Space-time and Everyday Art

“You might think you know Lancaster. You do, in fact. You know where the best place to see two old people kissing is. You know where the worst neighbourhood is. You know where the best place is to see a beautiful sunset. But what you know is only a fragment. The more you challenge yourself to shift how you move through where you move, the more the city will move you. Maybe this is obvious too.”

– received by email, 9pm, Day One of Proto-type Theater’s Fortnight project

While our everyday lives are filled with movement, we don’t often stop to think about how we habitually travel around our cities, or how cities themselves are made through many people’s overlapping paths. In 2011, Proto-type Theater began producing a two-week project called Fortnight where participants are invited to hand over their contact information and then begin an experiment of trying to see and know their cities differently. In Bristol, Lancaster and then Manchester, people have experienced fortnights filled with emails, SMS messages, RFID badges, tweets, websites, gatherings with strangers and invitations to visit city spaces that, for a short period of time, offer playful activities and interactions. While for some people pre-existing commitments make it difficult to visit the expiring space-times of the project, others fully immerse themselves in the world it helps to create – inserting art-filled moments into their everyday routines and musing about how they might travel and experience cities differently.

I undertook participant observation during the Lancaster run of this project, sought feedback from previous participants and analyzed anonymous data records provided by the company. Doing so has provided opportunities to reflect upon how an art project can change everyday routines and habits, upon the degree of flexibility that exists within everyday travel, and upon the embodied times of interruption and waiting that permeate experiences in the city.

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Hui, A. (under review). Complicating mobilities, complicating lives: technology, everyday routines and embodied times in Fortnight. In P. Petralia (ed.) As we see it: reflections on technology, space and perception. Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan.

A peer-reviewed article based on the conference paper below is also under preparation.

Conference paper:

Hui, A. (2012). ‘Art as an everyday intervention: shifting times, places and mobilities in the pervasive media performance project Fortnight’, Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, New York, USA (25 February).