Over the next few months, you will be exploring public space looking for signs of various sorts. You can think of taking on the role of a flaneur–Baudellaire’s concept for one who moves through and observes space. In this class, the notion behind the flaneur is that while you act as a distant observer in that space, your observations and the work that evolves out of it also directly affects that space. Thus, just as the space around us shape our actions and thoughts, we ultimately have the agency to shape that space as well.
As you act as a flaneur over the next few weeks, keep an eye out for signs and built environments that raise interest in you. Some of you may choose to research a particular site to see what struggles exist between certain parties over the use of that public space. Others of you who do the extra credit assignment might grow interested in how people interact within specific places. Others of you might want to explore how specific sites exclude some and secure space for others. Yet others might be interested in exploring how specific designs of built structures shape the behavior of certain people’s behaviors or how certain spaces are surveilled by certain parties. Whatever you decide, you will research and write with the purpose of contributing to conversations about and or control of that space. By adding your informed input, you will, in other words, be adding to the contesting ideas surrounding that space.
In this forum, you can post interesting signs that you encounter and want to share with the class that may not have relevance to each week’s assignments. In addition, you can post your project ideas there to receive feedback from everyone as well as ask questions about readings or the spaces you travel through.