Personal in Public

Recently, 'Public Contact' was staged live in the Posco corporate headquarter lobby in central Seoul. The performance was timed to coincide with the busy noon lunch rush, as office workers poured from the towers above, making their way to the streets outside of the main public lobby of the Posco headquarters. 

As the performance artists write- "the memory of touch" are aptly considered words; curious (and in this setting) perhaps an inappropriate juxtaposition of uncommon closeness within a place of definitive social boundary. The half hour long performance of spontaneous positioning and comings together of man/ woman- posed in comfort and discomfort- played out against the wariness of public eyes. The public space of the lobby is only that at fixed times. The lobby is both public (in classification) and yet wholly under private control. Acts of close human contact remain strangely out of place here.

'Public Contact' was a beautiful reminder of connections (and contrasts) within semi-public corporate places, suggesting that such 'public' urban space carries the weight and burden of expectation. Actions outside of this stand in stark defiance.  Personal in public lives momentarily. 


condenCITY_99 manufactured city 1.0

The small alley way streets of Seoul (go-mok-gil) are the support systems for micro-industries, once  randomly dispersed throughout the northern half of the city. Scaled to compact urban conditions, these production networks sustain neighborhoods and working communities. Shops such as the one above are large enough only for the solo-working man, specialized in his or her daily routines (like the sign maker pictured here). His shop, in tern, connects to the plastics distributor- with links to the paint specialist, delivery man on motor bike and so on; a web of light industries production preserving a microcosm of connectivity, activity and ultimately compact urban forms. A city in my mind has never seemed so small. 

Boundaries between daily life and production are intertwined at street side shops facing passers-by.  Distinctions between zoned places here and there remain overlooked.  

Industry as the foundation of Seoul.