In this case the traffic hub is Knutpunkten in Helsingborg, southern Sweden. How could experiences of everyday flow that merge with the unpredictable be illustrated here? How can the kinaesthetic, distributed, fleeting and affective dimensions of city life be evoked? Our approach is to use conveyors as our metaphor.
A conveyor is a physical transporting tool. But we use it to describe mainly affective or psychogeographical movements. Six short films made out of sound and video from different spots in Knutpunkten are the conveyors. The chosen spots work as emotional and associative starting points for the conveyors, which don’t transport you mechanically towards predicted goals, but instead more unpredictable addresses are called forth. We have embraced the diffracting and the irregular, in order to reach beyond visions of strategic and panoptic clarity of traffic flow or CCTV safety in public spaces.
Hundred years ago a pioneering way to represent life and movement in the city would be the creation of a city symphony. When this art form had its heyday during the 1920’s it was an intriguing way to use emerging film technology. City symphonies were part documentary, part affective travelogue and part evocation of the temporal shifts characterizing everyday life in a city. Walter Ruttman’s film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) is a prominent example. Using novel editing techniques Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) is another groundbreaking example. There are other examples from that time, and since then a number of variations on the city symphony theme has been produced.
City symphonies have been a source of inspiration, but when approaching the traffic hub Knutpunkten we wanted to extend or twist the concept. We took the idea of movements of a symphony and distributed them into a spatial or psychogeographical layout. Instead of creating a number of symphonic movements in a sequence, we created the six conveyors.
People visit a traffic hub for different reasons; their lives have different trajectories. Some pass through while others return. Others idle. In this space of flows the conveyors are brought to work. They will work in several contexts, but to fully enjoy them they should be used at Knutpunkten. Download them to a mobile media player when you are there and find the spots where the material was recorded. The perceptions of your specific time spent at Knutpunkten will blend with the mediated sound and images from screen and headphones. This blend may provide a reflexive feedback loop between the physical kinaesthetic experience and what is conveyed through the player.
In 2012 Conveyors was included in an issue of the magazine Cyclic~Tone, which is a collaborative online magazine based on the idea to juxtapose writers with visual artists. The issue had the theme Space, and Conveyors was combined with an ethnographic text on the traffic hub Knutpunkten written by Leila Kaas. Leila is a former student of our MACA-program here in Lund.