Studio 2: Following


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“…Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any once place is always replete with new improvisations.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities



As Jacobs mentioned, the “sidewalk ballet” is like the “art form of the city” in the sense that it can be analyzed and has its own individual characteristics that depend on its owner.  I was following a man in an olive-green coat. His dress was very normal and not too flashy. His walk was very confident – he had a straight posture and broad, expanded shoulders. He was in no rush and walked in a slow and steady pace. He kept a distance from other people and vehicles, only crossing the street when the walking sign showed (as opposed to others who cross when the stop sign was on). From this, I can assume that he is very patient.


As I was following the man, I couldn’t stop laughing from nervousness and kept looking back at my partner. I tried to act calm and relaxed, but looking at the second photo, I was the exact opposite (misgiving!).  My posture in the second photo completely gave off that I was following the man in the olive-green coat. I became more aware of where my body and head was supposed to turn to act normal, which I never thought of before. My sidewalk dance was affected every time the man turned or stopped since the panic that was going on in my mind showed in my walk. It was also particularly difficult to match the pace of the man since everyone’s pace is different.

By following one person, I realized that everyone on the streets had somewhere to go – that they are not just people walking.

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