Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Introduction by Hatto Fischer

Already at the very beginning of discussions on how to shape this specific workshop, there stood the notion of 'transportation' as something that capitalism knows how to export (Ivan Illich), while the 'traffic' within such technically created infrastructures shows signs of society being constantly externalized through especially usage of the private car. The organizational logic of firms changed with the possibility of a decentralized distribution system capable of reaching the most far removed corner of the world (Meadows), while the location of terminals for trucking companies in an effort to outbid the railway made transportation systems become policy choices at the highest political level (Tillo Kuhn). System analysis within that scope meant providing transport ministries with various policy options: high pavement investment for the national road connecting port with the capital city versus even distribution of the available funds in an effort to upgrade all roads, but then of not having high quality, fast 'lanes' or autobahns with a minimum of frictional points (i.e. intersections with traffic lights). Since the sixties and seventies the refinement of transportation systems has reached newer sophisticated levels. Cited as examples are the freeway systems with swinging bridges, arched feeder road systems, etc. that mark the new landscapes outside or near main cities as if the road system has become a complex system of main and side arteries. The plight for the traffic planers, road designers, police, even users was to avoid congestions; however, the increase of the car as a vehicle of transportation meant really it was soon inconceivable to be without one, if one was to communicate at all with the other(s). In cities, the dilemma meant not only more cars followed improved road systems and parking spaces, but also costs increased of an almost never ending system requiring more and more public and private funds to upkeep the entire traffic system. This went to the detriment of everything else. Noise, pollution, ugliness, landscapes cut in pieces, fuel crisis, etc. marked then more and more the headlines in newspapers trying to shout, as it were from the sidelines, some of the negative side-effects of a rapidly expanding system upon which apparently everyone was dependent upon, but with which to live became more and more difficult, if not also impossible especially for those in hard hit areas.

The theme of the city and regions in relation to transport systems determining a particular 'traffic culture' can be understood in citing a sharp image conveyed by the movie 'West Side Story': the fight between two gangs, the ones from Puerto Rico and those of the low class white neighbourhood in New York took place in the shadow of one of those freeways suspended by cement pillars high above the ground, while below, closed in by one of those typical fences the cement ground became the final fight out for the gangs. The plight of the modern traffic culture is just that: those using the freeways can speed past the urban problems, while those excluded are faced with a barren cement landscape whose ugliness goes well beyond the images created by James Joyce or Van Goth when they portrayed the time zone difference between a path going along some fields and a road leading underneath one of those railway bridges. Going through that elongated tunnel was always scary. Water dripping, even rats rushing away at the sound of footsteps echoing off the walls, while suddenly the intersection of two time zones, that of the countryside and that of the connecting speed with the big city, became a piercing sound as the train rumbled over the bridge to leave behind in the ears a sound which destroyed any kind of silence experienced just before. Many writers pictured after Second World War still this notion of walking along railway tracks either towards the city or else away. This transition from rural to urban environment by transportation means which cut through different time zones, that many experienced as form of death; when they woke up, everything had changed. Things had become not only faster or larger, but also it was difficult to grasp in terms of language.

Around that time, that is shortly after the end of Second World War, trains still dominated in Europe as mass transportation means, just as in cities street cars and horse drawn vehicles could be seen. And many pedestrians in the streets. Even the city centre had another meaning at that time. However, the American influence made itself felt. To remember, when Henry Ford built his first car in the 1920s, there was suppressed in the United States of America a very much needed public discussion about the priorities to be established for this outgoing twentieth century: private versus public transportation. By suppression is meant the kind of reportages in newspapers claiming always everyone was in favour of the car, as if the symbol of progress and individualism, wealth and freedom. The fetish of the car, as it became apparent later with all the automobile makers tuning into the moods of the fifties and new forms of advertisements, meant the private vehicle was sold as a guarantee for a road out of poverty and into adventure. Romance and the movie theatres for people not wishing to leave their cars was but a first, even clumsy attempt, retrospectively judged, to lure the masses in that desired direction.

