Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

2. Sense perception and Identity

Human Matrix

Mapping of Cultural resources

Cultural planning



2. Sense perception and identity

Cities seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted and sensed by children and youth compared to adults, working population, visitors and those who have never heard of the city but image something

Altering the conditions for imaginative reflections of meanings of places, people and what constitutes an inspirational life style

Education – formal and informal learning processes

Public art e.g. Cardiff Port or cows in Athens


2.0 Sense perception and identity

"The environment is experienced through all our senses and yet more attention is paid to the visual experience than the experience through our other senses. Macnaghten and Urry (1998) refer to the ˜primacy of the visual™, and Bull (2000) goes further by saying there is no contemporary account of the auditory nature of everyday experience in urban and cultural studies. The acoustic component of the urban environment has mainly been investigated in relation to noise pollution. Further, Classen et al (1995) refer to an ˜olfactory silence™ and argue that the sociology of smell is repressed in the modern West, and that its social history has been ignored. And Malnar and Vodvarka (2004) ask what the built environment would be like if sensory response, sentiment, and memory were critical design factors and equals to structure and program. While it is obvious that all the senses are involved in human interaction and engagement with the city and while it is clear that research is being carried out from a multitude of disciplinary perspectives there is still much to learn about and from these relationships. Do date there has been no systematic compilation of work being carried out in this area."

(Note: this introduction to a special edition on ‘senses and the city’ was published in 2005 and can be found at:http://www.bergpublishers.com/uk/senses/senses_about.htm)

Will it be possible to describe sense perception without getting involved necessarily in the controversy between 'certainty of senses' and concepts? Hegel denied in his dispute with Jacobi that the senses can be a source of truth; this is only possible when verified by a concept defined independent from subjective experiences. As such it has given rise to abstraction and abstract concepts very much used as well in planning. Consequently most of the time cities are devoid of what appeals, stimulates and provides orientation at the level of sense and sense perception. Modifications have been made according to cities complying to special needs e.g. of handicapped people. Those in wheel chairs have special ramps and lowering of the pavement to allow the crossing of the street. For blind people special sound effects at traffic lights allows them to know when it is safe to cross the street or when not to.

Naturally posing this question about a possible linkage between sense perception and identity, there comes immediately into focus the different experience when walking through the streets of New York, Manhattan in comparison to the ones in Perugia, Italy. The sense of proportions is very different. The sky scrapers alter the size of everything in the streets way down below while climbing stairs upwards past ancient Renaissance houses makes one wonder how people manage to bring their goods home every day.

Posing the question can make any city appear like a sense reduction to basic elements: 20th century houses compared to Bauhaus buildings, overhead trains running over steel grids, or wide avenues ending up in the district of government or of the rich, parking garages four storeys high to show how cars can be compiled at one spot and still retain the problem of finding a parking spot etc. Alone such a list at a glance can touch upon different time periods and what sense is related to that specific period e.g. industrial times, post modernism or just plain neutrality. It all comes down to a city offering very often just a bleaque existence especially when it rains and the taxi driving past splashing one wet. O no!

There are still odd things off-setting this trend of compartmentalizing life or as Dostoevsky put it a failed attempt to squeeze the human soul with million possibilities into a three dimensional frame just to appear as if something concrete and existing. The city as a manifestation of power over the human soul is a blunt, brutal and short-sighted sore in the eye whenever that becomes more apparent. Often it is forgotten when crossing the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan that life is about what the senses take in and how out of this results the perception not only of our immediate surrounding, but also what is our identity in terms of the reality we perceive by means of our imagination. The latter allows us to look behind the scene or what reality offers first at hand. Naturally this is no go picture or a ready made statement for the imagination can be missing first of all due to the poverty of experience prevailing in the city. Literally it would mean if so the case that there is nothing which appeals to our senses and therefore we are forlorn in those various streets, houses and people on the move almost twenty-four hours a day.

