Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

William H. Whyte: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces - The Street Corner from MAS on Vimeo.

I haven't finished watching this yet, but I AM IN LOVE.

Update (6pm): Watched. Will watch again. Genius, and funny.

On "undesirables" in public spaces, c. 29:15 in this clip: "The odd people do a service for the rest of us. They reassure of us of our normality."

I'm particularly intrigued by the "secondary" function of public spaces for passersby -- Whyte talks about this starting around 22:30: passersby look in, smile, point to the park, and show pride.

There's an awesome moment on reciprocal gestures @ 24:15...

...and chair moving, at about 22:00...

...and a discussion of what Whyte calls "triangulation": a reason for people to come together, that can be created by the geography of the public space, starting at about 42:30.


1 comment:

  1. Great film Rebecca! Thanks for sharing. I've never seen it before and wasn't familiar with William H. Whyte. I was on a treadmill as I watched it so I didn't take notes on the many interesting ideas, but I'm glad to see you took a few.

    The chair moving was great. And it fits well with my current thinking. I've evolved from Performance Art to Public Art in part because that's where "my public" pushed me. Over the last 4 years I've come to realize that while people are willing to put on the wardrobe you give them and do the actions you ask, they really come alive when you ask them to express themselves. Their identity. Their aesthetics.

    The chairs are brilliant in that he shows how half the time moving them accomplishes nothing in any physical sense, but it does accomplish granting a sense of agency in the world. It reaffirms choice rather than requiring conformity. So, like the chairs, I've come to pay less attention to my own "design" of "performances"... and more attention to facilitating invitations to express one's own identity.