With support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF),Footnote 1 the research project Grenzgang – Artistic Investigations on Perception and Communication of Space in a Trinational Border Area combined the method of promenadology, following Burckhardt , with divergent artistic methods – applied in a mode of research. Particularly worth mentioning here are performance, installation, improvisation, audio, drawing and video. In a first project phase, team members experimented with their own artistic approaches in order to develop valid research modi for their approaches respectively. Differing concepts resulted, which in turn determined and structured these approaches in space. Assuming that our perception is inalienably individual and bound to our physical experience, Burckhardt’s promenadology offered a methodic approach with which to place the body in (urban) space as a starting-point.
1.1 Promenadology in Artistic Research and Art Education
Walking was of high relevance to the entire project. Artistically, Grenzgang thereby took up a tradition since the 1960’s (e.g. Long ), while at the same time invoking contemporary positions which also apply walking as a method (Alÿs ; Lerjen ). Walking – as the common denominator of heterogenous artistic approaches – occurred both individually and in the group. In each case, walks were taken based on rules defined by the team members beforehand.
In contrast to historically motivated, documentary-photographic, architectonic or archaeological documentations, the (research) results generated by Grenzgang can be understood as individual, artistic protocols of space, perception and/or intervention; sketches and interpretive snapshots of the border situation. They possess a partly performative character and reflect or test both historically developed as well as innovative methods of notation and communication. These are to be conceived of not only in the context of urbanistic studies of space, but also with the professions of the participants in mind and in the context of artistic research and mediation. As the following examples showcase, the project is anchored in different fields ranging from music (notation, audio recording) to the visual arts (performance, drawing, video documentation) and from artistic research to the praxis of art education (artistic intervention, interactive/participative workshops).
In a later project phase, each team member assigned tasks to the entire team, based on his/her respective individual research modus. This yielded a correlation between individual research modi as well as a – temporarily desired – shift of perception for the team members. Walking together and the mutual completion of various praxes were the preconditions of a phenomenologically oriented, intersubjective production of knowledge. During the course of the project, this approach proved to be a crucial moment for the artistic research of the perception of space; in light of which the databank for the project Grenzgang can be seen as a digital extension of the intersubjective production of knowledge.
Workshops with external experts (e.g. Markus Ritter, Fred Frith, Christine Heil, Elke Bippus, Francesco Careri, Bernadett Settele) accompanied the project and opened the team’s internal discussion. The provisional conclusion of the project took on form with the Research Platform Grenzgang in the Salon Mondial on the Campus of the Arts, which presented the project Grenzgang for public discussion (Fig. 1).
The Research Platform Grenzgang in the Salon Mondial  brought notations and permutations from the research team together spatially, created superpositions of diverse approaches and enabled public events to take place in connection with the project. These included the Table Conversations as thematic forums as well as the IRMAT Concert, a Walk through the urban site Dreispitz (Basel/Münchenstein) and work with school classes. The students undertook different walks around Dreispitz during which they completed actions according to the posts they selected. The resulting materials were played back at the Research Platform, thus continuing the team’s notations. On this basis, the work with students was carried beyond the framework of the Research Platform, resulting in the conception of educational resources which can be used by teachers (Figs. 2 and 3).
With the Multitouch-Interface InfraRedMultiActionTracker IRMAT , visitors at the Research Platform could retrace selected walks from the project and, thanks to audio and visual material made available through IRMAT, locate it (Fig. 4).
1.2 Research Layout of the Project Grenzgang
Grenzgang pursued goals on multiple levels: questions about the specifications of the trinational border region around Basel were united with fundamental question of how we perceive space. The region is, thanks to its dense population and notably diverse utilization, particularly illuminating: “Production and traffic zones, nature sanctuaries, residential areas, and recreational, industrial and harbor facilities” intermingle with one another . On an interdisciplinary level, the project was intended to demonstrate the genesis of knowledge in artistic research [5, 16] and to achieve a transfer of knowledge from artistic research to art education, as understood as an epistemic practice [11, 17]. The investigation of the trinational border region around Basel through the lenses of cultural history, sociology or urban planning imparts Grenzgang with a possibility for artistic access.
The question of how knowledge is generated and established as such occupies a prominent position in the discussion surrounding artistic research, which has intensified since the 1990’s . Bound to this question is another, regarding the power of deciding what should be declared knowledge: who determines the criteria for what should be considered knowledge? Whereby this last question was sparked against the background of scientific-theoretical thoughts on hierarchies of knowledge going back to Rheinberger . However, to be able to show how knowledge is generated in a project which handles explicitly in the mode of artistic research, a detailed documentation of the procedures and resulting notations and applications was essential . That applies equally for the application to art education: for an epistemic praxis of art education, the approaches used, the steps taken, the open questions and speculations emerging from notations and applications and the breaks and irritations which arise in the modus of artistic research are all relevant.
