urban analysis, workshop, discussion

6, 11, 12 November 2011



In response to the fragmentary, localised, decentralised, unregulated and often fragile nature of current creative practices that engage with new narratives of activism and politics, the project OrNamenTTokYo sets out to investigate the materialities that process these issues by way of ‘commonalities’. Using as a starting point the proposition of common versus the regulated or proprietary, OrNamenTTokYo aims at provoking and undoing this established and widely disseminated dichotomy. Liberating the relationship between common and regulation this way, OrNamenTTokYo looks at how these terms share a possibility for deviation, and how they propose an ability or ‘appropriateness’ of improving the understanding and articulation of contemporary forms of acting, producing and distributing, and potentially allowing new kinds of creative practices to emerge. Accumulating today’s materials and imaginary politics of these forms, the project engages with sites of precarity, friendship, micro-organisations, anti-systemic movements, the infiltration of legality in everyday life, and media as a by-product.

Situated in Tokyo, OrNamenTTokYo examines the in/significance of the ‘common’ in Japan, how the common is manifest there and how it subsequently contributes to our understanding of the current social, i.e. public, and active, i.e. creative, space. While the notion of ‘common’ forms an extensive field of research in the Western context, its manifestation and realisation in Japan remains elusive and not fully explored. Ranging from ideas around ‘possession or manifestation of common attributes’, and ‘sharing features or characteristics’, the common addresses themes such as the constitution (or lack of constitution) of a united intellectual consciousness, or communal spirit in relation to social, geographical and institutional reinvention.



OrNamenTTokYo works with the format of urban analysis, workshop and discussion, and proposes an activity shared by its participants to put into practice a local construction of the common. Special guests will join us. And a pamphlet is produced.

Using the ornament conceptually, strategically and aesthetically as a guide to develop some work together and critically engage with the subject of the ‘common’ in Japan, a link is established between spatial organisation, social space and time. Drawing from the legacies of the “mass ornament” (Siegfried Kracauer), and the labyrinthine, controlled, repetitive and pattern-like architecture of Victorian Gardens, the ornament brings into play the motivation to represent regulated public space and transform it into a collective sphere. Tracing today’s construction of vast and full spaces, complex assemblages in architecture and technologically informed environments and networks, one can ask: how are concepts of imagination potentially embodied in spaces of the controlled versus the uncontrolled, and the constantly transforming? And what does measure mean in mutating environments? And, following Sven-Olov Wallenstein (2009) in Bio-Politics and the Emergence of Modern Architecture, is the imaginary some sort of resistance, when he claims that “The resistance to rationalisation and discipline cannot entail some pure affirmation of irrational forces, but rather a rediscovery of the multidirectionality and stratification of these processes”? Outlined here are political implications of ‘ornament’ which in that sense provide the tools for revisiting and critically revising the common and its relevance in contemporary environments, particularly in Japan.  



For OrNamenTTokYo architect and researcher Merce Rodrigo Garcia and artist and researcher Verina Gfader collaborate with BCL Georg Tremmel and Shiho Fukuhara.


OrNamenTTokYo asks

How do we understand agency in controlled versus uncontrolled environments?

How do external events affect and transform our relation to everyday life subsumed in narratives of activism and social media?

How do certain localities in Tokyo/Japan provoke the “stabilities” of urban arrangements?

What language and images can we discover to engage with the conflictual situations within new forms of sociality?

How does a sharing of features or characteristics in common concretisise an active engagement of communality?

Who or what possesses or manifests a common attribute?

OrNamenTTokYo is supported by Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture (Austria)