recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : boundaries   26

Gnamma #7 - The Teacher's Imposition
"The world is full of bad teaching. And somehow we all get on with it, of course.

Still, I have found it typical that people perk up when they think of their favorite, electrifying teachers. These are people we think about for the rest of our lives, largely because they inform our interests and ways of looking at the world (ontology, value systems, networked ideas, etc) at early ages. Let's talk about teachers, and I want to be clear: everyone directs teachable moments in life (especially guardians and managers). I'm referring to people in explicitly assigned roles to teach. (This thus puts these thoughts largely outside of the realm of unschooling [https://www.are.na/roberto-greco/unschooling ], I think, but I do not know enough to say—would love to understand more in this realm.)

"Why Education is so Difficult And Contentious" [https://www.sfu.ca/~egan/Difficult-article.html ]: TL;DR because when we say education we mean indoctrination, and everybody—teacher, parent, politician, etc—has different opinions on how people should be. It's touchy to talk about forced indoctrination because it both engenders fascism and is the founding idea behind of public education. There are obviously gradients of imposition on the student. Illich supports the need for the pedagogue to connect student to resources, but not much more—a fairly "hands-off" view of the teacher by today's standards. Still, the connective moments are going to reflect the ideology of the pedagogue.

Are teachers necessary for learning? No. Learning is between the student and the world. A quippish phrase I heard a couple times working at RenArts [https://www.renarts.org/ ] was "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think." But education (structured learning with others) requires teachers, basically by definition. Teachers "lead to water" and apply social pressure to encourage partaking.

What makes for a good teacher? Well, I maintain the chief goals of structured learning are to build agency and cultivate awareness in the student (and maybe share specific skillsets). So, what kind of teacher builds agency in the student and cultivates awareness to the extent possible? Some modes of teaching quickly follow: I believe the teacher needs to support open-ended, coherent, and honest activities.

Without open-ended-ness, we lose exploratory and self-actualizing potential. Without coherence, students can get mired in lack of knowing where to start or end (but a little ambiguity isn't bad). Without honesty we lose touch with the world and how to work with our lived realities. By "honesty" here, I mean to be honest about application of material, about history of thought, and about context of the activity itself; as such, the best teaching acknowledges and works with its own context (/media) and the needs of the people in the room.

I am trying to recall where I heard the phrase that "teaching is making space." The teachers frames the room, the activities, the needs, the expectations, the discussions. In doing so, they embed indoctrination into the teaching. In the effort of honesty in the classroom, these framing decisions needs to be made explicit for the students. The effective teacher must constantly wrestle with their internalized epistemologies and ego in seeking to constantly be aware of and share their own framings of the world. (When I ran a workshop for the Free School of Architecture in Summer 2018 on alternative learning communities, I mostly brought with me a long list of questions to answer [https://www.are.na/block/2440950 ] in seeking to understand how one is framing a learning space.)

This need for constant "pariefracture" (a breaking of the frame, expanding the conceptual realm, or meta-level "zooming out"—my friend D.V.'s term) in teaching gave me quite a bit of anxiety, as a teacher, until reading Parker J. Palmer's book "The Courage to Teach," in which he outlines six paradoxes of teaching. [https://www.are.na/block/1685043 and OCRed below ] I like these paradoxes in themselves, but the larger concept that resonated with me was the ability to treat a paradox not as a dead end (as one does in mathematics, generally) but rather as a challenge that can be pulled out and embraced as the dynamo of an ongoing practice. Teaching never resolves: you just wake up tomorrow and give it another shot.

I think what I'm circling around, here, is how much of learning from a teacher involves inheriting their ways of looking, concurrent with the teacher's ways of looking being in constant, self-aware flux. We inherit snapshots of our teachers' worldviews, blend them together over our own substrate of grokking the world, and call it education."

[From Parker J Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach”:

“When I design a classroom session, I am aware of six paradoxical tensions that I want to build into the teaching and learning space. These six are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They are simply mine, offered to illustrate how the principle of paradox might contribute to pedagogical design:

1. The space should be bounded and open.
2. The space should be hospitable and "charged."
3. The space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group.
4. The space should honor the "little" stories of the students and the "big" stories of the disciplines and tradition.
5. The space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of community.
6. The space should welcome both silence and speech.

I want to say a few words about what each of these paradoxes means. Then, to rescue the paradoxes and the reader from death by abstraction, I want to explore some practical ways for classroom teachers to bring these idea to life.“
lukaswinklerprins  teaching  howweteach  parkerpalmer  education  paradox  2019  indoctrination  ivanillich  exploration  boundaries  openness  hospitality  individualism  collectivism  community  silence  speech  support  solitude  disciplines  tradition  personalization  unschooling  deschooling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Thread by @ErynnBrook: "I want to tell you a story about how my mum taught me that I’m allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation. I was maybe 7, I think it was my […]"
[original: https://twitter.com/ErynnBrook/status/1046055387617775616 ]

"I want to tell you a story about how my mum taught me that I’m allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation.

I was maybe 7, I think it was my first sleepover at someone else’s house. I don’t remember the girl’s name. But before I left Mum told me that if I was uncomfortable at any point, for any reason, even if it was in the middle of the night, I could call her.

She was very clear. She said even if her parents have gone to bed I want you to knock on their bedroom door and ask to use the phone. I could call her even if it was late. And if her parents didn’t answer the door to just go find the phone and call her anyway.

She said it doesn’t matter what time it is, you won’t be in trouble and I’ll come get you.

I think I was being teased about something. It definitely wasn’t just I can’t sleep, there was something social going on. But that’s what I did.

The girl’s mom tried to discourage me. She said it was late, I said my mum didn’t care. She said I could sleep on the couch. I said I wanted to go home. She said I was upsetting her daughter, I said she was mean to me.

I remember holding the phone and my mum answered. I said “hi Mum.” She said “you want me to come get you?” I said “yes please.” She said “ask her Mum to help you pack up your things and get your coat on. I’ll be right there.”

And my mum showed up on her doorstep in pajama pants and a coat. The girl’s mum kept apologizing for me calling, my mum put up a hand and said “don’t apologize for my daughter. I want her to know she’s allowed to leave and I’ll be there for her at any time.”

I remember the little crowd of sleepover girls huddled in the far doorway that led to the bedrooms, watching all of this confused and silent. And I remember that mom apologizing. She didn’t seem to know what to say after my mum asked her to stop.

I had more incidents like that as I grew up. My mum did a lot around boundaries with me. I remember her marching me down the street to another girl’s house to ask for an apology in front of her parents.

I remember her telling 3 friends to sit in the front room with their bags packed while they waited for their parents to come get them, after I had told them all to “get out of my house” for teasing me and bullying me.

I remember her coaching me through a speech on how to resign and leave from a hostile work environment when I was in the middle of nowhere at a camp for the summer, and she offered money to get a cab to pick me and my friends up.

I can’t say I’ve always followed my gut on boundaries and discomfort. I can’t say I’ve never swallowed it in order to make others comfortable. But I can say what she taught me was important. It was and still is radical.

It’s radical to have boundaries. And to exercise them. Three things I think were really really important in what she did:

1. She always explicitly said “you can leave if you want to.”
2. She never questioned why, or whether I was overreacting.
3. She showed up.

But I think a lot about the girl’s mum apologizing and how... that’s the norm, actually. What my mum taught me was radical, what that girl’s mum was teaching was the norm. “Just deal with it, don’t trouble anyone, go back to sleep, it’ll be over soon, don’t ruin it.”

And I still get that message from a lot of places. But my mum taught me that I’m allowed to leave.

I see what a privilege that is as an adult. For some people, for some situations, there is no way out. But sometimes, also, we don’t leave because we think we’re not allowed.

So, just in case no one ever told you (or you need a reminder): YOU ARE ALLOWED TO LEAVE.

You can leave a date, a party, a job, a meeting, a commitment. You are allowed. If you’re worried about keeping your word remember that your boundaries are also your word, your integrity.

I wanted to tell this story because the message to stay to make others comfortable is so pervasive, that without actively teaching me that I’m allowed to leave, that’s what I would’ve absorbed.

Hell, I absorbed a lot of it anyway. As an adult, at that camp job, I remember her on the phone saying “what do you want to do?” And not knowing, until she said “do you want to leave?” And I said “can I?” She said “You can always leave. What do you need so you can leave?”

So, if you’re a person like me, who was taught that you’re allowed to leave, keep an eye out for those who weren’t. They may need the reminder. They may need to hear that it’s okay. They may need help. And keep telling yourself that you are allowed. You’re allowed to leave. 💜

Wow this is really taking off! Before it goes too far I wanted to say: I’m seeing this being gendered and while I am a woman and my mother is a woman there’s no gender on this message. I understand the impulse to teach your daughters this but please teach all children.

