Thursday, 18 February 2010

Of Time and the City: (Utopian?) Cities as Traffic Machines


The University of York, Department of Sociology


Wednesday 24 February at 4.15pm in W/222

Daryl Martin, Department of Sociology, University of York

'Of time and the city': the M62 and the new landscapes of Northern England

This paper discusses the recent suggestion, by the architect

Will Alsop, that the future prosperity of Northern English cities should be achieved through merging into one discrete urban entity, facilitated by the M62 motorway. The paper will locate Alsop's plan within the concerns of the mobilities strand of social science research, as well as architectural theories of urbanism and contemporaneous governmental policy. The paper continues to contrast Alsop's use of the M62 with the use of the road network in the films of Patrick Keiller, which also present the current English economy as premised on the motorway and its mobile spaces.

Aesthetically, the landscapes presented by Alsop and Keiller appear to be dissimilar, with Alsop proposing a flamboyant speculation on the future regional landscape and Keiller offering a quotidian description that is ambivalent about the narratives of prosperity and decline associated with these cities. Yet both Alsop and Keiller share an understanding of the evolving nature of provincial landscapes wrought by automobility and, in
their different ways, offer imaginative and critical responses to these changes in the present-day experience of place. The paper suggests that Alsop's and Keiller's work speak to a transformation of everyday life in the
West, both in spatial terms and in the individual experience of time, and the resultant shift in the perception, parameters and definition of the extant city.

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