February 2016 – Edinburgh

Silence, Νarrative and the Ιntimacy of the city

A Workshop Symposium

15 February – 19 February 2016 | Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture – Edinburgh College of Art

blogThrough an intensely interdisciplinary approach the symposium explores the contribution of performative and immersive techniques and technologies and new media to the experiential understanding of the city of Edinburgh and its documentation/mapping. Performance events or performative actions can open up possibilities in the ways that architecture can involve different communities by performing together. In doing so, they explore innovative methodologies within the creative process that focus on the relation of the body and the physical space, as well as on the immaterial realms of conscious and sensory experience.

Read our programme here: http://issuu.com/urbanemptiness/docs/programme_workshop_symposium

The Workshops:

  • URBAN BODY led by Marielys Burgos Meléndez

As part of Urban Emptiness collaborations I propose to explore and deepen in the relationship we establish among body, movement/action, and urban space awareness/intention. Where do we come from? Where have we been? Where do we regularly go? What do we do in the different places we frequent? What is the story or history of those places? Who do we relate to? How does our urban landscape determine our way of moving through space? How does it impact the way we perceive our bodies? How does it define our ways to engage with others? How is the city inscribed in us? How can we engrave a new meaning into the urban landscape?

During a week participants will (1) relate to their transit habits by documenting, reflecting, and re-structuring them, while simultaneously (2) engaging in collective walks through the city, (3) documenting the process and (4) generating their own urban landscape/memory.

  • THE IMPOSSIBLE INAUDIBLE SOUNDWALK led by Katerina Taliani and Akoo-o

Drawing on sound studies, sound art and walking as research method and artistic practice, this workshop presents the theory and practice of creating a soundwalk. Participants will be introduced into the cultural aspects of sounds and the complexity of the act of listening in a defined place. This workshop invites participants to question the conceptions of silence and noise and discuss the idea of urban voids and emptiness through collaboration and the application of innovative methodologies. We will use noTours, an open-source software platform for creating site-specific and interactive artworks with the use of locative media technology, developed by escoitar.org. The goal is to create a sound map of an area that is understood as an ‘urban void’ and to compose a soundwalk with the use of mobile phones and GPS that will augment the sensorial dimensions of the experience of the city for the participants.

  • THE PARTHENON(S). A “BEAUTIFUL RUIN” AND AN UNFINISHED MONUMENT led by Sofia Grigoriadou and Elli Vassalou

Built or employed to support national or wider “truths”, official monuments end up doing much more than that: As agents that affect people’s perception of identity, memory and Imaginary [feelings, experiences and lives], they are at the same time subjects to a number of narratives that may change overtime and to a number of acts that take place around and in relation to them. The workshop focuses on two monuments’ symbolism through time, Parthenon in Athens and the National Monument in Edinburgh, their relation to memory, their role in building national myths and the ways residents and visitors experience them today. It also seeks to investigate or establish new connections between them; connections that wish to challenge established perspectives. We invite the participants to a discussion about the impact of both “Parthenons”, as well as their past and current uses; to bring on the table official and unofficial narratives, literature, references in the media, art, personal archives [home videos, photography, notebooks], thoughts and memories. Monuments are no longer considered empty vessels filled just with dominant narratives. The workshop aims to critically approach monuments’ impact on residents and visitors, to investigate representations of contemporary and classical Greece in contemporary culture and finally, to reload the monuments with new meanings through art.

  • PERFORMING SILENCE led by Stella Mygdali

What happens when you shift the focus?

The leaders of the various workshops are invited to interact throughout the week by framing situations composed of entangled rhythms, affects and sensations. It will trace episodes of urban emptiness and silence as explored during their workshops by providing a setting where action and time in reality and imagination may unfold through sharing experiences. Focus will be on performative factors such as duration, emotional predispositions and interpersonal dynamics, which are inextricable from the way associations with a particular space are created.

The workshop will be looking into the experiences and relations formed in the direct experiential interaction of the facilitators with the city, but also through the narratives of the participants they are working with. Discussing how concepts of space are constructed by tracking subtle processes of everyday activities as well as ideas of fluidity and movement, the workshop aims to enhance the performative communication between the leaders and provide a place for creative encounters of different perspectives.


Questioning traditional mapping techniques the action explores the “reading” of urban emptiness and silence, emphasising the documentation of bodily experience and narrative in it. Focus will be on the exploration of the performative or eventual qualities of drawing, writing or even modelling transpositions of an event, situation or performance that is happening or has (just) happened. A sketchbook is designed for this purpose and will be distributed to participants of the different walking workshops to use it as a kind of a diary of their experience.

Re/Reading Urban Emptiness and Silence questions the stability and coherence of the narrative of these transpositions.

An indoor workshop will take place after the different events (Friday 11.00 – 17.00) on their documentation through studio work on the sketchbooks and other media. Besides the flexibility of its design, the sketchbook will be part of a design process during which the participants will be asked to create a post-narrative of the city read during the workshops. Re-arranging them, destroying parts of them, using moving images, complementing the material with sound and projections on it, working with their blank pages or even re-writing on them will give the opportunity to the participants to redefine the process of reading urban landscape, adding layers of interpretation on it.

Send us an email to register for each workshop: urbanemptiness@gmail.com

More actions during the week (no registration needed):

“Fading into silence / urban tea ritual” with the performance “Unisono” as a silent prologue 
by Geert Vermeire and Stefaan Van Biesen, artists / the Milena Principle
Silence is a connection, a condition that compels or invites to listen. The “Unisono” performance starts as a wordless conversation of which both the performers are a part of a bonding silence. This creates a possibility for an instant conversation out of an awakening whispering, but a conversation is not necessary. It is a ritual silence. Both protagonists represent “silence” through their muteness, their physical presence. If a conversation starts then it is as well a registration of their “inner landscape”, a field of silence.
The tea ritual wants to connect people through silence in a speechless being together and sharing. The host is a medium of silence who hands on a wordless way “connection”, “care”, “attention for each other”,”hospitality for strangers”, “equality”, “social aesthetics”, “utopian ideas of democracy”, “the  sensoriality of tasting and degustation”,  relating through water and tea with nature (as a rediscovery of nature and becoming part of it), the ceremony as an ecological and symbolical ritual.