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Gabriel Rosenberg on Twitter: "Ok y'all did it: A thread about hogs, ferality, and race in American history." / Twitter
[via: https://twitter.com/metaleptic/status/1158736606183841794
"come for the feral hogs, stay for the porcine analytic of settler colonialism."]

“Ok y’all did it: A thread about hogs, ferality, and race in American history.

Domestic hogs are not indigenous to North America. They were first introduced by the Spanish during the earliest phases of colonization. In fact, in many cases, hogs long preceded Europeans as the first wave of colonizers,

Hogs are tough, fierce, and hardy beasts. Their tusks offer ample defense against catamounts and other predators. They are thrifty breeders, producing large litters of viable offspring. And they can self-provision in forests, scrub, and grass (tho they also need shade and mud).

European colonizers seeded the landscape with small populations of hogs, knowing they would multiply quickly and, thus, would provide a ready supply of meat. Seeded so, hogs quickly advanced across the North American continent far faster than Europeans.

Indigenous populations faced an ambivalent gift in these new creatures. On the one hand, they could be hunted and provided another useful food source. Much like with horses, indigenous populations ingeniously harnessed porcine possibilities.

However, pigs also brought European diseases and were a vector of contagion for the epidemics that devastated indigenous populations. Hogs made life easier for settlers, and it disrupted indigenous land use. ate the crops of indigenous communities, sparking conflicts.

By the 19th century, hogs were consummate companions of settlers and pork was the predominant meat of Euro-Americans. Hogs didn’t need pasture and they produced ample lard (the most common cooking oil).

They could be pickled, barrelled, and floated down the Mississippi for the Atlantic seaboard and Europe. Cincinnati was memorably awarded the moniker “Porkopolis.” Settlers from around the Ohio River Valley drove millions of hogs there for slaughter and export.

In sum, settlers found pigs to be a useful way to extract calories from the landscape and to transform it cheaply into food and sometimes commodities. But this form of hog husbandry was low-intensity and rarely involved fences or enclosure.

In this context, the modern distinction between feral and domestic was muddier. Most hogs lived proximate to proximate to humans, some in human shelters, but they had enormous autonomy and roved freely.

This made sense early in settler colonialism, but fencing and property systems changed the story. As setters planted grains, they found roving hogs a menace who trampled and ate their crops. Similarly, fences were a form of improvement that strengthened property claims.

Over the course of the 19th century, fence laws and enclosure spread West from the Atlantic seaboard (with the exception of the South East and Appalachia where enclosure was contested until the end of the century).

In the meantime, settlers (now imagining themselves the “permanent” natives after only a generation) began to develop a different system of hog husbandry. Instead of free ranging their hogs, they increasingly confined them and fattened them on grain.

After the Civil War, the development of a robust rail system also meant live pigs could be easily transported to Chicago, which quickly replaced Cincinnati as the center of hog slaughter. This transportation network created a hog-corn nexus throughout the Middle West.

This different system of production also required a new kind of hog: settlers (now called farmers) wanted a hog that put on weight quickly and efficiently transformed corn into fat, not one that could defend itself and self-provision from a forest.

They no longer needed a lean, muscular hog with long legs and tusks capable of making a long drive to Cincinnait. They wanted a stout fat hog, with short legs, and no tusks, an animal that was docile and easily transported.

Enclosure meant they had the opportunity to do this. Whereas free ranging hogs were mostly left to their own mating, fences, crates, and barns meant farmers could intensively breed their pigs and determine with precision which animals should mate.

Ok gotta run and catch the U to get a haircut, but I’ll tweet as I go, spotty WiFi and all.

By the 1880s, pig farmers across America endeavored to “improve” their herds by breeding in European stock. Through elaborate systems of genealogy and recording, they adapted the European tradition of pure-breeding to a settler colonial context.

Such farmers raved about the purity of their (animal) bloodlines, which they considered a powerful proof of the superiority of European settled agriculture and civilization. The refinement and purity of their breeds was evidence that settler colonialism was just and natural.

And what of “unimproved” pigs? They called these animals “mongrels”, “degenerates”, “scrubs”, and “natives.” The last term indexes the conflation of indigeneity with biological inferiority and unmanaged reproduction.

And much as “refined” stock proved white European superiority, “native” animals showed that those communities setter colonialism had eradicated were “degenerate” and “barbarous.”

It is in this context that the concept of “feral” can begin to emerge as a distinct and threatening concept to white American culture: a form of unmanaged reproduction and life that exists outside and apart from property ownership and settled agriculture.

That defense of assault weapons is almost too on the nose: hordes of unmanaged life invade domesticity and managed reproduction (the daughter) and must be culled with massive and indiscriminate violence. Six hundred years of settler colonialism is speaking in that tweet.

If you learned something from this thread, please read the work of the many historians working on agriculture who helped form my thinking. These include: Anderson’s Creatures of Empire, Cronon’s Changes in the Land and Nature’s Metropolis, and Specht’s Red Meat Republic.

Also, Logan O’Laughlin’s forthcoming work, Wood’s Herds Shot Round the World, Franklin’s Dolly Mixtures, Mizelle’s Pig, Blanchette’s forthcoming Porkopolis and many many more. Oh and read some Sylvia Wynter too!

Fin.

Epilogue: I have safely returned to my office at the
@MPIWG
with a fresh bald fade and this thread completely viral. If you’re interested in my work, some links will follow.

#1 My article, “A Race Suicide Among the Hogs”: https://www.academia.edu/21787581/_A_Race_Suicide_among_the_Hogs_The_Biopolitics_of_Pork_in_the_United_States_1865_1930_American_Quarterly_68.1_March_2016_49-73

The article examines meat agriculture as a site for the production of knowledge about gender, race, and sexuality that spanned human and non-human animals. Livestock breeders and commentators alike…

#2 My article, “How Meat Changed Sex” (on the unexpected sexual politics of livestock production): https://www.academia.edu/35295117/HOW_MEAT_CHANGED_SEX_The_Law_of_Interspecies_Intimacy_after_Industrial_Reproduction

HOW MEAT CHANGED SEX: The Law of Interspecies Intimacy after Industrial Reproduction
The article explores the history and structure of American laws criminalizing sex- ual contact between humans and animals to demonstrate how the ecological conditions of late capitalism are…

#3 My book, “The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America”: https://www.amazon.com/4-H-Harvest-Sexuality-America-Politics/dp/0812247531/

4-H, the iconic rural youth program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has enrolled more than 70 million Americans over the last century. As the first comprehensive history of the organization

#4 A popular piece I wrote for the @BostonGlobe that gives you a sense of how I think about farming and rural America in the context of settler colonialism, “Fetishizing Family Farms”: https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2016/04/09/fetishizing-family-farms/NJszoKdCSQWaq2XBw7kvIL/story.html

Fetishizing family farms: History is nothing like the political mythology.

#5 A recent microsyllabus on Animal Studies I wrote for the Radical History Review’s incredible @abusablepast: https://www.radicalhistoryreview.org/abusablepast/?p=3164

Microsyllabus: Animal Studies
Compiled by Gabriel N. Rosenberg Animal Studies queries the relationship between nonhuman animals (or “animals”) and human social orders. It is an interdisciplinary field, encompassing scholarship”
pigs  hogs  multispecies  history  colonialism  gabrielrosenberg  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  us  animalstudies  morethanhuman  imperialism  feral  ferality  farming  land  ownership  agriculture  livestock  food  landscape  settlercolonialism 
12 days ago by robertogreco
Landscape Circuitry – Nick Sowers Architecture
"What happens when you wire up parts of a landscape and amplify its own remixed sounds? This is the next iteration of my series with SEAP : Sonorous Environment Amplification Panel. I have set up this four channel audio installation on the edge of Seaplane Lagoon on the former Naval Air Station in Alameda to explore the sonic textures in magnified detail.

Through live amplification of sounds picked up by a variety of microphones (contact, omnidirectional, shotgun, and hydrophone) I am able to reveal elements of the landscape which may otherwise go unnoticed. The sounds of birds, waves, pebbles, electricity, and wind through a security fence travel through the wires and merge digitally before being projected through the acrylic sound panel.

Even the more visible and audible parts which pass through such as Southwest jets taking off from nearby Oakland Airport are filtered through the sound installation, mixing and resonating with bird sounds and howling wind. We can hear all of this without augmentation, yet the ability to turn the dial up or down on certain sounds gives the observer a new form of participation in the landscape.

The forms of participation enabled by SEAP can be unexpected. One thing that surprised me is how the slight delay between the sounds initially heard and the sounds played back through amplification immediately creates a new atmosphere. The delay is like what you hear in a hard concrete alley, your own footsteps bouncing back to you in a kind of pangy-hollow sound. But you wouldn’t expect to find that echo effect in an open landscape. When a security guard pulled up to ask me what I was doing, his own voice was thrown back to him. He seemed satisfied with my description “Just testing out an art installation” and drove away.

Another unexpected sound comes from this security fence blocking access to the breakwater. I wired up a contact microphone to the galvanized steel post supporting the fence. The wind which slips through the fence is not audible to the naked ear, yet the metal absorbs the sound and can be amplified and mixed in with the rest of the environment. Listen:

In the recording you’ll hear the sounds of birds picked up by this omnidirectional microphone aimed down into the rocks. Crevices contain their own little sonic worlds. The space between rocks shelters a bowl of stiller air. In this placement, the microphone avoids clipping from wind. Tinier sounds like pebbles trickling down and birds whose calls would otherwise be drowned out are easily picked up.

I found myself thinking about artist Jenny Odell‘s practice of observation at the Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses in Oakland, about how this place on the fringes of a former Navy base could be my rose garden. From the perspective of an architect, I’m not doing anything here. I’m not analyzing a site as a precursor to making a building. Yet I am doing more than bird watching or walking or fishing– all fine activities for absorbing the nuances of a place and experiencing the passage of time. SEAP is an evolution of the many years I have walked landscapes and recorded sounds. Now I have an apparatus with which to gauge the subtle textures of a soundscape and add my own interpretation back into it. I expect to return to Seaplane Lagoon with an ever evolving set of processes to fold in between the processes of erosion and construction."
nicksowers  sound  audio  landscape  listening  2019  microphones  jennyodell  oakland  morethanhuman  recording 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Field Experience
"Field Experience is an organization dedicated to the cultivation of curiosity and creativity through inquiry and the art of exploration."

"Field Experience was founded by Minneapolis-based designer and researcher Julka Almquist. She has 15 years of experience as an ethnographer and design researcher. While working at IDEO she found that people were profoundly impacted by the inspiration phase of research, and that exploring the world was far more transformational than sitting in an office giving presentations. Since then, she has grown passionate about the art of exploration and how it can heighten curiosity and creativity. She holds a PhD at the intersection of design and anthropology from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught at Art Center College of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Julka collaborates with an extraordinary team of experts to craft learning experiences. Explore with us: hello@fieldexperience.co"

[See also:

https://www.instagram.com/field_experience/

"Reading List"
https://fieldexperience.co/readinglist

""Landscape: An Education Program"
https://fieldexperience.co/programs

"Throughout 2019, we are curating an experience-based learning program in Minneapolis/St. Paul called Landscape. We will be exploring creativity through a variety of events situated within our natural landscape. Project support provided by the Visual Arts Fund, administered by Midway Contemporary Art with generous funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York.

We are partnering with local and international artists, designers, naturalists, and biologists to craft experiences for our community. The monthly programs will be free and open to the public. We have an events calendar with programming updates, and a reading list where we post articles, chapters and other forms of inspiration to accompany the programs.

Our programs are grounded in the following ideas:

Local Landscape
We have increasingly been asking questions about how our relationship to the natural world influences our creativity. We aim to expand creative practice through new ways of engaging with our local landscape, and in particular with plants. Our programming will be shaped in response to the changing seasons.

Place-Based Pedagogy
One of the fundamental goals of this program is to build community in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and to foster a deeper connection to place through creative learning experiences. We acknowledge the history of place, and that we are working on Dakota and Ojibwe land.

Experiential and Sensorial Inquiry
The modes of inquiry for the program are embodied, experienced-based, and multi-sensory. We encourage everyone to get out of their offices, studios, and classrooms and into the world. In order to engage the senses, the workshops and events will primarily be outdoors, with the exception of the deep winter months when our extreme climate brings us indoors.

Creative Experimentation
Many of our programs will offer an opportunity for making. We want to encourage people to make things that may not be central to their practice and to push the boundaries of creative experimentation. We also hope that the experiences and discussions are transformational and inspire new possibilities for creative practice."]
lcproject  openstudioproject  local  place  experience  experientiallearning  learning  education  landscape  pedagogy  place-based  senses  via:jenksbyjenks  julkaalmquist  minnesota  minneapolis  ethnography  sensoryethnography  design  anthropology  place-basededucation  place-basedlearning  place-basedpedagogy 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Play Mountain - 99% Invisible
"Noguchi’s model for Play Mountain remained on display in his Long Island City museum until January of 1988. At this point, he was 84 years old when a man from Sapporo, Japan came to visit his Long Island City museum and told Noguchi that he thought he could get one of Noguchi’s parks built in Sapporo.

Noguchi started designing play structures and earthworks for the park with his longtime collaborator, the architect Shoji Sadao. But in the winter of that year, he came down with a cold which turned into a terrible case of pneumonia that ultimately took his life shortly after. Noguchi died on December 30th, 1988, having designed the vast majority of the park. His collaborator, Shoji Sadao, continued to work on it. From Noguchi’s death at the end of 1988, Moerenuma Park took 17 years to build and finally opened in 2005.

“It’s enormous … 454 acres – that’s bigger than Central Park,” says Dakin Hart. “It is kind of an amalgamation, a greatest hits, of all of Noguchi’s un-executed land and playground ideas, in one spot.” It’s this huge green swath of land, tucked into a bend in the river. There are forests of his candy-like play equipment, mounds and pyramids and swooping paths, an enormous conical hill to climb, a huge fountain that cycles through an hour-long water show.

Isamu Noguchi was never able to take in the view from the peak of his creation. The sculpture he’d spent his whole life dreaming about., like a mountain teleported from the wild alien planet of his mind. The one place he ever felt he really belonged. Noguchi wanted us to see the world as if we were visiting for the first time. To move our bodies through space as if the simple facts of gravity and contour were brand new delights. To look around with wide eyes, to feel with outstretched fingers, and imagine infinite possibilities. In other words: to live like kids on a playground."
playgrounds  isamunoguichi  2019  design  alexandralange  dakinhart  landscape 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | Make America Graze Again - The New York Times
"Nashville’s Zach Richardson uses sustainable practices — and a flock of sheep — to clear overgrown landscapes."
landscape  sheep  multispecies  urban  animals  morethanhuman  2019  sustainability 
april 2019 by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
elisehunchuck [Elise Misao Hunchuck]
[via: https://twitter.com/lowlowtide/status/1052233654074654720

"what a rare pleasure, listening 2 @elisehunchuck presenting her research on an incomplete atlas of stones: ‘Trangressions & Regressions’ @tudelft #ULWeek2018

“stones help us understand how the earth moves”—@elisehunchuck"]

"Elise Hunchuck (b. Toronto) is a Berlin based researcher and designer with degrees in landscape architecture, philosophy, and geography whose work focuses on bringing together fieldwork and design through collaborative practices of observation, care, and coordination. Facilitating multidisciplinary exchanges between teaching and representational methods as a way to further develop landscape-oriented research methodologies at multiple scales, her research develops cartographic, photographic, and text-based practices to explore and communicate the agency of disasters through the continual configuring and reconfiguring of infrastructures of risk, including memorials, monuments, and coastal defense structures.

