I became interested in the idea of the Timeline to create a musical and physical score. Timelines formed a key part of the planning process; creating clear lines of past, present and future. As an Artist in residence for something that is only in the beginnings of existing I was effectively an Artist in residence for a building site. A lot of the conversations involved imagining the future.
My plan was to present a journey of research through an artist's lens; Moving through the History and Community of the site, Language taken from conversations and meetings, Diagrams from plans and the physical actions of the Labourers. I wanted to create something that captured these movements within a timeline. Dance to me was the perfect way to illustrate a sequence of stories and ideas. With Dance I could use the body to map the landscape and cover all bases of the term movement. I could use the body to tell the stories of the past, illustrate the diagrams from 2D to 3D and borrow movements of body language from those involved in the project. My intention was to work with a group of bodies from the East London area.
History and Community
How does the purpose of spaces change over time and how does this affect the way the community moves through them?
The Movements of history are the changes in space over time. Stratford was originally agricultural land known best for its potato production, changing during the industrial revolution to a place of moving railways (which became a significant local employer) and the royal docks.
Urban regeneration -> from land to building.
Movement of river and railway -> natural and mechanical travel and transportation.
The railway was a significant local employer - Robert the engine still stands in front of the station as an object of the past.
The growth of the town was summarized by The Times in 1886:
“Factory after Factory was erected on the marshy wastes of stratford and plaistow, and it only required the construction at Canning Town of the V&A Docks to make the once desolate parish of West Ham a manufacturing and commercial center of the first importance and bring upon it a teeming and an industrious population.”
Stratford became and still is today a really important transport hub. In the 1960’s the docks closed and the Stratford Shopping Centre was built in an attempt to transform the area from a Working Class industrial and transport hub to a retail and leisure destination for the contemporary age. - This efforts continued through the Olympic bid for Stratford as well as the current EAST development which UCL EAST comes under. The area is one that appears to go through constant change and ‘improvement’ over time. - With change -> movement.
Rhythm and movement during the industrial revolution -> strong links to Labour and physical movement for production. The shopping Centre guiding people around the space -> movement in consumer habits. During the Olympics movement in a labour sense but not for mass production. Sport is who is the best at moving their bodies in a certain way -> so focused on movement of the body and mind.
What's interesting is because of the Olympics and the Olympic ceremony history has already been recited in a performative way. A focus on the History - Olympic rings on fire- cast from the iron and steel by the industrial workers.
History being the energy of the past that still remains and is very important to acknowledge. Although History is harder to represent in the physical, it is represented through the memories of the community and significant events that took place - remembered by the community.
** Fact: The Royal Mail gave the park and Stratford City the postcode E20, which had previously only appeared in the television soap opera EastEnders for the fictional suburb of Walford. Interesting in terms of time of soaps and fictional time alongside reality.
People travelled from around the world to the Olympic park for the Olympics - The event was for the world yet hosted within a community. The olympic park even now is populated by more tourists than locals. The worry is for many people- Stratford has gone under so many regenerations over the years- We have the divide of Old and New Stratford defined by the shopping centres; These kinds of regenerations can alienate people and cause a socio-economic divide or add to the one already present in the area.
A lot of people felt the olympics was a form of social cleansing - the house prices rose up as the area became more desirable and the Clays lane housing estate was demolished displacing 4650 people from low cost social housing.
“There has only been a small time during the olympics that it felt like construction wasn’t going on and that was when the games were taking place. It always feels like there is a promise of something great to come and then when the hoarding is taken down it is just another building."-
For it to be beneficial for the community it has to be able to have positive effects on the community and it must work alongside the community otherwise both stand alone - It can’t just be about changing a landscape.
After the olympics a lot of locals felt a sense of constant promise of a better future - A feeling of constant construction and being in limbo -
I think for UCL EAST to be involved within the community and building such a big project within a community that has such a history of regeneration it has to have a system in place that provides real change for the area and the communities in a positive way.
Stratford now is a predominantly asian/ asian British area - How will UCL EAST support these communities?
UCL EAST plans to support local schools to increase aspirations and improve employability of under-represented groups through training and skills provision.
“Collaborating with communities to develop a programme of public art and cultural events which are relevant, meaningful and part of the everyday lives of local people. These activities should draw on the UCL East themes, in addition to the interests and expertise of UCL staff and students, and local communities.”
“An Arts Council England report from 2014 stated that students from low income families who take part in cultural activities are three times more likely to get a degree than children who do not take part. Henley, 2016, p.53”
Community is so closely linked to history and memory -> past
Community -> emotional connection and relationship to surroundings.
Unity - Group
The public realm - Politics of space
Having meetings and conversations with people involved in the UCL EAST project - tapping into the ways different people are seeing the project and turning words and movements of these conversations into a narrative.
For example when speaking with those in charge of business relations - their job is to communicate in a way that is straight to the point - a systematic and almost robotic way of speaking, Their body language appears to be heavy on the hand signals aiding the words similar to that of politicians.
Hands pointing ahead for ucl and behind for business partners. They are imagining the overall vision of the whole picture - the future. - analogy based - building long term trusted relationships.
Body Language -
Looking at body language from videos of UCL EAST. Heavy on the Hand Gestures -hands showing levels, how things interlock, where something is orientated, location, past present future, above, below, The leg crossed in the chair, Isolating just the hands.
**Over Zoom these seem less effective - eye contact seems less effective - not in a suit seems less effective, all very casual - whether they choose to look at the camera or not.
Plans and Diagrams
Notes based on physical diagrams and plans from the site.
Visual materials and tools used to aid communication - aiding the language.
