Original proposal in italics


Lucy Lippard, "Sweet Home" (home as an idea, community)



Download 121.88 Kb.
Page2/2
Date30.04.2018
Size121.88 Kb.
1   2
Lucy Lippard, "Sweet Home" (home as an idea, community)

"A place can be peopled by ghosts more real than living inhabitants" (30).

"The search for homeplace is the mythical search for the axis mundi, for a center, for some place to stand, for something to hang on to" (35).


Lucy Lippard's The Lure of the Local is a multidimensional consideration of our contemporary sense of place. Set in the varied American landscape and reflecting the peripatetic nature of our history and culture (the multicentered), this is a very "American" book. Lippard's insightful and inclusive description of American locales and our place in them, however, broadens the concept from a more traditional reading of a predictable community to a fluid, open analysis of the notion of physical, social, and cultural belonging. The work moves forward exploring the relationship between this sense of identity with particular places and a connection to an expanded society and a larger nature.










The Lure of the Local is a dense treasure of ideas, illuminating the power of place on our psyches, histories, memories, and unfolding the realities of how experience and familiarity with "home" pushes and pulls us throughout our lives. Serving as an anthology of cultural thought about land/place/home and the meanings it holds for us, the book is liberally laced with quotes from diverse sources including Genesis, Estella Conwill Majozo, an anonymous Vietnamese immigrant, and Robert Smithson, on topics ranging from public housing to the identifying signs in national parks.

In the way that no experience is a direct route but a series of perceptions and overlays of the personal, communal, and historical, Lippard's book manifests that multileveled process in the book's contents, presentation, and design. One layer is Lippard's own journal, formatted as an italicized runner at the top of every page, narrating experiences in her lifetime of summering at the family home in Maine. Another is the main critical text and commentary of the book, exploring the landscape and issues of place from various perspectives (chapter titles include "Around Here", "Manipulating Memory", "Down to Earth: Land Use", "The Last Frontiers: City and Suburbs", among others). A third significant element is the thread of landscape and place-related works by contemporary artists that Lippard weaves throughout the volume. These are illustrated with photographs, and accompanied by Lippard's extensive captions discussing the artists, the works and how they offer new vision to the crucial issues examined.

In the end, The Lure of the Local exemplifies the depth of complexity the author believes is needed for art to effectively interact with society. Lippard has created a work that attempts itself to be what, in conclusion, she calls for stimulating "art governed by the place ethic" to be: specific to people's own lived experiences, collaborative, generous and open-ended, appealing and memorable, simple and familiar, as well as layered, complex and unfamiliar, evocative, provocative, and critical.







We are living today on a threshold between a history of alienated displacement from and a longing for home

and the possibility of a multicentered society that understands the reciprocal relationship between the two

(Lippard, 1997: 20).

VI
Creating identity: narrative and authenticity
Bell, like many others studying iconic landscapes, focuses on elites. Leitner and Kang,

again like many others, explore the politics behind the production of particular
276
The lure of the local: landscape studies at the end of a troubled century
landscapes. Goss makes strong claims for the importance of fieldwork and

‘expert’ insight into landscape form and function. Much less well studied –

perhaps because methodologically so much more difficult – is the way landscapes

are received, understood and used by ordinary people. Lippard’s personal narrative –

the one running across the top of the pages of Lure of the local – is one approach

to getting at the politics of reception and understanding. 4 Lippard (1997: 33,

quotation unattributed) begins from the argument that ‘every landscape is a hermetic

narrative: “finding a fitting place for oneself in the world is finding a place for

oneself in a story” .’ The trick then is to see how people weave stories into and out

of place so as to construct identities. Such a goal, according to Dydia DeLyser

(1999: 604), does not necessarily imply a focus on ‘texts’. Indeed, DeLyser argues

that ‘text-based or archival works’ can be usefully supplemented by participant

observation and ethnographic work. Her study of visitor interactions in the preserved

western ‘ghost town’ of Bodie, California, stands as a fine example of the way

that people insert themselves into stories and landscapes, reworking mythologies of

place and past to their own ends. For DeLyser, the key questions are thus, ‘How

does Bodie’s landscape lead visitors to assess authenticity? What does it mean to say

visitors and staff do consider Bodie authentic? How does accepting Bodie’s authenticity

enable visitors to engage with narratives about the past, and what do those narratives

evoke?’ (DeLyser, 1999: 623; these questions have also been asked recently with

considerable force by Hoelscher, 1998a; 1998b; 1998c). As DeLyser goes on to argue,

while these are indeed important questions, they are not innocent, and they cannot be

asked outside the cultural history of which they are a part. In the history of the

