Encounter as Astonishment: Walking / Reading / Making

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Encounter as Astonishment: Walking / Reading / Making

Michael Hrebeniak and Others

This is a seminar about seeing: an induction into forms of visual engagement that re-cognises the world as a system of interlocking signs. We shall walk the London streets, concentrating on the innocuous and quotidian, rather than over-determined heritage sites; detecting minutiae often missed by the untrained eye. These observations shall provide the nucleus for new ideas. This might thereafter catalyse projects that transform the established definition of sculpture, as well as photographs that capture the idiosyncrasies of the urban landscape. In such work inanimate objects are energised by their placement alongside others that just happen to reside in the same environment. It’s a game of chance that conjures seemingly implausible juxtapositions, resulting in a perplexing riddle for the viewer to unpick: a transformation of utilitarian entities into aberrant arrangements. 


This is the point at which craft meets trade: an exchange of processes and procedures; adjustments and assimilations. For those grasping for disciplinary mooring, this falls under the domain of material culture – materiality as metaphor for value - whereby symbolic orders and the social distribution of power through time might be analysed through their encoding in objects and their spatial placement in relation to each other. And so this is psychogeography as ecology: the weave and warp; habits and haunts; great webs of the personal and public intertwined without end that reverberate through the lives of successive generations and give rise to biographical habitat. We seek to determine the origins of markers of authority and resistance; to trace histories, patterns of usage entropy and obsolescence; to identify migrations and bodily applications/concealments, while also asking how does language work? How is taste registered and cultivated? How are taxonomies forged? And how is cultural anxiety courted and avoided?


In sum, this is a non-prescriptive mobilisation of thought inside live-action settings.