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THE URBAN

IN-BETWEEN
THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMPACT OF PUBLIC ART DISPLAYED IN LIMINAL CITY SPACES

Ida Amanda Ahopelto


IDA AMANDA AHOPELTO
ILLUSTRATION & VISUAL MEDIA YEAR 3
2017

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ABSTRACT

With the rise of rapid urbanization and an increasingly fast-paced contemporary world,
metropolitan culture has become progressively more absorbed with movement and purpose:
moving from one place to another and from one idea to the next. In contemporary cities,
public spaces have become a realm of cultural expression and social potential, revealing
the subconscious of the city and the people that move through it daily. With more people
moving through public spaces every day, it is essential to understand their function within
society. Additionally, a fast-paced culture of creativity has also generated a higher demand
for publicly accessible artwork. This essay will focus on the liminal public spaces of a city,
which are frequently passed or travelled through, and specifically focus on public artwork
being displayed there. By the means of case studies from around the world and theoretical
research into urban dynamics and public art, it will establish the most significant sociological
effects of public artwork on the citizens that encounter it and the areas they occupy. The
essay will attempt demonstrate how public art in liminal city spaces has the potential to
influence both society as well as individual citizens.

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INTRODUCTION
The experience of city-walking is a familiar journey into the enigmatic mind of urbanization; The citys ability to balance impermanence with a sense of
in contemporary urban environments one is constantly reminded of the complexity of civic community is a direct result of the dialogue created between its
inhabitants and the spaces they occupy. In great part, this dialogue
dynamics. This is because space exists in contrast to encroaching overpopulation, just as is created by artistsor members of the public concerned with
concrete emptiness exists next to murals of street art. The known coexists with the unnoticed, challenging the self-evident, highlighting the good, or simply
the changing and the permanently transient... provoking thought through their work. In The Social Role of Art, critic
Richard Cork points towards the growing futility of art produced
in the fastness of a studio, stating that the dissemination of art and
the widening of its audience should be a priority in the creators
hierarchy. (Cork, 1979) This approach towards public art has led
to an increase in public desire to democratize public space, as
the consumption of art is often limited to those who seek it out in
museums or galleries. (Mossop and Walton, 2001)

In cities that are stuck in perpetual motion, the places most


travelled through are the ones that will ultimately provide the best
platforms for disseminationliminal city spaces where even the
aloof traveller becomes an observer, a thinker, and an interactor.
Public art helps transform these seemingly purposeless liminal
spaces into platforms for distraction, disruption and social change.
(Stathatos, 1996)

In light of both urban expansion and growing demand on the


public art front, it is important to question the holistic effects of
introducing this form of creation into the public domain. What,
then, is the sociological impact of public art displayed in liminal
city spaces? This essay will explore the ways in which liminality
and public artwork affect society and individuals within urban
environments. It will argue that encountering public or street art
has the very significant social impact of disrupting the ritual of the
everyday by providing a mental platform for thought. In this way,
public and street art serve a function of fundamental expression
within communities. This function of expression takes its shape
in several different ways, including political activism, cultural
memorial, and urban development, and will be explored by the
means of case studies throughout the essay.

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Firstly, the concept of liminality will be explored from an
anthropological perspective in order to lay the groundwork for
the premise of the argument. It will ask: what is the significance
of liminal city spaces in the dissemination of public artwork?
The essay will then briefly overview the effects of visual art on
the human brain to successfully draw parallels between scientific
research and the effects of public art on citizens.

Academic research and scientific studies will be used throughout


the essay to create a basis for further understanding of both art in
general as a distinct function within society as well as public art
specifically. This will be followed by examples of public artworks
featuring artists and collectives from cities around the world. The
impact of their work will be analysed against their intentions and
public reactiveness, taking into consideration controversy and the
value of frustration created by the piece. (Sennett, 1990) These
case studies will form the basis for the argument, in addition to
support provided by the texts of social theorists and philosophers
who have addressed the topic of public art.

The essay will consider as public art all work that pertains to the
public sphere or occupies liminal public spaces, including but not
exclusive to sculptures, murals, installation pieces and graffiti.
The liminal city spaces mentioned throughout will refer primarily
to areas designated to movement and transition rather than
destination, such as train stations, airports, squares, sidewalks and
parks. While the study will attempt to draw a general conclusion
regarding the sociological role of public art, it will only be
exploring certain cities and a relatively small number of artworks
as case studies, creating limitations for the validity and universal
applicability of the argument. In addition, the study will only
examine the sociological effects of public artwork, leaving other
potential effects to be determined.

In summary, the essay will postulate that public art is a way


of igniting discourse, challenging societal power dynamics,
promoting a sense of community and catalysing social change in a
time when the individual is becoming increasingly self-serving and
the significance of public space is being debated.
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URBAN LIMINALITY
A LOOK INTO LIMINAL CITY SPACES AND THEIR SOCIOLOGICAL VALUE

The concept of liminality being explored applies Liminality, 2007)


foremost to the urban spaces themselves, in that these
spaces are neither here nor there; they are transit points Although Genneps theory of liminality was originally
travelled through to get to other destinations. In order applied to ceremonial rites of passage often within
to understand the sociological role of liminal city tribal cultures, it has since been extrapolated by
spaces in the context of public artwork, it is essential anthropologists such as Victor Turner, who went on to
to first understand the fundamental characteristics of consider liminality as a function of society as a whole.
liminality.
Turner theorized that an individuals temporary
Liminality is an anthropological term first coined disunion from fixed social structures grants an individual
by French anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep in his not only the ambivalent status but frees him or her from
seminal work Rites de Passage. (Theory of Liminality, any law, norm or rule of social conduct. (Theory of
2007) In his book, Gennep studies the idea of the Liminality, 2007) In terms of communities, this means
in-between as both a place and process inherent to that modern sociological movements can be artificially
human adaptation and change. Gennep addresses the created by introducing a situation of radical structural
place and time that exists between the stable and change into liminal spaces, such as those that exist in
transitory structures of life, otherwise described as cities. (Shure, 2002)
limbo.
He theorizes that every social or individual process of In this way, one can see how liminality can act as a
transition can be separated into three phases: isolation, starting point for individual and social change, by
liminality and incorporation. In the liminal phase of introducing people into a state of mind where they
Genneps rites of passage, the individual experiences are more open to questioning themselves and others
a state of social consciousness and awareness during around them.
a full blurring of the social environment, in which
new models and paradigms of thought are free to
be introduced into the individuals mind. (Theory of

