The New Town Project: an Evolving Interactive Environment

 

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Project Inception

In December 2016, deep cover operatives affiliated with experimental art website The Unstitute were planted into the village of Tivenys, in the remote Catalonian countryside. Their brief was to report back their findings of how existence unfolded in this particular place, a place as good as any other. They were instructed to examine their lives – along with the corresponding place – thoroughly, and report material back to be assembled into a new project initiative at The Unstitute entitled ‘New Town’; a labyrinthine, digitally constructed environment or ‘new town’ which can be explored online, and which we hope will be deep in its scope and ambitious in its efforts to open exploratory new territory for both artist and audience alike.

Abstract

The New Town project is the digital re-creation of a ‘particular place’ – the small village of Tivenys, Spain – through the fragments of material produced, unearthed, documented or whatsoever by The Unstitute’s operatives embedded there, and thus, through the gradual process of reconstructing the digital version of this place on the website, a digital ‘town’ will be built for the purpose of free exploration by the viewer through the web browser.

The first obstacle in the realisation of New Town is that it cannot be described or documented using conventional methods. Not only is the project entirely subjective – and necessarily so – but New Town itself also constitutes a partial reconstruction of the fictive, mistaken, transient or imagined elements which consciousness generates about any place in particular, and how these ‘maps’, formed in the mind and always operating on our perceptions, are subject to continual pressures of distortion from one source or the other, but are no less indispensable for being so. These maps are built from our exercise within the territory. It is these maps, intangibly conscious, which we in turn aim to map-out, to produce topographies of, to explore, or otherwise convey.

Artistic inquiries into daily life are used to penetrate the everyday quality of existence in this place – an effort which in part is used to help accept that the World cannot, should not and will not conform to the ideas we have about our experience of it, but no doubt such distortions do arise. It is no surprise then to find New Town only partially visible, inadequately described, exaggerated or poorly lit – much like a lonely street at night, or the dream of one; a report of nothing happening somewhere.

Bettany Unction

Chief Curator and Nihilist

1st March, 2017


Mental Architectures:

The Dynamic Environments of New Town

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i) Grey Areas

In daily life, I orientate myself repeatedly using imagined spaces, or inferences; i.e. “I know logically there is a street adjacent to this one, though I’ve never seen it”, or “though it seems like there’s nothing over there, upon inspection actually there’s a whole bunch of particular things over there in that particular place”. Over a period, a huge topography of spaces is gathered but which are not fixed; instead always growing, adjusting, realigning, rebuilding according to our experience. Inside this twilit image of the world of which one is conscious, it is frequently necessary for the brain to ‘patch’ together generic blocks of visual data to represent places that you cannot directly see, but of which you know must exist through inference or hearsay, (i.e “the other side of that hill”, or “the other side of that house”,) mental images which will not be formed until one has a direct/repeated experience of the said place. These we denote as ‘grey areas’, and form the largest part of New Town; the areas beyond our direct access but of which we have pre-formed mental ideas about, and for which may or may not have a concrete reality for anybody else. For instance, a person may walk along a street on her way to work every day of the week for years and never particularly notice the specific details of all of the places along the way – it is indeed hard or impossible to really pay very close attention to the details of everything, and one might always find some building, shed or other part of the built environment that had never really quite existed for you up until right now, up to and including the changes which continually take place within a given area by the passing of Time. The effort to produce a topography or a temporal topography of these grey areas is an effort to look into the feeling of personal limitation and location, observing the evolving tapestry of mental constructions about places and the things in them, and to represent this complex, subtle awareness of grey areas within the global map under construction.