As a consequence of the American presence in Europe after the Second World War, and through the appeal of Hollywood films, capitalism itself had grasped the chance to introduce a vehicle of change: the car itself. The very emphasis upon newness, for every year a new model was eagerly awaited by the press and then reported about in sensational terms, underlines that, which Prof. Baeck stated at the Fourth Seminar in Bruge, namely that the American economic thinking emphasis only upon the 'new', irrespective of the past or of the future. That is why with the increasing adaptation by European states, societies and cities, all regions became as faceless as many of the American towns in mid-west with always the obligatory gasoline station and a romantic story revolving around the mechanic, while the owner of a larger car could effectively demonstrate his wealth. Thus there came a friction point to resolve between American made cars hardly fitting into the small side streets of Heidelberg, Genova, Bruge or Athens and European cities still remaining in the grip of their historical structures hardly conceived to accommodate modern parking lots, bus terminals, highway linkages to other cities and above all to facilitate the ever increasing quantity and size of cars.

It was as if two very different traffic cultures collided whenever a cadillac driver faced a just as determined Fiat- or VW driver. It was American size against European smallness. For some time, the latter had some value in the minds of at least the greater portion of the middle-class. Looking at the evolution of the car manufacturing business, Japan included, all major companies have penduled into the middle with luxurious, but small or medium sized cars. Everyone knows finally the dictates of the market adjusted to what Europe has been able to spare or to make available for such imported traffic culture from America.

A look at historical cities of Europe tells immediately the story: originally not made for such 'traffic culture', the car as an individual means of transport forces upon these cities issues which they cannot cope with. As Andrι Loeckx formulates it, the historical city could not bear the pressure of modernisation and broke down, i.e. fragmented. The destruction of 'cultural identity' comes primarily from being unable to adapt to new traffic modes (i.e. container traffic destroying old ports and 'cultural identities' linked with variety of occupations found in rough cargo shipping). Such societies are left without a concept when having to deal with the spills of such a system, i.e. unemployment, depreciation of port population, needs to overcome huge investment costs, and a different technology with other 'rules of the game'. Many resign right away, knowing that they cannot win in this new reality.

Clearly, if 'culture' means guidelines for survival, then any traffic system must be embedded in the natural and cultural landscape, adjust to the surroundings, even take care not to cut down all the trees, while trying to preserve historical landscapes (even plains like outside Athens where the major battle between the Persians and the Athenians took place and the later won by flooding the fields), so that one still knows where one is - and not like the American military who flies from one base to another one around the world and yet by having not come into contact with anything else than Hilton or military bases, the sameness gives him the illusion of moving within a rational, that is universal system. While any cultural landscape has a life of its own with landmarks giving orientation, the latter is a global system for security purposes designed to meet the American concept of rationality, but completely alienated from reality. There is a even a reversal in the progress of adaptation to be noticed: man used to seek places of nature to live and tried to adapt, nowadays jets are not only made to land everywhere, but even rivers are reversed while other things are made compatible to the system. Progress is defined as giving way to the latter.

Many changes experienced in recent years suggest that the European chance to go another way has clearly been lost. It can be experienced as recently as the opening of the Berlin wall when two kinds of systems came crashing together; immediately wide, open fields with old houses started to disappear due to new road constructions. First, public investments went immediately into the 'infrastructure' affecting communication and transportation. Then, along the newly paved roads went up advertisement signs of 'Go West' as if the promised land. Only the political readjustments look different to the speed of modernization serving the distribution system, but not the people.

This experience of different time zones was even more so the case when travelling before the break-down of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe more and more east; train stations were no longer deserted, but alive, filled with people. The field paths were still free of any kind of asphalt and almost exclusively used by horse driven wagons, as in Poland in great abundance. The land seemed endless. There existed until very recently an entire different time space. History and contemporary moments came together in a life filled with memories. Looking at the grandparents telling children of the past, it seemed as if generations after generations determined despite of all the suffering the outlooks to respect the laws of the land.

This is not meant to be a romantic projection upon the past or an attempt to mythologize a different quality of life in Eastern Europe until modernization set in like everywhere else. No, it is rather a reminder how different a landscape is when there are still trees and nothing else. To see the change one needs to go there only ten years later. One finds a bustling intersection of a small town. The only reminder of the past is that same little brook still running, but now beside a tall building and rather than flanked by wide, open fields, paved in as if man attempted to tame this waterway. The sequence of such changes were shown in Germany on a poster that almost all alternative groups affiliated to the Greens or Citizens movements had on the back of their toilet door or else in the kitchen for decoration, but also for purposes of memory: first the little house in the country, then two more buildings, after that a beautiful tavern at the corner of the brook and a square, but then a heavy intersection and finally freeways crossing each other on suspended bridges. Modernity with its attempt to reach for the stars while leaving nature completely behind.