American West, that cultural history is one of white conquest and Native American and

Hispanic dispossession, severe harassment of Asian immigrants, environmental

despoilation and a deeply buried history of women that rarely seems to surface in the

heroic myths that define the region. The narratives that Bodie helps authorize are

deeply exclusionary:
The narratives of the mythic West, of Anglo American virtues, and of progress [that Bodie encourages] verify a

patriarchal middle-class, Anglo American construction of American culture, values, and morals. In other words,

what the majority of Bodie’s visitors and staff find in Bodie is a place that confirms their already-held beliefs in

the dominant American culture (DeLyser, 1999: 623–24).
The lure of the local might be precisely that it allows for an exclusionary complacency:

these really are our streets; this is our world – and not yours.

The landscape is thus inescapably political, and new meanings, through appropria-

tion and struggle, can be developed, as Brian Osborne (1998) has made clear in a

compelling study of the George Etienne Cartier monument in Montreal. In Osborne’s

analysis, landscape studies come into close contact with the burgeoning set of

researches on the politics of public space (e.g., Staeheli and Thompson, 1997; Domosh,

1998; Fyfe, 1998; Goheen, 1998; Light and Smith, 1998), which seeks to explore the role

of space in democratic or other political systems, the importance of privatization and

the way that control and order are spatial practices. For Osborne (1998: 452), an iconic

landscape can become ‘a ritualized place of performance and social congress’ that may

best be interpreted, in the case of the Cartier monument, as ‘a reflection of the values of

a world of late capitalism and represents a new theatre of public resistance to homoge-

nization and domination’. The key word, as DeLyser shows, is may: there is nothing
necessary about the use and meaning of landscapes: those are always questions of

power.

Of course, this issue has been the main thrust of landscape studies for two

decades now, but it is a point always worth reiterating, especially when explored

with such deep empirical detail as that provided by DeLyser and Osborne.

The difference between Osborne’s and DeLyser’s findings – the landscape as a site of

contest in one case, and the landscape as a site for the affirmation of dominant

narratives of identity, in the other – points to the always constructed nature of identity

itself. Indeed, the relationship between local landscape and national identity remains a

strong area of interest for geographers (e.g., Brace, 1999). Matless’s (1998) monograph

on Landscape and Englishness explores this relationship in great (twentieth-century)

historical depth. Matless (1998: 12) argues that ‘the question of what landscape “is” or

“means” can always be subsumed in the question of how it works; as a vehicle of social

and self identity, as a site for the claming of cultural authority, as the generator of profit,

as a space for different kinds of living’. The landscape’s meanings as well as its

functions are a site for the reconstruction of ‘citizenship’, a project about which Matless

remains quite uneasy. As Matless knows – and shows – forging too close a link between

citizenship and landscape, in England no less than Germany, is a dangerous, often

racist, project. The lure of the local is not just the lure of myths through which people

make sense of their own lives, but the lure of mythologies through which power is con-

solidated and solidified, and the project of racism advanced. Indeed, Atkinson (1998;

Atkinson and Cosgrove, 1998) reminds us that ‘ownership’ of streets and iconic

landscapes is often an explicitly fascist project. It must be remembered, therefore, that

racist longing in England or Italy (or America, France or anywhere else) is no more nor

less ‘authentic’ than the perhaps a bit more innocent stories tourists to Bodie fabricate

for themselves when exploring a carefully reconstructed ghost town. While Nuala

Johnson (1999) shows that it is indeed possible to construct a heritage experience that

veers toward the inclusive rather than the exclusive, such a project is neither easy, nor

necessarily in the best interest of the public and private funders behind heritage

landscapes.

