round corners

image: Florian Rötzer

The Porous City: Art Claiming the Urban Void

Conference Friday 14th and Saturday 15th of September
Fabrikken, Nedregate 7, Oslo

The conference was part of Urban Interface Oslo. See full conference programme.

Physical and immaterial interfaces
Today’s city is a porous and dynamic terrain; the physical world constantly interfaces with the immaterial sphere of electronic and digital data which can easily and unobtrusively cross physical borders. At the same time, the complexity of the city and the widely undefined boundaries between private and public space create a variety of urban voids and grey areas calling for occupation and definition.

Two-day conference
The Porous City was a two-day conference on contemporary art practices responding to the multivalent porousness of the urban environment. Artists, theoreticians and curators will discuss the constraints and potential of the urban voids and loopholes, contributing to a contemporary conception of art in public space.

Private and public space
The first day of the conference focused on the impact of electronic, digital and mobile media on the city. The ubiquitous use of digital, networked and mobile technologies raises new questions about conditions of both private and public spaces. Imperceptible surveillance systems and spy bots, the semi-private on-line forums, the use of the cell phone in public space, easy-to-tap-in wireless data transmission in general – they all have a strong impact on our understanding of private and public space – demanding precise definitions and demarcations of these spaces. Particularly the 70’s and 80’s celebrated the idea of new technology supporting an open, democratic and networked society. Although these optimistic expectations were not fulfilled, the potential of intercultural and intersocial communication still inhere in new media.When it comes to public art, new media is capable of occupying physical, virtual and hybrid spaces, offering multiple points of access. In addition, the processual and audiovisual nature of new media results in multifaceted and time-based perception of this type of public art.

Interventionist and process-based art
Building on the technology centred discourse of the first day, the second day localised interventionist and process-based art within the public art field, the art market and art funding. We looked closely at how these works push the boundaries of the public art genre for its own good and the effect this has on the understanding of urban culture. Emphasis was laid on the analysis of artistic strategies which invite the audience to interact, contribute to and become active voices in the public sphere. On both days, the artists who created works for urban interface oslo introduced the audience to their artworks, thus illuminating practical and conceptual issues related to public art production and the specific terrain of Oslo’s public space.

Open Forum
In addition, the Open Forum on day two provided a platform for artists and designers to present current, upcoming and past projects to the conference’s audience and speakers. The Open Forum aimed to provide an interactive exchange of knowledge and perspectives on the topic of public art. It gave its presenters the opportunity to draw attention to their individual art practice and to benefit from responses by the target audience.