Participatory Projects, By Tom Chambers MBE

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For the purposes of this presentation I am imagining a spectrum of events or situations ranging from the ‘instrumental’ to the ‘emancipatory’

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Participatory Projects, By Tom Chambers MBE

  1. 1. Participatory Projects Art and Design in a Social Context Gent 2007 Tom Chambers MBE University of Strathclyde, Glasgow tomsocad@tiscali.co.uk tom.chambers@strath.ac.uk A C D S
  2. 2. For the purposes of this presentation I am imagining a spectrum of events or situations ranging from the ‘instrumental’ to the ‘emancipatory’
  3. 3. Where on that spectrum does the aesthetic lie?
  4. 4. Where on that spectrum does the aesthetic lie? Is it a question of value or merely taste?
  5. 5. ‘instrumental’ - a response to practical, economic and matters of taste – merchandising. ‘emancipatory’ – enabling, concerned with social values and effective communication – social inclusion and sustainability.
  6. 6. Is it a question of truth or merely opinion?
  7. 7. I believe that the events of yesterday, where notions of trust and positive regard for others were in evidence, are the beginnings of achieving positive, communicative interaction. Communicative actions are at the core of participatory projects.
  8. 8. A brief outline of the practice from 1968 - Biography Graduate of The Glasgow School of Art in painting and sculpture. Working in educational institutions Canada, Australia and United Kingdom Exhibitions in Canada, Australia and UK
  9. 9. Focus of the presentation An environment project Questions of inclusion and exclusion Hospitals & environmental art Working with NHS and CSA (NHS Scotland) The use of CAD and presentational techniques
  10. 10. These are arts ‘projects’, working within particular communities – enabling people to work within there own areas of interest and beyond. The first project illustrated is the Kirklands Hospital Art Project, followed by a selection of others involving artists, designers and architecture students collaborating with particular community based groups.
  11. 11. Kirklands Hospital Art Project
  12. 12. Kirklands Hospital Art Project Involving those within the institutional context working in partnership with others – with Higher Education, with learning communities and the voluntary sector.
  13. 13. Kirklands Located in Bothwell, south of Glasgow, built as an asylum in the 19th century for people with learning difficulties was considered advanced for its time. By the 1970s it was considered inappropriate and subject to redevelopment.
  14. 14. Kirklands Hospital (from 1980s) The aim of the arts project was to act as a bridge to the wider community hopefully initiating change in the perception of the wider community, and staff within, to enhance the life of residents and staff.
  15. 15. Issues confronted Sensory impairment Learning difficulties Social exclusion and asylum
  16. 16. Reflecting on: Cultural exclusion Cultural institutions Cultural dominance
  17. 17. Considering issues of access to those with a sensory impairment to the cultural hierarchy of objects (galleries) and access to public sphere (discussion/dialogue)
  18. 18. Key concerns - interpretation and communication A problem of a confusion of thought. An example of the confusion of thought in the interpretation of an event (object/context) in which the interpretation of the viewers were influenced by their role in a cultural institution.
  19. 19. Two works by participants in the project The first of the last two slides – a work by a young lady with a visual impairment. The second by a young lady with sight. The first went on to initiate inclusive workshops. The second to graduate and post graduate programmes and as artist in residence in USA and Europe. In the case of the first, it was not considered possible to pursue an education in the visual arts
  20. 20. The context of the work was an institution of confinement – formerly a 19th century asylum. The context of the exhibition, and the confusion of thought, was in The Glasgow School of Art as part of the events celebrating the event of Glasgow as the European City of Culture 1990.
  21. 21. Strategy Initiate an environment project, which engages the agents of change in the built environment In education, architecture and health authorities.
  22. 22. Agents of change Beginning with the user and potential commissioners of public buildings Partners – voluntary arts, arts organisations (Third Eye Centre), art and design tutors and architectural services NHS (Scotland) and Health Board Strategic Planning officers.
  23. 23. Key issues - hierarchies in art and design practice The social applications of art and design The role of the ‘artist/designer in residence’ To follow are examples of the skills introduced for those young people working with residents with special needs. The latter a casting exercise by the residents (both in cement casting).
  24. 24. Cement casting by a student of art.
  25. 25. Cement casting by residents of the hospital
  26. 26. Aim - Bridging the communities and accessing the social institutions and the cultural institutions
  27. 27. Tools Media and Communication Considering presentational form and accessibility Questioning preconceptions in and through visual media
  28. 28. Sculpture by an artist in residence
  29. 29. Proposal by visiting artist in the pilot project
  30. 30. The finished mural for staff lounge by the visiting artist in the pilot project
  31. 31. The hospital administrative and therapy block completed during the pilot stage
  32. 32. Art interventions celebration of past enhancing the environment raising questions of value
  33. 33. A detail of the original building retained in one of the courtyards used for exhibitions and recreation.