The surprise will be when someone says to the neighbor on a park bench "I smell the winter coming" or a young man falling in love with his girl friend from school and asking her shly, but with expectation to have a common future with her, if she hears the laughter of the children across the street on the playground. One day when the child has arrived another time zone will be entered by staying with the kid on the playground. That time zone is set apart from the fast moving cars and the work process enter once they have gone through the rotating doors of the buildings they work in. Time zones may differ for the elderly who have left that hectic behind while the young executive has not even figured out how he will combine dinner appointment with the need to still write the report for the meeting tomorrow. From a bar there drifts out into the street when no cars pass by the sound of someone playing the saxophone. And it is another time zone when tourists arrive to take pictures of themselves in the park with the statue of Liberty in the background and at a certain distance. To have been there where others were never is a way to occupy time and place in a seeming way of attempting to sense time and place from the outside while not looking in exactly but getting some impression of what it is like to live in New York or in any other city one might be visiting at the moment.

As to seeking an identity within the boundaries of a city often consuming energy as much as giving energy when lucky to find a job, a friendly face or even a new perspective in the painting seen in the Guggenheim museum, it goes without saying that resistence is needed against all kinds of temptations. It is already easy to get lost in the numerous streets not familiar to one as over the years everyone develops his or her personal map. Orientation is based as much on what one can identify with as much as what lends some extra validity to one's claim of having a specific identity. No one wishes to feel out of place. And there are many places in which one's own identity does not fit or goes well with these other demands.

There is always some subtle pressure to conform, the street gang with the sneakers to not wearing other kinds of shoes and the high fashioned ladies would snear at the one who dares to go to any other shop for the hair cut. That means tastes and forms of existences come into play when wishing to speak about identities in the making but like the sea the best is the toss up of a coin to see what comes down onto the ground: heads or tails? Certain are those in their respective identities if they can get lost in the knowledge they will find eventually again their identity once they have pulled themselves out of the entire mess. That might be a loose way of putting it but the way identities are composed they can become as soft as musical scores or else they hide out of fear just behind the next wall in order not to be seen. Naturally of interest is where identity becomes a give and take in conversations, in exchange of information, in making decisions to start as much a new relationship as ending an old one. The interesting aspect in all of this is the continuity at substantial level which enables the binding and entbinding power to go forward with developing still other perspectives on how to regard the constant search for identity.

The artist Rosa Naparstek would say it includes discovering what hidden pain inside of oneself is there since childhood still affecting our behaviour today. It cannot be left alone but is also not easy to digest. For the identity may be well entangled in something like mesh wire. To get out may lead to being entangled still more. Thus while things do not continue in the same way as was the case yesterday, there is that occurance when by chance one opens a drawer to find some old fotos of oneself. The photos depict when one just turned fifteen and happily afloat on a raft. That took place during the summer months. When looking at the photos, then suddenly memories come back. This is when one begins to notice that the friends from that time are long gone. Even when Facebook makes possible the rediscovery of old friends, there are some traces which are gone forever. It is like the whiff of smells coming from the kitchen when mother used to make the apple cake, recalling that is not nostalgia but a creative combination of memory and identity. It is something the senses will pick up immediately and bring about their own turn in the story. When told convincingly as having lived it, then that identity searched for is present in a discrete, often indirect manner, but it is there. That assurance artists can give to those who do not carry within them that certainty. This is because identity is not a given static entity but needs to be recreated whenever in need to be remembered that it is present. Adorno went even further by saying identity is non-identity and only an exposure to this otherness being like a big and empty void can make that search worthwhile. Naturally not everyone is able to face that nothingness as did, for example, Vincent Van Gogh when looking inside himself to find his identity and found nothing to remind him of something.

Perception at what speed or abstractions from reality

When Weizsaecker made his experiments about perception abilities, he related the subject perceiving things to speed. For we are aware of other things when walking compared to running. In the latter case as we pick up in speed we tend to abstract from our surroundings and look only ahead for things over which we could fall or bloc our way. The faster we run the more we tend to perceive things within a space which is free of any obstacles or resistance possibilities to us running as fast as we can. Factually the same applies to the transportation system installed in any city; the faster the cars are to circulate or a train is to move on the track, the less obstacles must be in the way. Perhaps it explains why in a city dominated by not merely its traffic mode or ways of moving about, but by the speed of circulation, the less concrete an identity can be and the more power is given to the ability to abstract.

