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Post-flânerie: Altering Visual Attention, Walking Behavior and Urban Experience

Research by Gorsev Argin (advisors: Burak Pak and Handan Turkoglu )

|| In the last decade, the advances in mobile technologies and location-based applications reshaped our mutual relationship with the urban environment. These technologies, as both a mean and barrier to the engagement between the humans and their environment, have transformed the urban experience in profound ways.

Urban experience is a relatively new concept introduced with the rise of modern cities in the nineteenth century. It’s lost due to the rapid urbanization has been a subject of debate since then. Among the discussions that take place in this debate, the figure of ‘flâneur’ plays an extensive role. The flâneur is a figure who wanders through and appropriates the metropolitan city in pursuit of urban experience.

Today, the penetration of mobile technologies into the urban daily life create a new kind of urban wanderer which can be named as ‘post-flâneur’. Whether it is a smartphone, a tablet or a wearable technology, by using these mobile devices, people move through and experience the urban space in a whole new way.

The main aim of this PhD research is to understand how smartphones –as one of the most rapidly adopted technologies in the history- affect the mutual relationship between humans and their environment and the act of post-flânerie.

This study consists of two main parts. In the first part, altering walking behavior and visual attention of smartphone users who walk through a public square are analyzed through a naturalistic observation study and post-flâneurs among these users are identified. In the second part, the subjective experience of post-flâneur is examined through a real-world eyetracking experiment in which the altering visual attention and rhythm of post-flâneurs are analyzed and their memory and experience are discussed through post-interviews.

Keywords: post-flânerie, smartphone, visual attention, walking behavior, urban experience