Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Cycles: Collective and Individual 1.2
In 1957 the urban sociologist Paul-Henry Chombart de Lauwe who was interested in understanding the city through the activities of the citizens collected the trajectories of one young girl in Paris’s 16th arrondissement over the period of a year in a document called exactly that; Trajects pendant un an d’une jeune fille du XVIe arrondissement. The drawing, an accumulation of lines in a triangular pattern revealed that her movement through the city during this long period of time was actually quite simple and repetitive. The blurry triangle marked her movements from home, to school, to piano lessons. The abstract diagram of repetitive lines in a closed geometric formation revealed her cyclical use of the city, it visualized her routine in time (fig. 4). In 1953 Architect Louis Kahn did a series of drawings of Philadelphia, which illustrate the city through the movement, speed, and flow of its vehicles rather than by its physical configuration (fig. 4). In these documents, an inversion occurs in which the physical and static (the building blocks) are simply suggested, becoming residual space against the accumulation of marks which define the traffic flow of the city. However while these documents suggest the importance of the ephemeral activity of the city (moving car traffic, in this case) it does not capture or explain the patterns in time of the city, it does not illustrate the cyclical aspects that these movements define. The potential is clearly visible in the 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi by experimental documentary film director Godfrey Reggio where a series of stationary moving image views of the city are sped up visualizing the city in movement and revealing the infrastructure of the city in time. The throbbing of car and pedestrian traffic that stops and goes in a rhythmic pattern as coordinated in two directions by the traffic lights. In watching these moving image segments one imagines the pumping flow of blood in a body to the beat of a heart.