Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tracking our door to door routes....

The study of human interaction...

Metro Route (GPS used)~

One man catches my attention right away. He is standing against the front of the metro looking at all the people. He stood out to me because most people stare at the ground, but he was observing and watching the people around him, just as I was. The man was probably around 55 years old.
The next people I chose to deserve were the 4 people sitting side by side on the left side of the metro. The first in the row was an old lady, probably around 70. She seemed annoyed with the world, perhaps even angry. Next to her was a woman around the age of 35 to 40. The woman was not alone, but the man she was with was not sitting next to her rather he was standing in front of her holding the railing above. At some points the man and woman would speak to one another, and at other times the woman would be checking her phone as the man seemed to attempt to see what was on the cell phone screen.
The next person seated next to the woman with the man was another woman around the age of 35 to 40. This woman was alone, but didn't seem to mind because she seemed to have her full attention devoted to the newspaper she was holding. I couldn't see which news paper, but whatever it was it was keeping her busy.
Next to the woman with the newspaper was a man around the age of 45. This man's behavior kept me entertained. At first glance it looked like he was reading a paper, but after looking more closely I realized he was actually holding a comic book in front and was reading that. He wasn't paying any attention to the people or things around him, he seemed only concerned with his comic book. I found this amusing because I kept wondering to myself whether he was holding the paper over the comic book because he was embarrassed for anyone to see what he was actually reading.
Sitting across from these four people were four other people. The first, who was sitting across from the angry old lady, was a timid looking old man around the age of 70. I thought he looked timid from the uncomfortable position he was sitting in and the way his arms were crossed over his bag that was laying on his lap.
To the left of the old man was another older man. This man was probably around 60, and he was with a friend who was actually sitting right beside him. These two men, both around the age of 60, seemed to be having an interesting conversation. The man on the right seemed to be doing most of the talking, but his friend didn't seem to mind, because he looked as though he was listening very intensely. These two men seemed to be very interested in what was being discussed, and therefore didn't pay much attention to the other people around them.
Next to the two men having conversation was a woman around the age of 35. This woman seemed uncomfortable and starred at the floor for most of the ride. Her hands and arms were wrapped around her purse. She seemed uneasy.

Bus Route~

Unlike on the metro route there was very little human interaction on the bus. Everyone seemed to be drifting off into their own little world whether it be reading the newspaper, eating gelato, starring out the window, or chatting on the cell phone. Aside from the one old couple chatting beside us and the girl I heard talking on her cell phone, the people on the bus remained very quiet and motionless. I noticed that everyone traveling at that moment was middle aged or older, which I found interesting because I often see young children on the metro. There was not much eye contact made between people either. This is probably partially due to the fact that the seating arrangement faces forward and backwards, instead of towards the center like on the metro. When the seats are facing each other there is more opportunity for unintentional eye contact to be made. We also paid particular attention to the spacial arrangement. We noticed that people seemed to try to avoid being within close proximity of each other. Nobody was touching arms or hands until the bus became overly crowded leaving people no other option, but to huddle close together to make room for others. I touched a man's hand once by accident with my shoulder and he immediately reacted with caution. He looked up at me so apologetically as if he were taking the blame for something and said scusi. I on the other hand hardly noticed that I had even brushed against him. We found that people are much more aloof, absentminded and less enthused on the bus than on the metro where people are speaking loudly to compete with the voice of the person next to them, you hear the sounds of babies crying, instruments from beggars, the chiming of the door alerting people where to get off and so on. The bus takes on a much more reserved atmosphere. It was very interesting to compare and contrast the two. It makes sense now why the bus is so much more enjoyable than the metro...its quiet and there's more scenery to observe instead of having no other choice but to look at the people around you because the walls of the metro block the view of outside.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Final Project...."Race" scavenger/obstacle course

Purpose/ Goal of this obstacle/ scavenger course

~I needed to create a synthesis between my own autobiography and our chosen location, Trastevere.

