We began our subject field with an exercise in creative strategies. Our first task was the explore the act of interacting, attempting to capture the sense-scape of CSAD building. We spent 20 mins collecting the following:
5 sounds: The automated female voice of the lift, the rhythmic tapping of a person running up and down stairs, the deep muffled tone of a voice through a huge paper cone in the fine art department, the soft tinkling of running tap water and the eerie muffled echoes that filter through to the top of the flight of stairs.
5 movements: The sliding open and closed of the automatic doors, the effect this movement causes on a piece of thread hanging off Carwyn Evans’s installation ‘Pader’ in the foyer, the wave-like movement of captured rainwater on the bench outside, the rustling of a plant being shaken, the rotating motion of an empty drinks can being spun.
5 impressions: Dents and creases left on the sofas downstairs where people have sat, fingerprints leaving a greasy film on the doors of the lift, paint marking a table, shadows casting letters on the bench outside, the messy marks left on the blackboard where writing has been rubbed away.
5 points of transition: The threshold where outside becomes inside, the change of the position of shadows throughout the day-transition of light and shade, the change of texture from carpeted to hard floor in the reception area, the kilns- irreversible chemical transformation of clay to ceramic, the heart space- a place where conversations with others can lead to a development of ideas.
Next we were challenged to test out ways in which drawing (an interaction between one thing and another) leaves evidence of that interaction behind and what that tells us about ‘something’. We decided to go downstairs to the forecourt of the building where we had spent lots of time gathering inspiration for the previous task. Here the movement of the automatic doors acted as an interface between outside and inside. As a way to document sounds other than on a phone, Jasper had been drawing continuous lines of how the sounds around the building felt. We decided to follow on from this idea by tracking the lines made by people as they leave and enter the CSAD building, by using coloured chalk to draw around Jasper and Lucy’s feet as they walked.
Next they each tried to walk ‘in the other’s footsteps’. This made me think of the Chartism project ‘In their footsteps’ I’ve been involved with and the shoes we made. Shoes hold many interesting connotations as do footprints: ones made by a shoe are evocative of detective mysteries and yet footprints in sand are considered romantic.
We filmed these walks then thought more about the way we all enter and leave the building and the lines of movement we repeat every day. We considered too of the way lines of footprints could be mapped out as people go to use the smoking area, moving to the outskirts of the forecourt. It would be possible to record how long people stood for by drawing consecutive lines around feet in different colours to signal the passing of time. This could result in a map of lines showing the interaction of students and staff with their environment over time. What patterns of behaviour would this reveal?
We noticed that walking in someone else’s footsteps was awkward – often they were too big or small which resulted in a disjointed, silly style of walking, a bit like a Monty Python sketch. Thinking of the imaginative ways our body could interact with the environment as we entered the building, we drew a sort of hopscotch in chalk leading towards the entrance. Wouldn’t it be much more fun to hopscotch into college every morning?
Next we planned to draw as we moved through the building, creating a kind of map of our experience as we moved through the environment. Instead, because we had so little time and were interested to use the large sheets of tracing paper, Phoebe suggested pressing the paper against each other’s faces and drawing portraits though it. This was fun to do and when laid on top of one another the images became ghostly collages of faces that remind me of the Turin shroud. To get better definition we’d like to photograph these faces with a lightbox underneath. They might speak of the transition of time and the way our faces change as we age. The tracing paper acts as an interface between the one being drawn and the one drawing. As well as being drawn the person is also in a way being drawn ‘on’.