Urban Encounters are monumental structures whose appealing forms speak to people’s innate playfulness and by doing so, encourage spectator interaction. Urban encounters centre on the idea of using short-term interventions in public space to initiate chance meetings
The goal of the encounters project is to generate a platform for meetings, and to do so playfully. The underlying thought here is that we are living in a fast-pacedworld and have – or take – less and less time to look around and notice people. By lifting people out of their daily lives, it is possible to tempt them into taking new social steps. They enter a new space and their senses are reopened. Once again, they notice one another.
In a city like Amsterdam, for example, life is lived at embankment-level. For most inhabitants, the canals are simply recreational areas visited only occasionally. But in the canals strangers greet and cheerfully help one another no matter what their form of transport, while up at street level cyclists and motorists cut each other off in vicious battles for the right of way.
An unfamiliar location thus loses its social cohesion once it becomes familiar.
Urban Encounters consciously applies this principle to its art projects, creating new paths, rooms and passageways in public space, thereby lifting the veil and creating room for Urban Encounters. Interaction with the public is what completes the artworks.
The Urban Encounters projects are also a meeting place where a number of artists can explore each other’s work, wrestle with ideas, absorb them and arrive at a personal vision. That the participating artists all have different backgrounds turns the project into a symbiosis of diverse disciplines and trains of thought. This makes the work more layered, gives it greater depth and results in a collective concept upon which the project can float.
An earlier but related project called Levitating Encounters made the top ten of the shortlist for an international competition organised by the city of Birmingham (GB).