So quick the changes - one needs to think only of the Greek landscape, for along with the change in 'traffic culture' goes an extension of the road system leading to an almost uncontrollable building spree making the distinction between rural and urban settings less and less visible. It is already a sign of something when the eyes relax, if they find for once a part of a forest which is not filled with human products or rubbish. Given this kind of disturbance, it means that there is less and less 'unspoiled nature': the hidden dimension of any 'cultural identity'.

In Germany, the academy of arts in Berlin made once this exhibition on the German 'Wald' (forest), for it had become apparent that all the changes inflicted upon the forest, if not through direct cutting to make way for highways, then through pollution and the trees dying, meant also a source for literary stories was drying up. The tremendous impact upon the culturally transmitted self-understanding of Germans cannot be really as of yet gauged or appreciated. Trees have been replaced by urban cement pillars of those freeways leaving houses in their shadows exposed to but one thing: urban squalor.

In other words, 'traffic culture' means to contain artificial movements of man in such a way that 'traffic' does not encroach upon everything. Yet given the increase in the 'leisure' or 'pleasure' industry, that is culture linked to tourism and to different land usages, this encroachment upon nature has become unstoppable. Even on top of Mount Everest business people from Scotland are planning to build a toilet, in order to save that mountain peak from over pollution. There is no need to mention the litter making entire oceans into wastage bins. It seems as if there is no where anymore to go and, as James Clifford points out in 'Predicament of Culture', even the exotic otherness of other countries is destroyed, since one can find Coca-Cola in the last African village. As a result, the perception of ourselves through the strangeness of the other has been destroyed. It makes the upkeep of 'cultural differences' within Europe seem hopeless.

The Greek poet Parmenides left us a fragment of a poem called 'Being'. It is a significant statement about man's lust for movement, in reality the means of perception, and about city life as opposed to being in nature. In the poem the story describes how a man is frustrated by no longer knowing how to relate to things while being inside the city. In asking for a clarification about his 'being', he is asked one day by a goddess to follow him to knowledge (recognition of the conditions of knowledge). She asks him to get on her chariot which will take him outside the city. Once outside, in nature, knowledge is unified again by a spontaneous mediation between sense experiences and an open relationship to the cosmos.

In terms of traffic, Parmenides makes here already a crucial observation: as the wheels start to turn (and movement has always been a fascinating object of inquiry for man), smoke comes from out of the holes holding the axes of the chariot. This astute observation about friction being created when movement is brought about by either the person running or wheels turning, has a physical message throughout the civilisations. The more traffic, the more friction is being created; exhaustions are included in what is being wasted while movement is being produced.

In the poem, the man leaves the city by turning the key of fate; in turning, he forgets what he has known beforehand while still in the city. Once out of the city, in the countryside, his knowledge has changed. Without him having to do anything, the relationship between sense experiences and concepts of perception becomes again a readable message providing him with orientation. The crucial difference is that his perception is unified through 'nature' making possible the mediation between concepts and immediate sense experiences.

It goes without saying that Parmenides presupposes 'untouched' nature: a 'peace of mind' due to no man-made interferences. Kant assumed that underneath the 'unity of perception', there exists something like a psychological nature which is untouched and beautiful. His mistake was to lay open this nature of the psyche and then slam into it the 'categorical imperative' due to his distrust of mankind: wood that has been bent, cannot be straightened anymore. While such nature is becoming increasingly an impossible experience compared to what was still available in terms of natural space immediately after Second World War and still before the massive introduction of the private car, this ratio city/nature dominated still the thinking of people up to the seventies. Nowadays, with urban conglomerations making even the flight to the countryside a broken illusion, it seems that the unity of perception is no longer determined by either nature or the city, but by 'traffic'.

Victor von Weizsaecker already demonstrated in some experiments, that the speed by which one travels and the means by which one chooses to travel - on foot, on a horse, on a bicycle, or a car - determines already the degree of abstraction in the perception. The faster one travels, the abstracter has to become the system through which one travels. With more speed, not everything can be perceived, hence roads must be straightened out, other obstacles removed, just in order to rid everything of possible danger. In the end, it becomes a complete entity by itself. While for a passenger on foot a tree provides shade, a car driver has not time to look at it, except as a potential danger. The signs of nature are read completely differently within a modern traffic system. The replacement of natural through codified traffic signs indicates that even more so. As a result communication changes as part of the adaptation to the increased speed and high tech involved in making way not for man, but for a system having become completely independent of its surrounding areas and concrete location. No wonder that Adorno and Horkheimer stated already 1944, that this modern system of communication leads to the isolation of the individual.