  34. 34. A temporary installation to demonstrate the use of media
  35. 35. The first major installation with resident block in view
  36. 36. A view from the therapy room with an altered detail of the original building
  37. 37. Stain glass design by visiting artist located between recreation hall and an inner courtyard
  38. 38. Media and Communication -Material processes • fabrication and construction (adobe) • cement casting • bronze • glass • ceramic • screen-printing
  39. 39. Medium: sculpture in bronze, steel adobe fabrication and stone sets
  40. 40. Medium: ceramic and mosaic added to the recreation hall entrance
  41. 41. Medium: ceramic culpture by visiting artist located in the therapy area
  42. 42. What follows are community based projects facilitating local initiatives in: early childhood primary pupils and community groups learning community and a health unit
  43. 43. They include: facilitating local initiatives in: early childhood in an area of social deprivation primary pupils and community groups learning community and a health unit involving artists and students of architecture
  44. 44. Bronze casting with children and adults in a learning environment. Illustrated are the modelling of wax (pre-five year old) and bronze casting with a visiting Indian artist)
  45. 45. Bronze and concrete casting with community based project as part of the redevelopment of a historic building/library (adults) and changes to landscape in a hospital (children and teenagers). Illustrated sand casting technique from wood pattern to produce bronze work and paving and metal fabrication of seating (maternity hospital).
  46. 46. Mentoring young artists and designers The environment project/media workshops The participatory design stage The use of CAD in teaching & learning The participatory workshop Students of Architecture and Building Design Engineering, University of Strathclyde
  47. 47. Oncology Centre, Western Infirmary Glasgow facilitating staff initiatives under graduate and post graduate contribution in a partnership between a learning community and health unit
  48. 48. University of Strathclyde design ideas – demonstrating process virtual model presentational form image and filmic image
  49. 49. University of Strathclyde (Architecture) • Oncology centre (year 3 & 4 BDE) • Partick Jail – sensory impairment (year 3) • Care of the elderly (year 3 BDE) • East Kilbride (year 3 BDE) • School based health promotion (year 4 BDE) (John Wood – Integrated Building Design and BDE)
  50. 50. University of Strathclyde Partick Jail – Sensory Impairment virtual model presentational form image and filmic image
  51. 51. University of Strathclyde Care Home landscaping project virtual model presentational form image and filmic image
  52. 52. University of Strathclyde East Kilbride ‘village’ project virtual model presentational form image and filmic image
  53. 53. University of Strathclyde South Lanarkshire – health promotion project virtual model presentational form image and filmic image
  54. 54. Concluding remarks Light, in English is often associated with freedom, emancipation, enabling processes. The dying of the light with confinement, restraint and incarceration. I believe that the work you are involved in, which involves concepts such as engagement, participatory design process, sociability enabling - are at the core of good design – design for all. I believe as artists you are being radical and revolutionary by challenging the technological economies of production. Where communication transmits a universe of disconnected images, remarks, statements and commentaries – you are searching for aesthetic form creating a sense of order in the midst of chaos.
  55. 55. In addition to knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the key issues of an inclusive design process, you require a philosophy of design – in fact an ethical approach. In reading a new city, as in the design process, we need first an intuitive grasp of the situation in which we take one step at a time. For the V.I.P, negotiating a new urban situation, each step comes with excitement, fear, exhilaration or dread – an event fraught with danger but always with risk involved. Can a philosophy of art or life be achieved without challenging the existing norms or preconceptions and presumed certainties?
  56. 56. In forming or identifying our own point of view we begin with what is known or presumed and begin the process of respectfully challenging the claims and assertions of the given point of view, the established position. This process should be a rational argument rather than a mere assertion of unquestioned opinions. In order to establish and sustain such a dialogue we engage in communicative actions aimed at reaching a shared point of view, a common interest on which may be built a strategy for transforming our world, which at all times we share with others. We take positions but can only hold these by the power of our argument – reasoned, defendable propositions. The path we choose will be in the light of our reasoned argument or in the dark of doubt and prejudice. In moments of doubt, when we are unsure or out of step, we can discover new ways of seeing the situation, enlightening our point of view – hence the value of risk taking. At times we might be concerned with objects or buildings – objects of desire, which hold our attention and distort our seeing. At other times it is with the space between, the relationship of one to a set that casts the most critical attention on the relational dynamics of a shared urban space. The transformation of the urban space, should not only be an instrumental exercise but emancipatory. The tools necessary are media and communication in the service of the participatory project together with the users from initiation to completion.

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