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ii) Particular Places

The effort required in making such detailed topographical observations does however have its merits, and colours our mental maps correspondingly and may furthermore produce benefits for long-term adaptations to the mapping regime. So, in contrast to grey areas, these areas which have been explored – which are within our known domain – we shall call particular places. They are not permanent, perfect or real, for we are dealing with mental approximations and mutable figments, but these particular ones have suffered close scrutiny and the effect of undertaking such observations over extended periods is of great interest to us; both the effects on the place under observation and on the subject doing the observing. A high proportion of places – even ones in our most local proximity, i.e. our neighbour’s bedroom – are however consigned almost certainly to our personal oblivion, to remain vague, and most likely to never at all emerge from the abyss of the twilit world of generalised, generic, expedient pre-formed chunks of form built with the absence of experienced sense-data – although many of our enquiries operate on precisely this level, and New Town itself is very much constructed within such mental topographies. Our enquiry will not however cover the mental architectures of the other occupants of the town, for that would be too nebulous to include here, though a growing awareness of the private experience of others forms an interesting and vast set of unmapped terrains which are sublime to contemplate and observe, having both direct and indirect influences over ourselves and our own mental environment.

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iii) Territory

Though we have spoken about the space in the imagination in which we construct models of ‘particular places’ and ‘grey areas’, we must inquire as to whether this process is a product of our territorial impulses, (i.e. the primary way in which we actively explore space,) and whether these mental spaces themselves are territorial. Everyone is territorial. As I engage in my territory, which is how I supply my mental topography with data, any experiences incurred within the territory have corresponding effects over my mental representations of them, and vice-versa. This dynamic makes the comprehension of space in terms of the details mapped therein is not however for the purpose of recording absolutely everything in the highest resolution, or with terribly great accuracy or even the pretense of objectivity – these are the concerns of Nasa or Google. We may obsess over certain details in the landscape or built environment similar to the way in which a dog is furiously interested in the smell of a wall, engaged within a dynamic system of territorial behaviours – even to the degree that such activities as may be required in public or private might have a correspondingly significant effect on our practice, and furthermore, on the construction of New Town. Or, through a process of exploring the edges of territory – at frontiers, sometimes patrolling them, sometimes crossing them, other times not – we may produce an additional layer of sense about our inner and outer environs and thus evolve our conscious experience.

The New Town project is territorial, inasmuch as territory is defined as a dynamic set of fluctuating boundaries – both physical and otherwise – through which frequent deterritorializations are made. Being ‘territorial’ is hardly a choice – it is such a deep rooted mode of behaviour we actually cannot choose to be without it, and thus considerations of territoriality are, literally, fundamental in the exploration of space. Attempts to accurately convey a sense of space without consideration for the feelings over which the experience of territory becomes territory, miss their mark – one feels territory in behaviours, the apprehension of boundaries, property or the physical presence. If one feels afraid to continue, or feels likely to be arrested or even seen, one might turn back. The process of evolution records territorial behaviours so deeply in the architecture of our currently available consciousness that it operates, extremely effectively, at the basic level of primordial gut feelings, and without a sense of these, the viewer of a map or some other record of a place will only see the physical definitions of property and its boundary lines. By employing artistic means to weave thorough inquiry together with a very close examination of feeling, the construction of New Town out of its respective blocks must always incorporate in one way or another the particular set of feelings associated with particular places – which is what makes them particular in the first instance – and how those feelings modify our inexorably territorial behaviour.

The peculiar forms of mapping or topographical procedures undertaken by the operatives within the target area (Tivenys) and the re-construction of that material into a digital place (New Town) opens questions as to the nature of the inquiry; does New Town produce new territories and/or territorial possibilities within the Internet, and if so, is the aim to undermine the utopianism of the Internet? Or perhaps there is an effort to create and cultivate some corner of it – a ‘walled garden’ of sorts? Certainly, there is a world-building fantasy at play, yet one not only conscious, but entirely dependent upon its limits. To create a digital reality as deep and as rich as the physical place itself, and escape to it – or perhaps, escape through it? The architecture of utopia encounters the architecture of escape, the architecture of the boundary, the architecture of defense. Architecture – as a function of territory. Mental architectures as consciousness of territory. Consciousness as Territory. Would Utopia be – Territorial? All the more need for back-doors, emergency exits and short-cuts of all kinds…