When you know that you are allowed to leave, when you exercise that boundary, the idea that others are allowed to leave also comes up. Boys stay in uncomfortable situations to fit in as well, they also deserve this lesson.

Trans, non binary and gender non conforming folks often shrink themselves for the comfort of those around them. They deserve this lesson too. Everyone is allowed to leave. No one is obliged to be uncomfortable for others’ comfort or enjoyment. 💜"
children  parenting  boundaries  radicalism  comfort  erynnbrook  discomfort  2018 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Hilton Als on writing – The Creative Independent
"Your essays frequently defy traditional genre. You play around with the notions of what an essay can be, what criticism can be, or how we are supposed to think and write about our own lives.

You don’t have to do it any one way. You can just invent a way. Also, who’s to tell you how to write anything? It’s like that wonderful thing Virginia Woolf said. She was just writing one day and she said, “I can write anything.” And you really can. It’s such a remarkable thing to remind yourself of. If you’re listening to any other voice than your own, then you’re doing it wrong. And don’t.

The way that I write is because of the way my brain works. I couldn’t fit it into fiction; I couldn’t fit it into non-fiction. I just had to kind of mix up the genres because of who I was. I myself was a mixture of things, too. Right? I just never had those partitions in my brain, and I think I would’ve been a much more fiscally successful person if could do it that way. But I don’t know how to do it any other way, so I’m not a fiscally successful person. [laughs]

[an aside in italics:

"I was struck by this quote:

“I believe that one reason I began writing essays—a form without a form, until you make it—was this: you didn’t have to borrow from an emotionally and visually upsetting past, as one did in fiction, apparently, to write your story. In an essay, your story could include your actual story and even more stories; you could collapse time and chronology and introduce other voices. In short, the essay is not about the empirical “I” but about the collective—all the voices that made your “I.”"]

Do people ever ask you about writing a novel?

No. I could try, but It feels like a very big, weird monolith to talk about your consciousness as an “I” without being interrupted by other things. That’s what I don’t understand. That it’s just “I” and the world as I see it, when there are a zillion other things coming in. Fictional things that I’ve written I’ve not been satisfied with because I didn’t put in the real life stuff, too. So maybe I should just go back and do that. But I don’t think that one exists without the other for me. Fictional worlds are interesting, but real life is impossible to ignore."
hiltonals  writing  fiction  boundaries  genre  genres  criticism  format  invention  howwewrite  virginiawoolf  words  nonfiction  storytelling  emotions  breakingform  form 
february 2018 by robertogreco
A Vista With Nothing to See (Works That Work magazine)
"Many of the world’s borders are invisible, but the boundary between Canada and the US is actually marked by an absence. Officially title ‘the vista’, it is a barren strip of land 6 m (20 ft) wide, stretching through 2,171 km (1,349 mi) of forest. Although there’s nothing there to stop you from doing it, crossing the ‘slash’, as it’s informally known, is a serious offence."
us  canada  border  borders  boundaries 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Review: David Sax’s The Revenge of Analog extols the superiority of ‘real things’ - The Globe and Mail
"The key change wrought by digital is that, where scarcity was once the norm, surfeit is now our default. Digital thus represents a kind of inversion. Once, more was better: Technology was improved by more features, knowledge increased with ever more facts and greater choice. Now, it is subtraction that in fact adds to a scenario. The best digital services are those that constrain in some fashion. Netflix and Spotify have both succeeded because they have figured out how to recommend small numbers of titles from thousands of choices.

In his book, Sax outlines the many ways in which analog tech bests digital because of what it does not do. Your paperback novel cannot interrupt your reading to tell you the weather, your newspaper has a start and a finish, and your analog recording studio forces you to make decisions and just cut a track, rather than the malleability of digitally creating “a moving target of unachievable perfection.” In the face of such endlessness, it is subtraction, boundaries – less – that is the strategy for survival in the digital era.

For many, though, this upending of Western thought also represents a world gone topsy-turvy. Sax echoes Sullivan’s complaints about the relentless pace of digital, and its related psychological effects. These are real issues, not to be dismissed lightly. At this early stage of the digital era, we are still stuck on how to achieve balance, particularly now that our technology and the flood of information it brings is with us all the time. When Sax cites the tendency of even young millennials to prefer print, it is because they, like we, are seeking relief. Digital as a tool or medium seems primed to plug most directly into our receptors for pleasure, for the dopamine and serotonin centres that thrive on novelty, lust or conflict, and the unending flow can quickly turn to excess. In contradistinction to that torrent, it is the tactile, physical nature of analog that is its saving grace – its seeming permanence, it’s there-ness, its tendency, quite unlike digital, to be in one place at one time doing one thing. In his book, Sax’s lively, evocative prose conjures reminders of the physical world: Record presses spit and heave, cameras satisfyingly click, and paper crinkles and smells in ways pleasingly familiar.

But the neat line separating digital from analog is more fuzzy than it might appear. Sullivan, Sax, and I – all part of a generation who spent their formative years before the Internet and their adult ones completely saturated with it – have also grown up with plastic Nintendo controllers, button-filled digital cameras, and DVD players armed with an array of LED lights. My own home is littered with the tactile remains of no end of technology, and the chubby, reassuring thickness of the first iPhone I still keep tucked in a drawer has already taken on the same sheen of nostalgia I reserve for old school notebooks or sweaters.

As Sullivan’s piece spoke of a return from the seductive screens, Sax’s constantly extols the superiority of what the text calls “real things.” It is, however, a world cleaved neatly into two neat spheres, digital and analog – so much so that near the end of the book, Sax claims that “digital is not reality. It never was and never will be.” It’s a claim that one might generously characterize as nonsense. To assert that the almost unfathomable explosion of human creativity that fills the Internet sits somehow lower on a hierarchy of ontological realness is absurd.

It is this needless, false dualism that should make one skeptical of claims not only of the superiority of analog, but that such a neat distinction exists at all. In The Revenge of Analog, the alluring material quality of objects is always highlighted, but ignores the fetishism that has led us to revalue it, skipping over the more simple fact that analog has become appealing for the same reason you can’t put your phone down: novelty. Similarly, when speaking of Silicon Valley’s tendency to use lots of paper, Sax’s claim that “analog proves the most efficient way to run a business,” simply isn’t true. One would hardly be better served by doing one’s accounting or inventory using a pen and paper. What works better is finding the right balance between analog and digital – largely because at this moment, that is the only choice there is.

***

The Revenge of Analog is at its core a business book, each chapter the revenge of a new sector – retail, print, film – and is thus a work meant to uncover entrepreneurial opportunities lying in wait. It works best as polemic, as an interjection into a world that has too eagerly assumed digital is in some simple sense better, and perhaps ignored that the limitations of analog are more vital than ever. But in the eagerness to sell a marketable idea, Sax mistakes the fact that digital things cannot be touched for the fact that they are insubstantial.

It is what can be held that enthralls Sax, however, and he is most transfixed by Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools, a thing he calls “exhibit A in analog’s revenge.” Kelly, the founder of Wired magazine, created the Cool Tools book as an homage to the Whole Earth Catalogue, a kind of how-to guide for life from the late sixties that told you how to grow food or build a home – and the sort of thing rendered quite obsolete by the Internet. Cool Tools began as a blog, and started out simply reviewing tools that you need for a dizzying array of practical endeavours – everything from milling your own grains to ways to increase the WiFi signal in your home. Kelly then made the decision to create the book, which quickly sold out on its first run.

