Introducing ‘The People’s Story’

I have recently started  (a Making the Most of Masters) student placement at the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. Working on a project called ‘The People’s Story’, running as part of a programme organized by the museum’s Learning & Engagement Team to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the McManus. The project will explore the relationship between Dundee’s diverse communities, the museum and its collections.

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The McManus already has an established form of engagement with a wide range of groups, trustees and communities. Each group engages with the museum in a different way and I would like to consider, what is normal? How do these different audiences normally engage with the museum, the gallery space and interpretation of its artifacts?

Beginning a project is always a daunting task but I’m happy to be working with a fellow student, Stuart McAdam and the creative learning team.  To begin my journey, I have decided to treat it like a walk. ‘The People’s Story’ will allow for an exploration into the relationships between city and the museum. Giving me the resources to collect stories about Dundee and to continue my research, into the dynamic engagement of public and private spaces, using similar methodologies from previous projects involving the tramlines and edgelands of Dundee.

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Quite unexpectedly, my first visit involved being followed by a Seagull who seemed to be heading in the same direction, the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum.

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My initial walk through the McManus was to observe the building, space and collections.

Everyday objects from seemingly insignificant past events have just as much validation as an object from a significant historical event.

I noticed the reflections of objects, being mirrored upon the glass of the display cabinets. This reminded me of the process of memory and how people’s stories could place new memories, upon old memories projecting, spatially into a fourth dimension.[1] I wondered if a soundscape of stories collected around and about the McManus could also project into a new dimension.

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I considered how a walk around a gallery, allowed the place to suggest appropriate sounds. I felt a sense of urgency moving in-between emotions and happenings. A sonic signature is an in-between space where the place is the symbol and the sound, the meaning.[2] The sound of a museum creates an in-between awareness. How people feel in the museum, or about its historical objects, could add something unique to our perception of the McManus and within that thought I found a new line of direction.

[1] “the process is that of continually compounding one and the same topomnesiacal resource.” Casey, E.S. (2002) Representing place: Landscape painting and maps. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.p77

[2] “Thus for the poet in his ecstasy- or perhaps, agony- of the composition the trees are the symbols and the words are the meaning. He concentrates on the trees in order to get the words.” A.N Whitehead (1985). Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. New York: Fordham University Press. P12.

copyright © Olsen 2017

Feeling In-between

In-between my reasoning and the real,

I hear the discrete and unrepeatable experiences of illumination.[1]

A soundscape in space-time with sweet gestures placed on my imagination.

Memories of old ambiance upon new ambulation.

 

In-between my head and the sonic,

I receive the distance perceived as a separation from over-there.[2]

A fantasy world bound to subjective questionnaires.

Treasuries of old attention upon new intention.

 

In-between myself and the other,

I bridge an audible world where objectivity and subjectivity meet.[3]

A thing heard, not composed carrying the weight of an archived street.[4]

Subjectivity is an old demanding upon new attending.

 

In-between my silence and the absent,

I listen to a formless stream, emanating from a boundless space.

A walk will allow the appropriate sounds to appear in place.

Accessories urging old emotions upon new happenings.

 

In-between my space and the sound,

I see a place as the symbol and the sound as the meaning.[5]

A form of feeling adds something unique to my perception of dreaming.

Histories of old feelings upon new feelings

 

“Leading us in-between the in-betweens…”[6]

 

[1] Casey, E.S. 2002, Representing place: Landscape painting and maps. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. P76

[2] Voegelin, S. 2010, Listening to noise and silence: Towards a philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. P5

[3] “Listening to sound is where objectivity and subjectivity meet: in the experience of our own generative perception we produce the objectivity from our own generative perception we produce the objectivity from our subjective and particular position of listening, which in turn is constituted by the objectivity of the object of a prior movement of hearing, subjective and particular.” Voegelin, S. 2010, Listening to noise and silence: Towards a philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. P14

[4] Voegelin, S. 2010, Listening to noise and silence: Towards a philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. P23

[5] “Thus for the poet in his ecstasy- or perhaps, agony- of the composition the trees are the symbols and the words are the meaning. He concentrates on the trees in order to get the words.” A.N Whitehead 1985. Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. New York: Fordham University Press. P12.

[6] Asenjo, F. G 1988, In-between : an essay on categories, Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology & University Press of America, Washington, D.C P139

The Useless Gate

The useless gate with no point of entry encloses nothing. No longer approving entry or exit to flow. It stands easily in front of its past barricade and absent without its fence, what nonsense.

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Still, my thoughts invade the space with an intensive survey of neglect. Without a barrier, it creates a bewildering pause; I even relax and unwind a little in the freshness of an invisible edge.

The gate still interrupts here and there, now and then. I begin to walk through space without the cliché of place, allowing a moment to contemplate on ever-changing times, tides, and light.

copyright © Olsen 2016

Darkness Veils a Debatable Zone

The space could be to the place what the word becomes when it is spoken…”[1]

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An undefined duality of place is concealed in the embellishment of night, hiding an industrial heritage and windswept Tay Estuary.

The sound merges space into place, sea into waves, oil rig into steel.

Darkness veils a debatable zone, with a cloaked identity of signification of a location. A possible plot or a new vision can be seen, in the form of renewable energy manufacturing.[2]

[1] Merleau-Ponty, M (1974). Phenomenology Of Perception. 6th ed. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD. P173.

[2]“Dundee Port is an active deep water port with direct access to the North Sea. The Port has also been identified as the most strategically important and suitable port location for marine renewables.There are 25 hectares of available quayside land for renewable energy manufacturing.” Uknown Author (2016). Port Development Land. Available: https://www.dundeewaterfront.co.uk/zones/port/portdevelopmentland. Last accessed 13th Nov 2016.

copyright © Olsen 2016

A Discovery day for ‘Objet Trouvé’

The discovery of tiny clues can be found in what’s left behind, in the thrown and broken.

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No rhyme or reason in a no-mans-land and it discourages a sense of a place. Stinking of social contempt, exposing voids between industry and humanity. It is separated by an uncanny openness and presents a distance from Dundee’s waterfront dreams.

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The In-between Castle

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Above, dull maiden clouds linger,

in-between, an offshore fortress stands,

below, veils a filthy exchange.

 

Below, conflicting in mother’s pain,

in-between, harsh technology demands,

above, fort operator of the harr.

 

Above, supply till it dries,

in-between, binds murk to certain land,

below, bleed the earth for gain.

 

“Nature becomes a gigantic gasoline station, an energy source for modern technology and industry”[1]

[1] Heidegger, M (1966). Discourse On Thinking. New York: Harper & Row. p50.

copyright © Olsen 2016

A Place With No Lifetime Guarantee

My intimate explorations of edges persisted and my attention now shifts to the ties of in-between and excess.

“That the excess of space is correlative with the shrinking of the planet”[1]

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The property planet is a paradox of a progressive nation using technology, transport, and communication. I discover a new wasteland and its obvious excess, in pursuit of a new insight as a place of anonymity.

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Hunting for an unlimited ticket to the concrete, I awaken to the call of practical regulations… KEEP OUT! Yet by uncovering a broken privacy, I navigate the delights of familiarity, connecting a place to a ‘no lifetime guarantee’.

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I stand as a mannequin compelled by control and practice dark art of invisibility. Who will defend a places identity as it suffers from spatial anonymity?

copyright © Olsen 2016

[1] Augé, M (2008). Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. 2nd ed. London: Verso. p25.