Designated PropertiesDefensive Design and Public Supports
Designated Properties responds to current conditions in public life that cause general stress (discomfort) and structural inability to comprehend how individuals experience the same place. To designate is to identify, mark, or set something aside; often because of appearances or perceived qualities. Once something is designated the complex powers of the property form take hold; property as land or space that is privately owned or publicly shared; its property as a possession or object that has value because of its potential for exchange and property as a quality perceived in a thing or subject.
Defensive design is used often in subtle ways to control the movements or behavior of people in public space. Designated Properties showcases the concept of Defensive Design as overt and violent. space of violence confronts viewers by blocking a direct path to the building with a configuration of metal spikes. Claim demonstrates how space and property are structurally violent; they use abstract designation and projection to displace. Claim controls space from above and uses the light of the sun to mark property. Claim acknowledges the indigenous history of this place and echoes the trauma of settler colonialism. Defensive Designs challenge ideals of the public sphere at the root of democracy and equity.
Inside Designated Properties, prototypes of Public Support are posited through a variety of projects. Several of these projects highlight practices of close observation of our environment as a group activity that is an essential part of the web of Public Support. These projects are inspired by Emma Cole, a local botanist and founder of the Kent Scientific Institute (precursor to the Public Museum), who created a comprehensive herbarium of local flora totaling over 4,000 samples.
This slow and steady work over many years provides a model of individual and group public practice. We present a Vasculum (on loan from the Public Museum) thought to be used by Cole, and provide the materials and method for viewers to construct their own and take a walk (now or later) to observe and collect plant samples. These samples can be further studied through microscope, drawing, and monumental overhead projection. Finally, these samples can be designated with tags provided. The focus here is not limited to assigning scientific knowledge, but is open to any properties participants notice upon close observation. These studies focused on flora are accompanied by a sampling from the Public Museums Magic Lantern slides; this selection from the slide show on Ants. Museums and other public institutions are sites for the close study of our shared lives.
t a g gently applies the process of designation to people, performing a process and highlighting properties that affirm and construct a practice of inclusive and equitable Public Support.
Civic Studio also presents several examples of physical social structures to articulate experiential and metaphorical Public Support. The large seating structure exploits the pillars of the institution to enable shared suspension from the ground. The black and pink ring is easily rolled from place to place to claim spaces as public and social. The orange scooter structures a one to one support and shared experience.