Brian Foo/Continuous City

Multimedia artist Brian Foo's latest project explores how urban forms shapes our lives.

Would New York in a different shape still be as busy, vibrant, chaotic? Would it still be New York?

That's the question at the heart of "Continuous City," a multimedia project by Brian Foo — part chapter book, part website, part art project — in which two ordinary New Yorkers wake up to a new iteration of the city each morning.

Inspired in part by Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, in which Marco Polo tells Mongol emperor Kublai Khan tales of absurd agglomerations, "Continuous City" toys with fantastic variations in urban design, such as: What if New York were a giant checkerboard? Or a circle? In one scenario, our heroes find that New York's buildings are all stacked on top of each other, and they must adjust their lives accordingly.

"I look at New York as a third character messing with their relationship," says Foo. "They're at the mercy whenever they wake up to whatever the next iteration of New York would be."

To illustrate these metamorphoses, Foo made watercolor drawings of over 200 buildings. You can "paint" your own city with them on his site. In the end, "Continuous City" will include a book, posters, prints, shirts, and a more developed web application that allows users to craft their own permutations of New York and potentially add their own buildings as well.

Foo posted "Continuous Cities" as a Kickstarter project at the beginning of June, where it, like his previous project, "Cities of You,"  quickly obliterated its funding goals.

Insets, from top to bottom: The Flatiron Building, the MetLife Building, the New Museum. Courtesy Brian Foo.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  2. Maps

    Mapping Where Europe's Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work

    Younger people are fleeing rural areas, migrating northward, and having fewer children. Here’s how that’s changing the region.

  3. A Vancouver house designed in a modern style
    POV

    How Cities Get 'Granny Flats' Wrong

    A Vancouver designer says North American cities need bolder policies to realize the potential of accessory dwellings.

  4. Equity

    Counting Down to a Census Doomsday

    Top-level vacancies and flatlined funding appear to be the Trump administration’s plans for the Census Bureau.

  5. Pont Des Arts in Paris
    Design

    Paris Wants to Build a Few Garden Bridges

    Here’s what it should learn from London’s infamous efforts to build one.