Friday, May 25, 2007

Gyros Tour

This project documents another richly evocative slice of vernacular life in Chicago. The level of detail present on this site reflects both the complexity of urban life and its representation on the Internet.

The World is Urban

This week, for the first time in human history, more than 50% of the world population is urban.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No Sidewalk! Life?

This image is a rejection of everything Jane Jacobs stood for when she advocated sidewalk life. A Chicago Tribune article (available although registration is required) covers the debate about sidewalks in suburbs. Here Hubert Frank is adamantly opposed to sidewalks, "Who knows what you'd be encouraging to come through" he wonders. While those following the spirit of Jane Jacobs might frame this question as an affirmation of all of the wonders and possibilities of urban social life, Mr. Frank worries that the carefully purified social space he inhabits will be polluted by a nameless, faceless other. How much paranoia must dominate one's mental life when something as mundane (in the best sense of this word) as a sidewalk is seen as an attraction or pathway for a dangerous other?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ridgemont Typologies

If Thomas Struth turned his lens to the mundane spaces of contemporary suburban space, he might create something like the typologies of photographer Mark Luthringer, whose repetitive grid formats dramatize the contradiction between freedom and the profusion of choices whose distinctions are without meaning.

Payphone Project

One of the clearest transformations of urban space from public to private is given material expression as public pay phones are removed and private cellphone use expands. The Payphone Project website documents this phenomenon in an impressive range of cultural contexts.