~The word “Race” takes on a double meaning in my life- both the race against time because running is a huge component of my life and race as it refers to identity because I come from a mixed background. Since I come from a biracial background learning where I fit in and how to perceive myself in the world has been a challenge all my life. This struggle with my identity also brings about two meanings for race as it refers to time. Running for pleasure is free for me because I have no boundaries- the world is essentially limitless at this moment. But as I race against time in trying to compile all I want to achieve in one day, I am burdened by obstructions (i.e. not knowing my way, getting lost, or lack of space from those around me), which inhibit my progression.

~Thus to incorporate these meanings behind “race” (as it relates to my own personal life) with the area of Trastevere, I decided to create an obstacle course. Here you are racing against time because the clock never stops running until you have completed the route challenging you to utilize speed. The objective is to finish in the shortest amount of time. Likewise, you are racing against the negotiation between oneself and this idea of space within a place (learning to fit in/ adapt to your surroundings by overcoming barriers/obstacles that stand in your way). Thus, you end up with a dual identity- who you know yourself to be (physicality) and how you have learned to position yourself within a space.

Rules of the Game!

You and your partner may aid eachother in anyway.
You may gain assistance from any UNKNOWN pedestrian.
Cheating/lying are prohibited
If you cannot complete any part of the course you must return back to wehre you started at which point you have failed your mission.
The clock never stops running until you finish the course.
You may utilize any materials that you have with you, except your cell phone (unless you get really lost).
You are not racing against the other pairs. You are trying to get your time to be as close to my listed time as possible. Whoever has the closest overall time to the time I recorded wins.

* The actual routes of my scavenger hunt are not posted here because I could not upload, but I do have hardcopies. If you would like to take a look email me and I can send you a copy. n.mckenzie@temple.edu.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My tags....

For my tag assignment I decided to put my tagged items in a storybook format. Each of the highlighted words were taken from the titles of each of my tagged items. However, these tags were placed in the story at random. There is no direct relationship between the meaning of the highlighted words as they apply to the story and the meaning of the words as they apply to the tagged items.

This six week trip to Europe has long surpassed all of my wildest dreams and expectations. Having spent all of my childhood years entrapped in a tiny suburban NEIGHBORHOOD I only knew the world as it appeared from the confinements of my home, school, friends and family. I was SMASHED! in between my own world as I knew it, and “the other” …my idealized depiction of what I perceived the unfamiliar existence of people, and places beyond the coast stretching from Maryland down to the southern tip of South Carolina to be like. Gnarls[y] Barkley’s song, Crazy, sums up my emotions at that point in time in my life. The first stanza, “I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind. There was something so pleasant about that place. Even your emotions have an echo in so much space…” really speaks my mind very well. I would cross over my lawn to my hammock, next to the family PaViLiOn, and swing myself into oblivion. My ydob would become limp and motionless while my mind would wonder in time as if I were gazing through a time capsule. I would enter[rance] into a state of enchantment where everything seemed larger than life. From a very young age, I would plan to one day go find this place. The monotony of my everyday surroundings, my inquisitiveness and my mother were my driving forces. My mother has always been my supporter, my biggest fan, by encouraging me to not only dream big, because everyone has dreams, but to center my life around fulfilling those aspirations. I’m finally living IN[side] of my dreams and it is 15 times [%] better than I had ever imagined it to be. Italy is the city of endless tours, but also a place to LOUNGE and take in the simplistic art that lies behind the main attractions. Barcelona, the city that never sleeps, puts all the HOTEL parties to shame! This place that I call my “home” away from home, is the ticket to my ecstasy. I eat, sleep and breathe …Europe!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

following the unknown identity...