The problems of modern cities is directly linked to this power of abstraction. It is presupposed by all systems used especially for transporation and communication. They are designed and installed to make possible the moving about of goods and people as fast as possible. This speed is linked to the circulation of money and people as the moving about adds apparently to the extra value gained by bringing a good from Africa to England and vice versa. All these transactions take place without regard for other things. It sets as well the norm which a living process has to attain in time and at all times. That leads to an enormous oversight and distortion in the perception of things. That's why it is worthwhile to look at children and youth in how they see the city. It begins with the artistic like display when things are huge for children, but not for adults.

Voyage sideral 4: la "meteorite" Melies @laciedici@gmail.com

There is written at the back of this card a significant text most suitable for this reflection about speed and what children see, namely:

"J'ai atteri a grande vitesse sur une meteorite. J'ai peur parce que ca va trop vite. J'aime bien ce que je vois. J'aimerai l'explorer mais je n'ai pas le temps qu'il faut."

Signe: un copain d l"arc-en-ciel

Indeed to witness something from outside the planet earth while moving at fast speed, this can create fear, but it is a fear which children overcome by loving what they see and what they wish to explore even though they realize that they do not have the time they would need in order to go on such an exploration.

2.1 Cities seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted and sensed by children and youth

The five sense constitute an amalgamation of different kinds of inputs without knowing how this is then translated into knowing what is smelled, touched, heard, tasted or seen. There is some kind of translation from sense impression to sense configuration. It becomes even more complicated when an inner reflection enables the cognitive process to incorporate in the vision of things the imagination.

According to Wikipedia, the five senses have following specificity as indicated by the following quotes:


"Sight or vision is the ability of the brain and eye to detect electromagnetic waves within the visible range of (light) and, in some cases, determine between varying colors, hues, and brightness. There is some disagreement as to whether this constitutes one, two or three senses. Neuroanatomists generally regard it as two senses, given that different receptors are responsible for the perception of colour (the frequency of photons of light) and brightness (amplitude/intensity - number of photons of light). Some argue[citation needed] that stereopsis, the perception of depth, also constitutes a sense, but it is generally regarded as a cognitive (that is, post-sensory) function of brain to interpret sensory input and to derive new information. The inability to see is called blindness."


"Hearing or audition is the sense of sound perception. Since sound is vibrations propagating through a medium such as air, the detection of these vibrations, that is the sense of the hearing, is a mechanical sense because these vibrations are mechanically conducted from the eardrum through a series of tiny bones to hair-like fibers in the inner ear which detect mechanical motion of the fibers within a range of about 20 to 20,000 hertz,[4] with substantial variation between individuals. Hearing at high frequencies declines with age. Sound can also be detected as vibrations conducted through the body by tactition. Lower frequencies than that can be heard are detected this way. The inability to hear is called deafness."


"Taste or gustation is one of the two main "chemical" senses. There are at least four types of tastes[5] that "buds" (receptors) on the tongue detect, and hence there are anatomists who argue[citation needed] that these constitute five or more different senses, given that each receptor conveys information to a slightly different region of the brain[citation needed]. The inability to taste is called ageusia.

The four well-known receptors detect sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, although the receptors for sweet and bitter have not been conclusively identified. A fifth receptor, for a sensation called umami, was first theorised in 1908 and its existence confirmed in 2000[6]. The umami receptor detects the amino acid glutamate, a flavour commonly found in meat and in artificial flavourings such as monosodium glutamate.

Note: that taste is not the same as flavour; flavour includes the smell of a food as well as its taste."


"Smell or olfaction is the other "chemical" sense. Unlike taste, there are hundreds of olfactory receptors, each binding to a particular molecular feature. Odor molecules possess a variety of features and thus excite specific receptors more or less strongly. This combination of excitatory signals from different receptors makes up what we perceive as the molecule's smell. In the brain, olfaction is processed by the olfactory system. Olfactory receptor neurons in the nose differ from most other neurons in that they die and regenerate on a regular basis. The inability to smell is called anosmia. Some neurons in the nose are specialized to detect pheromones."


