Tracing the City: Exploring the Private Experience of Public Art Through Art and Anthropology

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Session Title:

  • Technology, Public and Spaces in the City

Presentation Title:

  • Tracing the City: Exploring the Private Experience of Public Art Through Art and Anthropology

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Abstract:

  • What happens when the public space of the city intervenes in the private experience of art? We present the initial stages of an interdisciplinary research/creation project between two artists and an anthropologist that uses emerging technologies to explore the interstitial space between the private and the public in relation to art. ‘Art’ for us includes visual arts, performing arts, and other streams of creative culture such as architecture, design and literature. We define public urban space as those spaces in the city that are accessible to everyone (regardless of ownership), in which strangers interact in many different ways. People’s experience of art is typically private, whether or not the art is in a collective setting. They move through the art gallery in the bubble of their own personal space. They watch films ensconced in the dark of the cinema. Their emotional reactions to art are located in the body, and divulged to just a few companions. However, we posit that the public space of the city can challenge and interfere with the private experience of art. Indeed, we posit that the public space of the city can creatively be made to intervene in the private space of engagement with art.

    Our project asks: What happens when the private experience of art is disrupted, unsettled or reframed by the chance encounters and events of the public space of the city? How do public art works incorporating decentralized, collaborative modes of production integrate into the city? How does this collaboration affect the structure and content of the work? How can interactive, locative technologies affect creative production or generate data? How can we use social science methodologies to both generate and interpret engagement with public artworks? We will explore these questions by combining creative processes in the visual and media arts, principally film (interactive cinema) and public art (site-specific installations), with empirical qualitative social science research (urban anthropology). This paper presents our theoretical framework and our plans to produce artworks that are generated in part by the intervention of the people, events, circumstances and knowledge of the urban public.

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