A University Olmsted Scholar, Elise was recently a finalist for the 2017 Maeder-York Landscape Fellowship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cambridge, US) and a research fellow with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (Washington DC, US). Her writing has appeared in The Funambulist and her research has been featured on BLDGBLOG. She has taught representational history and methods in the graduate architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto, CA) and has been an invited critic in the undergraduate and graduate programs at the architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty and the School of Architecture at Waterloo.

Elise is also a member of the editorial board of Scapegoat Journal: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy.

For general enquiries, commissions, or collaborations, please contact directly via email at elisehunchuck [at] gmail [dot] com."

[See also:

"An Incomplete Atlas of Stones"
https://elisehunchuck.com/2015-2017-An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones
https://cargocollective.com/elisehunchuck/An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones-1
https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2018/02/21/elise-hunchuck-mla-2016-presents-incomplete-atlas-stones-aa-london
https://thefunambulist.net/articles/incomplete-atlas-stones-cartography-tsunami-stones-japanese-shoreline-elise-misao-hunchuck
https://thefunambulist.net/contributors/elise-hunchuck

"Warnings Along the Inundation Line"
http://www.bldgblog.com/2017/06/warnings-along-the-inundation-line/

"Century Old Warnings Against Tsunamis Dot Japan's Coastline"
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/century-old-warnings-against-tsunamis-dot-japans-coastline-180956448/

"How Century Old Tsunami Stones Saved Lives in the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2018/03/11/how-century-old-tsunami-stones-saved-lives-in-the-tohoku-earthquake-of-2011/#18355a8244fd

https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2017/06/28/bldgblog-features-incomplete-atlas-stones-elise-hunchuck-mla-2016

https://issuu.com/danielsfacultyuoft/docs/2016.04.11_-_2016_winter_thesis_rev ]
elisehunchuck  landscape  multispecies  morethanhuman  japan  iceland  tsunamis  design  fieldwork  srg  multidisciplinary  teaching  place  time  memory  disasters  risk  memorials  monuments  coasts  oceans  maps  mapping  photography  canon  scale  observation  care  caring  coordination  markers 
october 2018 by robertogreco
ATLAS OF PLACES
"ATLAS OF PLACES is a non-profit educational and political journal of architecture, landscape, urbanism, photography, cartography, print and academic. Its goal is to question the politics of places and to stand out in an increasingly uniform architectural media landscape for its critical vision/research, in-depth analysis of contemporary issues and publications that illuminate the state and relationship between architecture, technology and society. We produce and share essays, criticisms, photographies, maps, designs, narrative journalism, as well as academic projects and university publications that deserve a wide audience.

This journal is independent and is financed solely by the editor's personal investments and the reader's contributions. If you wish to help and make it evolve, please DONATE"
geography  landscape  urbanism  photography  cartography  maps  mapping  place  places  architecture 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Christi Belcourt on Twitter: "Education in schools is not the only form of education. The land has been my teacher for 25 years. I will never graduate and will always be an apprentice to her. The animals educate. The stars educate. Not everything can be t
"Education in schools is not the only form of education. The land has been my teacher for 25 years. I will never graduate and will always be an apprentice to her. The animals educate. The stars educate. Not everything can be taught in a brick box. Not everything should be.

Education from and on the land is needed for children. We need the next generation to be free thinkers. Unintentionally, the structures within the current education system are contributing in assimilating all children into a form of thinking that teaches them to conform.

Education in schools is affecting Indigenous nations. It’s not all positive. Hardly any of our kids knows the lands like the back of their hands any more. Hardly any knows animal traditional laws, protocols. Hardly any can survive on the land. And almost all are taught in English

Without intending it, by sending ALL our children to school, we are creating a society of dependence. Because unable to survive on the land means a dependence on goods and services. It also means a continued decline in our languages as the day is spent in English.

Even communities once entirely fluent not long ago are noticing their young people conversing in English. I was just in a community where the teenagers were fluent. But pre-teens weren’t. How can communities compete w/ English when their children are emmersed in it all day?

I don’t want to offend educators. Educators are some of the most selfless and kind people I’ve met. They go above and beyond for kids every day. My observations are about some of the long term boarder effects re: institution of education and its detrimental effects on our nations

The late Elder Wilfred Peltier once wrote that the education system harms children in a few ways. He was speaking specifically about Indigenous kids but his thoughts could be applied to all I suppose. He said it sets kids up with a skewed sense of self. (Con’t)

Elder Wilfred Peltier said children are taught early in school to be graded. He said the harm isn’t only in the child who gets low grades and is made to feel less than. The worse harm is to kids who get higher grades and are made to feel better than others.

He also said the structure of the classroom is problematic. It implies the teacher knows everything and the student knows nothing. In Indigenous communities we talk about how children are teachers and each one has unique gifts. But schools don’t nurture those gifts.

A child might be gifted in reading the stars or knowing traditional medicines. Schools eliminate that as a possibility to be apprenticed in those things. And they take up so much time in a child’s life there is no time left over for language and apprenticing in their gifts.

We will need scientists and people who have gone through school. But we also need medicine apprentices, land knowledge, language keepers and star readers. We need experts of the lakes and animals. This come from apprentiships w/ kokums and moshoms. It comes from the land itself.

In this time of climate change the world needs Indigenous knowledge more than ever. It’s in our lands and langusges. It can’t come from school. So we have to question this. And really look at it to suss out the good and the bad in a non emotional and non judgemental way.

Is there a way to have half of all Indigenous kids apprenticed full time with kokums or moshoms in land/water based education? Is there a way to identify what gifts kids will have early on and give them the life long training to nurture those gifts?

My concluding thought is the tendency will be towards “improving” or “fixing” schools to allow for more Indigenous languages or teachings etc without fundamentally changing anything. My point is the kind of education I’m talking about cannot be within the school system."
education  unschooling  deschooling  indigeneity  schooling  wilfredpeltier  christibelcourt  2018  inequality  children  authority  experience  apprenticeships  kokums  moshoms  multispecies  land  morethanhuman  canon  climatechange  experientiallearning  gifted  language  languages  landscape  colonialism  heterogeneity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
When Scientists "Discover" What Indigenous People Have Known For Centuries | Science | Smithsonian
"Our knowledge of what animals do when humans aren’t around has steadily increased over the last 50 years. For example, we know now that animals use tools in their daily lives. Chimps use twigs to fish for termites; sea otters break open shellfish on rocks they selected; octopi carry coconut shell halves to later use as shelters. But the latest discovery has taken this assessment to new heights—literally.

A team of researchers led by Mark Bonta and Robert Gosford in northern Australia has documented kites and falcons, colloquially termed “firehawks,” intentionally carrying burning sticks to spread fire. While it has long been known that birds will take advantage of natural fires that cause insects, rodents and reptiles to flee and thus increase feeding opportunities, that they would intercede to spread fire to unburned locales is astounding.

It’s thus no surprise that this study has attracted great attention as it adds intentionality and planning to the repertoire of non-human use of tools. Previous accounts of avian use of fire have been dismissed or at least viewed with some skepticism.

But while new to Western science, the behaviors of the nighthawks have long been known to the Alawa, MalakMalak, Jawoyn and other Indigenous peoples of northern Australia whose ancestors occupied their lands for tens of thousands of years. Unlike most scientific studies, Bonta and Gosford’s team foregrounded their research in traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge. They also note that local awareness of the behavior of the firehawks is ingrained within some of their ceremonial practices, beliefs and creation accounts.

The worldwide attention given to the firehawks article provides an opportunity to explore the double standard that exists concerning the acceptance of Traditional Knowledge by practitioners of Western science.

Traditional Knowledge ranges from medicinal properties of plants and insights into the value of biological diversity to caribou migration patterns and the effects of intentional burning of the landscape to manage particular resources. Today, it’s become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnobotanists, climatologists and others. For example, some climatology studies have incorporated Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) to explain changes in sea ice conditions observed over many generations.

Yet despite the wide acknowledgement of their demonstrated value, many scientists continue to have had an uneasy alliance with Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous oral histories.

On the one hand, these types of knowledge are valued when they support or supplements archaeological, or other scientific evidence. But when the situation is reversed—when Traditional Knowledge is seen to challenge scientific “truths —then its utility is questioned or dismissed as myth. Science is promoted as objective, quantifiable, and the foundation for “real” knowledge creation or evaluation while Traditional Knowledge may be seen as anecdotal, imprecise and unfamiliar in form.

Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world, past and present?

Ways of Knowing

There are many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.

For instance, in the past two decades, archaeologists and environmental scientists working in coastal British Columbia have come to recognize evidence of mariculture—the intentional management of marine resources—that pre-dates European settlement. Over the course of thousands of years, the ancestors of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other Indigenous groups there created and maintained what have become known as “clam gardens”—rock-walled, terrace-like constructions that provide ideal habit for butter clams and other edible shellfish.

To the Kwakwaka’wakw, these were known as loxiwey, according to Clan Chief Adam Dick (Kwaxsistalla) who has shared this term and his knowledge of the practice with researchers. As marine ecologist Amy Groesbeck and colleagues have demonstrated, these structures increase shellfish productivity and resource security significantly. This resource management strategy reflects a sophisticated body of ecological understanding and practice that predates modern management systems by millennia.

These published research studies now prove that Indigenous communities knew about mariculture for generations—but Western scientists never asked them about it before. Once tangible remains were detected, it was clear mariculture management was in use for thousands of years. There is a move underway by various Indigenous communities in the region to restore and recreate clam gardens and put them back into use.

A second example demonstrates how Indigenous oral histories correct inaccurate or incomplete historical accounts. There are significant differences between Lakota and Cheyenne accounts of what transpired at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) in 1876, and the historical accounts that appeared soon after the battle by white commentators.

The Lakota and Cheyenne can be considered more objective than white accounts of the battle that are tainted by Eurocentric bias. The ledger drawings of Red Horse, a Minneconjou Sioux participant in the battle, record precise details such as trooper’s uniforms, the location of wounds on horses, and the distribution of Indian and white casualties.

In 1984, a fire at the battleground revealed military artifacts and human remains that prompted archaeological excavations. What this work revealed was a new, more accurate history of the battle that validated many elements of the Native American oral histories and accompanying pictographs and drawings of the events. However, without the archaeological evidence, many historians gave limited credence to the accounts obtained from the participating Native American warriors.

Hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights. The travels of Glooscap, a major figure in Abenaki oral history and worldview, are found throughout the Mi’kmaw homeland of the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada. As a Transformer, Glooscap created many landscape features. Anthropologist Trudy Sable (Saint Mary’s University) has noted a significant degree of correlation between places named in Mi’kmaw legends and oral histories and recorded archaeological sites.

Opportunities at the Intersection

As ways of knowing, Western and Indigenous Knowledge share several important and fundamental attributes. Both are constantly verified through repetition and verification, inference and prediction, empirical observations and recognition of pattern events.

While some actions leave no physical evidence (e.g. clam cultivation), and some experiments can’t be replicated (e.g. cold fusion), in the case of Indigenous knowledge, the absence of “empirical evidence” can be damning in terms of wider acceptance.

Some types of Indigenous knowledge, however, simply fall outside the realm of prior Western understanding. In contrast to Western knowledge, which tends to be text-based, reductionist, hierarchical and dependent on categorization (putting things into categories), Indigenous science does not strive for a universal set of explanations but is particularistic in orientation and often contextual. This can be a boon to Western science: hypotheses incorporating traditional knowledge-based information can lead the way toward unanticipated insights.

There are partnerships developing worldwide with Indigenous knowledge holders and Western scientists working together. This includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge informing government policies on resource management in some instances. But it is nonetheless problematic when their knowledge, which has been dismissed for so long by so many, becomes a valuable data set or used selectively by academics and others.

To return to the firehawks example, one way to look at this is that the scientists confirmed what the Indigenous peoples have long known about the birds’ use of fire. Or we can say that the Western scientists finally caught up with Traditional Knowledge after several thousand years."

[See also:
"How Western science is finally catching up to Indigenous knowledge: Traditional knowledge has become a highly valued source of information for archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, climatologists and others"
http://www.macleans.ca/society/how-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-indigenous-knowledge/

"It’s taken thousands of years, but Western science is finally catching up to Traditional Knowledge"
https://theconversation.com/its-taken-thousands-of-years-but-western-science-is-finally-catching-up-to-traditional-knowledge-90291 ]
science  indigenous  knowledge  archaeology  ecology  biology  climatology  climate  animals  nature  amygroesbeck  research  clams  butterclams  birds  morethanhuman  multispecies  knowing  scientism  anthropology  categorization  hierarchy  hawks  firehawks  fire  landscape  place  nativeamericans  eurocentricity  battleofgreasygrass  littlebighorn  adamdick  kwaxsistalla  clamgardens  shellfish  stewardship  inuit  australia  us  canada  markbonta  robertgosford  kites  falcons  trudysable  placenames  oralhistory  oralhistories  history  mariculture 
february 2018 by robertogreco
David Fickling on Twitter: "Australian hawks carry burning twigs to START FOREST FIRES and drive out prey https://t.co/puU5u0y38I Cool story bro, but ine of the most i… https://t.co/xXHcEJZZh6"
"Australian hawks carry burning twigs to START FOREST FIRES and drive out prey ªªhttp://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700?journalCode=etbi ºº

Cool story bro, but ine of the most interesting angles was totally missed in many reports:

Indigenous people have known about this behaviour since way, way back. It's "often represented in sacred ceremonies", per the article

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildfires-birds-animals-australia/
[image of text]

Three guesses how Australian officialdom deals with real-world information that Aboriginal people have known for generations and observe all the time... 🙄🙄
[image of text]

I can think of another -ism that doesn't start with "skeptic" in this instance...

Australians still vastly underestimate how intensively Aboriginal people cultivated the landscape through fire agriculture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGO2GbLRWcQ

One other thing: Cooperative hunting with dolphins was also quite common among Aboriginal people in eastern Australia: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279302786992694?journalCode=rfan20

I wish people would more often call this applied knowledge what it is: "technology" https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/technology [image of text]

BTW the paper abstract starts "We document Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and non-Indigenous observations..." so it's hard to argue this angle is a minor element of the research

The theme of the paper is literally "we should pay more attention to Indigenous knowledge" but somehow in translation it's become "LOL hawks are mad"

BTW here's a non-journalwalled summary of the research themes: https://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2015/11/08/ornithogenic-fire-raptors-as-propagators-of-fire-in-the-australian-savanna/ "

[via "This behavior is fascinating and the thread that follows on both Aboriginal technology and colonialist racism is important."
https://twitter.com/Dymaxion/status/951172611391795200

via "cc: @rogre And now, for the rest of the story..."
https://twitter.com/symptomatic/status/951198470848819205 ]
animals  multispecies  moethanhuman  aborigines  davidfickling  via:sympotomatic  australia  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  technology  racism  colonialism  ecology  indigeneity  knowledge  erasure  indigenousknowledge  hawks  fire  landscape  dolphins 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The biggest estate on earth ABC News - YouTube
"Before white settlement, some of the local landscape looked like parkland. Author Bill Gammage explains the complex systems of land management used by Indigenous Australians."

