Exercises in Observation
Close your eyes and imagine the facade of the building where you live. Try drawing it in your imagination down to the smallest detail. Now open your eyes, go outside and look at the facade. Which details did you miss?
Choose an object you own and would like or be willing to part with, and place it in the street. Put it where you can see it from your window or balcony. Return home and watch the street and the object in its new location.
Look at one of the buildings on the street. Focus on one element that you like. The shape of a balcony, the structure of a window, a handrail. Try to locate this element in other buildings in or outside the neighborhood while you walk around the city during the day.
Choose a building that intrigues you, not necessarily in your neighborhood, just a place you have always wanted to visit. Wait at the entrance until someone arrives and opens the door. Enter the building. Does it look like what you imagined?
Imagine living on another floor in your building. Turn on the light and climb the stairs until you reach it. Pause for a moment and look around. You can leave a note to one of the neighbors.
Can you mark your boundaries? Between yourself and the neighbors? Around your building? The street? Try to draw it in your imagination; did anyone cross it? Now delete it.
Go for a walk in the street with another person. Every time you notice something interesting, you should call, “Look at that!” and point in the direction of the object that drew your attention; it could be a small kitten or an impressive balcony. The other person will respond with, “Wow!”
Stand on the sidewalk and imagine a straight line stretching from your feet to the end of the street. Follow that line. Did you manage to do it? What disrupted you along the way?
Choose a familiar destination that you want to go to. This time, choose a walking route that is different from the one you usually take. What changed? Did you feel different? Reflect on the possible reasons for that.
Go up to the roof. Wait for something to happen. Come back inside.
Find a place near your house where you feel comfortable. Stay there for a moment. Close your eyes and listen to the city for a few minutes. What were you able to hear when you closed your eyes?
Stand in a shady spot on the street. Start walking, making sure you are always in the shade. Now move away and walk only on the sunny side. In which of the routes did you feel more comfortable?
Think of a tree you love in the city. Which tree comes to mind? Make the time to visit this tree during the week.
Take a walk that isn’t limited by time and place. Avoid making any kind of choices when planning the trip.
Point of view
Try to experience the street from the point of view of your body. Connect your smartphone to your body at an angle you find interesting and turn on the camera in video mode. Continue walking as usual. Stop after a while and watch the movie.
Go outside with another person and find a familiar spot close by. Now each of you will prepare an inventory, listing everything in this spot. Compare your lists.