The society


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The society

  1. 1. The City as Theatre According to Carr (1992) the ancient Greek Agora and the Roman Forum represented a very important sociabilisation area. It represented the collective power establishing a strict relation between individual memories and community by concentrating all kinds of everyday events ( political, religious, social, commercial). This place used to be the major expression of what the humanity accepted as symbol. It is important to say though, that this area was totally defined and easily recognized being located in the heart of the city. This area assumed the dimension of ´sacrade` once it joined people, time and place together. In this place the community used to recognize each other as components of a society, where each citizen had a contribution to make. At the same time the spectator was also the main actor. At the present time this “sacrade place” no longer exists and the link between community and `commom symbols` as the civic centre used to be in the ancient Greece and Rome are loosing it strengths. As it was said before it is due to the fact that our cities are currently sectioned, therefore the appropriation of the city for encounters of the whole society, the feeling of “ belong to a community” are getting difficult to be established. According to Carlson(1989), during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance “cities used to offer a variety of richly significant locations for the performance” as for instance: the marketplace, the areas adjacent to the cathedral, the places of the city’s mercantile leaders, etc. Therefore, from basics necessities of the urban life, all kinds of “everyday events” emerged and became essential to the social life and society as a whole. Events as for example: celebrations, festivals, ceremonies, routine activities, social encounters, unexpected meetings, socialization all of this events were very common and contributed to built up the social arenas as they enhance the sense of community, promotes place identity and sense of pride. “Collective activities like these have been higly pleasurable for people over the centuries, contributing to the maintenance of physical health as well as assisting recovery from melancholy”(Cattel , 2007) Thus, if this activities are “events”, “scenes”, the city is then a theatre where the citizens play their experiences. The society of Spectacle But along of the years the city as a theatre is no longer possible. This model and procedure have become increasingly inadequate. It firstly occurred due to the scale and form of our present cities. Secondly it is due to the velocities of our lifestyles. The cities became too large and too impersonal to this function. The theatre then had to be considered in new dimension since then. “We are now at least equally likely to look at the theatre experience in a more global way, as a socio-cultural event whose meanings and interpretations are not to be sought exclusively in the text being performed but in the experience of the audience assembled to share in the creation of the total event. … the entire theatre, its audience arrangements, its other public spaces, its physical appearance, even its location within a city, are all important elements of the process by which an audience makes meaning of its experience” (Carlson, 1989, p.2) Since the Athens Charter was declared, the city has been seen as a simple stage for the rigid functionalism of the city ( living, working, recreating and traffic). The complexity of everyday life has been reduced as a mere sequence of this four main activities. Thus the manifestations of human complexity and creativity became rare events. As Camilo Sitte once enhanced we have the necessity for symbol as they work as reference, reminding us that we belong to a community. Owing to the present lack of these feelings, the citizens are then assuming an alienated, selfish and competitive attitude in the society/ So that, the rescue of this “feelings” and “civility” are necessary. This is a big challenge for the current planners. Actually the `links` between community and public realms are quite few being also ephemeral manifestations. For that reason it can assume the characteristic of “encounters” where the citizens “meet” the civility. This article is based exactly on that: the “encounters” or “events” which can be described as briefs “moment of use” Thus, when a relation between constructed scenarios and its citizens is established, the “events” or “spectacles” emerges. It works like “connections” once it gives an “existential” approach to urban design In this study then, the urban life experience will be analyzed as scenarios. Our aim is to portray parts of cities as areas the where human behavior can be analyzed facing our current cities and its respectives difficulties. Our main focus within it is to analyze the “actors” (citizens) participation. Actors because in reality they “act” the drama of city life. Two events within the city will be analyzed separately as brief physical behavioral episodes which support the encounters or the lack of encounters as they compound the collective relations of most of our current cities and its citizens. Therefore, through the support of two different cultural frameworks and contexts, this study evaluate the usage and performance of such events that appropriates of urban space as theatrical parameters.
