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How might we formalize a momentary experience of time and space that moves away from the conception of time as linear and space as flat?

Frequent collaborators in film, writing, and research, Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner reflected on their attempt to approach time and space as a series of folds through their live video intervention on the Muntplein. “So that everything doesn’t happen at once,” the title of their intervention experimented with using the Muntplein as a real-time film set that is a space both of production and of image consumption. Time and space loop back on themselves, accelerate, decelerate, rupture. Multiple folds of space-time coexist in perpetual perceptual feedback loops of multiplicity and simultaneity. This project was part of an ongoing long-term collaboration between Litvintseva and Wagner, explored through the production of moving image, lectures, texts, and curatorial projects. Their reflections were interspersed with a Skype talk by C. K. Raju, computer scientist, mathematician, and physicist from New Delhi, who has been working on decolonizing time through the rejection of a mechanical, or clockwork, cosmos and has proposed a philosophy of math called zeroism, a counterweight to Western formal mathematics that allows for a non-mechanistic physics inclusive of both spontaneity and creativity.

Naïmé Perrette’s “The weight of the ground 2” served as a basis for the new local evenings, connecting the swamps that the Muntplein is built on—or even represses—with the engineered lands of Miami and artificial islands of the Netherlands. Surrounded by chain stores, the Muntplein is a square that we cross more than we inhabit, dislocating our thoughts away from this seemingly generic place. But streams of economic, cultural, and domestic influences circulate above paving that covers a car park, constructed on a dried-out swamp, forming a reality too dense to even fit into a good sentence. With her visual floor, Perrette aimed to activate an experience of what is below us. How do we relate to something we don’t see? How do we dig under generic signs to learn from the specificities of a site? Perrette explores the complexity of the Muntplein’s composition, in terms of the history of the land and the convergence of disconnected streams, starting a dialogue with the complexities beneath the weight of the ground of the Muntplein. She reflected on her findings with Kristupas Sabolius, who takes the swamp as a milieu providing a framework for imagining alternative futures.
The evening was moderated by Jeroen Peeters.

Audio mapping of Place de la Monnaie during the performance “so that everything doesn’t happen at once” by Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner.

Coordinates of the microphone 50°50’58.0″N 4°21’12.1″E
Coordinates of the artwork 50°50’57.7″N 4°21’12.9″E

On Saturday the square is almost full of people, thanks also to a series of public events with music, food and dances. It is still difficult to understand what is behind the identity of this space. How can we find a way to live the public spaces in a pure way? In the contemporary city everything looks extremely chained to consume, events, even if cultural, or objects, bodies, and aesthetic.

After one week we are still trying to read the structure and the path underneath the design of this public space. What architectural traces are behind that square? What kind of rules are these temporary structures following to occupy the space? As we already noticed the equilibrium between shade and sunlight is for sure one of the factors. Another one is the design of the pavement, following the rhythm of the columns of the theatre. This architectural composition game creates a series of almost invisible areas on the ground level. But another element we just noticed today was the presence of a series of points with for example the possibility to connect devices to the electricity. All the stands and events are distributed just around these points.

The possibility to access the grid and the energetic/communication network is fundamental to the definition of the relationships of power between the different actors of the contemporary city. This is also visible on the public spaces, especially, in this case, in Place de la Monnaie. The public space and the way we inhabited it isn’t just the image of economic or political power and influence. Bodies, subjects, social and political actors are constantly constrained by spatial design and its possibility to close, open up or negate relationships. If our contemporary metropolis looks more and more open and without boundaries, if we go a bit deeper, we can see exactly the opposite, thus recognising a strong multiplication of boundaries and an extreme categorization of the space, always more shaped by racial, gender and political violence.

In the rules to the use of public space in Brussels, there is a distance that the performers and buskers need to maintain from a commercial activity. As we noticed during this series of reports, rules and norms are actually what is changing more our possibility to use the public spaces, more than architectural drawings and structures. The imposition of a certain distance between buskers and commercial activity tells us clearly how much the city is shaped by following economic reasons. More than focus on architecture itself and on the design of public spaces, today we should try to operate more on the series of legislation, norms and conventions that regulate and shape the space and our way of acting as public political actors in the collective body of the city.

Perpetual motion report is a project by Parasite 2.0 part of “The new local”.