The Black Aesthetic
Through cataloging images I found of Watts, I analyzed how the background of an image effects the way a viewer perceives them. I catalogued the built environments behind the people. It was often bars on the door, graffiti, bars on the windows, old buildings, chain link fences, and trash.
Black people in America are already dealing with lingering issues of racism both blatant and subtle. It seems through no fault of our own, we are often looked at and perceived as a threat, as less than, as aggressive. Through media, laws that affect us disproportionatly,and history our image has been negativly effected in the eyes of others. Our built environment reinforces this negative image.
While there may not be an established architectural language/aesthetic that represents Black culture, there is a negative image of Black neighborhoods. And oftentimes, housing for Black people is designed with little regard negative effects on the residents. In “Spatializing Blackness” author Rashad Shabazz researched and analyzed how carceral power shaped urban planning, housing policy, policing practices, gang formation, high incarceration rates, and health for black Chicagoans. “The children here are surrounded by wire mesh and fencing that makes their living environment resemble the catwalks or a prison. There is an abundance of security measures in these Black neighborhoods, and housing projects specifically, such as “policing, 24/7 video surveillance, perimeter patrols, apartment sweeps, curfews, stop and frisk techniques. The appearance makes it seem “as if they weren’t supposed to escape”. Shabazz argues that these measures have radically transformed the built environment. Perhaps, these measures, as well as the lack of accurate representation in the built environment are at the root of this negative image of Black neighborhoods. I am using architecture to change the backdrop of the images in black neighborhoods, therefore improving the perception of the subject.
Reflection porch perspective.
Post up perspective.