Unlimited Free Space: Comprehensive Waterfront Plan
Lefebvre writes that architectural spaces represent a political use of knowledge; imply an ideology designed to conceal that use and; embody a technological simulation of the possible within the existing mode of production. Any theme proposed by any gallerie or haus devoted to the presentation of art and architecture risks specialist representations counter to everyday life as experienced. But for some time, a challenge has been set before the marginal actors in natural-human social space: To produce a single, defragmented space by readdressing the human production of specialist space through thought and act; "space as locus of production, as itself product and production, is both the weapon and the sign of [our] struggle... This gigantic task now calls for the immediate production of space, both as product and as a work, in the sense in which art created works."
In New York - the westernmost point of a line that draws its semicircle to Graz in Austria - borderline behavior is one more mythologized attraction for tourists and transplants alike. The quasi-madness, the ersatz lunacy magnetizing dreamers to XX Century Gotham - is legendary, the fantasy of filmmakers in LA and Bombay, Helsinki and Sydney. The infinite line of the Empire State Building is said to herald capital's primitive longing for the sun, for holy transcendence. But its penultimate spire bears useless dirigible moorings, a direct trajectory to the moon, a lunatic fringe of skyhooks that support Adolph Loos's thesis of "ornament as crime".2 Borderlines are for crossing, like rules are made for breaking. Caught crossing the borderlines, one is crucified: jailed, expulsed, exiled. Rules comprise the markings of measurement removed from the body: infused in a meterstick, invested in law, never give an inch.
Art Space as Borderline Interface
Borderlines have been established for the division of space, which is not only about property, but about the production of specialist labor. But the gaps between these spaces, "between the space of the philosophers and the space of people who deal with material things" escapes definition. This is because there are no border-lines, no divisions of space that are not the products of history, itself the product of economics.3
The avant-garde draws its name from the fragment of an army that raced to the walls of a fortress, spreading terror and disinformation, setting fire to the surrounding terrain. Into the no-man's land of negotiation, the borderlands of dispute, urban areas of poverty, neglect, so-called racial isolation, the artist prepares the way for speculators, dealers, police and boutiques. Despite the nominal efforts of Dada, Bauhaus, surrealists, constructivists, Lettrists, Situationists, Fluxus and more, Kreuzberg is now Berlin Mitte, Soho is a shopping mall, Saint Germain-des-Pres rivals the Marais in high rent. Is it possible to determine a practice that blazes a trail toward a less concrete borderline; not to an end of the dusty road and its famine or, even a new road's beginning but, off the road without blindfolded benefit of a four-wheeled tool? Maybe the practice must involve neither approach nor retreat. Maybe we need to permanently inhabit the borderlines; a borderline experience for a continuous infiltration by space through the electric body politic.
Borderlines in space, borderliners in space. These terms are the products of epistemological abstractions, gravestones that are worn with time. Their use value is suffocated in the thickening atmosphere of exchange value, which demands their renewal to continue the production of labor. Water, like our skin - ourselves - borders the air. Its sound and its smell are carried to any number of fishes and birds, to owners and pets; distinctly blending into the sounds and the smells of what are called things. Through the electromagnetic vapors, space clamours to be recognised. The sun's heat and the cold light of the moon cross our fragmentary borderlines, joining and erasing them in a single rhythmic space.
A Model of Space as Borderline Interface
A model of space necessarily involves the production of a model. Unlike
space, the model is temporary. The model is a work in the sense that
nature is a work - a town with its fields, waters and forests. It is the
work not of the planner or architect but of the users, the work of a
populace whose activities nurture the model's growth, the work of the
environmental materiel that informs the work, of all the natural producers
of the work.
The purpose of producing such a model is strategic, "the study of natural
rhythms and of the modification of those rhythms and their inscription in
space by means of human actions." This strategy rejects the devices of
"demarcations and orienting markers to be memorized, designated and
invested with symbolism." It is a momentary and practical model toward
awareness of local bodies as subjects in the design of
space and everything in it.
Triple Play: individual electric & Bernd Knaller
Propaganda Site vs. Outta Site/Steirischer Herbst vs. Circle Line
Kunstler Haus vs. Haus der Arkitektur
Three individuals meet in the unitary electromagnetic space of two urban environments. Bernd Knaller of Graz, Norwegian Vibeke Jensen based in New York and Black Man Norman Douglas each assume "the part of the researcher. A researcher who finds what he [sic] is looking for in the specific way he is searching."5 In the pursuit of a total non-totalitarian exploration of ArtSpace and its Border-Lines (borderliners6), these people have initiated a process conceptually linked to the derive and its corollary detournement. Circle Line/Outta Site
On Saturday afternoon, 14 June 1997 at 1500 hours, we left the pier at 42nd Street on The Circle Line Tour boat. Three hours later, we completed the boat's round trip of Manhattan Island with 72 color prints and two audio cassettes as documentation.
On Friday, 4 July 1997 at 1200 hours, the three of us begin a derive at the 42nd Street pier that followed the Manhattan waterfront. We did not arrive at the East River, site of the fireworks display7 until well after nightfall, when it was long over.
For this expedition, we carried recording equipment, including:
recording walkman w/ microphone & headphones
2 polaroid cameras
2 35 mm SLR cameras with film for b&w slides
stopwatch (never used) several notebooks and/or diaries data sheets project specific questionnaire
mobile phone w/ conversation recording function
In addition, we brought along other useful materiel,
coverall/worker ensemble with logo
sleep gear (bedrolls)
project identification cards
project propaganda sheets and/or "flyers"
backpacks - miscellaneous
We postponed discussing various ways of presenting these recordings and the used equipment in Graz until the derive was over. After four days, we ended the derive where we started it and began the process of planning a "repair" derive to access all points of the waterfront we had missed the first four days. This took place late on a Friday night, for we had planned to reach the Fish Market. It was closed. Once this was done, we began "editing" the received and recorded ideas and materiel.
A process of analysis provided part of the groundwork for the third aspect of the Manhattan Circle Line, the taxicab. Within a week of completing the waterfront expedition we hired a taxi to drive us around the island along the outermost streets, as close to the waterfront as possible. This was recorded on videotape, in notebooks, in memory, etc.
In late July, the material was assembled and analyzed for the purpose of making decisions on our Steirischer Herbst presentation. Of course, certain decisions had already been made. In August, the tapes were transcribed in preparation for the newspaper we later published in Graz.
This website presents the contents of those transcripts, the photos taken
at the time the interviews were conducted, and some small maps. The second
phase of the Unlimited Free Space: Comprehensive Waterfront Plan is under
development and should soon follow this one.