"Touch, also called tactition or mechanoreception, is a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors, generally in the skin including hair follicles, but also in the tongue, throat, and mucosa. A variety of pressure receptors respond to variations in pressure (firm, brushing, sustained, etc.). The touch sense of itching caused by insect bites or allergies involves special itch-specific neurons in the skin and spinal cord. The loss or impairment of the ability to feel anything touched is called tactile anesthesia. Paresthesia is a sensation of tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin that may result from nerve damage and may be permanent or temporary.

Source of Wikipedia:


Research into senses and sense perception are important prerequisities for cultural planning. Knowing more about sense orientation will allow a better understanding of how people find their way through the city. In reflecting the impact of what is happening in a city upon different senses, some examples can come to mind: the high pitch sound beeped out at the traffic lights to tell to the blind they can cross now the street means become attentive to special needs for orientation. Equally the smells of the fish market will attract housewives, chef cooks and cats; in old market areas visitors will find all kinds of materials on stands for everyone to touch; and then there are all kinds of places for tasting different foods.

2.2 Altering the conditions for imaginative reflections of meanings of places, people and what constitutes an inspirational life style

Altering the conditions for imaginative reflections of meaings of places, people and what constitutes an inspirational life style can already be a building which becomes like a walk up into the sky once inside and whose content can be viewed from many different angles all while attention is drawn to the fact that public art altered the moment more attention was given to continuity of life and therefore to life after death. The latter question brought about Christianity with its churches replacing the varied and many pagan temples and artistic devotions to all kinds of Gods as used to be the case in Ancient Greece. This is very well exemplified by the building housing the Archaeological Museum on the island of Thassos.

Archaeological Museum of Thassos                                     @hf

Improved architecture is not just merely an alteration in living conditions. It is equally a model on how it is possible to improve the material conditions of life e.g. better insulated walls to keep the heat in and the cold out or solar energy to make possible running hot water. Lately emphasis has been put on less energy consumption. This represents already another kind of advocacy of how to live under what conditions when considering what impact climate change has already and what adaptations are needed to survive on earth altogether.




Evening sky in Vincennes, Paris                                  @hf

Evening light in Athens when looking down Likavitos Street   @HF

sight and vision - what can be seen during day time, at night and in the city where the lights virtually never go out.


There can be experienced the contrast between natural and artificial light, sunset and the lights on for a playground where boys play till late in the night basketball. A third dimension is added to this quality of light insofar as the flash bulb of the camera reflects off the cars parked in the front.

Playground at end of Dafnomili in Athens               @HF

Light and lights

Light plays into sound as the texture of the sound alters with the changes in the light. There is a natural light dimmer and people rush up to each other to greet themselves with the expectation this shall be the day where confusion shall not reroute them and no hardships are incurred as used to be when off the trains stepped the wounded soldiers returning from the front.

Light architecture in Linz – European Capital of Culture 2009

Lentos und Nibelungenbruecke  http://www.linz.at/index.asp

The ability to detect details and then determine colours, contrasts, degree of brightness etc.

how to derive new information - sight seeing but also knowing vantage points from which special sights become visible

Blindness as special need for orientation through sounds and touch

Blind Boys preparing a Kids' Guernica mural at academy in Kolkata


There are sometimes different tones set in life. The BBC recorded noises in New York: metro trains pulling into the station, wind flapping paper caught in the grid of an air shaft, sirens going off of as fire engines race down 5th avenue. For London the sounds of Big Ben at Westminister Hall have become a symbol of freedom. Greek composers compared sounds of church bells in tight city quarters, up on a hill, beside the sea, stuck in a valley. The location of sound is important when there is no longer just noise but something trails and precedes the sounds made by a steam kettle, a woman singing, a dog barking, children laughing, and someone sawing wood. To capture the sounds of a city can be like Herbert Distel did at Stazione Milano also the train pulling in and the voice over the loudspeaker announcing the next departing trains with people rushing suddenly as doors are shut with a slam to let the sound vibrate down the platform until one of the cleaning machines comes by those people waiting at the beginning of the track in case another train arrival on another track is announced. The unexpected jumps then over the tracks like a streak of sun when there is a rift in the clouds above if only to disappear like a thieve over the next tracks to engulf once more the waiting Intercity train in another shadow.