For Sax, the book highlights what is best about analog. It lends itself to idle browsing, drawing in anyone who happens to pick it up, its catalogue of useful things evoking the possibility of a life better lived. But beyond its obvious digital origins, or even the inevitability of its creation on and through computers, Cool Tools reveals a world forever changed by the digital landscape. The book’s non-linear mishmash of ideas, the serendipity of their discovery, is a function of its digital past, now formalized by the analog. The two spheres are inextricable, indivisible, not simply in practical terms (each review has a QR code leading to an online store) but in ideological, epistemological ones, too. We cannot help but read the book from our moment in the present where there is no offline and online, but only what scholar J. Sage Elwell calls “onlife”: an existence that is always both digital and analog at once, and irrevocably so. For now, we may struggle to pay attention, but this is our lot. It is already too late for analog’s revenge – the thing to do is figure out how to be human after digital’s victory. There is no going back."
navneetalang  2016  davidsax  kevinkelly  andrewsullivan  digital  analog  less  subtraction  louismenand  jsageelwell  humans  humanity  boundaries 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Cultural Landscape Photography - Marion Belanger
"Marion Belanger is interested in the concepts of persistence and change, and in the way that boundaries demarcate difference, particularly in regards to the land. She has been the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a John Anson Kittredge Award, an American Scandinavian Fellowship, Connecticut Commission on the Arts Fellowships, and has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, at the Virginia Center for the Arts and at Everglades National Park. The artist earned a MFA from the Yale University School of Art where she was the recipient of both the John Ferguson Weir Award and the Schickle-Collingwood Prize, and a BFA from the College of Art & Design at Alfred University. Her photographs are included in many permanent collections including the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Yale University of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography. She was the 2007 Photographer Laureate of Tampa, FL. Her book of photographs Everglades: Outside and Within, with an essay by Susan Orlean, was released by the Center for American Places at Columbia College and the University of Georgia Press in 2009. Her current work investigates the shifting edges of the North American Continental Plate in Iceland and California. She resides in Guilford, Connecticut."



"RIVER 2013-2014

The headwaters of the Naugatuck River originate in Northwest Connecticut, where the east and west branches converge to form the main river stem. For 39 miles the river flows south where it reaches a confluence with the larger Housatonic River in Derby. Having grown up in Naugatuck, I know this river well, and I remember when it was one of the most polluted rivers in the county. The Naugatuck's pristine natural state will never be known, but in recent years vitality has reasserted itself amidst the relics of its past degradation."



"RIFT 2006-2009

Rift/Fault documents the shifting edges of the North American Plate: the eastern boundary in Iceland, along the North Atlantic Rift, where it meets the Eurasian Plate and the San Andreas Fault in California, along the Pacific Plate. In Iceland the land along the Rift is unstable and raw, as the two tectonic plate edges are pulling apart. My images portray pipes that carry steam for geothermal electricity, hot pools, volcanic remnants, homes along the Ridge, and the raw, empty landscape."



"FAULT 2008-2012

Rift/Fault documents the shifting edges of the North American Plate: the eastern boundary in Iceland, along the North Atlantic Rift, where it meets the Eurasian Plate and the San Andreas Fault in California, along the Pacific Plate. In California, the Pacific plate is sliding north relative to the North American plate, which means that eventually, in many millions of years, Los Angeles will be where San Francisco is now. While this transformative plate boundary is characterized by earthquake activity, it lacks the spectacular drama of a divergent boundary such as what is found in Iceland. The landscape is often mundane, striking in its ordinariness. The monotone housing developments built on top of the fault seem to deny the existence of the unstable earth below the surface. The ordered built environment ignores the actuality of the land, a dangerous disconnect."



"REAL ESTATE 2006-

In Real Estate, I investigate the in-between status of uninhabited interiors. Many of the spaces reveal hints that reference past occupancy and use. A podium sits empty in an abandoned courtroom; walls display empty hardware on which artwork had once hung; an examination curtain hangs in an abandoned hospital. Newer construction, defined by blank walls, suggest narratives as yet undefined. The pictures portray the inevitable transformations that define cultural spaces. They picture impermanence."



"REGENCY COVE 2006-2007

Regency Cove is sited on a strip filled with gas stations, chain stores and traffic. There are few remnants of the wildness that once defined this land and despite being within the city limits of Tampa, there is virtually no visible urban integrity. Yet once inside the security gate of Regency Cove, the ceaseless flow of traffic gives way to a quietness that belies the banality outside. This is waterfront property - Old Tampa Bay, invisible from the road, defines the inside boundary. In many ways the current economic difficulties have protected Regency Cove from opportunistic developers and a city eager for tax dollars. For now, the homes sit, as if frozen in decades already past. Commissioned by the City of Tampa."

[via: http://architectureofdoom.tumblr.com/post/138421389108/calamitaa-marion-belanger-rift ]
marionbelanger  art  change  persistence  boundaries  faultlines  nature  geology  geography  us  iceland  california  connecticut  everglades  landscape 
january 2016 by robertogreco
On the Edge | Boom: A Journal of California
"To understand why the Dutch photographer Marie-José Jongerius wanted to photograph in the American Far West—in particular that part of it that runs from Los Angeles inland to Las Vegas, south to Tijuana, and north up through the Central Valley of California—it helps to know something about boundaries and contrast. To know why it’s important to behold her work, it’s critical to know about how that dividing line of sight is not a two-dimensional geometrical figure, but a four-dimensional zone we label the liminal.

Eighty percent of everything we know about the world comes through our eyes, such a vast amount of information (100 million bits per second) that the brain is forced to throw away 90 percent of what hits the surface of the eye, transmitting only 10 percent to the brain for processing. That one-tenth of the world is what we see, the light triaged into about two dozen basic shapes. Circles, ovals, rectilinear shapes such as squares, polygons such as triangles, and then more ambiguously, right angles and arcs. Everything we see in the world is assembled from those shapes, which are made by lines that create the inside and the outside, the left and right, the top and bottom. We are upright bilaterally symmetrical animals, and we organize the information received accordingly. What the lines define around vertical and horizontal axes is boundary contrast, perhaps the second oldest visual notion we own after undifferentiated light and dark. It’s a recognition of line that separates us from the cognition of plants.

Boundaries in the environment are what we tend to move along, as they are rich with information, food, and consequently danger. The edge of the forest where it becomes a meadow is where we find the small animals that are natural human prey. They hide in the safety of the forest, but when they creep and hop and run out into the meadow for food, they become visible and vulnerable. We aren’t so different from the raptors that fly overhead, seeking the same visual information and food source. It’s along the borders and boundaries of the world where photographers can often be found shooting, as well.

The human eye roves about a landscape in staccato movements called saccades. A saccade is a very quick sampling several times a second of what is in front of us; it allows us to identify where we are and what’s around us. Saccades follow general priorities in a rough order: What fits in, what’s anomalous, what displays the bilateral symmetry that can mean friend or foe, what’s in motion and in what direction. When we look at a photograph of a landscape, our eyes tend to follow that same prioritized pattern.

The landscape in which we are most secure while scoping out what’s in our environment is one where we can see and not be seen, and you can see how artists throughout history have intuited that scheme and used it. Claude Lorrain framed his landscapes in the 1600s with dark foliage in the forefront, the view of the artist and viewer alike peering out across the boundary of sanctuary and into the sunlit meadows and ponds beyond. American landscape artists three hundred years later were still using the same format, whether it was Thomas Cole along the Hudson River, Frederic Church in the Andes, or Albert Bierstadt in the Rocky Mountains. Anthropologists call this a conceal-and-reveal, or a refuge-and-prospect landscape. It’s our ancestral home, as well as the design of a contemporary living room, the drapes forming a natural screen from around which we peer onto the street.

The human gaze, whether in the landscape or looking at a picture of a landscape, follows rules shaped by our physical relation to the world, and when an artist takes us out to the edge of where our human neurophysiology is comfortable—out from behind the trees or curtains and into places where boundaries become ambiguous—both our unease and levels of alertness are heightened. When we enter the in-between place, where a line assumes three spatial and dimensions and time as a boundary zone—the liminal—we’re aware that we, too, could become prey, if not to actual threat, then to unnamed fears.

The edge of the shade cast by a tree is seldom a sharp edge, but instead a blurred line caused by the fractal arrangement of leaves overhead, the dappling of sunlight through a permeable crown of foliage, and limbs moving in the breeze. Daylight does not terminate in sudden darkness, even in the tropics where the sun seems to drop like a stone into the ocean; there is always a series of twilights—a civil twilight, a nautical twilight, an astronomical twilight. During the civil stage, the first planets and brightest stars appear. The second stage sees the horizon disappear from view to the navigator. The third is that time of the faintest reflected light high in the atmosphere when we think it’s dark, but it isn’t quite yet.

These are temporal zones of ambiguity that give us pause, and, along with the spatial ones, they have their parallels in everything from literature to architecture. Science fiction horror stories are rife with twilights when the world turns strange. Houses have anterooms, and cities have bridges and sidewalks, places where passage is made but people seldom live. Those people who inhabit such domains are referred to as the homeless. Purgatory is another shaded place of indeterminacy, a rite of passage. This is what is meant by the liminal, where the zone between states means to be both inside and outside, up and down, left and right—and yet none of those things. That is where Marie-José Jongerius searches for her images. The name of her project, Edge of the Experiment, was chosen for a reason.

