Today was the first day of the mapping the spaces project. I came into uni around 10 this morning, assuming that before there wouldn’t be many people inside the studios. When I got there, it was still very empty. I stayed around the studios until about 10.30 which is when the usual tutorial sessions start, but was disappointed to see how little students were in the space and most of them were isolated from each other. However to be fair it was ‘early’ in the morning and a Monday, so maybe it will be a bit more used during the week. It was a quiet morning (apparently)
When I came back during the lunch break, it still seemed quite unused, except for a few grouped tables. It was the same later today at the end of the afternoon around 5, except for one or two group working together. All in all I am still quite disappointed in how little people I can find in the studios to map the overlapping of their personal spaces, but I guess that a lot of people are busy working right now, and maybe somewhere more isolated, or maybe I picked the wrong times of the day. I don’t want to make false assumptions just yet.
In terms of the materials I could use I think that I am going to use tape, even though I will only have a limited colour palette (sadly) due to the colour limitations for electric tape and student budget. If I were to use cut-outs from vinyl it would make it less spontaneous and I would have to wait to get the separate shapes back each time. I don’t know yet if I am going to be able to use the videos i took as they have a very shake-y feeling to them and are not good quality since taken on the phone. However if I take the films on a video camera it makes me less anonymous in the space.

Morning:

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Mid-day:

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Late afternoon:

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I then also noticed the outside, people on the street and decided to capture them quickly as well to see where it might lead:

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Off to do some rough pre-sketching/mapping.

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Today I came in into the graphic design studios to do a one–day–mini–brief as a sort of test–run for next week to see how the studios are used and how people interact with each other. However, I did not find a lot of people using the space, not even one person. So the statement ‘there is no public space without overlapping personal spaces’ became obvious due to the absence of personal space (except for mine, but I am rather neutral in this project).

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I tested the tapes that I had brought to uni yesterday: isolation tape and packing tape (since i had already used the other tape for the first essays). The isolation tape stands out more, and has more colour choices available (as in 5 colour choices, so just enough for a colour a day). However that means that I would have to use the colour that I can find instead of deciding a colour palette. Since it is not really handy to remove all of that tape (what I did yesterday evening as well in order to be able to start with a blank canvas on Monday).
Another material that I would be able to use would be chalk. It is a lot less permanent and modified over time, which is a good and a bad thing. For the moment I tried with what I had closest to being chalk, which was carré conté and soft pastels. The carré conté didn’t work because they were too hard, but the soft pastels seemed to work quite well and leave me with a lot of colour choices.

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One next to the other makes it quite obvious though on which material is the most visible and which one merges best with the environment, and the soft pastels really are modified and vanish a lot quicker when people walk over them.

Personal space is the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs.

(Wikipedia)

While I am struggling about how to move forward with my second self–directed brief which is still not very far even though the final hand-in date is moving closer and closer, and the time pressure is not helping, especially since there are also all of the other projects to finish. I have now spent as good as the whole day trying to find a visual solution or even only other visual examples on the ground of graphic design that would fit into my body of work that I am supposed to submit soon, but not very successfully. So I am again going back to researching the meanings and definitions and continuing another brainstorm session.
Displaying specific actions or spaces overlapping inside the studio for a week would be an option, even though creating an infographics that is formed only after the action and with manual input influenced by personal decisions wouldn’t make it a live translation of how the space is being used. (Even (yes I am repeating myself) if I am already imagining how it could look or work (which doesn’t mean anything since it would look differently anyway)). I am still curious to see how a processing sketch could create a real-time response, however I don’t have enough computational/programming skills to create an object responding to what is happening outside of it. As I am writing this I am also flicking through ‘Computers as Theatre’ by Brenda Laurel, and here is an extract of Don Norman’s preface for the 2013 version of it.

 

Don Norman's preface for Computer as Theatre (Brenda Laurel), 2013

Don Norman’s preface for Computer as Theatre (Brenda Laurel), 2013

Despite not knowing what the book might bring to my practice, I keep going back to it. Maybe I will find out why as I get through the book. In the meantime I should continue a bit and get sketching and prototyping as well.

