The term ‘Greylands’ is used
within urban planning circles to define tracts of land that
have been utilised and disposed of by industry and are consequently
undergoing ‘redevelopment’ or ‘rehabilitation.’
In 1998 KIT are commissioned by ‘Artengine’
in Ottawa, Canada to develop a project which advances the
ideas of the ‘KIT Homes’ project done in the UK
in 1997. The project presented is to be called ‘Toxic
Homes’ which after much wrangling through lawyers is
censored under threat of legal action by the Canadian Government
(for it is they who own the LeBretton Flats, the land that
we rented to do the Greylands project on). According
to health and safety regulations, this land is unsafe to build
on and remains vacant until the City Council or prospective
industrial inhabitants pay for it to be 'rehabilitated'. The
Lebreton Flats have lain dormant for over 20 years.
In 1999, KIT, aided by the commissioning
body ‘Artengine’, set themselves up on the Internet
and on the site of the LeBretton Flats as a housing development
company called ‘Borderline Developments’. Company
merchandise such as mousepads, pens, keychains, T-shirts and
mugs are produced, as are billboards and on-site porta-cabins.
The aim of the company is to design structures; architectures
that could be built in polluted sites around the world’s
cities via on-line / on-site projects.
The Internet site (which used to reside at
www.greylands.com and which can now be found on the ‘Project
Micro Site’ of the Greylands project section)
invites people to design and draw blueprints for buildings
that would not only inhabit a polluted landscape but also
utilise the grounded toxins. The submitted plans are subsequently
drawn out real time and real size by the mobot which is hooked
up to the website - via GPS (Global Positioning System) onto
the condemned site in Ottawa. Designed to resemble a sit down
lawn mower, the Greylands Mobot (mobile
robot) is sent to scout and plot the threatening lands ahead.
The potential inhabitants meanwhile sit back, body safe from
harm, viewing the ensuing actions from a distance through
a video camera mounted on the front of the would-be mower.
The use of the Mobot refers to the remote dreams
of a culture that desires action from a distance, a terraform
voyeurism that follows the ideological track marks of the
Mars Buggy. The Mobot lays 3-inch lime lines (akin
to pitch markers for sports fields) on Lebretton Flats, using
the metaphor of pollution, the ultimate by-product of capitalism,
as an economy in its own right.
By building a web based and 'concrete' community
where toxicity is a sign of social standing and stature, Greylands
positions itself as a black humoured commentary on the use
of vacant urban space, production of social space in virtual
and concrete worlds and the politics of urban planning.
Greylands exhibits at the
following sites –
2002 Tlalnepantla (Mexico City, Mexico)
1999 LeBretton Flats (Ottawa, Canada)