Becoming Urban: Sitework from a Moss-Eye View

Discussing an urban walking event, “Moss-Eye View,” held in the City of London as part of This Is Not A Gateway (TINAG, October 2010), this paper considers the ways in which cities may be understood from the view of more-than-human processes and incorporations. The walk explores how new insights emerge into ways of “becoming urban” by attending to organisms, environments and forms of sitework that are not typically fore-grounded in the usual economies of the City of London. The walk explores in what ways mosses in the city might be studied as sentient, more-than-human exchangers of and participants in urban energies, and as in-between and peripheral organisms that connect up sites by working across material, affective, political, socio-natural and imaginative registers. Moss incorporates the material effects of urban ecologies across time and space, and thus forms a process of bio-indication in the city, capturing pollutants and making resources available for other organisms. It is argued that the “Moss-eye view” walking event is a practice-based form of research that might open up alternative infra-urban practices for understanding cities through associations and incorporations of urban life.

Material from this paper has been presented at the Department of Architecture “Lines of Flight” seminar series, University of Sheffield (16 March 2011); and at the “Life Itself,” Visual Cultures conference and MA workshop, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London (28 January 2011).

Published in Environment and Planning A, vol. 44(12), 2922-2939.