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iv) The Wilderness

At the periphery of New Town exists the haze of what remains unknown or undocumented. Within the territory of this virtual environment there is an edge of the world; in this sense it shares something with a videogame environment, presumably at the edge of which there is nowhere further to go – the horizon you see is effectively a painted backdrop. Or perhaps it echoes the ancient Norse sentiment of the world’s end, or the pre-Copernican post-Trumpian flat earth-ers. Howsoever construed, the territory mapped constitutes the known horizon of New Town; beyond this lies The Wilderness, the grey-area, the unknown and enveloping ignorance beyond the horizon, (the mapping of which is so nebulous cannot but be related to the topic of Entropy, introduced below.) The Wilderness is an undefined, vague area which makes frequent incursions into the environment of New Town, and threatens the town as its primary antagonist. Indeed, the vastness of this undocumented terrain is one particular hazard associated with The Wilderness; the generalisations about its contents – the painted backdrop of ‘grey areas’ – constitutes another. The effects of these areas on the territories of New Town are a case in point.

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v) Entropy

The particular type of topography exercised in the creation of New Town would certainly miss a dimension if it did not reveal the effects of Entropy upon these mental architectures, and that such activities performed gathering materials in the territory forms part of the entropic processes revealed in the whole. This activity is certainly not limited to the physical decay in the built environment, of which there is much, or the ratio of derelict houses to occupied ones. My whole activity, at some times, could be said to be a complete waste of time. Or perhaps it will take forever to really get the right level of detail, and even then there would be infinitely more I could do? But waste is the way of all things, as they say, and thus the study of entropy within the global map forms a highly desirable dimension of the project of New Town, especially given the contradiction of a ‘new town’ within the one-way dynamics of an entropic system. Everything tends towards decay, so how should a new town remain new? New Town as – a Ship of Theseus? The logic involved in the study of waste is always one of exploring the inexorable movement of everything useful on its journey to becoming useless, drifting through the territories and landscapes of New Town, towards its rendezvous with the dust. We aim to construct a unique digital environment in which millions of micro-dramas – the passage of a piece of fluff out of a doorway, for instance – make their inexorable passage into digital consciousness in the territories of New Town.

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vi) Language (Llenguatge)

“The way in which we speak of a place is as much of a place itself. Where we speak is who we speak.”

Proverb

Our experience of place becomes something different when it is shared – but also when it cannot be. A significant factor in the New Town project is the Catalan language, which we personally must encourage our tongues and thoughts to mimic, or remain on an island of English speech. Tivenys (pronounced Tibenz) is situated in the Iberian Peninsula of Catalonia – a disputed autonomous territory of Spain. The regional language here is Català – a vulgar Latin variant which shares much with Spanish, Italian and French. After General Franco tried to eliminate the Catalonian tongue during his fascist regime and replace it with Castilian Spanish, Catalans have fiercely maintained their own language and its dialects, and this territoriality of the tongue is a salient theme of New Town. Although the history of this particular language is fascinating in itself, (especially when immersed in it every day,) to pinpoint precisely the function of language in New Town would again benefit less from encyclopedic understanding than it would from first reactions. What is the sound of speech? What feeling is provoked through the encounter with an unintelligible call? How does the tongue react when imprisoned by the teeth, when humbled by a necessary, yet faltering response, alienated by habituation in another linguistic territory? Which hybrids are produced by an admixture of languages and attitudes to adaptation? These microscopic and subjective experiences are the beginning point for our investigation into the deterritorialized tongue, the possible functions of speech and the mouth in general, the sense generated by encounters with mundane narrative and chance interaction within the environments of New Town.

Written by Operative #1 (Fred)

Tivenys, Spain

March, 2017

Content

Content to flick away at the modes of repression,
A finger swipe here or there, to the left or,
To the right – it makes little difference – the accountant can make his audit up.
The links in this chain are tiny, momentary flashes of desire,
Anger, disappointment, ennui,
We have always given of ourselves so easily –
Is that why they take so much?