Church bells can be so deeply ingrained in the psyche of a person that she or he will not consider any other place as home, if these bells are not heard. When Marcel Proust reflected upon the search for lost time, he saw out of the window towards the church tower. It was Beethoven who realized he was growing deaf when he saw bells moving but him not hearing a sound. Always church bells had more functions than merely summoning the people to worship; in case of fire or approaching danger, bells would warn everyone as people knew how to make distinction between something being a happy occasion and something very sad. The childhood days can be filled with ringing the bells for the priest while composers of new music would distinguish different sounds made by church bells when in an urban district, up on the mountain, beside the sea, deep down in a valley. This alone reveals a need by mankind to rediscover the senses as something distinct and different from other places as each of them have a unique acoustic.

When walking through the streets many sounds can be heard from footsteps to someone ringing the doorbell and waiting for the buzzer to open the door. In the past women would know when the mildman was coming or children the icecream man. Quite another scale of sound are the oceanic like sound waves created by cars rushing by on a busy street. For many years now people strangely enough sleep by open windows without feeling disturbed by the sounds of the constant rush of cars but they would if the neighbor had a parrot who would suddenly answer the birds chirping away at a distance.

Physically speaking every sound is a vibration swinging through the air. A professor of accoustics would be able to explain that a bit better. Depending upon materials used in the construction of a house, it can be categorized as 'hell hörig' i.e. one in which the walls are so thin that everything can be heard even the cough or snoaring of the neighbor.

While people have developed a need for keeping out noise, this question of calmness or silence can take on a different dimension when rules are designed to prevent children from playing in the courtyard because they make too much noise for the folks who want the afternoon nap. There are cases where people go to court to enforce the closing of the kindergarten next door. On the other hand, people with sensitive ears pick up suble tunes just like a child who knows immediately from what mother says to know something is afoot. Amazing in terms of space and acoustics are ancient Greek theatres. Still today when in Epidaurus it is possible to hear the clapping of hands when way up in the last rank.

Another phenomenon is that dogs can hear an earthquake coming from far away while human beings do not hear anything till it has come virtually upon them. But the air is filled with warnings when everything goes silent: birds, dogs, and even the wind through the trees. That means usually a huge sturm is brewing.

Be the stretch of the imagination it is possible not to overhear the shrill voice of a mother screaming at her child or else to be touced by the soft melodies when she rocks her child to sleep.

Sounds come and go. They can elongate themselves, become intense and then fade into the background as new sounds replace them. It is possible to describe the daily rhythm cities go through by the level of sound altering as they become more intense, reach a peak and then quietened down like a sturm which slowly recedes. At night only a motorbike screaming past can cut through the air.

Examples of interesting projects:

Hearing and Seeing: Kopfstand 09 Eavesdrops on a City’s Acoustics – Linz, Austria
Copyright: Diane Groves, SXC

“Acoustic Maps: How the City Sounds” was the title of an event held as part of the Kopfstand 09 series on September 1, 2008. Following question was posed to introduce the project:

"How can an audible environment be displayed? Can our acoustic surroundings be depicted in graphical form? Anna-Lena Kornfeld, a geographer living in Hamburg, has come up with an impressive solution to the problem of acoustic cartography. Her “Soundslike” project can not only represent the location of acoustical events; it also portrays the urban soundscape’s dynamic peaks and troughs at different times of day. Anna-Lena Kornfeld will present her work at the next Kopfstand 09 get-together on September 1, 2008."