[via: https://twitter.com/davidfickling/status/950960056811454464 ]
australia  aborigines  billgammage  history  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  morethanhuman  multispecies  parks  landscape 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin | Bio, Media, and Published Work
"Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin (b. 1977) is a Los Angeles based photographer whose work focuses on the urban environment and how a neighborhoods physical composition reflects the lives of it’s inhabitants. He is best known for The Los Angeles Recordings, an ongoing documentary project comprised of photo essays about L.A.’s rapidly changing urban landscape. He has also recently collaborated with KCET in the creation of In Plain Sight, a series photographing locations of police violence and was one of Time Magazine’s 12 African American Photographers to Follow in 2017."
photography  losangeles  landscape  documentary  urban  urbanism  cities  lawenforcement  police  kwasiboyd-bouldin 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The Hit List – BLDGBLOG
"We might say with only slight exaggeration that the United States exists in its current state of economic and military well being due to a peripheral constellation of sites found all over the world. These far-flung locations—such as rare-earth mines, telecommunications hubs, and vaccine suppliers—are like geopolitical buttresses, as important for the internal operations of the United States as its own homeland security.

However, this overseas network is neither seamless nor even necessarily identifiable as such. Rather, it is aggressively and deliberately discontiguous, and rarely acknowledged in any detail. In a sense, it is a stealth geography, unaware of its own importance and too scattered ever to be interrupted at once.

That is what made the controversial release by Wikileaks, in December 2010, of a long list of key infrastructural sites deemed vital to the national security of the United States so interesting. The geographic constellation upon which the United States depends was suddenly laid bare, given names and locations, and exposed for all to see.

The particular diplomatic cable in question, originally sent by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to all overseas embassies in February 2009 and marked for eventual declassification only in January 2019, describes what it calls “critical foreign dependencies (critical infrastructure and key resources located abroad).” These “critical dependencies” are divided into eighteen sectors, including energy, agriculture, banking and finance, drinking water and water treatment systems, public health, nuclear reactors, and “critical manufacturing.” All of these locations, objects, or services, the cable explains, “if destroyed, disrupted or exploited, would likely have an immediate and deleterious effect on the United States.” Indeed, there is no back up: several sites are highlighted as “irreplaceable.”

Specific locations range from the Straits of Malacca to a “battery-grade” manganese mine in Gabon, Africa, and from the Southern Cross undersea cable landing in Suva, Fiji, to a Danish manufacturer of smallpox vaccine. The list also singles out the Nadym Gas Pipeline Junction in Russia as “the most critical gas facility in the world.”

The list was first assembled as a way to extend the so-called National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP)—which focuses on domestic locations—with what the State Department calls its Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative (CFDI). The CFDI, still in a nascent stage—i.e. it consists, for now, in making lists—could potentially grow to include direct funding for overseas protection of these sites, effectively absorbing them into the oblique landscape of the United States.

Of course, the fear that someone might actually use this as a check list of vulnerable targets, either for military elimination or terrorist sabotage, seemed to dominate news coverage at the time of the cable’s release. While it is obvious that the cable could be taken advantage of for nefarious purposes—and that even articles such as this one only increase the likelihood of this someday occurring—it should also be clear that its release offers the public an overdue opportunity to discuss the spatial vulnerabilities of U.S. power and the geometry of globalization.

The sites described by the cable—Israeli ordnance manufacturers, Australian pharmaceutical corporations, Canadian hydroelectric dams, German rabies vaccine suppliers—form a geometry whose operators and employees are perhaps unaware that they define the outer limits of U.S. national security. Put another way, the flipside of a recognizable U.S. border is this unwitting constellation: a defensive perimeter or outsourced inside, whereby the contiguous nation-state becomes fragmented into a discontiguous network-state, its points never in direct physical contact. It is thus not a constitutional entity in any recognized sense, but a coordinated infrastructural ensemble that spans whole continents at a time.

But what is the political fate of this landscape; how does it transform our accepted notions of what constitutes state territory; what forms of governance are most appropriate for its protection; and under whose jurisdictional sovereignty should these sites then be held?

In identifying these outlying chinks in its armor, the United States has inadvertently made clear a spatial realization that the concept of the nation-state has changed so rapidly that nations themselves are having trouble keeping track of their own appendages.

Seen this way, it matters less what specific sites appear in the Wikileaks cable, and simply that these sites can be listed at all. A globally operating, planetary sovereign requires a new kind of geography: discontinuous, contingent, and nontraditionally vulnerable, hidden from public view until rare leaks such as these."

[via: https://twitter.com/jbushnell/status/933014185675513856 ]
geoffmanaugh  bldgblog  geography  2011  wikileaks  bighere  geopolitics  military  2010  us  gabon  africa  middleast  israel  canada  germany  landscape 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Ephemeral Urbanism: Cities in Constant Flux - YouTube
urbanism  urban  cities  ephemerality  ephemeral  2016  rahulmehrotra  felipevera  henrynbauer  cristianpinoanguita  religion  celebration  transaction  trade  economics  informal  formal  thailand  indi  us  dominicanrepublic  cochella  burningman  fikaburn  southafrica  naturaldisaters  refugees  climatechange  mozambique  haiti  myanmar  landscape  naturalresources  extraction  mining  chile  indonesia  military  afghanistan  refuge  jordan  tanzania  turkey  greece  macedonia  openness  rigidity  urbandesign  urbanplanning  planning  adhoc  slums  saudiarabia  hajj  perú  iraq  flexibility  unfinished  completeness  sustainability  ecology  mobility 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Folklore Situationism – MORNING, COMPUTER
"NORTHERN EARTH gives me joy.  The September issue has a big, rich piece on psychogeography, phenomenology, landscape writing, history and, most tellingly for me, folklore.  For me, it tied right in to the mechanic of myth in STAR SHIPS – the transmission of lore through story. I’m still thinking about this talk I have to do next month, Myth And The River Of Time.

Moving through America, I always find myself noticing and thinking that American roads and bridges are named after Americans. I live in a country where roads and bridges are named for ghost stories.  Screaming Boy Lane and Boggart’s Bridge.

Dramatising the landscape, which we’ve done since megalithic times and before.

Landscape writing seems to eventually take a turn into nationalism.  I never quite got that. Myth is a commonwealth.  And you know that, somewhere, sometime, someone drives on one of those roads or bridges in America and leans back and tells a myth of the person it’s named for, a truth grown in time, a thing they did or saw that becomes story in the telling.

They have a website where you can buy a year’s subscription for ten pounds British."
warrenellis  2017  folklore  situationist  landscape  writing  us  naming  lore  myth  psychogeography  phenomenology 
september 2017 by robertogreco
WAR GAMES - DIEGO PERRONE
"Conceived, produced and directed by the Villa Croce Amixi – Contemporary Art Museum – Genoa, “Davanti al mare – ATTO I” is an experimental and open format project featuring a multiple nature. Thought as an expanded residency, as a research work on the Genoa environment – metaphorical and physical production space – “Davanti al mare” is presented now to the public as a zone where an artist and selected curator will work together to the construction of projects studied to inhabit the subtle boundary line between city and museum, artwork and storytelling, exploration and presentation. “Davanti al mare – ATTO I” aims to give back power to art as tool for investigation of the place and its landscape; it’s drawn on the desire of using the artwork as powerful revealing machine; it’s envisioned as light and flexible palimpsest – a sea stage – to produce – through art – reality."

[See also:
http://moussemagazine.it/diego-perrone-wargames-villa-croce-museo-darte-contemporanea-genoa-2017/
http://www.aptglobal.org/en/Exhibition/57572/DIEGO-PERRONE-WAR-GAMES ]
diegoperrone  art  landscape  place  revelation  seeing  noticing  museums  storytelling  exploration  presentation  genoa  italy  italia 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Blind Spot | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"Blind Spot, the writer and photographer Teju Cole’s new book, feels like a culmination of his intellectual work of the last few years. A master of shifting forms, Cole previously published two novels (Open City and Everyday is for a Thief) and an essay collection (Known and Strange Things), is the photography critic for The New York Times, and is prolific on Instagram where he showcases his photography. Blind Spot, a book that mixes text with his original photography, at once feels like a continuation of his previous work while also something completely new. How does one define Blind Spot? Is it a photo book or a novel? A travelogue or a poem? A memoir or a lyric essay? The answer, I think, is ‘yes’.

The photos — all shot on color film from Cole’s travels across the globe — blend seamlessly from Brooklyn to Berlin, Omaha to Africa. The images are quiet and largely devoid of humans, aside from a final striking portrait, recalling great street photographers like Stephen Shore and Louis Ghirri. The text — which shifts between narrative, memoir, criticism, poetry — sometimes refers to these photos while at other times remain independent. All of Cole’s familiar influences — Sebald, Berger, Calvino — are on display here.

The text reads less as captions as they do a voiceover — he’s said in interviews he sees the book as a documentary in book form — where another set of influences emerge. “I pray to Tarvoksy, Marker, Hitchcock” he writes in the middle of the book. Sure enough, the flipping between Cole’s text and image, one could see the book as homage to Chris Marker’s Sans Soliel. And as the photos start to reference each other, and fragments begin to connect, Marker’s more famous La Jetee comes to mind. There’s a playful reflexivity throughout — his writing reflects on his own writing process for the book, how he selected particular images, and what he hopes the book will be. In one passage he writes:
She asked, though these were not her exact words: Isn’t all the work part of a single piece? She asked, like someone patiently unlocking, with a pin, a pair of handcuffs: Aren’t all the photographs and texts, the fragments and experiments, even the things you say into a microphone, even the things you don’t say, aren’t they all installments toward a unified project? She said, though these are not her exact words: I have always felt that Open City was one way you approached the problem. You’re still circling the problem now, she said, obsessed, she said, and approaching it in other ways. You will probably always be returning to it, she said, making herself comfortable within the folds of my brain.

In a later passage, Cole invokes Calvino’s continuous city and his search of the threads that connect the places he visits. But he’s also looking for the threads that connect the images and the text. Calvino suggests that there is simply one big, continuous city that does not begin or end: ‘Only the name of the airport changes,’ he writes in Invisible Cities. The same can be said of Cole’s work — it’s simply one big, continuous journey — his intellectual interests and preoccupations recur — he finds new ways to display them, new ways to talk about them. Only the name of the book changes.

I read Open City, Cole’s first novel in 2015 during my last week in San Francisco, before moving to Baltimore for graduate school. My belongings were packed up and I’d lay on the floor in the middle of a nearly empty apartment reading. In the book, largely devoid of an obvious plot, we follow the narrator, Julius, as he walks through Manhattan. I started doing the same thing — after a period of reading, I’d put the book down, put classical music on in my headphones, and walk the San Francisco streets. This had been my neighborhood for the last three years but that week, with that music, and Cole’s prose rattling around in my head, I saw the city differently. That, I think, is the thread that ties Cole’s work together. He changes your pace, forces you to slow down. His writing is patient, his photography reserved. He makes you look, really look. This world moves fast. There’s always something new to read, new tweets, new emails, new books, new music. Last month’s news feels like a decade ago.

Blind Spot is a book about looking; about seeing what’s in the frame, about reflecting on what we see. Teju Cole asks us to slow down so we can understand our own blind spots. I saw San Francisco differently that last week, and as I finished Blind Spot this week, I started to see New York differently too. He taught me to see."
tejucole  jarrettfuller  2017  writing  photography  italocalvino  johnberger  wgsebald  chrismarker  film  walking  cities  urban  ubanism  place  landscape  noticing  looking  seeing  sansoleil  lajetée  blindspot 
july 2017 by robertogreco
California – Silica Magazine
"1.
When I moved here I started living in geological time — at first because I was afraid of earthquakes and later when I realized that the landscape, with all its component parts, is situated on a continuum, visible to the eye, and perhaps connected at the ends.

[animated GIF]

2.
You will recognize this as magical thinking. It is magical to bear witness to natural processes and their artifacts.

[static GIF]

3.
I look at California, with its evident seismic qualities, natural monuments, and life on land, air, and sea, no longer fearful of what we can’t control but what we can. How do you determine your sense of place without looking around?

[animated GIF]"

[See also: https://www.geologicaltime.net/
http://newhive.com/elisabeth/collection/aspects
http://www.papermag.com/artist-diary-elisabeth-nicula-1936476814.html
https://www.electricobjects.com/collections/179/aspects-of-geological-time-by-elisabeth-nicula
https://elisabethnicula.com/ ]
california  geology  earthquakes  landscape  place  senseofplace  2017  nature  naturalihistory  time  elisabethnicula 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Myth of a Desert Metropolis: Los Angeles was not built in a desert, but are we making it one? – Boom California
"The question is posed like this. You’ve probably heard it or asked it yourself. Perhaps at a cocktail party. Probably not in LA—but hey, maybe even here in the heart of the folly.

Why on Earth would you build a city for millions of souls in a desert?

Someday, and maybe sooner rather than later, the water is going to run out, and Los Angeles will dry up and blow away.

Alex Prud’homme, author of Ripple Effect: The Fate of Water in the Twenty-First Century, prophesied that Perth, Australia, “could become the world’s first ‘ghost city’—a modern metropolis abandoned for lack of water.” And, he warned, “similar fates may await America’s booming desert cities: Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Los Angeles.”[1] Prud’homme’s description of Los Angeles as a “desert city” has a distinguished lineage. Boyle Workman, a 1930s booster, recalled Los Angeles’ “desert” beginnings when he described the Los Angeles Aqueduct as a triumph of human ingenuity and engineering. Workman praised “the men who diverted streams into ditches and fed waving fields of grain, vineyards, glossy orange groves and rich gardens that blossomed where once desert brooded.”[2] A 1977 article by the famed aqueduct critic Remi Nadeau was headlined “Los Angeles is by Far the Largest City Ever Built in a Desert.”[3] And nine years later in Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water,[4] Marc Reisner referred to Los Angeles as being second only to Cairo as the most populous desert city on earth.

The myth of desert Los Angeles suggests that if not for the Los Angeles Aqueduct—and if the city were ever to lose the water that comes from Owens Valley—LA could be Ozymandias: that “colossal wreck, boundless and bare,” around which “the lone and level sands stretch far away,” in the immortal words of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. But is Los Angeles the once and future desert? And should the LA Aqueduct be seen as Mulholland’s greatest gift? Or a curse because it gave rise to an ultimately unsustainable metropolis?

