Peripheral Atmospheres: A native bird centre for the Manukau Harbour
Lowe, Andrew Benjamin
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Our peripheral experiences are an agency for the inter-personal. In this practice-led research, light, movement, and textural surfaces become crucial in peripheral engagement in producing an ‘ecology of we’ (Baek, 2016, p. 72). The project responds to an idea put forward by a collection of community groups for a Manukau Harbour Native Bird Centre in Ambury Regional Park, where people can view and come to understand the significant bird life and complex ecology of the region. Disengaging from our surroundings diminishes our personal experience, our interpersonal engagements, and our empathy for the natural world. Peripheral experiences provide a means to anchor us in our surroundings, where we share our daily exercises with other subjects. There is no single measure of experience; rather we advance collectively and approach the world intersubjectively. This is not only limited to other humans. We share the vibrant ephemeral qualities of the world with other organisms and non-living things, in an ecology of we. This embeddedness, which Gernot Böhme and Peter Zumthor refer to as 'atmosphere', is the orchestration of ephemeral effects. Sensory experiences of light, movement, and textural surfaces become crucial in this engagement. Peripheral experience is an agency, it acts on us. The practice work has been strategised in two interlocking and overlapping stages: an installation entitled 'Microcosm', and the design of the Manukau Harbour Native Bird Centre (MHNBC) itself.