Use Of The Urban Setting Of A City

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Countless references, often poetic and historic, have framed the complexity of the urban setting and astute urban observers; a review of quotations about perceiving the city help prime the eye, pen or camera towards their observational purpose. Author Luc Sante described the observational acumen of the Parisian flaneur as, inter alia, “everything too subjective for professionals to credit”, Jacques Yonnet, as a journalist-in-hiding, who chronicled street life in occupied Paris during World War II, suggested the dangers of quick judgment about the essence of a city:
To get to the heart of a city, to learn its most subtle secrets, takes infinite tenderness, and patience sometimes to the point of despair. It calls for an artlessly delicate
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What we see, do and say about the city is ambiguous, and does not easily unravel simply, or logically. As another developer said to me, it is important to rediscover the lost art of simply telling stories, something I wholeheartedly embrace, with visual elaboration.
One prior collection of essays, In the Life of Cities, well illustrates this dilemma through photo collections interspersed among scholarly prose. The reader can tour, for instance, aspects of the familiar Paris, Chicago and Tokyo and the less known Tirana, Baku and Dakar, and learn (from both text and photo-essays), about history of their formation, and current challenges of design, administration and reuse. For the average American with passing, or even committed interest in improving urban space, it is an overwhelming, yet breathtaking ride.
The Editor, Mohsen Mostafavi, and many of his Harvard-based colleagues (and others from around the world) leave behind universals that raise more questions than provide pragmatic answers. As Mostafavi summarizes the innovative breadth of expression, both verbal and photographic, interspersed in the book:
The variety and range of the photographic essays, from urban ruins to public spaces, and from ground surfaces to mass housing, show the beauty and complexity of what lies ahead. The ‘life of the city’ can be reduced neither to the rational functionality of the modern city nor the nostalgic
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