Just finished writing my part of the “Visualising the City” book which will come out later this year on Routledge Press. This has been one of those projects that bordered between a labour of love and an overstayed travel companion – mostly written in Amsterdam, edits done in Montreal, photo permissions negotiated while in Beijing, so when I hit the send button with the final text attached, I was a happy guy.
As the title of my section, The VJ of the Everyday: Remixing the Urban Visual, indicates, the book is an academic little number, with co-authors from Harvard and Princeton. But that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed getting invited to the gig – getting urban intervention, street art and guerrilla creativity into the hallowed halls of university study. Yeah, there’s a lot of people out there who will argue that this activity has to remain on the outside to keep it real, but that line is so played out. There’s something much larger going on with this activity that needs to take centre stage in a larger conversation about our relationship with the city. I tried to capture some of that in an early outline of my piece for the book:
As Antonio Santâ’Elia wrote in the Futurist Manifesto On Architecture in 1914, ‘Every generation must build its own city’. And, mark by mark, sticker by sticker, intervention by intervention, that is precisely what is taking place in cities around the world. As urban environments become denser and their influence on our mental and physical selves greater, new relationships are emerging between the individual and the visual environment of the shared spaces (and surfaces) of the city. One-way communication is not enough anymore, and static imagery doesn’t remain that way for long. Featuring recent street art and urban interventions done in the streets of cities including London, New York, Stockholm, Chicago, and Amsterdam, a street-level overview will be given of the visual remixes that are forever taking place in the public realm of cities around the world, and the influence this is having on our relationship with the city.