Mise-en-Scène is an immersive exploration of the social lives of urban landscapes—the actors and actions that compose the daily theater of urban life. Conceived as a unique collaboration between an urbanist, Chris Reed, and a photographer, Mike Belleme, the book explores how the architects of urban landscape conceive space, exposing the consideration paid to the environmental, structural, social and cultural realities that influence the design process. These themes are explored through photographic essays in seven American cities: Los Angeles, Galveston, St. Louis, Green Bay, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Boston, accompanied by original maps and drawings, newly commissioned essays, excerpts from historical writings, and interviews with residents.
The photographic component of the project focuses on the interwoven social and environmental factors and challenges and tensions, ranging from racism to sea level rise, that make up the fabric of the American city. The collection of images speak to how urban dwellers create and adapt space, and considers the push and pull of how these behaviors may inform and are informed by design.
The book, published in early 2022 by Oro Editions, is edited in chapters by city, but for this presentation, I took the opportunity to look for thematic threads and juxtapositions that tie the stories of these eight cities together.