Isn’t speculating upon the socio-spatial dynamics of atlases something we all enjoy? Don’t we all wonder about the optional possibilities which our public space provides, trying to establish where our personal coordinates may flourish?
Jozua Zaagman works in the gap between art, architecture, sociology and urban planning. He works visually yet analytically, collecting data in the public domain and using it to make a statement about socio-cultural tendencies in the urban environment. He maps traces of human activity, the actual imprints of people in our public terrain, bringing to life markers of a human scale which are otherwise invisible to those in power – the planners, policy makers, architects, etc. He allows these images a voice. This analytical way of working produces a specific spectrum of photos, sound recordings, text material and other data, which Zaagman, by means of applied design, makes accessible to the general public. Through this process he transforms hard facts into visual poetry, both of, and for, a human scale.
Jozua Zaagman used Onomatopee as a base for his research into the public space of Brabantstad – what are the connections between the city’s actual chorographic identities and the way they are generally branded? His research is done by bicycle – cycling virtual north-south lines from one city to another in as straight a line as possible, circumventing the lines on the map, eluding the conventional routes of the cities. He will also walk and whilst walking, Jozua registered traces of specific identities, and so map out the actual Brabantstad. Together with some previous work, the results of this research, maps, photos and audio and video fragments, were displayed, in Onomatopee, as a work in progress.
The publication can be seen as an atlas compiled from a bottom-up perspective, featuring hands on maps and statistics, and insight text into the place and position of this very conduct. It manifests how we, as individuals, live in public areas and how our behaviour there, actually establishes public space. As Jozua charts the actual imprints of people in that space, he acknowledges real urges and personal wishes, tracing them with an entirely new approach. The results point out to justifiable, re-vitalising currents and perspectives towards dominant notions on public space and point towards different forms of planning. She does so by both acknowledging as respecting the marginal needs and manifestations of individuality within public space.
These traced and represented data allow glocal comparison, analogy, mirroring and other fields of analytic investigation within this field. This remarkable, yet highly recognisable, bundle thus offers inspiration and insight into organic, human movements that constitute the actual order of the public – particularly refreshing for those involved top-down.