Mandal, Norway, September 2010Mandal, the most southern town in Norway, is in the process of building a Culture House to serve the Lindesnes Region. The cultural history of the city reveals an extraordinary heritage in Norwegian art. Mandal is the city where five of Norways most significant artists were born in the nineteenth century, Adolph Tidemand, Olaf Isaachsen, Amaldus Nielsen, Emanuel Vigeland and Gustav Vigeland.
Lindesnes Region Næringshage (chamber of commerce) in light of their future Culture House, established a project entitled ”Gull av Gustav”, drawing on Mandals cultural heritage and seeking inspiration to navigate into its future.
The committee for ”Gull av Gustav” contacted Kenneth Hansen, the director of Norwegian Creative Industries, to ask a simple question. How can we create an art event that is unique to Mandal and navigate ourselves into the 21st century? What are the conditions and premises that create a sustainable culture and art form?
Artist Randy Naylor was contacted by the Norwegian Creative Industries to design a blueprint that would constitute a ”game changer” in the Norwegian arts. A projectthat would cast off the maritime city of Mandal into a sustainable future. Skap10 was launched with enthusiasm.
Upon visiting Mandal and studying the future site of the Culture House, Naylor realized that this 12.000 m2 site represented the perfect template to investigate self-organization and bottom-up theories. In Mandal, where Norwegian art flourished in the 19th century, we had the opportunity to create the first social sustainable art intervention project in Norway. A bottom-up design where the citizens of Mandal become the protagonists and occupy the space.
The common practice in contempory Nowegian art festivals is to hire a curator, who in turn selects a group of artists. This traditional plan produces a separation between the artist, the art and the audience. What if, in Mandal we develop a bottom-up model, where the public becomes the artist and leave behind the traditional sense of audience? The audience would become the participants through self-organization, collaboration, and play. In this design the participants create the public art and engage in complex social sustainable practices. Sustainable practice promoting the sharing of knowledge, of tools, of resources. In this model the social sustainable practice becomes the generator for public health and a true sustainable culture.
The self-organization model represents a new crossroads. Self-organization is the appropriate process where we entertain new assemblages of cross-fertilization, complexity, heterogeneity and multiplicity. Self-organization shows itself in participation by many stakeholders. True participation has all the parties determine the agenda, its process and realization. The advent of You Tube, Face book and MySpace represent social interaction models of global assemblage and micro space distribution. The PhotoLine in Skap10 is such an assemblage where we reversed the electronic Facebook model to create a real self-organized insurgent space.If one can self organize on Face book then one can self organize on actual space.
The social sustainable model promotes community assemblages, public health and the conditions where one can think, create and act sustainable. Where one emerges from a consumer to a producer. This promotes education, democracy and also citizen participation while enhancing the physical, mental and social well being of the population.
Skap10 presented us with a unique opportunity to engage and explore these new aesthetics. The site was surging with energy, as this was the future site of the culture institutions in Mandal. The community decided to explore new ways and was very focused on their desire and need to create a social sustainable environment. Skap10 represented a 21st century intervention into contemporary mapping and environmental awareness, self-organization and bottom-up design and action.
”Milieu has neither beginning nor end, but is surrounded by other middles, in a field of connections, relationships, extensions and potentials.” Niran Abbas
Skap10 Para-Site – Mandal, Norway
From Theory to Practice
The construction site of the Culture House was chosen as our insurgent space. We subscribed the subtitle Para-Site to our location. Para-Site can be described as something within the site, or something that is a multiple.
The philosopher Michel Serres describes this situation where the Parasite plays the mischevious operator, the provocative participator within. Indeed, the participants of Skap10 were entering a process through bottom-up and self-organization ,where social networks, participation and sharing of ideas became the new art form. Curtis Carlson of Silicon Valley describes it this way. ”In a world where so many people now have access to education and cheap tools of innovation, innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb.
Our occupied space was measured around 12000 m2. Naylor designed an algorithm pattern that would become the template for our working process. Most building constructions begin with driving down piles into the foundation of the site. The Skap10 design was to reverse this process and plant 28 tree poles on the site creating an algorithm forest. ”Self-Organizing systems organize their behavior in relation to certain focal points in their environment. According to self-organization theory, order in an interconnected system of elements arises around what are called attractors, which help to create and hold stable patterns within the system. These attractors form a kind of landscape that shape and determine patterns of interaction within the system” (Robert Dilts).
Areas of Focus
The Photoline was introduced as a site specific public art and participation sculpture. If one can self-organize on Face book, then one can use the same model and self-organize on actual space. We connnected our 136 meter line to an on site photographers studio giving us access to computers and printers. Students and the citizens of Mandal were invited to take photographs of their favorite place, people and record the past, present and future of Mandal. They decided the size and photoshop effects.The studio printed their photos and each person found a place to hang their work on the Photoline. The prints were made of water proof ink and outdoor foil and could survive harsh weather conditions.
This 136 meter Photoline crossing our site, constituted an assemblage that is relational and promotes an organic unity among the players. The photographs represented emergent qualities among the participants, linking their photos to the city, landscape, friends and family. The photos from the fashion performance became the photos on the Photoline. The photos taken during the creation of the play space appeared as the photos on the Skap10 FaceBook site. Upon the completion of the project, the photographers were invited to claim their pictures and they distributed their works on their walls at home, classroom and offices. Thus spreading the project beyond the initial site.
The game plan was to try to collect all of our materials within a radius of 5 kilometers. In recycled processes, usually what you need is right in front of you. We used Face book, SMS, local newspapers and word of mouth to collect our sails. This triggers the social sustainable process, the self-organization and distribution process and defines our field conditions.
