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Brazil’s Malaise | Public Books
[via (the author):
https://twitter.com/_lucas_il/status/1163502471915941889

Still chewing over @magda8lena‘s essay about Ben Moser. In 2017, I reviewed a small book Moser wrote about Brazil. I noticed that his description of Brasília as a totalitarian nightmare bore a striking resemblance to the way Lispector describes it in her crônicas

I initially wrote “cribbed” to describe the relationship between the two texts, but after my editor flagged the word, I changed the word to “cites.” He does cite Lispector near the end of the essay - but only briefly, and without ref to the shared ideas about ruins and nightmares

Pains me to think how ready I was - in a piece of criticism, no less - to shy away from my initial instinct and give him the benefit of the doubt when the textual evidence was right there, in front of me.

Here’s that essay: https://publicbooks.org/brazils-malaise/ [image: "One can safely say that Moser’s thinking on Brasília is directly shaped by Lispector’s assessment of the capital city for a 1970 newspaper column. In “Creating Brasília,” Lispector reflects on the “great visual silence” of Costa and Niemeyer’s strange shapes. The city, in her eyes, began with “the starkest of ruins,” over which “the ivy had not yet grown.”2 Lispector’s Brasília lacks an entry point or an exit, and is utterly devoid of people. Moser cites Lispector’s cryptic reflections and adds to them his own more quotidian observations. Its main avenues, he notes, are impossible to cross by foot, and its buildings and homes are full of bored, wealthy Brazilians and diplomats who have already “seen it all” and can therefore tolerate life in a flattened, rigid place."]

An interesting wrinkle: in his translation, Giovanni Pontiero seems to have added a line (“The construction of Brasília: that of a totalitarian state”) that doesn’t exist in the original - and Moser’s essay is largely about how the monumentality of Brasília is totalitarian… [two images]

Anyway. If you haven’t yet, go read @magda8lena‘s essay: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/benjamin-moser-and-the-smallest-woman-in-the-world/
lucasibericolozada  brazil  brasil  brasilia  2017  brasília  benjaminmoser  claricelispector  cities  totalitarianism  2019  instinct  writing  howwewrite  editing  giovannipontiero 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Very Slow Movie Player – Bryan Boyer – Medium
"Walking around Brasília some years ago I had the distinct feeling that I was doing it “wrong” because, of course, I was. The center of Brasilía is organized along the Exio Monumental, featuring an array of government and other important buildings that form a long spine. This is a place designed to be “read” at the speed of a vehicle, so taking in Brasília by foot is like watching a movie in slow motion. It turns out, both can be rewarding in unexpected ways.

With a little bit of patience, the details of both reveal unexpected and delightful moments. In Brasília, pedestrians are rewarded with an opportunity to discover the subtle variations between what look to be mega-scaled buildings. Rhythmic reflections and shadows bring surfaces to life under the tropical sunlight in beautiful and nuanced ways. Just don’t forget to put on sunscreen, because the distances are intended to be enjoyed from the comfort of a motor vehicle.

On the other hand, watching movies in slow-mo is not something that I’ve had experience with outside of seeing the occasional Bill Viola installation. Until, that is, I started to tinker with ePaper components and Javascript in the depth of Michigan winter, looking for a way to celebrate slowness.

Can a film be consumed at the speed of reading a book? Yes, just as a car city can be enjoyed on foot. Slowing things down to an extreme measure creates room for appreciation of the object, as in Brasília, but the prolonged duration also starts to shift the relationship between object, viewer, and context. A film watched at 1/3,600th of the original speed is not a very slow movie, it’s a hazy timepiece. A Very Slow Movie Player (VSMP) doesn’t tell you the time; it helps you see yourself against the smear of time.

I’ve described VSMP in more detail below, but watch this video [https://vimeo.com/307806967 ] explains it more readily."
bryanboyer  slow  film  brasília  brasilia  modernism  urban  urbanism  raspberrypi  class  diy  movies  billviola  vsmp  cars  travel  movement  time  moments 
december 2018 by robertogreco
From Belém to a new Brasília: Brazil's cities in the 1950s – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian
"As a young man, Marcel Gautherot abandoned his architecture studies in Paris to travel the world as a photographer. He became best known for his documentation of the construction of Brazil’s new capital city, Brasília, which can be found in a collection of his work, The Monograph"
brazil  brasil  photography  1950s  brasilia  marcelgautherot  architecture  brasília 
october 2016 by robertogreco
BRASÍLIA by Rem Koolhaas – EN | REVISTA CENTRO
"UNESCO often threatens to strip a site of its status when it or its surroundings are becoming too drastically or too visibly modern. Dresden lost its status because of a new bridge that was thought to threaten the beauty of its protected riverbank landscape. Saint Petersburg is at risk of losing it because of the construction of a Gazprom tower.

Tiring of these endless frontline battles, UNESCO is developing a new definition of the Historic Urban Landscape: heritage is no longer considered as a single object or a single urban ensemble, but as ‘all natural and historical layers of a site, its empty spaces, its infrastructure, and its social, cultural, and economic processes’. Brasília might be one of the most interesting tests for this new definition.