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SUPER-
The anthropologist Marc Aug ties together the idea
of liminality and city spaces. In his seminal work In her book about city-walking, The Art of Taking a
Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Walk, Anke Gleber quotes German sociologist and
Supermodernity, Aug speaks of city spaces that are philosopher Georg Simmel when he says faced with
fleeting and transient in naturesuch as bus stops, an enormous number of rapidly changing images, the
airports, waiting roomsand considers their sociological inhabitant of modernity experiences the visual domain
impact. (Aug, 1995) Aug coins these environments as as a primary factor in the quality of urban life. With
non-places, because of the fleeting nature of human every walk across the street, public space is realized
interaction within them. Augs treatment of non- as the central location wherein a perception of its
places within cities is similar to Turners description phenomena must be situatedStreets name the site of
of modern liminality: spaces that exist within a realm an ever increasing, mutually reinforced kaleidoscope of
of pure possibility, and which have the capacity to be a city. (Gleber, 1999) In essence, Simmel believed in the
understood as beacons of culture and identity within power of public space to define people. For this reason,
cities. (Collins, 1996) the essay will examine public art situated specifically
in liminal city spaces including squares, parks, streets,
Although Augs non-places are limited to his particular the faces of buildings and other areas traditionally
definition, this essay will follow Turners use of the considered as in-between places in order to assess its
term liminal in referring to all transient structures sociological effects on passers-by and reveal what the
within a city that are often passed through on the way role the supermodern space takes within society.

MODERN
to somewhere else. For this reason, liminal city spaces
include buildings that exist on the edge of a frequented
street, murals on the sides of roads that can be seen
from car windows, as well as areas that are not otherwise
designated for anything but being pass through.

The use of the term liminal when describing these


public spaces is intended to describe both the space itself
and the state of mind of the people passing through
them. When someone is on a commute to work, passing
through otherwise non-descript public space filled with
other travellers, the liminal nature of the experience is
likely to raise a heightened subconscious awareness of
their relationship with the environment and their own
sense of belonging within that space. (Bested, 2015)
This awareness is at the root of understanding public

SPACES
art in liminal city spaces: as the role of public art is often
to incite awareness or challenge identity, combining the
two concepts should make for interesting sociological
effects.

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ART & THE BRAIN
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION INTO THE EFFECTS OF ARTISTIC STIMULI ON THE BRAIN

Contemporary cities, in all their fast-paced growth and


development, have become increasingly characterized by
the way people interact with them and the way in which they
make people feel about themselves. (Miessen et al., 2012) In
this way, the contemporary city has become a macrocosm to
the microcosm of the individuals that inhabit it. This is most
apparent in the cities shared spaces: their liminal areas,
public parks, squares and roads, where each individual
passing through colours the space with their presence.
If cities are to be considered macrocosms of the human
condition, the images that occupy their shared environment
are surely equally telling of societal and individual traits.

In order to gain a well-rounded understanding of public


arts sociological effects, it is essential to examine the way in
which humans interact with visual stimuli on a neurological
level first. When a person encounters art in a liminal city
space, how their brain processes the information is the root
to understanding their response, and the effect of the art. In
other words: what is behind some pedestrians impulse to
examine, discuss, consider or even interact with public art
pieces?

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One of the main arguments of this essay is that the A 2014 article published in Business Insider examined
presence of art displayed in liminal city spaces causes both the results of a self-directed study as well as a
a positive disruption in individuals because of the research paper published by the Journal of Brain and
transitory frame of mind they are in while travelling Cognition, finding significant evidence for the idea that
from one destination to another. A parallel can be drawn the experience of viewing art refreshes and changes
between Genneps previously discussed theory that an individual, and can even lead to social tolerance
liminal states lend towards the creation of new societal and increased critical thinking. (Loria, 2014) The paper
paradigms, and the concept that art has similar potential analysed by Business Insider written by Oshin Vartanian
to disrupt thought and create new patterns of action in and Martin Skov, Neural correlates of viewing paintings:
people. (Theory of Liminality, 2007) evidence from quantitative meta-analysis of functional
magnetic resonance imaging data used cognitive
This concept of artistic disruption of thought is one information of people viewing paintings in order to
supported by several studies into the influence of art find triggers in brain regions that were responsible for
on the human brain. A 2014 study published in the visual understanding and object recognition as well as
online journal Plos One by scientists at Beijing Normal activity associated with emotions, inner thoughts, and
University found significant evidence to back up the learning. (Loria, 2014)
claim. Their study used FMRI machines to gain a
better understanding of the brain functions occurring Through studies like this one, it can be seen how
when a person looks at art, and found distinct changes repeated exposure to public art can eventually influence
in brain activity of specific areas when encountered phenomena such as political movements, community
with these visual stimuli. (Bolwerk et al., 2014) Areas integration or even urban development. If an individuals
of the brain associated with introspection, self- thought processes can be disrupted and altered by the
monitoringepisodic and autobiographic memory, and act of viewing art, it can be viable deduced that the
comprehension of the emotional states and intentions effects of public art are similar, and can therefore result
of others saw significant increases in neural activity in comprehensive changes to a society that is exposed
when a person encountered a piece of art. (Bolwerk et to it.
al., 2014) In addition, the study found that visual art had
the potential to have stabilizing effects on the individual In the book Art and Neuroscience, Jean-Pierre Changeux
by reducing distress, increasing self-reflection and self- talks about the moments after viewing art when the
awareness, altering behaviour and thinking patterns, human brain leaps from sensation to recognition. He
and also normalizing heart rate, blood pressure, or even states the construction, begins, in fact, with a dissection.
cortisol levels. (Bolwerk et al., 2014) The disruption, (Changeux, 1994) His assertion works in harmony with
in this case, refers to the changes occurring in a persons the hope that widely available public art can awaken
resting frame of mind, and how art positively the desire to understand and construct a community
intervenes with this state being. which is representative of all the individuals within it.
By providing a platform for thought which challenges
An analogous study performed by Semir Zeki, chair of current dynamics, public art displayed in liminal city
neuroaesthetics at University College London used MRI spaces has the potential to invoke the results from all the
scanners to measure blood flow to certain areas of the studies examined above, and in this way pave the way
brain before and after an individual was shown a piece for significant sociological changes to the structure of
of art. (Mendick, 2011) The results correspondingly a city and its people. While these studies are limited in
found increase of blood flow of as much as 10% in their scope and consider primarily art within contained
areas of the brain associated with pleasure, desire and settings, instead of public art, the results still demonstrate
understanding. (Mendick, 2011) fundamental influences that visual stimuli has on human
These findings form the basis for the idea of public art thought, and sets the scene for our understanding of
as a tool for sociological disruption, as they demonstrate public arts ability to shape thought patterns.
how the simple act of looking at art can change brain
functionality.