Of course, there have been some efforts to re-integrate this strange traffic culture into the particular needs of neighbourhoods, i.e. 30 Kilometre zones. The joke about these artificial constraints to slow down cars from excessive speeds has always been in Poland with its poor economy the roads have natural pot holes, that in the rich West they must be introduced artificially. This absurd struggle between town and traffic planners to slow down the traffic ( control systems) and car manufacturers forever wishing to sell superfast cars like a Porsche to everyone is but a theatrical side-show on an otherwise serious stage of reality. For not everything is still a play on a stage. Exactly the behaviour of many youths in urban ghettos indicates very much that fight with the shadows on the walls, to recite but an analogy of Plato when describing the games people prefer to play in caves rather than hearing the truth that outside of that confinement there is still beauty, and above all 'light'. The confinement is man-built, artificial artefacts with little light and no natural setting. The possible and the real have become one: a dangerous illusion, if accepted as unchangeable, for man-made reality is the consequence of decisions and thus subject to change.

The outcome depends among other things whether or not a positive 'traffic culture' can be developed, so as to free in a positive way man from his own artificial world by giving him access to other places. All depends on the constructive usage of the need for movement. It is more than just an urban flavour one gets when living near an overhead metro system and trying to sleep between intervals of passing trains. For in this tight hipped race for space in such confinements, everything depends whether the changes are made non-violently by learning out of the mistakes of the past, or else if senseless destruction tries to make a break through to freedom, in real terms a violent backlash due to desperate feelings of being trapped by the 'traffic culture' dictating daily the political course. That is, many feel trapped, especially if the transportation system has become either too expensive or else leads to nowhere but similar places of desolation and destruction sites of nature. A case of point is London: train rides last easily more than one hour and still there is no way of escaping the heat of the city.

It is almost inherent to modern 'traffic culture' that as its quality and modernity improves, so the real distance to nature. A modern van allows its passengers to glide over superhighways as if on another planet; with all windows closed for the sake of the air conditioner, stereo music enemating from expensive sound boxes, the vehicle has become a spaceship like micro-universe existing apparently completely independent of the outside world. The tendency is there, that this van as an expression of 'traffic culture' tries to suggest the outside world is hostile; the daily news of a destroyed nature and polluted cities along with the raising crime rate underline this. For the persons travelling in the van, the alternatives are clear: either to stay at home or in the car while travelling to 'safe' places. Everywhere else, that is especially in unknown places, it is safer to keep the windows rolled up and not to trust anybody who looks suspicious. 'Traffic culture' is made fearless, as much as filled with fears: Hollywood produced films emphasize indeed the look into the back mirror to see if anyone is following, or else no actor leaves for work without getting into a car and driving off. Suburban life depends upon the 'myth of the city', including its fearful elements, to drive away its distinct loneliness and isolation in those settlements with driveway and double garage. Houses adapted a long time ago to the specific needs of the 'traffic culture': more space is given to the dead vehicles, then to the living human beings on this earth.

The world looks still quite different if on foot and dependent upon walking to get around. However, any person on foot cannot cross these superhighways or walk alongside them. They are completely hostile and alien to the surrounding areas, while those travelling in their illusionary spaceships ignore everything outside. These travellers do not realize that their dependency upon such road systems has created an ugly landscape which not even sound fences along the road can beautify or else shelter off from those living nearby. All is dictated by the need to get from A to B, from city X to city Y; what happens in between aside from stops for rest, gasoline and some visit to the toilet does not seem to matter anymore. They are even afraid to stop at an accident; the police are puzzled by so many driving on, rather than helping a wounded person lying at the road side due to an accident. That too is an overt expression of modern 'traffic culture': not to help the other, but to overtake him by being faster. It means living in such a traffic system is to erase all memory tracks of how to get to other places since these are the 'other' human beings.

This takes the discussion one step further in what is meant by 'traffic culture': every restaurant owner knows how tables are placed, so traffic between incoming and outgoing people can be influenced, if not directly determined. Crowded places produce simply another kind of behaviour, whereas those with space in-between, that is not used, but positive in meaningful spaces (like in a painting not covering the entire canvas with colours, but leaving the empty parts to denote their own significance upon the rest), the breath of relaxation is conveyed immediately upon the people moving there. The moment movements become graceful, there seems to be music in the air.

