Urban Space: Definition of Univocal and Plural

Featuring Artists: Clare West (UK), James Cunliffe (UK), Liu Yang (China) and Thomas Wynne (UK) 

Curated By: FORMAT International Photography Festival – Jodi Kwok (QUAD/FORMAT Assistant Curator)   

In Seven Types of Ambiguity, Empson sought to enhance the reader’s understanding of a poem by isolating the linguistic properties of the text (1930). Ambiguity refers to the quality of being open to multiple interpretations. The different usage of the spaces provides poetic aesthetics but also provides the public with ambiguous social meanings and participation relationships.    

Clear boundaries are conducive to creating a single meaning, while ambiguous boundaries can break the clarity of meaning. Benjamin was keenly aware of the spatial ambiguity of the glass arcades in Paris and thus left a long and voluminous note a century ago (1969) to elucidate and explore on. These kinds of spaces help to break the borders of different countries, cultures, and social groups: the private and public spaces; privately owned and publicly owned; art and reality; and the elite and mass audiences (ibid).      

Urban Space: Definition of Univocal and Plural explores the level of spatial structure and spatial expression, and uses photography, video, painting, etc., to reflect and connect the singular or complex meaning of space and express the attitude and standpoint from four artists’ works, in exploring human’s past, now and future on specific areas, to reflect plural angle for audiences.   

Thanks to Yan Yan and Zhi Artspace team.   

FORMAT International Photography Festival is organised by QUAD and supported by Arts Council England and the Creative and Cultural Industries Research Centre at the University of Derby. 


Benjamin, W. (1969). Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century. Perspecta, 12, 163. https://doi.org/10.2307/1566965  Empson, W. (1930). Seven types of ambiguity. http://archives.umc.edu.dz/handle/123456789/106634