Generally viewed as a period of time to be subtracted from daily life, commuting is not usually interpreted with much interest. However, in his graduation project Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Adrian Madlener encourages people to reinterpret the typically banal time slot.
The Absurdity of the Mundane – an audio walking guide for the city of Eindhoven – provides a personal experience for visitors, as told by inhabitants of the city. Asking commuters to leave their bicycles and cars at home and walk their regular route, Madlener engaged people in conversation, encouraging them to analyse their route and ‘rediscover their own space in time’.
The resulting recordings gives the city’s visitors an experiential tour from multiple perspectives. Taking resonance from the poetic language of French novelist George Perec, the audio tour is an intuitive experience. ‘It doesn’t only address the tourist spots or the more obvious places, but the seemingly banal elements commuters pass by every day’, says Madlener. The knowledge of the routes that they share – the commuter who walks by a car park and sees every day the stop sign has been turned a different way – is an intimate experience of a city that would otherwise not be accessible to outsiders.
For the purpose of the project, Madlener interpreted the numerous interviews into a dramatized text, resulting in a multifaceted, personal guide to the city. An interactive website was also created, allowing users to contribute their own stories. The methodology of Absurdity of the Mundane is a process that can be applied to any ‘geographically determined space in time’.
Photos Conor Trawinski