The same applies to how everyone furnishes his or her house; at the latest with the arrival of children, one begins to worry where one can bump into or knock off unintentionally precious things. Automatically safety zones are established, steep staircases made off-limits and traffic flow even controlled in such a way that guests from outside are allowed to come only into certain rooms or see selected spaces, but not the bedrooms. The most personal environment reduplicates fears about hygiene as much feelings as to where intimacy begins and ends. 'Traffic culture' is replaced here by control of movements; children are not allowed to run in and out of the house as they like and strangers must be kept at a distance, in order to avoid any possible infections due to too close a contact. Outer and inner circles of movements are created as a result of that fear.

This is not all what regulates movement close by. Interesting enough, Germans call 'sexual intercourse' "Geschlechtsverkehr": the traffic between the two sexes. It makes not life between the two sexes any easier that they are drawn into such a mechanical analogy, linguistically speaking, but that too has a cultural and historical background. Philosophers like Kant and Hegel reflected very much that debasement of the anthropological dimension, that is how people communicate, love each other, work together or provide each other with information on how to survive despite of being an individual and yet just as dependent upon an indefinable whole as all the others. Yet, in their cynicism they helped the movement called modernization of life build itself primarily upon a 'perversion of personal life'. In the name of the individual, a process of ent-individualisation sets in with stress being put upon uniformity, conformity, while the standardisation follows among others the norms of the 'traffic culture' as dictated by a neutral technology and an expenditure programme exceeding by far the capabilities of the individual. The enormous road constructions let the individual participate but in an illusion of finding his or her own way; as a matter of fact the individual is increasingly forced to move through landscapes without being able to take notice of them. Nothing is anymore personal, a truly individual way of getting about. Even walking on foot is made in many places almost impossible, i.e. Los Angeles model. Since then human relationships have been replaced by reference points within the system.

Present efforts to upgrade the local world through a more conscious 'traffic culture' have to be aware of these degrees of alienation in language. For instance, modern words like 'associations', 'neighbourhoods', 'communities' are too much guided by a wish for efficient orders; they are not sensitive enough by all their modernity to the intricacies and complexities of human life. The same applies to the appropriation technique of human reality by post-modern philosophy; their usage of language transforms in reality language into a traffic system guided by the 'self' being a home, a place to return to, after having set out to travel in the morning. Philosophically restated, all these critical remarks or observations imply to think about 'traffic culture' in terms of cultural identity is really to try to find such terms that do justice to the human reality and not fulfil merely the needs of the system, i.e. whether user friendly or consumer oriented, it makes no difference as long as systems, traffic technologies, transportation systems cannot bring about and enhance such a 'traffic culture', as it enhances the communication between people.

Cultural identities of European regions redefined as particular aesthetical needs
for transportation

Given the initiative of the Flemish government to emphasize 'cultural identity' in terms of European 'cultural diversity', as related to regions like Bavaria, Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, Flanders, etc., it is a natural thought to try to extend this concept 'identity' by considering the aspects of mobility needs and the kind of realization as an essential component of culture. The 'traffic culture' of a nation or a region is certainly most interesting, as would testify a visit to the Museum of Science in Munich or else to the Transportation one in Berlin. History in the making. Movements translated into concrete vehicles: first the odd bicycles, then the motorcars, along side the steam engine and other advancements until Daimler and Benz made their discovery and Henry Ford build his first car. With the technological development changes in traffic were a given, yet little understood fact. This is the reason why 'traffic culture' must be regarded as an extraordinary complex.

Unfortunately only now technical systems planners, operators and producers are beginning to realize the limits of a purely technical concept made to fit everywhere, except where specific local, regional or national needs are supposed to be heeded. The faceless cities, the destroyed countryside, the alien world of freeways without pedestrians, etc. have all led, as mentioned above, to a sameness of the world, irrespective whether in Latin America, Poland or the Netherlands. The destruction of uniqueness, inherent in any viable 'cultural identity', goes along with the inabilities of European societies to really cope and to adapt, culturally speaking, to the challenges of transportation and communication needs as defined not by societies and mankind, but by the modern means of production, technological advancements included. It seems since the days of the sailing ships fighting for greater speeds, in order to be first to deliver the tea or slaves, 'traffic culture' has always been victimized by the race to be first. As Lutz Gelbert, designer of trains at AEG, Daimler Benz, phrased it in his proposal for this workshop, "the level of development of transport systems of a nation was taken in the past always as a measure of the scientific-technical level of the producer and operator and also of their 'living culture'".

