Research related to the concept of ‘public art’ investigates the impact and meaning of art located in public space, both permanent and temporary, as well as sanctioned and unsanctioned. Examples can include graffiti, guerilla art projects, murals, or installations.
Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the cities of Jakarta and Yogyakarta, this paper investigates the recent surge in the production and circulation of street art through technology and media in post-New Order Indonesia. The global style of street art communicates how public space and the street have become emblematic of changing discourses of individual rights, urban aesthetics, and the practice of citizenship in urban Indonesia. While the history of Western graffiti as a form of defacement and resistance continues to exert a powerful hold on the imagination of Indonesian street artists, I argue that the vernacular meaning of street art and graffiti refuses an easy bifurcation of public and private spaces, while blurring the lines between commercial and cultural urban interventions.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2014)
Björn Hellström, Mats E. Nilsson, Östen Axelsson, Peter Lundén
The amount of noise in urban settings is steadily on the rise, creating a potential health hazard and causing a general nuisance. In major European cities, noise levels are so high that the majority of urban parks can no longer truly serve as recreational environments, a problem the World Health Organization and the European Union are attempting to address. This study explores various strategies that promote the sustainable development of urban soundscapes at locations meant for rest, recreation, and social interaction. Further, we look at how people are affected by the combined effects of traffic and nature sounds in parks and other outdoor settings. To this end, we adopted a new track — the use of interdisciplinary methodology — that brings together architectural analysis, artistic experiments, and psychoacoustic methodology to evaluate the aesthetic, emotional, perceptual, and spatial effects of noise on subjects spending time in public open-air spaces. We conducted a large-scale case study at a city park to explore whether subjects were affected by purposely distributed sounds and, if so, how. The working hypothesis was that it is possible to cancel out or mute traffic noise by affecting individuals' aural perceptions using a process known as informational masking. Our long-term objective is to create a scientific foundation for action plans, both preemptive and troubleshooting, targeting noise reduction in parks and similar public spaces that are meant to provide a relaxing environment.
In a context of increased urban competition, art and culture are often used by cities world-wide as tools to improve their image and make urban spaces attractive. In that process, art is—as we will argue—becoming a new urban norm, which is normalizing not only urban space and experience, but also art itself. By contributing to the pacification or securization of public spaces, art could encourage some behaviors or, on the contrary, discourage others. Reversely, this normative dimension of urban art could impact art itself, especially by redefining the limit between artistic forms that are either inclusive or exclusive, dominant or subversive. Through examples found during PhD fieldwork in Montreal and Johannesburg, we will demonstrate that this normalization of the city through art and of art through the city takes place in various urban contexts, that it questions the distinction between Northern and Southern cities, and the definition of a (global) city itself.
International journal of urban and regional research (2014)
McLean, H. E
The recent flurry of research about arts‐led regeneration initiatives illuminates how contemporary arts festivals can become complicit in the production of urban inequality. But researchers rarely engage with detailed empirical examples that shed light on the contradictory role that artists sometimes play within these spectacularized events. Similar research in performance studies connects the political limits and potential of social practice arts — interventions that encourage artists and non‐artists to co‐produce work — as civic boosters strive to stage cities in order to attract investment. In this article, I explore the case study of Streetscape: Living Space at Regent Park, a participatory artistic intervention programmed in a public housing neighbourhood that is undergoing redevelopment in Toronto, Canada. Streetscape was part of the Luminato festival, an elite booster coalition‐led festival of ‘creativity’. I refer to these arts interventions to demonstrate how artists engaging in social practice arts can become complicit in naturalizing colonial gentrification processes at multiple scales. But I also reveal how artists can leverage heterogeneous arts‐led regeneration strategies to make space for ‘radical social praxis’ (Kwon, 2004), interventions that challenge hegemonic regimes. I conclude by interrogating the effectiveness of place‐based efforts in unsettling the ‘creative city’.
This paper problematises public artopia, in other words the collection of claims in academic literature concerning the allegedly physical-aesthetic, economic, social, and cultural-symbolic roles of art in urban public space. On the basis of interviews with public-art producers (artists, public officials, investors, and participating residents) in a flagship and a community-art project in Amsterdam, we analyse the situatedness of their public-art claims according to actors’ roles, geographical context, and time. The research suggests that public-art theory and policy suffer from three deficiencies. Theoretical claims about public-art and policy discourse feature, first, a failure to recognise different actors’ perspectives: claims fail to locate situated knowledges that are intrinsically (re)constituted by actors’ roles articulating with one another in time and space. Second is the lack of geographical contextuality: claims do not elaborate appropriately on distinct discourses about art projects’ spatial settings. Third is the lack of temporal perspective. Claims neglect the practice of public-art realisation: that is, the evolution of claims and claim coalitions over the time horizon of the art projects: preparation, implementation, and evaluation.
