Reflection-Scape as An Agent Portraying Aggregate Urbanism

by meng cai

Harrison St. & Fairview N, South Lake Union, Seattle, WA

Westlake Center, Downtown Seattle, WA

From a fragmented scene reflected on two rows of huge glass panels on a red-brick-patterned building facade, to part of a golden-grown building top mirrored in a small plot of padded water on a sewer cover, whether it is spectacular, romantic, chaotic, tragic, distorted, or depressed, each image tells a story of how urban space is experienced through an accumulation of pieces, sections, and portions that come across on purpose or just by accidents.

This photographic documentation include photos taken at South Lake Union neighborhood and around the streets at Westlake Center, Downtown Seattle in a clear afternoon in January 2009. These images captured trivial aspects ephemerally reflected on the surfaces in urban spaces, a collection of various frozen moments revealing daily urban life that add up to the aggregate urbanism. 

The installation of glass, polished granite, and other reflective materials in urban constructions and the manufacture of vehicles enables reflection to generate interesting textures on the surfaces of objects and dramatically reveal unusual scenes in urban landscape. These temporary frozen moments are constant changing, but these images are also somehow repeating cyclically in days, weeks, months, and years.

As the parts of the entire urban life is revealed in separate “pieces of mirror”, the trace of everyone’s individual life is reflected on the polished surfaces we passed by. These reflective surfaces blend and blur the boundaries of reality and imagination, which metaphorically indicates that the the aggregate urbanism is a sum of individual micro urbanism. If we see the the agglomeration of each pieces of images as aggregate urban landscape, the individual traces that each one of us left is therefore constitute the aggregate urbanism.

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