1.3 Artistic Approaches
Due to the heterogenous artistic approaches of the team members, the data available for the documentation of the project is decidedly divergent. Furthermore, said data can take on the status of notations as well as evaluations. The divergence of the artistic approaches – and therefore also of the resulting material – accounts for a central source of momentum for the project: it was precisely the intention to be able to correlate the individual modi of artistic work, relating as they do to the same space. Thus, the divergence of the material is not only founded in the layout of the project. It is constitutive for the attainment of project goals, without reducing the perception of space to single sensory experiences, personal memories, culturally determined observations or the momentary states of the team members. Although, exactly such individual and momentary conditions were incorporated in notations, rather than being supressed.
Considering the heterogeneity of the artistic approaches, walking, as it relates to promenadology and as a form of movement which is tied to the body and which occurs in space, provides a methodical access to space which was valid for all team members. The following references to the artistic approaches and forms carried out in the Grenzgang project grant a brief insight into the modus of artistic research and illustrate the rich variety of the resulting material (Fig. 5).
The dirt- and scuff-covered white cloth gloves are the drawn notation of a walk which Simone Etter completed in the frame of her performative examination of the space in the trinational border region. The walk began at her home in Basel’s (CH) inner city and ended at the Hotel Ibis in St Louis, France. Her path was guided by the cues of an audio route planner in Google Maps, which she listened to on headphones. The headphones had two functions: they were the pilot that determined the direction of her walk; and they shielded her acoustically from her environment. Her gloved hands remained in direct contact with her immediate surroundings during the entire walk: with walls, railings, stairs and thresholds, traffic signal posts, pedestrian crosswalks, etc. The gloves become a continuous notation of walking, while the body experiences space continuously anew: from walking upright to a stooped position and vice versa. Instead of the upright hominid’s eyes, the hands’ sense of touch becomes central for the forward propulsion of walking.
The bag in which the gloves were stored is labeled with a tag on which the topographical coordinates of the starting and ending points of the walk are noted. The gloves, with their traces and in combination with these specifications, chronicle a completed action without needing to define it in more detail. They take on the status of a notation of a performative act, the pertinence of which for our perception of the trinational space only becomes apparent upon completion. Even if in regards to the gloves we can deduce that the urban environment on this or that side of the border leaves the same traces. The reactions of passersby are as invisible in the gloves as the experience of the body, which completes the walk (Fig. 6).
At first glance, the drawn translations of Daniel Brefin’s acoustic landscape portraits rauf-runter (up-down) appear to be abstract lines drawn on paper. In the portraits, at a particular point in the landscape Brefin’s speech traces the horizon line verbally, in the medium of an audio recording. To this end he uses the verbal descriptions “rauf” (up) und “runter” (down). The alternation of the words and their articulation in the speech recording are the directions for the visitors in the Research Platform Grenzgang to translate the horizon onto a sheet of paper with a drawn line. Having never seen the horizon itself, which can only be viewed from a single point, the acting person traces graphically what has been noted acoustically. The artistic notation in the medium audio overlays itself thus with the drawn gesture of the later action (drawing) of project-external individuals (Fig. 7).
Amadis Brugnoni collected specific tones and sounds on his walks whose musical quality addresses the imagination of the listener directly. The “temporal dilation of walking, with all its acoustic inconspicuousness, as well as the convergence of the sounds and tones of the surroundings and his own steps” are thereby documented . The acoustic notations reveal the auditive perception of space in that they make it available through isolation. During the course of the project, Brugnoni used the resulting archive of sound material and tone tracks both for conceptional considerations in regards to the Research Platform Grenzgang and for a concert during which Brugnoni improvised with the audio tracks on the Multitouch-Interface IRMAT. The performance, accompanied by the guitarist and media artist José Navarro and the trumpet player Marco von Orelli, could also be understood as a (sound-)spatial walk, allowing for associations with tangible space. The soundscapes that emerged during the concert included the audience in an auditive knowledge of the trinational region Basel. This is connected through hearing to a personal, acoustic, experimental knowledge. In this respect, the concert expands the auditive knowledge of space generated by Brugnoni through the presence of the concert’s attendees (Fig. 8).
During his walks, small-format DIN-A6 cards enabled Markus Schwander to contend, through drawings and descriptions, with Lucius Burckhardt’s Nullmeter; with the question, by extension, of where landscape begins. In Grenzgang, Schwander meets the question of the perception of space with an artistic reflection on that western tradition which perceives/conceives of an expansive exterior space as landscape. Schwander sketched objects from his immediate surroundings on his small-format cards and supplemented the sketches with spatial terms which either applied to the (abstract) distance, as in, for example, “white sky”, “knolls”, “forest edges”, or named distant acoustic impressions and tones which characterized both the actual environment for the drawer and the imaginable landscape. Thus landscape became a space which could not be packed into a picture, the human in the midst of its surroundings is being evoked as a central theme instead. In the final abundance of cards, words and sketches create a sort of conglomerate occurs which explores our perception of space through the interplay of seeing and designating.
The different artistic notations and realizations developed by participating researchers in Grenzgang can become incitements to further action in a continuing epistemic praxis. If different perspectives are accessible and connections are drawn, for example, between texts from the project and images and sounds, the projects knowledge can further evolve. Same with performances or drawings which are combined with literary texts on spatial experience while walking (e.g. [18, 22, 29]). All that can become applicable in multiple ways. In this sense, we are searching for the ways in which the individual components of Grenzgang can be combined to new units of meaning.