Acoustic Maps: How the City Sounds
A Conversation with
Anna-Lena Kornfeld
Monday, 1 September 2008, 8 p.m.
Hahnengasse 3 / Alter Markt, 4020 Linz


Hear Our Voice aims to work with composers and schools in London, Nürnberg, Prague, Krakow and Rome to devise and develop a musical response to a new libretto of excerpts of poems, diaries and letters written by children during the Holocaust. This process provides a unique accessibility to the subject matter allowing the participants to experience the historical events on a personal and emotional level and not just a factual one. By relating to the stories and experiences of individual young people living through events, young people today can gain a deeper understanding of this complex subject. The work, which will be developed over a two-year period, will culminate in performances by young people who will come together from the five countries in an international memorial event to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the persecution.

Aims of the project are to

Contact: Emily Segal

E pete.emily@t-online.de

Example of another project by UNESCO: MY CITY'S SCENES AND SOUNDS
UNESCO, one of ICAF's Educational Parters, has created an online forum for Young Digital Creators to share a vision of their city, employing digital sounds and images.  The website also offers instructions for teachers hoping to implement this project in the classroom.


Nice & Easy in Athens

Taste is linked to a "chemical" sense. Four types of tastes are made out by the tongue to detect what is sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. To this something which adds flavour. By extension is becomes through an imaginative reflection but also real experience a city adding to the flavor of life and hence people living and working in that city develo a taste for life. This can be a refined one with more and more attending the opera but also those working in the harbor and spending their evenings in noisy taverns can sense a taste for life when a bearded sailor walks in and everyone turns their head to see who is coming as described by Josef Conrad in his novel about Genoa.

Special projects can entail tasting differences while going down the river Thames, a project developed by Alan Dix. They exemplify that many of these projects pick up lived histories retaining more authenticity then present day occurances in daily life felt to have become rather trivial. To pick up a taste for something means also an introduction to a new sense of life by including, for example, new tee assortments or else flavoring ice cream with mistika to be found only on the island of Chios.

Tasting the Waters

Discriminating Identities in the Waters of Blue Mud Bay

Howard Morphy

Centre for Cross Cultural Research, Australian National University

Frances Morphy

Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University

This article focuses on the pattern of sea ownership in the north of Blue Mud Bay in Arnhem Land, north Australia. Detailed research into the specificities of sea and land ownership in the region has revealed a more complex pattern than has previously been supposed to exist. It is nonetheless one that can be accommodated within previous models of estate ownership in Australia. In the article we seek to explain the pattern of ownership observed according to ontological (mythological), ecological and sociological factors. We argue that these factors are relatively autonomous and act as co-determiners of a system that is both flexible and structured. We argue that the Yolngu view that land/sea ownership is ancestrally determined is entirely congruent with evidence of the long-term stability of the system of relationships between groups over time, in particular given that the Yolngu perspective includes ancestrally sanctioned processes of succession. We show how, through the rhetoric of sea ownership and the metaphoric discourse in which relationships between different estate areas are embedded, the land/seascape serves as an underlying template for spiritual and social relationships which simultaneously underlie, and emerge through, social action.

Source: Howard Morphy and Frances Morphy (2006). Tasting the Waters: Discriminating Identities in the Waters of Blue Mud Bay. Journal of Material Culture 2006;11 67-85


Food, society and culture

- cross-cultural perspectives on eating behaviours
- gender and the food system
- recipes, cookbooks, and menu as texts
- philosophical and religious perspectives on food and the body
- social contruction of culinary practices, beliefs, and traditions
- politics of the family meal
- dietary transitions
- psychological, cultural, and social determinants of taste
- methodological issues in the food studies
- malnutrition, hunger, and food security
- commodity chain and foodshed analysis
- food in fiction, film, and art
- comparative food history
- social and cultural dimensions of food technologies
- political economy of the global food system
- food studies pedagogy

Source: Journal “Food, society and culture”  http://www.bergpublishers.com/JournalsHomepage/FoodCultureandSociety/tabid/521/Default.aspx



Smell of rubbish not collected during strike in Athens      @HF

the smell of flowers in the spring to awake a city to new life

the stench of dog shit and other things decaying especially in dark allies

smell coming into the room from the kitchen as opposed to the smell of fumes being burned by cars

Suesskind's novel 'Perfume' as a way to trace a woman across to the other side of the city



Ernst Bloch calls touch the sense leading to a sobering up of truth. When fingers touch the fibres of a carpet to know if authentic, then some added knowledge makes that touch more sensitive to certain things.