  2. 2. The Magic Theatre or Theatre of Existence Carnival. This event is expressed in a way that touches dimensions of history and meanings.The Carnival provides enjoyment and human interaction because there are no passive spectators at this play, in this theatrical situation the experiential condition is almost an obligation, if not a pure desire. The event The first scenario explore the spectacle of the carnival in Brazil. As it is widely recognized, the carnival has an important demand in the urban popular culture of this country. Even though the carnival is rooted in the European culture, in Brazil it assumed a different dimension , being actually a spontaneous expression of the brazilian culture. Legend, dance, allegory, symbols, fantasy, elaborated costumes, rhythm of samba, costumes, extravagant make-up, the percussion band and vocalist compound the ritual that move loads of people through the sambodrome , under the attentive eyes of the spectators. This impressive event full of character occurs once a year. The Parade starts at 9 p.m. and goes on until sunlight the next day, around 5-6 a.m. Each samba school has a time of 60 to 75 minutes to make it through the run-way. The scenario Special Effects The scenario is composed by exaggerated, colorful and big scales elements that are common in the real life. As for instance I can quote: greek temples, fairies, flying sources, waterfalls, giant butterflies and a variety of elements that will work to stimulates human dreams. The actor of this event incorporate the existing objects and buildings in their performance. The surroundings The samba draming is prepared for the action… The human atmosphere is heavy. The Carnival recur over and over again having the urban design as theatre stage. The most traditional carnival in Brazil are in the city´s streets, as parades. But along of the years a special area of the city was designated built ( called sambodrome). The Sambodrome is located at the recognized birthplace of samba and consist in an open air stadium built specially for the parade. Even though the carnival parade has the duration of only 2 nights, the sambodrome provided a major support for the event. During approximately from 60 min to 75 min this surrealistic exaggeration of movements, repetitions will cause a matrix of sensations in the spectators and actors and at the end (of the sambodrome) the spectacle finish at the Apotheosis Square.. In this square an idiosyncratic and very memorable large concrete M obstruct the samba parade to move to the city centert. Dimension of the event Picture taken from behind the Apotheosis Square According to data collected in 2007 the Rio Samba Parade attracted 200,000 spectators where 16 samba schools where competing. Each samba school was composed by with 5000 model - dancers, in total over 80,000 performers. The parade took place in the 1 kilometer long sambodrome.
  3. 3. The Meanings The Competition The Framework for the carnival is the competition between samba scholls.The judges and spectators watch the Parade in the Sambodrome. Everything that makes the Braszilian culture comes together here. The roots of the spectacle extend for over the country. Its souls springs from the tradition of the Amazon first inhabitants the indigenas Indians. In Bahia 300 years of slavery contributed with the African influence of draming and dancing. From Minas gerais the Christian pageant, the processions introduced by Portuguese colony contributed with the creation of the parade. All this infused into an incredible event. The choreography The music The music adds soul to the scenario and “give voice” for the feelings. Everything in this event is done alive even the percussion band and vocalist have to walk through the sambodrome singing all way long to not make his samba school loose points. Each samba school writes a new samba enredo or theme song for each years carnival that fits its story. Everyone in the school learns this song and sings it at the parade or otherwise their samba school loose points. The major manifestation of the carnival is the parade, which is divided in parts where a sequence of movements acts in accordance with a planned choreography. The choreography aims to express and evoke spectators attentions by imitating gestures, bows, and ordinary movements according to their function at the play. In the medieval town, the city was utilized also as a grander scale theatrical space by the ceremonies of the church assuming then, the very peculiar choreography of processions. “These great processions and the dramatic pageants that, like them moved trough the medieval city, by claiming that entire city as their setting also made a claim for the involvement of every citizen that went even beyond that of the great spectacles in the marketplace. But tough the dramatic performance may not have directly involved the same larger numbers of citizens as the great processions, they still encouraged active participation by regularly erasing any possible barrier between performance and public space.” (Carlson, 1989, p. 18) The theme The “theme” chosen represents the framework in which the spectacle will proceed. The ENREDO consist the “theme” of which the parade will explore. THe importance of the ENREDO is that it unify the actors bringing together the spectators to a celebration of civility once it materialize and give voice to the collective conscience. The ENREDO approach issues such as: a history of specific place, or pay homenage to a relevant figure in the context of the country or even also to celebrate an important conquest of the world as a whole. Each year samba schools choose a different theme. In the year 2000, for instance, schools highlighted different periods of Brazilian history, celebrating the country's 500th anniversary. In 2004, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sambodrome, samba schools were allowed to re-edit their favorite Carnival themes from the past.
