Past Present Futures
May 24 – 29, 2021


Field School: Dig Where You Stand is a collaboration between the Laboratory for Art and Research, University of Cologne and the Observational Practices Lab, Parsons / The New School, School of Art, Media and Technology, New York. Supported by the International Office of the University of Cologne as part of COLOGNE SUMMER SCHOOLS. With lectures, virtual walks and workshops by Doris Frohnapfel (Cologne), Peter Spillmann (Berlin / Luzern), Aurora Tang / The Center for Land Use Interpretation (Los Angeles), Stefanos Tsivopoulus (New York) and Eva Weinmayr (London).

Our knowledge of cities and urban space—whether historical or current—is based less and less on direct experience, but increasingly on mediated records, e.g. images, data, documents of events. With digitalization and globalization, however, there has also been a growing uncertainty about what this data means. This changed sensitivity to images and data in turn produces approaches that not only generate new perspectives on the past, but above all renegotiate the relevance of history to the here and now.

Inspired in part by the international movement started in the 1970’s promoting active engagement with the history of a place, Field School: Dig Where You Stand is a site-based approach to interdisciplinary research investigating and reimagining the local. To what extent can artistic strategies that go beyond conventional methods of interpreting (historical) data be utilized to discover new points of view on our present by looking at contested histories beyond canonical narratives? How could the saying ‘Dig where you stand!’, used by an ‘urban history from below’, be reinterpreted against the backdrop of geography’s digital turn? What could digital derives look like as possibility for speculative stories of self-empowerment? Departing from these questions, Field School: Dig Where You Stand combines a critical inquiry into selected online archives (containing urban imageries, collective narratives and memories), digitally-mediated urban experiences, methods of critical navigation and geo-location tools with virtual field-research and self-conducted project work cross-linking Cologne, New York and other places.




Bildcredits: Field School Visual by Patrick Macdonald.