A Site in Transition

A Site in Transition

In fulfilment of the Master of Research in Creative Practice at the Glasgow School of Art, I conducted a three month research project focussing on the former computer centre and bank building at 154 Trongate in Glasgow. The building’s gradual demolition coincided with the process of this research. At the conclusion of the research, a site-specific painting installation was constructed with a selection of outcomes from the research.

At the time of my first encounter with the bank building and computer centre, it was a site in transition, spatially and temporally in-between, a ‘modern ruin’ and on the brink of being erased from the city. It seemed to be considered a ‘dead space’ and an ‘eyesore’ in Glasgow’s Merchant City; a contrast with having once been at the fore front of technological advancement. As a former bank building and computer centre it embodied the infant economic and information networks of globalisation. Ironically it had fallen victim to the effects of these networks, global financial markets and large-scale property buying of urban space.

Over the course of the research the building has systematically revealed layers of hidden ‘knowledge’, lived narratives, visual imagery, sensory perceptions, patterns of affect and connections between its past, present and future as it transitioned into absence. As a ‘lived space’ it held the stories of human and non-human life and its site continues to do so as the demolition crew work to clear the space for a 110 million pound large-scale building complex.

A first-person phenomenological experience over a period of time and a narrative inquiry of ‘lived stories’ have together, as a mixed methodology, facilitated a transformation of my perception of the Computer Centre from visual observations on an inert object at a set point in time to become an embodied perception and an in-depth understanding of a ‘lived’ space revealing itself to me, opening up connections beyond itself. Methods from my painting practice had played key roles in the systematic process of transitioning my perception. The deeper, richer perceptions have informed the studio process and the presented practical outcomes.

As part of the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show, a site-specific painting installation was presented in the Tontine Building on Trongate. This installation mirrors multiple layers of references to the concept of ‘reflection’ in the context of the research site and the site of the exhibition space. The adjacent, ‘ruinous’ store room holds a projected montage of photographic images from the research and sound recordings of the demolition.