That Los Angeles is a “desert city” is, in large part, a myth. Writers have chipped away at the myth of the desert metropolis before.[5] Here my objective is not simply to dispel the myth but to explore the history that underlies the mythology and to consider its potential for becoming true—because sometimes myths have a strange way of becoming true. Could we, through our own actions, be transforming the myth of desert LA into a self-fulfilling prophecy? It turns out, we have in fact gone a long way down that road.



Water Wars, Real Estate and the Birth of the Desert City Myth

So, where did the “Los Angeles is a desert city” myth originate? Historian Ralph Shaffer has laid the blame on Harrison Gray Otis, the Chandler family, and their use of Los Angeles Times as a propaganda vehicle to secure water and ensure development.[12] However, I think it’s a little more complex than that. In the writings of city boosters during the first real estate boom in the 1880s, one finds no overt reference to Los Angeles as a desert. The following assessment in Los Angeles Times comes from 15 August 1886: “The water supply of Los Angeles is abundant, and while not everything that it should be or can be made, it is better than the water of Boston, Philadelphia, and other Eastern cities.”

There were, however, other forces at work that may have contributed to conceptions of Los Angeles as a desert at the time. The 1877 Desert Lands Act classified as desert those tracts of land that “will not, without irrigation, produce an agricultural crop.”[13] Private citizens could be granted title to such lands if they intended to “reclaim” them through the provision of irrigation waters. The area of Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles was a region of such activity, although it is arguably not a true desert either.[14]

Closer to Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley in the 1880s was explicitly referred to as desert that could be made to bloom with irrigation.[15] Here is one example from Los Angeles Times, on 4 June 1886: “It was said by somebody years ago, that the man who made a blade of grass grow where none grew before was a public benefactor. What can we say of the man who brings water from the bowels of the earth and causes a fresh, pure living stream to flow where there never was one since the world’s creation? Streams shall break out in the desert, and the thirsty lands become pools of water.” We begin to see the desert city myth taking hold in what would become the greater Los Angeles area, appropriately enough in the San Fernando Valley, where water from the LA Aqueduct would enable urban development in the twentieth century.[16]

The image of Los Angeles collapsing and returning to desert can be seen in a remarkable Los Angeles Times article, “When the Desert Came Back,” which was published29 May 1927, just twelve years after the aqueduct first brought water to the city. Nathaniel Davis’s ostensible subject was the Roman ruins at Timgad, Algeria, but he used the occasion to warn about the potential environmental collapse of Los Angeles and the need for the conservation of water and surrounding forest lands. Uncannily, his voice can seem to speak directly to us from over eighty years ago about topics starkly relevant today. As many would do after him, Davis employed the desert motif in his plea: “I stood on the heights of Hollywood’s hills and looked seaward and then toward the mountains. It is a stirring panorama, a drama in orchards, steel and stone, and brawn and brain and heart. And I was pessimistic enough to imagine that self-confident Los Angeles had forgotten Babylon, Palmyra, Palestine, China and Timgad. What I now saw was our own beloved land. And I saw sand dunes, sage brush, aridity, stately ruins, idle derricks, desolation.” Much of what has since been written about Los Angeles’ fated return to desert echoes this refrain.

What About William Mulholland?

But what about William Mulholland, the father of the LA Aqueduct? Did he ever subscribe to this view of the desert city? Or use it to sell the aqueduct? In 1905, Mulholland claimed that he originally thought the city would never need water from anywhere else. “Thirteen years ago Fred Eaton first told me that Los Angeles would one day secure its water supply from Owens Valley,” Mulholland told Los Angeles Times. “At that time the Los Angeles River was running 40,000,000 gallons of water daily, and we had a population of less than 50,000. I laughed at him. ‘We have enough water here in the river to supply the city for the next fifty years,’ I told him. ‘You are wrong,’ he said, ‘You have not lived in this country as long as I have. I was born here and have seen dry years, years you know nothing about. Wait and see.”’ Mulholland concluded: “Four years ago I began to discover that Fred was right. Our population climbed to the top and the bottom appeared to drop out of the river.”

The cause was drought. Mulholland’s case for the aqueduct was not built on making a barren desert bloom, but accommodating population growth and providing protection against drought, arguments that have been used to justify importing more water to the city ever since.[17]

In 1907, Mulholland urged voters to support bonds that were critical to building the aqueduct, arguing: “Our population has doubled since 1904, while our water supply has diminished. At times we have faced a veritable water famine.”[18] Drought, of course, was no stranger to Angelenos even prior to Mulholland’s arrival. A devastating drought from 1862 to 1865 eviscerated the region’s cattle-based economy.[19] A prolonged dry spell from 1893 to 1904, coupled with dramatic population growth—the city tripled in size during that period—motivated Mulholland’s quest, not a vision of creating a city in the desert.

Myth Made Real?

But are we turning the city into a desert? To see, let’s get a view from on high, above the city, from a satellite orbiting Earth, which gathered data to create an image while I was writing this piece. What has Los Angeles become since the pastoral eighteenth and nineteenth century views we encountered earlier?

Now we see the gray tones of our metropolitan area blanketing the entire Los Angeles basin, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley to the north, and Inland Empire to the east. The San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, which seem so imposing from the ground and separate us from the true desert to the east, appear like tiny green islands in a sea of city and desert. Indeed, because it now veritably merges with Palmdale, Lancaster, Victorville, and Palm Springs, it is the growth of the megacity that encroaches upon the Mojave Desert and not vice versa. The cities merge physically and in terms of the daily flows of people, energy, and commerce. Taken as a whole, Greater Los Angeles has grown from its Mediterranean core outward and has merged with the true deserts to the east. The “fertile vales” that once separated city from desert are no more. This image shows a huge city that blends in with vast deserts to the north and east.

That is not all. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, to which Los Angeles has contributed directly, threaten to bring the true desert climate closer to the city’s core. A recent projection of the impacts of climate change shows the city of Los Angeles warming by some 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of this century, while foothill, mountain, and desert regions could warm even more.[20] At the same time, other models suggest that precipitation patterns are likely to change in ways that will reduce the snowpack in our mountains and diminish our water supply. The result is likely to be increasing general aridity in the Southwest, Southern California, and the Los Angeles region coupled with longer droughts that will tax an already stressed … [more]
losangeles  california  myth  2017  deserts  glenmacdonald  cities  climate  history  williammulholland  realestate  future  water  landscape  ralphshaffer  propaganda 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A World Without People - The Atlantic
"For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have evacuated or otherwise abandoned many places around the world—large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to suddenly vanish from the planet. Collected here are recent scenes from abandoned construction projects, industrial disaster zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence or natural disasters, derelict Olympic venues, ghost towns, and more."
landscape  photography  apocalypse  worldwithoutus  multispecies  riodejaneiro  brasil  brazil  us  nola  neworleans  alabama  germany  belarus  italy  italia  abandonment  china  bankok  thailand  decay  shengshan  athens  greece  lackawanna  pennsylvania  tianjin  russia  cyprus  nicosia  indonesia  maine  syria  namibia  drc  fukushima  congo  philippines  havana  cuba  vallejo  paris  libya  wales  england 
may 2017 by robertogreco
crap futures — Back to nature
"We live on a remote island - mountainous, mid-Atlantic, still heavily forested and pretty wild - and for that reason nature sometimes sneaks into our otherwise technology-centred work. It is hard not to think local when you live in a place like this. We’re neither farmers nor pioneers - except in the sense that resident aliens on this island are few - but lately our reading has got us thinking about ancient paths and rural places. We’ll discuss the paths today and save most of the farm talk for a future post.

Paths v roads

In his 1969 essay ‘A Native Hill’, Wendell Berry - the American writer, farmer, activist, and ‘modern Thoreau’ - makes a useful distinction between paths and roads:
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand … embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape. … It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way.


Aside from conversation as usual, the reason we are talking about Berry is the arrival of a new film, Look & See, and a new collection of his writing, The World-Ending Fire, edited by Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain Project fame. Berry and Kingsnorth, along with the economist Kate Raworth, were on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week recently chatting about the coming apocalypse and how it might best be avoided. It is a fascinating interview: you can actually hear Berry’s rocking chair creaking and the crows cawing outside the window of his house in Port Royal, Kentucky.

The normally optimistic Berry agrees somewhat crankily to read ‘the poem that you asked me to read’ on the programme. ‘Sabbaths 1989’ describes roads to the future as going nowhere: ‘roads strung everywhere with humming wire. / Nowhere is there an end except in smoke. / This is the world that we have set on fire.’ Berry admits that this poem is about as gloomy as he gets (‘blessed are / The dead who died before this time began’). For the most part his writing is constructive: forming a sensual response to cold, atomised modernity; advocating for conviviality, community, the commonweal.

Paul Kingsnorth talks compellingly in the same programme about transforming protest into action, although in truth no one walks the walk like Berry. Kingsnorth says: ‘We’re all complicit in the things we oppose’ - and never were truer words spoken, from our iPhones to our energy use. In terms of design practice, there are worse goals than reducing our level of complicity in environmental harm and empty consumerism. Like Berry, Kingsnorth talks about paths and roads. He asks: ‘Why should we destroy an ancient forest to cut twelve minutes off a car journey from London to Southampton? Is that a good deal?’

It’s a fair question. It also illustrates perfectly what Berry was describing in the passage that started this post: the difference between paths that blend and coexist with the local landscape, preserving the knowledge and history of the land, and roads that cut straight through it. These roads are like a destructive and ill-fitting grid imposed from the centre onto the periphery, without attention to the local terrain or ecology or ways of doing things - both literally (in the case of energy) and figuratively.

Another book we read recently, Holloway, describes ancient paths - specifically the ‘holloways’ of South Dorset - in similar terms:
They are landmarks that speak of habit rather than of suddenness. Like creases in the hand, or the wear on the stone sill of a doorstep or stair, they are the result of repeated human actions. Their age chastens without crushing. They relate to other old paths & tracks in the landscape - ways that still connect place to place & person to person.


Holloways are paths sunk deep into the landscape and into the local history. Roads, in contrast, skip over the local - collapsing time as they move us from one place to the next without, as it were, touching the ground. They alienate us in our comfort.

Here in Madeira there are endless footpaths broken through the woods. Still more unique are the levadas, the irrigation channels that run for more than two thousand kilometres back and forth across the island, having been brought to Portugal from antecedents in Moorish aqueduct systems and adapted to the specific terrain and agricultural needs of Madeira starting in the sixteenth century.

Both the pathways through the ancient laurel forests and the centuries-old levadas (which, though engineered, were cut by hand and still follow the contours and logic of the landscape) contrast with the highways and tunnels that represent a newer feat of human engineering since the 1970s. During his controversial though undeniably successful reign from 1978 to 2015 - he was elected President of Madeira a remarkable ten times - Alberto João Jardim oversaw a massive infrastructure program that completely transformed the island. Places that used to be virtually unreachable became accessible by a short drive. His legacy, in part, is a culture of automobile dependency that is second to none. The American highway system inspired by Norman Bel Geddes’ (and General Motors’) Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair almost pales in comparison to Jardim’s vision for the rapid modernisation of Madeira.

But when you walk the diesel-scented streets of the capital, or you drive through the holes bored deep into and out of towering volcanic mountains to reach the airport - and even when you think back in history and imagine those first settlers sitting in their ships as half the island’s forest burned, watching the dense smoke of the fires they lit to make Madeira favourable to human habitation - it’s hard not to think what a catastrophically invasive species are human beings.

Bespoke is a word we use a lot. In our vocabulary bespoke is not about luxury or excess - as it has been co-opted by consumer capitalism to suggest. Instead it is about tailored solutions, fitted to the contours of a particular body or landscape. Wendell Berry insists on the role of aesthetics and proportionality in his approach to environmentalism: the goal is not hillsides covered in rows of ugly solar panels, but an integrated and deep and loving relationship with the land. This insistence on aesthetics relates to the ‘reconfiguring’ principles that inform our newest work. The gravity batteries we’ve been building are an alternative not only to the imposed, top-down infrastructure of the grid, but also to the massive scale of such solutions and our desire to work with the terrain rather than against it.

Naomi Klein talked about renewable energy in these terms in an interview a couple of years ago:
If you go back and look at the way fossil fuels were marketed in the 1700s, when coal was first commercialized with the Watt steam engine, the great promise of coal was that it liberated humans from nature … And that was, it turns out, a lie. We never transcended nature, and that I think is what is so challenging about climate change, not just to capitalism but to our core civilizational myth. Because this is nature going, ‘You thought you were in charge? Actually all that coal you’ve been burning all these years has been building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and now comes the response.’ … Renewable energy puts us back in dialog with nature. We have to think about when the wind blows, we have to think about where the sun shines, we cannot pretend that place and space don’t matter. We are back in the world.


In a future post we will talk about the related subject of sustainable agriculture. But speaking of food - the time has come for our toast and coffee.
2017  crapfutures  wendellberry  paths  roads  madeira  bespoke  tailoring  audiencesofone  naomiklein  sustainability  earth  normanbelgeddes  albertojoãojardim  levadas  infrastructure  permanence  capitalism  energy  technology  technosolutionsism  1969  obstacles  destruction  habits  knowledge  place  placemaking  experience  familiarity  experientialeducation  kateraworth  paulkingsnorth  darkmountainproject  modernity  modernism  holloways  nature  landscape  cars  transportation  consumerism  consumercapitalism  reconfiguration  domination  atmosphere  environment  dialog  conviviality  community  commonweal  invasivespecies  excess  humans  futurama  ecology  canon  experientiallearning 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Everyday smells, sights and sounds of children in the city | Child in the City
"Building genuinely child friendly cities must begin with an appreciation of the child’s own daily perspective on their built environment, argues Jackie Bourke. Here, she describes how her research with inner city children in the Republic of Ireland capital, Dublin opened a window on the sensory and imaginative richness of children’s ‘everyday walks through a complex urban landscape of belonging’.

Increased attention to meeting children’s needs is an encouraging shift in urban planning, with models like the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities and Communities Initiative supporting cities to move in this direction. Dublin City is among those taking the first steps towards achieving child friendly status, with an initial focus on creating a playful city.

The urban public realm is of course not only a potential site of play for children and young people. Much like adults, they use public space to go to the shop, access amenities, visit friends and family and make the trip to and from school. A key question underpinning efforts to ensure cities are child friendly is how they experience these everyday journeys.

Research undertaken by the author, with 9-11 year olds based in Dublin, suggests it is a very rich and varied experience. Twenty children participated in the study, all of whom live in the North West Inner City. This part of Dublin has a diverse built environment; ponies kept down small cobbled laneways contrast with heavily trafficked arterial routes, bringing commuters in and out of the city.

The children who participated in the study all walk to school on a regular basis. As part of the research the children photographed their routes and captured their experience. Through their images they described journeys through an urban landscape at once social, sensory, imaginative and pragmatic.

