Taste Untold: Performance and Spatial Narratives in Public Space
Central Saint Martins
As an ideological term, taste demands specific contextualisation for advancing research. This thesis aims to construct a critical stand point within architectural taste frameworks and specific site locations. The research questions how could an inquiry into taste today, contribute towards more open spatial practices. It explores how notions of taste play out in the public realm, using performance as a method. The project focuses on use and functional scripts. It aims to understand how notions of style, cultural programmes and maintenance structures intersect on site. It explores how these intersections might steer the everyday dynamics of place, and leave an imprint on the ways in which we perceive, use and appropriate public spaces.
Projects are situated in Granary Square, a privately owned public space (POPS) in London. Performative interventions are set to explore the functional realm in this location, in order to analyse taste as a naturalised code of place, working alongside its stage-managed power structures. The project sits between sociology, with Bourdieu’s theory of taste as a general frame and his concept of habitus as the specific focus; and art and architecture, devising performative projects as a method for testing the connections between human action, aesthetic dispositions and spatial practice. The works of Laderman Ukeles on sanitation aesthetics and Andrea Fraser on feminist institutional critique, constitute the base from which to reflect and practice performance, as a means to construct stories of taste deriving from common practices in the everyday.
The thesis departs from the fact that in architecture, taste has generally been naturalised and made visually recognisable to architects and publics alike, within the logic of formal styles. The research argues, however, that the story line of taste, as offered by sequential changes in style, has left unexplored spaces in connection with a field wider than that of architectural form: Taste as a distinctive internalised modus-operandi by which architects embody and perform architecture, differentiating themselves as a professional clan. And subsequently, producing spaces which sustain such distinction. With this in mind, the project sets out to test contemporary perceptions of taste outside formal cannon, and to propose processes and narratives alternative to those emerging from modern and postmodern spatial structures.