It is like the finger running over the skin or a smooth marble piece

There are rough edges and when the feet go over different kinds of pavements, it is not the ground being touched but a variety of surfaces from dirt roads to paved ones over the ancient ones with cobble stones.

2.3 Formal and informal learning processes

One crucial stumbling bloc when it comes to initiating open ended learning processes is that many consider schools and other institutions of learning per definition as the only locations where learning can and does take place. As the world wide Kids’ Guernica proves, there is equally of importance to facilitate informal learning processes especially when they mean letting children and youth enter a collaborative work and thereby invest in their future based on friendship, openness and trust.

Nothing is more difficult then when dialogues stop and instead of empathy for the other(s), enemy pictures and ugly projections upon the others prevail to justify ongoing violent actions. Most of the time these kinds of hostile, aggressive and violent actions are only possible when people are kept in a state of fear, are not informed and have not learned to communicate in a way that violent conflicts can be avoided. Whether in the Middle East or in Africa, often innocent civilians, and in particular children and youth, are hurt by ongoing fights between various power fractions.

This has implications as well for the type of recruitments done from child soldiers to the youth being asked to join Scout like movements but under the auspices of a military command serving still another purpose. Both Hamas and Herzebollah have been proving as quite effective organizations in this sense of recruitment. Other kinds of training to which youth submit themselves more and more have been those linked to Al Qaeda like training camps.

In the case of those coming from European cities and segregated communities, this learning process begins at an informal level and prepares therefore the ground for a deeper commitment and involvement in organizations having something else in focus than mere integration of the children and youth into their local communities. Consequently the understanding of violence has to go beyond enemy pictures and any informal learning process must be linked to such cultural actions which become community based actions by which everyone can enter and participate.

2.4 Public art

Public art serves several purposes but already since the dispute between Hogarth and Reynolds it has also been a debate about whether local or international artists should be commissioned to do the work e.g. painting a wall in a public hospital or commerating a famous person with a plastic. Usually local forces will ensure only a local artist will get the job. Yet from a historical angle it is important to consider whether individuals or schools of thought should be exchanged between cities and different art phases e.g. the Renaissance in Italy way ahead of all Northern European cities and their attempts to deal with the arts.

Definitely one outstanding feature of public art is to overcome the mere functionality of something whether now a building or a square and to give it something extra which goes further than daily needs in recognition the human being does not merely function but seeks a pause in whatever he or she happens to be doing. Whether that is a pause to breathe or to step outside the daily routine in order not to forget life is short, that can also be evoked by a public sculpture so ever subtle but also powerful e.g. Rodin's 'Citizens of Calais'.

Some artistic displays in public can make adults be aware again of what it is like to be a child growing up in such a city.

Sand sculpture on embankment of Thames in London Sept. 09 @hf

Some of the purposes public art serves are:


Boy pulling a goat on Savigny square in Berlin

In the CIED project public art came into focus when visiting the former coal port and seeing what the Cardiff Development concept was for that area in order to attract inward investments which take the local culture into consideration. One crucial element was to provide orientation through public art works before anything else. It was, therefore, of great interest to see sculptures at junctures when there was still nothing else much to see in the area. The coal port had the advantage of few buildings having been constructed. Coal would just be stored in huge piles before being put on ships. Thus inward investments were not confronted by pre existing structures under cultural heritage protection. Still, a sense of local place required a sensitivity of orientation as memory of place can be already revealed by how people give directions and things exist by which people get their bearings of a place and find orientation. If a place is too abstract, then it will be very difficult.

A very different concept of public art is when used to fill the urban or public space with some artistic element containing an element of surprise and novelty. Such was the case when the City of Athens decided to display cows throughout the city. Each of them were done by an individual artist and thus entailed a diversity of themes. That created a connection between the different cows and also showed how Athens continues to be a kind of public gallery with a variety of spaces available to allow for artistic expressions. These works of art became tourist attractions while it bemused the passer-bys on their daily route to work or back home.

Cows on display in Athens

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