What are Manuals for Public Space?
Manual for Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Workshop with Oil and Cotton Creative Exchange in Dallas, TX, 2013
Workshop with students at Eastfiel College in Mesquite, Dallas, TX, 2013
“Pirate Toilets” Workshop with Piaskowy Smok Fundation in Katowice, Poland, 2013
Workshop with Napraw Sobie Miasto Fundation in Katowice, Poland, 2013
Workshop with Brama Cukermana in Bedzin, Poland, 2013
Installation at the threewalls Gallery, Chicago:
Workshop at the Lawn School, Tompkins Square Park, New York City, 2012
Workshop at Kamenné námestie, Bratislava, Slovakia, 2012
Workshop at Rybné námestie, Bratislava, Slovakia, 2012
Project Manuals for Public Space (MfPS) is a complex, open, grassroots platform where citizens of different countries all around the world can freely create and exchange user manuals (or guides) on how to improve, change and reclaim public space. Together, these manuals creates a free radical archive full of intervention guides. Besides that, it is also a powerfull research tool which mirrors differences between perceptions, issues and purpose of public space(s) around the world.
Each individual manual is a result of a long workshop where participants of particular communities (including architects, hackers and activists) talk about how they perceive public space including it’s particular issues. Together they create a step by step guide on how to fix the problem, using specially designed cognitive objects which helps them to frame the issues. Following the workshops sometime participants are making interventions described in the manuals.
Rooted in experimental and alternatives to pedagogy Manuals for Public Space is about sharing of public knowledges, and experimenting how to bring knowledge into action.
It is a long durational, open ended project, up to date containing over 27 manuals.
Each manual represents a blueprint or a model for an intervention in public space. Every such manual is licenced under the free Creative Commons licence. This means that it can be freely used by anybody and also modified to fit particular needs of particular user or community. This is reflecting the fact that there is not only one public, but multiple publics inhabited by various communities with different needs and ideas about their own space.
Such participatory models (or blueprints) are important because they can be quickly spread through various inforamtion channels. They can encourage conception of new participatory forms of art and design. What each manual represents is not a limiting guideline, but rather very creative point of departure. This new participatory model-based approach is very important for communities facing contemporary public space challenges.
Manuals are rather speculation on how to change things we don’t like. Sometimes they have a real impact, but what is most the most important is the “speculation” itself. In the aftermath of huge modernistic social „top down“ oriented projects we can see that there are really no more visions left. We do not know how to fix most of the problems humanity is facing on a large scale. Within this context each manual represents a new small civic driven possible (and plausible) future. It acts a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to public space or public domain.
Manuals are in printed and also electronic form. Together they create an archive. Form the printed form anybody can create a specially designed self made book consisting of manuals of their choice. These manuals are also available online on a website in a digitalized version. On this website anybody can not only download but also contribute a new manual.
Within the workshops participants are using specially designed cognitive objects. These objects suppose to inspire, but also direct participants within the process of creating a manual. They are collaboratively designed as a physical and symbolic representation of existing manuals (or parts of the manuals). They are collaboratively manufactured or 3D printed with help of various hacker spaces and local DIY communities. These objects are usually maps, 3D printed models and human scale real objects. In the workshop they are used within a specially designed engagement game about public space. These object and game itself is based on psychology, alternatives to pedagogy and neuroscience approaches.
Power of Circulation, Free Sharing and DIY Culture
The whole idea of the project is based on Open Source philosophy. Within this particular project it means openness of the form, openness of the process and finally openness of the content.
Openness of the form means that the form of the project is readable and modifiable by participants.
Openness of the process means that the process is readable and modifiable by participants.
Because of it’s openness, the whole long term project became a very fluid continuous process. After each workshop the whole form and processes of the project are “troubleshooted”, revised and particular changes are made in order to accommodate reflections and new ideas of the participants. Collaboration, openness and continuous resampling reflects very democratic approaches to artistic process.
Project started in winter 2011 as exchange of the manuals between former “Eastern Bloc” countries and the United States. It is planned for a long term and opens up for everybody who is interested in participating. During this time will be accessible in several different public and gallery spaces all around the world.