Berlin Lab

Urban Micro-Lens: An Interview with Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose, Berlin Lab Team

The Lab Team in Berlin will have an overarching theme of making and doing—empowering everyday citizens to create and improve their own cities. Within this theme, Lab Team members have each chosen a special focus based on their skill sets and backgrounds.

Corinne Rose is a psychologist and artist who examines the interactions between urban space, art, and psychology. At the Lab she will focus on the Urban Micro-Lens—microanalyzing urban environments, the unconscious processes of urban life, and the perception, communication, and emotions within urban contexts.

This is the second in a series of four interviews with Lab Team members to provide a sneak peek of what we can expect from their programming in Berlin. Be sure to check out my interview with cocurator Maria Nicanor about the overall programming structure in Berlin, and last week’s interview with Lab Team member José Gómez-Márquez, and stay tuned over the coming weeks for interviews with Lab Team members Carlo Ratti and Rachel Smith.

Let’s first talk about your main topic, the Urban Micro-Lens. What does this mean, and how do you hope to explore it at the Lab?

My interest in this comes from the development of my career. First, when I was working as a psychologist, I was using video-based communication analysis to reveal behavior patterns in communication or interaction situations, which take place or happen unconsciously. Through visualizing them in micro-steps, milliseconds, freezing things that normally happen very quickly in the world, you can make them conscious, and people can then start to react to them in a different way. So I was very fascinated by that technique and was using it a lot in my coaching and advising sessions as a psychologist.

In my dissertation, I was also very interested in that unconscious way of processing things, and I also made a video-based research about signals and minimal differences in signals. These are perceived unconsciously in communication situations, and the impact these minimal differences make on an unconscious level on behavior or feelings, or the development of a personality if it’s a child, is huge.…

Now I work as a photographer, and I enjoy focusing on phenomena that you do not consciously process or perceive.… In cities these phenomena exist so often. There are so many hidden layers that people experience and they have a feeling about or are sometimes conscious of. But to zoom into these phenomena and understand more about the city and the interactions of the city, and to focus on communication processes—I think a lot could be solved in the city if we focus on communication. So, it’s the transference of these techniques onto the urban organism.

Why are these emotional, unconscious, sort of intangible aspects of city life important to focus on?

If you want to have an influence or understanding of a phenomenon in a special district of a city, you have to zoom in and try to understand the little pieces from which the large scale is built up.

Can you describe how you hope to interact with the public at the lab? What will be the hands-on/maker aspect of your programming?

I would love to inspire people to investigate their city and also dive into these processes; to reveal things or observe things, or follow things they want to understand, or create a portrait of something they experience every day, and just grab this phenomenon and visualize it, work on it, or work on how to change it.…

I would also like to have some theoretical input on how we perceive the world. How do we process things unconsciously? How is our brain processing architectural structures or urban structures or phenomena, or how do we make friendships? What about diversity and prejudices? There are so many things that would be interesting to understand; why the brain or human beings do things certain ways. Why do we prefer certain things? What is the neuroscientific reason for this?

What do you hope visitors will see when they begin to analyze the city on a more micro level? And what do you hope to learn from their new discoveries?

I hope that they see some aspects of their city with new eyes. I hope this will open new resources for them or empower them to solve things, and just give them some understanding of certain phenomena, and a better relationship to certain parts of the city, or certain experiences.

For me, I just want to use the tools and my view on the world with the people who interact with me in the public programming. What will come up, and what the outcome will be, I can’t say now. I just know that through the input of the people I will also zoom into the phenomena.

What three words come to mind when you think about the process of working on the Lab so far?

Enthusiasm, vision, and listen.

. . .

Photo: Layo Mayoli

  • Jerry Quandt-UNWIND

    ReThink, Engagement, Networks

  • Le Van Bo

    enthusiasm vision and listen.
    the last word in particular is what most designers, architects, marketers and politicians never learned in university. I think, this is what we can learn from psychologists, doctors and social workers.