Week 12 – Ambiguity

For Thursdays class I have been exploring ‘ambiguity’ in a spatial way. This means creating sketch models and I have been taking photographs of ambiguous parts of Newtown. The feedback from Leisa and Tom has given me a list of people to look up:
Firstly is Gordon Matta Clark:

“By un-doing a building there are many aspects of the social condition against which I am gesturing: to open a state of enclosure which had been preconditioned not only by physical necessity but by the industry that profligates suburban and urban boxes as a context for insuring a passive, isolated consumer—a virtually captive audience.” Gordon Matta-Clark, 1977

Gordon Matta Clark










Leisa also introduced me to the phenomena called Thomasson. A description from their website,

“Have you ever seen … say, a telephone pole which no longer carries a line, but still stands on the sidewalk? Or maybe you’ve seen a second story doorway in the outside wall of a building that didn’t lead to a landing — or to much of anything — anymore. Ever seen a “stairway to heaven,” a staircase that goes nowhere, or awalkway that ends abruptly in midair? These are Thomassons.

In the seventies, Japanese conceptual artist and writer Akasegawa Genpei and his buddies discovered “hyperart,” unintentional art created by the city itself. Everywhere they saw urban objects and structures that had had a use in the past, but were now useless … yet someone was still maintaining them, not removing them. Akasegawa named these objects “Thomassons” after American baseball hitter Gary Thomasson, who was recruited to a Japanese team and paid a mint to look pretty, but whose bat almost never connected with the ball.”

As I went around Newtown trying to discover what I thought were ambiguous spaces, these examples of ‘thomassons’ from around the world compliment my photos very nicely. They hightlight the preservation ideas I was talking with Grahame about this week. What makes Newtown, Newtown? Its the grungy, non-uniform elements that together make up the atmosphere of the suburb itself. These include the mixture of old victorian shopfront with new ones, expressive street art, strange pocket parks, textures of ripped posters, non-uniform pathways, grit, pokey spaces etc. If the councils plans to slow down traffic speeds, fix up and standardise footpaths etc continue will it detract from the distinct atmosphere Newtown has?

the window that once was

railroad to nowhere

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