Lived Cityscapes is an interdisciplinary work that aims to stimulate public experience and engagement with urban surveillance infrastructures and practices. The different disciplines that inform this work include performance, experimental music composition, soundscape studies, scoring, landscape architecture and psychogeography.
Lived Cityscapes is part of the project SUSVIEWS (Smart Urban Safety views), which is a collaborative effort between the Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR), the school of performing arts CODARTS and the school of fine arts Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA).
Lived Cityscapes is designed to stimulate a range of sensorial responses and investigate the sense of place of citizens, professionals and civil servants of Rotterdam. The composition evokes lived experiences of surveillance infrastructures in urban space, in relation to social, cultural and political issues related to place. The performance of Lived Cityscapes aims to contribute to visualizing relationships between surveillance, technology, place and community.
The title Lived Cityscapes is inspired by the term lived landscapes, coined by Seyer-Ochi (2006) to refer to the ways in which people make sense of the built and historic layers in relation to the natural landscape and the lives that are made possible by such a landscape.
In Lived Cityscapes walking is approached as a research method and as a form of public intervention that incentivizes the performers to occupy the streets of the city and to explore the experiences of and reactions to surveillance in public and private urban spaces. This approach is informed by the theory of the dérive (Guy Debord 1956) defined as a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances that involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects. The urban space is approached in this project as a territory that comes alive through movement and its rhythmic structure (Alison 2014), in which the whole city landscape comes alive through movement as a total environment for the creative process of living (Lawrence Halprin 1980).
Lived Cityscapes includes the design of a map of the city of Rotterdam and a series of scores that are used to frame and articulate the performance of this composition. Scores are instructions notated in the form of text, they are used to activate, describe, initiate or energize open-ended processes that unfold over time. Scores are informed by notions of indeterminacy, their focus is not necessarily on generating outcomes with a high degree of reproducibility, but rather on processes that produce potentially different results each time they are realized (John Lely 2012). This form of verbal notation has been adopted and developed in the field of experimental music as well as related areas of art practice involving performance or object making. Since scores are based on the use of written language, they are accessible to a wide range of people regardless of expertise, which makes them an efficient and creative method suitable for interdisciplinary collaborations (Kotz 2001). In this project, scores are approached as a communication tool that ties the different disciplines and themes that are here combined such as performing arts, urban studies, surveillance and public engagement. The variety of scores included in Lived Cityscapes are designed to stimulate reflection on surveillance infraestructures and practices in Rotterdam.
The map included in Lived Cityscapes is used by the participants to perform the piece by walking four different routes through the urban space. During the performance of this composition, performers document their experiences in a creative manner using photography, recorded audio files, texts and graphics. These multimodal forms of documentation are used at the end of the performance to elicit collective reflection and design among participants.
- Alison, B. H. (2014). City Choreographer: Lawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America. University of Minnesota Press.
- Debord, Guy (1998). Theory of the Dérive. Pli 7:7-14.
- Halprin, L. (1980). Cities. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Pr.
- Kotz, L. (2001). Post-Cagean Aesthetics and the “Event” Score. October, 95, 55–89. http://www.jstor.org/stable/779200
- Lely, J. (2012). Word events: Perspectives on verbal notation. New York: Continuum