It was evening when I chose to complete this following assignment, so I brought my friend Chris along to act as my body guard in case anything dramatic were to happen. I was headed in the direction of the market as if I were heading to school when I saw my lucky target. This gentleman was walking down the street towards me from the Cipro metro stop in a very nonchalant manner. Since he didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry I chose him because I figured I could easily follow his pace for awhile and gain lots of footage of him. I have to be honest though, I feel extremely awkward doing this. Every move he made I stopped dead in my tracks for fear that he would turn around or see the flash of the camera since it was dark outside. Around the market I was able to get relatively close to my target by dodging behind the stands. As luck would have it, as I was crossing the street after the market (street leading to the Vatican), I got caught in action because he suddenly took a sudden turn to the left to cross to the other side of the street. At that point, I felt I had to explain myself, so I wouldn’t come across as some creepy stalker. Much to my surprise he was very approachable (he introduced himself immediately stating that his name was Josh) and actually quite interested in what I was doing. So I decided to do a mini photo shoot of him (I thought since I had already humiliated myself, what more damage could possibly hurt). He willingly smiled for the camera a few times. All in all, I would say I followed Josh for about ten-fifteen minutes before I was caught. This assignment was interesting because he encouraged me to be more daring…and to willingly let go of my conscious self (if only for a moment), which often talks to me telling me what I’m doing right and wrong. Why should I always be consumed with the thought of what other people may think of me?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My indepth critique of Trastevere

Images of the area of Trastevere called Piazza Trilussa...First image is pretty self-explanatory...I just wanted to get a feel for the surrounding buildings. The second image is graffiti that I found on the side of a building...thought it was interesting because it seems to tell a story. A man appears to be sitting on a swing. On the next row I took a photo of the menu at the restaurant I was sitting at, "Friends and Company." The area I was in as I mentioned before was called Piazza Trilussa. This Yorkshire terrier was sitting so contently inside a nearby shoe store. He reminds me of my dog, Sparky, at home because I too have a Yorkshire terrier. It made me miss him. I saw this woman sitting in a store painting on a canvas and I decided to photograph her because I love her artwork that she has on display in the store windows. The image below is interesting because I was able to capture a heterotopia of the alleyway behind me by photographing the colorful table inside the restaurant I sat at so it looks like both images of the strada and the table are meshed into one.
It's 3:30pm and I'm sitting at a table outside of a restaurant called "Friends and Company," which is located in Piazza Trilussa. Try to close your eyes and imagine yourself here as I depict the surroundings to you...It must be garbage collection day because I hear the banging noise of the dump truck around the corner and see a man carrying two trash bags in either hand down the street to the left of me. A woman walks by with her baby stroller. I hear the sound of birds chirping/wind blowing/ and women laughing within close proximity. A little bird scurries past my feet. A blue car parked on my left hand side pulls away now. Two women have just walked by with bags in their hand, maybe they have just gone shopping. I hear the sound of a woman's boots tapping against the cobblestone as she walks. I notice a business man standing in the doorway of the restaurant I'm sitting outside of- He pulls out a cigarette and begins to smoke it while starring at his cell phone. I can't make out his face because he's wearing sunglasses. There is a woman eating gelato..It's making me crave some right now. I smell the scent of garbage now and its making me feel a bit queasy. In the window of the restaurant I'm sitting at I see brightly colored cars- red and blue. A man just walked by and I can hear the raddling from his keys in his pocket. A dog on a leash just walked by with his owner I presume, an older gray-haired man. The same bird that I saw before just walked by my feet again. A guy is peddling by on his bike. I see a woman with very long red dreads in her hair. A server just came out to greet me and I ordered a cappuccino. An older woman has passed by with a cane in her hand. I just noticed the woman who served me has two tattoos...one on her arm and the other one on her back I can only see part of because the rest is covered by her shirt. She wears a red clip in the front of her hair I'm guessing to keep her bangs out of her face. I hear an ambulance in the distance...it's coming closer now. A woman smiles to herself while talking on the phone...she must be happy about something. A gust of wind just blew and the empty sugar packets from my cappuccino just blew off the table. A man shuffles his feet against the ground as he walks. A woman on a bike has her purse sitting in the basket attached to the front of the bike. Many vespas just drove by right in a row...maybe they are following each other. People are beginning to sit inside the restaurant I am at...I can see them through the glass window. A convertible just pulled up beside me on the left and the driver, who happens to be a man, is putting up the roof. I hear the lyrics from a song playing on his stereo..."Take a look at my girlfriend, she's the only one I got..." I'm laughing because he's trying to figure out how to operate the automatic lock to unlock his trunk. I notice a gold chain dangling from his neck with a cross on it...it appears to be heavy. I can see a woman's white bra showing through her brown shirt. A man sitting inside the restaurant is stroking his hair. I just had to switch pens because the one I was using is dying. A man inside the restaurant is bent over cleaning his shoe. The sun is beating down on my shoulder. On the building directly to my left I noticed that on one of the windows the shutters are open and on the other the shutters are closed. A girl inside the restaurant is brushing crumbs off her lap and a man sitting at a table across from her is sipping his drink from a straw. A pregnant woman walks by- she's very thin minus her belly...it appears as if she's very far along in her pregnancy, maybe in her eighth month. I see an unlit cigarette lying on the ground, but I think it may have a crack in it. A woman is walking by with a banquet of flowers in her hand. A woman is now riding by on her bike with a very large brim on her hat. It's very warm now because the wind has stopped. I taste the sugar from my cappuccino on my tongue. A bee is buzzing by the window of the restaurant. I'm laughing because a man just walked by me with his pants belted and pulled up really high above where his waist is. A woman sitting in the restaurant I'm at is pulling on her lip. A man inside the restaurant now waves to a guy walking by outside..they must recognize one another. I just realized there's no graffiti on the wall of this restaurant, but it appears to be on every other building around me....hmm I wonder why this is. A Winnie the Poo character is hanging from the rear-view mirror in a car that just drove by. Tourists just walked by...I can tell by the way they're dressed and they look a bit disoriented...It looks like a mother and daughter. I smell the scent of Indian food from a restaurant up the street, which I passed walking here. The wind blows again. An American couple is sitting at the table next to me speaking English. A woman just walked out on her balcony up above one of the buildings to water her flowers. She quickly goes back inside afterwards and closes the door...disappearing from my view. I hear a man whistling now. I smell bread baking in the oven...it smells very good...kind of a sweet smell. The 125 bus just drove by...I forgot to mention it drove by before, like 20-30 minutes ago. Now there is a new couple sitting at the table next to me...they are speaking Italian. A yellow sheet of paper is lying in the street. I'm not sure where it came from because I didn't see it there when I first arrived here. I'm noticing that on the back of on the pockets on this man's jeans there is a black mark- but I can't make out what it is because he's too far away....perhaps it's a patch of some sort. A woman and her daughter just walked by hand-in-hand. It's a bit chilly now...I think it may rain. It's now 6:30pm.


