The view from the living room of our flat, it’s a good place to see people moving, the town hall is at the far end of the square.
Looking at how people move, form into groups and develop patterns of interaction, I’ve been on at this for the last ten years. My paintings’ goals – to find spatial sequences and forms adequate to the energy of individuals in complex social spaces. But looking at people from above with a panoptic view isn’t adequate in itself, mainly because from this position the figure loses its agency, I had a more telling experience recently that found a footing.
Last Sunday on a crowded metro train something became clearer. everyone on the carriage was carrying something of where they’d been or where they were going with them in this momentary ad hoc crowd. But it became obvious from station to station that each person I looked at was also right here, now in this space in some way. There appeared to be a something holding the sentience of each individual in their own way to this passage.
Whether at this point we begin to see a version of the promenade performance or just a sedimented crust of culture linking one person to another is hard to say. We communicate and messages are sent in an envelope of culture, the process ties people together. In french culture, public space is a cogent medium made up of a number of concrete and illusory spaces within which the individual moves.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to be learnt from the view out of my apartment window is in the face of the town hall itself that bounds the far end of the square. When you look at it you’re led over the surface by several series of window frames and the edgings of stylized block work, what links them is that everything from the most concrete structural expression of stone on stone, to metaphorical allusions of animals and vegetation are pronounced with the same rhetorical obtuseness. Everything is illusionistic, ready to be parlayed into the language games in the square below.
What you notice in many parts of this town is the weight of history on contemporary living, narrow dark streets in the old town that would be austere environments to live within. The town hall is an 18th century building and it’s rhetoric isn’t keenly directed today, but it’s processes are still affecting.