traces:the city as a canvas:presented by bert bongers

transport, animals, people, leaving something behind…leaving TRACES…

Simply this shows human and animal behavior, that which we might not have previously thought of until it has left us evidence, as a trace.

Photo: http://www.faqs.org/photo-dict/photofiles/list/3504/4645snow_traces.jpg

They are our lines of desire(Bongers 2010)..creating our own ways, paths, even if there is an existing pathway. For example; where pedestrians have created their own “way” alongside pavements where walkers will go off the path and make their own track worn overtime into the dirt…a similar example is cattle trails, they habitually walk the same way, slowly wearing a trail into the earth, a trace the cattle’s walking movements.

These traces are showing us human behaviour which is not currently catered to. They could be showing us needs and wants which are under the design radar. Another example was the alternative use of newspaper stands for garbage in Central station, which can clearly be interpreted as telling us that there are not enough bins in the area.

Photo: http://news.stv.tv/scotland/east-central/107952-city-and-union-at-impasse-on-edinburgh-bin-collectors-row/

These traces inform us that existing objects don’t facilitate their purpose well enough. as designers, we can see and use these traces and incorporate them into future designs. We use these traces to inform us and our designs to improve upon existing objects.

The city is a canvas as we cover it in footpaths, roads, billboards, signs, gardens, buildings and more. The floor is like a blank canvas to build upon, a 3D artwork, with canvas upon canvas of moving, permanent, and temporary works.

An example of a creative individual using cities as his screen is Finnish student Jürgen Scheible.

The MobiSpray art is about engaging in space, bringing extra tension or play to challenge peoples assumptions about an object or place. Similar to the artist Christo who uses buildings and object from the environment to create ephemeral art by wrapping them up, MobiLenin uses buildings and objects to create highly ephemeral art by painting on them with light and his Mobile phone. (mobispray 20

There is no limit to what your canvas is and what story it will tell us;

where people sit in a lecture theatre by looking at the wear on the seats

how they walk and take short cuts off pavements

what they touch on signage

what are the most often used keys on the keyboard

Photo: http://ccs-pk.chace-school.net/files-2008/dirty%20keyboard.jpg

which pages are flicked to the most in an address book

or purely artistic creations, reflecting emotions or a moment captured in an image

or billboards showing us something being marketed, even when it’s been covered in a new trace of graffiti…


Traces are ubiquitous. They are reminders, story tellers or ancient history, and also that which is not so ancient, and also strong hints shouting at us what needs to be addressed in our next designs…

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One Response to week6:traces

  1. jwoo says:

    looking good…yes, you’re on the right track. A good mix of your own research and comments from the lecture. Perhaps try to reflect on content in the context of your design project if possible.

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