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ACTIVISM
PUBLIC ARTS INFLUENCE IN CREATING SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM One of the proposed results of public art being displayed often call into question government decision-making
in liminal city spaces is that of inciting social activism. and laws, such as with their 2015 piece entitled The
As sociologist Richard Sennett states in his book The Government Doesnt Give a Shit About the Spanish
Conscience of the Eye: The Design of Social Life, there is Constitution. The installation, displayed in the Plaza
a consciousness of material objects which can resonate de la Constitucin, or the Constitution Square in
to the consciousness people have of one another in Madrid, Spain, is a response to a publicly criticized law
cities. (Sennett, 1990) His statement is a testament to passed by the Spanish government that was aimed
the importance of meaning and interpretation when to restrict basic rights, such as freedom of assembly,
it comes to objects placed in city spaces. Public art is speech and information, for anti-terrorist purposes.
increasingly a platform for social activists. Through their (Bianchini, 2015) The approval of the bill, named the
activism, artists attempt to create a sense of community Protection of Public Safety Bill, was received badly by
politics, or engagement with ones surroundings, Luzinterruptus and many Spanish inhabitants who saw
and subsequently promote the creation of important the bill as a ley mortaza, or gag law that violated
discussions regarding relevant issues. their freedoms as citizens, although interpretations on
the bill varied. The controversial installation was an
The resulting sociological impact that these activists assembly of LED-lit toilet seats displayed alongside
have is not limited to the individuals viewing the passages of the Spanish constitution. (The Government
pieces, but rather extends to infiltrate the fabric that Doesnt Give a Shit About the Spanish Constitution,
makes up contemporary communities. One such 2015)
example is the work of the anonymous Spanish art
collective Luzinterruptus, who gained notoriety first The installation was non-invasive, as is much of
in their home country and then worldwide through Luzinterruptus work, and was mounted on the edges of
their socially relevant and often controversial public the public square in the neighborhood of Vallecas. The
installation pieces. (Bianchini, 2015) The group has artistic intervention was intended to demonstrate the
been described as inscribing to a form of guerrilla potential which the Protection of Public Safety Bill
art activism with their pieces. (Ainley, 2015) The use had to put a restriction on freedom of assembly and
of the term guerrilla immediately evokes a sense freedom of speech. (Bianchini, 2015)
of violence and if nothing else establishes a sense of
interference in relation to the public domain. The art
collective are known for taking challenging stances
against issues of urban space, ecology, personal
freedoms and more. Although not inherently anti-
governmental, Luzinterruptus has addressed issues that
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Although Luzinterruptus work was short-lived, as illuminated by the vague, soft lighting coming out of
their urban interventions are often illegal and are the lighted pages. (Literature vs. Traffic, 2016) Not
forcefully removed by the city, the impact that it had on only did Luzinterruptus installation change the way
Spanish society is undeniable. The collective brought in which pedestrians engaged with public spaceby
to the attention of passers-by, curious tourists as well being forced to reconsider their movement past the
as major media outlets the issues surrounding the gag book-filled streetbut it also created an atmosphere
law, and incited the beginnings of change through their of discussion among the people who stopped to ask
work. The law is currently under examination by the questions about the project. The installation awakened
Constitutional Court. (Bianchini, 2015) participation in many passers-by who stopped to either
speak to one another about the installation or partake
Luzinterruptus have a history of trying to incite social in the spectacle by reading some of the displayed books.
change through humorous public displays. Their (Literature vs. Traffic, 2016)
previous installations have included a protest aimed at
slowing down the increase of traffic in metropolitan In accordance with the writing of Gyan Prakash
areas. The installation was mounted in Madrid and and Kevin M. Kruse in The Spaces of the Modern City:
New York without permit, and re-introduced into Imaginaries, Politics and Everyday Life, the development of
the public sphere in Melbourne and Toronto as a areas of the city such as streets or public squares leads
commissioned piece. (Literature vs. Traffic, 2016) As to public space being perceived differently as well
can be seen in Figure 1, (Literature vs. Traffic, 2016) as experienced and used differently by the general
the installation consisted of a street lined with LED-lit public. (Prakash and Kruse, 2008) These changes in the
books, and an effort to bring awareness to the problems perception of seemingly unimportant areas of the city
created by rapid urban growth and the resulting have the ability to construct new historical memory Figure 1: Image of Luzinterruptus installation piece Literature Vs. Traffic-Toronto (Literature vs. Traffic, 2016)
inter-city traffic. As the installation was set up on a and create a sociable atmosphere where there was
frequently travelled-through street, it acts as a liminal previously just an empty space for commuters to travel
space. In a statement on their website, Luzinterruptus through. (Prakash and Kruse, 2008)
said of their piece, thus, a city area which is typically
reserved for speed, pollution and noise, will become, for
one night, a place of quietness, clam and coexistence

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The incorporation of LED lights into the Luzinterruptus work summarizes their overall
effort to catch the attention of people who may otherwise have overlooked both their work
and the themes explored in them. The Spanish collectives name loosely translates to light
interrupts, a fitting analogy for the effect that their work has on citizens. By displaying
their light-shows in liminal city spaces they ensure that it is not only the interested that fall
captive to their message, but the ordinary citizen whose day is disrupted and is invited into
an open line of communication about the world they live in. This concept is supported by
social theorists Paul de Bruyne and Pascal Gielen in their book Community Art: The Politics
of Tresspassing. De Bruyne and Gielen write a community art project has only succeeded
when it realizes an interaction between participants and the artist and wider community at
which it was aimed. (De Bruyne and Gielen, 2011) Although community art can refer
to collaborative art and not necessarily all public art, in this case it can be understood as
public art aimed towards bringing together a specific community. Community Art examines
Italian philosopher Antonio Negris idea of public art and the intricate balance between
artist and spectator. De Bruyne and Gielen explore the nuances of creation under the public
eye and conclude, similarly to Negri, that public art faces the challenging responsibility of
engaging with issues concerning society, politics, economy, ecology and more. (De Bruyne
and Gielen, 2011) When it comes to artists such as the Luzinterruptus collective, the
intended message and the public reaction played equally vital roles in the rationale of their
project. Although this is not always the case with street art, it sets precedent for the ability
that visual communication has to change the way people think.

