STRATEGIES: PUBLIC SPACES
october/november 2010, Zagreb, Croatia
Pletenac (anthropologist and ethnologist)
Urban spaces are not only product of architectural and urban
planning, or historical and social context, moreover they are
spaces that redefine individual and group identities. By passers
and consumers of single urban spaces therefore constantly normalize
signifiers that are winding their bodies. In accordance with
this their bodies are directed, moved, stopped or even dressed.
Space is like stream of signifiers that is inscribed in individual
person; its demand opens up possibility for building personal
space, space of intimacy and privacy. In other words intimacy
is not some deep hard core of personality that is in constant
battle with imposed signifiers, it is, in fact, their product.
Every personality is thus by origin exterior, not interior,
it is not intimate it is extimate.
City with its strong signifiers produces the spaces of identity
and thus produces constant requirement for negotiation and creative
inscriptions in order to provide sustainable defining difference
of us versus space. On the other hand incompleteness of semiotic
frame of the city, unfinished concepts and inability to construct
an absolute regulation opens empty spaces that every individual
remounts through phantasm, that tries to fill this founding
signifier inability. Phantasm is thus ultimate creative act
produced for constructing selfhood through filling the symbolic
order. At the same time phantasm is unreachable, it is silence
beyond any cultural performance, individual secret.
Creative strategies can be reachable only if borders of symbolic
remained unquestioned, creativity is not necessarily subversive.
The best example is space defined (or infact not defined) by
church in Palmotičeva street and maybe partly those of park
in Travno neighborhood. Events that take place in both spaces
are not directed toward salvation or subversion of some specific
symbolic order defined around them, but effort for selfhood
foundation which requires sort of creative negotiation with
symbolic chain and meaning (sense) that sew it up. Those efforts
are not filling of gaps that are analytically detectible, but
construction of self-specificity, identity. Analytical concept
of extimacy can open, in that way, new field for creative intervention.
this article I tried to focus on four points of view which I
elaborate further in the text, but somewhere I only open those
topics in the context of specific phenomenology. I examine the
concept of "activities" as an umbrella horizon within
which speaks a certain practice strategie but also political
potentiality. When we have an attempt to redefine the term "politics"
or "political", I believe it is necessary to determine
what does the public mean in relation to the concept of privacy,
which is here taken in the line of Habermas' philosophy. Consequently
I examine, in greater or lesser extent, the concepts of communicative
practices of print, electronic media, squares, libraries, parks,
churches and shopping centers. I also do that in some places
in the paper by referring to the phenomenon of reproduction
of everyday life as the sex-gender binary logic operation sense
and its metaphysical assumptions.
Blažević, Dafne Berc (architects)
key elements for understanding public (urban and virtual) spaces
the very definition of spaces and their boundaries and what
is fixed in their identity
discovering what is NOT fully defined, i.e. the field open to
improvisation, a certain maneuvering space for creativity. Hard
For example, in a church there will be the least opportunity
for creativity and alternative behavior (unless one provokes
the institution and the existing users/believers), due to the
nature of the public space and institution itself, due to the
over-determinacy of rituals, architecture and symbolism of space.
At the same time, a wide, open space of the park in Travno is
open to (re)interpretation, improvisation, play, exactly because
of its abstraction - the lack of both definition and (inscribed)
Creativity, as well as collectivity, can be performative or
not, seemingly meaningful or seemingly meaningless. It can raise
the quality of these spaces, but also point out some problems,
comment on the socio-political context, or the like (however,
Creativity we are talking about, furthermore, can be defined
in various ways, and through various intensities and types of
1) Minimum creativity in behavior, use of space in individualized
ways, but with a smaller twist, a deviation from the usual.
2) Organized/collective use of space in a new way, discovering
new potentials of the urban and the virtual.
3) Creativity which is provocative or aggressive, and directly
or indirectly interferes with the nature and the rules of space
or community (even behavior that is socially unacceptable, or
4) Physical creativity, intervention: introduction of new elements
into the space, sculptural, architectural, installations, temporary
or permanent, in accordance with the nature of space or not.
Peović Vuković (media theorist)
is today a tendency to deny the possibility of creative strategies
in virtual spaces. When this proposition was tested out in given
areas, it turned out that the physical space of Travno Park
was more like Facebook than the space of the daily newspapers
was. What differentiates them and what gives the physical space
the greater potential for creative strategies is not actually
the difference of physical and virtual, but the difference in
directing and defining the way in which "space" is used. In
both cases, in the way the park is laid out and in the programming
of the application, we are talking about sites of politics and
politicalness. The manner in which New Zagreb has structured
its parks is just as political as the way in which the social
networks are programmed. "The structural exclusion of practical
issues from the de-politicised public must become intolerable,"
was how Jurgen Habermas put it. Practical issues such as town
planning designs cannot be distinguished in any way from solutions
of applications, although the public is too often inclined to
ignore one and the other. We are "only" the users of these spaces
and applications, but we can simply decide to opt out only with
difficulty. Not to take part in Facebook is like being in a
track, a temporary hyper-sleep. Isolation is possible but our
social life will be limited. Not to go through some square in
a town is not a matter of choice but of right. Commenting on
news reports was not a practice that was taken as a matter of
course until the appearance of the Net when users started to
consider free information their right. The new media for the
first time in the history of media technologies have made users
aware of their potential, and the idea of participation a right.
But each one of these public spaces could have been structured
differently, and here the re-structuring has to be left up to
the users. Debate about the potential should accordingly be
above all a debate about the structure, the architecture and
grammar, and not about the contents. In other words, the battle
for the architecture of space seems to me to be the foundation
for the opening up of a space of freedom and the initiation
of creative strategies.
ON TRAVNO PARK>