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Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

Forgive the recent silence; I have been preoccupied by a tough deadline. I was asked to write about my city museum research for a collection of essays on cities and memory, to be published (in Finnish) by the Finnish Literature Society. Now that I have sent my draft off to the editor, I can turn my attention back to you, dear reader.

One of the topics I discuss in my essay is historically-themed public art. I think it can be a particularly interesting way to interpret city history, and at the same time build meaningful urban spaces. Here are a few examples of particularly successful pieces:

First, there’s the sculpture pictured above, at the beginning of the post. It’s Balancing Act by Stephan Balkenhol, on Axel-Springer-Strasse in Berlin. It poignantly marks the borderland of the Berlin Wall with a larger-than-life figure of a man, perched on a section of the Wall as if it were a tightrope. The effect is iconographic: anyone who knows even a little bit about the history of Berlin immediately gets the message with no need for complicated interpretation. (more…)

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Wayne & Sally Roddom/Creative Commons

Another essay in City Museums and City Development is written by two curators from the Museum of Sydney, Caroline Butler-Bowdon and Susan Hunt. Their approach to interpreting Sydney is something they call “thinking the present historically.” The museum staff uses the past to inform the present experience of Sydney residents, with particular attention to contemporary social and political issues and to the city’s ethnic diversity. Therefore the goal is not simply to illuminate Sydney’s history, but to make a statement or ask a question that is relevant and useful to today’s Sydneysiders. (more…)

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Earlier this week I blogged about my interest in combining GPS and city history.  A colleague recently sent me a link to a project launched by the Powerhouse, Sydney’s  museum of science and design. Today I had a chance to sit down and explore. It uses Layar, an augmented reality tool. If you’re saying to yourself, “Hunh?” then here’s what it means. If you have an IPhone or an Android phone, Layar registers your location and will pull up GPS-encoded information—for example, the closest café, any public events currently taking place, nearby “Tweeters”—as you walk around. In other words it augments your experience of a real place.

The Powerhouse has loaded historic photographs of Sydney into Layar. The photos are geo-tagged with coordinates as close as possible to the photographer’s original viewpoint. That means you can pull out your phone in the central business district and pull up what Sydney would have looked like from that same spot in, say, 1926. (more…)

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