Seen On The Street

Words by Urban Sociologist Dr. Rick Mohr




These pictures are full of stories. The characters in those stories include people, objects (cars or tables), spaces (streets or lobbies) and us, the viewers. There are an infinite number of stories, because they are stories that we can make up.

We imagine where the people are going, who they are: their stories.

The things, too, have their own stories. The cars going places and relating–more or less intimately or aggressively–with each other. A proud motor bike, a busy electrical junction, a hinge ready to swing into action. The signs, each with their own personality, sell, regulate and direct. They are humorous, mysterious, meaningless, subtle or explicit. All of these things and people are agents and subjects: protagonists of the hundreds of stories that come to us while contemplating these pictures.

There can also be our stories: stories that we can put ourselves in. They are not the stories of the things and people we see, but stories of us, as if we were there. The spaces between people and things have their own agency and personality, yet they invite us to enter into a relationship with them. We can see ourselves moving through them, sitting down at that table, pausing in that lobby, crossing that road.

Some of the spaces are passages and places to move through. Streets, subways, train and tram lines make movement possible, define it and direct it. Just looking at them takes us on a journey.

There are other places to pause, off these passageways: cafes, seats, tables. Some of these spaces are more restful than others. The most restful in this series is the indoor café, a refuge from the main street, flooded with light and playful shadows. Other spaces are precarious, perhaps even exciting. The tables and chairs interspersed between cars and walkers are just a perch between rushing movements. Some spaces are confusing, and so draw us deeper into them. Glass and reflections form ambiguous boundaries, multiplying the possible spaces, and the things in or behind them.

Each of these pictures invites us to be a narrator or a participant. We can recognise ourselves in these people and things, whether they have places to go and jobs to do, or they are simply paused, perhaps waiting, between actions. Spaces, and pictures of spaces, carry us off, on travels and to places to explore or relax. Busy places, safe places and places that are always on the way to somewhere else.

Words by Urban Sociologist Dr. Rick Mohr