As an artist and junior researcher for the project “Public Transport as Public Space,” my aim is to understand atmospheres on urban public transport and the ways in which they can be changed through performative public art practice. Indefinite yet powerful, atmospheres, which emerge in the relation between a perceived environment and perceiving bodies (Böhme 2017), can be created deliberately through aesthetic work and used as a tool for shaping certain experiences and behaviors in public space (Allen 2006). For instance, visually attractive public artworks permanently integrated into the public transport environment may create atmospheres of safety and comfort, navigating passengers through this regulated public space. On the other hand, on public transport, where unacquainted people must travel shoulder to shoulder, different atmospheres emerge not only through material modifications but also through unexpected encounters and events (Bissell 2010). In this sense, performative public art interventions can intentionally “drum up the ambience” (Thibaud 2015) and imbue the atmosphere of commutes with elements that are surprising and out of the ordinary. This paper outlines some of my art projects, which aim to carefully disrupt casual rides on public transport by creating moments of strangeness and humor.
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