The Unreadable

26 April 2009

A group of people stood in the park which I pass thru each morning. The group – caught in some complex interaction- contains too many people to take in at a glance – nine or ten – and it's make up is too diverse to instantly frame a title to it. There's an old man and woman, a couple of kids. Three youths. A more middle aged bloke in jeans and a shortsleeve t-shirt. A woman in her thirties. Racially it's all mixed up. A combination of Moroccan and maybe Turkish, plus some White – French speaking Flemish I guess. Some mixed race in any case. Hard to say much more than that they are all standing and that they are all somehow looking at each other. It's not a family. There are at least two groups or factions that seem to be in some kind of interaction, maybe more than that. It's not clear if it's an argument, a confrontation. Looks like it might be. Or the aftermath of one. But the whole thing lacks any urgency, is too much an apathetic tableau. That's what I'm seeing as I get closer and I'm aware that I'm reading it hard – trying to figure what I am walking towards, the scene I will soon walk past. Every gesture gets processed somehow, each tone of voice, each line of eye contact between them or move gets flagged but still the thing is a blank to me. As I get there the main interaction seems to be between two of the youths and the middle aged guy on one side and the older couple on the other, grouped with the middle aged woman maybe, and the kids, which float around, hard to pin to anyone in the scene. For a moment I think it's the end of some incident – someone stepped on someone's toes, or bumped into someone (neither likely in the almost empty park)… but soon even this reading is unsustainable. As I get there the three (youths and middle aged guy) are drifting off but just as I use this as a clue to decide they are 'together' they're parting ways, heading up the path separately and without speaking to each other, clearly part of different narratives. I'm left with nothing, no clue what that was all about. This is what I like about the city.