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I walk along a wall… I perform Dundee for you…

December 3, 2007

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Ceres was the first
To split open the grassland with a ploughshare.

Ovid by way of Ted Hughes

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If the built environment does not constitute a Beyond Text medium for the transmission of the collective knowledges and identities of its inhabitants, then what does? Our knowledge, our identities are literally inscribed in the land by stone walls, and field furrows, streets and lane markers, manhole covers, lamp posts, post boxes, box beams, bus shelters, bus routes (drawn on maps, worn into tarmac), taxi ranks, advertising bill boards, terraces, office blocks, car parks, entries, steps, decoys, detritus, views from hills, views from bedrooms, light falling across doorsills and police stations and museums…

And when I walk along that wall, I am literally performing and reforming Dundee. And I am performing it for you.

This project will be a close in look at Dundee and its regions through the multiple lenses of its interested disciplinary communities. It will use the Beyond Text agenda, as elaborated in its four themes, to rethink the multiple and varied relations of the built environment to its inhabitants. It will involve a mosaic of practice-led projects each with a different site focus agenda partners, but which collectively will add up to picture of Dundee and its regions.

If the Dundee landscape is Knowledge, how do we vouchsafe its intelligibility?
If this project creates a coherent picture, what does this say about how the Dundee landscape maintains its inhabitants in their Signifiers?

Where is Dundee?

Lorens

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co-ordinates 3: signifying dundee

December 3, 2007

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I keep coming back to this image/logo, and its ‘happy’ font, because it seems on the one hand, to acknowledge the need for collective signifiers, and on the other, to utterly fail to meet this need. As if this were a matter of assigning to a city its history by an act of branding (branding for anything other than consumer products is the sham discourse of the 2000’s in the way that hot-desking was the sham discourse of the 1990’s). The city, not even to its tourists, is a consumer product.

What are the signifiers of Dundee? How does the city situate its inhabitants with respect to their signifiers? How does the city orient its inhabitants, so that collective thought and action is possible (what, if I were a Marxist, I might call class consciousness)? How does the form and fabric of Dundee support collective thought; and if antisocial behaviour is simply an inarticulate form of political action, then how does the breaking up of the intelligibility of the fabric of the city, undermine the intelligibility and possibility of collective action.

What are Dundee’s landmarks, its significant places; or rather, what relationship does Dundee have to its own landmarks and place?

This project will – among other things – suggest new avenues for planning and community consultation; and for understanding the urban conditions for civility vs. antisocial behaviour.

Lorens

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co-ordinates 2: constructing dundee

December 2, 2007

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The city – like desire – is always undergoing revision, is always being propped, is always subject to a continual process of making and unmaking. The idea that the city is a stable form, or that it was a stable form, that there was something called an historic city, and the present one departs from it, is an illusion. This project will arrive at the concept of prop as a term of planning discourse. How do you prop a city; how does a city prop its inhabitants?

If the city is always already propped, it is always already more than an object. The city challenges the category of the object not only because it is an immersive environment but because it is always being made and unmade.

Lorens

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co-ordinates 1: performing dundee

December 2, 2007

This project has to be about two things, and they must be intwined. It has to be about designing the city and experiencing the city. Philosophers of the city like Michel de Certeau speak about two views of the city, the view from on high and the view from the ground (the one essentially authoritarian, the other subversive), but he does not bring them together. These two aspects of the city can be brought together in the idea of performance. Performing the city. Performing Dundee. For performance involves motion of the body in space, notation, scripting, narrative, audience, staging, the framing or (stage) setting of a place. Think street theatre, except that street theatre is only the most literal form of performance in a city, and what we are concerned with is performance as a general category for understanding city form and fabric, civility, city life and experience.

Lorens

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co-ordinates 1: performing dundee

December 2, 2007

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I am searching for my co-ordinates.

This project has to be about two things. It has to be about designing the city and experiencing the city. The idea of performance brings these two things together: performing the city. Performance involves the movement of the body, an audience, planning, notation, the framing of a place, marking it out, staging it, the physical experienced locality of a place. When we perform, we project our aspirations to the world. (I googled this picture from god- knows-where (apologies, it is the Antonia Grove dance group) but we could imagine it to be between the playing fields and the Tay, between the bridge and the airport, in Magdallen Green.)

Lorens

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Beyond Text

November 29, 2007

This is the blog for anyone involved in the Beyond Text application. It’s a space to share ideas – hold discussion and build the project. You can leave comments and contribute posts.

Mike S