Seeing People in Cities, Perpetually

As a professional pursuit, achieving the “human scale” in cities has been in vogue for some time. In Seeing the Better City, I give considerable attention to how all city dwellers might embrace this principle, and learn for themselves how to prioritize their own responses to urban change.

As a first step, I recount examples that show how our own personal understanding of the built environment is as important as the objective buildings, structures, streets and infrastructure at the center of civic discussion and debate. My specific “urban diary” technique encourages photography that underscores relationships between people and the built environments around them.

Yet, other forms of expression also show these relationships, with irony and a sense of style. Recently, I recalled examples that I assembled a few years ago, that focus on a sort of visual activism---or public art---featuring omnipresent people, even when no one is really there.

These example follow, respectively, from Madrid, Seattle and Tel Aviv. They illustrate several mannequins, as constructed as the buildings they adorn. But, in each case, inanimate proxies also champion the critical importance of human presence---or the lack thereof---as well as the human scale.

Seeing the Better City is available now from Island Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookseller.

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