The dictates of competition, the need to keep up with the latest developments in technology, leave but no choice: all investments have to go into prestigious pilot projects, then in extended systems, since it is believed that an economy without a modern transportation system will soon fall behind all others in the race for markets, whether world wide or just locally distributed. The problem of distance as a cost becomes less and less a hindrance for a firm, the moment the transportation system makes the distribution system for the products accessible to all localities, whether just around the corner or on the other side of the globe. As a matter of fact, distance never really posed a problem; it was always a challenge to overcome it first in the most effective manner, so that everyone else had to follow and out of a small path it became a super highway to support the flow of goods and people.

Technical and political decisions are made accordingly, if there is no other expression of culture but an economically determined one, namely to increase the flow of goods and to make this ever increasing volume possible, irrespective of usage of other resources and people's concern for their future. For without any productive economy, no culture is really possible - so the standard argument when it comes to justify the priorities set by governments and the business world alike. Their agreements rests upon the simple premise, that there is no other way for an economy to grow but to expand. This means larger trucks, faster trains, extensions of airports, improvements in terminal handling of cargo, modernizations of the ports, etc.. It is interesting to note that the warnings of the 'Club of Rome' and its recommendation for 'zero growth' in terms of an economy truly handling natural and human resources more 'economically', rather than expanding too fast and hence producing much more wastages than what can be handled, have gone by now completely unheeded by all economies in Europe, United States of America or Asia.

The determinants of 'traffic culture' are given automatically through that. There is no consideration of any 'cultural identity'; what counts is to have an 'undefeatable' reputation on the world markets for being most advanced and hence the producer to buy things from. Freud called the negation of any 'cultural identity' "Die Verneinung": a system of saying 'no' to people until only products are left over with the name 'Made in Germany'.

Thus, along with the other workshops becoming increasingly aware of 'local' factors, as in workshop 2 on 'Regional / Urban Planning and Culture', this workshop deals with a delicate question faced by users and producers of traffic systems alike: how to maintain or rather shape 'cultural identity', if on the one hand that is so difficult to articulate and on the other to recognize. This is perhaps the key question: how to make any system, and a Metro-set-up is such a 'neutral' system for it can be built anywhere, become more adaptable to local and regional needs for preserving and enhancing their specific identity.

Lutz Gelbert wrote in a letter to the organizational meeting for the Fifth Seminar held in Athens, February 1994 the following proposal:
"It would be possible for me to shape along with others a workshop on this theme of 'traffic culture' and to give a specific contribution on 'design of rail vehicles, national specificities and cultural identification aspects', especially in relation to the vehicles I designed or co-designed and which were produced by the AEG or co-produced with the AEG (i.e. Athens metro train).
Since trains do not by themselves constitute 'traffic culture', there are equally other factors:
- train station and architecture of tracks,
- management of transport,
- CI-concepts and advertisements of the transport business (which sometimes does not exist at all),
- linkages between public and private transportation systems.
All these factors have to be regarded by such a workshop. Hence it ought to include landscape and train station architecture, that is, an architect familiar, for instance, with Athens as well as a traffic planer, in order to discuss as a case study the future of Athens' metro, in order to draw attention to the prevailing problems (including environmental ones)"
Henningsdorf (by Berlin) 1.2.94

This proposal became a guideline by which this workshop ought to be shaped. Several considerations played here a crucial role, given the fact that the Fifth Seminar took place in Athens where presently the new Metro system is under construction and ATTIKO Metro implementing the previously worked out contract between all sorts of international companies, not only AEG, and the Greek government. The entire project would not be possible without funding by the European Union. It represents a huge challenge and, in the case of Lutz Gelbert, a unique chance to enter a discussion about the older and newer designs of trains as they shall be used in Greece. His suggestion to include topics like architecture of tracks and of train stations would mean to include artists in the shaping of such important junctions of private and public life. By trying to set up an outdoor sculpture exhibition of environmental artists like David Fine who loves to work with local given materials, an exhibition which could become later a permanent instalment in one of the Metro stations presently under construction in Athens, this would mean becoming practical in the direction of 'cultural action' as intended by the Fifth Seminar to bring about. After all, the purpose of the Fifth Seminar is to translate the theoretical framework worked out at the Fourth Seminar in Bruge into practical guidelines for 'cultural actions' meant to uphold the 'cultural diversity in Europe, that is as much in Greece as in Flanders. It goes without saying, that without strengthening each other's cultural uniqueness, there will be no cultural recognition of the Flemish identity within Europe. Hence to demonstrate how practical the question about 'cultural identity' can become while linking it to a meaningful 'cultural action' - such a permanent installation in one of the Metro stations could be easily called 'Europe of Cultures', itself a reminder that this Fifth Seminar took place in Athens and that there is an active concern for cultural dimensions - that was the set purpose of this workshop right from the start.