When Joseph Campbell wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he was working from the work done by the French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep, who in his book The Rites of Passage (1909) described the process of liminaire, the deliberate dislocation of your normal senses into a liminal state of confusion and openness through which pretechnological peoples would pass during initiation rituals in order to gain adulthood or sacred knowledge. The anthropologist Victor Turner (1920–1983), who expanded Gennep’s research, studied rituals and rites among the Ndembu tribe of Zambia. He noted how the experience of an ambiguous zone can lead to paradigm shifts for contemporary individuals as well as tribespeople and postulated that the theater was a liminal space too, suspension of reality during the performance enabling the audience to undergo a transformation.
To work as a writer with photographers in the field, when they are concentrating so hard they cannot talk, is to become entranced with the landscape, to participate in a shared trance.

Making art is a kind of ritual and never more so than for the photographer setting up a tripod and her 4×5 large-format Crown Graphic field camera, framing the view on the ground glass and bringing it into focus, selecting the moment to trip the shutter. Repeated over and over again, especially for those photographers who also do commercial work, such as Jongerius, it becomes an automatic yet hyper-alert, almost Zen-like discipline. To work as a writer with photographers in the field, when they are concentrating so hard they cannot talk, is to become yourself entranced with the landscape, to participate in a shared trance. To couple that mental discipline with a zone of visual ambiguity, a liminal space, is to risk taking your cognition where it hasn’t been before. This is the terrain where Jongerius is happiest."
photography  marie-joséjongerius  california  socal  lasvagas  losangeles  tijuana  liminality  liminal  williamlfox  borders  boundaries  border  landscape  josephcampbell  arnoldvangennep  victorturner  claudelorrain  albertbierstadt  thomascole  fredericchurch  centralvalley  liminalspaces 
january 2016 by robertogreco
ANTIATLAS OF BORDERS
The Antiatlas of borders is a group of researchers, artists and professionnals offering a unique approach on the mutations of control systems along land, sea, air and virtual states borders. Our website presents archives of our research (seminars, international conference, articles, interviews with researchers) and artistic activities (exhibitions and  online gallery). It is also a platform monitoring and communicating on events, publications, articles, news and artworks adressing the mutations of 21st century borders.

[AntiAtlas Manifesto:
http://www.antiatlas.net/en/towards-an-antiatlas-of-borders/

TOWARDS AN ANTIATLAS OF BORDERS
Border Changes in the 21st Century…
From flow control to risk management…
Mutations of borders and shifting forms of mobility…
Threspassing and diverting the rules of the game…

WHY AN ANTIATLAS?
A dynamic and critical approach…
From scientific exploration to artistic experimentation…
From reality to virtuality…"

[via: https://twitter.com/IanAlanPaul/status/643258248435511296 ]
art  borders  maps  mapping  atlases  boundaries  mobility  flow  geography  via:javierarbona 
september 2015 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNKS — Eight principles for avoiding the tragedy of the commons
"Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2009 for her work on how communities manage common-pool resources (CPRs). In her analysis, she identified shared traits among those groups who were able to organize and govern their behavior.

• Group boundaries are clearly defined (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties).

• Rules governing the use of collective goods are well matched to local needs and conditions.

• Most individuals affected by these rules can participate in modifying the rules.

• The rights of community members to devise their own rules is respected by external authorities.

• A system for monitoring members’ behavior exists; the community members themselves undertake this monitoring.

• A graduated system of sanctions is used for resource appropriators who violate community rules.

• Community members have access to low-cost conflict resolution mechanisms.

• For CPRs that are parts of larger systems: appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.

Read more at cooperation commons. [http://www.cooperationcommons.com/node/361 ] Wikipedia notes that “These principles have since been slightly modified and expanded to include a number of additional variables believed to affect the success of self-organized governance systems [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization#Self-organization_in_human_society ], including effective communication, internal trust [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trust_(social_sciences) ] and reciprocity [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(cultural_anthropology) ], and the nature of the resource system as a whole.”
elinorostrom  commons  rules  structure  governance  reciprocity  communication  boundaries  behavior  economics  systems  sanctions  community  resolution  common-poolresources  resourcemanagement  sustainability  self-orgnization  cooperation  trust 
march 2015 by robertogreco
What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making | Quiet Babylon
"This is an era of networked wealth, going to scale, first mover advantage, positive feedback loops, virtuous cycles, high concentration, and high disparity. These are some of the intolerable conditions of the time we call (with subversive hope) Late Capitalism.

4
“We.”

5
I suspect that much of this essay will make very little sense unless you believe as I do that we are beset by wicked problems exacerbated by networks of sublime scale that have been built on top of millenia of injustice chaotically interacting with good works and hope.



8
I do not think it is possible to feel empathy for 7 billion people. I know it is not possible to mourn the ~400,000 souls we lose to death every day on this planet earth. In a city like New York, it is not even reasonable to say Hi to everyone you pass on the street. Forget New York, it wasn’t reasonable to say Hi to everyone I passed at XOXO. There are too many humans. Boundaries must be drawn. Who are our friends, who is in the community, who gets to count. The boundaries can be drawn wider or narrower, and with more or less care. But the starting points of those boundaries are necessarily accidents of history, and history is pretty messed up.

Andy and Andy have been public about their struggles to redraw the boundaries of the community that takes part in XOXO. This year was better, they said, but still too male and still far too white. They are working to do better still if they ever do an XOXO again.

If they do, they will have to carefully consider who gets on stage and work with those people about what they have to say. Because people who make things is a broad remit. The mission of XOXO is an admirable one: to be a place where independent creators can find themselves amongst people like them; to give the participants the feeling that even though independence can be lonely, we are not alone.

But to be sat amongst a community who do not share your concerns is a terribly alienating experience, especially if the speakers on stage are claiming a we for the room that you do not feel. A greater diversity of speakers and a greater diversity of participants means by definition fewer common experiences and a more complicated we.

9
Chinese factory workers are not welcome at XOXO. This is a profoundly uncomfortable thing to say because it feels like punching down, but it is true. Chinese factory workers are not independent creators. What inspiration would they find in hearing John Gruber talk about Google Reader’s impact on his business model? What advice would they pull from Anita Sarkeesian describing the conspiracy theories leveled against prominent women on the Internet? What series of completely patronizing assumptions did I make when I wrote those last two questions?

Marketers, brand managers, advertising agencies, and social media gurus are also not welcome at XOXO. This feels less uncomfortable to say because it feels like punching up. Harassers are completely unwelcome and Andy and Andy took public glee in sending them away.

Community design is a tricky thing and the debate about incremental improvement vs radical transformation is far from settled. Figuring out how to ethically exclude people, how to effectively include people, and which intolerable conditions of ambient injustice to accept as given is a wicked problem. Working through it requires care and nuance and vigilance against derailment.

Derailment is when discussion of one issue is diverted into another issue. For example: if someone were to say, We need to work hard to increase the non-white percentage of conference attendees, and someone else said, Yeah, but what about the Chinese workers who make your devices?

10
Context collapse is an important way of making sure that marginalized people and issues aren’t allowed to disappear completely and an excellent derailing tactic. Arguing that an issue being raised is a derailment is an excellent derailing tactic.

11
A lot of the problems described by people on stage at XOXO would not have been problems if no one on earth should ever be at risk of starvation or lack medical care was not a radical idea. But it is a radical idea and it is not possible to mourn everyone. So boundaries are drawn and communities are constructed which help their members understand what’s possible and not everyone gets to count.

The inability to effectively address all of this is also one of the intolerable conditions of late capitalism."
timmaly  xoxo  latecapitalism  capitalism  supplychains  labor  timcook  apple  disclosure  context  contextcollapse  inclusing  exclusion  canon  derailment  conferences  complexity  boundaries  communitydesign  making  makers  scale  hope  dematerialization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Fantasy and the Buffered Self - The New Atlantis
"When asked by the editors of the website The Immanent Frame to summarize the key concerns of his vastly ambitious book A Secular Age (2007), Charles Taylor wrote,

Almost everyone can agree that one of the big differences between us and our ancestors of five hundred years ago is that they lived in an “enchanted” world, and we do not; at the very least, we live in a much less “enchanted” world. We might think of this as our having “lost” a number of beliefs and the practices which they made possible. But more, the enchanted world was one in which these forces could cross a porous boundary and shape our lives, psychic and physical. One of the big differences between us and them is that we live with a much firmer sense of the boundary between self and other. We are “buffered” selves. We have changed.

