A detournement: 100 encounters representing a historical city of the future
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Physiognomy: what does the city we are creating say about who and where we are and what we do? How would the notion of ‘city as exhibition of self’ manifest in the tentative reality of boomtown Perth? Living now as we do among physical and conceptual remnants of the twentieth century and its antecedents, how mindful are we of our position in relation to the past, its truths and fantasies? As we herald the Perth Foreshore Redevelopment, or insert a new State Theatre or construct a bell tower, what is the collective vision of the future self that we project? Are we projecting a vision of an extraordinary imagination, that we are risk takers, highly cultured, social and caring beings, lovers of food and beauty and vivacious? How do we, and others, understand who and where we are through experiencing our city? Comparatively, the question of ‘what we sense of the Basque when we encounter Bilbao’ may be asked because the evolution of a city is analogous to the business of museums, art galleries, and also festivals, theatre, music and cinema. In each case the creative, curatorial or editing processes serve to present experiences of the past, interpretations of the present and visions of the future that catalyze expanded reflections of ourselves and others.All these aspects of our lives are projections of who we are. When Peter Greenaway searched for 100 objects to represent the world in 1991, he challenged traditional exhibition taxonomy by including, for example, a large block of slowly melting ice, a conference table, a person sleeping and 100 newspapers delivered every morning. Inspired by Greenaway’s subversive approach to exhibition and similarly inspired by the Situationists’ methods of urban analysis using the research implements of ‘psychogeoegraphy’ and the ‘derive’ (both of which involved long random sometimes drug induced meanderings), this paper introduces an imaginary exhibition of ‘real’ and everyday urban encounters within and beyond the city of Perth. Rather than selecting entire buildings, this exhibition is a diversion constructed as a meandering through a (re)construction of past and present spaces. ‘A Détournement: 100 Encounters Representing the Historical City of the Future’ is a series of specific spatial encounters, a composition of spaces of human significance including spaces of immorality, religion, masculinity, sensuality, death, hunger, greed, lust, sacrifice, promenade, voyeurism, homelessness, parking, shopping, eating, diversion and reflection.
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