Fieldnotes by visual anthropologist Jip van Steenis
"sprawl" (Gaile Pranckunaite & Mislav Žugaj)
The weather is cold for this time of the year, but nevertheless it´s the best day since days and the doors to the balcony facing the Vondelpark are open. A flag made by the residents of this week, the collective "sprawl", moves gently in the evening wind. On it are the words "BRACE YOURSELVES" with the image of a comic character I don´t know of.
Salsa music from the park comes our way. The living room behind us is quiet for now. Sprawl has another event to attend, and is fashionably late for this their event here. A beamer projects it´s beamer blue. Awaiting for the connection with the file it is about to beam.
Host Tirza serves the first guests, the downstairs neighbors, beer. She says it´s Gulpener beer, that it´s biological and she adds that that´s important - with a smile.
A few more guests ring the door bell and walk in. They all move to the balcony, lighting their smokes. Which makes me curious to the smoke machine indoors. Spotted.
Tirza just pushed the on-button of the smoke machine. The effect on the living room is like...something is set on fire. People cannot see the faces of others any longer, and it turned them silent.
A guest tells me the intervention in the living room feels...strong? I can´t hear him clearly. The noisy smoke machine just smoked again. The downstairs neighbor asks housecat Toekie what he thinks of this all. Toekie seems relaxed about the situation.
Another new guest walks in with a "wo-ow". "It looks like a rave" someone else says. Because yes, they´re right. The smoke turned this living room into a totally different kind of room. Also the light of the beamer reflected upon the huge mirror gives it a rave or disco like feeling. Someone says it all feels like the end of the world to him.
Suddenly me and others notice a different element in the light reflected upon the mirror. The beamer projects a text which moves from left to right. The text sums up the horrors of climate change. Like, for example, that the sea level in the future will rise with 27 centimeters. And something about certain crops that will never grow again.
Tirza´s Mum just connected with her via Face Time. She got scared when her daughter informed her about the smoke machine. She sees it turned out okay. Tirza even informed the fire department.
"sprawl" just walked in, and receives their first "cool" remarks of visitors.
"sprawl" chats with the visitors about the lecture they just gave at another event. It was on global warming, as their subject is here, and it ended in a conversation on the environment.
I´m sitting next to Gaile and the button of the smoke machine now. It stopped smoking automatically, so she pushes it manually. "Should I stop doing this? It´s not good for people". "No" someone awnsers "It´s at all the parties".
The sun is nearly setting. In the dark the living room seems even fuller of smoke. Mislav notes how it´s like Beijing to him now. Aha, so the smoke has to mirror smog.
The sun has set, but the event is not to an end. Somewhat six new people have arrived to position themselves in this environment.
Fieldnotes are a method of description cultural anthropologists use to describe things that occur while observing phenomena.
Applying the same method as Jip (but in snapshots), Polarlicht also registrated moments, details and other striking features of the event.
Both fieldnotes and snapshots were made from a personal perspective and were matched up by their time stamps.
This documentation functions as a reconstruction for you, the visitor that couldn't attend the event.