Tsui Kuang-yu’s films evaluate the function of mundane elements of the city that we use daily but would never otherwise contemplate. The sites he selects are peculiar examples of urban design and infrastructure that unwittingly become cultural signifiers. Each has a specific purpose, typically to stop us doing something ‘wrong’ – parking in the wrong place, driving into the wrong lane or crossing the road at a busy intersection. Whether we realise it or not, these ‘interventions’ shape our behaviour on a daily basis.
Presented as breaking news stories the film clips show residents of Liverpool running amuck as they follow instructions given by road signs that subvert the intended function of the spaces they designate. Bollards erected to stop us parking in a private area become a handy dog training facility; a central reservation constructed to stop us driving into oncoming traffic becomes a rest point for pedestrians crossing a dual carriageway; a cobbled section of street becomes a relaxing place to massage one’s feet.
The films question how we use, navigate and relate to our immediate urban environment. Amidst the radically changing landscape of present-day Liverpool, to take stock of how urban design controls and influences behaviour seems particularly pertinent.