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CULTURAL MEMORY
PUBLIC ART AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE By placing artwork in public, or liminal, city spaces, expanse of green, frequently passed by and visible from
visual artists are engaging in an exchange of identities afar is significant in that they are a liminal space and
that is the result of public interaction with their piece. therefore encountered by and accessible by people daily.
Whether that interaction be purely a visual one, a
thought, an acceptance or a rejection, the artist is During their creation, the artworks were evidence of
In modern cities, visual culture is a direct representation of the
reaching new audiences daily. In Conscience of the Eye: the German capitals acceptance for creativity and a
political, social and economic climate of its citizens. All of these The Design of Social Life, Sennett describes the timeless direct reflection of the social atmosphere of the city.
concepts are related to identity-the historical identity of a given response people have to communal living by saying: As can be seen in Figure 3 (Sibilo, 2014), the massive
space, the identity of the people that live nearby, travel through, or In a city that belongs to no one, people are constantly murals depicted painted figures showing East and
visit, as well as the identity of the people contributing to the visual seeking to leave a trace of themselves, a record of their West gang signs, and in a later addition to the mural, a
culture of a city. story. (Sennett, 1990) businessman chained by his gold watches.

In contrast to the work of Luzinterruptus, the work These artistic renderings were not only a way of
of internationally recognized Italian street artist BLU keeping the past alive, but also a widely appreciated
was seen as an iconic and permanent staple of the cultural and political tool that had become a destination
community it occupied. BLU is known around the for tourists visiting the city and hoping to understand
world for his painted murals, with his most prolific work the complexities of Germanys national identity. (The
being his 2007 murals in Kreuzberg, Berlin, which can Political Impact of Murals, 2015)
be seen in Figure 3 (Sibilo, 2014) .The murals were
representations of the Berlin Wall, meant to depict the
divide between Eastern and Western Berlin from the
1960s to the 1980s. (The Political Impact of Murals,
2015) The location of the murals at the edge of an

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A societys memory is negotiated in the
social bodys beliefs and values, rituals and
institutions, and in the case of modern
societies in particular, it is shaped by such


public sites of memory as the museum, the
memorial, and the monument.

In Re-Imagining the City: Art, Globalization and Urban Following years of admiration on the part of
Spaces, Elizabeth Grierson and Kristen Sharp argue Berliners and tourists alike, BLU painted over his own
that once public artwork is presented into an area, it murals in Kreuzberg in an act of protest against the
has the potential to become an almost iconographic gentrification of the city. (Henke, 2014) To BLU, the
representation of the space it occupies and the murals represented a sad disconnect between the city
inhabitants that pass through that space. (Grierson and that had first accepted his creation and the city that was
Sharp, 2013) This concept, corroborated time and time now looking to tear down the buildings on which they
again by social theorists and artists alike, supports the were painted. In an article written for The Guardian,
theory that public artwork like BLUs Kreuzberg murals BLUs co-creator public artist Lutz Henke addressed
can become cultural symbols with significant social and the issue of the disappearance of the murals. He
anthropological meaning attached to them. They go as stated that the disappearance was a reminder of the
far as to suggest that a large part of a societys sense necessity to preserve affordable and lively spaces of
of community rests upon the presence of cultural or possibility, instead of producing undead taxidermies of
artistic artefacts that memorialize both events and the art. (Henke, 2014) Henke was making reference to the
cultural climate they represent. Grierson and Sharp increasingly poor urban development of Berlin, where
state that a societys memory is negotiated in the social gentrification was pushing communities into poverty
bodys beliefs and values, rituals and institutions, and in and where even public art was becoming an exclusivity
the case of modern societies in particular, it is shaped for the wealthy. (Henke, 2014)
by such public sites of memory as the museum, the
memorial, and the monument. (Grierson and Sharp, In this way, the removal of BLUs artwork created
2013) almost as big a commotion as the initial piece itself.
This, too, can be seen as a significant sociological effect
Figure 3: BLUs mural in Kreuzberg, Berlin (Sibilo, 2014)
The suggestion, then, is that artwork like BLUs of public art. The speculation created in 2014 over the
being displayed publicly has the sociological effect of disappearance of the murals demonstrates the value
memorializing time and place, and occupying areas that of community reactiveness when it comes to street art.
previously existed in the liminal in-between by giving The response speaks just as much about the sociological
them previously non-existent purpose and meaning. As climate of Berlin as the works themselvesa nod
Grierson and Sharp concede, however, the promise towards the importance of considering city spaces as
of permanence a monument in stone will suggest is cultural barometers whether they are occupied or not.
always built on quicksand. (Grierson and Sharp, 2013)
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Figure 2: MLK mural: We will not be satisfied until-Chattanooga, Tennesee (Saligman, 2015)
As Cork states in The Social Role of Art, the artist has a clear
right to resist the present-day values of society and uphold
instead an alternative which believes in the possibility of an
enlarged awareness. (Cork, 1979) The thought outlined by
Corkthat artists have the right to present their work as a
counter-cultural manifestation, is one which echoes the work
of both Luzinterruptus and BLU. Both artists demonstrate
that public art has simultaneous potential for inspiration and
instigation, and removing the individual from the patterns of
thought to which they have previously attached themselves.

Much like BLUs Berlin murals, the Martin Luther King Mural:
We will not be satisfied until, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an
example of public art serving as a method to preserve cultural
heritage, as described in the mission-statement by the lead
artist Meg Saligman. (The MLK Mural, 2016) Although the
street where it was painted is a liminal city space, occupied
mainly by the AT&T building onto which the mural was
painted, Martin Luther King Boulevard holds the spirit of
one of Americas most important cultural activists and civil
right leaders, and therefore attracted Saligman and her team
of artists to memorialize the families and personal histories
still rooted to that part of the city. The MLK Mural is the
largest mural of its kind in the South-eastern United States,
painted to cover 42,179 square feet of street-side wall in sher-
cryl acrylic and depicting the real faces of inhabitants of the
area. (Saligman, 2015) Figures 2 and 4 (Saligman, 2015)
capture the essence of Saligmans culturally-charged mural.
Saligmans own website describes the mural as an attempt
to reclaim the city block, in the name of racial identity
and cultural endangerment. She describes her mural by
saying each side of the building is a chapter within a multi-
directional narrative, reconciling the past with the hopeful
future. It reimagines aesthetics of classical realism and
vintage Americana mural painting through contemporary
subject matter and relevancy. (Saligman, 2015) The use of
liminal city spaces by Saligman, whose work is known for
being site-specific and socially engaged, is a testament to the
impact that these unoccupied spaces have on the people that
pass them by.

