Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#4 fieldwork

Keywords: space and time / lines of flight

Literature: Havboka / De usynlige

Lecturer: Introduction lectures by teachers

Field work can be understood as a form of reality check, a means of adjusting one’s thinking and practice to the exterior world. In its traditional anthropological setting, fieldwork draws on an epistemology that sees reality as a reservoir of ‘facts’ to be used as ‘the material base for arguments’, thus aligning with a positivistic scientific model that ignores one’s complicity with the work (Gabrielsson in Erwing et al. 2011:35).

Our fieldwork opens for a possible experimental investigation on landscapes, practices and events that we previously have approached from a distance - as a creative practice and mode of representation but also as (...)  embodied engagement and enquiry and as analytical trope (Daniels et al., 2010: 1). It will be a form of reality check – and a confrontation of conceptions we have formed, but opens also for a more comprehensive experimentation in the landscape, as acritical-creative approach. In Lofoten the nature-society connectivity is historically very obvious and close, but it is still in our ‘modern times’ a dependency that does not distinguish clearly what is nature and what is culture.
Bruno Latour discusses the concept of modernity as a separation between nature and society. Whereas society is constructed by the humans through a belief in rationality and science, nature has always existed. Latour sees this as a western invention since enlightenment, and points on the ethnographer and the anthropologist that have means for investigating the more holistic and complex structures behind culture - not just ‘pre modern’ cultures, but even elements in western societies counter acting modernity. Once she has been sent into the field, even the most rationalist ethnographer is perfectly capable of bringing together in a single monograph the myths, ethnosciences, genealogies, political forms, techniques, religions, epics and rites of the people she is studying. (...) you will get a single narrative that weaves together the way people regard the heavens and their ancestors, the way they build houses and the way they grow yams or manioc or rice, the way they construct their government and their cosmology. In works produced by anthropologists abroad you will not find a single trait that is not simultaneously real, social and narrated (Latour 1993: 7). Even though our methods are inspired by traditional anthropological observations and writing, we must investigate with the awareness that we are inevitable inscribed in the narrations we create, even to a higher degree than is normally considered in anthropological field work.
A possible approach to understanding of the landscape and social practice lays also in Henri Lefebvres (Lefebvre 2001) methods of regressive and progressive reading for spatial understanding of landscape and architecture, and for socio-cultural conditionsseeing the landscape as an intrication of abstract and concrete retrospective and forward looking bodies, events and factual history. Lefebvre sees regression as a way of understanding the past when especially emphasizing the traces and splints of history being most significant in the present, evoking the basic conditions that have constituted an area, like ownership, relatedness and heritage, political conditions, geological and geographical forces, trans human ecology and biology, laws and jurisdiction, and in general forces and phenomenon in play. The progressive method focus on the movement which anticipates its completion, which means what have created something new.
It is important to study how people use, live and dwell in the landscape, or in general what produces the meaning of the space. The way space is appropriated is based on distinctions like differences in classes, power positions, function etc., or is linked to how the space is arranged and inhabited. It is a knowledge based orientation that can be used generating new spaces, defined by Lefebvre in general as:
Conceived space; which is the way space is seen by architects and planners – like the codified and institutionalised understanding of space – where space is abstract and self-referential within the discourse.
Perceived space; which is life the way it is experienced and perceived.
Lived space; which is the heavily symbolic and culturally imbedded space directly experienced through associative images and symbols – and which draws on the culture and the place’s common experiences and interpretations – commonly known as the culture’s loci.
The intention using Lefebvre’s approach is to create a foundation from where we can investigate. Not least the possibility of reading the landscape along his many different notions of imbrication, as: flux and networks / different dimensions and different forms / ages / appropriations / territories (in law, size, time) / rhythm (circulation-rhythm, job/leisure etc.) / management / built and unbuilt space etc.
In The Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau talks about how the observers becomes participants through the tactics of practice trajectories, which like Deleuze & Guattari’s lines of flight, are lines to follow that can becomes new possibilities of exploration.  Guattari and Deleuze’s “lines” challenge the usual designer thinking about "lines". They are an abstract and complex enough metaphor to map the entire social field, to trace its shapes, its borders, its becomings. They can map the way “life always proceeds at several rhythms and at several speeds (Petrescu 2004: 44) – while de Certeau’s tactics are transverse tactics which are the experiences of ordinary people or the ordinary practitioners that are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ they write (de Certeau 1988: 93).
Experiences through everyday practice and the act of walking creates a  theoretical framework for de Certeau’s understanding of the production of urban space. The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language or to the statements uttered. At the most elementary level, it has a triple "enunciative" function: it is a process of appropriation of the topographical system on the part of the pedestrian (just as the speaker appropriates and takes on the language); it is a spatial acting-out of the place (just as the speech act is an acoustic acting-out of language); and it implies relations among differentiated positions, that is, among pragmatic "contracts" in the form of movements (just as verbal enunciation is an "allocution," "posits another opposite" the speaker and puts contracts between interlocutors into action). It thus seems possible to give a preliminary definition of walking as a space of enunciation (de Certeau 1988: 98).
For us the act of walking signifies a concrete understanding and a direct bodily experience of the landscape, but it also becomes a metaphor for research through active participation. We must literally walk the landscape and experience the everyday practices, to penetrate beyond the limitation of the immediate perceptions and superficial impressions.

Bruno Latour, We have never been modern, 1993
Catarina Gabrielsson, Inside the cave, outside the discipline, in Architecture and Field/Work, Erwing et al. 2011
Daniels S, Pearson M, and Roms H Editorial. Performance Research 15(4), 2010 / Harriet Hawkins, Geography and art, 2012
Michel de Certeau, The practice of Everyday Life, 1988
Henri Lefebvre, Problems of Rural Sociology, 1949 / Lukasz Stanek, Henri Lefebvre on space, 2011

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