Professor Stephen Hodge

Research through practice

 

 

The walker-architect: ambulant interventions as built environment

This is a Practice-as-Research project exploring a way of thinking about walkers and other itinerants, not only as users, critics or fleeting dreamers re-imagining the city, but as active contributors to the built environment and its development. Resulted in multiple interlinked outcomes across six countries.

Comprising walking experiments, physical interventions, public engagement activities, papers and articles, the research imperatives for the project were:

  • Is walking really enough, theoretically or practically? Can we take our walking a step further? Not simply to pass through, but to change, to adapt, to leave and to take, to detourn and to transform.
  • How might 'walking culture' contribute to architecture? When does the walker become an architect? And conversely, when does architecture go on a walk?

Outputs:

  • Mis-Guided (2008), coauthored with Wrights & Sites (Hodge, Persighetti, Smith, Turner), BBI Festival, Switzerland. 'Mis-Guided' was co-produced with Belluard Bollwerk International, Fribourg (Switzerland), where it formed the backbone of the Festival in 2008. Six international artists were commissioned to intervene into the cityscape, and Wrights & Sites/BBI converted the former city train station into a Tourist Mis-Information Office where we organised a series of installations, talks, screenings, drifts and events. Hodge was lead representative in stakeholder discussions.
  • 'Fragile Spaces' (2008-2009), coauthored with Wrights & Sites. R&D project comprised nine separate drifts, where the walking frameworks were all constructed to directly engagement with the physical environment of the city. These were not public-facing and modest in ambition, but fed subsequent PaR activity.
  • Longshore Drift (2009), coauthored with Simon Persighetti. Six-hour constrained drift launching 'Living Landscapes' conference, Aberystwyth, followed by reflections during the conference's first panel session.
  • 'The International Festival and the City Space' (2012), coauthored with Cathy Turner. Paper presented at PLAY: Relational Aspects of Dramaturgy conference, Ghent University, the Free University Brussels and the University College Ghent. Reworked for a forthcoming issue of Forum Modernes Theater.
  • Before I compose a piece, I walk round it several times, accompanied by myself (2012), solo-authored exploration of Paris walking, the built environment and compositional tactics. Performance Research (17:2).
  • Ambulant Architectures (2012), 100km walker-architect experiment coauthored with Wrights & Sites. As part of Trage Wegen's Sideways, a month-long itinerant festival that crossed Belgium, Wrights & Sites were commissioned to take a series of provisional, highly portable and flexible structures for a walk - experimenting with architectural intervention, prompted by curiosity, playfulness, resistance or need. The Ambulant Architectures were designed with a view to critically reconfiguring the various spaces along the 'Sideways' journey, by providing the possibility of demarcating, signalling, decorating, raising, celebrating, luring, containing...
  • 'The walker-architect: disrupted walking and the city' (2012). One of two, linked, solo-authored, invited papers (the other by Cathy Turner) presented at the Second Cities EU network 'Performing Cities' symposium in Hellerau, Dresden. Curated by Patrick Primavesi (Leipzig University) and Anna Bründl (Hellerau).
  • 'The Architect-Walker: Manifesto and Manifestations' (2013). Co-authored (with Wrights & Sites) paper for the On Walking conference, co-hosted by The University of Sunderland and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. The conference sat alongside a touring exhibition, '40 years of art walking from Richard Long to Janet Cardiff' (2013-2014), which also featured work by Wrights & Sites.

 

 

Everything you need to build a town is here

This multiple-sited, permanent public artwork is a Practice-as-Research project exploring walking, regeneration and built environment. Additionally, it generated a Radio 4 interview, a-n feature, curators' tour, fine art publication/talk, OUP chapter and feasibility study.

Drawing on Wrights & Sites' walking practices to respond to the changing fortunes of a British seaside town's fabric, the research imperatives for the commissioned work were:

  • What role can performance and peripatetic practices play within the context of regeneration-driven 'permanent' public artwork?
  • In contrast to single-sited monumental public art, what strategies might be developed for a more viral engagement between public art and the everyday built environment?