Figure 4: Image of Meg Saligmans mural MLK: We will not be satisfied until Chattanooga, Tennessee (Saligman, 2015)

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Elizabeth Mossop and Paul Walton, authors of City Spaces:
Art and Design, argue in favour of the need for a greater
connection between cultural identity and the places we
inhabit in their writingsa thought reiterated throughout
this essay. (Mossop and Walton, 2001) Once public artwork
becomes part of a space, it allows for a democratization of
the area it occupies that paves the way for discussion of its
subject matter by the general public.

This de-contextualization of art from the museums to the


streets makes it easier to negotiate future artworks, to engage
more people in a sense of comunitas that helps turn liminal
areas from transitionary spaces to complex places that hold
the identity of the city within them. The incorporation of
artwork into liminal city spaces encourages the elevation of
streets, parks and squares to an iconographic status, where
the people of an area are visually represented by culturally
symbolic surroundings. (Grierson and Sharp, 2013)

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We see examples of culturally relevant public artworks such as
that of BLU and Saligman as potential to act as reminders of
a past that can no longer be seen but is still felt in the hearts of
many. The Ark of the Return by Rodney Leon Architects is another
such structure, occupying the United Nations visitors plaza in
New York. First unveiled in 2015, the sculpture was established
as a permanent memorial to honour victims of the transatlantic
slave trade.
(UN Memorial to Victims of Slavery, 2015)

The sculpture delivered its message in three parts: Acknowledge


the Tragedy, a world map depicting the routes and size of
the transatlantic slave trade, Consider the Legacy, a human
figure lying inside a ship-structure, and Lest We Forget, and
a triangular reflecting pool to commemorate the victims. (UN
Memorial to Victims of Slavery, 2015) Figure 5 (Berkowitz, 2015)
shows two of the three parts of Leons sculpture. The presence
of The Ark of the Return at the United Nations plaza sends a strong
message to anyone who visits or passes throughnot only about
the subject matter which is often at the forefront of modern
political discourse, but also a message of understanding that the
people that occupy the surrounding area are largely in agreement
with Leons statement. In this way, displaying a sculpture in a
liminal city space acts as both a cultural memorial of an area
as well as a sociological affirmation, or sign, that the values and
beliefs depicted in the sculpture are alive and a permanent fixture
to the space it occupies.

Figure 5: Image from inside Leons sculpture The Ark of Return (Berkowitz, 2015)

33 34
Noiselessly, beyond
the mess of language
that pollutes the
surface readings of
urban space, behind
this feedback of the
citys inhabitants, the
citys structure
projects its
subliminal
35 instructions
-John Stathatos (Stathatos, 1996) 36
There also has to be a certain consideration for historical Just as public artwork defines the liminal spaces it
context when talking about modern liminal city spaces. occupies, the spaces can also inform the creation of the
English sculptor and installation artist Alex Chinneck artwork in turn. The sculpture can be seen from as far
has become a staple of contemporary public art, forcing as Canary Warf, the Thames Clipper service, North
the public to engage with his pieces by employing Greenwhich cable cars as well as airplanes leaving
surrealism to elevate ordinary objects and scenarios London City Airport. As Figure 6 (Time Out London,
to surreal monuments, transforming the familiar into 2016) shows, Chinnecks sculpture attracts public
the extraordinary. (London Design Festival, 2015) curiosity even at night with the help of illumination. As
His pieces consider not only public interface, but also a direct result of Chinnecks work, the area has seen an
historic context, such as his commissioned piece for the influx of tourists visiting the sculpture, a phenomenon
2015 London Design Festival, A Bullet From a Shooting which is sure to peak interest in the future plans for the
Star. The sculpture, a 35-metre high lattice structure area. (London Design Festival, 2015) In this way it can be
made out of 450 pieces of steel and weighing 15 tons, seen how public artwork informs and questions national
was made to resemble an electricity pylon that had been identity. As stated by the authors of Art and the City,
turned upside-down and hovered precariously over the residents and users of a municipal space both want
the ground in the Greenwich Peninsula in London. to and must recognize themselves in that environment
(London Design Festival, 2015) in order to feel comfortable therein. (Miessen et al.,
2012) The way to achieve this recognition and pride is
At first sight, the sculptures sheer magnitude and celebrating the in-between spaces as Chinneck did,
unusual structure makes you question the role of pylons and filling in the cultural and historical gaps that exist
and electrical circuits throughout the cityperhaps in them.
even raising awareness of energy consumption and
other contemporary issues. The sculpture, however, was Chinneck, Leon, Saligman and BLU each represent a
developed by Chinneck as more than just a conversation different facet of the potential of public art as cultural
starter. The space occupied by the piece of public art, memorial and sociological communication tool.
presently a vast stretch of unused turf, was chosen by the They work to take the essence of a liminal space, its
artist to commemorate the Peninsulas history as home inhabitants and passers-by, the history of the land and
to the largest oil and gas, and steel works in Europe. create pieces that are representational and telling of the
Figure 6: Sculpture A Bullet From a Shooting Star by Alex Chinneck (Time Out London, 2016)
(London Design Festival, 2015) Currently, the area is cultural identity of an area and its people.
being worked on by property developer Knight Dragon,
who collaborated with Chinneck to raise awareness of
the rich cultural backdrop of the peninsula, before it is
due to be fit with 15,000 new homes in a project to open
a new residential district in the area. (London Design
Festival, 2015)

37 38
URBAN DEVELOPMENT
THE ROLE OF PUBLIC ART IN CITY-PLANNING, GENTRIFICATION AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT Along with the notable increase of public art worldwide, inside interest in the districts wellbeing, whether this
cities have seen a similar increase in culturally-led involves property development, revitalization of dead
urban renewal. (Grierson and Sharp, 2013) One of the areas, or commercial growth. (Amin, 2006)
most significant sociological effects of public art is its
aforementioned ability to memorialize events or people In The Spaces of the Modern City, by Prakash and Kruse,
and promote community buildinga concept which the authors explore the effects of rapid urbanization
can be even further extrapolated to include urban on our communities. The authors support the claim
development. Culturally-led urban renewal focuses on that urban development grows out of public attention
the integration of communities more holistically into by making note of the importance of beautification
the city, although this act can sometimes take on the efforts being used as a method of combatting
paradoxical role of damaging the cultural history of an dereliction and disregard towards of worse-off areas of
area and pricing out some of the original inhabitants. the city. (Prakash and Kruse, 2008)
We have already explored one example of art catalysing
urban development with BLUs Kreuzberg murals Prakash and Kruse claim that beautification can lead
something condemned by the artist himselfand it is to commercial growth: whether through advertising
therefore important to understand that whether public or shops or reconstruction of dilapidated areas. They
art is helping revitalize neighbourhoods or instead reason their claim by continuing when we see beauty
leading to unjust gentrification, it is impossible to we want to replicate it, duplicate it, spread it all around
dispute its potential to change the makeup of cities. so it does not stick out quite as much like a sore thumb.
(Prakash and Kruse, 2008) Like any social trend might,
When it comes to some of the most well-known urban public art takes on an infectious quality by inspiring,
theorists, namely Richard Sennett, Leonie Sandercock inciting thought, and encouraging others to beautify
and Sharon Zukin, there is a shared reverence for the more of the city. Similarly, the authors of the essays Art
necessity of thoughtfully planned public spaces. This and the City, Doswald, Miessen, Schindler and Urpsrung,
originates from the idea that public spaces, and by believe in the ability art has to assert itself in public
extent liminal public spaces, are areas of collective space, in this way resonating with a wider group of
wellbeing and possibility; public spaces act as people and acting as a catalyst for upgrades in city
figurative representations of civic virtues and interests infrastructure
of the areas they reference or occupy. (Amin, 2006) It (Miessen et al., 2012)
is also believed that one of the leading effects of public
art being introduced into previously overlooked city
districts is a significant change in both outside and