  4. 4. The Magic The Actors The Bazilians share their dreams but for them the transformation is often fleeting. One moment of a perfection counts more that a lifetime of quite good in sport, in art, business and life. They live for the moment. This idea of inversion and transformation are the heart of the carnival. Night becomes day, the poor become rich, the plain become glamorous and the world biggest party becomes a serious competition. The actor are then under the lights, acting out the freedom and celebrating the life. “I am so please I did it. To actually be here. This is like a fantasy for brazilian but it is so real, and it shows anyone can do it, anyone is special enough to take part. Anyone can be transformed here” (from an anonymous actor) Carnival Critiques: The other side of the coin Behind the extravagant costumes and make-up… Samba School is basically an association of people from the same neighborhood, usually a working class community (or favela) in most cases located in a suburban area. They get together on a regular basis for samba nights and rehearsals (ensaios) at their samba court (quadra). The Samba School is like a family which hands this samba culture down through the generations. Samba schools provide invaluable jobs to the community, that is employed yearround in the production of costume and floats. The samba schools bring a sense of community and belonging. The origin of the name "samba school" comes from the legend that the early sambistas used to rehearse in an empty lot near a teachers' college. The schools have a huge impact on their neighborhoods, being the best organized entities in the favelas, with thousands of people joining the rehearsals and carnival preparations. Costumes and floats production by the community Samba Rehearse at samba court Stanley Waterman (Department of Geography, Israel ) Despite their ubiquity and cultural prominence, academic study of arts festivals has been neglected. Stanley examines how cyclical arts festivals transform places from being everyday settings into temporary environments that contribute to the production, processing and consumption of culture, concentrated in time and place. Moreover, festivals also provide examples of how culture is contested. Support for the arts is part of a process used by élites to establish social distance between themselves and others. Festivals have traditionally been innovative and have always been controlled. In the past, artistic directors wielded this control but recent attempts by commercial interests to control festivals reflect a wider situation in which marketing agencies and managers are transforming arts and culture into arts and culture industries. Today, promoting arts festivals is related to place promotion, and this encourages ‘safe’ art forms. This highlights latent tensions between festival as art and economics, between culture and cultural politics. The situationist critique identifies two elements of disintegration. Firstly, the substitution of real experiences for the experience of the spectacle as advanced capitalism invades all the areas of life, converting them into commodities which can be fabricated and marketed. It is no longer just goods which area produced but increasingly life styles. The situationist argue, is to make people alienated from their own experience since there is nothing of themselvesin ay activity they do.” ( Sadler, 1998, p.31) Peter Jackson in “Street Life the politics of Carnival”, developed the idea of Carnival as a contested social event whose political significance is inscribed in the landscape. He argued that the British contemporary event (carnival) is related to the Britain’s colonial interest in the Caribbean. So that, he focused on the disturbances of Notting Hill carnival (1976 - in which the British 'racial' discourse and a marked deterioration in relations between black people and the police, involved a 'criminalization' of black people in general). The spatial constitution of symbolic resistance is described and the paper concludes with a discussion of the 'carnivalization' of society, challenging the conventional distinction between culture and politics. Modern capitalism, organizing the reduction of all social life to a spectacle, cannot offer any other spectacle that that of our own alienation. Its vision of the city is its masterpiece” (Gray, 1974, p. 28)