As Taylor makes clear, the shift from a porous to a buffered self involves a complex series of exchanges. But to put that shift in simple terms, a person accepts a buffered condition as a means of being protected from the demonic or otherwise ominous forces that in pre-modern times generated a quavering network of terrors. To be a pre-modern person, in Taylor’s account, is to be constantly in danger of being invaded or overcome by demons or fairies or nameless terrors of the dark — of being possessed and transformed, or spirited away and never returned to home and family. Keith Thomas’s magisterial Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971) specifies many of these dangers, along with the whole panoply of prayers, rites, amulets, potions, chants, spells, and the like, by which a person might seek protection from the otherwise irresistible. It is easy, then, to imagine why a person — or a whole culture — might, if it could, exchange this model of a self with highly permeable boundaries for one in which the self feels better protected, defended — impermeable, or nearly so.

The problem with this apparently straightforward transaction is that the porous self is open to the divine as well as to the demonic, while the buffered self is closed to both alike. Those who must guard against capture by fairies are necessarily and by the same token receptive to mystical experiences. The “showings” manifested to Julian of Norwich depend upon exceptional sensitivity, which is to say porosity — vulnerability to incursions of the supernatural. The portals of the self cannot be closed on one side only. But the achievement of a safely buffered personhood — closed off from both the divine and the demonic — is soon enough accompanied by a deeply felt change in the very cosmos. As C. S. Lewis notes in The Discarded Image (1964), the medieval person who found himself “looking up at a world lighted, warmed, and resonant with music” gives way to the modern person who perceives only emptiness and silence. Safety is purchased at the high price of isolation, as we see as early as Pascal, who famously wrote of the night sky, “Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie” (“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me”).

In these circumstances, one might expect people to ask whether so difficult and costly an exchange is in fact necessary. Might it not be possible to experience the benefits, while avoiding the costs, of both the porous and the buffered self? I want to argue here that it is precisely this desire that accounts for the rise to cultural prominence, in late modernity, of the artistic genre of fantasy. Fantasy — in books, films, television shows, and indeed in all imaginable media — is an instrument by which the late modern self strives to avail itself of the unpredictable excitements of the porous self while retaining its protective buffers. Fantasy, in most of its recent forms, may best be understood as a technologically enabled, and therefore safe, simulacrum of the pre-modern porous self.

Before pursuing my argument, I must make two clarifications. First, fantasy itself is not a recent development but rather an ancient form (though not under its current name). What we now call “fantasy” is something closer to “realism” in the pagan world, which is populated by many powers capable of acting upon “porous” human selves. In the pagan world, success in life is largely a matter of navigating safely among those powers, which are unpredictable, beyond good and evil, and often indifferent to human needs. (Such indifference means that they can help as well as hurt, but also that their assistance can never be relied upon.) In this environment, fantastic creatures are at the very least personifications or embodiments of powers genuinely believed to exist. The realism is not strict, in that the writers and readers of earlier times did not necessarily believe in the existence of precisely such creatures as were described in their stories — perhaps not Apollo or Artemis any more than Dante’s Geryon or Spenser’s Blatant Beast, though such questions are necessarily and notoriously vexed. But at the very least the pre-modern world is one in which powers like those hold sway and cannot be safely neglected; a world in which what we would call the fantastic is an intrinsic element of the real.

Second, some of the most celebrated practitioners of modern fantasy share with their pre-modern predecessors this belief that the fictional apparatus of fantasy is a relatively close approximation to the way things really are for human beings. J. R. R. Tolkien may not have believed in Sauron, but he surely believed that there are in human history people who sell themselves to the Enemy and find themselves as a result of that decision first empowered and then destroyed. And when, at the beginning of Lewis’s Perelandra (1944), the protagonist Ransom’s progress toward a friend’s house is impeded by invisible forces who fill him with fear, Lewis was describing the work of spirits whom he truly believed to exist, though under a slightly different description, just as he probably believed that some forms of scientistic rationalism are the product of demonic influence. In short, these writers sought to present their readers with an image of an enchanted world, of selves fully porous to supernatural forces. But because they did so in genres (fantasy, science fiction) known for the imaginative portrayal of the wholly nonexistent, readers confident in their buffered condition can be delighted by those stories without ever for a moment considering the possibility that the forces portrayed therein might correspond to something real. Indeed, the delight of the stories for such readers consists primarily in their perceived unreality."



"If the technical boy is wrong, if resistance can happen, we might take comfort from what seems to me the authentic core of the fantastic as a genre, as we see it from the standpoint of late modernity: fantasy may best be taken as an acknowledgment that the great problem of the pagan world — how to navigate as safely as possible through an ever-shifting landscape of independent and unpredictable powers who are indifferent to human needs — is our problem once more. The powers now may have different names than the ones Homer or Ovid knew, but they are powers all the same. American Gods is an especially important text for this moment, because it rightly identifies technologies as gods and simultaneously sides with the older gods as being intrinsically closer to the proper human lifeworld. Imaginatively, if not in substantive belief, we are pagans once more.

What We Don’t See

But a coda is required. All that I have written so far about porous and buffered selves has followed Charles Taylor in bracketing the question of what our actual condition is. We may choose to believe that we can buffer ourselves, protect ourselves against unknown powers. But that’s a kind of wager: if the powers are real, our disbelief won’t deter them. And it may be that certain powers profit from being disregarded or treated as mere fancies. In a sonnet he wrote in the late 1930s, Auden portrayed a world from which magic had passed: “The sudden shadow of a giant’s enormous calf / Would fall no more at dusk across their lawns outside”; the last dragons and kobolds died off. The people “slept in peace.” But:

... The vanquished powers were glad

To be invisible and free: without remorse
Struck down the sons who strayed into their course,
And ravished the daughters, and drove the fathers mad."
2014  alanjacobs  fantasy  history  legibility  invisibility  visibility  belief  modernity  mysticism  magic  identity  self  protection  boundaries  unpredictability  uncertainty  supernatural  spirits  sciencefiction 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Flora of the Future: Wild Urban Plants: Celebrating the Botanical Diversity of Cities Places: Design Observer:
"New Infrastructural Taxonomies

The plants that appear spontaneously in urban ecosystems are remarkable for their ability to grow under extremely harsh conditions — most notably in soils that are relatively infertile, dry, unshaded and alkaline. [14] Through a quirk of evolutionary fate, many of these plants have evolved life-history traits in their native habitats that have “preadapted” them to flourish in cities. Stone or brick buildings, for example, are analogous to naturally occurring limestone cliffs. [15] Similarly, the increased use of de-icing salts along walkways and highways has resulted in the development of high pH microhabitats that are often colonized by either grassland species adapted to limestone soils or salt-loving plants from coastal habitats. Preadaptation is a useful idea for understanding the emergent ecology of cities because it helps explain the patterns of distribution of plants growing in a variety of distinctive urban habitats, including the following:

The chain-link fence is one of the more specialized habitats of the urban environment. They provide plants — especially vines — with a convenient trellis to spread out on and a measure of protection from the predation of maintenance crews. Chain-link fences also provide “safe sites” for the germination of seeds, a manifestation of which are the straight lines of spontaneous urban trees that one commonly finds in cities, long after the fence that protected the trees is gone. Root suckering species such as Ailanthus grow particularly well along chain-link fence lines.

Vacant lots that have been cleared of buildings are often mulched with masonry and construction rubble. Their soils typically have high pH levels, and they are usually colonized by a suite of plants that I like to refer to as a “cosmopolitan urban meadow.” Many of these plants, including mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) and curly dock (Rumex crispus), are common in the dry, alkaline grasslands of Europe.

The highway median strip is typically only a few feet wide, with minimal topsoil above a compacted subsoil layer. Initially these areas may have been planted with lawn grasses, but they usually end up dominated by crabgrass (Digitaria spp.). As most homeowners know, crabgrass comes up in lawns in late spring, when temperatures consistently get above 70 or 80 degrees. It’s a warm-season grass that thrives when it’s hot and dry, and because it is an annual species, the road salt used in winter has no effect on its development. In short, the median strip is perfect for crabgrass.

Stone walls and masonry building façades provide great habitats for plants — especially when their maintenance has been neglected. From the plant’s perspective, these structures are good stand-ins for a limestone cliff, and many cliff species are well adapted to growing on city walls. [16]

Pavement cracks are among the most distinctive niches in the urban environment. Wherever you have two types of paving material coming together, you have a seam, and the different materials expand differentially in response to summer and winter temperature to create a crack. We tend to think of pavement cracks as stressful habitats, but in fact, as the water sheets off the pavement, it flows right into the crack, making it a rich site in terms of its ability to accumulate moisture and nutrients. With oil from cars as a carbohydrate source available for decomposition by fungi and bacteria, cracks can develop significant microbial diversity.

