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City Design (MA)

Guangyu He

Everyday Artefacts, Plaster



Colonial archaeological methods often leave artefacts very clean and polished and take time to repair cracks after excavation and exhuming the objects. Information is stripped away as archaeologists handle the artefacts. From the vessels buried in the ground to the vitrine displays in museums, archaeology removes extra information leaving the objects stripped. In order to critique archaeology's slow erasure of the value of objects, I have digitally modelled 16 speculative scenes.

I cut up different photographs of the same daily life scene in equal proportions into 'fragments'. These fragments of life are taken from scenes from Sebastia, the archaeological site in Palestine, which was our case study this year. The fragments of everyday life in Sebastia, of men drinking coffee and children playing in the Roman forum, are then used to supplement the voids to recreate the scene as much as possible. These fragments can be combined to form many contexts of everydayness. In the process of constantly restoring everydayness, the value is somehow reinstated within the artefact. Adding in addition to the physical artefact a layer of sound, the puzzle becomes alive with data and value from the archaeological site, but instead of the focus on the archaeological artefacts extracted from the underground, the value comes from the scenes from the living city instead.

The display is designed as an interactive installation that brings the viewer and Sebastia closer together and overcomes the obstacles of other power. This display, intimate and possible to touch and play with, is also designed to react to the off-limits and protective glass vitrines that house the archaeological artefacts in museums where the artefacts can't have intimacy and be heard. The objects are understood in many ways, breaking the polished and extractive approach of archaeology.

Photos of life scenes of Sebastia in Palestine

Everydayness is a theoretical exploration for the most ordinary individual, a sort of reaction to the grey and pessimistic theories of the structural oppression of power.

Everydayness is characterised by the fact that it is not a self-contained system but rather an extension, a product of the interplay of life, events and memory, and therefore a symbol with 'meaning'.

In Italo Calvino's novel Invisible Cities, he says the city is like a sponge that draws in and swells with the constant tide of memory, and as Aldo Rossi emphasises with collective memory, it is the memory of people that gives meaning to the city. Before we arrived in the city, it was an empty vessel where the memories of different people were mixed, the joys of some, the sorrows of others, the sweetness of some, and the bitterness of others; no one ever owned the city, it was just the presence of people.

Everyday life cannot be generalised as 'scientific' because everyday life is like countless individuals' Brownian motion. When experts try to use scientific language to transform their knowledge into an authority and intervene in the realm of everyday life, they become part of it, and their knowledge ceases to be purely scientific and enters into a socially constructed power relationship, thus paradoxically losing its basis of authority.

For example, the creative use of space by the public (or folk wisdom) is found in the everyday use of space, such as the lid of a bin being used as a stool by those playing chess and cards, the gym equipment in the park being used as a drying pole for clothes, the gods of cars, officials and students in private temples built by the people in imitation of the Buddha, and so on. This is also the case for salaried people when they secretly go on Douban at work or use the company computer or printer for personal use. The daily life of food, clothing, housing and transport. The spirit of De Certeau's theory is best reflected in food and cooking, for example. A housewife, for example, will create a daily menu based on what is on sale in the supermarket and what she has in her fridge rather than simply following a recipe and a plan.

Everydayness cannot be defined. People transform, use and feel the space, bringing the city and its inhabitants into close contact. It makes sense to collect images of the every day and discover the everydayness that may be embedded in them. It is about reconceptualising the urban space and making people aware of the importance of everyday activities, objects, etc.