Futurocity: Drawing in the Cities of Tomorrow

Project Diary: Dessau-Berlin-Singapore

Posted in Bauhaus Cities of Tomorrow: Trace 2008-2009 by roundladder on May 19, 2009

bauhaus.sign.11.08suncorner.jpg (2008 © Les Joynes

Project diary: For this performance drawing project I was inspired by three principle sources: first, my own ongoing project on “on drawing the formless” and the historicity of objects in “living archeological sites, secondly my interest in Oskar Schlemmer and his masked performers in the Triadische Ballett and the process of the performers exploring a site’s tactility, audibility and historicity. I was also very much interested in the movement in the contemporary dance group, Record Dances which performed at the Bauhaus in October 2008. Considering the interaction of site and subject I began to perceive one’s performance both as a series of moments and as series of drawings in progress.

This lead to my creating a series of projects relating to performance and site both in Berlin (November 2008) and Singapore (January 2009).

In Berlin I was interested in the creation of abstract lines within specific architectural spaces – traces of the performers (the images of whom would disappear in the long-exposure photographs). As part of the Bauhaus Cities of Tomorrow project in Singapore I worked with two groups of performers to explore spaces in transition (sites of people’s memories that were slated for destruction and reconstruction). I met with many of the inhabitants in some of these places and they expresses as sense of longing – a sense of impending disconnection from the sites of their memories (in particular one site in Queenstown). In Greek mythology one reads about the autochthon – which refers to people that spring from that site – in this case a site simultaneous population integration (through its rigorous public housing program) and for many a sense of disintegration of memory and sense of home (through the displacement resulting from mass-scale neighborhood redevelopment.)

November 1-10, 2008: At the Bauhaus at the Cities of Tomorrow project at the Bauhaus Kolleg I wanted to create a project that would explore human memory and spontaneous movement within certain architectural contexts. In Berlin the museum-like architectural site of the 1951 InterBau exhibition,  I explored how I might relate to the spaces which were vast, green and, modernist. It was a series of parks replete with an assortment of multiple family habitations. IMG_2219 2008-2009 © Les JoynesI really wanted to create a three-dimensional drawing – I created an idea of using string to interconnect human movement or to trace the pre-existing pre-modernist buildings which were excised from the post-war ravaged landscape like so many trees in a forest clearing. Pretty soon I realized that the sheer scale of the space would dwarf the string – especially in the increasingly dark and bleakly lighted days.

November 14, 2008: Site research in Berlin: Hansaviertel – site of InterBau architectural exhibition
Initial research was carried out in the daytime and I looked at several spaces before deciding on the lobby of the Akademie der Künste and the space beneath the pilotis in the Niemeyer building. IMG_2207 2008-2009 © Les Joynes
IMG_2217 2008-2009 © Les Joynes

Akademie der Künst and the Niemeyer building November 21, 2008
I then proposed to Jonathan Buckles (UK) from the Record Dance group, a dance colleague of his from Australia and a dutch artist living in Berlin to create a performance in the Hansavierrel – the sites I chose for this were the wood lines – über gemütlich wood lined and 70s soft-chaired lobby and bar area adjacent to the theatre at the Akademie der Künst – this would be an ideal space for the performers to intuitively trace the patterns, contours and negative spaces in the dark interior space using a variety of handheld LED lights that would come up as streams of lines on the long exposure photographs.

Later we walked to the arches of the Niemeyer building which would emphasize the movement within the space especially as accented by the V-shaped pilotis on the ground-floor.

HansaviertelNov21.08..Akalounge3**(s) 2008-2009 © Les Joynes
HansaviertelNov21.08..loungeareas2**(s) 2008-2009 © Les Joynes

HansaviertelNov21.08.bar1*(s)2008-2009 © Les JoynesIt was useful to have the digital camera at this stage so I could calibrate the timing of each brief performance –the average amount of time became 2 minutes for the digital performances and would go up to 3 -4 minutes for long exposure film shots with a medium format camera. I also would be able to identiy distracting light sources within the image and the pace which I could keep the artists moving and the distance they could cover while tracing their movements within the spaces.

HansaviertelNov21.08.V3(s) 2008-2009 © Les Joynes
HansaviertelNov21.08.V4(m)*(s) 2008-2009 © Les Joynes
We then went outside into 20 degree temperatures with Siberian winds howling under the arches where I stages the performers in a series of movemtns to explore the, inner walkways in front of the camera, the V-shaped pilotis ibehind them and the garden behind – to establish a sense of foreground, middleground and background in the image.

November 26-January 10 2009: Preparation for Singapore

In December I developed contact with the dance divisions at Singapore’s principle art schools: Nanyang Academy of Dance where I contacted a gifted performer Chan Sze-Wei, and was then introduced to the dancer and instructor Lim Feishen who is the head of dance as well as Caren Carino the director of the NAFA dance program. . I also met witht with TraceSing.Jan09(QTtreecircle*) 2009 © Les JoynesGilles Massot –Professor of photography at La Salle School of Art and Melissa Quek, dance instructor and lecturer at La Salle – all of these people offered their valuable time and brought within the project many interested perfmroance artists both students and faculty.

January: On-site background research in Singapore
As part of the background research on the area – I conducted several interviews with residents, former residents, as well as one politicians. In additon to creating a photo/ performance series I also was working on an oral history project in Queenstown and in creating this I scheduled a meeting with addition for this first visit to Singapore I arranged a meting with Kwa Chong Guan, Chairman of the National Archives of Singapore and his staff as well as with Chai Wai Chuen, former Member of Parliament for Queenstown in Singapore.

Evening performance images January 14-20
In the first two perfomance I worked with eight performers from Nanyang Academy – and we worked on the great lawn in the Margaret Drive area of Queenstown. There is expeeiemtned with trying to gain as much performance before the light became to bright in the ong exporuse images. Most interesting were the two tendencies: first was the randome drawings that were created by the performers which became 3D masses of colored light – these masses for me are performative sculptures – each like a bee-line traces in light – the lines would converge and diverge as the performers created numberous poses in each photo shoot.

TraceSing.Jan09(QTshiva) 2009 © les Joynes

4_Joynes.Trace(Queenstown) 2009 © Les Joynes
DSC_0003  2009 © Les Joynes
DSC_0004 2009 © Les Joynes
DSC_0006 2009 © Les Joynes
DSC_0007 2009 © Les Joynes
DSC_0017 2009 © Les Joynes
In my discussions with some of the residents I was interested to learn that the residents would miss the Margaret Drive buildings which many saw as a peascful and familiar oasisaway from thenoise and action of the central area.To respond to this I created a bulk of the images outlining the human form of the dancers in front of the spaces that would soon be torn down in favor of newer, taller and more populous multi-family housing

structure which are so ubiquitous in Singapore.

performers in front of the wet marketqueenstown(blur) 2009 © Les Joynes

I posed the performers in either full outline or in partial outline with the brightly lighted early post-war central Singapore structures which broke ground in 1953 in the satellite city of Queenstown.

The principle backdrops were the multistory modernist buildings, the trees, the green Quonset hut former wet market (which is reportedly one of the only structures to survive reconstruction).

On a lawn bordering a forest north of the hawker center on Margaret drive sufficient darkness was found to create a series of performance drawings in the open field and near the adjacent trees.
TraceSing.Jan09(cine2* 2009 © Les Joynes

TraceSing.Jan09(QTtree*) 2009 © Les Joynes

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