Interpreting the 'Timeless and Time-Bound' in Cities

In his latest essay on interpretation of the urban environment, Chuck Wolfe suggests that if we take away context clues cities become matrices -- with blank cells to complete -- where each of us personalizes how space meets time.
August 21, 2014, 12pm PDT | crwolfelaw
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TimelessTimebound_ChuckWolfe02Writing in The Huffington Post, Wolfe suggests and illustrates how:

A uniform filter applied to multiple urban scenes can easily warp time and location, and obscure --- yet somehow enhance -- the reality of place.  Remove color, crop, leave only hint and nuance, and the city can become an off-trail place where inquiry is a form of intellectual rescue and rediscovery.  This simple premise informs our point of view about city life. 

He provides ten visual examples of edited, ageless photographs and asks five associated questions:

  • Is it apparent when the photo occured?
  • Is the location clear? If so, is such clarity based on personal familiarity with the location?
  • Is the context of the scene readily understandable? What more would be needed to offer a more complete answer to questions of when and where?
  • Which element of urban life seems the most important to the composition (e.g. safety, environment, mode of transportation, role of public space, public/private interface)?
  • What questions remain?

Wolfe concludes:

The answers are for each of us to develop and consider, but one message stands out. Take apart the most fundamental things we see everyday. Inquire, and on the rebound, literally and figuratively, each of us will see things in a whole new light.

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Published on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in The Huffington Post
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