A Kickstarter – by me! /// Textures in Berlin

photo2That’s right! I’m doing a Kickstarter, to help fund a project where I’ll be exploring street textures in Berlin (and making some urban planner-made artwork for contributors!). You can check it out here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sheraz/berlin-textures-artist-residency-at-zku-berlin

The Kickstarter is to support a project in Berlin in partnership with the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, where I will be an artist-in-residence. The project is a kind of extension of my past sensory-focused work (sound, smell). In this project I will focus on the feeling of touch and the experience of texture, in particular, I am most interested in the texture of the street and on pathways. The Kickstarter page has the basic information for the project, so check it out, share and contribute if you can!

I wanted to use this post to provide some of the thought behind the project, more after the jump:

So I’m sure you’re wondering how I got the idea of doing this. When I was travelling this summer, I became enamored with the sound made by rolling suitcases on the ground – that kalk! klak! klak! got me thinking about all shapes and forms on the ground that we treat as part of a ‘whole’ experience of our space (that is to say, we don’t really think much about them).

Texture, as I’m beginning to understand it, is experienced through movement. We put one foot in front of another or pedal a bike or drive a car etc. to move from point A to point B. Effectively, since we can’t float, we must slide, roll, and step on surfaces. The choice of surface material will affect our trip as we make decisions on where to place our feet.

I’ve noticed this more and more lately since the ice storm in Toronto. When streets were covered in an uncomfortable, bumpy, icy glaze, people noticeably took to the snow on the side. The decision was clear, snow offers more traction, and better texture (friction) to movement, which walking depends on. Unless you are waddling or stomping around, ice will let your slip. This simple action is an expression or an admission of the information provided by the street.

On top of this, I suspect that there is a historical/lived experience portion of this. These experiences and memories inform a person’s decision to choose surfaces which are ‘good’ to walk on and which are not. Part of it is also seeing the actions of others in their footsteps. Seeing a person slip is a clear indication that you should alter your path.

Information on the ground is read using instruments. A person with impaired vision will use a white cane to check for curbs and steps, and to examine for any dangers or hazards. A cyclist will avoid certain paths because of bumps, rocks or cobblestones, searching instead for smooth surfaces to glide along with their bikes. A motorist will (usually) slow down to move over the unavoidable jolt of a speed bump by controlling their car.

As I examine texture in Berlin, I want to grow my understanding of the experience of texture. What are the varieties? What are the physics of the creation of sound from friction? And how does this all fit into our experience of (particularly, urban) space?

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