Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

PROJECT | Placed Update

by Linda Carroli

This week I’ve managed to spend some dedicated time working on Placing, a cultural writing and publishing project funded by the Visual Art Board of the Australia Council. As you know the project has two central aims:

  • documentation and investigation of place through the streams I have described on the project website.
  • an investigation of new and emerging publishing platforms available through the web 2.0 environment. In the first instance, this may be a Wiki or blog where projects can be posted during the research process.

I’ve now amassed quite a bit of information about emerging and changing ideas about our cities, communities and places for Placed. This includes interventions, artworks, events etc that are articulated in urban, suburban and community situations and that have catalysed or enabled other ways of thinking, living and doing in the urban environment. These projects, regardless of scale, are genuinely concerned with the way we envision, create and live in our places.

A number of projects, while very interesting and worthy, may not be included in the project. I’m still uncertain about some site specific art projects. However, you might say that art can change people’s perspectives and that’s the first step to changing the way we live and do. That’s quite true and there are many precedents of artists having laid the groundwork (so to speak) for future changes. So the reality is that I really have to think this through … Perhaps I just solved my own dilemma by calling some of this work ‘groundwork’. These ideas are emerging – they may or may not stick – and, in some instances, it’s difficult to ascertain what the work does in or with urban space or place except, perhaps, disrupt it. Disruption is, of course, an artistic strategy and one of the precursors to reorganisation. It can be absolutely essential in transforming urban spaces.

In terms of making the research and gathering process more open, I’ve been using Twitter, Facebook and Delicious to post links about projects and ideas that I think may be suitable for Placed or other parts of the Placing project. My username in most online environments is ‘lcarroli’. So please feel free to search, follow and share. On Delicious, ‘placing’ is one of my tags.

I’ve had some adventures exploring a range of web 2.0 publishing opportunities and platforms. To date, the project has been big on gathering and sharing and I have not yet considered the scope for engaging communities and comments. Ideally, I’d like to know what other people think and I would also like you to make suggestions about what to include and to comment on what you see in your own locality that is ushering change. The purpose of working with these technologies is to engage readers (and their insights) who don’t necessarily read art books, journals and magazine.

So far, I have looked at a number of possibilities including blogging, Slideshare, Google Maps, Flickr and wiki. I’ve also looked at some print on demand or self-publishing options like Lulu and Blurb to output to a bookform. However, I’ve also stumbled on some quite flexible tools such as Capzles and Openzine. Therefore, it is likely, that there will be more than one ‘publication’ from this project delivered via a variety of content sharing platforms.

I’ve also been doing some research into a vast array of projects happening in all kinds of places and communities. The projects that I have found particularly poignant are community based projects enabled through effective, inclusive and innovate cultural and social planning. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a photograph of and comments about a neighbourhood street event at Sandgate. In Newcastle in New South Wales, the city council has introduced an ‘Our Street’ program that makes it easy for residents to organise street parties in a safe and well managed way. I’ve not found any DIY Revitalisation processes yet, but it is certainly well within the capacities of local shopping and business centres to pool resources to create a sense of place in some of the more fragmented and dispersed suburban centres.

Another project that I have noted is a cultural heritage study with the Eurobodalla Aboriginal community. What is particularly noteworthy about this project is that, after examining the cultural values of places and the land, those cultural values will be integrated into integrate local planning processes. This leads into some critical frameworks and possibilities for ‘planning’.


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