Just as the test of a democracy is how it treats its minorities, the test of the future city is how it cherishes well-being and imagination. The empowerment of citizens to participate directly in the design of their own environment is a pre-condition for the creation of a meaningful future for cities.
Planning can no longer be disengaged from architectural design, as the abstract cannot be disengaged from the concrete. One must create a place that is not a “machine to live in” but a spatially and intellectually rich environment, which mirrors the individuality of its inhabitants.
Daniel Libeskind asks: With all the challenges faced by cities, how do we take into account the role of human desire?
Leon Keer answers: The Internet is the new city. We use the net to share many of our feelings and seek out what we desire. We can digitally organize our messages, relationships and debates. Obviously, this is a wonderful development in terms of convenience. Communication plays an important role in our lives. That also goes for communication through various (social) media channels. As we navigate the online city, however, we are not creating lasting memories. The emotions linked to our original experience are lost forever.
For me, memories are key: the memories that teach us to value our emotions and help us analyze our world. If we want to factor in human desire, we must go out into the street and drink it all in. The street nourishes all our senses. If we use streets well, we can capture valuable memories and create a living, breathing city. I create interactive street paintings to make people aware of their environment and help them share what they are feeling. The lifelike representation invites the viewer to become part of the painting. The illusion–the memory–has now been created.
The images I use often evoke memories of the past. I try to stir up emotions that evoke pleasant feelings from the past. However, I put the memory in a new context to underline that it is something worth cherishing–despite the need for change.