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If there are diverse kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing place, then we need to learn to value the different ways each of us sees a single place that is significant, but differently so, for each perspective.
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looking for something firm in a world of chaotic flux

urban modernism « Previous | |Next »
July 29, 2008

I guess there are modernisms and modernisms: the modernism of the freeway and skyscraper that is built on tearing down the old, and then the modernism of the urban street and public spaces that preserves and reinvents the old. The former modernism is Brasilia, a city, like Petersburg, built ex nihilo - without any public squares.

Once it was the dictators like Peter the Great who sought to eliminate public space; but the destruction of public space today is cloaked in the neo-liberal language of 'choice', 'development', and 'wealth creation'. We are haunted by the lost modernism of the street and we feel that our bodies have been sacrificed on the altar of the excess of the new.

publicspace.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson, creative destruction, Adelaide, 2008

So far, governments' main attempt to reduce car congestion in cities has been by increasing the supply of motorways and tunnels. It's been a dismal failure. Few state governments in Australia have the courage to introduce congestion charges. So congestion will increase. Nor do they seem to be willing to give up on motorways and put their money and effort into improving and expanding public transport.

We’re wandering through the modernist spectres, haunted by the past, sensing that there is no future outside of that of corporate capitalism. I look at the urban waste land and realize many of my photos are assembled from the discards of corporate modernism.

Maybe we need to think of photography as a darker art than most people--- eg., those on Flickr--- routinely practice. A lot of the photography is a celebration of beauty.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:15 AM |