Specialized microclimates are as important in cities as they are in natural environments. As an example, carpetweed (Mollugo verticillata), a summer annual from Central America, subsists only on air-conditioner drip. Its seeds germinate under a window air-conditioning unit when it is turned on in early summer, and it dries up and sets seed when the unit is turned off in September. Many annuals common in cities display similar capacities to exploit ephemeral urban niches.

River corridors, annually disturbed by fluctuating levels of water during the course of the year, are typically dominated by spontaneous vegetation with broad environmental adaptability. They serve as important pathways for the migration of both plants and animals into and out of the city. The same is true for railway corridors. At the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, where I have worked since 1979, coyote, deer, fox and pheasant are commonly sighted, often coming up from the suburban south following the railroad line that borders the eastern edge of the property."
peterdeltredici  2014  nature  plants  flora  interstitial  interstitialspaces  borders  boundaries  urban  urbanism  between  fences  biology  cities  botany  landscape  ecology  vegetation  betweenness 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Examining The New Los Angeles Paradigm: An Interview With Victor Jones | Los Angeles, I'm Yours
"Victor Jones thinks about Los Angeles in a way few people do: he thinks about it in the future tense, as a place of myriad possibilities. “Los Angeles, unlike most well known cities, is a twenty-first century paradigm in terms of its ability to inform how people live and what people do and how they experiences civic and public space. It is a new physical model of urbanity: I think Los Angeles is a fantastic case study.”

“Thats the draw here,” he says. “While perfect weather, a great economy, and geography have made life easy to take for granted my work in academia and design pushes back on the city, forcing people to reconsider the evidence of things not seen. This push back is to say—Hey.—let’s stop and revisit this, acknowledging that we are a part of a discussion, that we are not completely inside ourselves and that we are becoming a greater reference globally. When we look at urban development in Beijing, Dubai, Mexico City for example, Los Angeles has become a reference versus traditional nineteenth century cities. Let’s try to understand the physical implication of these things.”"



"The irony is that Victor is a native who never liked it here. “I always hated Los Angeles,” he explains. “I was always overwhelmed by the expanse and horizontality of the city and the lack of continuity. It wasn’t until I moved back from France and got my driver’s license that a whole new relationship with the city emerged.”

“I really didn’t get to know the city that I was born and raised in until my late thirties,” he adds. “That’s when I began to understand how special this place is.”

Victor had lived in Los Angeles from birth through late elementary school and high school. He attended Cal Poly San Louis Obispo for his undergraduate degree in Architecture and found the experience to be quite profound: it created opportunities to try different metropolitan settings. “My Architectural History professor, Dr. Joseph Burton, radically changed my life: he proposed that I moved to Paris after graduation to work,” Victor explains. “Initially, I was very resistant to the idea. But, what was supposed to be a three month internship ended up being twelve years living in Paris: that was a life changing experience. I never thought that I would end up back in Los Angeles! I completely found myself and found a completely different world order in France.”

Paris brought a lot of important things to his life: he met his partner of twenty five years, he worked for Jean Nouvel and Louis Vuitton, and took a break during his time there to get a graduate degree in Architecture from Harvard. After, he found himself back in Paris—but soon left to further his own practice. “We arrogantly thought our club membership to Paris would never expire,” he says. “There was a lot of discussion between my partner, Alain Fièvre and I on where to go and we decided that Los Angeles was the best place for an architectural practice, Fièvre + Jones. So, we came here in the late nineties. It is a very challenging experience to uproot our Parisian existence and move to the United States.”

“We do miss Europe quite a bit, though,” Victor says with a longing—but positive—undertone. “That’s what brought us to Silver Lake and to an office in Hollywood: we’re such urban creatures that we were looking for that simulacrum of urbanity in Los Angeles. Both Silver Lake and Hollywood have their own special version of that, Silver Lake being a bit of Brooklyn and Hollywood being a bit like every popular zone in every major city in the world. From certain angles, Hollywood may look like Times Square in the eighties and, from another it may look like Pigalle in Paris. It has a very special and unique quality to it.”

You could confuse his comparisons for nostalgia but analyzing Los Angeles in this manner is Victor’s job: he studies space, formed communities, and urban infrastructure to discover its flaws and successes. “My principal concentration at USC’s School Of Architecture is research on community based projects and understanding what that means in a post-racial culture. Rather than looking at community service as a direct response to under-served individuals or minorities, I look at how we as a more urban, global, and heterogenous community can construct a better quality of life.”"



"“There is a natural tendency to create villages for practical reasons. But, there is a beauty in having a passport to all neighborhoods. If you are of a certain curiosity, you’ll breach those boundaries, not letting your universe be defined by a street. But, [Angelenos] religiously stick to their boundaries. We have to question the curious way that infrastructures—like freeways—impact our lives, organizing us in as architect Craig Hodgetts says the mish-mosh we call Los Angeles.”

These views do not mean that Victor has a pessimistic view of Los Angeles. That is why he is so passionate about it changing for the better. Arguing for more opportunity for how people engage the city, he says, “Generally speaking, Angelenos tend to isolate themselves. They have a trajectory of work and home and their neighborhood. All due to limitations set by the city’s infrastructure – whether we are talking about public space, transportation, cultural institutions etc,” Some of my most fond memories of the city are from cinema and how ‘the industry’ illustrates the city. I remember in Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta would be in the Valley and then drive miles to another part of the city without any hesitation: the city in that film is a forest of pockets full of different opportunities. They were not restricted by cultural biases, distance, demographics – nothing stopped them from moving from one place to another."
victorjones  architecture  losangeles  2014  beijing  dubai  mexicocity  mexicodf  urban  urbanism  cities  race  community  diversity  integration  boundaries  borders  segregation  roads  freeways  michaelgovan  film  design  landscape  lacma  transportation  isolation  mobility  traffic  sustainability  craighodgetts  df 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The New York Review of Science Fiction: Liminal Places and Liminal States in John Crowley’s Little, Big, by Bernadette Lynn Bosky
"Especially over the past fifteen years, the terms “liminal” or “liminality” and “interstitial” have become increasingly popular in discussion of the arts. Some of these discussions, such as the mission statement of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, seem to use the term primarily in terms of work that crosses the borders of, and/or exists in the interstices between, different genres and art forms (also see Gordon 9). The conference on “Liminality in the Humanities” at the University of Utah takes the term a bit further, presenting papers at the borderlands and interstices of various disciplines. However, that conference also uses the term as it will be used in this study. So, even more strongly, does The International Seminar on Liminality and the Text and its associated journal and books published by Gateway Press.

This use of the terms is based on their origins in anthropology, referring to the borders of and spaces between categories much more fundamental than genre or even different arts. Towards the beginning of the last century, anthropologist Arnold van Gennep stated that rites of passage generally have three stages: “preliminal rites (rites of separation), liminal rites (rites of transition), and postliminal rites (rites of incorporation)” (11). In the 1960s and 1970s, Victor Turner expanded and somewhat adapted van Gennep’s work, concentrating on the liminal stage. As summarized by Richard E. Palmer:
Limen in Latin means threshold, and anthropologists like Turner have become interested in a certain state experienced by persons as they pass over the threshold from one stage of life to another. For instance, Turner notes that the rite of passage at puberty has three phases: separation from one’s status as a child . . . , then a liminal stage, and finally reintegration into society as a full and independent member with rites and responsibilities that the initiate did not have before. During the liminal stage, the between stage, one’s status becomes ambiguous, one is “neither here nor there”[;] one is “betwixt and between all fixed points of classification.” (1–2)


Two clear examples of a liminal state in modern Western culture are divorce and, even more so, marital separation. The couple isn’t joined anymore, but they aren’t separate. (Note even the switch from single to plural verb.) Rules from neither state apply; one is betwixt-and-between. Many people find that some others avoid them in such a liminal state, not knowing what to say or do. Another example is graduate school, an often arduous and curiously protracted liminal state. Graduate students aren’t professionals or students, yet they are both. They are expected to be bold as if the professors are colleagues but submissive as if they are only students; they are paid to teach but not paid much. Many of us would have preferred to be locked in a hut and fed only with implements that would be disposed of afterwards, a more common cultural response to such liminal states.

Places as well as times may be liminal. Crossroads are a meeting of two places and hence not fully either one; they are also, like the liminal stage of initiation, a place of possibilities and choices. Thus, it should not surprise us that the liminal figure of a vampire (neither alive nor dead, yet both) may be slain or buried there (see Clements, “Ogre” 39). Within a house, stairs, landings, and hallways are liminal areas—places we pass through, not generally places where people live. Unsurprisingly, landings, hallways, and stairs are among the most popular places for sightings of ghosts (us and not us, not alive or dead). Two even more popular places for ghost sightings are windows and doorways, which are quintessentially liminal, existing purely to separate yet join areas of room vs. room, room vs. hallway, inside vs. outside.