In CRONOCAOS [1], we concluded that the interval between ‘now’ and that which has been ‘preserved’ is shrinking continuously. Shortly, heritage might even acquire a prospective character instead of a retrospective one.

In Brasília, this is already happening. A federal ukase from 1992 demands that any addition to the ‘plane’ be designed by Niemeyer himself (at that time, 85 years old). From this moment, Niemeyer’s future plans were automatically considered World Heritage. And this might make him the biggest threat to his own posthumous reputation: Niemeyer’s most recent additions are nonchalant, sometimes grim, seldom convincing, and always situated somewhere in the wide range between the sublime and the worthless. Just as the ‘older De Kooning’, his recent work makes one wonder whether there still is a functioning mind guiding the master’s hand, or whether the hand has taken over."
brasil  brazil  architecture  remkoolhaas  2011  design  unesco  cities  heritage  worldheritagesites  preservation  urbanism  urban  oscarniemeyer  luciocosta  urbanplanning  brasilia  brasília 
september 2016 by robertogreco
▶ No Neutral Ground in a Burning World [30c3] - YouTube
"The news of the past few years is one small ripple in what is a great wave of culture and history, a generational clash of civilizations. If you want to understand why governments are acting and reacting the way they are, and as importantly, how to shift their course, you need to understand what they're reacting to, how they see and fail to see the world, and how power, money, and idea of rule of law actually interact.

Our relationships with work and property and with the notion of national identity are changing rapidly. We're becoming more polarized in our political opinions, and even in what we consider to be existential threats. This terrain determines our world, even as we deal with our more individual relationships with authority, the ethics imposed by our positions in the world, and the psychological impact of learning that our paranoia was real. The idea of the Internet and the politics it brings with it have changed the world, but that change is neither unopposed nor detatched from larger currents. From the battles over global surveillance and the culture of government secrecy to the Arab Spring and the winter of its discontent, these things are part of this moment's tapestry and they tell us about the futures we can choose. The world is on fire, and there is nowhere to hide and no way to stay neutral.

Speaker: Quinn Norton Eleanor Saitta"

[Slides: http://dymaxion.org/talks/NoNeutralGroundInABurningWorld.pdf ]

[Reading list: https://gist.github.com/dphiffer/9a583e4a4da169eee436

Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott
Moral Mazes by Robert Jackall
The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer
Debt, The First 5000 Years by David Graeber
Fellow Prisoners by John Berger
Secrecy, Film (2008)
]
via:caseygollan  2013  quinnnorton  eleanorsaitta  capitalism  marxism  anarchism  anarchy  endtimes  geekculture  politics  ethics  communication  hackerculture  internet  web  online  coding  civilization  history  culture  technology  outsiders  seeinglikea  state  jamescscott  legibility  architecture  brasilia  surveillance  authority  power  money  ruleoflaw  control  positionalethics  brasília 
october 2014 by robertogreco
MultipliCITY | Molleindustria
"SimCity promises endless possibilities. You can create the city of your dreams. But in reality you always end up with Phoenix, Arizona. The only type of city you can create is the modernist, car centered, grid based, North American city (Although in some recent versions like SimCity Societies they tried to add variety).

And it’s not just a matter of appearances. Here I tried to build an alternative city based on Situationist principles of Unitary Urbanism. I mixed work places and recreational place, I invested in public transportation and green areas.

But the citizens hated it. It was not a thriving city.

Another issue is the relationship between urban settlements and nature. You can start from an existing city and try to improve it, but the game is really meant to start from a tabula rasa, with a city built from scratch. The natural environment comes up as a blank slate, uninhabited and pre-packaged in discreet square units, ready to conquer and exploit.

It’s very common in games to have a territory that comes already partitioned in units of lands. Civilization uses a grid system too. There are technical reasons for that. But still, it suggests a very specific vision of the nature and ecosystems.

SimCity is not just about planning, you have to take decisions like how to tax your citizens. In pretty much all the titles of the series if your tax rate is around 12% or higher citizens get upset. Typically with a 20% tax, wealthy citizens will simply leave regardless of the services you provide. Some players even managed to run cities with 0 taxes.

This is a pretty clear libertarian bias. In many countries people tolerate high taxation if they feel like they get valuable services from the state.

It’s true that SimCity doesn’t have a stated goal but there is an implied goal which is growth. You can play subversively in many different ways, you can destroy things by triggering disasters. But the only truly rewarding way to play is by trying to make a big, functional city.
SimCity encourages endless growth without ever confronting the player with scarcity of resources. In SimCity 2000 when the map is full you can build arcologies that are cities within cities. And when you fill the map with arcologies, they simply take off to some other planet and you start over. It perpetually postpones the issue of the limits to growth.

Race and class conflicts are also sanitized. Crime can usually be addressed by building more police stations. And you’ll never see racial riots or experience disruptive suburbanization – the White flight. These conflicts were crucial for the development and the decline of North American cities (Detroit being a textbook case). And yet they are not included in the SimCity model.

