The City is Alive

The city of Berlin is the Mecca when it comes to urban everyday culture communication. There is no other megalopolis in Germany and perhaps even not in Europe, where such a lively accumulation of bits of papers, so called notes, can be found within the public cityscape. These notes stick on walls, lampposts, traffic lights and trees and are as well traceable in hallways, underground stations and on notice boards of copy shops, universities and supermarkets. They reveal the everyday life of a metropolitan and allow a deep insight in the soul of a city: What bothers its inhabitants, what matters and what worries to the them and is so crucial that they feel the need to communicate their opinions, feelings and ideas by writing and placing a note?

Sure, the World Wide Web with Facebook, Twitter and Co. is undoubtedly the communication medium of the 21st century, however it does not replace the simple note. Our ancestors expressed their thoughts and emotions in cave paintings, Egyptian gravesites and picture cycles in churches. The ostracism of the ancient Athens enabled the Greeks to bring a charge against someone in public and Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on a wooden door at the church of Wittenberg. Since the 15th century the residents of Rome attach small slips of paper – addressed to the magistracy – at the pasquino, a fragment of an ancient statue. The citizens of today continue the urge to communicate and use their own city as a platform for this purpose, with pen and paper.
This form of communication is reasonable, fast and easy to implement. It allows enormous design flexibility but its main advantage in comparison to the World Wide Web, radio, television and classifieds in magazines and newspapers, is the fact, that one can place a note right there, where one would expect ones „target audience“ (for instance: hallway to inform the neighbours; specific street to find an apartment, the lost cat or the stolen bicycle; notice board at university to offer tutoring, sell books or leave a political statement).

Since October 2010, the blog www.notesofberlin.com publishes daily at least one note of Berlin. The project is not only a tribute to Berlin and the creativity of its residents, but also tries to capture the character of the capital, on the basis of note-findings. The notes are negotiators of up to date social reality and walking with open eyes through the streets, enable everyone to discover little treasures of urban everyday culture. At all times. Almost all over in Berlin.

Weserstr.1 Mr.LabosoA wide collection of notes will be available in book form as of June 8th under the title „Wellensittich entflogen. Farbe egal“, published by Ullstein press.

written by Joab Nist

2 thoughts on “The City is Alive

  • June 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm
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    Cool. Great idea. I wonder if this just a Berli-communication “thing”? Are there any other cities (e.g. US) where such NOTES can be explored?

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