Sculptors throughout Europe and the world were contacted, discussions with the board of ATTICO Metro and the director manager of AEG, Henningsdorf, Germany started, in order to give shape to this workshop. As all others it was meant to be limited to ten people.

The choice for the chairperson fell upon Anastasia P. Kamai who offered to mediate between the interests of the Fifth Seminar and ATTICO Metro where she works as contract specialist. She showed during that meeting with the board of ATTICO Metro the excellent aptitude of mediation between theoretical questions and a practical context of understanding defined by many factors. ATTICO Metro is almost exclusively a team of American experts having experiences with Metro systems like the New Yorker or Chicago one or else their architects like D. Tilden involved as many as six different metro track and station designs all over the world. In implementing the contract, this consortium faces many practical difficulties, and not only archaeological findings, about which its general manager, Mr. Stead, is an expert. He is himself an archaeologist and has taken numerous slides of what diggings for Athens Metro have revealed, in particular around Syntagma square where an entire village like set-up was uncovered. The technical feature of the two 'Mice', the names given to two huge technical devices which can tunnel themselves through the ground at any depth desired, in order to avoid 'archaeological sensitive sites' given the modern techniques of detecting them, shows how sensitivity to the local given can be put into practice.

At that time, the discussion centred around the kind of linkages between trains, train stations, surrounding area to the train stations and networking of the 'region' through an architecture and plan of the track lay-out. It seemed self-evident that such linkages would determine among other factors very much the 'cultural identity' of a region. Several other, important points were raised during the lunch meeting with many board members of ATTICO Metro. The key question was really how to recognize the needs of the area in which a Metro-System was to be built, culturally speaking. One example was that all plans were executed and only then some artists were asked to create something in spaces given to them; instead, so the practical conclusion, it would be wiser to include artists at a much earlier stage of planning and designing a train station, so as to overcome much earlier the gap between technical know-how and cultural reflection, that is, artistic expressions. Indeed, a technical system is only then adaptable to local or regional circumstances, when it finds the cultural support of the users. This expresses itself in an absence of 'vandalism', since senseless destructions of trains or train stations can be taken as signs of resistance or non-acceptance by the local population. The term 'user' was also not considered as a given fact. It depends upon whom the Metro system wishes to cater for: social classes with such low income that they have to always rely on public transportation systems or else a more exclusive commuter train service, in order to lure the rich middle class off the roads, by including air conditioning, telephone services, privileged travel cabins (design of the train can vary from mass transportation to first class scenarios) etc. as part of the system's reputation. The latter would have some impact upon traffic in a city like Athens known for its congested and cramped roads due to an over dependence upon private transportation means. Hence a metro system must be integrated in an overall transportation concept underlined by a will to strengthen the usage of public transportation means. Again, this meant not only cultural adaptation, but also influencing the future course of the system by outlining cultural needs as system constraints. Much was discussed as how a successful model could have ramifications for future criterion when allocating funds at European level not only in Athens, but elsewhere. In this sense, a workshop like the one at the Fifth Seminar could become a sort of practical network between artists and technical experts, philosophers and others interested in working out altogether cultural premises for future action programmes. The appeal of a certain programme by which distribution of money would be decided at European level would depend then much more on practically worked out premises then the usual acclaims to be within the scope of European interests. It is already interesting if questions become practical issues with substantial cultural repercussions. Europe needs after all a vigorous culture, so that experiences gained in the due process of change and adaptation to newer systems can become theoretical insights guiding future actions.

Involving artists, in particular sculptors, meant to deal with space in a concrete way. Paintings are sometimes imaginary fields of association; in reality, they do not require much space. Sculptors are different. They compete with the human body for space by taking away something. But they give something in return: less fear of concrete space. One of the most astonishing features of this is Rodin's piece 'the citizens of Calais': a group of citizens went with the key of the city to the enemy besieging the city, in order to hand over the city and to end the threat of death of the population by starvation. The features of that group still marks many thoughts even today. The historical event was only external to the sculpture. It is really a story about sacrifice for the city, the civic community. In a way, it points towards 'civic virtues' or values that are not to be expected of everyone, and yet important for the city to live on in peace and harmony. There is no telling when that invaluable good can be challenged and even destroyed by either inner or outer forces not willing to let that culture live on. There have been countless cases of that in man's history. Ancient ruins, and the downfall of entire civilisations speak about it, provided one is willing to listen and to hear the reasons for that downfall. Most of the times it was not only folly of man, but an unbearable inequality between men. Some could sit at the table of the king, others had to hover in poverty outside the protective walls of the city. In listening to artists relating thus to the plight of cities and to see how their ideas shape once it becomes conceivable that they partake in an exhibition made out of a sculptural symposium centred around the idea 'Europe of Cultures', it is in itself an interesting lesson on how certain things converge.

