As part of speaking at Bees In A Tin about my photo walks last month, I was interviewed along with Holly Gramazio for Imperica, an online magazines for digital arts and stuff. I feared I was rambling a load of old nonsense but it all came out rather well, I think. Thanks to Paul Squires for enabling coherence.
How does the appreciation of a given space change over time? How is a new appreciation sought, and how do your own views help to build a re-interpretation of what public space is or could be?
PA: I’m a big fan of returning to the same place over time, and it always disappoints me that when someone has come on one of my routes, they don’t feel the need to come on it again. Over-enthusiastic planners aside, cities don’t suddenly change. It’s a gradual process of entropy, decay, maintenance and redevelopment. Every time I walk through Birmingham I see a new building, or a changed building. Something burns down, somewhere else is given a new lease of life. Every day life happens in the city and it leaves a mark. These marks accumulate, and the story of the city is told.
Revisiting a given space is more than seeing the same place over and over. It’s a different place each time. My interpretation of it is unique to me. There are a million Birminghams, one for each person who lives here, not to mention all those who visit. Each is as valid as the other. We make our own sense of place. I guess that this is why private ownership of apparently public spaces, while interesting, doesn’t overly concern me. We make the city in our own way, regardless of what the “owners” want. Dhruva Mistry’s fountain-sculpture The River isn’t called The River. It’s called The Floozie in the Jacuzzi and there’s nothing Mistry can do about it.