In January, Urbanshit wanted to know “how urban inventions can improve everyday life in the city?” I, myself, have been tackling this question with help from people all over the world by sending them packages of “geode” pieces to recreate my Urban Geode project in their own cities.
To find out more about Urban Geode and the first two cities involved, read on here.
This time around, two participants from Seoul, South Korea, and Melbourne, Australia, share their thoughts and stories.
Seoul, South Korea – Shanelle Ueyama
I work freelance and try to disseminate public health information through creative media like street art, social media, and books.
To date, I have lived in New York, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, but Seoul is by far the most energetic city.
I live in an area called Hongdae, which is a college town famous for its art. Any day of the week, the streets are filled with thousands of people – especially after work when everyone is out for drinks and partying until the morning. Shopping malls are open at 3am. I really don’t know when Koreans sleep!
Did you discover anything new as part of your search?
I discovered an old iron factory district called Mullae-Dong that is slowly becoming a new playground for a small community of artists. If you walk through the area during the day, at first glance you will only see busy factory workers and trucks on the streets, but if you look more closely, you will spot art painted on factory doors as well as small galleries and coffee shops hidden throughout the narrow back alleys (see image of the blue geode).
Did you get into trouble at all for putting up geodes in your city?
I had to watch out for cameras, but other than that I did not have too much trouble installing them. I don’t think Seoul has very strict laws on street art … or I might just have been lucky!
What is your take on this type of art?
I first came across Paige’s work in an LA magazine and immediately wanted to be a part of it. I love how subtle, yet powerful these little street installations are. Not everyone will notice them, but when somebody is lucky enough to find one, it can open that person’s mind to a rush of thoughts and creativity, even if only for a moment or so. Embedding these geodes within cities brings back an element of wonder and magic that you often only experience in nature.
If you could take away or learn one thing from this process, what would it be?
Until I participated in this project, I don’t think I had consciously touched the surface of an outdoor wall or felt moss in a pipe for ages. The process reminded me of how full of wonders the world seemed to me as a child. Growing up, I would seek out every detail of the street I lived on: every bush, wall texture, or dip in the road. I think as adults we live so much more in our heads, with all those useless thoughts, and less in awe of what is physically around us. The project has made me much more aware of my surroundings and prompted me to actively seek things that inspire me within my city now.
How does this project align with your own ambitions and interests?
I have since started to explore street art as a means of communicating health messages to the public. I think it has the potential to be much more engaging and powerful than conventional methods used by public health organizations.
Melbourne, Australia – Danielle Seath
Freelance graphic designer.
Melbourne is a friendly and embracing city full of creativity and culture. It has a labyrinth of lanes that you can explore to discover amazing architecture, street art, cafes, and boutique shops. There is always something to do with a huge variety of markets and festivals, thriving independent music, and a great theater scene.
How did you pick the places for your geodes?
I would grab a coffee and walk around the streets of Melbourne, exploring the laneways and taking pictures of any good spots for the geodes. I would focus on places with a healthy street art presence, like Fitzroy and Brunswick.
Did you notice any details or discover anything new on the way?
Having just moved to Melbourne, the urban geode project was a great opportunity to explore and get a better feel for the place. I didn’t realize that Fitzroy has a huge amount of street art; I spent hours walking around the laneways finding more and more amazing art that I would not have stumbled upon otherwise.
What was the process like for you?
Some aspects of the project were difficult, like creating the geode casings to ensure they would fit into the cracks. A lot of cracks were the result of disintegration and might be uneven, so it was difficult to create a casing that would replicate that particular shape. However, I did enjoy putting all the resin shapes together to form the geode structures and placing them on the streets of Melbourne for everyone to enjoy.
Did you get into trouble at all for putting up geodes in your city?
I don’t think I was in any danger at all, but I was aware that my activities could be perceived as damaging property. Melbourne is known for its street art (Hosier Lane) and I feel that it is supported within the community. For the most part, people are usually just curious about what you are doing.
What is your take on this type of art? What do you feel when you see it?
I enjoy the three-dimensional aspect and small size of the work. I think there is a huge amount of amazing two-dimensional street art around, but the three-dimensional and size aspect allows for different viewer interactions. For example, I placed one of the gold geodes in a lane just off a main road. I placed it among dark blue graffiti, so if you are in the right light, the geode has a glint to it that catches your eye from the street. I hope that people would be drawn to that small glint and get rewarded for their curiosity when they spot the cluster of geodes. The work itself does not dominate public space like larger graffiti murals and tags; you really have to notice it.
Our two new participants seem to live in very creative and lively cities, both of them citing the community of creativity in their respective areas. The new interventions placed in these creative communities can be considered a new contribution to something that has just started to thrive, which in turn promotes new creativity and inspiration for a new area. Both note that they used the project to discover and explore their own city, one having just moved to the area and the other discovering a whole new district for herself. In Seoul, Shanelle really felt like a child again, appreciating every little detail as an exciting discovery rather than something merely mundane. Once inspired, she started to dream up potential ways to communicate health concerns to the public in ‘subtle yet powerful’ ways.
In our previous feature and experiment, the two participants were really drawn to their areas of interaction – they experienced a sense of reclaiming forgotten space. In these new interactions, we see two individuals contributing to the booming creativity of their cities. They are on a journey of discovery, be it the small things in life or the bigger picture. It is inspiring to see what the same project can mean to different people, depending on personality or location. Thus, each city transforms the geode project into its own flavor of street art; tailored to the specific location, yet at home in cracks around the world.
Header image:A Common Name