Wednesday 3 February 2010

the experience of exchange

Left to right in the Bluecoat performance space: Philip Courtenay and Jonathan Kearney of e-space lab, Paul Domela from Liverpool Biennial, Brigitte Jurack of Foreign Investments, Lewis Biggs and Laurie Peake from Liverpool Biennial. On the big screen Wang da wei, Dean of the School of Fine Art, sitting next to one of the directors of the Shanghai Metro in the digital space at Shanghai University.

Yesterday our morning/midday (Liverpool) and evening (Shanghai) skype exchange was enthralling.

Flow of ideas
As we have noted before in the post preparing for our meeting and talking together, the special quality of the video link has something to do with the spontaneity and engagement that is somehow part of the way we naturally work with the situation of this shared communication experience. In this respect there is something truly public about this type of situation where stranger talks to stranger in a place where valued experiences are shared.

For our friends in Shanghai the free-wheeling nature of the conversations was a good contrast to the usual practice of the delivery of papers and presentations, so the "live" quality really does add to the way ideas and questions spontaneously register across this overlapping of cultural zones.

Audience response
The special qualities identified and evidenced in the Dream project and that resonated with the Shanghai participants seemed to be about the qualities of the site, its relationship to landscape and communities, of the ambition and the resourcing of that ambition, and the benefits actual and potential that are already flowing into the social and economic context.

Learning from the cities
For the Liverpool audience, that included artists and a representative of art students from John Moores University, it was fascinating to see how artists and designers are involved at all kinds of levels in the hugely ambitious infrastructure development taking place with the Shanghai Metro. The concept of public in relation to public art, and how that was integrated into a strategy for taking on the overall functionality of the Shanghai's transportation system was impressive. The work of artists occupies this important and subtle influence upon the quality of spaces, with the aim of enhancing the quality of human experiences in this translocalmotion environment as explored in the 7th Shanghai Biennale.

Really listening
One of the dis-advantages/advantages of the difficulties in live links is the extra attention everyone has to make to looking after the the communication process. It seems from an outsiders point of view rather slow but when you are in it this "slowness" really helps the quality of engagement to grow more and more, and the regular return to sorting out potential mis-communications is always interesting.

Thinking about the next stage is always a good sign!
Following through
In the lead up to our next events we plan to organize some virtual get-togethers between students in Shanghai working on the Liverpool Pavilion for the World Expo opening in May, with students studying in Liverpool at John Moores University.

Contemporary art and public art
the ephemeral - the performative - scale

One of the questions raised in Shanghai during our event was the relationship between public art and contemporary art. This is an important thread and theme to follow. Thinking about the April 15th agenda, thinking about introducing examples of small scale/temporary/performative examples, stressing contemporary art/public art methods and processes would provide a series of alternative strategies to those we were exploring in this last event.

Expo 2010
In July we plan to run an event that is looking at the role of art and design in the context of the World Expo and in particular on the Liverpool, UK and Chinese Pavilions.