Folding Alexandria: mind mapping and experimental possibilities

Responding to reconnaissance and gathering at the site, I am starting to develop several ideas for experiments (which also inflect my mind mapping, included later in this page). I began describing some experiments on the Gathering page. Before finalising - or rather, to help finalise - which three experiments to take forward for development, I thought it would helpful and expedient to add an extra page that documents the range of ideas for experimentation.

My working title for experimentation and outcomes is Folding Alexandria. I am therefore working with the concept of folding space - space as multiple, layered, relational and processual - and exploring how this concept can be realised in experimental work through materials gathered at the site and image-making that takes place at the site. This foundational theme coalesced from three activities, at least: my prior conceptualisation/understanding of spatial complexity; the practices engaged for the Random Generator that located Alexandria; and the themes/ideas emerging from my mind mapping exercise. Before presenting some experimental possibilities (which of course are not the totality of possible experiments, but some further ideas), I've copied my mind map below.

mind map Alexandria.JPG

It seems a range of key words and ideas have emerged from the mind mapping, informed by concepts of space and by reconnaissance at the site: metamorphosis and transformation; folding and flattening (as process of metamorphosis); reflection and light (including lightening as process of spatial-material change); flows and movements (again linked to change over time and space at different scales); text, inscription, words and knowledge (of different origins and connections); and notions of both obsolescence and divestment (of objects, buildings, technologies, landscapes) alongside processes of recycling, reassembling, replicating, multiplying and circulating, as part of the material practice of place-making over time and space.

Some experiments, or at least experimental processes, that I have begun or that I am considering in response to the mind mapping include:

[1] Reflection. As described on the Gathering page, Paul pointed to the idea of reflection as a form of folding space in situ. In my gathering on site, I found and collected some discarded and cracked pieces of double laminated glass. Using these artefacts found on site, I placed them on the footpath in front of the factory building and captured reflections of the wall, roofline, signs and adjacent trees, bringing these together and folding them into the footpath, grounding them. I am very taken with using artefacts found on site to do the experimentation.

[2] Copy and collapse. I also found a discarded broken photocopier on site. It seemed remiss not to attempt to develop an experiment around the photocopier, drawing on a range of ideas/links. Paper, for me, links to the 'idea' of the Great Library of Alexandria and the development of scholarship and publication. The photocopier itself is a device for producing multiple images - and multiplicity is an element (arguably precondition) of folding. So I tried two things using the photocopier and the idea of paper, both installation. I created four origami buildings (from A4 photocopy paper) to use in the installations - the folding of paper as also representative of the folding of space. However, I didn't want to leave this installation at the simply symbolic level of folding = multiplicity = space. I wanted to complicate folding in a couple of ways.

[a] I've taken one of the paper buildings, photographed it IN the photocopier, then closed the lid and collapsed/crushed the folded space, and the re-photographed the outcome. What was also serendipitously interesting was the photocopier had pooled water on it, and it reflected the folded and collapsed paper building, thus creating folding and multiplicity through reflection too. This experiment is about complicating the folding of space, using a device found in situ, and conducting the experiment in situ.

[b] I've taken the other three paper buildings and stuck them on top of the photocopier. My intention is to document what happens to them in situ over the coming week. The three buildings again represent multiplicity/folding, but also space as trialectical. The idea of installing the folded buildings and leaving them to the elements (and people) on the photocopier is to see how the passage of time (and place and the elements) complicates the folding of space - a temporal as well as spatial dimension.

[3] Layering. Again on the Gathering page, I started finding and documenting examples of folds on the external wall of the factory itself - glitches caused by the accretion of paper over time. This might work as a diptych/triptych with the scrunched maps and other folds in the local landscape.

[4] Pinning and weaving. I want to try to extend the pinning used in the Generator - the use of map pins - to the site and images of the site. In doing so, I want to try to use string, twine or thread with the pins, as a referencing to the weaving (text/texture) of space.

[5] Flows and edges. Perhaps attempt a video of the images of the site overlaid on a video of the flowing canal - a reference to flows. For images, I want to explore the edges of the structures, maybe using the 'find edges' option in Photoshop with different levels of opacity.


I've now conducted two further field visits - with experimentation - at the field site. The visits were 8:30-9:30am and 2-3pm today, Thursday, 22 January 2015. The second field visit came in the wake of feedback on ideas and experimentation from Paul. Based on the visits and discussions, I think it is interesting to pursue ways to use in situ artefacts to develop experiments that interrogate the representation, meaning and experience of folded space at the site. The artefacts are themselves products of the site, and folded into its time-spaces.

So one experiment will continue to use the shattered glass (see [1] above), but will develop this folding further to experiment with 'reassembling' unfolded landscapes, and with writing the self and the body of the author (me) into the work as a form of processual documentation (and as another figure and actor in the landscape and in the folding of space!).

Another experiment - which I think I will develop for Experiment #1 - will involve an extended use of the folding and flattening of of paper buildings (see [2] above) along with pinning and weaving ([4] above). This will involve the use of the in situ photocopier, and further use of 'working' copiers to extend the exploration of folding and multiplicity.