dr lisa kane

Lisa Kane God-tricks and the Foreshore
The models and visuals of the 2017 exhibition of the Foreshore were entrancing. They allowed the visitor to get a full sense of the scale and grandeur of the proposals. Visitors could move, as if in an airplane, through the air above the city and see the future visions below.

  Donna Haraway calls this way of seeing the “god trick”. Being above a model distances the observer and creates an illusion of all-knowingness. The observer is omnipresent, the Foreshore is under control. The view from above is cleansed of complexity. Looking at models like these of the Foreshore creates a fantasy view. No human will live this version of the Foreshore.

  Donna Haraway suggests that instead of “god-tricks” we could pay more attention to “diffracted views”. These deny the idea of a single Foreshore story, whether based on roads, or elevated urban parks, luxury apartments or low cost housing. She challenges us to become more open to knowing from a location, and from a particular body.

  In practice, what would that mean?

  It would mean moving beyond “god-tricks”, and getting into human bodies, from the proposal stage. It would mean representing experiences of humans in and through the Foreshore proposals, in all their complexity. The woman driver on freeways, on streets, in parking garages. The man on foot. The child in the pram. The householder in a high-rise, under the freeway, next to a port. The business woman in the waterfront, in the City, in the Bo-Kaap. The refugee.

  This is not common practice. It feels too complex for planning purposes and for certain it would require Cape Town\’s built environment professionals to stretch even deeper into their creativity. But the history of planning in the Foreshore area shows that the many voices of Cape Town will eventually find a way to have their voices heard and their experiences validated, despite the “god-trick” arguments of the engineers and planners.    Which is partly why the Foreshore is “unfinished” to this day, despite the impressive models of the decades before.
Lisa Kane dec-2010-093-edited-762x1024 (1)
Lisa Kane 2017-foreshore-proposal-576x1024 (1)