The present study investigated the effects of public art on visual properties and affective appraisals of landscapes. Undergraduate and graduate students sequentially viewed landscapes with or without public art and rated each one for visual properties and affective appraisals. Study 1 revealed that the presence of public art reduced pleasantness of the natural scene, but did not reduce that of the urban scene. In Study 2 focusing on the urban landscapes, the t-tests showed that public art consistently yielded greater arousal and the visual properties related with arousal level (e.g., complexity), whereas for pleasantness and the visual properties related with pleasantness (e.g., legibility) the scores varied with the public artworks. Adopting the experimental design that systematically combined 4 landscapes with 2 pieces of public art, Study 3 revealed that the affective quality of public art had more influence on the landscapes than the compatibility between public art and the landscapes.
There are numerous ways in which people make illegal or unauthorized alterations to urban space. This study identifies and analyzes one that has been largely ignored in social science: explicitly functional and civic-minded informal contributions that I call “do-it-yourself urban design.” The research, which began as an investigation into more “traditional” nonpermissable alterations, uncovered these cases—from homemade bike lanes and street signs to guerrilla gardens and development proposals—that are gaining visibility in many cities, yet are poorly accounted for by existing perspectives in the literature. This article examines the existing theories and evidence from interviews and other fieldwork in 14 cities in order to develop the new analytical category of DIY urban design. I present findings on the creators of these interventions, on their motivations to “improve” the built environment where they perceive government and other development actors to be failing, and on the concentration of their efforts in gentrifying areas. This introduces the possibility of conflict and complicates their impact. I argue that DIY urban design has wide-ranging implications for both local communities and broader urban policy.
Jamie Anderson, Felicia Huppert, Kai Ruggeri & Koen Steemers
Empirical urban design research emphasizes the support in vitality of public space use. We examine the extent to which a public space intervention promoted liveliness and three key behaviors that enhance well-being (“connect,” “be active,” and “take notice”). The exploratory study combined directly observed behaviors with self-reported, before and after community- led physical improvements to a public space in central Manchester (the United Kingdom). Observation data (n = 22,956) and surveys (subsample = 212) were collected over two 3-week periods. The intervention brought significant and substantial increases in liveliness of the space and well-being activities. None of these activities showed increases in a control space during the same periods. The findings demonstrate the feasibility of the research methods, and the impact of improved quality of outdoor neighborhood space on liveliness and well-being activities. The local community also played a key role in conceiving of and delivering an effective and affordable intervention. The findings have implications for researchers, policy makers, and communities alike.
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2004)
De La Pradelle, M., & Lallement, E.
In 2003, for the second year running, the Paris municipality entrusted a young theater designer with the transformation of one stretch of the banks of the Seine River—normally congested with heavy traffic—into an open space evocative of the seaside. Paris in August is therefore Paris by the seaside. The objective of our study is to examine the entire operation, from the moment the political decision was taken by the municipality to the many and varied activities of all those who participated. Through this study, we attempt to highlight the different forms of material and symbolic (re)creation of Paris being undertaken today. We show that in a situation such as this, a reflection on the fieldwork undertaken and the production of ethnographic knowledge is in fact the key factor in the analysis.
Public art is an artistic expression created in streets, squares and other public spaces, including parks. Using the two popular public parks in the New York City, Central Park and the High Line, this paper explores the affordances offered by public art in these two urban environments, with a focus on physical, intellectual and emotional connections between the visitor, the artwork and the landscape setting. Using affordance theory as a framework, it considers the design of the landscape as a behaviour setting that affords viewing, acknowledgement and reflection of the artwork within the contemporary cultural context. Using preliminary qualitative observations of six artworks within the two parks, this research suggests that public art has the potential to afford such diverse opportunities for public park visitors. In order for these affordances to be actualised, the design of the park and the artwork’s intentions should be coordinated to ensure that the experiences of the visitor align with the claimed benefits of public art.
Outdoor advertising presents a unique case in that, unlike advertising in other media, an individual’s capacity to avoid exposure is inhibited. Unlike the private world of magazine and television advertising, outdoor advertising is displayed throughout public space, thus making regulation of the medium a pertinent public policy concern. The inescapable nature of outdoor advertising, compounded with the increasingly sexualised display of women within, demands that an active public policy response occurs. This paper draws from the disciplines of criminology, architecture, and feminist geography to argue that the continued sexualised portrayal of women in outdoor advertising works to illustrate and contribute to the social inclusion of men and the social exclusion of women in public space. I argue that these portrayals fuel women’s perceptions of fear and offence, and force them to limit their movements. I further suggest that such portrayals function to amplify masculine control of city spaces and reinforce women’s exclusion.