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Detouring the Commute (the art and practice of everyday travel)


Detouring the Commute (the art and practice of everyday travel)

Ng-Chan, Taien W. (2016) Detouring the Commute (the art and practice of everyday travel). PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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My thesis explores the processes of gaining deep knowledge about place through everyday travel. I focus on how different modes of mobility perform different kinds of spaces, views, and mental maps of the city, how the repetition of the daily routine enacts a personal archive of place, and how the functionalistic commute can be “detoured” into a meaningful practice. My creative research stems in part from my autoethnographic media practices of navigating the city, and frames the gathering of knowledge as an artistic experience that is integral to my methods of investigation. The commute is a unique and everyday liminal space, one that is ripe for artistic encounters and stories to materialize the city in transformative ways. By explicitly advocating an interventionist practice through mapping and locative art, I hope to contribute to the development of a more engaged commute as a hybrid space of aesthetic pleasure and surprise, and a heightened awareness of the many strata that make up a place.

This project investigates three different and specific kinds of commutes. The first involves a walk between two very different neighbourhoods that involves crossing the controversial border that is the L’Acadie Fence. I use cultural landscape methods of “reading” the built environment with an eye on the material, the social and the historical, as well as a photographic practice that documents and archives my daily journeys around the two neighbourhoods. The second commute relates the experience of city transit as a unique space of performance, both in the everyday ritual sense and as a space of social theatre. The ubiquity of mobile media in transit spaces is also addressed as having the potential to reconnect to one’s surroundings, rather than disconnecting from the commuting routine. Finally, the third commute describes a drive from one city to another in rush hour traffic, combined with a look at Mikhail Bakhtin’s chronotope as a method of cinematic analysis, and a way of discerning narratives that build up around the non-places of the auto-commute. This study will then conclude by presenting a framework for the detour as a practice of creative mapping through everyday travel.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ng-Chan, Taien W.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:April 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Caquard, Sébastien and Nitoslawska, Marielle
Keywords:mobile media, creative mapping, commuting, everyday practice, locative art, urban studies
ID Code:981097
Deposited By: TAIEN NG-CHAN
Deposited On:16 Jun 2016 15:52
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:52
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