... I have a interest in what I call dead spaces ... I have been wondering within these areas for along time, I seek them out, I interact with them ... I see pathways that don’t exsist ... these path ways and the interaction of the non are how I seek to understand ... what constitutes a dead space is not its pure emptiness, though I seek the empty within them ... they have mulitple stories, and often have lived in past lives or are yet to live, but all are in the present ... they are places where people traverse ... they are free and open, living and breathing a subdued and rasping breath ... each breath is significant, but many refuse the stale air that is expelled ... areas that are dead, may only be so at certain times ... other areas are subjected to a life of ... whilst others opt for ... the empty in their design ... within the dead though is the living, a free state of ... legend ... interpretation ... imagination ... they are places where the other can happen if there is a will to do so ... they hide the lurking truths that are repelled through the mainstream ... the erk of society and life that we try to ignore ... they are all encompasing and disconnected ... ripped from the limbs of the constructed, both physical and mythical ...

During the past three years at RMIT I have been developing an enquiry into the nature, environment and activity of place and space. This enquiry is being made through a design practice that is peformative and situated, in that it engages with the place that the design will manifest within, or the environment that will fuel the outcome.

Within place we find an order, a stability of information that expresses periods of time that have unfolded, of movements and gatherings, of objects and trajectories. I see this as an ordered ether that is in effect a multitude of multidimensional fields made up of memory, tone, presence, environment, sounds, trajectories, light etc in essence varied digital and analogue data. This is what I refer to as a dead space. A dead space is the acknowledgement of life past and life to come, it holds reference to the properties of time, movement, vector and vortex and holds within it possibility for disorder and instability.

Physical materialisation of these data fields is possible through the placing of oneself within a place, and approaching this place with a open mind of enquiry. This period of time, a transitory time, is turning of place into, as Cherteau outlines in The practice of everyday life, a practised place, in that it takes on the properties of time, movement, vector and vortex. Through this engagement with these data fields, dead spaces are explored and become a practised place. In other words a practised place is a period of time within the other-ness of a place, its ether of previous manifestations and connections.

Wondering with empty stomachs, myself and Neal talk slowly as we traverse a foreign city. As we walk we arrive at a roundabout housing an ancient and magnificent fig tree. It stands within the artificial mass of the city, propping itself up by its many tentacles like a mirror opposite of a woodland clearing—a referential space, an incision into the other wise dense surrounds.

The works created during this period are textural and narrative materialisation’s of selected data fields, they are personal poetic interpretations of encounter and intrigue. These works are very much situated within the practice of sampling, of capture and collection, of curation and composition. Through this process we take from the place, we draw from its offering for personal rhetoric and aethestic.

My interest in materialisation extends to, what I call the dissipation of artefact. A things decay and transition into the dead ether of place. Through dissipation we give back to the place, we add to its evolving structures of past and present, its in this period that the artefact is relinquished from the hands of the instigator, of the creator, the designer the performer, composer,. It is here that we find the balancing contradiction of personal aesthetic and collective or social space. The ephemeral artefact then is never finished, it can be argued that it may have never started, that the creative process and its outputs are situated with in transitional space, a continual journey of departure.

I would like to draw on the writings of Cage to underpin my reflections. A sentence of two from the article Forerunners of modern music first published in 1949.

Music means nothing as a thing.
A finished work is exactly that, requires resurrection.

The engagement with the dead space is also an engagement with the state of flow. The state of flow is a conscious yet subconscious processes, using our built knowledge to underlie a subconscious drift. Through this we develop the possibility of ambience and encounter, we acknowledge and converse with the sounds of others and others things.

John Cage in his imaginary conversation with Satie from 1958, has this to say in regards to sound composition.

Why is it necassary to give the sounds of knivess and forks consideration? Satie says so. He is right. Otherwise the music will have to have walls to defend itself, walls, which will not only constantly be in the need for repair, but which, even to get a drink of water one will have to pass beyond, inviting disaster.