What then are we to make of the story of Jun Mingyu? Jun is the hero – or perhaps

the anti-hero – of Tim Oakes’s (1999) exploration of the politics of food, place, tourism

and landscape in Guizhou Province, China. For Jun, not only tradition and propriety,

but also the ability to make a pile of yuan hinged on his ability to transform the canyon

landscape of his hometown into a tourist destination. This meant ‘cooking’ the

landscape into a delicious feast that was ‘authentically traditional’ – authentically

traditional, that is, in the language and tastes of ‘downstream’ culture, and thus quite

opposite many of the desires of other villagers (most of whom were traditionally mar-

ginalized members of the Ge and Miao peoples, who, Jun asserted, ‘have no culture’ –

Oakes, 1999: 140). For Jun, no less than for the Ge and Maio, ‘the dreams of tourism’ –

in which the landscape plays a vital role – ‘are dreams of achieving modernity, security,

and wealth’ (Oakes, 1999: 142). The lure of the local in this case is not that it staves off

transformative modernity (as perhaps both the identity affirmation morality plays

enacted in the English countryside and Bodie do), but that it ushers it in. For Jun like

the Ge and the Miao, ‘authenticity’ demands modernity, more so than it demands

nostalgia. The local is a means of achieving control, of securing a future. Whose streets

and whose world? Jun might well give a very different answer from tourists at a great
278
The lure of the local: landscape studies at the end of a troubled century
house in Ireland, visitors to ghost towns in California, walkers in the hills of England –

or protesters in Seattle.
Such is the message of the little-noticed (within geography), but quite important, book

by the art critic Lucy Lippard: The lure of the local: senses of place in a multicentered society.2

Her target is not just geographers, of course, but also artists, cultural studies practi-

tioners, art critics and funders, and others with a stake in the politics of landscape and

representation. Published in 1997, The lure of the local is at once a deeply personal book

and one of wide implication for landscape studies. Lippard draws, in the first instance,

on such geographers and fellow travelers as Cosgrove, J.B. Jackson, Yi-Fu Tuan, Neil

Smith and Rebecca Solnit to construct a subtle theory of landscape that links local place

to both global process and the politics of representation through which that place is

known, understood and circulated ‘abroad’. The lure of the local comprises three parallel

stories. The main text explores such topics as the function of maps in defining place and

landscape, the planning (and overplanning) of public space, environmental justice and

controversies over public art. Lippard’s point is, in part, that what links these issues is

struggle over and in the ‘landscape’. For Lippard, the landscape is at once home and the

site of struggle; at once embedded in place and constructed and reconstructed by forces

larger than itself; both the site of progressive political action, and the site for recidivist,

even revanchist (Smith, 1996) yearnings.

To illustrate, Lippard offers a second story. Across the top of each page is a much

more personal narrative: a close study of a small cottage and community on the coast

of Maine that has been Lippard’s summer home since she was a girl in the 1930s. Here

Lippard explores how people live in place and how they can do so in a way that

exemplifies what Massey (1994) calls a ‘progressive sense of place’. But Lippard also

explores the difficulties that arise when one tries to find a home in a multicentered

society, and struggles both to respect local difference and to protest its provincialism, its

racism, its ethnocentrism. For Lippard, art provides a means to negotiate these tensions

– to explicate them and to transcend them. And so finally, The lure of the local offers an

essay – or hundreds of little essays – on art and its connection to land, place and space.

On most pages are illustrations of artworks, mostly from around the USA, sometimes

community based, sometimes the inspiration of artistic carpet-baggers, always political

in and of themselves, and usually wrapped up in complex political debates within the

communities of which they are part. For each, Lippard provides a long caption that

explores some of the complex issues raised by the artwork.

In the interplay between these three essays, ‘landscape’ emerges in Lippard’s account

as a complex material and ideological entity, one that is never stable (though often quite

resistant to change), never the purveyor of a single meaning (though also not open to

just any definition), never solely the property of any individual (though clearly the

product of relations of power, property and control). For Lippard, the ‘lure of the local’,

is no simple nostalgia for a more place-based existence, a deeper sense of community,
272
The lure of the local: landscape studies at the end of a troubled century
or a stronger link with the land and environment (though all these are important).

