CLASS OF NOWHERE

“Around the Bay” pairs portraits of bayfront nodes with a brief historical profile, focusing on areas that blur the exchange between military and civilian, artificial and natural, industrial and residential, somewhere and nowhere. Matthew Coolidge

I have an ongoing fascination with the works of The Center For Land Use Interpretation (CLUI).  Today I have been reading a few articles and interviews with the Founder and Director Matthew Coolidge.  He has published a new book through CLUI titled:  Around the Bay: Man-Made Sites of Interest in the San Francisco Bay Region.  The interview with Amelia Taylor-Hochberg – Archinect discussed various elements of this book and also Coolidges’ work for CLUI and as lecturer.

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The reason I started reading more was when I came across the class Coolidge use to facilitate at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  The class was titled “Nowhere”.  This idea of a class about nowhere actually stopped me for a while.  Thinking about how would you start to discuss nowhere and then in turn realise that is there a nowhere as Coolidge goes onto discuss in one of the articles:

MC: The class was based on the idea that there is no nowhere. We used that kind of terminology for the first part, but it morphed into another kind of class, that perhaps I would have called “somewhere”, if we had to call it something. But it was all so that this idea of “nowhere” doesn’t exist; there is no “away”, you can go away but then you’re there. This notion of “someplace else” is just sort of obsolete, in the same way that the old idea of nature is obsolete. Everything’s been discovered and visited and inhabited and interacted with and is connected to everything else, in a sense of an ecology; interconnected in the broadest sense of the term is also something we think about.

But the class was meant to introduce, to challenge, that idea. Certainly there are the facts and reality situations, then there are our impressions and our beliefs, and those things are often in interesting contrast. I wanted to work with the students in examining a place that wasn’t in their consciousness; that was considered somewhere that they wouldn’t normally go. It was a curatorial practice program in the graduate department. We would go somewhere in southern Louisiana or wherever and experience the sense of being from somewhere else; of going there and trying to make sense of it and establish a place there, an interpretation of it. Each year the class created an impression and an interpretation, in the form of some exhibit or public program, related to the place we visited. And with a very conscious awareness of their view of it, as a type of interpretative mechanism between the viewer and the observer of the object. It was this idea of the subjectivity creating a sense of a place. That is a very subjective and interpretive thing. And in general, objective awareness is something that we’re awfully conscious of with everything we do — the view creates the object, and the medium that presents it modifies it. It’s impossible to really see objectively.

 

To read the rest of this interview please click here.

 

 

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