Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space | The National

"For a recent project entitled Mapping Dubai, Elsheshtawy and a team of researchers sought to document the behaviour of people in public space beyond the glamour of the city centre, using heat maps as well as photography, film and note-taking. They trained a time-lapse camera on a street corner outside a Pakistani restaurant in the Hor al Anz district of Dubai. The results are fascinating, with the businesslike atmosphere of the daytime giving way to a hive-like buzz of social activity in the evenings, with people chatting, interacting, watching TV through the restaurant window together and above all using the pavement as a destination, rather than merely a conduit.”

A Mirage in the Desert

It is an enduring and powerful image. The sudden emergence of an oasis in the midst of a desert, or perhaps the sight of buildings indicating the arrival to one’s destination after long hours or days of travel. Sometimes it is real and at other times it is merely a mirage, an optical illusion, intensified by ones desire to reach a destiny, any destiny in fact.

The desert in particular is conducive to this kind of imaginary; its endless horizons and undulating dunes evoke a sense of wonder and endlessness, highlighting our smallness in relation to the earth.

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