Rather it is a complex emotional-political argument about the status of the local in a

complex society. The goal for Lippard, like the goal for the activists in Seattle, is to find

a way to create a multicentered society, in which control over the places in which we live

our lives is likewise multicentered and democratic. ‘To read a landscape in the geograph-

ical sense,’ Lippard (1997: 287) concludes, ‘is to read its history in land forms and built

structures, behind which lie the stories of the people who made that history, which in

most cases can only be guessed at.’ This is our world and these are our streets, but they

are also someone else’s property: landscape is a relationship of alienation and the

history Lippard seeks to guess at is one of how that alienation is constructed, how it is

contested, and how – sometimes – it is transcended (cf. Olwig, 1996).

And yet we can – and we do – do more than just guess about this history, as recent

work in landscape attests. Rather, we have begun to develop specific and important

tools, insightful theoretical foci and clear political agenda for landscape studies. Using

some of the themes apparent in Lure of the local, I would like to use the remainder of this

essay to explore those tools, foci and agenda as it has been expressed in geography

within the last few years.
Lucy Lippard's piece Lure of the Local discusses how the narrative history of place personifies a place -- which is the aggregation of culture, nature and history.
You can't separate a place from its narrative history, which continues to be informed by people's intersections with it. We're constantly cross pollinating places moving from one to the other.
"Each time we enter a new place, we become one of the ingredients of an existing hybridity, which is really what all "local places" consist of, writes Lippard. "By entering that hybrid, we change it; and in each situation we may play a different role.
Places are just as dynamic and organismic as people. This takes me on a slight tangent to another "place" where I spent a lot of time living. That's New Orleans. I lived there before the storm and near there during the event. When I returned afterwards, there was a period of rebuilding, which was as much about rebuilding damaged structures as rebuilding the narrative of the city. Deciding who was going to come back and who wasn't. Many newcomers arrived -- hispanic migrant workers because of all of the construction jobs, and pioneering artists and entrepreneurs that wanted to be part of its cultural recovery.
They all spoke about the unique vibe of New Orleans. The thing I kept returning to in my mind was -- that if so many people are not returning, what vibe is it these newcomers were sensing? Was it a vibe of architecture? Were there enough New Orleanians still around to share it or was it the vibe of the narrative of the city before the storm waiting to resume? For a while New Orleans was a ghost town -- its vibe was of abandonment and despair. These days six years later, it feels very much as it did before Katrina, except a little different. Less stagnant in some way. A lot of the driftwood has been shorn away. But there's still the palimpsest of identity that is comprised by a number of things: from buildings, to street names, to old homes, to people, to the creation legend of the city itself. However it changes, that deeper imprint of will always find a way to interact and interrogate its latest incarnation.
"The intersections of nature, culture, history, and ideology form the ground on which we stand--our land, our place, the local. the lure of the local is the pull of place that operates on each of us, exposing our politics and our spiritual legacies," says Lippard.
New Orleans is a cultural and artistic laboratory right now. It was completely emptied of people at one time and slowly repopulated with slightly different people who brought different stories to the city. Locals who returned had their own tales of woe. Much international attention has been focused on it too. All of this has created an outside narrative of New Orleans that has to influence life there and influence visitors' attitudes when they arrive.
That would be a great dissertation project to somehow -- without being too reductionist -- track the change in attitude and civic and social character with the change in narrative about the city. Maybe more of an artistic project. And I wonder what kind of tension is registered between the various narrative constructions and the various realities on the ground?
The Lure of the Local

Lucy Lippard, art-critic and theorist wrote the book: Lure of the Local in 1997. It is a substantial work describing America as a place, or more accurately as a series of places, each with their own unique histories and iconographies. What follows are a selection of quotes from the book chosen for their relevance to recent artist-led initiatives in Cornwall.

 

from the introduction

'Unlike place (which I define as seen from the inside), landscape can only be seen from the outside, as a backdrop for the experience of viewing'...'Space defines landscape, where space combined with memory defines place'

'The Lure of the Local is the pull of place that operates on all of us, exposing our politics and our spiritual legacies. It is the geographical component of the psychological need to belong somewhere, one antidote to a prevailing alienation'.

