CREATIVE STRATEGIES: PUBLIC SPACES

Theoretical research
october/november 2010, Zagreb, Croatia

SUMMARIES:

Tomislav 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.

 

Ankica Čakardić (philosopher)

In 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.

 

Dominko Blažević, Dafne Berc (architects)

Two key elements for understanding public (urban and virtual) spaces are:
the very definition of spaces and their boundaries and what is fixed in their identity
vs.
discovering what is NOT fully defined, i.e. the field open to improvisation, a certain maneuvering space for creativity. Hard vs. soft.
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) content.
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, not necessarily).
Creativity we are talking about, furthermore, can be defined in various ways, and through various intensities and types of activity.
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 inappropriate).
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.

 

Katarina Peović Vuković (media theorist)

There 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.

 

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