Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cycles: Collective and Individual 1.1

Cities are not static or fixed but rather dynamic and ever changing entities. As landscape architect James Corner states in The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention; “The experiences of space cannot be separated from the events that happen in it. It is remade continuously every time it is encountered by different people, every time it is represented through another medium, every time its surroundings change, every time new affiliations are forged”. (16) Cities like bodies move, change, evolve, repeat, cycle. As physicist and novelist Alan Lightman writes in one of his fictional theories of time in his novel Einstein’s Dreams, “And just as all things will be repeated in the future, all things now happening happened a million times before”. (17) In the film Smoke, by Wayne Wang and Paul Auster, the character Auggie photographs his corner cigar store at exactly 8:00 a.m. every day. It is “his life’s work” to be there and to capture the cycles of life, the changes of light and of people in his small corner of the world. Repetition and change become evident against the consistent time/place as a reference point (fig. 4). In his photographs he finds “sometimes the same people, sometimes different people, sometimes the different people become the same, and the same ones disappear as the earth revolves around the sun”. A friend of Auggie’s who is flipping through the thousands of photographs remarks that they are all the same. Auggie agrees but also corrects him, pointing out that each interaction is the same yet it is unique. (18)

16 Corner, James. The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention. In Mappings, edited by Denis Cosgrove, 211-252. London: Reaktion Books, 1999, p. 227
17 Lightman, Alan. Einstein’s Dreams. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993, p. 11
18 See Smoke by Wayne Wang 1995

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