While trying to finish up most of the other projects, I haven’t been able to work on my second self–initiated project as much as I would have wanted to, especially since my subject and project is still so vague and the outcome really really unclear. So when I went to the interim crit for which I signed up with Luise, I didn’t have enough work or prototyping to present.
The feedback I got during the crit was however still very useful. I showed the tape experiment and my aim to make the limits between personal space in a public space visible and to make people aware of how they are affecting a space and other people’s public spaces and how it is changed by other people before them. The tape was interpreted as a way to remember or memorise what had just happened in the space. It was found very interesting for people to look at as well as inform what is going on in the space. Suggestions were to photograph the studio at a specific time each day and recreate the situations and behaviours that had just happened through tape, layering it for a week and use it as a sort of ephemeral infographics to show what is going on in the studios throughout the week. I was advised to try different materials, tapes, fabric, electrical tape etc. I was also thinking of explore is a more direct way of showing how people move through a space by using material that they would take with them as they enter the studio and leave a residue on the floor, but it would probably not lead very far and explore more the idea of wayfinding and movement that interference into each others’ personal spaces.
The limits of personal space are also effected by cultural influences so people act differently, more openly or closed according to their upbringing and cultural background. While in some cultures a house may act as open space where you can walk in and always be welcome at any point of the day, in other cultures you would always call or plan meetings ahead and respect each others personal spaces instead of using them as part of your public space as Chloë explained.
What Manuela mentioned stuck in my mind and is a very logical interpretation: Overlapping personal spaces are necessary in order to create a public space or to create interaction in public.

I am not quite sure about how I am going to continue with this project as I won’t have time to work on it before handing in the two D&AD briefs that I am currently working on with Hanna Piatrusha and Romi Nicole Schneider respectively. I am interested in displaying and making people aware of what is happening, has happened or is going to happen inside the space that they share together with other people, in a way that makes them also aware of how they affect the space and other people’s personal space and in order to increase the respect of each others boundaries or non–boundaries. I am however not sure if it would work as a temporary physical installation, instant reactive system or as display.

As I have been busy working on a few briefs at the same time I haven’t been able to push my self–initiated brief as much as I would have wanted to, so I am still in the development phase for now.
I have been looking at exhibition design and public spaces as well as typeface design with my current collaborative projects, which is also what I am trying to investigate in this self–directed project, so they fit in and relate to what I want to be working on in this project at right now, but in my opinion these are not specific enough to my subject. I have also worked on a brief half–day collaborative project in the framework of Spatial Media together with Anton last Wednesday in trying to combine King’s Cross and Somer’s Town.
I have been experimenting with the translation of personal space onto a set surface (two sheets of paper) to see how the body limits movement and how it relates to the radius of a person’s personal space (kind of like in some of my taping experiments from last week). For now this has only confirmed that the fictional personal space is circular, following a person’s movement. But how does this relate to (self–)awareness in a public/shared environment? I realise that I also need to do field recordings to be able to isolate the studio ‘noises’ from the visual rooms in the graphic design studios and maybe other parts of university (for now) to see how I can work from there.
I am interested in reflecting the noise happening at the studios at a certain time of day, but in an immediate way. In opposition, the White Wall project that has been installed in the street in uni last week works the other way around: it captures the sound (particularly the piano) next to it to make a display of sound in a day, in a collection that will be of 30 days. It will only be complete after 30 days. I however want to create something reactive and immediate that reacts to the noise or movement inside a space and creates immediate outcome to mirror it (to the outside or to the people inside, I haven’t figured that out yet). I am not sure if I will actually be able to build something that physically reacts, or through a display. I also haven’t decided yet if the outcome should be a kinetic or reactive font with different ‘moods’ or characters for the variation of noise and movement happening in the studio as I don’t know yet what I’ll be able to do especially since the final crit for us is next Monday (interim crit being on this Thursday), but I know that I really have to narrow my aims and directions down.

