dinsdag 6 september 2011

Deep topography with the Postman Pat fraternity [Updated]

Deep topology as defined by Nick Papadimitriou (earlier) is the 'detailed study of place' and as a one-month old member of the Postman Pat fraternity I can inform you that no avant-garde technique can match the deep topological effects of the post delivery trade. The deep topology student on his or her rounds is not just made thoroughly familiar with the exact psychical proportions of a neighbourhood, the way a street snakes through a neighbourhood, the way streets interconnect, the way houses confirm of disobey the general pattern of letterbox placement, the way uneven distribution of house numbers (added or subtracted) reflect later additions to the original street plan. It also delivers unique insights in the social composition of a neighbourhood. Births, birthdays, deaths, the type of magazine you read, urgent letters from the tax office: your postman knows who you are. 

As somebody who walks I had never before imagined that the simple, repetitive, obsessive act of visiting every individual house of a street is such a good, dare I say Deep, way to enter into the  domestic arrangements of unrelated people spatially organized through some delusional urban planners street plan. Walking the same 2/3/4 streets four times a week is repetitive but it is exactly what creates the awareness to the finer points of streetological group theory. That I am working in my own neighbourhood adds considerable to the sensation of spying and I have discovered a few things, places (an overgrown football patch) and patterns (bamboo gardens) that I would never have found otherwise (expect future posts). 

Until this week I didn't have my own round and instead I was given several different rounds to work for a span of one or two weeks. Last week I started with my own round in the nearby Garden Village for the next two or three months and I am expecting hallucinatory effects during the breakdown of my post-bicameral mind. Garden Village is a 1930ties 'garden village' (literal translation) modelled according to Wikipedia on English examples. It's very affluent now and I am looking forward to my close-up encounters with an example of this type of city planning fantasy.    

Every round is identified by the four numbers and the first letter of the postal code and constitutes an (approximately) one-hour walk. The above image shows the rounds I have done in Wittevrouwen, each round in a different colour and with the street plan drawn in white; the shorter the distance of the router the higher the higher the concentration of houses. Below are my two rounds in Tuindorp. 

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