Skap10 introduced the process of form generation and topological space. One can argue that sustainable process are non-anthropocentric processes. With the introduction of form generation and the folding of space, sails are knotted, folded, twisted into a morphogenetic topology. The knotted sails give reference to Gustav Vigelands anthropocentric body forms, now twisted, knotted and folded into organic tones. Contemporary ethics is about harvesting the energies from the winds, the water and the waves. The Sail sculptures of Skap 10 signals and complements this transformation.
Local fishermen were contacted to donate their used nets. What once collected food on the table now collects social networking and serves sustainable table manners.
A quick study of common public playgrounds reveals that they do not enhance play. Welded rigid fixed parts and look alike pieces, the playground merely serves as a parking space for children and adults. The Skap10 Network is a process to create an organic play space where the stakeholders play and through play create the organic play structures in the same process. The stakeholders decide the design and the form generating dialogue creates the sculpture. The playground safety becomes an inherent feature of the group dynamics where the loose, improvised assemblage is bottom up and emergent. Play, safety and process are not abstract linear requirements, rather they merge as an integral composition.
The Network provides an assemblage where one is creating the conditions where one can think, organize and act sustainable.The sustainable playground becomes a dynamic environmental force. It is a playground that is designed through play and experimentation by the stakeholders.
”The relation of parts to the whole is casual, the whole emerges from the casual interaction between component parts” (Manual DeLanda).
Botton-Up : From Consumer to Producer
Skap10 becomes a navigation in contemporary philosophy. Seeking to synthesize broad perspectives, knowledge, skills, interconnections and an epistemology to resolve holistically a set of real world problems. We gathered together a workshop, which became a design station, a meeting place and a kitchen. Our intention was to create a fashion show as the grand finale on the completion of our park. We wanted to re-dress fashion, assemble used garmets and Norwegian sweaters and move from being consumers to producers. Rather than continue the habit of buying new clothes, we engaged in a process where you become a designer. Like all fashion designers, all you need is a pair of scissors. You then cut and paste to arrange an assemblage. From one sweater, you cut the middle to become a skirt and then you have a top and a bottom, a sleeve to become a hat, a long sleeve to become a legging. You continue the same process with a dress. The chatter and the sharing of ideas of the group produces the collection.
Blue Jeans and it Swings
Blue Jeans have become the most recognizable garment in our contemporary fashion. Everyone has one or two pairs in their closet to dispence with. An art work takes shape when its identity is altered. When it becomes something else and still very recognizable to the psyche.
One group produced a Blue Jean Sculpture. The task is to take 300 pairs of blue jeans and to weave them together to create a large hammock. Here you can slip into your own pair of jeans that is now part of the weave.The weave becomes endless and engaging. To accomplish this task we decided that we were not allowed to tear or use extra cloth to tie and shape the sculpture. We would accomplish this task only by weaving and using knots to braid the jeans togeter. Your playground takes shape as you play. Blue Jeans and it Swings becomes a song, a dance, a play, a theater for your recycled Jeans.
Skap 10 requires a stage and sound. A musical trigger and attractor, a music that we produce ourselves. Students from the local high school electronics class were recruited to design the stage. Local musicians were contacted and arrived with samplers, drum machines and synthesizers. Sounds were sampled on the site, and the keyboards were programmed and arranged to allow anyone to create sounds and play. The self-organization process creates initiative and spontaneous action among the players. Within hours the Sound Garden attracted musicians and their sounds attracted more players. Soon there was a playing queue and the improvised assembly of a score of bands. The sound garden produces its own sounds and a contineous music during the constructing of the park. When the time arrived to present the Fashion Show the music pad was well rehearsed and provided the music for the setting.
Our emphasis was to create a multiplicity of sound layers, spontaneously create DJ assemblages, and again become our own producers and arrangers.
Students from the local high school media department filmed the the entire Ska10 process over three days. The recording was edited into a video published on You Tube.
(You Tube Randy Naylor Skap 10)
There were over 250 citizens who participated in the Skap10 process. There were scores of others who were indirectly involved. This includes the press, the NRK television crew, the citizens who donated the tools,nets, sails,ropes,clothing. There were school teachers, construction workers from the site, museum directors, local artists, local architects, culture staff from Mandal city, the regional chamber of commerce, families and children, the town hall meeting.
We created the project over three days. One day for a local landscape firm to plant the trees. Two days for the citizens of Mandal to self-organize and create the 136 meter Photoline, NetWork sculpture, Blue Jean sculpture, Sails sculptures, Sound Garden and Fashion show.
Our intention was to create a new articulation in art through social sustainable practices. To focus our attention on collaboration, experimentation, public engagement, hybridity, culture, and trust. The goal of Skap10 is to create a new model of culture where the audience becomes the producer and thereby the artist. Rather than make an exhibition in the traditional sense where there is a separation between the artist and the audience. In the bottom-up design the audience, the producer and artist are integrated. This folding enhances social sustainable, interactive skills, cross-fertilized knowledge, and group problem solving. To paraphrase Jane Jacobs, the real magic of the living city comes from below, conducted through a loose assemblage of improvised inventions and actions by the citizens.
We now know that the real culture is outside the architectonic. ” Amid these demographic stocks is born the city of angels, the city is no longer necessarily linked to the monumental space of palaces, adminstrative buildings, theaters, offices or industrial complexes. Each urban mass crumbles into an archipelago with islands awash in flows of messages; the cities of the planet form an immense and capricious galaxy surrounded by the ether of information.” (Marcel Henaff) The faces, the angels on the PotoLine replace the skin and bones of the building, the flow, the crossroads and the rhapsody are the nodes in this transmission.
If we are going to solve our environmental,social and economic sustainable challenges in the 21st century,then every citizen needs to become a knowledge player and conductor, an interdependent intellingent node. Skap10 is a stART in this direction. Occupy is born.