Their social interactions with local shop keepers, business owners and neighbours are much treasured. Through small daily exchanges the children foster social capital and help knit the community together. Their experience is an embodied one and the children capture a range of sensory moments on their walks: they see and appreciate the aesthetic detail of buildings they pass, and describe the sounds of the city that gives texture to their walk: from the daunting clang of the tram, to the roar of traffic drowning out their conversations.

Sensory experience

Certain smells are evocative, particularly for the children who walk by the old fruit and vegetable market each day. Their sensory experience is also quite tactile and they described both the hard feel of the footpath beneath their feet and the more gentle touch of the sunshine on a warm sunny day.

At the same time the children mapped out an imaginative experience. They identified haunted houses, a visitors’ centre where, apparently, a broken lift has left a number of tourists stranded for several years, and even a forest of trees “full of life” hidden behind a high wall. Inevitably there was a pragmatic dimension to these walks and the children were quick to point to the challenges presented by the high volume of traffic. Equally, poorly designed spaces, neglect, decay, dereliction and rubbish must be navigated on their routes.

The childhood landscape of the urban public realm revealed through this study is rich and complex, both inviting and hostile, and it sheds valuable light on the city world children that inhabit and shape. This kind of insight into children’s everyday lives is an important starting point on the journey towards creating a genuinely child friendly city."
children  cities  urban  urbanism  sfsh  landscape  maps  mapping  experience  deblin  jackiebourke  classideas  geography  place  senses  smells  sounds  sounf  multisensory 
april 2017 by robertogreco
What Does It Mean to Become Californian? – Boom California
"What does it mean to become Californian? It means being witness to an epic bender—a 169-year binge lubricated by gold, cattle, wheat, oil, suburban housing, the Cold War, and a marketing campaign of seductive power. At every stage of its history, each of the state’s exploitable ecologies has been dressed up as another paradise, pandering to the latest wave of hopelessly intoxicated newcomers. The come-on that seduced them—the elemental promises of health, wealth, and happiness in the sunshine—is the California Dream. For Joan Didion, the state’s renowned exile, there is in that dream a “dangerous dissonance…a slippage” between what we desire and who we are.1

The official story of California is told as a pageant of bonanzas, but belief in the official story requires forgetting so much. We want the story to record what had been hard won, but it’s actually full of lucky accidents. We bought the Californian sales pitch, but we became remorseful buyers afterward. We want to be Californian, but we don’t want to earn it.

These paradoxes were built into the subdivisions that absorbed thirteen million dream seekers between 1940 and 1970—the great years when California retailed to America its mix of Arcadian ease and technocratic élan. The greatest paradox is, of course, that the success in getting so much from California has been turned into so much loss. Californians tend to use the state’s compromised environment as the screen on which to project what they can no longer find in California—something missing from becoming Californian—and the suburbs, the traffic, and the presence of too many of us are said to be the cause. But perhaps what Californians can no longer find is in themselves, in what they lost by becoming Californian. We forget that the California Dream didn’t come with a moral compass.

I cannot say that the dream did not serve us. It provided the goods of a middle-class life to millions, including me. It remixed popular culture in exciting ways. It built beautiful and lasting things—and the dream still inspires. A neighbor of mine—with a tract house, two grown daughters, and a husband who is a teacher—wonders if it means anything to say that the dream is ending. “They’ve been saying that for thirty years at least. It hasn’t ended yet,” she told me.

Kevin Starr has written nine volumes of history about California and America’s feverish dream of it, and in 2009 he hadn’t yet reconciled whether California would become a “failed state” or would reinvent itself again, and if reinvention would be another arc of boom to bust to regret. Starr’s faith was in the state’s genetic and cultural rambunctiousness and the possibility that a retooled dream, suitable for a less-Anglo California, will replace the parts of the dream that served us so poorly. But Starr, like many of us, had his doubts.

***

What does it mean to become Californian? It means seeing nature without romance or despair. California has been uniquely intoxicating, but it was also a place on the national periphery in the nineteenth century and far from the familiar place where hearts might feel at home. Merchandising the state’s natural grandeur answered some of Californian longing. From William Henry Jackson in the 1870s through Ansel Adams in the 1950s to the latest coffee-table book, California has produced gorgeous and misleading environmental photography, promoting the view that sacred wildness is out there, unmarred by our presence and ready for our contemplation.

The iconic photographs make the rapturous assumption that none of us was ever here——but we were! We’re sluicing mountains into rivers to get at the gold, taking down forests to build a wood and iron technology gone before our parents were born, erecting groves of derricks over oil fields, extracting harvests from the compliant ground, and assembling communities from tract houses and strip malls. I’m tired of my own sentimentality for landscapes that are rendered either as an open wound or a throat pulled back, ready for the knife. Pity is misplaced if there is no place in it for you or me.

The choice for Californians north and south after the Gold Rush cataclysm was not between nature and its despoiled remnant, but the terms on which our encounter with nature would be framed. The environmentalist John Muir gave nature a privileged autonomy, a kind of green divinity. Frederick Law Olmsted, a builder of New York’s Central Park, concluded that nature in California would never again be sublime, despite what the photographs implied, and that nature must be enmeshed in the community of people living here. Olmsted struggled for a word to describe the tie that might bind a place and its people. He settled on “communitiveness.” It’s an awkward word for something that tries to define both loyalty to one’s neighbors and trusteeship of the land. Olmsted, as Muir and others did, sought to read a redemptive narrative—and something of the wider American experience—into the landscape of California. The Californians who were led here by their longing for the redeeming qualities Muir and Olmsted saw in California’s nature—qualities variously ennobling, consoling, and therapeutic—unalterably changed California.

***

Californians had presumed that California would always deliver whatever they deserved. Now we know California can’t. Even more self-knowledge is needed, now that our revels are ended. If we are to become brave, new Californians, we will begin to dream differently."

What does it mean to become Californian? It means finding that California is increasingly ordinary (for which I’m grateful, because the commonplace is necessarily the place where we find love and hope). But if California isn’t the “great exception,” isn’t the best or worst of places, then how do we describe California when it is not exactly “Californian” anymore, not as alluring or lurid as the clichés of the utopian or dystopian accounts said it was? California is riven—north and south, coastal and inland, urban and rural, valley and foothill—but that which unites these “islands on the land” is the question of what had been gained by becoming Californian.

For Joan Didion, becoming Californian was a prize for leaving the past behind, although the result would be brokenheartedness. For essayist Richard Rodriguez, becoming Californian meant becoming mingled, impure, heterogeneous, and discovering that your color, whatever it is, is just another shade of brown. For the novelist and playwright William Saroyan, becoming Californian was to see this place, finally, as “my native land.” For the two million or more Californians who, in the past two decades, have migrated to “greater California”—which is now located in Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada—becoming Californian meant finding some measure of inadequacy in California. Maybe becoming Californian means laboring to undo the toxic effects of what California has been: a commodity, a trophy of Anglo privilege, and a place of aching, unmet desires.

The Anglo possessors of California after 1847 took on habits that began with the first gold claim staked on the American River and continue each time a house lot changes hands today. Imagine considering those habits with a “truth and reconciliation” commission whose members are a skateboarder, a “mow and blow” gardener, a rap artist, a real estate agent, a vintner, a Gabrieleño elder, a Chinese immigrant, and someone employed in the adult entertainment industry. Maybe becoming Californian means facing a ravenous “hunger of memory”2 and having only California’s clichés to offer.

***

What does it mean to become Californian? It means locating yourself, according to environmental historian Stephanie Pincetl, in a panorama that includes Hollywood, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Big Sur, San Francisco, Disneyland, the redwoods, and Death Valley.3 She might have added Compton, Route 99 from Fresno to Bakersfield, the Silicon Valley, the San Fernando Valley, the Central Valley, and the whole of la frontera from Yuma to the Tijuana. Pincetl included in her list the seductive mirage of El Dorado, the folly that led to all of the state’s ruined paradises. An imagination so spacious as to dwell in all of these Californias requires a different kind of intelligence, attuned to many vernaculars. The alternative is living daily with the experience of estrangement, discontinuity, and forgetfulness.

Californians who need something to stand with them against these disorders might find it in Michel Foucault’s notion of “a particular, local, regional knowledge, a differential knowledge incapable of unanimity.”4 The desire to sustain “ecologies of the vernacular” and live in “habitats of memory” may be the new requirement for becoming Californian.

Foucault distantly echoes Josiah Royce’s notion of a Higher Provincialism,5 which finds the potential for moral order in a shared sense of place and in the common habits of being there. This embodied knowledge becomes “critical regionalism”6 in turning away from the comforts of nostalgia toward “interrogating the local and proximate precisely in order to demonstrate its universality, its connectedness, and its differences with the wider world.”7

California happened to the world in 1849, and in the rush to extract something from becoming Californian, the world—in the form of every race and ethnicity—met itself here.8 The meeting was chaotic, brutal, often tragic, and sometimes redemptive, and its energies are not yet spent. For all its potential to create a hybrid American (and, I believe, a better one), the collision left Californians haunted by the spirit of El Dorado—the illusion that being Californian requires being perpetually the object of someone else’s desire.

To become truly Californian, dwellers here will recover from that malign dream to “awaken the stories that sleep in … [more]
california  future  djwaldie  kevinstarr  2017  foucault  josiahroyce  universality  connectedness  difference  diversity  change  history  stephaniepincetl  joandidion  fredericklawolmstead  nature  landscape  johnmuir  goldrush  williamhenryjackson  richardrodriguez  ordinariness  inadequacy  race  ethnicity  commonplace  everyday  michelfoucault 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Future Unfolding – An action adventure all about exploration
"Future Unfolding is an action adventure that is all about exploration. Your goal is to unfold the mysteries and solve the puzzles hidden in the beautiful landscapes around you. There are no tutorials, and no one is telling you what to do."

[Update: an essay regarding Future Unfolding
http://www.heterotopiaszine.com/2017/10/04/children-anthropocene-future-unfolding/ ]
games  gaming  videogames  edg  srg  exploration  landscape  multispecies  morethanhuman 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Get out now
“GET OUT NOW. Not just outside, but beyond the trap of the programmed electronic age so gently closing around so many people…. Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around. Do not jog. Do not run…. Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard. Walk. Stroll. Saunter. Ride a bike, and coast along a lot. Explore…. Abandon, even momentarily, the sleek modern technology that consumes so much time and money now…. Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to forget programming, long enough to take in and record new surroundings…. Flex the mind, a little at first, then a lot. Savor something special. Enjoy the best-kept secret around—the ordinary, everyday landscape that rewards any explorer, that touches any explorer with magic…all of it is free for the taking, for the taking in. Take it. take it in, take in more every weekend, every day, and quickly it becomes the theater that intrigues, relaxes, fascinates, seduces, and above all expands any mind focused on it. Outside lies utterly ordinary space open to any casual explorer willing to find the extraordinary. Outside lies unprogrammed awareness that at times becomes directed serendipity. Outside lies magic.”

—John Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic
johnstilgoe  austinkleon  walking  noticing  looking  observing  seeing  exploration  landscape  attention  serendipity  outside  outdoors 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Where Is My Friend's House? | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
"All three works are sustained meditations on singular landscapes and the way ordinary people live in them; obsessional quests that take on the contours of parables; concentrated inquiries that raise more questions than they answer; and comic as well as cosmic poems about dealing with personal and impersonal disaster. They're about making discoveries and cherishing what's in the world--including things that we can't understand."
1998  jonathanrosenbaum  abbaskiarostami  film  place  landscape  ordinary  everyday  parables  quests  inquiries  poetry  disaster  discovery 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Josh Begley on Vimeo
"Setting Tangents Around A Circle –

"If you set enough tangents around a circle, you begin to recreate the shape of the circle itself." —Teju Cole

In this talk Josh Begley considers human data -- what lies at the bottom of the ledger -- and tangential approaches to representing historical archives. Paying particular attention to landscape, geography, carcerality, and surveillance, he examines ways of seeing some of the violence behind the way we live."
eyeo  eyeo2016  2016  joshbegley  socialmedia  drones  violence  race  racism  ronimorrison  tejucole  data  datavisualization  geography  prisionindustrialcomplex  redlining  policy  maps  mapping  militaryindustrialcomplex  military  archives  history  landscape  trevorpaglen  satelliteimagery  imagery  aerialimagery 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Notes on Blindness is one of the most eye-opening documentaries you'll see all year - review
"Directors: James Spinney and Peter Middleton. U cert; 90 mins

John Hull, a professor of religious education at Birmingham University, went blind in 1983, and spent much of that decade compiling detailed thoughts on the experience of sight loss – a condition he grieved at first, before finding in it much of philosophical value.

His book Touching the Rock, considered a masterpiece by no less an authority than the neurologist Oliver Sacks, is a collection of excerpts from the audio-cassette journal that John began to compile as a newly blind person, attempting to map out the strange new world confronting him. Now those same recordings, a treasure trove of frontier thought on the subject, have formed the basis for Notes on Blindness, a fascinating documentary from the first-timer team of James Spinney and Peter Middleton.

The pair have gradually assembled this project through a series of stepping stone short films, including the award-winning Rainfall (2013), which visualises one of Hull’s most powerful passages, about the enhanced geography that heavy rain provides to someone only relying on sound for their perception of a landscape.

“Rain has a way of bringing out the contours of everything,” Hull wrote. “[I]t throws a coloured blanket over previously invisible things; instead of an intermittent and thus fragmented world, the steadily falling rain creates a continuity of acoustic experience.”

The once-familiar surroundings of Hull’s garden in Birmingham are brought vividly back into focus by a downpour. And when he goes a step farther, wishing “if only rain could fall inside a room”, the filmmakers oblige, imagining the textured patter of drops on a beloved armchair and every other surface indoors.

Marvellous in short form, this section remains the standout part of their feature, and could hardly fail to – in the very act of staging this deluge behind closed doors, they’ve created the instructive soundscape of John’s dreams. But they’ve creatively woven this, and all of their other ideas, into a seamless patchwork of reminiscences, tracing John’s voyage into darkness with an astute and sensitive cinematic imagination.

The actor Dan Skinner, playing John behind a thick black beard and with his eyes typically closed, plays John by lip-synching passages of his testimony – an eerie, slightly other-worldly effect. Since this is not actually John, it puts us in mind of a blind person imperfectly imagining the impression they might be making on the world, just as he describes.

Hull’s wife Marilyn, also present on many of the recordings and with her own perspective to contribute, is played just as memorably by Simone Kirby, who does expressive things with thoughtful silence, not just the words she’s given. John’s anxieties about the quality of life any blind person will be made to sacrifice are hugely poignant, needless to say – he never has any visual reference point for his newly born son, for instance, or the physical changes in his children as they grow up.

But his determination grows, over the course of the film, to grasp the specifics of his disability as an opportunity, not just a setback. In lacking one sense, all the others gain value inestimably; and thanks to one person explaining what the loss of sight entails, many others, listening in, are able to appreciate and ponder more fully what seeing means.

The closing title card, about sighted and blind people needing each other, is a citation from John which typifies his achievement as a kind of intellectual explorer; a cartographer of the encroaching night, whose findings tell us just as much about the world we recognise by day.

