Thursday 16 January 2014

From Rhythmanalyst to Rhythmconductor- Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life





Image 1. The book cover of ‘Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life’

In the book, Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life, French sociologist Henri Lefebvre suggests ‘Rhythm’ as an alternative tool to understand and analyse everyday urban life beyond visual recognition. He argues that we can examine the true nature of cities from the human body, the basic unit of urban life, to substantial urban structures through rhythms.
Invisible rhythms are generating, repeating and transforming in cities. Lefebvre categorizes types of rhythm, which deeply intervene the life and make a foundation of law, institution and culture, based on its characteristics. Among them, the author particularly insists to pay attention to two aspects of rhythms that Arrhythmia which is creating discordance between or among two or more rhythms, and Eurhythmia which is staying in the state of harmony and balance. He asserts that it is important to convert Arrhythmia in the city that causes inequality and injustice to Eurhythmia which sustains healthy urban condition.
‘Rhythmanlysist’ is a fresh idea from the book published in 1992. Rhythmanlysist hears sounds of the city and reveals hidden systems behind visual images with sensing and analysing the change of spatial aspects in timing. As a rhythmanlysist, Lefebvre investigates Mediterranean cities. He presents some insights that the rhythms of Mediterranean cities are derived from specific geographical and climate environments, and the rhythms have created different political system and exceptional cultural diversity in contrast to Atlantic cities. Physically, it leads the development of plazas and the importance of stairways which link sloping lands.
Rhythmanlysist could still be a valuable concept to understand complex urban situations. However, we are living in the digital era. As Mitchell (Mitchell, 1999) denoted, the rhythms of our ordinary life are changing by digital communication. Every day tremendous data, which are invisible and inaudible, are generating, and its flows push us into the massive ocean of heterogeneous rhythms. Therefore, new Rhythmanlysist in the digital age needs other capacities. Capturing the digital data in real time and synthesizing it should be essential requirements to create or maintain Eurhythmia. While the cities of the 20th century needed Rhythmanlysist, now it is the time of ‘Rhythmconductor’ who collects digital rhythms, reorganises its tempos-meters-articulations and resonates new contexts. We can easily find good examples of Rhythmconductor like below.

Image 2. London Public Bike share map by Oliver O’Brien.

Image 3. Analysis of Happiness on Twitter during 9th September 2008 to 31st August 2011.

Dodds PS,  Harris KD,  Kloumann IM,  Bliss CA,  Danforth CM  (2011) Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter. PLoS ONE 6(12)
This radical change of the rhythm gives an opportunity to redefine the scopes of each social group. Citizens collect and utilize the data by their mobile devices; furthermore, they solve complex urban problems by themselves. (Desouza and Bhagwatwar, 2012) The role of planners is challenging to make new rhythms by spreading effective information and stimulating civic participation using social media instead traditional managers’ role within mainstream planning structures. (Tayebi, 2013) Also, Scientists’ role is shifting. According to Wright (Wright, 2013), scientific researchers had focused to find reasons of urban problems until the last decade, however; their voices are getting stronger to solve problems and provide alternatives in the decision making process with geospatial data and geographical analysis.
You can find the detail of Lefebvre’s book from Google and Amazon.
Desouza, K C and Bhagwatwar, A, 2012, “Citizen Apps to Solve Complex Urban Problems” Journal of Urban Technology 19(3) 107–136.
Mitchell, W J, 1999 E-topia: “Urban life, Jim--but not as we know it” (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA).
Tayebi, A, 2013, “Planning activism: Using Social Media to claim marginalized citizens’ right to the city” Cities 32 88–93.
Wright, D, 2013, “Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Policy Makers: Whither Geospatial? | Esri Insider” Esri Insider,

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