So far, so good.

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

image: Georges Rousse


“They walk- an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban text they write without being able to read. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that ofl overs in each other’s arms…it is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness.”

-Micheal de Certeau

We begin with many questions: How does the constructed landscape of our cities shape us? How does it affect our behaviour, our emotions? How might we observe this dialogue between a city and its users, and map that information in a way that will reveal hidden narratives within a city?

We’ve begun our research with the likes of Baudrillard, whose concept of the “flaneur” – or, mindful wanderer, took shape in the 19th century as a response to the increasingly complex developments in urban city life. Wandering through a city was a way of subverting the idealistic constricts of it – if a city is meant to exist as a facilitator to the activites that must happen within it, then detatching oneself from it and observing it was a way to engage in a critique of it. A city can be understood to be the result of it’s creators’ values and beliefs – so we, as users, may evaluate how successfully a city is a reflection of that.

We want to pull out that subjective, experiential data and present so that we might draw to light the ways in which our city construct affects our values, behaviours, and lives.




January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some inspiring visuals we’ve come across this week:

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Different ways of visualizing information, or interesting ways of looking at your surroundings.

Trying to find our route

January 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

After flipping through Vancouver Matters and City of Glass Jen and I spent some time brain storming possible categories and strategies for our concept. Initially we started down the same route as Vancouver Matters and the City of Glass, looking to the physicality of the city to find narrative.  We looked at how we could find categories for the physical traits of the city. After doing some research into this we quickly realised that this approach was a) of no interest to us b) not confining enough a discussion or developed enough concept. We decided that we were more interested in drawing from the pysche of Vancouver’s inhabitants rather than its physicality. 

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Vancouver Two Ways

January 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

We’ve been looking at different ways to see Vancouver, and in our research we’ve come across two books who take a similar approach to describing the particulars of living in Vancouver. Both written by locals, these books take a historically-based look at the makeup of Vancouver – why things are the way they are, and what that says about our culture.

The first one we looked at was Douglas Coupland’s City of Glass, which combines essays with photographic descriptions of some of the most obvious features of Vancouver – the pot smoking, the sulphur piles, the Skytrain. Coupland strings together anecdote and observation to speak to an audience who doesn’t know anything about Vancouver – in fact, he states that one of his inspirations for the book was borne out of the exhaustion from having to answer the same questions about the city.

Vancouver Matters is another book that takes a more academic approach, by dissecting particular elements in the chemical makeup of the city – anisite and blackberries, for example – and outline the historical and social significance of each.It is an interesting read in that it uncovers the hidden histories and meanings of so much around us that we don’t often consider.

Each of these books, however, takes a strong editorial voice on how to see Vancouver – there is no investigation into how each of these things affect us in our daily lives, and serves to be a unilateral conversation on the matter. This begs the question – does any of these things affect the inhabitants of the city in the intended manner? Does the green glass of the downtown highrises affect the moods and behaviours of those who view them, does it echo the cultural zeitgeist the city planners had in mind? Who is asking the inhabitants, for whom the city was designed, how they felt about the design?

How to see Vancouver

January 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

The project starts. Jen and I are interested in mapping out Vancouver in a new way. Looking at satellite images, road and tourists maps we felt like there was something missing. Maps are in themselves abstractions, but these abstractions are based on the geographical and structural physicality of this place we inhabit. These maps tell us something about the grid that lays out our lives but says nothing of how, we,

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on a daily basis emotionally respond to it. How does a new roundabout change the flow in the neighborhood? How does a new building change the view from an individuals front door? The city is made up of a multitude of narratives, opinions and feelings about distinct physical features and spaces that we move through everyday. The purpose of this project is to start looking a ways to capture some of these. We would like to gather and facilitate the gathering of emotional snapshots that lead to a new way of understanding how these complex structural environments evolve collective behaviours and patterns.


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