Soft Start

— Eleanor Wright/Sam Watson, with works and contributions by Sophie Michael,
Eric Bainbridge, Maria Fusco, Josh Wilson, Nadia Hebson, Paul Becker, Tilly Fowler

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

People can plan and build their own community in a participatory, democratic manner, even if that community is responsible to a much larger system.

Any act of architecture is firstly an act of human intervention upon the natural world. Architecture, as such, is a form of inquiry; a system we construct for negotiating our relationship with nature. ‘A Pattern Language’, published in 1977, was very much a challenge against the functionalistic principles for planning cities and residential areas that prevailed during and up to that period. The book carried an appeal to show concern for the people who were to move about between and within buildings, and it urged an understanding of the subtle, almost indefinable – but definite – qualities, which have always related to the interaction of people in public spaces, and it pointed to the life between buildings as a dimension of architecture that needed careful consideration and treatment.

The intervening years have shown that the liveliness and liveability of cities and residential areas continues to be an important issue, emphasised by the intensity in which successful public spaces are used at this point in time, as well as the greatly increased general interest in the quality of cities and their public spaces.

Soft Start is an exhibition, event and publication project, it is a work in-itself defined alongside and by the works within it and the space around it. The works themselves deal with the issue of making something through a number of movements and referents. In this sense, the works are transformations between memory and expectation, intention and realisation: performances of another object.

As the great urbanist Manuel Sola Morales has said, “design is important at both the scale of the kilometre and at the scale of the centimetre.” This summarises what infrastructure is about – whichever kind of infrastructure we are looking at, be it at a regional scale, the scale of a city or that of an exhibition, it affects people in a very personal way.

In an incomplete, open-ended piece of work linking urban culture, creative research and exhibition making, Soft Start is focused on place, memory and visuality. It will take both the ‘city’ and the ‘exhibition’, and The Northern Charter studio group, and their complexities, as an uncertain subject, a displaced location in space and time, and use it as a hinge for investigations of contemporary cultures.

Wright and Watson contemplate an environment spanning cultural criticism, architectural theory and design practice, engaging with the challenges and opportunities of studying the contemporary city, its aesthetic cultures, narratives and uses.

Soft Start builds on investigations into the city and the exhibition as a site of cultural production and contestation, places of memory and cultures of forgetting, questions of identity and representation and urban cultural and semiotic landscapes.

Soft Start Temporary Mediatheque:
Films selected by Sophie Michael

Artist Sophie Michael will project her work ’99 Clerkenwell Road’ in 16mm format alongside other works by selected artists and filmmakers throughout the afternoon. Please drop by and choose from the films in the library to be screened.

The Temporary Mediatheque includes original viewing copies and previews – 16mm, 8mm, and digital – of works by: Holly Antrum, Jordan Belson, Richard Bevan, Melanie Counsell, Jacques Denny, Charles and Ray Eames, Blue Firth, Oskar Fischinger, Lucy Harris, Max Hattler, René Jodoin, Marie Menken, Sophie Michael, Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, Jacques Villeglé and Raymond Hains.

 

Reading Event: Tuesday 29th July
from 6pm

The Reading Group: ‘I Love Dick’ by Chris Kraus

In The Reading Group’s third session we will be discussing Chris Kraus’s novel ‘I Love Dick’. ‘I Love Dick’ stands as a touchstone for many artists and writers working today. We are interested in exploring the far-reaching significance of this work, through a discussion of its inventive form and seemingly self-revelatory content.

We hope this session will offer the opportunity to bring together the comments and observations of those with a longstanding experience of the book with those fresh to its content.