Doing It In Public

16-21 June 2006
Harbour Lights Cinema

Architecture has been described as the mother of all arts. This exhibition looks at the relationship of other artforms and disciplines with architecture suggesting ways in which practitioners can use and misuse architecture or integrate their practice into building design.

Tim Head’s work Wildfire in the bar looks at random generation of colour on the screen as a piece in its own right but also as a potential maquette for a lighting project. Steve Symon’s outdoor sound piece Aura experienced through backpack and headphones (ask the invigilator if you would like a go) creates a tension with the architecture in Ocean Village through the creation of a soundscape in the area around Harbour Lights Cinema.

The films range from skateboarding and parkour looking at practitioners’ alternative use of architecture to a social research piece about the impact of urban development on good citizenship and behaviour in Southampton.

Doing it in public has been curated and organised by SCAN, John Hansard Gallery and Solent Centre for Art and Design.

Steve Symons
2004 – present

Aura is a sonic multi-user augmented reality that allows users to effect a personal audio landscape through their actions within a defined space, and in doing so, they also alter the vista for other users. By focusing on physical dialogues and non verbal communication, participants are encouraged to work together to create sonic tapestries through their relative movements.

Augmented reality involves the overlaying of digital information onto real space. By moving through the real environment users experience the digital information at the location to which it refers. aura rejects physical interfaces (mouse, keyboard, screen) in favour of directional augmented reality to create a seamless naturalistic experience. The aura project takes this a stage further through the full sonic augmentation of real space. Walking through the designated space wearing headphones and carrying an aura roving unit (Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) augmented to access user location and heading) provides full spatial listening that encourages the creation of “sculptures of the mind”.

Film by Murray Anderson Wallace, Jeannie Kerswell and Mike Stubbs, 2006 (8 minutes).

This film represents action research for a wider project of performance, installation, film and public art looking at citizenship and social responsibility both of the individual and the urban developer and planner. Searching for a perfect citizen in Southampton the film examines how urban planning impacts on civic pride and patterns of behaviour in the city of Southampton.

Perfect Citizen asks a number of questions. What makes a good citizen in Southampton? Have recent building developments in the city had an impact on its residents? Where is the centre of Southampton? What relationship do Southampton’s residents have with the waterfront?

The film was made by a team comprising of social researcher Murray Anderson Wallace, participatory public artist Jeannie Kerswell, and the internationally renowned filmmaker and artist Mike Stubbs.

Perfect Citizen was produced by SCAN as part of the Arts Council and SEEDA’s initiative Art Plus.

Tim Head
2004 – 5

Real time computer program and flat screen(s).
Programming: Simon Schofield

Tim Head is renowned for his political but playful installation and mixed media work from 1970s. More recently he has started to explore the elusive nature of the digital medium. Certain intrinsic properties of the medium are selected and programmed to generate events in real time on screen, digital projection or inkjet printer, bringing aspects of their raw physical substance to the surface.

In ‘WILDFIRE’ a real time computer program randomly selects one of the primary colours (R, G or B) and either adds or subtracts one unit to/from the number value (between 0 and 255) of that colour that is part of the current RGB colour displayed on the screen.

This random process is repeated as fast as possible, its speed of change determined by the capabilities of the particular computer used. The colour filling the screen flutters incessantly between the millions of possible hues.

The artist is currently researching ways in which these projects can be incorporated into the context of architecture or public art. The projects vary in their effect. Wildfire has been selected for its subtle quality but dependent on the structure of the computer programme the screen may flicker or change colour rapidly.

Films on skateboarding and parkour

Skateboarding and more recently parkour take the recycling of architectural features to another level. The people that are involved in these activities can show real imagination in their use of walls, street furniture and barriers in the environment. Famously in Venice Beach California in the drought of 1976 the Z-Boys reinvented skateboarding by using empty swimming pools to develop their craft. Skateparks take these kinds of spaces as their starting point while skaters and traceurs in parkour continue to appropriate architecture in more and more inventive ways. These two films look at some local examples.

Parkour, Jack Edwards and Steven Lewis, 2006.
Jack Edwards, traceur (parkour practitioner) worked with filmmaker Steven Lewis to make this piece about his group’s parkour in the New Forest and beyond. Before making this film Jack Edwards had no knowledge of filmmaking and documentation as well as the act of parkour now has become an integral part of his practice.
This film can be viewed here.

Produced by SCAN, ArtSway and Protocol Skills

Wight Trash, John Cattle, 2006.
Based on Isle of Wight, Wight Trash is one of the most respected skating groups in the country. This film shows the group at work on their home territory both in success and failure.

Produced by Wight Trash. With thanks to Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight

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