The Platform for Urban Investigation/Western Shift by Lee Walton
by Allard van Hoorn
tags: urbanism research collaboration
The Platform for Urban Investigation is an open-environment collaboration between researchers, architects, designers, artist, curators and cultural producers. Its aim is to stimulate fresh ways of looking at urban living and to discover alternative solutions. The platform takes up residence in cities around the world for two to four weeks at a time, working with local and remotely connected participants.
The Platform for Urban Investigation (PUI) is a nomadic research facility for investigating the urban environment. The sole objective of PUI is assisting mankind in obtaining another way of looking and seeing, showing that we now have the option to make it work for all of humanity on our planet.
PUI facilitates these investigations through Workshops, Open-door brainstorm sessions, exhibitions, publications, performances, productions and residencies.
In order to conduct its research, PUI continuously travels around the world visiting urban environments on all continents. Invited participants include a wide variety of cultural producers, such as architects, urbanists, choreographers, dancers, visual artists, musicians, writers, philosophers and curators.
PUI publishes, exhibits and documents all activities. The site contains essays, conversations, interviews, video, photos and drawings.
A mobile age demands mobile means. To uncover mobility is to use mobility as research, communication and as a displaying / exhibition tool. PUI is available worldwide through the web as a body of research, an exhibition space and an online publication, connecting cultural practice in an urban context via Internet Video Conferencing, VOIP, Instant Messanger, Email and File Transfer Protocol.
PUI’s most recent project in Shanghai took place between April 26yth and May 26, 2006. During the event, ten cultural producers were asked to participate and collaborate in activities that occurred both locally and remotely.
Lee Walton’s Western Shift was commissioned from the artist’s home in Brooklyn and performed by the curator locally during the Platform on invitation by Island6 arts center in Shanghai. Western Shift consisted of moving objects a few inches or feet towards the West. It struck me as a great way of symbolizing the cultural shift taking place in China towards capitalism and Western culture and the way that is favored over thousands of years of Chinese culture. Walton makes a very subtle gesture here that is as strikingly painful as it is poetic.
The documentation presented here constitutes several images from the activities in Shanghai and a full-length video of the performance.