Probably the most fundamental problem with SimCity is the premise itself: that a single person, the mayor/city planner/dictator, can address the contradictions of contemporary capitalist cities though judicious planning. Seeing the city as organism that can be in good or bad health is denying that there are irreducible conflicting interests at play.

Moreover, there are some more general bias that make SimCity a problematic artifact. Some bias are related to the mathematical, computational nature of the medium: everything is reduced to quantity, to numbers, variables, flows. Some bias are related to the management genre: this top down cybernetic approach is inherently reductionist. It embodies the modernist paradigm of city planning “from above” ignoring the city as lived at street level. This is the approach that informed carefully planned but ultimately unlivable cities like Brasilia.

But most of the bias and the issues I just mentioned come from the fact that between a real city and a simulation of a city there are actual people. People with their own values, experiences, and beliefs that inevitably affect the design of the game."
simcity  modernism  frowth  urban  urbanism  cityplanning  planning  urbanplanning  libertarianism  taxes  brasilia  multiplicity  paolopedercini  2014  brasília 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Man is alone before the cosmos - interview - Domus [Interview with Oscar Niemeyer]
"…professor coming here to our office to talk about philosophy & the cosmos. We also edit an architectural periodical…architecture is just the pretext…magazine's real purpose is to provide young people with the information they need. In all disciplines, from medicine to engineering, when young people finish their studies, as specialists they can only talk about their idea of architecture, or more in general their job…haven't yet thought about or taken much notice of all the rest, of life itself, which is more important than architecture."

"…phrase I once used as motto…"Life is more important than architecture. The fight goes on. In defence of Latin America and the progress of the world.""

[Interviewer] "Looking from above, on the other hand, I was surprised at how the favelas seem more integrated with the environment and that, extensive as they are, they're paradoxically more respectful of it."

"Brasilia is nothing anymore. It is not an example, simply a provincial capital."
change  creativegeneralists  experts  specialists  generalists  brasil  brasilia  attobelloliardessi  space  design  architecture  oscarniemeyer  2010  specialization  brazil  brasília 
january 2012 by robertogreco
A Big Little Idea Called Legibility
"The Authoritarian High-Modernist Recipe for Failure…

• Look at a complex and confusing reality, such as the social dynamics of an old city
• Fail to understand all the subtleties of how the complex reality works
• Attribute that failure to the irrationality of what you are looking at, rather than your own limitations
• Come up with an idealized blank-slate vision of what that reality ought to look like
• Argue that the relative simplicity and platonic orderliness of the vision represents rationality
• Use authoritarian power to impose that vision, by demolishing the old reality if necessary
• Watch your rational Utopia fail horribly

Central to Scott’s thesis is the idea of legibility. He explains how he stumbled across the idea while researching efforts by nation states to settle or “sedentarize” nomads, pastoralists, gypsies and other peoples living non-mainstream lives…"
politics  history  philosophy  problemsolving  imperialism  colonialism  jamescscott  design  architecture  urbanplanning  urbanism  nomads  nomadism  gypsies  pastoralists  mainstream  radicals  radicalism  2011  venkateshrao  legibility  illegiblepeople  illegibles  stevenjohnson  patternmaking  patterns  patternrecognition  complexity  unschooling  deschooling  utopianthinking  india  high-modenism  lecorbusier  forests  brasilia  bauhaus  control  decolonization  power  nicholasdirks  rome  edwardgibbon  civilization  authoritarianism  authoritarianhigh-modernism  elephantpaths  desirelines  anarchism  organizations  illegibility  highmodernism  utopia  governance  simplification  measurement  quantification  brasília 
august 2011 by robertogreco
radarq.net
"That Man from Rio (L’Homme de Rio). Scene filmed in Oscar Niemeyer’s nascent Brasília. + alebenevides :Belmondo en Brasília (1964). Grandes vistas de la ciudad recién inaugurada. Aún era posible ver los campamentos de obreros en los márgenes del Lago Paranoá."
architecture  brasilia  brasil  modernism  oscarniemeyer  niemeyer  1964  urban  planning  cities  film  brazil  brasília 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Astana, Kazakhstan: the space station in the steppes | World news | The Observer
"Astana, it is the world's latest example of a rare but persistent type, the capital from zero. It is in a line that includes St Petersburg, Washington DC, Canberra, Ankara and Brasilia and like them it provokes a question: can a city, in all its teeming complexity, really be planned? Or does the attempt lead only to a synthetic simulacrum, a kind-of city that is not quite the real thing? To look at, Astana is so strange that it has one grasping for images. It's a space station, marooned in an ungraspable expanse of level steppe, its name (to English speakers) having the invented sound of a science fiction writer's creation. It's a city of fable or dream, as recounted by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan. Except it's not quite so magical: it's also like a battery-operated plastic toy, all whirring noises and flashing colours, of a kind sold by the city's street vendors."
via:preoccupations  2010  kazakhstan  astana  architecture  urban  utopia  cities  planning  corruption  plannedcities  design  brasilia  canberra  ankara  washingtondc  jgballard  sciencefiction  capitals  dc  brasília 
august 2010 by robertogreco

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