'Artists can make the connections visible. They can guide us through sensuous kinesthetic responses to topography, lead us from archeology and land-based social history into alternative relationships to place. They can expose the social agendas that have formed the land, bring out multiple readings of places that mean different things to different people at different times rather than merely reflecting some of their beauty back into the marketplace or the living room. As envisionaries, artists should be able to provide a way to work against the dominant cultures rapacious view of nature, reinstate the mythical and cultural dimensions of public experience, and at the same time become conscious of the ideological relationships and historical constructions of place. The dialectic between space and change can provide the kind of no-man's-land where artists thrive'.

'A painting, no matter how wonderful, is an object in itself separate from the place it depicts. It frames and distances through the eyes of the artist...like tourism, painting formalises place into landscape'

'My models are those artists who strengthen the bonds between art, audience, and context. They tend to be interested in the narrative landscape, understanding place and history to include people, forming the grass roots of much interactive or 'new genre' public art'

 

FROM PART V: chapter 1

 'Place-specific art would be an art that reveals new depths of a place to engage the viewer or inhabitant, rather than abstracting that place into generalisations that apply just as well to any other place'

'...it must take root outside of conventional venues and would not be accessible only to those in the know, enticed by publicity and fashion'

'The cult of the new is a virus that has done public art little good. While I use the word new as much as the next person, I know that a truly public art need not be new to be significant, since the social contexts and audiences so crucial to its formation are always changing'.

'The distance between the art-world and the world in which most of us live remains vast'

 

chapter 2

'(There has been) a deracinating process by which art, like its makers, has been cut loose from any real location and has been forced to create its own'.

'The global art-world is only theoretically decentred...I want to see the discussion go beyond this view of the margins from the center, to see artists truly enter the realm of the decentered, or in a more positive light, the realm of the multicentered'.

'local public art has not caught on in the mainstream because in order to attract sufficient buyers in the current system of distribution art must be generalised, detached from politics and pain...'

'a place ethic demands a respect for a place that is rooted more deeply than an aesthetic version of the 'tourist gaze' provided by imported artists whose real concerns lie elsewhere or back in their studios'

'The now time-honored practice of importing artists for place-oriented exhibitions is increasingly questionable'

'Sophisticated exhibitions like 'Places with a Past' which has become the model for art about place rooted less in local community than in myth filtered through the avant garde tend to be strong in form and weak in connectedness'

'In some ways I am advocating an updated regionalism. The movement for cultural democracy springs from the concern that the homogeneity of corporate culture...is melting down the multiracial multicultural differences that are this country's greatest strength'

 

chapter 3

'The challenge is to establish more bonds radiating out from the art 'community' to marginalised artists, to participant communities and audiences, allowing the art idea to become finally part of the social multicenter rather than an elite enclave'

'I've been asked whether attention to the local couldn't become tunnel vision resulting in the loss of the big picture and of the ability to communicate across boundaries. For now I worry more about the loss of the small picture. Local does not have to mean isolated, self-indulgent or inbred. In fact those terms apply better to the artworld'.
“The Solitary Stroller and the City,” a chapter from Solnit’s history of walking, explores the many elements of human experience and the many sides of human character that emerge in the course of a stroll on the city streets. “The word street,” Solnit points out, “has a rough, dirty magic to it. It conjures up images of transgressions and encounters that could only take place on public paths.” For Solnit, streets are more than just the space left over between buildings: they constitute a vital public space that has, throughout history, served intermittently as the staging ground for revolutionary movements and the field for flirting young people. Though it offers its share of dangers and unsavory possibility, Solnit champions urban walking as a cultural activity of great import both in the past and in the present, when “consumption and production” are the organizing values of our cities.