First of all, it was impossible to find in the end the funds needed to support such an idea and to translate it into a project for one of the Metro stations. Yet the failure to secure funds and to communicate the idea to the authorities subject to decide about such a matter, underlines itself how complex a 'cultural action' is when something worthwhile seeks a path to implementation. In art immediate success is suspicious, while artists want to fulfil their dreams by finally realizing their energy in a direction they have been waiting for a long time. How a sculptural installation in a Metro station of Athens could look like, that is itself an important object of contemplation, especially if conveyed by the theme 'Europe of Cultures'. By comparison, the British pavilion at EXPO 67 in Montreal, Canada depicted in a huge room (the height of the ceiling tremendous in comparison to a human being) different scenes meant to be typical of the various European families; the British one was shown on how the father ousted his daughter due to having a baby outside wedlock, while the mother still retains some linkage by touching the fingers of the departing daughter or new mother with child at her hips. People recognize through the arts their plights and add unknowingly a human dimension by no longer seeing it alone, as exclusively their own fate. The thin layer of humanity is like a protective shield against isolation and deprivation of any human emotions. It would be important that such thoughts about European cultures, the directions in which they developed, could be commented upon in unexpected, equally refreshing manners by artists who have worked together for four weeks on the island of Tinos known for its sculptural school or in one of the many quarries for marble in the Attica area, so that a group exhibition would come about.

Certainly this idea struck an accord with the managing director of AEG, but the company itself was this year in no position to sponsor art activities when many workers were being laid off at the same time. This does not mean, however, such a project would not be possible in future. In supporting officially the attendance of Lutz Gelbert at the Fifth Seminar, this can be taken as opening the door for future possibilities to make 'traffic culture' become a truly European theme for the 21st century.

Once Anastasia P. Kamai accepted to chair this workshop after having been asked to do so really very close to the Fifth Seminar, she went ahead to work out not only a concrete proposal, but also to invite further experts in this particular field so as to ensure a substantial discussion. One of her key participants right from the start was Michael Thompson who spontaneously accepted and enriched personally this workshop. One indication of his importance is simply the fact that many others cite him as a keen observer of 'traffic culture'. Along with him, it was lucky for the seminar to have Thanos Vlastos from the National Technical University of Athens, Odile Heddebout with her observations about the Metro project in Lille, and Agata Bazzi from Milano where she is participating in a research project initiated by the users of a regional network of commuter trains. The latter aspect ties in with what Lutz Gelbert comments about, that usually producers and designers of trains and train systems never really hear much from the users, because they are rarely asked. It was also important that Nasos Kokkinos from the Athens Area Urban Transport Organisation took part. Especially the bus services in Athens had undergone many turmoils in recent years with one government following plans of privatization, while the PASOK government under Papandreou restored after election victory the public status of the company and started to rehire old bus drivers fired in the wake of the previous privatization plan. This in itself is a marked issue: is transportation a public good or not? The very question determines already some answers, politically speaking, and yet, in reference to what Mr. Lenssen said at the Fourth Seminar in Bruge, not only the sponsorship of artists by private business is changing, but also the old ratio private versus public corporations for the organization of society no longer holds. Culture itself becomes, therefore, a need to restate the terms by which a basis for organization can be found; these terms determine to a large extent the forms and contents of future 'cultural actions'. Reflecting upon this matter were also in this workshop George Nallas, operations planner at ATTICO Metro, and C. Taxiltaris, assistant professor at the university of Thessaloniki. Thanks to the kind hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Stead, this group could already enjoy an informal discussion at their home Friday evening, June 3, 1994, before the Fifth Seminar really started Saturday morning with the first plenary sessions. The workshop, like all others, gave the Fifth Seminar a unique combination of experts in their respective fields while interested in collaboration and networking across borders of their special know-how, in order to lay the foundation for a European premise to guide future 'cultural actions'.

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