Mis-Guided Exploration of Cities: an ambulant investigation of participative politics of place
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The politics of place and walking as an arts practice form the core concerns of my research. The research is being conducted with particular reference to the ongoing Mis-Guide projects, conceived and produced by the site-specific arts company, Wrights & Sites, of which I am a member. Our apparent rejection of performance-making for an audience has led to walking with spectators as collaborators in the work, and has made the physical journeys and verbal exchanges along the way an integral part of the practice. Through this work, which revolves around place, site-specific arts and urban walking, I am harnessing existing knowledge about cities as spectacle in the footsteps of the Flaneur, the Dadaist, and the Situationist and in recognition of contemporary works by artists who use journey and place as the text, reference points and resources that generate or support their research and practice. I am exploring a sense that urban spaces and places can offer passages to utopian, creative and optimistic relationships with the everyday. I am engaged in a research writing or re-writing of the city activated by wanderings and explorations that can lead, for example, to an active engagement in issues of ecology and environmental planning. In the spirit of a walk between places and ideas I have attempted to structure the writing as if the writer and the reader are passing though or over different thresholds. We pass through thresholds or doorways or across boundaries in our physical and mental development but we also employ such concepts practically and imaginatively in the devising of performance work. As theatre-makers we could make claim to be leaving the everyday and entering a dedicated space called a studio where by degrees we often engage in vocal, physical and mental practices that might appear very strange and out of place in any other context. The crossing of thresholds and boundaries is also part of the composition of performance with entrances and exits, appearance and disappearance, transformations and shape shifting as key aspects of such work. Some of these thresholds in this thesis might be regarded as doorways or obstacles whilst others might verge closer to the ambient hubs noted by poets and pychogeographers. I see this writing as a means of interrogating and exploring and developing my own practice towards particular social and environmental issues.
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