Thursday, 21 January 2010

Urban navigation

In the midst of an interesting, but yet-to-become-exciting Sydney Festival, I've happened in the last week to read two gorgeous blog postings about civic navigation.

In a post entitled 'The things nobody tells you about Berlin', intrepid guerrilla semiotician and international-woman-of-mystery Jana Perkovic reflects elegantly about the "combination of relaxed slowness and elephantine change, of poverty and big projects" of Berlin, a combination which "means that everything that is imaginable may be possible. Not always in the perfect way [...], the cleanest and neatest, but it may be there, just inside a courtyard or underground or some distant U-Bahn stops away. Berlin is a New World, right in the centre of the Old." Read more here. Given that it was only last Friday that I lodged my funding application for support to attend a major theatre networking event in Berlin in April, I read her post with much enthusiasm.

Also navigating Berlin, amongst a wide range of other cities, is Geoff Manaugh's post 'Nakatomi Space'. A dizzying reflection on urban navigation through the violent re-organisation of architectural features in both cinema and the real-world, Manaugh somehow manages to build a theoretical narrative arc from the first Die Hard film, to recent Israeli military tactics, to the contrasting modes of urban navigation in recent Bond and Bourne films. In the post, he cites a commander of an Israeli paratrooper brigade stating: "There is no other way of moving! If until now you were used to moving along roads and sidewalks, forget it! From now on we all walk through walls!"

It's frightening and deeply impressive. Inspired, I've re-watched all three of the Bourne movies this week. In the second and third movies, Berlin didn't quite look as Perkovic has described it, but I guess I have to navigate this space for myself, just to be on the safe side. I will, however, almost certainly stick to the streets, rather than making new paths for myself over rooftops or through walls.

2 comments:

Alison Croggon said...

Have you read China Mieville's The City & The City? I think you might like it...

Fawad Tariq said...


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