06 June 2008

On looking up

looking up
Originally uploaded by tokyohanna.
My parents were in NYC last weekend, and one thing my mother kept mentioning was that people don't look up enough as they walk around this fine little city.

She's right. One day last summer, I decided to walk a different way home than I always do, and I noticed so much. It almost felt like my first time in New York, ever. By the time I got to more familiar surroundings, I was so accustomed to noticing new things that I looked up to keep the momentum going. The streets that I walked down every single day looked completely different. I had no clue that a certain apartment building in the East Village had Hellenistic-style sculptures on the top of it, for example. It was during this walk that I got the idea for week color food, actually. I don't think it was a coincidence; by exposing myself to a completely new environment, my mind seemed to open up and be receptive to possibilities.


I was just reminded me of this whole "people don't look up enough" thing upon reading this fantastic post on PingMag on the street lamps of Tokyo. I guess I didn't look up enough over there either, because I don't remember seeing all these wonderful ones. As they wrote, "We take them for granted, yet they have been carefully designed and engineered to shape our impression as well as our behaviour in the cityscape."

The post is really great, talking about different reasons for lamp posts, the different kinds, the fact that levels of brightness or color intensity can make people behave in different ways, and more. Urban planning is so damned cool.

Try it out on your way home tonight. Look up, and you'll see the other half of everything you pass by every day.
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