back to work!
Thankyou so much! Bye.
interior urban activism after speaking to the various interesting people on the street, i made a map of brunswick with all the information i had learnt about the area (back page). i also revisited the derive sites and asked the public what their thoughts and knowledge were on certain discoveries i had made.
Throughout the process of the semester i have undertaken some challenging tasks and experiments which led me on the path to investigate people in public space and how i can use techniques and methods to the best of my ability to engage with them.
Published on Jun 18, 2010
This project is based on the subject of Interior Urban Activism. The experiments have been undertaken to investigate people in public space...