Arts Of Urban Exploration – Pinder

Pinder, D. (2005) ‘Arts of Urban Exploration’, Cultural Geographies, 12(4), pp. 383-411

This text examines the different way in which Art can be used to explore space and place. This is given the term Urban Exploration and can come in various forms such as walks, installations and most relevantly to our work mapping. It is argued throughout this journal that these mediums can be used a city intervention and even a way of citizens claiming back their city.

Pinder explores an incident in which a series of artists took part in a march with homemade instruments through the streets of New York city. This is a perfect example of an intervention and was claimed to be about public space and establishing what is public and what is private. This was questioned by NYPD officers who took a critical interest in the proceedings some even declaring that there is no such thing as a public space.

The reading then continues to explore an increase of frequency in such events. stating that their are issues with expressing the city through due to cultural diversity and subsequent cultural diversity. This concept was originally explored by practitioners who had the desire to blur the boundaries between art and the everyday perhaps this is most prominently presented by Richard Schechner. (Please find previous analysis of his work below)

The examination of the private place in terms of art is incredibly interesting and has been extensively examined by scholars and practitioners alike. Pinder places an emphasis on the significance of exploring cultural geographies within cities stating that the different artistic interpretations go a long way to claiming a city by its occupants as opposed to those who run it and authorities who dictate it.

Critical Reflection

This reading with regards to my own project poses certain ethical considerations.

London is not my home town does that mean I am appropriating a city?

Will the work that we do intervene or will it blend into everyday life?

I feel that the aim of our piece is to achieve the latter, create an internal reflection about what is observed in our city as opposed to claiming our city. I hope that our project settles itself comfortably in the public of the city while creating private musings and reflections. Through this combination of public and private we do not wish to create participation confusion but instead facilitate a relaxed atmosphere.

Schechner Reading

Schechner approaches the ever growing question that is “Performance” with an open mind offering many concepts and explanations throughout the reading. In the first instance the text explores performance as an everyday activity, introducing the theory that to exist we need to perform it is an essential part of everyday life. Human nature in many instances compels us to succeed and ultimately to impress. Schechner portrays the theory that in order to satisfy our need to excel we “Perform”, in an attempt to show-case talents and capabilities effectively,  influencing and impressing those around us and ultimately fulfilling the age old human desire to be accepted and achieve a “normal” status amongst everybody from our peers to parents. Within this idea Schechner identifies differences   between “Performing” in the Arts and “Performing” in everyday life through four key concepts; ‘Being’ (to be alive and that alone ‘Ultimate reality’) ‘Doing’ (to action while you exist) ‘Showing Doing’ (Performing through everyday actions) ‘Explaining Showing Doing’ (Performance within the Arts).

Schechner continues to look at “Performance” as a part of everyday life, presenting the idea of restored or twice-behaved behaviour. In the Arts this is the rehearsal process. Schechner writes about rehearsals in the context of everyday living, with the theory that childhood is life’s rehearsal period and adulthood is the “Performance”. When we reach the “Performance” stage, normally construed as the point at which one reaches adulthood, it is not definite but instead dependant on when we adapt to the life that we have been handed. Although many of our actions are repeated and therefore effectively rehearsed, the ways in which we repeat actions can and do alter according to mood; even in the Arts no two shows are ever exactly the same as they change according to the choices the performers make the audience reaction and the genre. The same concept is applied to performance in everyday life, as our actions alter according to whom is watching us and what mood we are in. Schechner goes on to highlight that just because most actions are repeated and not “new”, originality is available when one changes the context or the order of actions.

The exploration of “performance” continues throughout the passage with the author later discussing the various varieties and purposes of “performance”. He expresses the idea that the purpose of performance can alter according to the person’s needs or interest’s, different varieties of performance that ultimately have different purposes.

Finally Schechner examines the difference between ‘as’ and ‘is’ performance; ‘as’ performance allows one to examine any action or behaviour  thus encompassing a wide variety of notions and concepts under one umbrella term “performance”. ‘Is’ “performance” contains definite boundaries and is decided through more concrete ideas such as context and tradition. Despite highlighting the fundamental differences between the two approaches Schechner goes on to contextualise the idea stating that the boundaries between them are slowly disbanding due to Twenty-first century ideals that that include the desire to break down boundaries of all kinds.


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