You Are the City: Book=Game

During the recent conference in Brussels I bought a few interesting books, including the one by Petra Kemph,
You are the City: Observation, Organization and Transformation of Urban Settings. It’s difficult to call it a true book even, the brochure itself hardly makes 20 pages; but the true treasure (and a pleasure) are the 30+ transparent slides, showing various imaginary ‘layers’ of a complex urban body-machine.

The purpose of the book is not so much to read, but to play, to explore – manually – how various dimensions of the city life intersect and interact with each other. Surely it can be done *better* (i.e., quicker, easier) by using modern GIS packages. But there is something magical in shuffling these transparencies by hands, and seeing how new realties emerge.

I also try to use different kind of paper as a background, and not only a default white one; the transparencies also work amazingly if placed on other images, real maps, for examples. Interesting enough, at this very conference Bas Raijmakers was talking about the use of slides for the development of future scenarios.

“Cities are an everyday invention. They are informed and imagined by many people at a time. A city’s physical form is expressed in a vortex of temporal body relations, mirrored in the activities of a collective body of individuals interacting with one another. Cites are an open sage for complementary and conflicting encounters, and allow for multiple identities to emerge and evaporate. They are backdrops for dreams and desires, a platform for departures and arrivals. An individual pass through, new connections arises while others fade away. By wearing various masks and playing different roles, people change the urban landscape through their encounters.”

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