I find heterotopias to be quite interesting to think about...I never really knew what it meant until our discussion in class. It's interesting how the mirror used to depict a heterotopia serves two functions. It is an example of a utopia because it depicts a placeless place...you see yourself there where you are not. At the same time, a mirror is also a heterotopia because it does exist in reality and it makes the place I occupy at the moment real.

Here we have a mirrored image of myself taken by a row of bikes in Barcelona. I’m a big fan of traveling by foot and bike over public transportation because its better for you and the environment. In Barcelona biking is common…there’s a bike path on every main street and bike rental shops all over the city.

Here we have a mirror image of myself, which I captured outside of an office building as we walked along the main strip of Barcelona where an array of shops, restaurants and other attractions can be found. The palm trees help to capture the essence of beauty for me.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I rarely carry a map with me....

I find that most maps are overwhelming and confusing...hence completely useless to me. The print is often times very fine so I end up skimming over the map fifteen times just to find where I'm presently standing and where my destination is located...Then I spend more time trying to find the best travel route to get from my starting point to my end point. This all seems pointless to me when instead I can simply ask someone for directions. It also gives me an opportunity to practice my Italian speaking skills. My other option is to rely on landmarks because they are easily identified without starring at a tiny sheet of paper. When I first arrived here in Roma I was very apprehensive at the thought of traveling anywhere alone because I'm not good at navigating especially in an unfamiliar city. But I'm finding that as I discover the landmarks within my proximity I am more open to meandering out on my own. In fact, just yesterday I ran for the first time by myself along the Vatican and up the Tiber River. Yet whenever in doubt...I simply ask for directions. Why waste time starring at a map?