Sunday, 11 April 2010

Say hello to a new you

I have already written about the idea of reading the city in a previous post and this particular journey involved a literal 'reading of the city'.  The city streets can be thought of as a text to be read, each road forming a sentence in the script. As we wander the city our eyes are bombarded with words at every turn - shops displaying their wares, signs giving us information, the arcane language of graffiti, newspapers shouting their headlines, and advertisements exhorting us to buy this, try that, change our lives. We might live in a visual society but words are the glue that holds it together. Words guide and advise, entertain and inform, challenge and tempt, prohibit and order us. As we walk through the city, they provide a running commentary to our day and by combining and sequencing images certain themes have emerged....

Our senses are subjected to these insidious slogans on a daily basis, undermining our confidence in the status quo, challenging us to improve our lifestyles.   Is it any wonder that many of us are a mass of insecurities or dissatisfied with our lives?


  1. Yes, you are absolutely right- and your words are perfectly written! I would like to complete: There is also a sub-text, a 'palimpsest' we can decode and might read if knowing a bit about the changeable history of the town, some persons and their biograsphies... every city has different levels/layers of times and lifes - combining and mixing up past and present ...-
    The photos are very good, well chosen words, words that may evoke some thinking and feeling or -my main point- an human touch! Oh, it is fascinating to discover and experience a city in this 'reading habit'.
    Do you know Döblin's great novel "Berlin Alexanderplatz"? In a Joyce-like manner the teller listed up fragments of words, flash of words, sounds of words (adverts, calls...) while the main figure is strolling along the streets overwhelmed by all the sensations/confusing impressions. I am very impressed with this London series and could follow you further...

  2. The idea of the city as a palimpsest is a fascinating one - I am currently reading Peter Ackroyd's book 'London A Biography' which discusses that very concept. I am not familiar with 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' - in fact I must admit to not having read Joyce as I find that kind of writing quite difficult to digest. A gap in my education!