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

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The Linesp1130630In Between p1130631Are Often Overseen

 

copyright © Olsen 2016

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

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?

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

Disobeys Restriction

I imagine the city connects infinite layers of networks to defy.

Shaping the superficial modern metropolis by placing social fabric onto stitched architectural frames.

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“I operate as a man-machine interface.”[1]

The cyborg self within me emerges along the cities edges,

I hack the surface of space configurations.

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I am the seeking stranger of urban life who needs to disobey restriction;

feeling disconnected in a rebellious reunion of public and private outlines.

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I wander off the ordered path and find a more uncertain line of direction.

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copyright © Olsen 2016

[1] “I operate as a man-machine interface – that is, as a technological form of natural life – because I must necessarily navigate through technological forms of social life. As technological nature, I must navigate through technological culture. And technological culture is constitutively culture at a distance. Forms of life become forms of life at-a-distance. Because my forms of social life are so normally and chronically at-a-distance, I cannot navigate these distances, I cannot achieve sociality apart from my machine interface” Lash, S (2002). Critique of Information. London: Sage Publications. P15.

Dissolving Edges

I wander my way, into a physical encounter of dynamic relationships between sounds, steps, space and I listen.

”It emanates, propagates, communicates, vibrates, and agitates…binds and unhinges, harmonizes and traumatizes”[1]

My body drifts around the dissolving edges.

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The hidden path I follow offers a relaxing stroll, a line etched upon an industrial sprawl. Listen! I hear the distant radios reverberate against the background birdsong beat. A chorus line recites the clanging devices, versus children voices.In the distance, melodies of sweet sirens occasionally disrupted by a rare rustle of the wild.

I am here…

[1] LaBelle, B (2015). Background Noise, Perspective on Sound Art. 2nd ed. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. P xi.