Thursday, 1 September 2016

Urban Poetics #1: "Is That You???"

In this series of Urban Poetics, I describe urban experiential exercises and I go perform them in Rotterdam. Some of them are inspired by existing theories and practices. Some of  them will be my own invention. Most of them will be some kind of play that induces an atypical experience of the city. You could go do them (and modify them) and record your findings too. These are acts that could possibly generate rich inspirations, or poor inspirations, or an overwhelming-ness or underwhelming-ness, or regeneration or other forms of urban satisfaction.

My current approach is to take the plunge and hope for the best.

This first workshop entry, "Is That You???",  is an exercise in "waiting for someone to show up" as it's own independent cycle of means and end.

The exercise is inspired by Debord's notion of the "possible-rendezvous." but specified for our time and for (I think) a more incisive effect on the practitioner.

It is a meditation on the city as a place where people meet each other (both in a cosmic-fatal sense and in a day-to-day arrangement sense), supplemented with a meditation of the internet as a place where people meet each other (also both in a cosmic-fatal sense and in a day-to-day arrangement sense). As the ties between urbanity and the internet become tighter and thicker, these meditations become increasingly relevant (in the same ways that meditations are ever considered to be relevant).

The exercise is described in 3 (+1) steps.

Step 1.
Go on Facebook and choose a random person using a random-selection method.

The least complicated way I came up with is to use a random name generator . Generate one name (first name), and search for this name on Facebook.

The first person that comes up should be the person you wait for.

Step 2.
Go to a location where people usually arrange to meet up with each other, i.e. some sort of urban gathering point. You could choose a landmark or a station of public transport (e.g. bus or metro station).You could also go to a café, but then you probably have to order. Any other location where you would meet up with someone is possible too.

Imagine a reasonable time for a meet up and go to this location at that time. This is dependent on your personal interpretation of reasonableness. (I wouldn't go at 3 AM but you could do that if you're okay with waiting for people at this time).

I chose to go to the famous Kabouter Buttplug in Rotterdam at 09:30. This is a most typical location for people to meet. I've met with many people here countless times.

I drank coffee when I waited.
Is there a better waiting-drink? What about waiting-food?

Step 3.
Stay in that location and wait for that randomly selected person to show up at the pre-imagined time.

You could bring a book or listen to portable music, just do what you would usually do when you wait to meet up with someone at a specific spot. Remember, though, to keep your eyes and ears open enough so that IF this person actually shows up, you could notice him/her. Wait until the meeting time, and then wait for as long as you would like to afterwards. I suggest waiting for a minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of a million years. Leave whenever you want to, but try to have some patience.

Step 4. (optional)
blog about it

I'm off to talk about this exercise at the TEDxRotterdam open mic. When I get back I will type up a full post about its outcomes and other thinkings. First I need to sort them in my head to be spoken.

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