Here a distinction must be made between boundaries and thresholds, but a connection must be made as well. As stated by that quintessentially liminal figure, Hedwig of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, “Ain’t much difference/Between a bridge and a wall.” On the simplest level, that which separates is often also that which joins; one example is the semicolon.

More mythically, one of the goals of ritual is to turn boundaries into thresholds, as when a shaman crosses the barrier between our world and the other world and then personally forms a bridge between them or as a culture hero makes those boundaries less impermeable (Ellis). Roads and paths can be liminal also; they lead from one place to another, joining them, but also help define, for instance, what is safe versus what is not, as in the story “Little Red Riding Hood.” Finally, liminality is also connected to the idea of hybrids—that is, places, people, events, and things that take part in two categories that are thought of as being not only separate, but dichotomous, such as the ghost or vampire.

Note that many processes have a pattern of departure, entry into other realms, and return—Joseph Campbell’s pattern of the hero, for instance, and shamanic initiations. The difference here is that when it is defined as liminal, the middle stage presents not only physical, mental, and/or spiritual danger but also social and epistemological danger, as its very nature challenges the concept of categories of behavior and thought as absolute. In fact, at their most radical, these liminal areas challenge the binary nature of dichotomies that are supposed to be all encompassing: man/woman, human/animal, human/divine, approved/prohibited, life/death. Because it challenges these dichotomies, liminality is a source of great potential, but also at best uncanny and at worst abject.1 Liminal phenomena are taboo, again in the more technical sense—taboo things and processes are hedged with prohibitions, regarded as excluded and dangerous but still having great magic, religious, and/or social power. When William Clements discusses the work that Mary Douglas and Edmund Leach have done in this area, he concludes that liminal things and processes often inspire dread, perhaps because they “invite chaos by revealing the inadequacies of the ordering system that cannot accommodate them” (“Legends” 83). Those who understand the ordering system as inherent in life rather than constructed feel a different fear because then the anomalies become examples in themselves, or at least omens, of catastrophic rupture in the world itself (see Purcell).

Critics have commented on the mixing of genres in Little, Big. Thomas Disch remarks upon its “incredible tightrope act” between realistic human events and magic (159). James Hynes wittily describes the novel as “a long, gorgeously written picaresque family saga, in the last fifty pages of which all the major characters, with one heartbreaking exception, turn into fairies” (1). (Actually, the hint of an abrupt change within the book is vastly unfair: early indications of the presence of fairies may often be baffling to the first-time reader, but they are undeniable.) However, Little, Big is also a liminal book in a deeper, more mythic sense. It is about transitions, which are repeated on multiple scales and on multiple occasions: the turnings of the seasons and of the history of the world, the personal changes of the many characters and the overarching Tale of their final crossing-over from the world of human beings to the world of the fairies. Much of the book is about the peril and potential of these turning points. Boundary-crossings and the interstitial time between the old and the new are reflected in the novel’s nigh-ubiquitous use of liminal places, times, and processes. Characters generally do well or poorly based on their ability to live in, or at least accept, various degrees of conjunction of our world with that of the fairies.

Note that the world of the fairies is not, in itself, liminal. In fantasy, there is the place one gets to by crossing a threshold: the world of fairy, or Oz, or Shangri-La. Then, there is the place or time or condition that is the threshold itself. In most fantasies, the emphasis is on the former, while in Little, Big most of the pages and most of the emotional energy of the novel goes to the latter."



"The turning of the seasons is indicated by social holidays as well as the geophysical solstices and equinoxes. John Storm Drinkwater, writer and liminal figure who can communicate with the world of animals (192), significantly identifies Christmas as a spot out of time: “a kind of day, like no other in the year, that doesn’t seem to succeed the day it follows. . . . Every Christmas seemed to follow immediately after the last one; all the months between don’t figure in” (161). That is, the holiday is a liminal time in the technical sense, just as the period of transition in the ritual entry into adulthood has more in common with all other periods of transition, in such rituals back across the years, than to the initiate’s time before as a child and time after as an adult; and all of these out-of-time experiences are somehow the same time."



"John Crowley states in a 1994 interview, “One of the reasons you write fiction is because you can create your own world. You need that constant sense of possibility. If you don’t have that sense of possibility in your own life, don’t even feel a craving for that kind of possibility and change, it makes it hard to write” (4). Why someone with this opinion would be drawn to fiction with liminal concerns seems clear. First, the liminal state, with its breaking of old associations and even questioning of received categories of thought, is highly creative, perhaps containing the essence of creativity. Moreover, the process of writing a book is in some ways liminal, itself a transformative seclusion: while some worlds may be made immediately, with no pause—“Fiat lux!”—in general, lengthy processes of change and refashioning are essential to the act of creation, … [more]
liminality  liminalspaces  interstitial  johncrowley  bernadettelynnbosky  arnoldvangennep  anthropology  victorturner  richardpalmer  borders  thresholds  inbetween  crossroads  boundaries  josephcampbell  writing  worldbuilding  possibility  change  migration  transformation  trickster  cv  williamclements  marydouglas  edmundleach 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Unstable Territory. Borders and identity in contemporary art - we make money not art
"There's a couple of cities where i keep going over and over again just because they have an art center worth a several hour long journey. Some of them may or may not be on your usual culture map. There's Eindhoven, Hasselt, Manchester and there's Florence where i traveled again a few weeks ago to see the exhibition Unstable Territory. [http://www.strozzina.org/en/exhibitions/territori-instabili/ ] Borders and identity in contemporary art at the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina.

The show presents artwork that reconsiders the notion of territory in a time when the obsolescence of concepts such as the nation state and borders coincides with new forms of nationalism and a corollary desire to affirm the individuality of a community or to protect their privileges with the construction of new physical demarcations. The map of the walls being erected to separate people from each other that The Guardian has recently published illustrates the extent of the latter tendency.

The astonishing development of mobility for both people and goods, the digitisation of communication and knowledge, migration and an increasingly global economy have all radically changed people's perception of territories, borders and boundaries. In view of the instability of these concepts crucial to the definition of personal identity, two different -though not necessarily conflicting - trends appear to be taking shape: one based on seeking shelter in the safety and proximity of the micro-territory, the region or even the family; the other, as theorised by sociologist Ulrich Beck, involving a new conception of cosmopolitanism in its most democratic and egalitarian sense."
wmmna  réginedebatty  art  borders  boundaries  economics  globalization  cosmopolitanism  richardmosse  adambroomberg  oliverchanarin  paolocirio  zannybegg  oliverressler  antonionegri  ariellaazoulay  sandromezzadra  thecoolcouple  simonesantilli  niccolòbenetton  territory  identity  glvo  mobility  migration  immigration  instability  shelter  safety  proximity  ulrichbeck 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Platforms of Visibility: Exploring legibility through the contemporary Latin American city on Vimeo
"Urban architecture inhabits sites of radical dynamic interchange, often acting as the focal point where a variety of visible and invisible flows converge. Global networks and processes transcend immediate notions of site and adjacency, forcing the restructuring of relationships around new definitions of scale, boundary, and spatiotemporality. Current networked and mobile infrastructures have not only radically redefined communication, but also how we interrogate and see our surroundings. For users of these networks, the whole idea of urban legibility and navigation has become immediate and much easier. But for those who study the contemporary city, these networks and processes only make the study of urban legibility that much more complex.

This thesis examines how architecture, as a primary participant in this stage, can serve as a legibility platform for the modern urban condition. Towards this goal, this thesis will begin by introducing a literature review into four overlapping tracks of research:

1.) Urban legibility 2.) Cartography 3.) Media Platforms 4.) Cineplastics

The thesis work will then focus on Latin America, widely acknowledged to be the most urbanized region in the world. Out of necessity, this region has re-established and advanced the necessary toolkit for radical urban transformation in the 21st century.

The research content will look at the idea of mapping networked forms of imageability within the context of three Latin American cities: Caracas, Venezuela; Medellin, Colombia; and Quito, Ecuador.

The interrogation of the research data at multiple scales and mediums in Quito, Ecuador will serve as primary driver for an architectural proposal sited in that city

The ambition for this thesis is to present a platform --- within the context of urban Latin America --- through which the dynamic contemporary urban condition --- and by extension the dynamic architectural condition --- can be put in focus."
spatiotemporality  urban  urbanism  latinamerica  quito  medellin  caracas  ecuador  venezuela  colombia  cities  socialmedia  visualization  mapping  maps  architecture  emmettruxes  scale  boundaries  flows  networks  adjacency  legibility  urbanlegibility  data  via:sha  video  visibility  planning  medellín 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Invisible Borders | Mapping Social Boundaries and Spatial Practices in the City
"July 4-15, 2013

Cities like Istanbul, Jerusalem, Berlin, San Isidro are known for their internal borders that divide peoples, states, economies. These are cities on the edge, visible intersections between worlds; however, all cities are border cities in that spatial divisions are produced through urban planning, city management, and cultural production.

