Medialab Prado


AVLAB Meeting: Pattern Languages as Generativity Systems in the Commons

22.05.2010 19:00h

Place: Medialab-Prado · Plaza de las Letras, C/ Alameda, 15 Madrid

In this meeting, we aim to put into practice the concepts we have been using the last few months at the Laboratorio del Procomún Estético (Aesthetic Commons Laboratory).  In other words, repertoires, placements and landscape will come into play, specifically in three areas: architecture, Parkour and dance, which differ materially, physically and in terms of mobility and yet, are spatially interrelated. 

We will also explore in depth the significance of audiovisual media in the process of instituting those repertoires and in building a commons. In Parkour, for example, the way video and various body movements are interwoven is a fundamental factor in instituting a still incipient repertoire that is growing fast, thanks to its distribution on the Web, which provides the structure of a community that has expanded to cities all over the world. [live streaming]

Led by: Research Group: Aesthetics and Politics in the Commons. Coordinator: Jordi Claramonte

1) How to design your city or home by playing cards? 

2) How to turn your city upside down with Parkour?

3) How to dance it? From Sacred Hindu Dance to Bollywood

Today’s city reveals itself as a matrix of polycontextualities. It’s a new landscape in which different groups or communities coexist and where their meetings, conflicts, tensions and solutions take place.
That is why, first of all, we aim to address the actual design of cities, so that the above-mentioned polycontextuality of communities in conflict can be included in all its complexity from the outset of the project. To do so, a common language must be created so we can all understand each other, not only politicians, urban planners and architects, but also all those members of the different communities with their specific placements and competences. This way, they have a voice in expressing their ways of inhabiting the city, which would not be considered otherwise.
Secondly, we want to look in greater depth at new forms of agency in public spaces that have already been built, in broadening the meanings, uses and possibilities of these common spaces that seemed inevitably fated to die having been used solely for the purpose for which they were designed. Parkour, for example, and other urban groups, are one such case. Through performances in public spaces, they end up forming a community with a common language and their physical presence gives new meaning to spaces that are normally limited to other, more predictable uses.
Finally, regarding the body and its possibilities, in complete contrast to incipient repertoires, like Parkour, there are long established repertoires that—perhaps due to their mythological nature— have survived the vicissitudes of history and its Colonial limitations, such as dance in India.
In these three examples, then, we will see repertoires and placements in different stages of configuration: from those repertoires that have yet to be formed, such as architecture, to those that are tentatively becoming established, such as Parkour, to those that were instituted and established long ago, such as the dance of India.
This is the loop journey we propose:  

1) How to design your city or home by playing cards?

By Mercedes Simón

In the second session of the Laboratorio del Procomún Estético (Aesthetic Commons Laboratory), where we focused on the field of architecture, we noted our interest in considering ways in which the disperse, fragmentary and incoherent elements that comprise our thoughts and our architectonic practice might be reconsidered and re-organized, such that they can slowly and tentatively begin to constitute one or several repertoire systems.
To that end, and based on various sources, such as Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, the I Ching, or the patterns we find around us, we have become involved in the difficult task of attempting to configure a repertoire system of architectonic patterns that takes into account certain ways of inhabiting and building our cities, which everyone can use as a basis for participating in the configuration of their inhabited environments. Or, in Alexander’s words: Cities and buildings cannot be filled with life unless they are the product of all the individuals who make up society, unless those individuals share a common pattern language with which to make those buildings and unless that common pattern language is a living language.
As opposed to the errors we find in other systems organized as a manual, we are organizing peace repertoires, which are still tentative, like a pattern card game. A game enables us to open the way from repertoires to placement with all their related moving, structuring and synchronic possibilities. Furthermore, it allows for collective participation, where many people, with their personal criteria and dispositions, can form a part of the system of relations involved in the design of any building or city.
In this session, we will present an introductory video that shows the repertoires of cards we have designed to date, how they can be used operationally and in games, as well as their architectonic possibilities. Afterward, we will play a live card game, which will be simultaneously recorded and projected, as a practical example.

2) How to turn your city upside down with Parkour?

By MADD (Madrid Arte del Desplazamiento)

Recently, among urban communities in today’s city landscapes, a series of generative pattern languages has arisen. They creatively use recovered parts of repertoires and regulations from the martial arts, military disciplines, gymnastics and dance which were no longer generative or institutive.
Parkour, or “the art of displacement”, is one good example. This very recent system originated in the early 1990s in a suburb of Paris called Lisses. In a very short time, it has expanded and now there is a large community with “traceurs” in cities worldwide. With a horizontal, rhizomatic organization, the Parkour community continuously expands and updates its repertorial system, which is still at a developmental stage, and therefore, quite creative. Every city, neighbourhood, park, square or bench is a landscape to be crossed using jumps, climbs, falls or vaults. This practice is not based on schools or training centres; it is not a matter of competing but rather of sharing. No special facilities are needed either. The city itself, with its advantages and disadvantages, is enough.
Parkour reclaims what its practitioners call “humanity”, in the sense of recovering the kind of abilities that enable us to reconcile ourselves with the immediacy of the body and the physical world, touching it and interacting with it, instead of seeing it as a threat. The Situationists would surely have loved this. Thus, the perception of the city is altered; the experience of public space is reorganized in an unpredictable way: stairs are no longer stairs, walls are no longer walls, and squares are no longer squares. Instead, it is a matter of free space, with obstacles and room to play. That is why the practice of Parkour reclaims public space by breaking the monotony of the way city streets and squares are used.
In this session, we will show several videos of different movements that update the still   tentative repertoires of Parkour.
What is the role of video in defining this developing repertoire? 
How important are videos and their distribution on the Web to structure this community in different cities around the world?
How is video art combined with Parkour art? 
How can cameras anticipate things, to record the detail of a foot in a jump or an elbow in a fall?
All of this and much more...

Dowload the Spanish pdf about the parkour by Dani Sampayo ( here 

3) How to dance it? From Sacred Hindu Dance to Bollywood

By Shreia

Classical Indian Dance has a repertoire that, in spite of being besieged during the British Colonial period, has remained fairly intact since its mythological beginnings in the 5th century BCE.
There are records of this repertoire in the Natyasastra, a large collection of music, dance and drama which describes the entire repertoire of synchronized movements of the hands and feet that constitute Tandava Dance, or the Dance of Shiva. According to the Natyasastra, this dance—provided it is performed properly—leads its audience to enjoy Rasa, aesthetic pleasure, comprised of 9 states or emotions (pleasure, laughter, sorrow, anger, heroism, fear, repugnance, wonder and serenity).
One derivative of Tandava is Kathak, and its repertoire was formed following the arrival of the Mongol Empire in the north of India and the influence of the Muslim religion on that area. The female dancers, who danced in temples prior to that time, joined Mongol courts, creating a repertoire of steps different from those of the dances in the rest of India. The foot movements, which mark the rhythm of the dance with the sound of bells (more than 100 on each ankle), are the most characteristic steps of this dance.
How does the Kathak dancer get audiences to attain an aesthetic experience?
What ingredients must a dance have to generate the 9 Rasa (or basic emotions)?
What distinguishes traditional Kathak from new trends in choreographic Kathak?
Is Kathak today a crystallized repertoire, which is therefore not generative, or does it continue to be a generative pattern language?
These are some of the questions that Shreia, a Kathak teacher, will try to answer during this session, through her presentation and by showing some videos of this type of dance.

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