supported program: The Periscope Project’s 2011 Summer Urban Laboratories

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The haudenschildGarage collaborated with The Periscope Project on the 2011 Summer Urban Laboratories providing scholarships for high school students from the Monarch School.

The Summer Urban Laboratories program is the second formal educational project at The Periscope Project, and the first working directly with students.

In the summer of 2010, a design / build studio was conducted through the NewSchool of Architecture and Design as a formalization of the methods by which The Periscope Project was constructed in the first place: much of the project’s embodied labor is attributable to the tireless and enthusiastic contributions of students. Recognizing the appeal of The Periscope Projects to students as such, it has become a supplemental micro-institution. In such a space, the hierarchies of traditional educational systems can be bracketed, allowing students to develop for themselves a greater sense of ownership, connection, and tangible engagement.

During July 2011, resident artists and educators at The Periscope Project worked with small groups of high school students in focused workshops that engaged the urban territory surrounding The Periscope Project’s facilities. Opening up this space as a classroom, the programs introduced students to intensive visual / analytical / collaborative practice, and fostered a deeper understanding of the symbols, structures and ecologies that form San Diego’s urban public realm.

Session 1Representing Urban Issues & Drawings from the “City,” was led by James Enos and Andrea Ngan. This group of four students focused on mediating ground-level experience of the urban environment (begun with day long walks) via photography, drawing, and collaborative collage. Click here for more information: http://theperiscopeproject.org/sessions.html

How much vacant space is there in East Village, and most importantly, why is it vacant?
These questions motivated a weeklong exploration of the prevailing economic, social, and cultural factors driving land-use in the East Village. Utilizing photography and videography, students had the opportunity to interview local planners, policy-makers, organizations, and gained valuable insights into artistic production with Periscope Teaching Agent Andrea Ngan. This session produced a mixed-media installation representing a multifaceted understanding of the economic and bureaucratic mechanisms inherent in urban development. Technically, the session exposed students to fundamental photography and video-making skills, but more poetically students learned to make work in the form of installations, narratives, and documentaries.

Can we record the city, and most importantly, can we read its symbols?
These questions served as a point of departure for introducing students to varying drawing practices ranging from visual note taking to individual expression.  Drawing exercises, such as field sketching were used as a means for critically relating, communicating, and archiving each student’s personally subjective relationship to the city.  Students were prompted with anecdotal typologies by Periscope Teaching Agent James Enos, and presented the task of recording, understanding, and responding towards the built / un-built world. Technically, the track practiced the underlying principles of drawing and techniques of rapid visualization, concept design, and architectural ideation. However, perhaps more sensitively, students gained exposure to visual strategies and  formal preferences of form generation, record, and personal spatial analysis…

Session 2Introduction to Public Login & Urban Green Technologies, was led by Keith Muller and David Kim. This group of seven students were introduced to the varied meanings of urban space, as they explored the signs that designate public and private realms, and DIY techniques for responding to these situations: from street furniture to water-bottle hydroponics. Click here for more information: http://theperiscopeproject.org/sessions.html

Working with students from the Preuss School UCSD, Monarch School, Francis Parker School and San Diego High School, the labs functioned as a temporary respite from the pressures of evaluation allowing students to creatively explore: fostering a sense of connection and opening up new conduits for learning. Student exercises, as well as culminating representations and artifacts were on display from August 5 – 19, 2011. Click here for more information: http://theperiscopeproject.org/exhibition.html

Are skateboarders the only ones having fun in the city, and most importantly, whose stuff is this exactly?
Students examined the structure of these questions and the spatial conditions alluded to by the public domain i.e. sidewalk culture, business amenities, and public parks.  Working with Periscope Teaching Agent Keith Muller, students gained awareness to idiosyncrasies in public amenities e.g. street furniture, utilities, curbs, green spaces, and borders. The track consisted of guided tours where students learned by examining, documenting, and interpreting the urban landscape, more specifically the intentions of public use, in mixed media. The design/build and small construction of a public sculpture project took place and served as a trigger for site-specific participation.  Technically, a hands-on approach to form-generation, material properties, and construction protocol was explored. More poetically, students engaged with the tenants of sustainability.

What are urban green technologies, and most importantly, how does environment play into the city?
Framed by questions such as these, students learned how to construct small-scale, hydroponic home-garden systems built from easily sourced, recycled and low-cost materials. Periscope Teaching Agent David Kim leaded a collaborative, open laboratory where students  learned real-world application of high school Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Studies curriculum. This included exposure to the rapidly growing field of urban green technologies and the movement towards accessible DIY implementation. Ultimately, this workshop seeked to foster student awareness and agency in taking personal responsibility for environmental sustainability.

For more information on The Periscope Project visit their website: http://theperiscopeproject.org