There is no route out of politics by more politics.

Hope is the enemy. Nothing grows in that soil but weeds.

S’Pain

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Am unable to locate the source
From which it issues –
It seeps out when the dishes
Want washing, or when
I look into the eye of the moon.

I speak it out loud, so it need not
Seep no more – only then it evades
Articulation, goes hiding, pretending
Beneath the sofa it don’t exist at all.
Why so afraid – to be trapped?

All such wild things fear the Trap,
Vicious though they may be, pacing
Back and forth in the cage,
Useless postures, docile without
Intention, ineffectual, subjected.

Orientalists prized the pride
Of the jungle. Or was it
Shame that soared above
Gilded cages of
Emulation?

Without a wound, one wonders
Where the pain should issue forth?
Pace back and forth:
Articulate.
Wait.

S’Pain

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Stone, pine cone
Cigarette
Mountain
Alone is alone
A bird wound around the branch

Forgive my poised meaninglessness
Mistaken
Cloud
Let’s drive nowhere
Tonight

It won’t be said, but insists
It will be spoke
It won’t be missed
Wriggling in a
Word

I’ve got to go nowhere
Soon
Take my pain with you
It can’t live
Here, alone

On Repercussionism

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2011

1) On Repercussionism

1.1) No content: A series of superficial movements, which, taken together, form a global movement incorporating each series.

1.2) Series: each video [movement] contains a series of movements. This series proliferates [rhizome] into avenues and alleyways, rooms and chambers; sequential sectional additions. The series provides the desired movement – never singular, absolute, permanent, profound – always plural, temporary, mobile, superficial.

1.3) Expression comes before conceptualisation. Conceptualisation as discharge of energy into immediate arrest. The economy of Repercussionism cannot produce sufficient ‘repercussive energy’ under the arrest of conceptualisation, through the ‘discharge in thought’. Repercussionism is inconsiderate.

1.4) Since we are dealing with superficial movements, expressions without ready conceptualisations but proliferated by plurals, the concept of facade – and the perspective which permits this spectacle – becomes nonsensical. ‘Facade’ becomes a positive object detached of its negative connotation ‘deception’ – each identity a mask, only more masks underneath, what is profound merely has no bottom, like a broken bucket. The container unfit for bearing; the content cannot resist slipping away.

1.5) Inasmuch as ‘facade’ eradicates permanent persons, so does guilt, as a necessary prerequisite, have nothing to hold onto and slips away. Personalities migrate, guilt cannot anchor the personality, guilt proliferates into energy, into action, and the name ‘guilt’, what is signified by the name ‘guilt’, slips. ‘Facade’ becomes a series of chambers, a movement within or through them becomes practical freedom.

 

2) Auxiliaries

2.1) Each video is a chamber, a repercussion emanating from primary movement or desire. Successive movements follow, superficial movements, always against the ‘taking-back of’ movements as guilt demands.

2.2) Each ‘repercussion’ is a navigating-freedom, an ecstatic connection between each successive ‘repercussion’. The absence of ‘content’ within discourse permits non-linear, non-triangulated, superficial movement; reactions, abreactions, negations, resistances.

2.3) “The guilty one is the subject of the statement.” If that subject migrates, proliferates via extension, via “becoming-facade”, guilt dis-integrates, (no coherent whole against which it can ‘index’ and make sensible); becomes a toy, a fiction (to be re-written, re-inscribed, at will.) The toy-fiction ‘guilt’ becomes a positively charged object – the world [global movement] is not seen, but invented.