Notes on Blindness is out now in cinemas, and On Demand from July 1 via Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Talk Talk TV Store"
blindness  sight  film  documentary  2016  jamesspinney  petermiddleton  johnhull  oliversacks  landscape  audio  sound  via:subtopes 
july 2016 by robertogreco
marihuertas — “a living procession through time in a place”
"Modern humans tend to believe that whatever is known can be recorded in books or on tapes or on computer discs and then again learned by those artificial means. But it is increasingly plain to me that the meaning, the cultural significance, even the practical value, of this sort of family procession across a landscape can be known but not told. These things, though they have a public value, do not have a public meaning; they are too specific to a particular small place and its history. This is exactly the tragedy in the modern displacement of people and cultures.

That such things can be known but not told can be shown by answering a simple question: Who knows the meaning, the cultural significance, and the practical value of this rural family’s generational procession across its native landscape? The answer is not so simple as the question: No one person ever will know all the answer. My grandson certainly does not know it. And my son does not, though he has positioned himself to learn some of it, should he be so blessed.

I am the one who (to some extent) knows, though I know also that I cannot tell it to anyone living. I am in the middle now between my grandfather and my father, who are alive in my memory, and my son and my grandson, who are alive in my sight.

If my son, after thirty more years have passed, has the good pleasure of seeing his own child and grandchild in that procession, then he will know something like what I now know. This living procession through time in a place is the record by which such knowledge survives and is conveyed. When the procession ends, so does the knowledge."
wendellberry  landscape  knowledge  intergenerational  generations  families  culture  humans  people  humanism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Extraordinary Playscapes - Boston
"This national exhibition and education program explores the latest thinking in playground design while presenting how vital free play is to childhood development, thriving communities, and social equity.

What we learn through play impacts our physical, mental, social, and creative health — and designers, architects, and play advocates are taking notice. Extraordinary Playscapes examines the art, history, science, and importance of play, while telling the story behind some of the most incredible play spaces in the world.  Featuring over 40 international playgrounds, drawings, sketches, videos, scale models, and playable installations, the interactive exhibition examines the importance of play and the latest thinking in playground design. From towering treetop paths to hand-knit crochet playgrounds, visitors will discover how architects and designers worldwide are engaging diverse communities to translate play objectives into state-of-the-art and meaningful environments."
playgrounds  exhibits  exhibitions  2016  play  children  design  education  learning  architecture  landscape 
june 2016 by robertogreco
@illsnapmatix • Instagram photos and videos
"illsnapmatix Daily inspiration from GTA V next-gen. ^^^ Hit Follow. Full-res images at the link. (All GTA money ig accounts are blocked and reported, give up). illsnapmatix.com"

[via: http://interconnected.org/home/2016/02/22/filtered ]
instagram  gta  grandtheftauto  landscape  videogames  games  gaming  instagrams 
february 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
Extracraft and Expulsions (Keller Easterling and Saskia Sassen) - YouTube
"Grounded in their books Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space and Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Landscape, acclaimed scholars Keller Easterling and Saskia Sassen present recent writings on equity, built and representational space, and the global economy. Response by Spatial Information Design Lab Director Laura Kurgan."
saskiasassen  kellereasterling  2015  towatch  economics  equity  infrastructure  landscape  complexity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
- Wonderful passage on NYC #centralpark designer,...
"Wonderful passage on NYC #centralpark designer, Frederick Law Olmsted’s views on nature in #rebeccasolnit’s book, #savagedreams. Olmsted viewed nature as part of society, whereas #henrydavidthoreau saw nature as a refuge from society. This very split epitomizes how the West conceives of what is “natural.” Solnit argues that people like Thoreau and Muir fetishized a form of nature that was pure and that it was waiting there to be discovered by the white man, which allowed them to believe their own narrative that they were the “first”. Olmsted conceives access to nature as a universal right and that it is not a first come first serve situation. I’ve been thinking about what is considered natural after watching #themartian when Matt Damon proudly says that he is the first to “colonize” Mars. What enabled the writers to use that word without any sense of the historical savagery associated with it? NASA is at once a symbol of scientific advancement and also a symbol of a Thoreau-esque view of nature - apart from us, to be discovered, and conquered. Whereas previous colonizers had to deal with human residents in Africa, North America, South America, Caribbeans, space colonizers don’t have to deal any life, making this the most ideal colonial experience.

#triciainreading thanks @hautepop for your pic that spurred me to pull out solnit’s book again!"

[on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/_4Q_zQt8OT/ ]
triciawand  rebeccasolnit  thoreau  fredericklawolmstead  johnmuir  landscape  naure  society  purity  socialengineering  space  openspace  publicspace  cities  urban  urbanism  centralpark  nyc  manhattan  culture  experience  earthmoving  refuge  solitude 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Isthmus: On the Panama Canal Expansion
"The shockwave of Panama Canal expansion is reshaping cities throughout the Americas. We need to look through the lens of landscape, not logistics."



"In the United States, many designers and urbanists have lamented the end of the modern age of infrastructure-building. Some call for renewed investment in public works 57 while others advocate for hacks and tactics to fill the perceived void. 58 However, we may soon see a new wave of infrastructural expansion built not by nation-states but by private interests (e.g. the Nicaragua Canal project driven by HKND Group, a Chinese corporation) or city governments (e.g. coastal cities such as Tokyo, Miami, and New York preparing for rising seas). Whoever is orchestrating construction, it’s clear that there is a continuing appetite for large-scale infrastructural works.

While the phenomenon of bigness is a common historical condition in the Americas generally 59 and the Panamanian isthmus specifically, the operative role of logistics distinguishes the current reconfigurations from the preceding five centuries of commerce, excavation, and construction. 60 The neutral language of logistics occludes the true scale of the Panama Canal expansion. Instead of acknowledging earth moved and channels dug, logistics celebrates wait times shortened and profit margins eased. And because it is a positivistic framework, logistics obscures the political and social implications of its behavior. But the canal expansion puts the lie to the claim that logistics is politically neutral. The primary medium of logistics is territory, and territory is land which is politically divided, controlled, and administered. 61

Efficiency is necessarily measured within bounds; redraw the boundaries, either physical or conceptual, and the calculus changes significantly. 62 The excess generated by the Panama Canal expansion and its networked effects challenges the validity of the bounds drawn around infrastructural projects of this scope and scale. Here the bounds are drawn based on the relatively narrow values admitted by logistics. Thus, the sedimentary surplus of excavation is seen as a disposal expense, rather than a potential resource, because the value it could generate would accrue to residents, turtles, and fish, not to the ACP or the global shipping corporations it deals with. The uncertain fate of American port expansions challenges the elevation of efficiency as a primary goal, by demonstrating that it may be impossible to draw boundaries so small that they meaningfully predict the behavior of such large systems in the manner demanded by positivist logistics.

We are not arguing that logistics should or will lose its role in the organization of infrastructure projects that have global effects. (That would be unrealistic, if only because of the intimate intertwinement of logistics and contemporary capitalism. 63) Rather, we argue that landscapes, people, and others affected by these projects would benefit if logistics were augmented with other conceptual tools. At the scale of the Panama Canal expansion, logistics has produced unintended effects that harm local communities and environments. While these are sometimes justified as necessary casualties of economic development, that defense collapses when the presumed economic benefits fail to materialize. The legacy of canal expansion may be a constellation of overbuilt and underutilized infrastructure projects and degraded ecosystems — symbols of unfulfilled political and economic ambitions. If this is common to logistical infrastructures at very large scales, then we should not use logistics as the sole framework for their conceptualization.

We argue that analytic and design frameworks that take landscape as their primary object should be among the tools used to evaluate such infrastructures. We say this precisely because landscape, as a concept, works with a more complete range of values — material (as emphasized in this essay), social, political, ecological, cultural, and aesthetic. 64 While logistics elides these dimensions, we have shown that they are present in the expansion project and have been a part of the canal landscape since its inception. 65 As a medium, landscape integrates multiple processes, indicators, and design goals. Landscape has both analytical and experiential dimensions, which makes it ideally suited for synthesizing ideas across science, design, land management, and other practices. 66 While the logistician frames every situation as a technical problem to be solved, the landscape designer sees a cultural project, an opportunity to bring together competing value systems and forms of expertise. Landscape foregrounds the values that are contested in a given project, and it does not assume that economic gain and efficient distribution are the only goals that matter. This is all the more important given that logistics is often speculative; promised economic benefits doesn’t always materialize, even as social and environmental effects do.

Here our argument differs from that of other writers in the design disciplines who have engaged logistics and the landscapes that it produces. Charles Waldheim’s and Alan Berger’s “Logistics Landscape” makes a direct connection between the production of physical space through logistics and landscape as a conceptual framework, but the article focuses on articulating logistical landscapes as a manifestation of the current period of urban history and offering a set of logistical landscape typologies. 67 It closes by asserting that landscape architecture could play a role in the design and planning of logistics landscapes, but does not articulate how that role might develop or what inadequacies in a purely logistical approach might need to be ameliorated. Writers such as Clare Lyster and Jesse LeCavalier critically examine and unpack the workings of logistical flow with the intention of drawing methodological lessons that might inspire designers, planners, and other urbanists, but they do not attempt to carve out roles for designers within the territories governed by logistics. 68 All of these researchers share a common interest in explaining why other disciplines, primarily designers, should be interested in how logistics operates.

We have taken a different approach, describing gaps in the operations of logistics in order to convey the urgency of approaching large-scale infrastructural projects with landscape tools, methods, and frameworks. The discipline of landscape architecture, which we as authors call our own and which Waldheim and Berger assert the value of, possesses some of these characteristics, but it is not alone. Landscape ecology, geography, soil science, environmental studies, the nascent spatial humanities, and spatial planning are all examples of disciplines that take landscape as their medium. 69 Working with colleagues from these disciplines, designers who learn to grapple with logistical bigness might discover new formats for public works, approaches which neither retreat to the tactical nor valorize a bygone era, but instead produce augmented speculative frameworks, novel spatial practices, and material responses fit to contemporary conditions."
shipping  panamá  panamacanal  ports  2015  anthropocene  architecture  geology  cities  us  americas  northamerica  southamerica  panamax  logistics  landscape  losangeles  oakland  seattle  infrastructure  bigness  scale  briandavis  robholmes  brettmilligan 
december 2015 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Ghost Streets of Los Angeles
"In a short story called "Reports of Certain Events in London" by China Miéville—a text often cited here on BLDGBLOG—we read about a spectral network of streets that appear and disappear around London like the static of a radio tuned between stations, old roadways that are neither here nor there, flickering on and off in the dead hours of the night.

For reasons mostly related to a bank heist described in my book, A Burglar's Guide to the City, I found myself looking at a lot of aerial shots of Los Angeles—specifically the area between West Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard—when I noticed this weird diagonal line cutting through the neighborhood.

[image]

It is not a street—although it obviously started off as a street. In fact, parts of it today are still called Marshfield Way.

At times, however, it's just an alleyway behind other buildings, or even just a narrow parking lot tucked in at the edge of someone else's property line.

[image]

Other times, it actually takes on solidity and mass in the form of oddly skewed, diagonal slashes of houses.

The buildings that fill it look more like scar tissue, bubbling up to cover a void left behind by something else's absence.

[image]

First of all, I love the idea that the buildings seen here take their form from a lost street—that an old throughway since scrubbed from the surface of Los Angeles has reappeared in the form of contemporary architectural space.

That is, someone's living room is actually shaped the way it is not because of something peculiar to architectural history, but because of a ghost street, or the wall of perhaps your very own bedroom takes its angle from a right of way that, for whatever reason, long ago disappeared.

[image]

If you follow this thing from roughly the intersection of Hollywood & La Brea to the strangely cleaved back of an apartment building on Ogden Drive—the void left by this lost street, incredibly, now takes the form of a private swimming pool—these buildings seem to plow through the neighborhood like train cars.

Which could also be quite appropriate, as this superficial wound on the skin of the city is most likely a former streetcar route.

But who knows: my own research went no deeper than an abandoned Google search, and I was actually more curious what other people thought this might be or what they've experienced here, assuming at least someone in the world reading this post someday might live or work in one of these buildings.

[image]

And perhaps this is just the exact same point, repeated, but the notion that every city has these deeper wounds and removals that nonetheless never disappear is just incredible to me. You cut something out—and it becomes a building a generation later. You remove an entire street—and it becomes someone's living room.

I remember first learning that one of the auditoriums at the Barbican Art Centre in London is shaped the way it is because it was built inside a former WWII bomb crater, and simply reeling at the notion that all of these negative spaces left scattered and invisible around the city could take on architectural form.

Like ghosts appearing out of nowhere—or like China Miéville's fluttering half-streets, conjured out of the urban injuries we all live within and too easily mistake for property lines and real estate, amidst architectural incisions that someday become swimming pools and parking lots.

*Update* Some further "ghost streets" have popped up in the comments here, and the images are worth posting.

[image]

The one seen above, for example, is "another ghost diagonal that begins on 8th St. at Hobart, and ends at Pico and Rimpau," an anonymous commenter explains.

Another example, seen below—

[image]

—is "a block in the Pico-Robertson area," a commenter writes:
I lived there as a teenager, but never noticed the two diagonals until I looked at it with google maps. There are some lots on the west side of the next two blocks north which also have diagonals. And if you continue north across Pico Blvd, you can see diagonal property lines around St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School and the church.

Thanks for all the tips, and by all means keep them coming, if you are aware of other sites like this, whether in Los Angeles or further afield; and be sure to read through the comments for more.

*Second Update* The examples keep coming. A commenter named Lance Morris explains that he did an MFA project "about this very thing, but in Long Beach. There's a long diagonal scar running from Long Beach Blvd and Willow all the way down to Belmont Shore. I tried walking as closely to the line as I could and GPS tracked the results. There are even 2 areas where you can still see tracks!"

This inspired me to look around the area a little bit on Google Maps, which led to another place nearby, as seen below.

[image]

Again, seeing how these local building forms have been generated by the outlines of a missing street or streetcar line is pretty astonishing.

Further, the tiniest indicators of these lost throughways remain visible from above, usually in the form of triangular building cuts or geometrically odd storage yards and parking lots. Because they all align—like some strange industrial ley line—you can deduce that an older piece of transportation infrastructure is now missing.

[image]

Indeed, if you zoom out from there in the map, you'll see that the subtle diagonal line cutting across the above image (from the lower left to the upper right) is, in fact, an old rail right of way that leads from the shore further inland.

To give a sense of how incredibly subtle some of these signs can be, the diagonal fence seen in the below screen grab—

[image]

—is actually shaped that way not because of some quirk of the local storage lot manager, but because it follows this lost right of way."
losangeles  urban  architecture  cities  chinamieville  streets  seams  scars  landscape  2015  geoffmanaugh  bldgblog 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry on Climate Change: To Save the Future, Live in the Present by Wendell Berry — YES! Magazine
"What we must not do in our efforts of provision is to waste or permanently destroy anything of value. History informs us that the things we waste or destroy today may be needed on the morrow. This obviously prohibits the “creative destruction” of the industrialists and industrial economists, who think that evil is permissible today for the sake of greater good tomorrow. There is no rational argument for compromise with soil erosion or toxic pollution.

