Together with social planner Victor van Maldegem, I investigate the different ways in which the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica (hereafter Appian Park) can be perceived. By not visiting the park itself, but by basing our research on conversations with its users, we hope to collect a number of unique representations of the park. The Appian Park is ideally suited for this research; it is a park with many different faces and can be experienced or observed in many different ways. It consists of 85% private property (houses, gardens, lawns etc.) and is used and visited on a daily basis by hundreds of locals, city dwellers and tourists that use the park for walking, picnicking, photography and doing sports. The Via Appia Antica is one of the oldest roads in Europe and runs through the park. It attracts a lot of attention because of its history. In addition to being attractive for historical and archaeological research, the Via Appia Antica enables many commuters to travel from A to B on foot, by car or by bicycle. All these different users perceive the park in a different way and thereby claim other interests. Our research and the artwork will bring these different perspectives to the surface.
Our research is inspired by Kevin Lynch and other researchers who followed in his footsteps. Kevin Lynch is one of the most influential planners of the twentieth century. Lynch, born in Chicago, was both an urban planner and a social scientist. Much of his research focused on the perceptual form of the urban landscape; with this he was an avid user of mental mapping. This form of research is also evident in his most important work ‘The Image of the City’ (1960). A mental map indicates how a person views and interprets the environment on the basis of previous experiences and standpoints. It is not a geographical map, but a representation of the cognitive image that an individual has formed. Together with Victor van Maldegem I will interview 4 respondents and ask about their perception of the Appian Park. However, we will not combine the results of this research into a single map that shows a common picture. I will process the input into four unique miniature landscapes; one landscape for each respondent. These landscapes will each occupy a quarter of a round table. Together they form a shared landscape in which everyone has his own place without concessions. It is then up to the viewer to see if it is possible to make this into one shared landscape.
The result will be presented in the middle of a dark room where four miniature landscapes on a round wooden table are highlighted by a spotlight. Based on the perception of the users of the Appian Park in Rome, these landscapes each reflect their own reality. Around the table are four high projection screens. The screens in turn show a film portrait of a life that occasionally relates to the park and one of the landscapes. Four different worlds are slowly becoming visible through the eyes of its inhabitants. The visitor is able to walk around the table and between the screens, witnessing the imaginary world of the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica.
Maarten Davidse works together with Victor van Maldegem (urban planner and MA Cultural Heritage Studies VU) and Dennis Muñoz Espadiña (artist).