  5. 5. The theatre of “non existence” Assuming that urban experience has a paradoxical reality, the performers has basically t wo reactions: the interest in establishing a major contact with the urban space (which in the present article the carnival represents) or totally the opposite: an unpleased feeling. The second example we can start by explaining the meaning of the “non existence” The event of the “non existence” Whilst in Brasil people feel attracted for the even of the carnival, the CCTV event exhibits a repulse, a choreography often not welcomed or desiderable. This second event explore the spectacle of our everyday life under the cameras of surveillance. The cameras timidly appropriates the city and its citizens without asking for permission. “They” invaded our lives, attitudes, secrets and attested t that this is for “safety reasons”. So, don’t worry everything is under control now! The non existence in this study assume the position of the brief moment in which the users ignore the presence of cameras or act assumedly in from of them. It is not important which one of these two reaction the user will adopt . After all both of them will converge for the same point : simulation of the reality. In another words people tend to feel attempted to pretend or by inhibition or for other reasons , acting in front of the cameras. “There is a way of generating a process of design that is to do with moving trough space, and being a figure in the space. We don’t’ work frm the plan but from situations that are set up; we then start to interpret the situations from a pragmatic point while searching for what they allude to.” (Coates, 2001, p.321) By 1994 around 94% of London boroughs had CCTV schemes. “It was one of the more efficient solutions found to act against the crime. “ By policing our lives through cameras of surveillance, the promotion of law and order was increasingly adopted in some cities of Uk. UK - "We're well aware of the security cameras already all over the city, but it looks like Londoners will also have to brace themselves for audio surveillance, too. In order to break up gangs, London police have begun a program using audio bugs placed in public places. So that, the user is pretending, which ensure the lack of meaning as truly exeprience of the image caught. This “simulation” then, can be stated as a “non existence.” in a way that the true reaction of the user was transformed for the presence of the cameras. Like this, the simulacrum emerges, the theatre begins. The performances possues differents magnitudes from the very longest or even years to split second events. Even though the relation between the CCTV and the community in the scenario of the city has a very brief duration, different pattern of events are created does not really mattering the length of it or the place where it is happening. The only thing is that during the moment of use of that place, the actor will add soul into it. it occurs because the person has the ability to modify his immediate situation. However, as the actor is using that place as a transient passage the actor will not be able to establish a more consistent contact with the ambient so that this event has no meaning for him. Special Effects This relation is possible due to the provision of an elaborated built environment that intends to provide surveillance for the community “beneficiating” the society with a structure that support a scenario of safety. The question of the use of technology in everyday life and anywhere else is inevitably a political question ( of all the possibilities of technology, those which are being developed at the moment have all been selected as a means of strengthening the position of the ruling class). Sciences-fiction’s version of a future where interstellar adventure coexists with a terrestrial everyday life bogged down in the same material squalor and the same antediluvian morality, means purely and simply that there still be a class of specialized rulers using the proletarian masses of factory and office to their own ends. In this perspective, the exploration of space, far from being an adventure, is no more that the enterprise these rulers have chosen, the way they found to universalize their crazy economy and give the division of labour a cosmic dimension. ( Gray, 1974, p.36)
  6. 6. The scenario Permanent fixed theatre with exclusively dramatic functions are far from being the only designable setting for performance. We will be focusing now in the estrets, public spaces. This controlled realm of safety generates theatrical Possibilities as this exhibitionism provokes full possible reactions on users that performer their relations within the city. Actually we are the target only for few minutes, just the moment of passage though this situationism generates spectacles. For few minutes or even seconds the person is associated to a place, therefore the moment of use gives to each person its meaning and its reality creating a relationship. Normally the cameras are placed in areas of relevance and areas of high flux of people and cars, being most of the time areas of passage. The choreography The city is a theatre and from the ordinary sequences of movement of the public life, the choreography emerges. An analysis of the patterns of the movement and sensory experience within the city is then possible. “At the most elementary level ( the act of walking) it has a triple ennunciative function: it is a process of appropriation of