Moving forward in a state of self loss, they attune to unseen pathways and the ambient unintended of the city, the two men ‘let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there’ (Theory of the Dérive, Published in Internationale Situationniste #2, 1958). Its from these attractions to the terrain that routes open for the men to follow.

Cage, continues on from talking about the sound of the kitchen to conclude by saying, that It is evidently a question of bringing one’s intended actions into relation with the ambient unintended ones. The common denominator is zero, where the heart beats (no one intends to circulate his blood).

By working with and within a space, narratives, materials and objects can be brought together in harmonious collaboration.

The two people that we see drifting through the city create an ephemeral stream of image reflection behind them. As they notice new avenues and signs, these images are feed back into the consciousness through a generative loop of reflection and interpretation, creating a reading of the situation in relation to the themes that have developed with each step. This image trail forms the fabric of the walk, an artefact that is both personal and collective, alternate threads belong to the singular whilst the interwoven structure gives itself to the plural.

This fabric is a process of continual weaving, as one pattern forms or a section of the fabric is deemed to be complete, it is re-woven. This process of re-weaving is not done from scratch, instead its a generative process of working in, through, over and around the threads that are already in place. That is not to say that threads will not dissolve and be lost, move or even meld with others.

As Neal and I walked around Brisbane in as I term it, a state of self loss, we collected and sampled from the environment through digital photography. As we collected images–captured memory–we curated the narrative that evolved, a narrative held within our conversations and movements.

During this period stills are taken away, digital representations that are stored on devices that offer no visual face. Can we argue that within this digital space, these stills are nothing, reduced to bytes, to common—technic societal—data. Its not that they are nothing, but the bytes that make up the whole do not represent the whole until they are re-formed and interacted with by outside entities. Through our interaction with the city, we perform a similar process, through the reference and drawing of past experience, we weave our own fabric into the image that lies in front.

Underlying this walk was the knowledge that we would do an installation the following day at the Straight Our of Brisbane Festival club house. The space allocated was the back stairway of the festival club. With this in mind we where able to place design parameters around our encounter, a productive statement of intent, which allowed us to follow rather than to seek the poetic of the encounter.

This sounds contradictory, that intent allowed for drift and flow, but it is this position that the Situationists laid as a central process in the Theory of the Derive. They wrote: ... the dérive includes both this letting-go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities.

It was through the development and hanging of posters produced from seven images taken during the walk, that we encountered a different place and the space that it would turn into. Through the turning into space the stairwell revealed its intent, it revealed the relationships and activities that would embrace the tone and cosmetics of the narrow room. Hanging next to the posters where pencils and pencil sharpeners, tools to instigate conversations, conversations to be played out on the curated conversation from the previous night. Within Neal and myself we discussed with innocence the nature of conversation that our work would produce, we theorised and imagined the critical engagement of response. What we had been blinkered to was the inherent nature of a place, that a places nature will even through various manifestations will always have a conducting role of behavior. This role is built through the tone that is captured within the walls of a place and the perceptions of such places held within our own cognition.

In this case, our posters captured the stairwells descend into dank lane ways and slut of the toilet, the conversations that evolved where the language of these places, crass and egotistical. At this time we both challenged with the realisation of the other, of the unintended and its effect on the intended, or rather on our intent.

Through processes like the walk that Neal and I took, design opens avenues to reconfigure place, to entice materialisation and happenings. The coming together of people, things and places creates a social space, a place of habitation. When design becomes the instigator of happenings, and it does so with out defending its self from the situation and consequences of the habitation, design becomes a social practice. A practice that can engage with individual aesthetics and renderings but yet one that is at play with its surrounds.

So I see that the creation of social space, the milieu, is built around the conversations that happen within a situation, the inadvertent is an openness to the others, of the possibility of happenings, to become lost within the ether that lies around, yet located within the built perceptions of our lives.