"Floating Projects, Survival Re-envisioned: spatial occupation, re-producing social relations and the economy of contributio" 

Conference 'Hard State, Soft City: the Urban Imaginative Field in Singapore' (17-18 March 2016), organized by the ARI (Asia Research Institute), NUS (the National Univervsity of Singapore)

View full paper [...] Spatial Story: Floating Projects [...] Video referenced in presentation [...]

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Beginning as a project to protect and advance personal dreams in artistic pursuits, the Floating Projects Collective (FPC, 「句點」, 2010) has evolved from a group of 4 into a collective with 20 additional members in 2015, and its activities renamed Floating Projects (FP「據點。句點」, literally “occupation point”). FP takes on a spatial turn by occupying an 1800-square-foot industrial unit in a fading industrial district, Wong Chuk Hang (WCH黃竹坑), on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, where the increase of disused and vacant flats forces their owners to open up to atypical manufacturing usage. The spatial turn has fuelled our imagination and soon evolves into a series of experiments around a central question: what can we artists do with an empty unit in an industrial building with institutionally and physically defined constraints? How does what we do connect to the premise that art is by definition a form of radical thinking, thus an indispensable force in nourishing our humanness? At the point when FP inserted itself into WCH, the district was already the home for several commercial galleries in addition to two new boutique hotels on top of various independent art spaces and artist’s studios. The rent FP is now paying could have been 30% less a year earlier. The question of art is the question of space in a milieu when art and design are heavily appropriated to be the supporting pillars of what is known as “creative economy,” an aggressive agent for gentrification, the flip side of which reads the problematic transformation of urban surfaces. FP is not only an experiment, but it seeks to be experimental, in the sense that it strives to re-open up many known normal artistic practices to assert questions of art must be understood also as those of non-artistic nature. Issues of how to keep making art, and of how to scramble for resources to sustain survival, become a new series of questions. Can artists working with different artistic media work together, and how about artists of different generations and expertise training? Who is the artist – only those who received formal studio art education in an art school? Are there modes to publish and share art other than the white cube model? How does a collective accommodate individual aspirations and desires? What possible modes of survival and sustainability are there beyond the commercial versus charity support binary structure? Rooted in Critical Theory concerns, FP’s production of space (Lefebvre) is considered the impetus for the reproduction of social relations. FP asks: how do we sustain the progressive posture of art, preserve art’s nonconforming and implicitly anti-establishment character in the age of gentrification, when art increasingly becomes a decoration, or a kind of added value? These questions all point to the need to re-imagine and re-invent a different sort of creative economy, called “the space of creativity.” (Hui Yuk, DOXA) At this point, FP is answering to the demand of a relevant model—one that (re-)generates singularity (of the individuals) and promotes new collectivity, or the enactment of co-individuation. (Simondon, Stiegler) What does it mean to be an artist in a hyper-capitalist digital age in which our feelings and temporal being are the main targets of moderation and control through broadscale commodification of art and design (Lukács, Stiegler) in the name of urban progress through gentrification (Hui)? As many government-initiated local projects highlight heritage re-enlivening and/or are implicitly imbued with a social work concern or rhetoric, what does FP as a collective conceive to be the new relations between the politics of art, de-proletarianization (the regaining of one’s place in knowing and in producing new knowledge), and the practice of love and care? In the short period of seven months, a few signature event series have emerged to be place-holders of individual desires and the practice of care for others. The conference presentation (and the full essay) will elaborate on how our purposes are realized in the following programs—WCH Assemblage (on re-purposing dumped material into art installation and object performance), Work-in-progress Inspection, Spatial Pressure Calibration (improvised soundmaking), Floating Teatime (an on-line writing platform), and other free contribution from FPC members specific to their talents -- all occurring on an open-to-all indoor space furnished with a charity café with a free wi-fi reading environment to encourage person-to-person conversations, and a growing library and digital archive to promote the culture of documentation as many of us are media artists. FP is not just an organization, but itself an art project that interrogates questions of space and being. Re-orientation of art is central to the re-orientation of everyday life, which must begin with spatial re-orientation.


View full paper [...] Spatial Story: Floating Projects [...] Video presentation [...]