Visualising the future.
Levels and heights - thinking of the topography of the site- Areas higher than others- how can the body mimic changes in area height?
“A graphic interpretation shows that across the QEOP park there is a large diversity in scales from very domestic, garden elements to large international infrastructure.
At times there is a disconnect between the large, international scale infrastructure and the more delicate, domestic pockets of gardens. “ so a juxtaposition between the two landscapes.
Diagrams and plans outline the special rules using the 2d for 3d/4d space. in terms of spatially the drawings are all 2d. When we think of the skyline we think off the ground. I’m thinking about the body language of hands and pointing and where that position is in terms of spatial awareness - skyline.
Mapping out. Technical , intricate, repetitive, organised, categories, patterns.
LABOUR ACTIONS - this is the physical labour which goes into building the site this includes all manual labour - whether builders, security staff or cleaners. This is what puts the imagined into reality - The Physical space.
A wide range of different languages spoken on the site - for safety the workers communicate with hand signals and gestures- the language of the body is universal on a building site.
Workers usually work 7:15 - 5:00 Monday to Saturday and on Saturday they finish at 1:00
They get standard pay
Long hours, repetitive work, repeating actions previously from history such as that from the industrial revolution.,
There are 500 workers and they all know what they're doing - moving around each other to a time schedule - there is rhythm and flow to the working process.
Notes on Conversation and thoughts to inspire movements:
Replacing Green with Concrete -> Exchange -> Land vs Concrete -> Replacing Fluid with the Rigid / Structured
Living with Concrete -> Community
Different Levels -> Physical Levels -> The Tower -> The Skyscraper -> Levels in Height but also Levels in Intensity - emphasis specifically in london on skyline, height and building upwards.
Moving around space -> Under / Over Land -> Levels of Movement
Planning so there is a suggested way to enter a space through architecture -> navigated by buildings.
A purpose built walkway making the walk longer-> the commute -> giving time to think on the journey -> emphasis on guiding the body.
Creating social spaces - encouraging social interaction using architecture “Directed to bump into each other” - Creating Points of interaction.
Sense of togetherness moving together, Encouraging more than one body and Different bodies - a communal space encouraging community and university to intertwine.
Plan for ucl east is to bring separate departments together and create completely new interdisciplines. The idea of bodies moving as a group - different specialities coming together - academics - labourers - a movement of collective bodies and minds. - bringing separate bodies together. SO instead of just having physics, engineering, fine art, as separate degrees they'll be a specific space they will be brought together and ideas will be shared between academic and hopefully community. so singular becomes many. - connecting and building connections
construction physical and mental connections- beyond just building a physical space.
The fluidity of the body is compared to that of water - specifically the river lea which runs through the concrete like people through the city. -> historical link
Rivers acting as physical corridors - underpasses mean the people and the water can continue to flow.
“Crowd flow clear zone”
“Unobstructed crowd flow”
People flow through buildings and round buildings like Gas and electricity and water flows through houses ->like water through the veins feeding the house and keeping it alive.
Wind - Breathe
Wind Tunnel Test - Buildings guide the wind as well as the bodies and sound so it’s about the travelling of energy in every sense “ capturing the energy of east London and putting it into UCL east ” with architecture.
The design considers how sound moves. - making use of Airspace as well as groundspace.
“Funnelled into the building”
“Wrapped around the building”
Fluid way of speaking about fluid things.
Materiality - Celebrating “raw and honest materials” of the building's architecture.
Layering of materials and elements on top of eachother.
http://www.wemadethat.co.uk/projects/view/fantasticology “The meadows recreate the footprints of the industrial buildings sited on the previous estates through different species of wildflower, which bloomed in strong colours during Games time and will continue to fade into the future.”
In September 2020 I was appointed Artist in residence for a year long residency at UCL EAST to create work alongside the development of the new UCL site in Stratford. Throughout the year I have immersed myself in the building and development of the site and have been gathering research with the intention of creating a performance with East London dancers displaying my findings through movement. (Due to Covid19 this project will now be displayed digitally.)
Throughout this project I took part in various meetings and conversations with those working on the project, from planners, contractors and labourers to academics, community engagement teams and members of the local community. A common theme in this project was movement; whether that be designing the building to encourage movement of bodies through the space, movement in terms of positive change or moving forward on a scheduled timeline.
NOTES ON MOVEMENT AND TIMELINES
Movement - Moving the body - The body guiding through space- Movement of production - Movement of times - Movement in terms of Footfall -Politically moving forward - Movement in terms of positive change.
Movement in the sense of still on a journey - On a journey of completion.
Conflict of new developments - Push and Pull - significance of movement in a place like Stratford. - thinking about past developments.
Connecting areas of research into a timeline of events. Breaking it down. -> movement.
Timeline - Being an Artist in residence for something that is only in the beginnings of existing - Artist in residence of a construction site - Artist in residence of an idea - Movement as development - Movement as construction. Within these moments time exists differently for different people. For those involved in planning and creating the vision they imagine the future, for manual labourers on the site it is about the present and for a lot of the community it is about the past. Where do these intersect? How can we intersect them - part of the ethos of UCL EAST is intersecting these things and creating fluid movements between them.
Movement when thinking of the completion of the project - How future movement is presented -> Students, academics and community moving together.
Communication is the main form of research - But communication in a way beyond just spoken language- Taking into consideration body language as well as where that person is sat on the timeline of thought (past, present, future).
Collecting choreographic inspiration from the above.
Absorbing information for creative output - Creativity being about what's imagined.
Artist as communicator and visual translator. Sometimes beyond the literal.
Treating this journey as an artistic investigation.