Outputs:

  • Everything you need to build a town is here (2010) - public artwork by Wrights & Sites (Hodge, Persighetti, Smith, Turner). Hodge (Wrights & Sites' lead) undertook nineteen reconnaissance visits, and made delegated decisions with curators, local authority, funders, designers, foundry, contractors and media. Commissioned as part of Wonders of Weston, produced by Situations and Field Art Projects, featuring international artists including Tim Etchells, Lara Favaretto and raumlaborberlin. Funded as part of a £951,447 Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment award.
  • Hodge represented the programme's artists in a:
  • The Master Plan (2012) - commission for Architecture and the Built Environment funded, solo-authored, artist's book for fine art publishers Book Works - instead of producing a planned illustrated guide to the 'Wonders of Weston', the programme curators commissioned this publication from Hodge - taking verbatim a found copy of 'Weston-Super-Mare. A Garden City by the Sea. The Master Plan.', the 'Transcript of Shorthand Notes Taken by H. G. Venning' at a 'Meeting of Townspeople Held in the King's Hall, Friday, January 24, 1947' as a backbone, Hodge constructed an illustrated palimpsest of marginalia focusing on the theme of regeneration - launched         alongside paper and discussion with Situations curator, Claire Doherty, at Whitechapel Gallery, London as part of The London Art Book Fair.
  • 'A Stratigraphy of Place: Everything you need to build a town is here', coauthored chapter with Wrights & Sites for OUP's The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World (2013).
  • Commissioned concept/feasibility study (with Wrights & Sites) study for a new, trail-based, permanent public artwork for a post-industrial (former copper and arsenic mining landscape) section of the Tamar Valley Area of Natural Beauty (with curatorial input from Plymouth Arts Centre) (2012).

 

 

2ND LIVE: exploring live performance in the Second Life® world

This is a Practice-as-Research project exploring space and event across Second Life and Real Life environments, through a programme of Arts Council England commissions and a solo-authored performance commissioned for ANTI Festival, Finland. The project also generated an article, seven papers and a three-day Knowledge Transfer workshop. Hodge curated, creatively produced and mentored the ACE-funded programme ('2ND LIVE') and created a commissioned performance ('SLaaristokaupunki'), which referenced a body of interdisciplinary spatial Practice-as-Research and new research into virtual worlds. Methods and practices were drawn from choreography, computer animation, architecture, musical composition, games design and walking art.

The research imperatives for the project were:

  • What can be learnt through the transference of Real Life performance practices into a Second Life context?
  • How can we construct space and event in order to exploit the potential of the virtual environment, rather than attempting to mimic everyday dynamics?

Outputs:

  • '2ND LIVE' (2008) - ACE-funded programme of commissions and 'Scratch' events, hosted by Exeter Phoenix:
  • 2ND LIVE: Shaping Space and Event in a Virtual World, Contemporary Theatre Review, Volume 20 Issue 2, May 2010, pp. 223-232.
  • Seven papers (2008-2011), for:
    • '2ND LIVE: Island Version 2.0', PSi #14: INTERREGNUM - In Between States, University of Copenhagen (August 2008).
    • 'REGION_FLAG_BLOCK_TERRAFORM' (invited hour-long keynote), Art - Site - Audience, Tramway, Glasgow (September 2008).
    • '2ND LIVE: Virtual ASBOs, Viral Duets, Reflexive Architecture & The Death Of An Avatar', Performing Presence: from the live to the simulated, University of Exeter (March 2009).
    • 'A Second Space for Performance', Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference, University of Plymouth (September 2009).
    • 'The walker architect - Reflexive Architecture', Inhabiting Adaptive Architecture workshop @ International Conference on Adaptive Architecture, Building Centre, London (March 2011).
    • 'FromTo' (invited paper), From Black Box to Second Life: Theatre and Performance in Virtual Worlds, University of Hull (May 2011).
    • 'Material Alternatives' (invited keynote), Symposium on the Dramaturgies of Telematic Theatre, Central School of Speech and Drama, London (June 2011).
  • SLaaristokaupunki, commissioned for ANTI Festival, Finland (2009).
  • Avatartist 2.0 (2008), KT workshop for Live Art Development Agency / Arnolfini.

 

Possible Cities

The research impetus for this practice-as-research project lies in Wrights & Sites' increasing number of conversations with city architects and planners, including Jan Gehl, the Danish architect and academic whose practice is centred on 'life between buildings'.

'Rethinking The City' is a series of provocations, aimed at rethinking/replanning the 21st Century City through performance-related walking practices, papers and presentations. It comprises:

Except where stated, this practice-as-research project is co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner).

