When we consider the city we think about past and present, nature and culture, public and private. A city is known and unknown, real and imagined and perceived in a very unique and individual way to each of us.
I believe we live in a temporal register of the past, present and the future. Our life is an accumulation of fragments, as Walter Benjamin suggests it is those fragments of the city, the forgotten bits that inform our reading of the city and provoke our senses. After all we are never in one mindset, focused on one thing but exist with many gaps and blurs. It was within my MA dissertation, whilst studying Printmaking at the Royal College of Art I was able to explore this idea. Using multi-facet text I investigated academic writing on the subject of the city and imagination. This pre-occupation with the city and our relationship to it is extended to my practice and is an ongoing journey.
When I first set out, my investigation was of the city I experience everyday. I considered my own and others relationships to it, I explored what external factors dictated and altered that movement. Architecture being one, it can limit where we walk, so we have to adapt and invent other ways as Michel de Certeau suggested this improvisation of walking privileges, even transforms and abandons spatial elements for us. For me other factors dictate my movement, with mobility problems a different way of mapping the space I move through is forced upon me. In the exploration of mine and others everyday lives, I increasingly found myself not thinking about reality but imagining a space in my mind, beyond body or matter. A real that is not quite real, or an actual real but a real whose reality is virtual and therefore imaginary. One that is not constrained by our reality, potentially, our will, and our desire is what governs this space, our only limitation being our imagination.
For as you read this piece, your body is emplaced and is in constant dialogue with the space around you, you are somewhere. Much of what you are is as a result of how your body attributes are evaluated within the social power relations in where you are. (Body and place) Is something you rarely consider, why would you, it just occurs but if on the other hand you do not quite fit into the perceived norm, your senses are heightened. Your feeling of being somewhat different causes you to question, to examine and to explore your production of space as Henri Lefebvre termed it and that of others. This feeling of constraint is not necessarily a physical one; gender, class, race and sexuality are all social attributes that are inscribed onto our bodies. Our ability to transcend our body offers us the chance to escape our existence (listening to an ipod on the tube, reading a book takes us out of the space we occupy into another.
A recent exploration in the body of work for my MA show was of gendered space, examining a space that is masculine or feminine and if so how that space then alters our emotion when we are in it. This idea grew from the production of a map of a city, both a real city (the map was of the male and female named streets in central London) and a city located in the geography of the imagination, a city that represents something other but still holds a resemblance to reality. This idea is not fully resolved and still holds many possibilities.
Our only restriction is our freedom to imagine….