“The straight line of conventional narrative,” Solnit writes in the introduction to Storming the Gates of Paradise (2007), her most recent book, “is too often an elevated freeway permitting no unplanned encounters or necessary detours. It is not how our thoughts travel, nor does it allow us to map the whole world rather than one streamlined trajectory across it.” By resisting the straight lines of such narratives, Solnit’s prose mirrors the content of her books. Her cultural history of walking is just one of several demonstrations of what a mind can discover when set to wander.


why do we need a map?

geography of cultural reconstruction/recreation

spatially recreating a sense of cultural 

everything is so scattered

signs and visibility of your own culture is floating, but you odn't know where it is. activiely looking. the action of lookign creates a netowrk

mapping the attempts at reconstructing their own culture

recreating culture by using the spatial elements of edmonton

the way that people inhabit

define my terms!!!

consumer culture - caught in the web of buying and traveling

what was the first thing that you looked for when you arrived in canada?

how do peopel connect togehter?

it needs to be about space

connecting the dots

creating artificial neighbourhoods will differ from the set neighbourhoods

neighbourhood is a way of life and a way to relate to it.

isolate one  
what are the markers of authenticity?

frederic jameson - no more authenticity

where is the authentic cultural moment in edmonton
imagine communities - benedict anderson


Certeau presents the city as a text, suggesting there is legibility to it. However, this legibility changes with perspective. Certeau famously opens his essay with a meditation on New York City as seen from the 110th floor of the World Trade Centre. But, he suggests, this perspective was always a false one; while the ‘God’s eye’ view of the high-rise, the aerial or satellite photo or the map may present the city as a kind of ‘printed’ text, this is not the way that citizens encounter the city on a day-to-day basis, even if they can access such views with increasing ease. The citizen as ‘walker’ writes the text without being able to see what they have written:


These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other’s arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as though the practices organizing a bustling city were characterized by their blindness.
(Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, p. 93)
De Certeau represents the negotiation of the city as an in between process where one is constantly aware of shifting perspectives. A written text cannot represent for us what the speaking voice can do in the process of enunciation, neither can the tracing of an itinerary on a map give us clues as to the processes involved in traversing the territory: Walking affirms, suspects, tries out, transgresses, respects, etc., the trajectories it “speaks.” All the modalities sing a part in this chorus, changing from step to step, stepping in through proportions, sequences, and intensities which vary according to the time, the path taken and the walker. These enunciatory operations are of an unlimited diversity. They therefore cannot be reduced to their graphic trail. (Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, p. 99.)

My own words – looking on a map doesn’t tell the viewer what the story is between the streets. Those stories remain to be seen. The story of the landscape looks different than the plotted landscape. Reading between the lines aka reading between the streets.


One of the key notions in Michel De Certeau's "Walking in the City" is expressed by his assertion that "urban life increasingly permits the re-emergence of the element that the urbanistic project excluded".  This urbanistic project is, as De Certeau describes, that of standing on top of the tallest building, out of the city's grasp, and looking down at the objective totality of the city, and as De Certeau says: "the fiction of knowledge is related to this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more" to be "a totalizing eye".

But De Certeau prefers, as his title suggests, walking in the city instead of viewing it. He argues that walking in the city has "its own rhetoric" and with people's limited scope as the move about and write their own course of subjective use of the urban space "the network of these moving, intersecting writings compose and manifold story that has neither author nor spectator".

For De Certeau, the pedestrians of a city create it through their walking about, as an objective mass made of subjects which escape any planned or regulated scheme of the city. The pedestrian, while walking in the city, has his own style, which is a sort of language which speaks about the city and take part in creating its meaning. In walking in the city, the pedestrian gives new meanings to places and streets which are not the same as those originally assigned to them. Pedestrians, for De Certeau, create the meaning of the urban space by applying their imagination on it through the manner in which they move about the city "linking acts and footsteps, opening meanings and directions, these words operate in the name of an emptying-out and wearing away of their primary role. They become liberated spaces that can be occupied".

A city, no matter how efficiently planned out or how beautiful, is rendered worthless without people.  It cannot exist because it takes people to make a city.  It is people who will take the empty shells of buildings and make them function.  It is people who take space and turn it into places.  It is people who anchor the city in time, even if only for a fleeting moment.  If we examine de Certeau"s three requirements for the ideal or "concept" city, we find that it leaves us with a city without life or presence.  "Rational organization must repress all the physical, mental and political pollutions that would compromise it" -- we imagine that this must be brought by the inhabitants of the city, not by the urban structure itself.  "The substitution of a nowhen, or of a synchronic system, for the indeterminable and stubborn resistances offered by traditions" -- it is the people who must establish and break the traditions of the city, it is not for the city to make its own history.  "The creation of a universal and anonymous subject which is the city itself" -- the city is to bring nothing but the basis of stimuli to the population and it is the people who are responsible for making it come alive and giving it meaning.  Moreover, it is people who order city space, making it real for themselves.  In effect, the city provides pen, ink and paper and it is the people -- namely the pedestrians -- who provide the story.

