Mobile Sound Pieces / Re-Imagining the City
Diploma Unit 5, Faculty of Architecture and Spatial Design, London Metropolitan University
Students: Louise Armour, Andrew Barkley, Nicola Chan, Filiz Erol, Alessio Fini, Dalina Gashi, George Gingell, Sarah Heidborn, Duna Irshaid, Rosie Jones, Judit Laczik, Kate McTiernan, Chris Perry, Masamouri Satoh, Jon Williams, J. Woodward, Hamid Reza Zendepir
Tutors: Pierre d’Avoine and Daniel Serafimovski.
Collaborators and consultants: artist/architect Poul Ingemann; artist Nada Prlja; designers Rentaro Nishimura and William Warren.
Mobile Sound Pieces: Love Seat Confessional (Escape); Urban Echo Speaker (Aural Refuse); Aldgate New Gate (Sentry Boxes); Bells Chambers (City Sounds); Shoe Shine Tower; Music Boxes
Conversation Pieces – a newly evolved title for the Mobile Sound Pieces – is a project developed by students in Diploma Unit 5 and their tutors Pierre d’Avoine and Daniel Serafimovski, at London Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Architecture and Spatial Design.
Seventeen students in fourth and fifth year working in small groups, have designed and made six large objects during Semester One. These sculptural furniture objects, somewhere between art and architecture, are conceived as an ensemble of pieces to be seen both within and beyond the gallery space, engaging with the public realm of the city.
The brief for the Mobile Sound pieces revealed an interest in the notion of ambiguity of scale, the potential of monumentality at a small scale and the design of objects that exist somewhere between furniture, musical instrument, architectural model, mobile structure. They were to be simple, sombre pieces with a sense of presence and a certain gravitas. Images of Poul Ingemann ensemble of pieces from the project ‘Chambre’ were used as a key references for the intended qualities of ambiguity and ambivalence.
In view of the Unit’s wider concerns with the architecture of the City of London – implicit in the title for the year’s programme ‘Re-Imagining the City’ – the project invited students to explore the boundary between the City of London and its neighbours. Aldgate was historically one of the gates to the City of London, and the ensemble of Mobile Sound Pieces are intended as instruments of investigation of the notion of edges, of historical and current boundaries (both physically manifest and less visible ones) and a wider exploration of the territory of the City and the quality of its public realm. John Hejduk’s mobile architectural structures and the artist Francis Alys’ ‘Seven Walks / Trial for a Concerto’ were frequent references in our conversations around engaging with the city.
The Mobile Sound Pieces are intended as ethnographic instruments to engage passers-by and the inhabitants of the City in conversations about themselves – their lives, their work and the ways in which they experience London. During Semester Two, they will be used by Diploma Unit 5 students as the basis for choreographed events in the City of London to form the basis of musical and other performances. The conversations and performances will be recorded and filmed, and the pieces documented both in repose and in action, to form the basis of a book.
The project has evolved with significant contributions from several collaborators, including artist/architect Poul Ingemann, artist Nada Prlja, as well as designers Rentaro Nishimura and William Warren – both tutors at the Sir John Cass Institute of Art and Design, where the Pieces have been developed as prototypes in the furniture workshops in Whitechapel. In the process, some of the Unit 5 students have established a dialogue with other students, consultants and members of staff from the Cass – including furniture designers, musical instrument makers and film makers, whom we hope will remain involved in the further development and documentation of this project. The Mobile Sound Pieces were included in an exhibition of the Aldgate Project at the Gallery space in Central House, opposite the Whitechapel, in January 2012.