lauantai 29. marraskuuta 2008

Day 5


11:35 - 11:40
Central Railway Station

Today we toured the city, mostly within our assigned zone, looking at all the projects from the workshop.
Before arriving to the Central Railway Station, or Rautatieasema, I explained the plan...
(people were invited as participants and/or observers)
To choose a door and hold it for a designated 5 minute period,
meeting back together afterwards inside at our central location.

Thank you to everyone who was present.

Some reflections...
Visually it worked well to have three people on the one set of doors at the same time
(see photos), although these were the only ones I got to briefly witness.

It almost reminds me of standing guards,
where usually they are controlling who can go in/out,
perhaps preventing certain beings passage,
depending on who controls the guards,
often intended to provide security and protection.

Here there were consistently open doors,
allowing access to all (maybe even the pigeons?)

I got feedback from some students who participated,
positioning themselves at the front (South) doors,
commenting on what they noticed during the process,
different perspectives,
generating good discussion.

Now considering this experience,
I think that if involving others,
it might be better to say:
You can choose who you open the door for (all, some or none).
(thereby giving less directions and encouraging active participation)
Then see what happens..

torstai 27. marraskuuta 2008

Day 4
Central Railway Station
South door, inside

I felt more exposed somehow opening the door for others inside the station.

On a recommendation I tried to obtain security camera footage for documention,
first asking downstairs at the service desk,
where a man then lead me upstairs and buzzed me into the security office to talk with the gentleman behind the tinted plexiglass screen,
through a small opening above the metal counter:

I introduced myself and told him what I was looking for.
He said that they do not give out such footage.
I explained more about the nature of my project and offered him my teacher's contact.
He repeated himself.
No dice...

...although I can see their side,
where paranoia is now part of the profession,
and rules are rules.
Harmless intentions can be flipped,
from suspiciuos to malicious.

Feeling rejected, I sat down to write a journal entry.

Why the railway station?
there are big heavy doors there,
and plenty of foot traffic,
converging arteries of mass transit and urban existence.

Why holding the door?
What do you think when someone holds the door for you?
What is the significance of this action of holding a door for others?

the doors in the railway station are big and heavy.

(when I notice)
it comes as a welcomed gesture,
a surprise,
sign of caring.

Might one see it as an invitation into another place?

Looking more into shamanistic activities,
after suggestion of a possible parallel,
I was told that in Andean pre-hispanic shamanism,
the term for shaman is "doorkeeper", "punku kamayuk".
A shaman mediates between the worlds for his/her people:
as journeyer, messenger, translator, midwife.

Some people even mentioned the possibility of selective door holding,
which brought up further ideas,
for example Saint Peter,
holding the keys to open the door to heaven..
and in that way could lead this work towards a very different direction.

Speaking of which...

Getting myself up and going this morning,
it felt like going to work,
which also has potential to explore,
for example in playing that part to a full extent.

However instead I wish to change some other element,
for example inviting others to join...

keskiviikko 26. marraskuuta 2008

Day 3


8.50 - 9.00
Central Railway Station, East and North doors
Clear skies.
There was a man giving out free newspapers.
He asked me 'why are you holding the door?'
I replied, telling him about this project.

Thinking about it more, I came up with some questions of my own...
Why are you doing your job?
If you weren't getting paid, would you still do it?

Some ideas came to me that seem to relate...
Volunteerism, 'creating a culture'
A 'mitzvah' in Judaism, or doing a kind act

9.00 - 9.05
Central Railway Station, North doors

I tried to catch the crowds getting off the long distance trains,
flowing down the platform towards me,
looking like a river,
or blood flowing in the veins,
I installed myself in the middle,
curious how an open door affects the traffic...

9.05 - 10.00
Central Railway Station, West doors
Less people, more acknowledgement.
Fair amount of travelers with suitcases.

Chose a door where the inside one had been propped open,
responding to what was already there.

Sure, most people can open the door for themselves,
but there is something to having it opened for you sometimes...

Composure with this work is important,
and develops with practice...
For example, if I look like I am about to/waiting to go through the door myself,
people might hesitate,
and look apoligetically at me as they squeeze though,
or even stand and wait for me to go through...
this is not what I am going for.

It is fascinating to observe and activities going on around me too,
like the garbage being collected and products being delivered.

I almost got to hold the door for a pigeon...
but it wasn't really interested in going inside.

tiistai 25. marraskuuta 2008


Day 2:

November 25, 2008

I went out this morning to start at Kulosaari… but all the main entrances/exits are automatic! (sliding doors on motion sensors)
There were no doors to be held.
On I went to Kaisaniemi, my scheduled afternoon location…but yet again!
All the doors were either mechanical or already propped open.

So instead I sat down and thought more about a door…

What is the intended function?
- physical passageway
- to separate indoors from out
- marking entrance/exit
- security

What other meaning could it bring?
- Privilege (in terms of class, economic, social, ‘there doors open to some and not to others’)
- Gender relations/stereotypes/equality (opening the door and 'chivalry')
- Cultural values (common courtesy, sign of community)

If there is no element of obstacle (just an opening) is it still a door?
The dictionary definitions generally include the idea of a 'barrier' being involved.
I think this depends on mental vs. physical perceptions.

More on acupuncture...
Wai-yi said that acupuncture produces a warming sensation in the body.
What might produce this in an urban context?
Electricity (heating sources)...
Acts of kindness/consideration for others...

