Working on the Urban and Not edition, we came across this interesting book by Robert Alter: Imagined Cities: Urban Experience and the Language of the Novel. Alter explores how literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries (novels by Flaubert, Dickens, Woolf, Joyce, Kafka) reflected a shift in consciousness brought about by the dramatic urban growth of the period.
“As new technologies and arrangements of public and private space changed the ways people experienced time and space, the urban panorama became less coherent – a metropolis defying traditional representation and definition, a vast jumble of shifting fragments and glimpses-and writers were compelled to create new methods for conveying the experience of the city… He shows how writers of diverse imaginative temperaments developed innovative techniques to represent shifts in modern consciousness.” (More here.)
While Alter explores how real cities have informed artists’ imaginings and creative outputs, this cool exhibition demonstrates how we draw on the imagination to envision new cities. Architects, designers, and urban planners imagine cities of the future that tackle some of the big challenges facing urban centers. For example, the exhibition features the work of architecture student Catrina Stewart, who designs a self-sufficient “urban farmhouse” that recycles all of its waste and generates its own electricity, “using feces, electric eels, and fruit, among other resources.”