Monday, October 22, 2007

London - a global city (1)

Has anyone else seen the fantasy piccadilly line maps? I very rarely travel on the piccadilly line, but last weekend I did and saw the map, which has a futuristic vision of what London might be like.

It's not very good, but reminded me that I need to write about the exhibition Tate Modern had in the turbine hall this summer called Global cities (alas it's now been replaced by a crack - damn my tardiness!!!). I went to see it with my Auntie Eirlys, Cousin Miklos and his toddler daughter Alessandra, all three of them visiting from Canada.
Cities design exhibition
I thought it was a great exhibition. As with a lot of exhibitions I couldn't help thinking that the exhibits could be split into two categories:

  • It's definitely art, but I don't think it's any good
  • It's brilliant, but I'm not altogether sure it's art
The exhibition was essentially about various cities around the world that seem to exemplify the changes of globalisation, ranging from the very poor (Delhi, Cairo), to the rapidly developing (Mexico City, Beijing), to the fully developed (London, Tokyo). It compared things such as standard of living, density of population, levels of immigration... very much the kind of exhibition you'd expect in a museum, not an art gallery.

city termite moundsThe 'it's definitely art' bits of the exhibition I thought generally fell short of the Chindia exhibition I saw a few months ago. The more borderline 'not art things' fared better though. The highlight by a long way was the population density models. They looked like man-made termite mounds. In the photo, London is in the bottom right, Mexico city top left, and delhi and cairo the other two (not sure in which order). So, if you think London is densely populated, think again! Delhi and Cairo are about 10 times more packed. (More photos)

They are art, aren't they. I know they are essentially just graphs made out of plywood, but they also cause a sense of astonishment and wonderment, and impress the meaning behind the numbers upon you far more effectively than a conventional representation could.

city termite moundsI noted in an earlier post that the population of the City of London (i.e. the square mile) is tiny. This model really highlights that with a deep depression right in the centre of London.

I'll write about the other piece of art in another post as this is getting quite lengthy.

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