A Transitional Imaginary: Space, Network and Memory in Christchurch (2015)
Type of ContentAuthored Books
PublisherHarvest (in collaboration with Aotearoa Digital Arts)
- Arts: Creative Works 
A Transitional Imaginary: Space, Network and Memory in Christchurch is the outcome and the record of a particular event: the coming together of eight artists and writers in Ōtautahi Christchurch in November 2015, with the ambitious aim to write a book collaboratively over five days. The collaborative process followed the generative ‘book sprint’ method founded by our facilitator for the event, Adam Hyde, who has long been immersed in digital practices in Aotearoa. A book sprint prioritises the collective voice of the participants and reflects the ideas and understandings that are produced at the time in which the book was written, in a plurality of perspectives. Over one hundred books have been completed using the sprint methodology, covering subjects from software documentation to reflections on collaboration and fiction. We chose to approach writing about Ōtautahi Christchurch through this collaborative process in order to reflect the complexity of the post-quake city and the multiple paths to understanding it. The city has itself been a space of intensive collaboration in the post-disaster period. A Transitional Imaginary is a raw and immediate record, as much felt expression as argued thesis. In many ways the process of writing had the character of endurance performance art. The process worked by honouring the different backgrounds of the participants, allowing that dialogue and intensity could be generative of different forms of text, creating a knowledge that eschews a position of authority, working instead to activate whatever anecdotes, opinions, resources and experiences are brought into discussion. This method enables a dynamic of voices that merge here, separate there and interrupt elsewhere again. As in the contested process of rebuilding and reimagining Christchurch itself, the dissonance and counterpoint of writing reflects the form of conversation itself. This book incorporates conflict, agreement and the activation of new ideas through cross-fertilisation to produce a new reading of the city and its transition. The transitional has been given a specific meaning in Christchurch. It is a product of local theorising that encompasses the need for new modes of action in a city that has been substantially demolished (Bennett & Parker, 2012). Transitional projects, such as those created by Gap Filler, take advantage of the physical and social spaces created by the earthquake through activating these as propositions for new ways of being in the city. The transitional is in motion, looking towards the future. A Transitional Imaginary explores the transitional as a way of thinking and how we understand the city through art practices, including the digital and in writing.
CitationBallard S, Benson T, Carter R, Corballis T, Joyce Z, Moore H, Priest J, Smith V (2015). A Transitional Imaginary: Space, Network and Memory in Christchurch. Christchurch: Harvest (in collaboration with Aotearoa Digital Arts).
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ANZSRC Fields of Research16 - Studies in Human Society::1604 - Human Geography::160403 - Social and Cultural Geography
47 - Language, communication and culture::4701 - Communication and media studies::470102 - Communication technology and digital media studies
19 - Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing
43 - History, heritage and archaeology::4303 - Historical studies::430320 - New Zealand history
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