Topographies of the Obsolete is an artistic research project that focuses on the closed Spode Works in Stoke-on-Trent, UK.

The first workshop Resurrecting the Obsolete took place in September 2012 in the Spode Factory, Stoke on Trent, UK organized by Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway (KHiB).

KHiB was invited as a Research Fellow Partner Institution by the British Ceramics Biennial 2013 and the first workshop included 33 staff and students from KHiB, The Royal Academy of Art Copenhagen, Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel, Sheffield Hallam Univerisity, University of Nottingham Trent and invited alumni/artists from KHiB. Together we explored the Spode site’s histories, industrial space and infrastructure.

The workshops have uncovered a variety of methods and strategies exploring the complexity of the site from different perspectives and practices particular to each of the artists/students involved. We had a great variation of expressions ranging from the performative intervention based to installation and object based work.

The second of the research residency took place in March 2013 as the artistic research project Topographies of the Obsolete. The third workshop takes place in August 2013.

In September a number of participants from the research project will present their works during the British Ceramics Biennial 2013.

This site will act as a meeting point for participants and others interested in our progress.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Work Study

The work started out from the idea of efficiancy in action and movement related to production. Archives of schemes for following up, exercising and renewing working processes were found spread over the floor of an office space. The work study system was turned hollow and absurd with the ending of production.

The project aimes at examining and acting out this absurdity as an act of possible reconciliation of the human condition in the process of change.
Following the thinking of Maurice Merleau-Ponty about the body’s relationship to space - traces of which are to be found as well in Yi-Fu Tuan’s writing from a geographical perspective - the first step of research was the sheer movement, by walking, through the factory site, and thereby drawing lines on a GPS device.
How could these movements possibly connect to the examination and systematizing of information found in papers spread over the office’s floor? One way to work through material and information is by creating a (new) order: following not a system of rational thought, but the physical system of size and stability, and the transformation of matter.

The urge to connect own experience with realities of the past started the search for documentary images (films and museum displays) which would show moving bodies through the same (kind of) production space. Images from more recent CCTV recording might be a starting point to reenact similar movements for videotakes.

What interests me is the human condition, embedded in and influenced by physical space, and questions of dealing with unwanted and unforeseen changes of these conditions. The work has so far been developing as a blend of subjective experience of space, accounts of former factory workers and investigation of documentary material.

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