For me—and most people are like me in this respect—“climate change” is an issue of faith; I must either trust or distrust the scientific experts who predict the future of the climate. I know from my experience, from the memories of my elders, from certain features of my home landscape, from reading history, that over the last 150 years or so the weather has changed and is changing. I know without doubt that to change is the nature of weather.

Just so, I know from as many reasons that the alleged causes of climate change—waste and pollution—are wrong. The right thing to do today, as always, is to stop, or start stopping, our habit of wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world, which once were called “divine gifts” and now are called “natural resources.” I always suppose that experts may be wrong. But even if they are wrong about the alleged human causes of climate change, we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by trusting them.

Even so, we are not dummies, and we can see that for all of us to stop, or start stopping, our waste and destruction today would be difficult. And so we chase our thoughts off into the morrow where we can resign ourselves to “the end of life as we know it” and come to rest, or start devising heroic methods and technologies for coping with a changed climate. The technologies will help, if not us, then the corporations that will sell them to us at a profit.

I have let the preceding paragraph rest for two days to see if I think it is fair. I think it is fair. As evidence, I will mention only that, while the theme of climate change grows ever more famous and fearful, land abuse is growing worse, noticed by almost nobody."



"It is true that changes in governmental policy, if the changes were made according to the right principles, would have to be rated as big solutions. Such big solutions surely would help, and a number of times I have tramped the streets to promote them, but just as surely they would fail if not accompanied by small solutions. And here we come to the reassuring difference between changes in policy and changes in principle. The needed policy changes, though addressed to present evils, wait upon the future, and so are presently nonexistent. But changes in principle can be made now, by so few as just one of us. Changes in principle, carried into practice, are necessarily small changes made at home by one of us or a few of us. Innumerable small solutions emerge as the changed principles are adapted to unique lives in unique small places. Such small solutions do not wait upon the future. Insofar as they are possible now, exist now, are actual and exemplary now, they give hope. Hope, I concede, is for the future. Our nature seems to require us to hope that our life and the world’s life will continue into the future. Even so, the future offers no validation of this hope. That validation is to be found only in the knowledge, the history, the good work, and the good examples that are now at hand.

There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often is annihilated, by the future. “Oh, oh, oh,” cry the funerary experts, looking ahead through their black veils. “Life as we know it soon will end. If the governments don’t stop us, we’re going to destroy the world. The time is coming when we will have to do something to save the world. The time is coming when it will be too late to save the world. Oh, oh, oh.” If that is the way our minds are afflicted, we and our world are dead already. The present is going by and we are not in it. Maybe when the present is past, we will enjoy sitting in dark rooms and looking at pictures of it, even as the present keeps arriving in our absence.

Or maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, citing the many good reasons, as it did during World War II. If the government should do something so sensible, I would respect it much more than I do. But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is of no use to anybody and is soon overcome by prophesies of doom. On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present. Because of such rewards, a large problem may be effectively addressed by the many small solutions that, after all, are necessary, no matter what the government might do. The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people."
slow  small  present  now  frugality  via:steelemaley  wendellberry  2015  climatechange  future  policy  government  nature  farming  environment  sustainability  goodness  futurism  predictions  provisions  landscape  history  past  humanity  christianity  agriculture 
october 2015 by robertogreco
La Frontera on Vimeo
"La Frontera is a short, animated, documentary tracing a select history of personal and public land use along the El Paso/Juarez border. Barriers of all kinds are erected, layered and sometimes fused together, often resulting in a distorted and obscured view of what exists beyond the edges of the border. Like most bodies of water, the Rio Grande frequently changing course and fluctuates in level, thus resulting in an unreliable border.

The animation consists of drawings based on personal and collective memories of the Rio Grande, the security fence, an art project executed in Juarez that can only be seen from El Paso, a parking structure erected in front of The University of Texas at El Paso, and other examples of land use in close proximity."
border  borders  us  mexico  texas  elpaso  2012  history  landscape  geography  geopolitics  riogrande  landuse  via:debcha  utep 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Research shows Aboriginal memories stretch back more than 7,000 years
[Wayback: https://web.archive.org/web/20161109160141/http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/09/2015/research-shows-aboriginal-memories-stretch-back-more-than-7000-years ]

"Aboriginal society has preserved memories of Australia’s coastline dating back more than 7,000 years. That’s the conclusion that University of the Sunshine Coast Professor of Geography Patrick Nunn reached in a paper published in Australian Geographer.

The study looks at Aboriginal stories from 21 places around Australia’s coastline, each describing a time when sea levels were significantly lower than today. Professor Nunn said present sea levels in Australia were reached 7,000 years ago and as such any stories about the coastline stretching much further out to sea had to pre-date that time.

Stories describe changes

“These stories talk about a time when the sea started to come in and cover the land, and the changes this brought about to the way people lived – the changes in landscape, the ecosystem and the disruption this caused to their society,” he said.

“It’s important to note that it’s not just one story that describes this process. There are many stories, all consistent in their narrative, across 21 diverse sites around Australia’s coastline.”

Professor Nunn said his interest in how stories met science was piqued during his extensive tenure at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. He said the time span of the memories in the Australian Aboriginal stories he studied, however, appeared unmatched by any other culture.

“Anything that goes back thousands of years – nearly 10,000 years in some cases – has to be quite exceptional,” he said.

“It’s a remarkable time period when we consider our own memories and what we can remember even with the aid of books and other information.

“I believe these stories endured that long partly due to the harshness of Australia’s natural environment, which meant that each generation had to pass on knowledge to the next in a systematic way to ensure its survival.”"

[more:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00049182.2015.1077539 ]
aborigines  aboriginal  australia  history  climatechange  maps  mapping  memory  oraltradition  stories  storytelling  patricknunn  coastline  ecosystems  landscape  oceans  sealevel 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Why flies? I realize that I haven’t been entirely...
"Why flies? I realize that I haven’t been entirely honest in describing my motives. I’ve answered the question badly. I was so full of my determination not to lie about some hypothetical benefit that I presented my proclivity for catching flies as a matter of cheap anaesthesia and the simple pleasures of the hunt, an outlet for the vanity of a poor man and the eternal longing to be best. And that may be true, but there is something else too, maybe not greater but anyway prettier. More honourable. It shouldn’t be so—an ambitious person’s path to the perfection of God-knows-what should be worthy of all honour, if only because a world full of highly personal mastery without petty rivalry would be a nice place to live.

In any case, learning a language is never wrong.

So for a moment let us consider the ability to read the landscape as if it were a language, how to understand nature almost as if it were literature, experience it in the same way that we experience art or music. It’s all a question of landscape literacy. Now you may object that all of us, regardless of education and custom, can appreciate beauty in various works of art and pieces of music. That’s true. But it’s equally true that the untrained sensibility is easily captivated by what is sweetly charming and romantic, which can of course be good but which is nevertheless only a first impression and does not lead very far. Art has a language to be learned; music too has hidden subtleties.

The necessary conditions are more distinct in literature. If you can’t read, you can’t read. And when I say that the landscape can provide a kind of literary experience at different depths I mean just exactly that—to begin with, you have to know the language. In a vocabulary of nothing but animals and plants, the flies can thus be seen as glosses, telling stories of every kind within the framework of the grammatical laws set down by evolution and ecology.

To recognize a Chrysotoxum vernale when you see it, to know why it’s flying in just this place and at just this moment, is a source of satisfaction not all that easy to account for. I’m afraid that our path to what is beautiful must first pass through what is meaningful. Which is the more important will remain a matter of taste.



Television has taught us to see nature like a film, as something immediately comprehensible and available, but that is only an illusion. The narrative voiceover is missing when you go outdoors. What seems great art and sweet music on the surface becomes, for the uninitiated, an impenetrable body of text in a foreign language. So the best answer to the question of why I collect hoverflies is, ultimately, that I want to understand the fine print in the only language that’s been mine for as long as I can remember."

—Fredrik Sjöberg, “The Fly Trap” (Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal)
landscape  nature  flies  reading  howweread  meaningmaking  literature  learning  howwelearn  language  literacy  literacies  fredriksjöberg 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Storey G2 :: Layla Curtis
"Layla Curtis has produced an app for iPhone entitled 'Trespass'. This app tells the story of Freeman’s Wood from the perspective of people who have used it. The artist held conversations with local people about their personal memories of this site and their speculations on its future.

In these interviews, members of the local community gave their responses to the landowner’s recent erection of a metal fence around Freeman’s Wood, along with accounts of how this, and the accompanying ‘Keep Out, No Trespassing’ signs, have affected the way the space is now used and accessed. Memories and accounts of how this land been used as a recreational space over recent decades are intertwined with discussions of wider issues of land ownership, trespass, territory, common land, and activism.

These conversations were conducted on site, and the sound tracks are GPS mapped, so users of the app can listen to the recordings while walking in the landscape they refer to, and following their movements on a map.

The conversations were recorded both outside and inside the area enclosed by the fence. Three audio tracks recorded outside the boundary are available to listeners anywhere. To access those tracks recorded inside the boundary fence, the listener must ‘trespass’, crossing into Freeman’s Wood itself.

The fence is not continuous, including a section beside the cycle path of a few hundred metres where there is no fencing, so it is easy for people to access the land.

The audio tracks on this app are compilations of several conversations and they form a lasting document of the local community’s long relationship with this piece of land. Even if this land is developed in the future, and is changed beyond all current recognition, this app will continue to map these stories onto it indefinitely."

[See also: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/trespass/id973565174
https://twitter.com/Trespass_App ]
trespassing  applications  ios  laylacurtis  ios7  freeman'swood  space  property  landscape 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Rhizome | How to See Infrastructure: A Guide for Seven Billion Primates
"If we lift up the manhole cover, lock-out the equipment, unscrew the housing, and break the word into components, infrastructure means, simply, below-structure. Like infrared, the below-red energy just outside of the reddish portion of the visible light section of the electromagnetic spectrum. Humans are not equipped to see infrared with our evolved eyes, but we sometimes feel it as radiated heat.

Infrastructure is drastically important to our way of life, and largely kept out of sight. It is the underground, the conduited, the containerized, the concreted, the shielded, the buried, the built up, the broadcast, the palletized, the addressed, the routed. It is the underneath, the chassis, the network, the hidden system, the combine, the conspiracy. There is something of a paranoiac, occult quality to it. James Tilly Matthews, one of the first documented cases of what we now call schizophrenia, spoke of a thematic style of hallucination described by many suffering from the condition, always rewritten in the technological language of the era. In Matthews' 18th Century description, there existed an invisible "air loom," an influencing machine harnessing rays, magnets, and gases, run by a secret cabal, able to control people for nefarious motives. Infrastructure's power, combined with its lack of visibility, is the stuff of our society's physical unconscious.

Perhaps because infrastructure wields great power and lacks visibility, it is of particular concern to artists and writers who bring the mysterious influencing machines into public discourse through their travels and research."
adamrothstein  infrastructure  cities  2015  allansekula  charmainechua  jamestillymatthews  unknownfieldsdivision  liamyoung  katedavies  timmaughan  danwilliams  shipping  centerforlanduseinterpretation  nicolatwilley  timmaly  emilyhorne  jeremybentham  jennyodell  landscape  donnaharaway  technology  ingridburrington  nataliejeremijenko  trevorpaglen  jamesbridle 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Dish Blight: The Ruins of Satellite TV Are All Around | Atlas Obscura
"There’s a name for this growing eyesore: dish blight.

Satellite dishes, of course, are a global phenomenon. Dish blight, as it’s been called since around 2010, is a focus mostly in American cities, but it’s an issue that will hit every country that goes through the same pattern of cable/internet replacing satellite TV that we have now. For the time being, it’s American cities that have begun to take note of the phenomenon. DirecTV alone has over 20 million subscribers in the United States and nearly that many in Latin America, and given the rapid turnover of satellite TV, that leaves thousands abandoned in any given city.

“We understand there are upwards of 5,000 that are not in service, just sitting on the facades of properties,” Philadelphia councilman Darrell Clarke told Newsworks. Clarke, who represents a large stretch of Philadelphia’s many historic districts, pushed a bill through the city council in 2011 that’s designed to reduce the eyesore of satellite dishes in his district through efforts like repainting them to blend in with the building itself.

In turn, organizations ranging from the satellite companies to affordable housing advocates have protested the new bills, which they see as removing a low-cost connection option in favor of more expensive solutions like cable—in other words, some advocates see the fight against dish blight as a proxy war against the poor.

But how did we even get here? What is the deal with satellite dishes littering America’s urban homes?"

[via: https://twitter.com/harmancipants/status/618249394371043329 ]
antennas  2015  infrastructure  urban  landscape  television  tv 
july 2015 by robertogreco
More-Than-Human Lab. » Pt I, Companion animals (and belonging)
"I’ve started pulling together my paper for the Losing Ground – Gaining Ground session at the RGS Conference in Exeter in September, where I’ll be presenting on what it means to belong in the valley in which I live.

Part of this involves sorting [Edit: casual (iPhone)] photos I’ve taken of the plants, animals and elements around us, and thinking about how I’ve learned the differences between native and endemic, abundant and protected, introduced and invasive species.

I started by choosing a set of representative images I’ve taken since moving here in mid-September last year. I didn’t select them to represent a linear progression of time, but sorted them by type of animal–cat, sheep, bird, insect, other–and selected my favourite ones.

Below are the photos and my notes."
animals  multispecies  annegalloway  cats  sheep  newzealand  birds  landscape  insects  invertebrates  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
june 2015 by robertogreco
AC2015 - Chair's plenary: Feral geographies: life in capitalist ruins
"Two questions guide this talk. First, how have industrial processes changed earth ecologies—even far from industrial centers? Second, given that Anthropocene ecologies have moved outside human design, how shall we understand their geographies as simultaneously global and local? Using invasive fungal pathogens, parasites, and decomposers as my entry point, I will examine histories of invasion that clarify overlapping human and nonhuman world-making, as this leads to feral geographies. On the one hand, such histories illustrate unintentional design, that is, landscapes made by many living things. On the other hand, they suggest that something new—and beyond human control—has emerged in our times, challenging the livable ecologies of earlier landscape dynamics. Indeed, newly deadly more-than-human capacities, with their feral geographies, give substance to the concept of the Anthropocene. Mapping them allows Anthropocene to do crucial work: drawing together a transdisciplinary discussion of industrial effects. The talk thus addresses the possibility of opening disciplinary and conceptual borders, not just for the critique of dichotomies between nature and culture, but also, more urgently, for the making of forms of knowledge, which, while not universal, know what travel is and how to chance it. This is a challenge, then, for both theory and description. Might joining the discussion called “Anthropocene” require humanistic social scientists to rethink our knowledge practices? Meanwhile, the talk is a renewed endorsement of the importance of arts of noticing—and critical description—for our unsettled times."
geography  feralgeographies  feral  anthropocene  capitalism  via:anne  2015  jamielorimer  sarahwhatmore  annatsing  stephenhinchliffe  gaildavies  charylmcewan  noticing  landscape  nonhuman  multispecies  human  design  geoengineering  parasites  pathogens  decomposers  decomposition  annalowenhaupttsing 
may 2015 by robertogreco
6, 55: Dilution of precision
"Some things are hard to understand until you’ve stood in them. Anthropologist Genevieve Bell (at 1:09, in the third video down) told executives at Intel how small living spaces in China could be, but when they went and stood in the places that she had described clearly, they were still surprised. “I can touch all the walls!”