According to de Certeau, it is specifically the walking people who bring the city to life.  They do not have that god-like "all-seeing power" and are therefore trapped within the "city"s grasp." They are at ground level and looking down, and ironically it is these people who write the "urban text" without being able to read it.  More importantly to note, it is the mass movement of people who write the text.  With thousands of individuals each writing his own story and giving his own interpretation, the city is pieced together something like a patchwork quilt of individual viewpoints and opinions.  "The created order is everywhere punched and torn open by ellipses, drifts, and leaks of meaning: it is a sieve-order." It takes a single city to provide the stimulus, but it requires a multitude of people -- all unaware of their role in the creation of the city -- to provide the meaning.  
The space once defined, only remains thus defined for as long as the individual defining the space remains there.  The definitions are fleeting, one replaced by the next as a second pedestrian assumes the position of the first.  De Certeau defines the verb "to walk" as an action of "lack[ing] a place": this should serve to illustrate just how the stories defining space disperse and disintegrate as the pedestrian moves out of a place, for the definition of city space is similar to walking itself.  It holds to no single space, and it is in no way anchored.  The stories and legends allow people to move freely within city space, but without them there can be no space to move within at all, for space ceases to exist.  Thus it can be seen that as the subject moves through city space, so he defines it: there is no city space without him.  He creates the space to move through as he moves through it.  The city is subject to the views and stories that the mass population project upon it.  The city is there to be manipulated, molded and used, and yet it emerges the same at the end, for no image projected upon it can ever remain since the pedestrians are not static and nor is the space in which they move.  Indeed, I would go as far as to say that the space is not even real, but simply make-believe.  
All quotations from de Certeau taken from Walking in the City,  
The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984  


If the city is crowds . . .  
How are we to experience the city?  
For Walter Benjamin, it is a question of observation. A specialized observation, involving the attachment of the flâneur not the attachment of the badaud. The simple flâneur is always in possession of his individuality, whereas the individuality of the gawker disappears. It is a question of attachment to oneself, and involvement without the city. As an electronic flâneur, it is easy to lose one's attachment within the city that is the web.  
"The street becomes a dwelling for the flâneur; he is as much at home among the facades of houses as a citizen is in his four walls. To him the shiny, enameled signs of businesses are at least as good a wall ornament as an oil painting is to the bourgeois in his salon. The walls are the desk against which he presses his notebooks; news-stands are his libraries and the terraces of cafés are the balconies from which he looks down on his household after his work is done." Walter Benjamin, 1938.  
"The crowd was the veil from behind which the the familiar city as phantasmagoria beckoned to the flâneur. In it, the city was now landscape, now a room. And both of these went into the construction of the department store, which made use of flânerie itself in order to sell goods. The department store was the flâneur's final coup. As flâneurs, the intelligentsia came into the market place." Walter Benjamin, 1935.  
Now let us imagine the flâneur ambling throughout the network of the Internet like a city. Suddenly his role is made ten times easier. He no longer is labeled, he can view without being viewed, and even the badaud can gawk without the appearance of rudeness. The detective can work under cover and all can bear the name of alias without shrugging.  


In the influential chapter "Walking in the City", Certeau asserts that "the city" is generated by the strategies of governments, corporations, and other institutional bodies who produce things like maps that describe the city as a unified whole. Certeau uses the vantage from a skyscraper in New York to illustrate the idea of a unified view. By contrast, the walker at street level moves in ways that are tactical and never fully determined by the plans of organizing bodies, taking shortcuts in spite of the strategic grid of the streets. This concretely illustrates Certeau's argument that everyday life works by a process of poaching on the territory of others, using the rules and products that already exist in culture in a way that is influenced, but never wholly determined, by those rules and products.
Download 121.88 Kb.

Share with your friends:
1   2




The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2020
send message

    Main page