Friday, January 22, 2010

Wintersession Update

I guess we've been back in our studio space for 3 weeks now and it's been interesting to see everyone's different processes and ways of getting into their projects. Most people have changed their trajectories slightly (or a lot) since last semester, I being one of them. A lot of the undercurrents are the same, but the actual focus is quite different from what I started with.

Still interested with routines, I've chosen to look at various resort towns because of the semi-annual expansion and contraction of population, economy, and mood of these places. What are the ramifications of these shifts from winter to summer, summer to winter? Specifically, I've been looking at Aspen, CO and Martha's Vineyard, MA and the people who are displaced by the influx of wealthier people (low-income workforce can't afford to live in high-priced resort town). I'm going to be working with Martha's Vineyard for my eventual proposal and am using Aspen as another case study to learn from.

The interesting thing is that the relationship between the locals and the wealthy tourists is not only symbiotic but also parasitic. The high-tourist seasons generate a massive amount of money for both the towns and local people, but also raise housing sales and rental properties making it nearly impossible for the local population to sustain living there, forcing many people to move to bedroom communities.

I've been reading a lot about affordable housing and gentrification, but I'm not entirely sure that is the answer. I've done a few sketches that begin to try to bring two unlikely situations together. For me, these towns have a lot to do with contradiction and contrast. New - old, rich - poor, winter - summer, swollen population - very few people, etc. The sketches below are trying to describe bringing these two worlds together in some way using existing infrastructure from Aspen and MV. You can read into them how you like.

Also, I'm going to MV tonight to spend the weekend there interviewing people, observing, researching, recording, feeling, to see what happens. I'm going to be recording what's open now as opposed to the summer, how people live, what towns offer what, what is necessary, etc. We'll see how it turns out, but I'm very excited to go to Martha's Vineyard with new eyes.

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