– How are shared spaces constructed in / by / with text?


– Does site –reading affirm a shared space – what does it look or feel like?


– Where are you when you listen – especially if you don’t grasp the language? Is it possible to be transformed by listening, even if you do not understand the language?


– How can the read text be inhabited as a place of living and of dwelling. Reading conceived as a meeting place for shared experience, the basis for ‘common orientation’, for being-with?


– How do we attend to our bodies and those of others as we read or listen … and how might this increased attention open new ways of experiencing a text, our selves, the wider environment of our practices?


– How can the first-person perspective within reading/listening become plural, become intersubjective – how can reading/listening expand the individual I of the reader and listener?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Site-Reading conceives writing, reading and listening as aesthetic research practices, caring for their inter-subjective potential, whilst asking how shared spaces are constructed in/by/with text. The aim is to open up a multitude of intertwining writerly perspectives by doing observational writing based on bodily perception. The performativity of this practice moves away from the cerebral and redefines the solitary act of writing, introducing site-specific writing in a public space as a literary genre.


Invited writers/artistic researchers make written observations of a public site for a time-bound period, collaborating in a shared action, though geographically apart. On Saturday 6 March 2021 at noon GMT seven writers in Sheffield, Vienna, Edinburgh, Berlin, Vaasa and Helsinki made notes in public space. This writing practice is inspired by the book An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by the French writer Georges Perec. Our writing experiment re-contextualises Perec’s explorative writing from 1975. We began with three 3-minute warm-ups or specified constraints that challenge writing to bridge the cerebral + corporeal – e.g. observations take list form, avoid adjectives, notate when bodily perception shifts to storytelling. From there we continued to make notes on behalf of our bodily senses for 45 minutes.

 

 

 

These texts have been recorded and edited paying respect to a shared multilingual space and proposing a sonic ‘we’ of the readers as an inter-subjective potential. Since the writing can be in any chosen language, the performative reading pays respect to a shared multilingual space, emphasising the tonal + acoustic qualities of spoken language as much as the meaning-sense of words.Whilst aware of language limitations + abilities, we argue that challenging understanding involves caring for communication and reciprocity – even if we lack exact translations. Silences + overlaps can occur; misunderstandings can happen, repetitions can take place.  Reading the texts aloud together creates a liminal space, through the intermingling of different voices, places and approaches to writing/reading. From this collective position we are now asking how shared spaces and inter-locationality are constructed in, by and with text. 


For phenomenologist, Max van Manen, the term textorium refers to a “virtual space that the words open up […] The physical space of reading or writing allows me to pass through it into the world opened up by the words, the space of the text”. Struck by his account of the textorium and the ‘virtual space’ that opens for the writer-reader, we wondered if our own experimental practices could generate insights into the experiential textorium encountered through reading?