Layers of a City

During a trip to Manchester, I got up early one morning and went over to a favorite haunt for some breakfast. It was quite early and a lot of shops in the Northern Quarter weren’t yet open. I noticed something I’d never seen before. Most of the shops had graffiti artwork on their security gates that related to the store name or what they sold. It was so unexpected and they were really well done. I put some photos on Flickr. This got me thinking that there are layers of a city that only reveal themselves at different points.

It reminded me of a photo exhibit I saw in Cardiff—Cardiff After Dark. All the different lenses through which we see cities at different times. Sometimes we will only know a certain layer exists by being present when it is exposed. If we’re not there, we won’t ever see it.

… experience cities based on station in life—what you see or are allowed to see … also what you can experience by time or location or situation (e.g.: a football day is different from other weekend days or a business day).

There are different layers that peel away but also shine through at different times. The layers get exposed over time, through familiarity and regular exposure. However, some are situational and you have to be at the right place at the right time. Entire elements of an environment can be unknown to people, even natives if they are never in that situational space/time. This also reminded me of chemistry—light is passed through lenses/paper or produced when something is burned. A different exposure shines through; it’s the same city but with different light shown on it.