On Wednesday, we had the chance to have an all–day–workshop with John Bingham–Hall about spatial media in public space. Considering that I have just started a self–directed project on the relation between public and personal space, I had been very curious of what this workshop would be about. Here are a few extracts of notes that I took throughout the day.

What are the ideologies of cities and public space and what is the role of communication in it?
Public Engagement is about bringing people into their area and make them use the (new) opportunities that they are offered.
There are different ideologies of urban communication:
– Anthropological Spaces: the layout of the city as representation of how the inhabitants are using it
– Transitional Public Space: when there is no real free space for people to just hang out, only to go through
– Roman Forum: a public square where people go to debate, discuss, act out the city and educate themselves, somewhere to come in contact with each other.
(Current roman forums might be social media as 3rd spaces)
– Supermodernity: supermarkets, shopping centres, airports etc, something build by an outside party not by society

Arising question: Do we still need to be in close contact with people and places to share information and sociability with the presence of non–stop social media? In any information or interaction there is a different spectrum of communication that is more open and chaoticin human interaction, while digital interaction is always curated.
Mention of sociologist Erving Goffman (Behaviour in Public Spaces) in opposition to Georg Simmel, and does anonymity in the city need to be changed or embraced? Are we helping people by encouraging interaction in a city filled with ignorance of each other’s presence or are we imposing something that keeps people from getting along?

– Communities: Is a geographical categorisation the right way to classify people? Why do we still call places a community?
‘Communities in modern cities do not depend on living in a particular place. It is liberated from geographical boundaries by social networks.’ (Zachary Neal – The Connected City, 2013)
– Community & Communication (latin: communis) = ‘common, public, shared by media’. We are communicating more than ever, so a lot of new communities are created, and social capital is the shared social know–how and advice, getting information from one person to another. Cities enable social progress and personality, as having a lot of different people living in a liberal and varied environment creates new opportunities to cross boundaries through media + web. Identities become trans-spatial.

– Digital Media challenges:
Distance: you have to be there to get something out of it – proximite communication vs trans/distantial communication
Augmented Reality: doesn’t change the city, only your perception of it
Urban Imaginaries (Martijn de Wall): Does technology shape the way we use the city?

Workshop
There are four types of spatial media projects:
-Embedded Media: Signage, physical and permanent installations or objects, a fixed message, broadcast, sanctioned and distant
-Overlaid Media: Intervenes in space temporarily, signage visible to the most number of people possible, demonstration, temporary, unsanctioned, partisan, undesigned, organic message
-Portable Media: Map, something that you can carry around with you instead of looking at the space around you, to be used in a specific way; private experience,
planned, selective, about space to be used in space, funtional. Danger: ‘the issue is maintaining consciousness of what is around you in the future’, and an overload of what we have to take in.
-Detached Media: Something used to enrich your experience, understanding of space and society but outside the space; about a place, to be used anywhere, one-directional, whole affirming, non-social interaction

Mini-Brief: King’s Cross and Somer’s Town
How is it possible to connect people from Somer’s Town to the new people, students from King’s Cross in order to make them engage, benefit from the new opportunities and get to know their environment, communicate or facilitate communication in or around the public space of King’s Cross and/or Somer’s Town?
Connecting King’s Cross: Who is the community and what opportunities does King’s Cross offer to Somer’s Town and vice versa?

We then walked through Somer’s Town to get an idea of the area.

When we came back we had about two hours to brainstorm and get a quick draft for a project together. In collaboration with Anton Stepine, I worked on a design that would physically connect King’s Cross and Somer’s Town. We focused on the passage from King’s Cross to Somer’s Town which for now goes through a really dark tunnel and there is no real way around it and it doesn’t look very inviting. A construction over the railways from Euston station would enable a connection and bridge between King’s Cross and Somer’s Town as well as create a common recreational space connecting the parks on both sides of the bridge.
sketch

Overall I found this workshop very interesting and inspiring, showing different aspects of spatial design in outside public spaces. Being able to try around with a real space was a useful approach and helped to realise and visualise different problems and obstacles that need to be resolved (or not).