39 40
According to a study conducted by the University of the decision, released an article stating that the presence
Bochum in Germany, the perceived disrepair of public of public art on their streets promoted pride and
spaces was one of the leading causes of perceived ownership of a neighbourhood, serving primarily as
danger citizens experienced while walking through a reflection of the community in addition to preventing
certain urban areas. (Livable, 2010) The study, entitled violence. (Livable, 2010) In Topeka, Kansas, this claim
Perceived Danger in Urban Public Space: The Impact was legitimized with the help of the local Topeka Police
of Physical Features and Personal Factors looked into department, who carried out a study which compared
possible reasoning behind perceived danger experienced violent crime statistics before and after a set of murals
by people walking through public, or liminal, city were painted in the area. The police found a significant
spaces. The findings revealed, among other things, that decrease in crime rates, as well as a general increase
disrepair of buildings, the amount of people and the in houses being fixed and repainted following the
monotony of certain areas were all major contributors installation of the murals into the public sphere. (Plake,
to feelings of fear and unsafety when passing through 2014)
them (Livable, 2010) Although the study itself did not
consider public art, the findings work in accordance The broken window theory is also explored in Public
with a popularized social scheme called the Broken Anthropology in a Borderless World by editors Sam Beck and
Window theory, which claims that the deterioration of Carlos A. Maida, who argue in favour of the anarchic,
the built environment often leads to an increase in the or interventionistic quality that public art can have on
breakdown of social activity, community togetherness socioeconomically challenged areas. (Beck and Maida,
and can lead to damage of the city infrastructure. 2015) They write: public art interrupts, transgresses,
(Livable, 2010) The theory comes from the idea that one and confuses, but it also compels interaction. (Beck
broken window in a neighbourhood is an invitation to and Maida, 2015) This social interaction is at the
believe that nobody is looking, and subsequently to root of urban development: a busy, socially active
create more broken windows, which generally results neighbourhood is more likely to get integrated into the
in the downgrading of districts and a decrease in their bustling metropolis than a poorly kept, socially stunted
commercial gains, social interactions and increased neighbourhoodand public art is one way to achieve
violence. that, as we have seen. Conversely, Beck and Maida also
raise the issue of gentrification as an often unwanted
The introduction of public art into the streets, squares result of urban development, arguing that it often leads
and parks of such broken window neighbourhoods to cultural displacement and profit-based decision
has the effect of creating a safer-seeming environment, making. (Beck and Maida, 2015) This less-desired result
even reducing crime rates. (Livable, 2010) In 2010, the of public art and resulting neighbourhood re-planning
city of San Diego saw a large-scale defunding of its efforts is a much disputed one.
public art projects, and in an initiative to try and repeal

41 42
43 44
In New York, the world-renowned 5-Pointz building complex in Queens
became a tourist attraction following years of graffiti artists creating murals
and street art to decorate the abandoned faade. (Brooks, 2015) 5-Pointz was
said to act as a cultural touchstone for New Yorkers, and became referred
to as a global graffiti mecca. The graffiti tackled subject matter than ranged
from class issues to hip-hop and decorative style, as can be seen in Figures 7 and
8 (Getty Images, 2010). In 2013, despite protests and lawsuits that attempted
to protect the street art, the graffiti was white-washed and the building
demolished a year later to make way for luxury high-rise buildings. (Lawhead
and Donnelly, 2013) In this case, the social sensibilities and tourist interest
attracted by the 5-Pointz graffiti disrupted the area as well as the art itself in a
perceivably negative way. In her seminal work, Loft Living, sociologist Sharon
Zukin names this phenomenon as artistic mode of production, referring
to a tendency by city planners and developers to capitalize on artistic and
cultural movements in certain areas of the city with resulting gentrification.
(Cameron, 2017) Public art has the ability to resist marginalization, as well as
inciting thought on the social conditions of minorities within cities. (Grierson
and Sharpe, 2013b) One of the most prominent themes of the graffiti
displayed at 5-Pointz was that of a high-low culture distinction, or a divide
existing between well-off and poor communities in the city. (Lawhead and
Donnelly, 2013) In the case of 5-Pointz, however, the attached stigma of the
neighbourhood was so effectively reversed through public art that it ended up
working against the artists themselves: whether it was intended or not, their
art changed the way in which other communities and tourists viewed the
potential of the neighbourhood.

45 46
Figure 7: 5-Pointz graffiti before demolition-New York (Getty Images, 2010)
In a move reminiscent of BLU and his self-effacing
protest in Berlin, the artistic duo gilf ! and BAMN (By
Any Means Necessary), created a public response to the
disappearance of 5-Pointz by covering the new building
with yellow caution tape with the words Gentrification
in Progress on it. (Coscarelli, 2014) This back-and-forth
demonstrates the power of public art when it comes to
urban development: when the infrastructure of a city is
being threatened, artists take to the walls, pavements, and
other publicly accessible liminal spaces to diffuse their
message to as many people as possible.

Where conflicting politics and culture collide regarding


urban development and public art, the effects of the
intervention are balanced out by the integration of new
public art to either retaliate against or speak in favour of
the changes. In this way, the spirit of the city is kept alive
and is constantly being represented through art, whether
Figure 8: 5-Pointz graffiti before demolition-New York (Getty Images 2010) in assent or dissent of its society.

47 48
IDENTITY & DISRUPTION
THE VALUE OF PUBLIC ART AS A SOCIOLOGICAL COMMUNICATION TOOL

Public art often attracts the ordinary flneur, or city-


walker, and through its message disrupts, challenges, or
reorders their way of thinking. The social consequences
of public art have been thoroughly examined, but
the sociological impact of public art reaches beyond
interpersonal and civic relations, affecting first and
foremost the individual viewers passing through
liminal city spaces. As noted in The Spaces of a Modern
City, individual interactions with liminal city spaces are
relative: the conception of the street or square, is not
merely perceived differently but also experienced and
used differently. (Prakash and Kruse, 2008) Herein lies
the importance of the liminal element of public art.
Its presence in easily-accessible, regularly frequented
areas that see swathes of people passing through on a
daily basis, leads to fundamental differences in reactions,
responses or appreciations to the work. This diversity
in reaction is one of the most basic effects of public
art: inciting thought, dialogue and specifically interest
to distract citizens from routine. Thought and dialogue
are catalysts for social, political, and environment
change which begin in the individual and can grow to
have global implications.

49 50
Cork makes a case for public art in The Social Role of Cathedrals chapel, the face of the Bank of Finland,
Art, arguing that the widening of the artistic audience Senate square and outside the National Library. These
is one of contemporary arts most important goals, areas, already frequented by travellers and citizens
as it is one of the most effective ways to spread ideas passing through the city, see an annual influx of tourists
throughout society. (Cork, 1979) Rather than simply coming to visit the Lux festival, and reached record
commenting on or opposing society, artists must numbers in 2016. (Lux Helsinki, 2017) Each year,
reintegrate themselves into public spectrum of thought the artists involved bring variety to the scenefrom
in order to see their ideas come to life. This draws back light displays and projected videos to typography and
to De Bruyne and Gielens statement in Community Art, installation pieces, the public art does not adhere to a
where they similarly argue that although the result may single theme, but rather provokes interest and promotes
be political or subversive, social, identity forming or community-building by bringing people together. It can
therapeutic, the importance of spreading messages by be assumed that an increase in public art within liminal
aesthetic means is essential for the future of art. (De city spaces would not only increase foot traffic within
Bruyne and Gielen, 2011) cities, but promote thought in the individuals stopping
to assess it.
Several artists have taken to public transport to achieve
the goal of artistic dissemination. These liminal Some of the festivals artwork, including a piece by
city spaces are ideal for widespread attention. The lighting artists Rlli Ridnp and Tero Laine titled
Platform for Art movement was created by the London Light Pipes, pictured in Figure 10 (Vierkens, 2017),
Underground to enrich the journey of millions was created to bring awareness to the very issue of
of travellers daily. (Transport for London, n.d.) The individual versus community influence within cities.
commissioned pieces have had the effect of engaging The Light Pipes tagline adequately asked of the viewer
travellers with interactive works, creating a long-term Who controls my city? Can we together influence
design legacy for the London Underground and thereby the conditions in which we live? (Lux Helsinki, 2017)
strengthening its standing as a company. Workers The installation piece has interactive valves that the
and travellers alike have had a positive response, as viewers can adjust in order to dim or brighten the lights
well as the artists themselves whose work serves as a of Laine and Ridnps makeshift pipe-city, and was
representation of London on a global scale. among the most stopped-by pieces of 2017. Figure 9
(Transport for London, n.d) (Kinnari, 2017) indicates the installations clear success
in attracting public interest. (Lux Helsinki, 2017) The
In early 2017, Helsinki, Finland, celebrated its ninth extensive public approval of Lux Helsinki reveals the
year hosting the Lux Helsinki light festival, an equally extensive attention that this type of art can
expansive interaction-based public art festival spanning garner in cities worldwide. Where people continue
across the city and decorating the streets with the work to create ideas worth spreading, there will always be
of fifteen commissioned artists. (Lux Helsinki, 2017) recipients ready to receive them, even if it is simply a
The public art pieces were installed in some of the citys by-product of their commute to work.
most visited liminal areas, including the Kruununhaka
market square, adjoining streets, the outside of Helsinki

51 52
Figure 9: Light Pipes installation by Laine and Ridnp-Helsinki (Kinnari, 2017) Figure 10: Light Pipes installation by Laine and Ridnp (Vierkens, 2017)

53 54
In a discussion about the value of public art in liminal
city spaces as a conversational, thought-building tool,
it is useful to refer to British sculptor Alex Chinneck,
whose work has already been explored in relation to
cultural memorial. Chinnecks work over the years
has also included pieces geared more towards the self-
proclaimed spectacle facet of public art. Some of
Chinnecks thought-provoking pieces include his trompe
doeil levitating building Take my lightning but dont steal
my thunder of 2014, as well as his 2013 inverted building
Under the Weather but Over the Moon, seen in Figure 11
(Chinneck, 2014). While neither of these particular
pieces had notable community-wide effects apart from
publicity, Chinnecks fame is a testament to the fact
that public art also stimulates the ordinary citizen into
challenging themselves into thought. Both pieces were set
up in liminal city spaces. The first, installed into Londons
Covent Garden Square, consisted of a 40 foot sculpture
shaped like a building that had been destroyed by a
Figure 11: Under the Weather but Over the Moon by Alex Chinneck-London (Chinneck, 2014)

hypothetical lightning bold, and created the illusion


of floating above the ground in a gravity-defying manor.
(Callahan, 2014) Chinnecks surrealist sculpture attracted
throngs of passers-by who wanted to make sense of the
structure by walking beneath it and exploring it from
every angle. Chinnecks 2013 work had a similar effect
of confusing pedestrians by the means of a commercial
property which had been seemingly flipped upside-down,
resulting in a section of sidewalk with an inverted building
next to it. (Chinneck, 2014)

Neither of Chinnecks pieces were accompanied by a


mission-statement or publicly acknowledge theme, and
yet they both worked as effective artistic interventions
nonetheless. Instead of intervening on a political or
economic front, however, they intervened by acting as
a surreal reminder of the importance to look around

55 56
In a recent Tedx Talk artists Ed Woodham made a statement on the
importance of inclusive public space, arguing that art needs to be moved
from a place of privilege to a place of daily life ritual. (Tedx Talks, 2014)
Artists such as Woodham or Chinneck help create an environment where
city-walkers, travellers or commuters are faced daily with art they might
not have seen had it been in a gallery or museum, or even in a non-liminal
city-space with limited accessibility. In Woodhams words, the prevalence of
artwork in our public spaces awakens the subconscious from a state of
complacency by acting as a catalyst for thought. (Tedx Talks, 2014) Colin
Ellard, Ph.D., and director of Research Laboratory for Immersive Virtual
Environments in Canada, developed a method of testing the legitimacy of
the idea that people who encountered public art were more likely to break
out of a more insular frame of mind and observe the world around them.
(Ellard, 2015) Ellard teamed up with artist Scott Eunson to design the study.
In 2015, Eunson designed flat tree-shaped sculptures to adhere to the fence
of a roadside construction site and Ellard hired people to observe the people
passing by, before and after the addition of the sculptures. Ellard found that
there was a significant increase in pedestrians looking up at the fence as well
as all around them, as well as a significant decrease in their walking pace.
(Ellard, 2015) Although the experiment had clear limitations, Ellard was
adamant about the effect of public art in relation to self-immersion, and
breaking out of it in order to consider the world outside oneself. (Ellard, 2015)

57 58
Eunsons street-side observations are the epitome of what
many public artists hope to achieve through their work. The
successful integration of art into public space often results
in pedestrians stopping to examine, photograph, or discuss
a piece. This is especially true of liminal city spaces, where
artistic encounters are not necessarily expected and therefore
received with peaked interest. (Amin, 2006)

In a recent addition to Londons Dulwich Park, artist Conrad


Shawcross displayed a sculpture titled Three Perpetual
Chords, a trifecta of metallic loops that in Shawcross words
function as meeting points, romantic destinations, and
encourage playfulness. (Time Out London, 2015) The
sculptures occupy different sides of a walking trail, as Figure
12 (Moore, 2015) shows. The inspiration behind Shawcross
sculpture were music intervals, but the resulting structure
ended up being a symbol of community togetherness,
encouraging, as Shawcross hoped, social interactions and
private interactions in the form of self-reflection. (Time
Out London, 2015) As the above examples demonstrate,
public art has the potential to not only serve a specific role
within communities and cities, but also a deeply personal
role as a way to expand ones way of thought. Referring to
the paper published by the Journal of Brain and Cognition,
it can be seen how these two concepts link up. Public art
such as Shawcross sculpture, Lux Helsinki and Chinnecks
installations can encourage learning and emotional inner
dialogue, as pedestrians walking by are likely to engage and
question the abstractions or objects before them. (Loria,
2014) As so, public art demonstrates its importance in
spreading ideas by promoting curiosity and contemplation.

59 60
CONCLUSION
It is clear why so many urban theorists such as Sennet
and Zukin have turned to public space as a sort of
explanation of the human condition, and have written
about its significance in modern society. Public space
has become an extension of the people that inhabit
cities, and the art that occupies them has become
increasingly important. We have seen how the liminal
areas of a city can act as the setting for significant
sociological change when fitted with public artwork.

As discovered in the studies conducted by University Further research into the neurological aspects of art
College London, Beijing Normal University and would have to include scientific studies done specifically
Vartanian and Skov, art in general influences the with public art in mind, in order to make the findings
thought patterns of viewers, a finding that says a more precise. Comparably, public artworks from more
lot about the potential of public art to disrupt and diverse areas around the world should be considered
challenge individuals as well. (Bolwerk et al., 2014) and incorporated into the analysis. Although much
It has been shown that when it comes to social and research has been conducted into both liminal city
political activism, such as the installation pieces of spaces and public art, a continued effort is necessary in
Luzinterruptus and their case against the Spanish order to keep up with the ever-changing platform that
government, public art can play a big role in spreading is the modern city, the art that decorates its streets and
ideas and inciting political action, as well as acting as the inhabitants that occupy it.
a visualisation of the state of mind of the individuals
that inhabit an area. (Bianchini, 2015) In addition, case All in all, public art displayed in liminal city spaces
studies from around the world, such as BLUs murals serves the unique and most often positive sociological
and Leons sculpture, have demonstrated that public purpose of distracting citizens from their routines and
art can create structures of cultural memory, and its creating an environment for thought, creativity, and
position in liminal spaces has the potential to reach social interaction. In this way, public art in liminal city
people from around the city and invite them to consider spaces has an extensive sociological impact on societal
the areas legacy. The inclusion of public art into liminal activism, cultural memory, urban renewal and personal
city spaces can have lasting effects on communities as thought patterns.
well as the infrastructure of a city, as happened with
the famed 5-Pointz graffiti. (Brooks, 2015) In contrast
to the gentrification public art can cause, it is also a
prospective tool for community-building and pride in
the ownership of liminal spaces. Finally, the role of the
public art was examined regarding its ability to incite
thought and curiosity, and by this means increase
the potential for widespread interest in identity and
belonging in relation to the world around us.

61 62
DESIGN RATIONALE
Contemporary cities are hubs of constantly shifting invoking the spirit of modern cities. The book follows
imagery. Visual information is everywhere: from a primarily monotone colour scheme with instances of
sprawling urban infrastructures to concrete buildings colour being introduced as a relieving factor at intervals in
and brick walls. Occasionally, creativity rises above between. This works along with the imagery, sometimes
practicality and punctures the urban landscape with occupying double-page spreads, sometimes only a small
public art in the form of murals, street art, sculptures corner of a page.
and more. Much in the same way as the public art in
cities is a direct reflection of the state of its inhabitants, The juxtaposition of hard and soft, of industrial design
the design of this book reflects a physical version of and creativity, calls into question the identity of cities
the themes explored within. Thematically, the book and how we relate to them. The textures, page quality
highlights the concept of public art, space, and the and shell design follow along the route of fine-art books
effects of urbanization. The pacing of the book is like to retain image quality and display the information
a walk through the city: continuous imagery, interposed efficiently, simultaneously making the subtleties of the
by blank spaces and vibrant art, to create a feeling of artwork inside more evident. The aim of the book is
sensory overload reminiscent of urban life. to create a microcosm of city living while delivering a
message on the sociological importance of public art.
The design focuses primarily on liminal space,
considered in relation to place, which are the sections
filled with text and imagery. This distinction is at the root
of many of the concepts explored throughout the book
and reflects the transitionary aspects of travelling through
the liminal areas of the city: blankness is potential which
surrounds the physicality of the city. The imagery used
follows a modern industrial aesthetic to set the scene for
the text, which works like art in public space to assert
itself on the blankness of the page.

The purpose of creating a modern and cleanly curated


book is to echo city life in its practicality and surface
appearance, while its contents reflect the vitality and
spirit of public art and the fastness of a metropolis. This
contrast creates a vandalised or lived-in feeling to
emphasize the themes being studied. The book contains
both images of public art as well as self-produced
illustrations to contrast artificial with organic, once again

63 64
65 66
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