Later I wound up back at the Rautatientori/Central Railway Station…
(see photo documentation)

12:30 – 12:45
East door (again, but different time of day)
Light snow/rain.
More acknowledgements this time,
in the form of smiles and/or a ‘kiitos’,
and even one ‘paljon kiitoksia’.
A few people took a double-take after passing through the door,
looking confused/surprised when they saw what I was doing.
Others almost looked like they had heard a whisper,
not really seeing me,
but somehow seeming to notice my presence (this could just be my imgination).
One woman came up and handed me a pamphlet on four things God wants me to know.
This made me think of possible public interpretations for my action…
Often, in Canada at least, ‘charity’ work (or giving your time for other people) is connected with religion and the church community, serving in the name of faith.

North door (to long distance train platforms)
Similar to my East door experience.
People seem to be in less of a hurry.
Could the time of day take some part in explaining this?

Here is my proposed revised schedule…

12 hours,
12 locations,
At the Central Railway Station and Sornainen metro station

Varying hours.
Some repeated locations.
Observing effects of variables (for example time of day).

At the same time I intend to stay open to possibilities for new directions/suggestions...

maanantai 24. marraskuuta 2008


Holding the door/opening the door for people to help relieve congestion
(re: impressions from Canadian East coast)

12* mass transit entrances/exits in Helsinki (between Rautatientori/Railway Station and Herttoniemi) over 5 days (roughly during peak hours, see schedule below)

*(re: number of meridians in the body)

(24.11 – 28.11)

Monday > 1*: Rautatientori/Central Railway Station (East side entrance)
Tuesday > 2+3: Kulosaari (10:00 – 12:00) & 3+4: Kaisaniemi (13:00 – 15:00)
Wednesday > 5+6: Kalasatama (8:00 – 10:00) & 7+8: Sornainen (16:00 – 18:00)
Thursday > 9+10: Herttoniemi (8:00 – 10:00) & 11+12: Hakaniemi (16:00 – 18:00)
Friday > Class tour: Rautatientori/Central Railway Station (East side entrance)

*(each number represents a doorway)

Example time use:

Morning rush hour…
8:00 – 9:00 > spot ‘x’
9:00 – 10:00 > spot ‘y’

Evening rush hour…
16:00 – 17:00 > spot ‘x’
17:00 – 18:00 > spot ‘y’

- still photos and short video(s)
- diary of actions, events, reactions, observations, etc.
- drawings, maps, visual representations, etc.

Documentation will be candid, although pictures including other people will not be published publicly, unless permission is given.
I will try and make eye contact with everyone who passes through the door.
I will dress in my regular apparel.
If a member of the public engages me in conversation I will respond, explaining the nature of this project.


Day 1:

Monday November 24, 2008
Rautatientori/Central Railway Station
16:30 – 17:30
Centre door on Eastern side, leading to Helsinki public bus platforms.
Snow was falling.
People generally flowed through the door I was holding, funneling in from both sides. A few passers through noticed the source of the open door, some thanking me, visually and/or verbally.
After about ten minutes there, a man came over and asked (first in Finnish, then switched to English) “Who are you and what are you doing?” We conversed for most of the remaining time. He was from Northern Finland where he said that such courteous behaviour is more common than here in the south, in his opinion, especially in considering the city, where people generally seem to be in a hurry on their way somewhere.

Sarah Alden 23.11.08

Helsinki Acupuncture

What is Acupuncture?

Treats disharmony in the body,
Blockages (of processes, patterns).

Requires an open state of mind.

Relates to eastern concept of ‘Qi’
(roughly translates as ‘vital energy)

Twelve/fourteen energy meridians in the body,
Each corresponding to an organ,
Internal and external.

Half for ‘yin’
(or Blood, not the same as blood),
Half for ‘yang’
(immaterial ‘Qi’).

The goal is balance.

A small sterile needle is inserted only 3-5 mm for 15-20 minutes.

Only a small ‘twinge’ will be felt by the patient.

What is Urban?

High population and building density,
People and architecture living in close proximity…

Possible to be anonymous in a crowd,
Nearby others,
Feeling far away.

What about an urban narrative?

Inner dialogues,
Thoughts released,
Potential moments,
Caught and missed.

Stories of places,
Characters created,
Within/without time,
Interior/exterior architecture,
Information/emotion associated.

What/where are the energy flows of a city?

Moving people, materials, intentions

Invisible power,
Taken for granted until there is an interruption in the system

(How) Could an artist take a role as an urban acupuncturist?

Take an outside element (material or immaterial) and insert it into the city at key locations to relieve something impeding an energy flow.

Affecting the processes of interaction between people in public places.

Can values be a needle? Expressed by an act?

If you have always had a condition of imbalance, would you even notice it?

For every action there is a reaction (as with giving and receiving).
How to test this on a city scale?

A personal perspective…
My sister’s cat was quite ill, and on medication to help stop his seizures. She tried taking it for acupuncture and it was fairly successful in relieving the negative symptoms of his afflictions, allowing them to cut his drug intake in half. Are cats (and animals in general) good candidates for this ‘alternative’ treatment because they are more open to possible effectiveness, and unbiased towards treatments coming from outside Western medicine? (Where people are more likely to be skeptical of treatments coming from outside the accepted institutions?)

On city/town life…
In the Canadian Maritime region people are surprisingly friendly. They smile at you and say hello, going out of their way to hold the door, and stopping cars in the middle of the block to let pedestrians cross.
I moved there from a big city called Toronto, where from my observations people do not make a habit of acknowledging each other. I was used to this manner of self focused behaviour, not out of disrespect for one another, just as a habit of centering on your own daily life and activities, conserving energy in a way.
However after sometime living in the Maritimes I started to adopt the local custom of making eye contact with strangers I passed, even exchanging greetings, and stopping to hold doors for others. Suddenly I noticed that my journeys were more invigorating and vital, feeling a connection with others, both on our own way somewhere yet with a different destination.