Central Saint Martins, UAL (A.R.)

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    Opening Week aka The Optical Unconscious

    By A.R.
    Oct 3, '09 11:41 AM EST

    Hi, I’m writing my first post before I start at Central Saint Martins next week. I’m going into the second year of the BA Architecture; Spaces and Objects.

    The course is divided into 3 stages corresponding to each year of study. The opening week brings together the students of all 3 stages for a series of ‘special events.’ These begin with a meeting on Monday morning at an off-campus Theatre, where we will be introduced to the events of the forthcoming year. In the afternoon, we will then take a tour of London, hopefully learning more of the city and getting a chance to meet classmates.

    Tuesday will provide more detailed, class-specific information on the units of work we will have to do. This meeting will take place at the School of Graphic & Industrial Design, (where my course is based). In the afternoon we will visit the Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park, this year designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Japanese architecture practice SANAA

    Wednesday we will receive our first brief of the year. This will be for Unit 6, a group project lasting 10 weeks.

    And Friday brings an ‘Introduction to Urbanism: between form and experience’ followed by another ‘field trip’ to an unnamed location.

    Apart from the usual preparations for the course, I have had to choose an ‘elective’ to follow for the next 10 weeks. The electives are described as a range of “cultural study programs that are taught to all BA and FdA students, which together total around 1,000 students. This means you will have the unique opportunity to study with students from all 5 Schools at CSM: Drama, Fine Art, Graphic & Industrial Design, Fashion & Textile Design and Byam Shaw (Fine Art).”

    There are 31 electives that are categorised into the following titles: The Body, Language, Environment, and Time & Space. As I have to choose just 1 from 31, I tried to narrow down my choices before I voted. There is a great variety to the subjects but I’ll give you an idea of what I shortlisted:

    Time, Image & Inner Space: Philosophical and cultural debates around the concept of time. By examining the works of several thinkers, from Bergson, Heidegger, Benjamin, Lacan, Deleuze, Cixous, Agamben, and Negri, we will be relating the issue of time, to the image and the imaginary. The seminar explores the work of art in relationship to limit, city spaces, cultural reproduction and dialectical images.

    Slow Living Among Strange Objects: design and the intensification of everyday experience. This option will review contemporary design and technology and the kind of futures proposed by them. Biometrics, green design and the ‘slow movement’ will all lead to discussing the positive and negative feelings that emotional interaction can contribute to sustainability.

    Mis-Guided: psychogeography and the hidden city: You will join the figure of the flâneur in challenging the distinction between the imaginary and the material, to expose and undermine power relations as they are manifest in space. Examining Baudelaire, Benjamin, Debord and the Situationists, Lefebvre, Massey, Certeau, Sinclair and Foucault, practical city tasks are to be completed at random times in random places. The city will be abandoned and remapped, as a heterotopic, multi cultural, multi historical, constantly evolving space.

    And finally, the one I chose, The Optical Unconscious: the World in Another Dimension. In the 1930s Walter Benjamin observed how the advent of film and photography transformed our perception of the everyday. Through the magnifications and machinations of the camera, the world was brought suddenly closer, allowing the viewer access to images and spaces beyond their reach or even beneath their gaze. This series of lectures explores how artists, designers, architects and performers have exploited film and photography’s ‘optical unconscious’ to reflect their lived experience in new and experimental ways.

    So that gives an idea of how the first term is structured. Hopefully next time I’ll have some photos to post. Take care.

    • 1 Comment

    • wow that is an awesome set of electives. Learning how to be a flâneur would be cool.

      Oct 4, 09 12:35 pm

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