 

Possible Forests

'Possible Forests' is a body of practice-as-research aimed at transferring Wrights & Sites' practices of urban exploration, surrealistic derambulation, mis-guidance and spatial planning from the city to the trees.

Working in partnership with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (in Haldon Forest Park, which the Forestry Commission is in the process of replanning), the project comprises a number of interlinked elements:

  • 'Forest Drift', a day-long, public, exploratory drift within the bounds of the forest, exploring the Forestry Commission's new walkways, overgrown tracks and desire paths (September 2006)
  • a series of documented reconnaissance drifts/dialogues (discussing ways of experiencing, re-imagining and planning the forest landscape) with specialists in eight different fields, including architecture, Jungian psychology, choreography and computer software design - each drift followed by a session in which the specialist and Wrights & Sites construct new plans for the forest (Spring & Summer 2007)
  • a split-screen DVD video documentation of a simultaneous drift in the forest by the four core members of Wrights & Sites (Summer 2007)
  • a public exhibition of maps, texts and video at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World's forest base (September 2007)
  • a day-long symposium and practical workshop, bringing together Wrights & Sites, the partner specialists and the public (September 2007)
  • DVD-ROM documentation of the constituent elements, constructed by Stephen Hodge working in consultation with Peter Hulton of the Arts Documentation Unit (Autumn 2007)

Except where stated, this practice-as-research project is co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner).

 

A Mis-Guide To Anywhere

120 pages, ISBN-13: 9780954613013, April 2006

The research impetus for this practice-as-research publication was the interest in An Exeter Mis-Guide beyond the bounds of the city of Exeter. The research imperatives were to:

  • find ways to adapt the site-specific practices of An Exeter Mis-Guide for generic application (to explore connections and differences between local and global, personal and communal, here and elsewhere/anywhere)
  • consolidate long-term research (walking experiments funded by the Centre for Creative Enterprise & Participation in Manchester, Milton Keynes, Copenhagen, Paris, New York, Zambia, and other locations around the world)
  • produce a tool in the form of a book that could stimulate further activities/collaborations between Wrights & Sites and partners in other locations

It was equally co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner). It was funded by Arts Council England (£18,000) and the Centre for Creative Enterprise & Participation (£10,000), and launched at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.

Directly associated research-based outcomes:

 As with An Exeter Mis-Guide, the book has been used to teach across a range of disciplines, from Performance Studies at Tisch School of Arts (New York University) to Design Studies at the University of Otago (New Zealand) and Geography at the University of Manchester.

On-line links:

 

An Exeter Mis-Guide

96 pages, ISBN-13: 9780954613006, September 2003

This practice-as-research publication is the result of three years of disrupted walking by Wrights & Sites, using the city of Exeter as their laboratory. Through extended drifts, alone and with invited individuals/groups, at different times of day/year, the research process aimed to:

  • playfully explore/challenge existing spatial models generated by municipal organisations, the heritage and tourism industries, different academic/artistic discourses, etc.
  • generate a series of frameworks for activities in specific sites and landscapes within the city of Exeter, allowing the writer and walker to become partners in ascribing significance to place

It was equally co-authored with other members of Wrights & Sites (Simon Persighetti, Phil Smith and Dr Catherine Turner). It was funded by the Local Heritage Initiative (£8,338), Arts Council England (£4,000) and Exeter Arts Council (£400).

Directly associated research-based outcomes include:

  • a co-authored commission by the Courtauld Institute of Art , London for the two-year exhibition of international artists, 'East Wing Collection 06 (Urban Networks)', 2003-5: the work comprised four mapped walks (1 by each author) - [ view page 1 ] - [ view page 2 ]
  • a contribution to The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel, 2005 (one of Stephen's walks from 'An Exeter Mis-Guide' was case-studied as one of forty examples of experimental travel)
  • 'On An Exeter Mis-Guide', a solo paper by Stephen for the 'Live Art Symposium', Newlyn Art Gallery (September 2003)

'An Exeter Mis-Guide' has been taught in a number of university theatre/drama departments (including Roehampton, Lancaster & Glasgow). Its focus on spatial practices means that it is also taught across disciplines, for example, in the departments of Geography at the University of Durham, Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, Art History at Shanghai University (China) and Cinema & Media at Carleton College (Minnesota, USA).

On-line links: