Urban Reviewing is a public art project organized around 7 tourist sites in Manhattan that uses the view master to allow passive urbanites to explore the darker aspects of urban living.
City dwellers are in constant physical contact, and yet one remains a stranger at the end of the day. Tainted with malaise, Urban Reviewing captures the blasé aspect of socio-urban relationships. The end user is viscerally immersed in isolating and deviant scenarios through a variety of interactive and stereoscopic techniques.
In light of the fact that today cities themselves are presented as pitiful spectacles, a mere addition to the museums for tourists driven around in tour buses, Urban Reviewing (UR) foresees the urban environment as the territory of participatory interactions. UR opposes the passive spectacle upon which our culture is constructed, and therefore reconstructs the city in temporal and spatial terms by creating fictitious scenes using the view masters in several locations. Inseparable from the original mesh of the city, UR takes a location and recreates in the same location a scene reflecting the experiences of alienated urbanites based on the phenomenon and resulting behaviors of anomie. That is how UR exploits the existing setup of the city and affirms the existence of the experiences as revealed by the act of reviewing. This reconstruction of the added realization is performed stereoscopically by creating the 3rd mental image anchoring the invisible malaise existing in the city. The person reviewing is observing a traumatic or anomic event as a voyeur. The view master acts as an elementary or even cinematic screen in the urban milieu. The interactivity is dealing with two parts of both sides of a screen but of different realities. Both ends become a fantasized imagined reality. The person interacting does not exist in the world of the scene being viewed, and the scene in return is a mental image where the 3rd dimension is purely constructed by the brain. The scene on the other side might become a fantasy of the voyeur himself. The scene in itself is also set up and exists independently to convince the invisible observer.
Therefore, there is an oscillation between 2 focal points.
“The contacts of the city may indeed be face to face, but they are nevertheless impersonal, superficial, transitory, and segmental. The reserve, the indifference, and the blasé outlook which urbanites manifest in their relationships may this be
regarded as devices for immunizing themselves against the personal claims and expectations of others (Wirth 12).”
Immersed in the rapid tempo and the intricate technology that governs life in the city, let us stop and question how our existence is affected by our surroundings. Let us question our relation with other individuals, and how, amongst this chaotic order, do we communicate with each other?
In “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” Louis Wirth defines a city as a relatively large, dense, and permanent settlement of heterogeneous individuals. A relatively large number of individuals occupy one city, and large numbers occupy restricted areas of settlement. The city has thus been historically the melting pot of races, peoples, and cultures, and a most favorable space for diversity. Ever since Aristotle’s Politics, it has been identified that there is a relation between the number of individuals in a certain space and the relationship between them and the character of the city (Wirth 10).
The increasing number of individuals in a restricted space leads to the absence of personal acquaintanceship and the segmentation of human relations. Social relationships become anonymous, superficial, and transitory.
Wirth highlights the impact physical density has over society. He describes the withdrawal from traditional bonds of kinship and neighborliness. They are likely to be absent or relatively weak in the midst of such diversity. And therefore under these circumstances, competition and formal control substitute the bonds of solidarity that would normally hold a society together (Wirth 11).
According to Claude S. Fischer in “Urbanism as a Way of Life: A Review and an Agenda,” urbanites interact with fewer persons and less often than do ruralites. “Compacted physically, yet isolated socially, the city populace is seen as a lonely crowd.”
In their rootlessness and isolation, individuals are subjected less to group pressures, and the growing effect is a condition of low normative cohesion in the society. Those norms that do exist have low consensus and little power (Fischer 207) and therefore result in anomie.
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