Uncommon Land is an urban intervention project which explores how public space is used and controlled and in particular, how pseudo-public space is regulated. Ownership and control of public spaces and public services are gradually being transferred to private corporations. Often this transfer of power alters how the public perceives and uses the city, especially these privately owned ‘public’ areas.

This project seeks to question the subdivisions that exist within cities, highlighting the invisible borders between public and private streets. It is intended to be an intervention into the politics of these spaces, a polite confrontation with the highly controlled and privately-policed nature of these zones.

Through flash mob events, online mapping and video documentation, Uncommon Land aims to explore the growing trend of pseudo-public spaces governed by their own set of rules and regulations. The project invites members of the public to participate in acts that are normally unremarkable, but that are locally contested because of the legal status of the area in which they are carried out. The project tests the boundaries of what is arbitrarily forbidden within certain spaces in the city.

Many of the interventions focus on the act of taking a photograph. This apparently simple act is often forbidden in these pseudo-public areas. These events poke fun at the space’s sterile, controlled environment, momentarily interrupting its flow. It also briefly reverses the power dynamic of a space in which members of the public are filmed on CCTV while being restricted from certain activities.

Uncommon Land locates itself on the intersection between the virtual and physical worlds. Among the problems it seeks to address is a duality or contradiction between the physical (streets that appear to be public) and the virtual (invisible boundaries imposed on the urban landscape that render those streets private). This duality is mirrored by the form and presentation of this artistic intervention. The installations explore the interplay between these virtual and physical worlds: the virtual map created by the participants’ geo-tagged photographs and video footage is transferred back into the physical realm through the creation of a pencil-drawn map, walks around invisible borders in an area are mapped virtually using GPS systems.

There is also a temporal duality at work: the intervention into the urban space lasts only a few minutes, but the use of technology to upload and tag the photo and video material creates a long-term presence on the internet. The laborious and repetitive process of recording this information online, playfully subverts the hyper-efficiency of these online tools.

Please see http://uncommonland.wordpress.com for more information.

Uncommon Land | 2012 | Uncommon Land | Tags: , ,