Site-integrity has framed a new way of thinking about relationships between site, device, artist and audience. This research is located in practice, but feeds back into the theoretical weavings of the study proposing the notion of 'site-integrity,' that opposes fixed representation through a performance of site. There are three forms of site specificity proposed by Miwon Kwon, each relating to the different means of inhabiting and interacting with the connotations of space, expressed as the following paradigms: phenomenological/experiential, social/institutional, and discursive. Within this content site-integrity expands Kwon’s paradigms by being a conduit for the phenomenological (the experience) via the social/institutional (the physical site and user) culminating in a forum for the discursive (as a form of dialogue).
Non-haptic, non-temporal ways of re-presenting place have come to dominate contemporary practice. Doreen Massey’s writing on space formed the foundations in thinking, at the same time as the practical investigations in this study concluded that space is un-representable as a separate entity. Massey’s relational argument, "a refusal to reduce our understanding of space to that of surface or container" (Massey, 2005, p.12) is extended by her three propositions:
First, that we recognise space as the product of interrelations; as constituted through interactions, from the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny… Second, that we understand space as the sphere of the possibility of existence of the multiplicity in the sense of contemporaneous plurality; as the sphere in which distinct trajectories co-exist; as the sphere therefore of coexisting heterogeneity… Third, that we recognise space as always under construction… it is never finished; never closed. Perhaps we could imagine space as a simultaneity of stories-so-far. (Massey, 2005, p.12)
Massey also draws on Deleuze–Guattarian philosophical influences in order to argue that a concept such as space, rather than operating as a de-temporalised essence, should "express an event, a happening" (Massey, 2005, p.28). In site-integral artworks the site of investigation is also the exhibition space. Each site-activation becomes both metaphor for wider social formations (the privileging of abstract space/representational time) and a physical apparatus that, momentarily at least, pushes the viewer in a different direction.
There is a sense in which the research travels with the evolving works that occur in situ with no fixed parameters. This does not mean a relinquished responsibility for, or rejection of agency in affecting change in the works as they emerge, but rather that these artworks are not made with the filmmaker as central subject. There is a sense of subject-hood that is formed in practice; that acts in practice. The artworks foregrounded in this research do not present an idea or image of what a site is or can be. Rather, they create opportunities for audiences to experience their own relationship and reading of them. It must be noted that the intention of site-integrity is to encourage new dialogues with space(s).
In order to critically assess the success of the research study, it is important to discuss how the work has answered the initial research questions:
• How effective is the working methodology, and how do we evaluate it?
The working methodology attempts to avoid the fixed representation of space, providing an experience in situ rather than a removed representation. Each site is not a fixed object, but is continually in the process of being made through experience. Matt Webber a social anthropologist at University College London & SOAS, articulates this point in his peer review when he says:
Assembly should not be regarded as a representation of a space, and still less one of individual worshippers, but rather as an attempt to re-produce the mosque as it actually exists. Both the building and the community it forms part of are re-assembled each time the piece is displayed, each made and re-made in a relational process between audience, film, the worshippers, and building. (Matt Webber, Social Anthropologist at University College London & SOAS)
In site-integral artworks the device mediates between the body and the architectural site during the act of performance. The work ‘submits’ to the vagaries of space yet this gives it its power to call the space into question. Rather than simply recording a space and re-playing/re-presenting that to the viewer, the works activate the viewer within them. As one viewer states,
I became part of space and film through a machine that recorded the space in the past and acted in the present (through its motion and sound, and through the laser pointer and the synchronized projection). The space was not anymore a motionless entity that I could explore or passively inhabit, it became 'activated'. (Audience feedback)
The site-integral dual recording/playback device bridges the gap between device and audience, to straddle the worlds of the real and the recorded, to give a sense of place. Site-integrity proposes a new mode of practice where the artistic device is used to actively engage site and audience within the creation of the artworks.
• How do relationships to sites affect the making and reception of the work?
Similar to Robert Smithson’s site/non-site dialectics, site-integrity aims to incorporate the relationship between site as content and as exhibition in its terms. Site-integrity proposes that it is possible to witness the making and unmaking simultaneously, process and film at once, without being reduced to either. Site-integrity forces the art experience to be rethought, or re-experienced, in terms of a changing live space, as Simon O’Sullivan describes it, “art is also an event in continual resistance to closure: art then is the name of the object of an encounter itself, and indeed of that which is produced by the encounter” (O’Sullivan, 2006, p.2).