VACANTCity – 1000 years BackForward
Wednesday 7 – Friday 9 July 2021 (POSTPONED to 25 November 2021)
9 am to 5 pm
Centrepoint Arcade, 193 Ryrie Street Geelong
In a participatory event occupying Centrepoint Arcade in Geelong this project re-models the city. VACANTGeelong has built its model of engagement through numerous participatory projects in the region over five years and will bring together artists, industry and community experts, young creatives and school and community groups to work together to draw, write, debate, film, photograph, digitally animate, perform and re-model Geelong. We propose to build and project a large scale model of the city with its confluence of new and old industry, infrastructures, private and public buildings and spaces. Five key topics – technology, environment, culture, public health, and community – introduced over three intense days by industry experts will act as provocations to which participants respond. Using architectural projection and 3D modelling, drawing and industrial materials, we will invite participants to re-arrange, re-conceptualise and build the city. The curated events will harness public imagination and action. We do this to capture what can be done now, and to integrate Art into the visions of Geelong UNESCO City of Design.
The project offers us an opportunity to act outside of our usual timescales, to think 1000 years back and a thousand years forward, to flip cause and effect, and find, perhaps, old solutions to new problems, and new problems for old assumptions – like the notion of the digitised and smart city. The method ensures that Geelong is genuinely creative, clever, inclusive, collaborative and innovative in its response to present issues, like Covid-19, and helps us think critically about the future impacts of climate change and digital technologies. All of this will be guided and documented by artists and researchers, affirming VACANTGeelong’s methodology and expertise in art-architecture collaborations. At the end of the provocations we propose to bring the participants back together for a performative debate and ultimate re-modelling of the city. This will serve to practically build public advocacy and policy into future years while adding to VACANT’s archive of creativity and, importantly, critique. In the model we find a safe play-space where anything is possible, at the same time we can confront issues that all cities are dealing with as we rush to embrace new technologies and the concept of the “smart city”. We embrace the possibilities offered by digital technologies and indeed will use them to build participants knowledge in digital animation, coding and design, but in keeping with our methodology we look to pause our accelerated uptake of the digital to ask questions around the bio-politics of a fully digitally sensored city. Artists and provocateurs, some of whom we have listed below, would tackle issues like the impact of automated media on our use of public space, while others would look at diversity and access, protest and politics, data collection and the commons in relation to the city. Our model ensures that in its documentation participants are not hampered by traditional forms of feedback, but rather the provocations and questions, key to the city’s prosperity, are channelled through collaboration and actually making art.