AbstractDespite being overtaken by newer philosophical theories Cartesian Dualism remains the common-sense model of spatial understanding. This leads to difficulties when it comes to urban masterplans; not just in their formulation but also in their inevitable critique. This thesis seeks to develop a model of spatial understanding which permits a reflexively aware comprehension of the ambiguous nature of urban identity; something which plays a pivotal role in the perceived success or failure of urban plans. The model suggests that understanding – along with the city as a manifestation of social action – is better conceived of as a process rather than a product.
Key to this proposition is the development of a new practice-based mixed methodology. The researcher’s attempts at mapping the city of Belfast developed into the deployment of psychogeographic walking practices to interrogate the urban fabric. These walks – documented in notebooks, photographs and video – became more sophisticated as they were influenced by the contemporary retranslation of psychogeography into mythogeography – as located in the work of Smith.1 The problem of representing these walks lead to the use of film; a technique which also became gradually more sophisticated as urban narratives – or myths – were incorporated into the filmed walks.
Three mythological themes were drawn out of the textual research augmented by a series of interviews conducted using Alvesson’s reflexive interview technique.2 These were used to develop a narrative which, during a six-month residency with the Digital Arts Studio, was used to produce the forty-minute film ‘Myths of Belfast.’ Combining the urban cinematic theory of Penz3 with mythogeographic practice, the film was devised in such a way as to evade the potentially objectified nature of film; instead intended to have a catalytic effect on the process of urban understanding.
In developing a new model of understanding it is demonstrated that the city is better conceived of as a process rather than a product – a non-ideological approach to urbanism highlighting the importance of tacit poetic interpretations when it comes to spatial understanding. This thesis demonstrates that the unique practice-based mixed methodology developed here allows the city to be considered as such, resulting in an enriched understanding of the urban environment.
|Date of Award||Oct 2018|
|Supervisor||Taina Rikala (Supervisor), Ciaran Mackel (Supervisor) & Liam Kelly (Supervisor)|
- Planning history
- Modernist planning
- Robert Hogg Matthew
- Alfred Brumwell Thomas
- Charles E.B. Brett