Blinking City [ animation ]
Blinking City is a project investigating the process of rapid urbanization in China and the inadequacy of traditional maps to describe city environments characterized by fast pace transformation and urban growth. In some of these contexts urban transformations happen so fast that as soon as a map is ready, the city it depicts has already gone, without usually giving to local communities the time to assimilate the new changes in their daily habitat and habits.
Each part of the project plays with this idea of changing, exploring questions such density, unstructured reappropriation, gentrification, mono-use and mixed-use, relationship between people and their physical space, property speculation, disappearing community and identity. Blinking City consists of multi-media objects, ranging from stencil art on walls of dilapidated and abandoned houses under demolition, interactive ever-changing maps printed on lenticular discs that vary according to the movements of viewer, photographic record and video animation. Blinking City’s patterns are originally based on collages of several maps of Hutong neighbourhoods of Beijing (which are the traditional low-rise high-density settlements of the city) eventually offering a perspective extendable to other cities. The maps have been transferred onto interactive supports (ruined walls, projections, lenticular discs). Each of these fragments has been spontaneously shown in different public spaces around Beijing (especially in those districts under treat of destruction), each becoming a tool to set up a shared narrative and start an open discussion suggesting ways for people to reinterpret the urban landscape. Maps feature 14 colours or “layers”, inspired from the typical tables of analysis made by urban planners, but rather than refer to the physical qualities or the houses, the meanings of the layers mark the importance of the daily living activities made by inhabitants in every single house.
The video animation shows an overlapping of ever-changing temporary spaces suggesting a series of improving possibilities, trends, spatial concepts that define progressively an aesthetic merging of forms and colours inspired by a nomadic and itinerant urban geography.
Since few months, we are now projecting the video on public spaces in different districts around Beijing: on historical walls, courtyard houses, traffic crossroads, modern shopping malls. We like to refer to our work using the concept of MICROURBANISM INTERACTIONS, which combines the sense of small scale urban spaces with the possibility to temporarily use them as a public stage on which the audience’ response becomes the main event.