Emma Arnold: Mercurial images of the COVID-19 city
Published in the book Global Reflections on COVID-19 and Cities, Volume 3: Public Space and Mobility.
Multiple and mutable images of the city have emerged during the COVID- 19 pandemic. There is the conceptual image of the city formed in our imaginations: a newly hostile and restrictive space that influences our affective experiences, emotions, mental health, and behaviour. There is the perceptual image of the city that has aesthetically and materially changed: redesigned and reconfigured, marked with new materials and by novel forms of litter. These conceptual and perceptual images are in turn forged through the new images in and of the city that we encounter and create. There are the images in the city: signs that instruct us how to act, messages hung in windows, and diverse forms of graffiti and street art. There are the images of the city: photographs that document these changing forms, atmospheres, and aesthetics of space. This chapter examines the relationship between image and city during the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects on these mercurial images: images in flux that reflect and communicate different aspects and stages of the pandemic. Referring to photographs taken in Oslo, Norway between March and October 2020, this chapter asks: How does the COVID- 19 city look? What is the image of the COVID- 19 city? How do these images and pandemic aesthetics impact our urban imaginations?
Global Reflections on COVID-19 and Cities, Volume 3: Public Space and Mobility, edited by Rianne van Melik, Pierre Filion, and Brian Doucet and published by Bristol University Press.