the topographical system…, it is a spatial acting out of the place… and it implies relations among differentiated positions, that is , among pragmatic contract in the form of movements…” (De Certeau, 1984, p. 98) The flux of movements overlap and will generate “passing scenes” of complexity and plurality of meanings and relations. Therefore it transform and actualize the spatial significance using the language of theatrical design. The totality of everyday life is colonized by the spectacle which uses the city, particularly the centre as a stage for its exhibition. However, the actors seems to not be very happy with the fact of having their lives under the cameras. “An ordinary day on an ordinary street. Pedestrian pass on the sidewalks, children play near front doors, people sit on benches and steps, the postman makes his rounds with the mail, two passes-by greet on the side walk, two mechanics repair a car, groups engage in conversation…”(Gehl, 1986, p. 11) At the present time for example the street surveillance CCTV is typically used for identifying antisocial behaviour, drugmisuse and dealing, missing persons So that, groups of “actors” allege that the are no reasons cameras. The actor’s reactions
  7. 7. The actors point of view The Critique The impressions of CCTV from the perspectives of actors from both sides give an exact notion of what we are living in the society. A 2005 Home Office study concluded that most CCTV systems do not cut crime or make people feel safer. Of 14 closed circuit television camera schemes examined by criminologists, only one - for car parks was shown to reduce offences.. Watched users( ordinary people of streets) – “…people generally forget that they might be followed and watched by CCTV operators and personally withdraw from any conscious attempt to imagine what might be going on behind their back”. (Klauser, 2007). Some “watched users ” also attested for the “ loss of freedom and privacy in this particular context”. (Pain, 2001, p. not available) Watchers (surveillance camera operators) – “living an exclusively technologically mediated experience of the city. At the same time, they are exposed to sensory stimuli from the franticl ife , noise, heat , and odors of their direct surrounding in the control room.” (klauser, 2007) Some people also argue that the CCTV do not prevent the crime and it only displace the crime to another area where there are no cameras of surveillance. Also approaching the surveillance issue Jane Jacobs stress the need for activity to provide surveillance therefore, this surveillance which she is referring to is the natural surveillance. Natural surveillance is the voluntary control by the users which assume an active participation in the “drama of civilization versus barbarism”. (Jacobs, 1961, p. 40) The meanings of surveillance cameras “A bubble of panoptic and classifying power, a module of imprisonment that makes possible the production of an order, a closed autonomous insularity – that is what can traverse space and make itself independent of local roots.”( De Certeau, 1984, p.111) The panoptic approach (or “police state”) involves explicit control and/or privatisation of public space, the presence of the explicit police/security guards, CCTV systems as tools of control, covert surveillance systems, and exclusion. (Carmona, 2003, p. 124) Thus there is a kind of manipulative control as a massacre upon ordinary activities which generates the spectacles of public life. If by one side someone has the control of the area, by the other side this situation generates the suppression of the normal usage, changing with it the reality. “Place ballet is a focus of watching. People are attracted to movement and bustle; they become watchers who in turn become additional participants in the place ballet.” (Seamon, 1979, p. 106) “Watching is a situation in which the person looks out attentively upon some aspects of the world for an extended period of time”. (Seamon, 1979, p. 105) “Watching establishes an extended span for attention between person and place. To watch is to pay attention at length to the world at hand-to have one interest occupied as mutually the world receives that interest….Watching is essential for places filled with human activity because it demands and sustains behaviours which are publicly proper for the particular place”. ( Seamon, 1979 p, 107) Clearly these “watching” which the author is referring to is full of passion , showing the interest for the urban life, for the urban experience . These “watching “ suggests the observer interest is in the relation that users establish with the space, in the richness of the area . Therefore this “watching “ definitively is not the same “watching” of the camera operators watch us. The camera operators do not feel the magic of a place. They are not living that experience physically, touching, hearing , smelling they are only watching and for obligation.
