Constructing Visual Narratives of Place

The seminar explores the representation of identity and memory in the city and its territory. The case study is Boston in its large surrounding area, the so-called Greater Boston, whose memory and identity are directly connected to the perception of its inhabitants and visitors. Such memory and the history that has characterized it since 1960—the year in which The Image of the City by Kevin Lynch was published—has influenced and conditioned the way we look at cities all over the world, the way we perceive those cities’ expansion, and how we acknowledge their new horizons.

The course aims to use this memory and identity to make visible not only the city of Boston but also the larger scale of the Greater Boston metropolitan area.

The complexity of this territory and its imageability is still something that requires deep research and interpretation. The seminar will especially consider the emerging topics of climate change adaptation, sea level rise, and their implications for the displacement of individuals and communities across physical, social, and political levels.

The observation of this area is based on two principles. The first is to define the field of survey, starting from the geographic systems and the big environmental area. The other is to have a richer and more complex picture of the inhabitants of this territory and to focus more on their collective memory and identity.

The final goal of this research and work is twofold: first, we will visually define the public image of the city on its larger scale. Second, we will explore possible future scenarios for Greater Boston, starting from the observation of the present conditions, predictions, and projections of climate change. The course intends to provide tools of observation, reading, and interpretation of the territory and it has the will to communicate stories about different visions of this metropolitan area in a more narrative way. The students will use a variety of media: mapping, drawing, collaging, shooting, and storyboarding.

The work will be divided into three sections:

1. The Big Map: Postcards by Greater Boston.
2. Short movies: The life of Greater Boston.
3. Storyboards: A new narrative for possible future scenarios in the Greater Boston area.