Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Cayce James & Betsy Anderson

We chose to record Seattle’s “DIY” urban qualities at night in order to explore aspects of the city environment that are less visible in daylight. DIY Urbanism, as we perceive it, is the unconscious, collective influence of people over their environment, in contrast to individual, calculated manipulations of space.

Everyday Urbanists argue that lived experience—“a work of life” (Raymond Ledrut)—is of primary importance in the design of cities, and that such living, spontaneous movements must be privileged over the city’s physical form. When light bathes the city during the day, space and information are overexposed. At night, on the other hand, the spatial form of the city is subjugated to experience, to a highly distilled, shifting balance between stillness and action. Certain areas are hubs of activity, intensified by their proximity to the silent and deserted streets that surround them. Our photographs investigate the juxtapositions that occur only at night, focusing on the dynamic interplay between people, light, and the physical environment.

Here everything becomes an artistic medium for human presence, resulting in temporal imagery such as textured footprints on snow or the paintings made by traffic lights reflecting on wet pavement. We sought to exploit these facets of DIY urbanism in a catalog of “tactical” expressions, to borrow the term of Michel de Certeau. These instants were captured between 7 and 10 pm on Capitol Hill, in Fremont, and on the UW campus. In each case we were struck by the strength of the connection between the emotional and social character of the night and its visual expression.

Here are our locations:

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