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August 12, 2007 / conceptbin

City Session

Reflection of London sunset

“Haunted places are the only ones that people can live in” writes Michel De Certeau.

This week, I’ll be leading a seminar to a few choice locations in London. Inspired by Certeau’s essay “Walking in the City”, we’ll be doing a bit of philosophy with our feet. These sessions are about the space into which contemporary database-driven, networked “new media” fit. It is not so much a series of seminars about technologies of new media, as an invitation to think about the relationship between media and space.

Of course, the privileged medium of this section will be the walk. Walking is a “mapping” exercise, an experience of a place which connects the “Concept-city” of the map, the plan, the architect to the everyday practice of lived space. The narrative space of a formal walk, with storytelling and an itinerary to match, fits somewhere in between Certeau’s categories, belonging neither to the map or plan nor to the flow of everyday experience.

Therefore, for a few days we will treat selected bits of London as a story-space, an environment which simultaneously stores memories of the past, serves as a source of raw material for new stories, and provides a backdrop to imagined ones.

Some online resources to get us started:

Digital Urban blog – interesting resources on mapping and urban planning:

London Google Earth Streaming and splicing landmarks – lovely example of what Certeau calls the concept-city:

Cities in Games video: The Getaway (a video game set among London locations)

Hackney Boys video (driving). This is a very “Certeauian” video of two guys driving around, capturing a bit of the experience of navigating around the city, with all its incidental sights and sounds:


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