by Fabrizia Berlingieri, Cosenza

Urban spaces and footnotes

It's not really easy to describe what has been critically defined as an uncontrolled process of semantic reduction of the city in front of the attack of mass tourism.
Perhaps it is not even wrong to affirm that this could be seen as the most interesting and saleable result of a surgical vivisection on the city-body made by the cultural phalanxes of urban studies beginning from the XVIII century. This fragmentation was finalized to decode the urban phenomenon through meaningful and notable points, models, or if you want monuments, able to transmit in an exclusive way a shared and recognizable identity, or in other words what we find today on a tourist map, the signs we follow and search with our fingers.
In real, you would get surprised when you start do some reflections on this pointed finger:
concentrated to find the shortest way, how you do it in children games of the puzzle weekly (enigma journal) under huge parasols near the sea, from point to point, number to number, to find progressively this hidden and new figure, that is the aim/finish of a playful, very personal discovery.
In the case of contemporary cities, that lend themselves more and more to be amazing game-tables for the collective tourism, the object in matter is the map, the tourist guide.
The map reveals another different dimension of the city and of its meaning, a different layer of interpretation.
Framed and squared according to parallel and meridians of a charming naval battle (again a game), put in scale for a pocket size (more proper for risking consultations), almost unique source of knowledge for its user, this map constitutes a guide in the true meaning of the word, it's leading you and therefore it's filtering the action of knowledge trough its instructions.
So let's try to trace an abstract space of what can be called the cartoville game, from the cities of stone to the cities of paper, therefore.
While we are looking at the guide, we bring to our conscious as everything progressively fades away under the representations of tourist info points, of monuments that have to be seen and of those smaller ones that surround, as weak constellations, the axonometries and the facades of the most representative buildings, of the biggest plazas, of the bigger churches that build together an univocal image even too much clear, you could say, a reduction of the places' complexity.
But on the second view you remark, that this reduction is a seeming one and even more get together with a further layering that is adding a surplus to the told story. A complexity that is made of daily migrations, of repeated runs able, in the turn of some decades, to concretely change the physical places, the roads to be crossed as great bazaars and cheerful companies of excursionist desires. This apparent reduction of meaning of the city, created by tourist flows in continuous increase, has represented one of the main reason of its physical transformation, from the paper to the stone again. New densities as flocks of migratory birds, compact, that draw vortexes over the flapping of the head-group's ribbon, they redraw in paradoxical way the city and its spaces of representation. The scenes are cut from the backstage that continues its own stream of everydayliness, not interrupted by the extraneous presences. New densities build new geographies, new nets and grids in which you find the appropriate position, but the question, that comes up at this point is that related to the forms of exchange and to the interactions that these two parameters, city and tourism, can have between them.
Now we are at the point where the idea of space and materiality of the place is getting smaller.
It seems that tourism doesn't have to do any longer with urban space, instead it has to do with the category of the memory, not memory of the places but personal and private memory, a diary, as broken sentences that comes together on the way.
The place allows time to have space, the personal time of seeing and of using the visual iconography, which surprises by being made from bones and flesh.
In this way you discover that these points/numbers in the tourist guide (instead of referring to the things made of stone), are nothing else than references to footnotes, personal precisions. The strange colourful object in your hands refers not any longer to the world of urban representation, but it presents itself under a wrong name. A white sheet of paper on which some numbers, dispersed in a already incomprehensible text, would be enough to accompany remarks. Remarks, written by eyes, which have seen, or better, which have and continue to give meanings, all personal ones, of those presences.

Translation: Fabrizia Berlingieri und Sven Eggers