The Second Three-Year Plan

UNdiscriminate.GOBO(2011-2014)

 

1. Thought, Speech, Text

1.1 Positive promotion of paranoid processes

1.2 The production of rhetoric contradicting altruistic philosophy

1.3 Speaking and the terminology of freedom

1.4 Bad-Faith and the destruction of obligation, regret and laisez-faire

1.5 Creation of self-interest, recovery of ‘selfishness’ as positive attribute

1.6 Naming, re-naming, un-naming and anti-naming; studies in Bad-Faith

 

2. Passivity, Reactivity, Activity

2.1 Combat against Ressentiment in psychological economy

2.2 Reevaluation of energy discharge/reducing need for purpose

2.3 The role of negation in personality

2.4 Problems of archival memory systems/architectures

2.5 Experiments into Radical Insecurity for promotion of reactivity (against Care)

2.6 Investigation of Repercussion and Oblivion Of Action (On What Remains)

2.7 Understanding as a function of participation, not spectatorship

2.8 Consequence not a property of forethought

2.9 The division of labour in the manufacture of Pain (Ressentiment / the ‘dark workshop’)

 

3. Resistance, Force, Vector

3.1 Creation of political avenues [flows] and objections [resistances]

3.2 Thinking as activity (participation), not as discharge i.e. returning to baseline

3.3 Discovery of what energy discharge can do, not what it is for

3.4 The geography of individuality and its potential

3.5 Discovery/creation of limitations (non-reliance on/trust of accepted definitions)

3.6 Strategic uses of contempt

3.7 Affirmation of differential power / against the equalisation of opposing force

On Nomadology

spain_backgroundWe dig tunnels.

 

There is no overarching plan for this superstructure known as The Unstitute, but we know there must be enough ways for us to get out quickly when the need for escape arises. Sure, this edifice takes on all the characteristics of a labyrinth, and it is uncertain who is trapped and who the trapper, but these concerns merely reinforce the idea that the plan must be going well, whatever it is. And though it might seem unlikely to go to such extreme effort to encounter the primordial fear of being trapped – a fear most underrated for its influence within the corridors and back-alleys of society – we are quite content to enmesh our efforts within such base fear. To be sure, we are never satisfied that the labyrinth has reached its state of perfection, inasmuch as each new improvement reveals at least a dozen new weaknesses which must be counteracted on the instant, strategic alterations are hastily drawn-up, construction begins afresh, new weaknesses and blind spots are revealed, plans are abandoned – and yet oftentimes it is these unfinished avenues that constitutes the greatest confusion for the intruder and thus the greatest pleasure for us. Indeed, there is no way to achieve a full satisfaction that the perfect escape should be at all possible, for one can only know such things when a situation of escape is needful, and even then one should hardly be content that the escape plan is perfect, for one cannot presume the intruder to act according to our script. And anyway, satisfaction is hardly our object. The escape itself is a by-product, an excuse for the architecture of escape.

 

Probably escape will never be needed – for who should attack us here? Who would be so egotistic to presume that we should become the object of the Other? But such questions are irrelevant, for we are building upon the possibility of fallible design, and this there is always much work to be done for the construction to be impregnable, or at least open to such a degree that there are manifold routes out to meet the occasion or the nature of the intruder. Every escape we should ever need, every escape out cunning can decide, must be on hand – which predicates that also we ourselves must be in readiness to put this supreme architecture to use without prior warning. Certainly this is not our home. Anxiety is built into the superstructure itself, and it is again uncertain that it’s corridors, chambers and exits constitute modes of escape or modes of capture. Who is trapped? Perhaps we ourselves are the invaders, and this confusing architecture is built around the presumption of occupation, or the arbitrary authority of Place?
We work therefore relentlessly, unceasingly, on our trap. Annexes, arcades, hatches, shafts: our Nomadology takes place within. This is no settlement, for not even the walls ensure our shifting purpose. The weaponisation of this architecture, which subjects our sense of place to such uncertainty as to our proper relationship to it, with such painstaking avoidance of comfort – for we should not wish the invader to be attracted by comfort or wish to stay – and such emphasis on the simulacra of there being no place here at all, elevated or plans to greater degrees of discontents. An escape cannot be perfected, and thus neither can it’s architecture. These discontents are our proper traps, and our further means to escape – not to freedom, for that is just a word – but to an exponential labour of movement through ourselves…