This workshop foregrounds the less visible nodes and edges within the city of Moscow. We will examine the social divisions that official administrative maps and infrastructure enforce while identifying opportunities to create intersections, the formal and informal conditions that foster access and intersection in the city. To do this, we will interface city data with location-based social research to examine the relationship of official boundaries with those that are the product of social practice. We will examine the manifestations of invisible borders that exist in the city, document how they function, and consider interventions to activate, make them visible or remain hidden intentionally.

Some outcomes of the project will be presented in the form of maps and a catalogue of types of socially significant borders and layers in Moscow. Additional outcomes may include documentary video, audio soundscapes and interviews, and data visualization.

For further details and to follow our journey across invisible borders, visit the workshop website: http://moscow.bordr.org

Who should participate:

Architects, urban planners, activists, artists, designers, technologists and social researchers"
darkmatterproject  borders  invisibleborders  moscow  urban  urbanism  socialboundaries  boundaries  cities 
july 2013 by robertogreco
1 | A New Map Of The U.S., Created By How Our Dollar Bills Move | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation
"Using a site that tracks dollar bills, a theoretical physicist noticed that our state boundaries are rather arbitrary, but that money tends to stay within new, more realistic boundaries."
maps  mapping  us  2013  currency  circulation  borders  boundaries  states 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Maps of our lives « SB129
"as your child gets older, you become aware that they should be exploring & pushing boundaries. That their spatial freedom in some way equals mental freedom – the unseen, unsupervised allows for growth & development.

As Chabon wonderfully describes, in adolesence it is the ‘wilderness’, those part of the landscape – either rural, suburban or urban – that are derelict, abandoned & free from adult management, that allow for a space of the imagination. A landscape of performance and play, where scenes of adventure and misbehavior are acted out, where new worlds are constructed and occupied, where rules are made by kids and the adults are the enemy. It is in these spaces where we grow and foster our creative imaginations.

As we enter young adulthood our spatial boundaries dramatically increase, we move away from home, travel on our own & explore the places of our future lives. In fact, I would go as far as saying you’re identity becomes defined by the scope of your spatial experiences."
cartography  personalcartographies  blankways  location  locativemedia  spatialpractice  discovery  tomloois  identity  spatialexistence  thresholds  boundaries  exploration  parenting  adolescence  adolescents  childhood  manhoodforamateurs  michaelchabon  2012  spatialexperience  experience  mapping  maps  mattward 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The abundance of slowness | Metagramme
"At Metagramme, the problem wasn’t cruel or unreasonable clients. They were actually kind and generous, for the most part. I had no one to blame but myself. It was time to man up in a major way. One of the glaring issues I faced was a total lack of boundaries. No phone call was too late to answer, no email too early. My lack of boundaries came from fear. Fear of what would happen if I said no more often. Fear of missing deadlines or disappointing customers. I was also afraid of allowing quiet reflection and creative diversions into the work day. I was punching the clock like any hourly employee. The story I told myself was that slowness and emptiness were the same thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve found recently that when the time is used well, slowness can actually be one of the most profound sources of abundance."
adminstration  management  leadership  workculture  business  busyness  sayingno  singletasking  multitasking  seattime  meetings  focus  boundaries  falseheroism  workslavery  balancemburnout  attention  time  davidheinemeier  jasonfried  workaholics  work  slowness  slow  via:nicolefenton  monotasking 
september 2012 by robertogreco
cloudhead - school
"Subjects and textbooks are just fences
arbitrary boundaries that corral learners
and keep them from wandering off into other territory.
A plot of land in exchange for a horizon.
Exploration replaced with Epcot Center.

Outside of school
science stumbles into art which tumbles into economics.
which is one click away from Picasso
which is right next to the photo you just posted on facebook.

Knowledge divided into subjects divided into classrooms
divided into textbooks divided into chapters
makes no sense
when everything touches everything."
cloudhead  headmine  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  crosspollination  messiness  glvo  cv  lcproject  poetry  science  art  boundaries  cityasclassroom  realworld  knowledge  curriculum  curriculumisdead  teaching  schools  schooliness  shiftctrlesc 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Salottobuono > projects > THE LEARNING CLOUD
"Education has often been intended as a social emancipatory tool by which previous social structures can be questioned. As the amount considered necessary to learn increased, so the edu system became increasingly compartmented. Formal & specialized education for the minority will become even more particularized & compartmented, requiring specific structures & facilities, which can be hosted in a circumscribed area as the Loop.

Learning has always taken place throughout life, independent of any peculiar educational structure. Due to the "One country, two systems" policy, learning in btwn Hong Kong & Shenzhen can’t be just a matter of study or curiosity, but has much to do w/ the notion of border, crossing, & the related difficulty to move & to know what’s behind the fence.

By instituting in HK’s boundary closed area a net of sprawled light structures hosting students from all ages, from K to uni. Education & learning for the ‘cross-boundary students’ here could…"
saluttobuono  thelearningcloud  china  shenzen  hongkong  policy  learning  agesegregation  compartmentalization  boundaries  borders  society  education  formal  informal  lifelonglearning  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  specialization  generalists  curiosity  unschooling  deschooling  specialists 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Salottobuono > projects > DREAMING MILANO
"…Thinking about the internal boundaries of the city, about its “inner front”, means to catch the opportunity of an expansion different from the peripheral one: with other relationships between open spaces and built masses, a different density, a different intensity, proper typologies.<br />
It means also to reflect on the natural environment, not as a landscape fragment romantically survived to urbanization anymore, but as a “productive graft”, structuring space and metropolitan luxury. Cultivated place instead of social diaphragm.

The deep differences between the metropolitan boundaries and the agricultural land could exacerbate, rather than recompose in a homogeneous tissue.

On the inner edge of the contemporary city, high-speed drifting fragments of frenetic urbanity float free from intrinsic relations with the traditional organization of the built environment…"
milano  milan  cities  innerfront  landscape  architecture  planning  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  expansion  endlesscities  growth  monocentriccities  italia  italy  illustration  rail  railways  publicspace  parks  boundaries  environment  urbanization 
march 2011 by robertogreco
blueprintforabogey
"Blueprint for a Bogey (10 February – 5 June 2011) includes art work from Glasgow Museums Modern Art Collection by Paula Rego, Eduardo Paolozzi and Graham Fagen shown alongside work by Glasgow based artists David Sherry and Corin Sworn and the collaborative project Women@Play.

The exhibition explores the shift from the intrinsic nature of play in children to how, as adults, we sometimes lose confidence and neglect to play. It also looks at the boundaries that adults impose on children’s play and how they approach and judge play for themselves. Where do those boundaries exist in everyday acts between play, work and creativity?

Why is play important and can it be seen as an end in itself?"
situationist  pedagogy  play  creativity  scotland  work  children  tcsnmy  intrinsicmotivation  confidence  boundaries  rules  inhibition  art  exhibits  women  playethic  agitpropproject  the2837university  gender 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Terminus (god) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"In Roman religion, Terminus was the god who protected boundary markers; his name was the Latin word for such a marker. Sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone, and landowners celebrated a festival called the Terminalia in Terminus' honor each year on February 23. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill was thought to have been built over a shrine to Terminus, and he was occasionally identified as an aspect of Jupiter under the name Jupiter Terminalis.
via:blackbeltjones  boundaries  borders  cities  gods  mythology  myths  ancientrome  ancients  tcsnmy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Code: Flickr Developer Blog » Living In the Donut Hole
"Cities long ago stopped being defined by the walls that surround(ed) them. There is probably no better place in the world to see this than Barcelona which first burst out of its Old City with the construction of the Example at the end of the 19th century and then again, after the wars, pushed further out towards the hills and rivers that surround it. ... But maybe we should also map the neighbourhoods that aren’t considered the immediate children of a city but which overlap its boundaries. What if you could call an API method to return the list or the shape of a place’s “cousins”? What could that tell us about a place?"
maps  mapping  flickr  neighborhoods  geodata  place  cities  boundaries  via:migurski  shapes  geolocation  emergence  politicalvsperceptual  agitpropproject  the2837university  shapefiles  aaronstraupcope 
january 2009 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read