Look More Slowly: Archisnap
Presenting unusual views, and unusual buildings, the current exhibition in Manchester's Cube gallery invites its visitors to 'look more slowly' at Manchester's architecture, writes Julian Holder. It is an 'attempt to monitor the progress of a redeemed city' and treads an interesting path between Manchester as a version of Los Angeles and Manchester as picturesque idyll.
Archisnap is the nom de plume of Phil Griffin, a Mancunian writer, whose thoughtful and entertaining commentaries underpin a series of photographs by Hayley Slater-Ling (above). Far from static, the show also includes a wonderful brief 'road movie' of buildings and views from the elevated Mancunian Way - a small section of a never-completed 1960s inner ring road, which gives some of the best views of the city. Other suggestions for viewing platforms include the roof of the much derided Arndale Centre.
This is a useful show of a type which could, and should, be done regularly in all cities as a testimony of the multiple ways in which a city can be viewed. It suggests a new interest in 'Civics' - that early twentieth century movement which sought to make the 'City Beautiful' but which, in the post-industrial early twenty-first century, finds the chaff and the grain of our cities to be of equal weight. Is this relativism gone mad, or an important reminder that streets are for more than retail frontages?
But paradoxically, while the show rejects the convention of an approved master-narrative of the city, it makes you realise how conventional counter- cultural assumptions themselves have become.
Julian Holder is an architectural historian