  8. 8. “Constructed situations would be ephemeral without a future, passage ways, synthesis of those sublime moments when a combination of environment and people produces atrancendent and revolutionary conciousness. (…)Each constructed situation would provide a décor and ambiance of such power that it would stimulate new sorts of behavior, glimpse into an improved future social lie based upon human encounter and play. (…) the mission to construct situation was proposed as an honorable revolutionary alternative to the creation of traditional artworks.”(Sadler,1998,p.106) Recently the Trafalgar Square was a stage to a big event entitled “The Great Trafalgar Square Freeze” . The idea behind the Freeze came from the an activist group that has previously succeeded in freezing Grand Central Station as one of around 70 ‘missions’ they claimed to have undertaken around the world (although mostly in the US). The participants were told little more than to gather at to Trafalgar Square shortly before 3.30 and listen out for a NelsonEsque- trumpeter. When he stopped playing, all “actors” were frozen on the spot in a pose of choice. The event had the duration of approximately 5 minutes and caused many reactions as follows: 1- “At its most basic level, the Freeze kept up our fine tradition of using our public spaces for what they were intended - grand social gestures, coming together to meet and interact in our cities’ great public spaces. 2- Fundamentally you could say that it was all a load of daft meaningless nonsense achieving little more than giving adults the chance to act like children. This is a good thing. 3. While not a direct protest, the Freeze was reminiscent of other disruptive public gatherings like Reclaim the Streets (or the Poll Tax riots at that same location for that matter!) which have been so effective in bringing people together to act as one to do something that no one individual could do on their own. However, what was different about the Freeze was the way it achieved this. Quietly, confidently, privately even. The power of the individual united to create a tight-loose group with a single purpose but a group that did not require the participants to loose their own individualism to the group. Rather that individualism was encourage, celebrated even, a collection of individuals standing together apart for one moment and one purpose (Comments from anonymous actors) This video is available through: v=PupR5V9aE2s and it is actually very interesting as it gives the exact notion of the importance performance in the theater of our cities. As we could see public spaces are not just physical settings for every day experience, or glimpses of behavior, they also possess a host of subjective meanings and conditionate human behavior. So that designs must take into account the symbolic meaning of space as it defines forms, landscape and describe the way human beings use spaces and creates the events. In our society the events play an important role as they give meanings for the urban life. The lack of the events represent the emptiness , the failure of the existence of cities as expression of human existence. Therefore the events are essential for the urban life and as we said they are becoming very rare.
  9. 9. Bibliography Carlson, M. (1989) The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture, Cornel University press: London Carmona, M et al (2003) Public spaces – urban Places Architectural Press: London Carr, S. et al (1992) Public Spaces,Cambridge University press: Cambridge Cattel, V., Dines,N.,Gesler, W. &Curtis,S. Mingling, observing, and lingering; everyday public spaces and their implications for well-being and social relations (2007) Coates, N.(2001) The Unknown City – Contesting Architecture and Social Space, MIT Press, London. De Certau, (1984) The Practice of everyday Life, University of California Press: London Gehl, J. (1996) Life Between Buildings, Van Nostrand Reinhold Gray, C (1974) Leaving the 20th century – the incomplete work of the situationist international, Free Fall publications :Brussels Jackson, P. (1988)Street Life the Politics of the Carnival Jacobs, J. (1961) The Death and life of great American Cities: The failure of the modern town Planning, Peregrine Books: London. Jarvis, B. (1996) Mind /Body: Space/time; Things events in Urban Design Studies vol.2 Klauser, F. R. Disturbances in the sensory experience of the city: CCTV and the development of an unreal urban "parallel world The senses and Society p173(15) (July 2007) Pain, R. & Townshend, T. (2001) A safer city centre for all? Senses of “community safety” in Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle: Sadler, S. (1998) The Situationist City, MIT Press: London Seamon, D. (1979) A geography of the Life World, Croom Helm: London Internet
  10. 10. Bibliography Carlson, M. (1989) The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture, Cornel University press: London Carmona, M et al (2003) Public spaces – urban Places Architectural Press: London Carr, S. et al (1992) Public Spaces,Cambridge University press: Cambridge Cattel, V., Dines,N.,Gesler, W. &Curtis,S. Mingling, observing, and lingering; everyday public spaces and their implications for well-being and social relations (2007) Coates, N.(2001) The Unknown City – Contesting Architecture and Social Space, MIT Press, London. De Certau, (1984) The Practice of everyday Life, University of California Press: London Gehl, J. (1996) Life Between Buildings, Van Nostrand Reinhold Gray, C (1974) Leaving the 20th century – the incomplete work of the situationist international, Free Fall publications :Brussels Jackson, P. (1988)Street Life the Politics of the Carnival Jacobs, J. (1961) The Death and life of great American Cities: The failure of the modern town Planning, Peregrine Books: London. Jarvis, B. (1996) Mind /Body: Space/time; Things events in Urban Design Studies vol.2 Klauser, F. R. Disturbances in the sensory experience of the city: CCTV and the development of an unreal urban "parallel world The senses and Society p173(15) (July 2007) Pain, R. & Townshend, T. (2001) A safer city centre for all? Senses of “community safety” in Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle: Sadler, S. (1998) The Situationist City, MIT Press: London Seamon, D. (1979) A geography of the Life World, Croom Helm: London Internet
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