Travel is a way of accumulating this embodied knowledge. Gazing up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Climbing up the passageway in the Great Pyramid at Giza. Standing in the shadow of redwoods. When we decided to take a weekend roadtrip in California, we really didn’t have to discuss what we’d go see: both of us have been thinking a lot about infrastructure and about the California drought, so we drew up a tentative plan, woke up early, and headed east from Santa Cruz towards Interstate Highway 5, to visit one of the most significant pieces of water infrastructure in California."



"Infrastructure is the set of systems that enable you to do what you do that you never think about. Power, water, heating, communications – all the things that (if you’re lucky enough) is just piped to your house – are never noticed until something goes wrong. As Warren Ellis put it this morning, “The victory condition [of utilities] is silence.” Then there’s the larger-scale infrastructure, like the highway system. We spent a lot of time on I-5, an economic backbone of the West Coast, running from Tijuana, Mexico to Blaine, Canada. But because it’s not in crisis, we don’t think about it much. We don’t take a weekend to stand on hills overlooking it. Likewise GPS, and stable currency, and mobile phone coverage."

[Also available here: http://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-35-dilution-of-precision ]
perspective  infrastructure  2015charlieloyd  debchachra  2015  californiaaqueduct  california  water  californiastatewaterproject  agriculture  centralvalley  sanjoaquinvalley  sanluisreservoir  perception  scale  warrenellis  landscape  genevievebell  china  housing  i5  interstate5  i-5  food  farming 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Minnesota by Design
"From the world’s quietest room to the Honeycrisp apple, from the humble sticky note to the Artist-formerly-known-as-Prince glyph, this collection offers a sampling of what makes Minnesota a hotbed of inventive and creative design.

Minnesota by Design is a web-based initiative by the Walker Art Center to document the rich landscape of design across the state. The project seeks to increase public awareness of the human-built world in Minnesota — its landscapes, buildings, products, and graphics, both past and present — and the role that design thinking and practice plays in its realization. Our collection has been seeded with some 100 designs that reflect exemplary instances of practical ingenuity, creative thinking, beautiful form-giving, social and cultural impact, and innovative uses of technology."

[See also: “The Uncollectibles: Andrew Blauvelt on Minnesota by Design”
http://blogs.walkerart.org/design/2015/03/23/the-uncollectibles-andrew-blauvelt-on-minnesota-by-design/ ]
minnesota  via:alexandralange  design  2015  place  history  landscape  andrewblauvelt 
march 2015 by robertogreco
White Hole Gallery
"White Hole is a platform devoted to the production and dissemination of critical investigations into the relationship between technology, authority, the landscape and everyday life.

It operates through an international network of people invited to curate one-month exhibitions, combining strategies of artistic practice and journalism to investigate, document and debate the forces — visible and invisible — that shape society and the landscape.

The space functions as a remotely-controlled micro-gallery. Borrowing from the theory of general relativity, in which a white hole is a hypothetical region of spacetime which is inaccessible from the outside, the space itself cannot be entered, although matter and light can escape from it. It projects critical debate, increasingly confined to the online realm, into the public domain.

The network of people contributing to the gallery operates as a peer-to-peer system, exchanging, producing or commissioning new contents that is fed into the network through a Dropbox folder activating and controlling the gallery from distance.

The first White Hole project space opened in Genoa, Italy, on January 31st, 2015 and will run until January 31st, 2016. It will exhibit 12 works over the course of its lifespan, displaying each piece for the duration of one month.

White Hole is a project by Lorenza Baroncelli, Marco Ferrari, Joseph Grima, Antonio Ottomanelli, Elisa Pasqual, in collaboration with Fitzgerald G. Saenger. Scientific direction by Simone C. Niquille.

The logo animation is by Aaron Siegel."



""White Hole is a new research platform and a project space in Genoa, Italy, which opened on January 31st, 2015, and will run until January 31st, 2016.

White Hole is a project by Lorenza Baroncelli, Marco Ferrari, Joseph Grima, Antonio Ottomanelli and Elisa Pasqual, in collaboration with Simone C. Niquille and Fitzgerald G. Saenger.

The third exhibition, Drone Strikes. The Miranshah Case by Forensic Architecture, will be on show from March 28th to April 24th, 2015. The opening will be on Saturday, March 28th at 7 PM in the square in front of the gallery."



"Environmental Migrants [28.02—27.03.2015]

As the pace of climate change accelerates, each year millions of people are forced to abandon their places of origin. By 2050, of the six billion people who live in cities, two hundred million will be climate refugees: six times more than political refugees. It is a phenomenon that is destined to become the humanitarian emergency of this century.

Environmental Migrants is a unreleased video recorded by Alessandro Grassani between Mongolia and Bangladesh. The video, edited by White Hole, is an uninterrupted sequence of discontinuous material sampled from Grassani’s archive. It is divided in two chapters, each of which dedicated to one country.

As the photographer reported: “The choice of these two sites was dictated by the desire to represent the different types of climate change that cause environmental migration to the cities, in the geographic areas most affected by this new phenomenon: from the extreme cold of Mongolia, through floods, cyclones and sea level rise in Bangladesh.”
whiteholegallery  italy  genoa  italia  galleries  technology  landscape  authority  everyday  everydaylife  lorenzabaroncelli  marcoferrari  josephgrima  antonioottomanelli  elisapasqual  simoneniquille  fitzgeraldsaenger  refugees  climatechange  migration  mongolia  nomads  alessandrograssani  bangladesh  urbanization  cities  environment  drones 
march 2015 by robertogreco
K. Verlag | Press / Books / . 2 Land & Animal & Nonanimal
" … is an ensemble which contends that the meaning of the Anthropocene is less a geological re-formation than it is trans-formation of both land and animal; once exposed to some of the parameters defining this transition, the reader-as-exhibition-viewer may begin to discern erratic rhythms generated by the creatures of nonconformity that inhabit, with their violence, struggles, and love the vast, machinic reality called Earth.

Land & Animal & Nonanimal turns the attention from the built space of cultural repositories to the postnatural landscapes of planet Earth. In his interview about urban soils of the Anthropocene, landscape architect Seth Denizen considers a history of land use practices that is also reflected in artist Robert Zhao Renhui’s photographs of Singapore as a scenario of continuous development. Inspired by a recent visit to the environment of Wendover in the Utah desert, Richard Pell and Lauren Allen of Pittsburgh’s Center for PostNatural History make a case for a postnatural imprint upon the geologic aspects inherent in the concept of the Anthropocene. By encountering "the last snail," environmental historian and philosopher Thom van Dooren considers the meaning of hope and care in the context of species extinction. And while curator Natasha Ginwala’s paginated series with contributions by Bianca Baldi, Arvo Leo, Axel Staschnoy, and Karthik Pandian & Andros Zins-Browne turns to cosmological and ancestral human-animal scenarios, sound artist and researcher Mitchell Akiyama explores philosophies of consciousness against the background of the phonogram in nineteenth-century simian research.

.

Co-edited by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin

Design by Katharina Tauer

Paperback, thread-bound, 160 pages

13 color + 39 black/white images

ISBN 978-0-9939074-1-8 15.99 €

Co-published by K. Verlag and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Made possible by the Schering Stiftung

Order the book via info@k-verlag.com

+ + 6 for 4: The intercalations box set subscription offer! + +

.

Published in January 2015"
anthropocene  books  toread  animals  multispecies  transformation  land  landscape  earth  postnaturalhistory  postnatural  sethdenizen  robertzhaorenhui  richardpell  laurenallen  thomvandooren  natashaginwala  biancabaldi  arvoleo  axelstaschnov  karthikpandian  androszins-browne  mitchellakiyama  consciousness  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  geology  centerforpostnaturalhistory  nonconformity  kverlag  katharinatauer  anna-sophiespringer  etienneturpin  posthumanism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Books | The Guardian
"For decades the leading nature writer has been collecting unusual words for landscapes and natural phenomena – from aquabob to zawn. It’s a lexicon we need to cherish in an age when a junior dictionary finds room for ‘broadband’ but has no place for ‘bluebell’"



"Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in streams so that they sparkle in moonlight and thereby attract salmon to them in the late summer and autumn”, and teine biorach is “the flame or will-o’-the-wisp that runs on top of heather when the moor burns during the summer”.

The “Peat Glossary” set my head a-whirr with wonder-words. It ran to several pages and more than 120 terms – and as that modest “Some” in its title acknowledged, it was incomplete. “There’s so much language to be added to it,” one of its compilers, Anne Campbell, told me. “It represents only three villages’ worth of words. I have a friend from South Uist who said her grandmother would add dozens to it. Every village in the upper islands would have its different phrases to contribute.” I thought of Norman MacCaig’s great Hebridean poem “By the Graveyard, Luskentyre”, where he imagines creating a dictionary out of the language of Donnie, a lobster fisherman from the Isle of Harris. It would be an impossible book, MacCaig concluded:

A volume thick as the height of the Clisham,

A volume big as the whole of Harris,

A volume beyond the wit of scholars.

The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail. As I had been entranced by the language preserved in the prose‑poem of the “Peat Glossary”, so I was dismayed by the language that had fallen (been pushed) from the dictionary. For blackberry, read Blackberry.



I have long been fascinated by the relations of language and landscape – by the power of strong style and single words to shape our senses of place. And it has become a habit, while travelling in Britain and Ireland, to note down place words as I encounter them: terms for particular aspects of terrain, elements, light and creaturely life, or resonant place names. I’ve scribbled these words in the backs of notebooks, or jotted them down on scraps of paper. Usually, I’ve gleaned them singly from conversations, maps or books. Now and then I’ve hit buried treasure in the form of vernacular word-lists or remarkable people – troves that have held gleaming handfuls of coinages, like the Lewisian “Peat Glossary”.

Not long after returning from Lewis, and spurred on by the Oxford deletions, I resolved to put my word-collecting on a more active footing, and to build up my own glossaries of place words. It seemed to me then that although we have fabulous compendia of flora, fauna and insects (Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica and Mark Cocker’s Birds Britannica chief among them), we lack a Terra Britannica, as it were: a gathering of terms for the land and its weathers – terms used by crofters, fishermen, farmers, sailors, scientists, miners, climbers, soldiers, shepherds, poets, walkers and unrecorded others for whom particularised ways of describing place have been vital to everyday practice and perception. It seemed, too, that it might be worth assembling some of this terrifically fine-grained vocabulary – and releasing it back into imaginative circulation, as a way to rewild our language. I wanted to answer Norman MacCaig’s entreaty in his Luskentyre poem: “Scholars, I plead with you, / Where are your dictionaries of the wind … ?”"

[via: http://caterina.net/2015/02/27/bluebells-and-buttercups/ ]
robertmacfarlane  2015  language  glossaries  dictionaries  childhood  words  english  nature  landscape  lexicon  flora  fauna  insects  rewilding  taxonomy  dictionary 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Recruitment of Entropy (Advancing Deltas V) | Free Association Design
"There is a peculiar appeal to situations like this, landscapes that are being redrawn or thrust into an entirely different trajectory. It could be anything from a volcanic eruption to a twinkling New Urbanist development. It’s the effort of transformation itself – its process – that is intriguing. This brings to mind Bruno Latour’s critique of both “nature” and of the “social” as existing a priori, as taken-for-granted given substances of sorts. Rather, he contends, both are constantly being negotiated, remade or forcefully sustained by a shifting multitude of participants, human and non. And further, the distinction between these two collectives doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, as we can see in the former reservoir of Condit Dam.

One of the most useful aspects of actor-network-theory (I think) is its investigative emphasis on change and transition. During such times, we get a better glimpse of what the social is composed of, its peculiar ‘web of associations’ [iii]. When situations drastically change or things quite functioning nature as given substance evaporates and we are better able to see the diverse and dynamic multitude arduously creating it."
elwha  elwhariver  rewilding  rivers  washingtonstate  olympicpeninsula  2012  nature  dams  landscape  maps  mapping 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Chapter 3: Two Truths and a Lie — The Book of Home — Medium
"California is deserts, farmlands, mountains, beaches, craggy coasts, forests, scrublands, redwood groves, oil fields, diatomite and tungsten mines, cities with unfathomable wealth, communities that are poorer than anywhere else in the country. It is where anything can come alive and where many dreams have died. It is an impossible place.

The spine that runs through it connects its fabled halves, Northern and Southern, as if this divide is all there is to say about the entire state. But the spine itself belies the myth of California, the one that hovers at the very edge like an iridescent bubble and floats just out of reach every time. There is no straight shot between those storied Northern and Southern Californias. You cannot take a direct route from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Instead, you have to unfurl each road, one memory at a time, to find California for yourself."
california  leahreich  2015  landscape  place  i5  interstate5  freeways  diversity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
▶ One-On-One Conversations: Ingrid Burrington and James Bridle by EyebeamNYC
[Description from: http://eyebeam.org/events/eyebeam-artists-one-on-one-james-bridle-and-ingrid-burrington ]

"The first in this series features James Bridle and Ingrid Burrington, discussing "The Black Chamber". As technology advances and becomes increasingly networked and integrated with our daily lives, it tends towards a greater invisibility, a seamlessness and an unreadability. From the Cipher Bureau to Room 641A, from the datacenter to the iPhone, from the drone command module to the shipping container, the black boxes of the network litter the contemporary landscape. Unable to see inside them, we construct fantasies about their use, develop new ways of thinking about them, and attempt to probe them through techniques legal, technical, and magical. Eyebeam Residents Ingrid Burrington and James Bridle will explore the aesthetic and imaginative space of the black box, and outline some of their own practices for approaching them."
ingridburrington  jamesbridle  via:vruba  invisibility  visibility  blackboxes  datacenters  infrastructure  technology  magic  unreadability  landscape  urban  urbanism  architecture  2014  wizards  daemons 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Frances Whitehead
"WHO WE ARE

Frances Whitehead is a civic practice artist bringing the methods, mindsets, and strategies of contemporary art practice to the process of shaping the future city. Connecting emerging art practices, the discourses around culturally informed sustainability, and new concepts of heritage and remediation, she develops strategies to deploy the knowledge of artists as change agents, asking, What do Artists Know?

Questions of participation, sustainability, and culture change animate her work as she considers the surrounding community, the landscape, and the interdependency of multiple ecologies in the post-industrial city. Whitehead’s cutting-edge work integrates art and sustainability, as she traverses disciplines to engage with engineers, scientists, landscape architects, urban designers, and city officials in order to hybridize art, design, science, and civic engagement, for the public good.

Whitehead has worked professionally as an artist since the mid 1980’s and has worked collaboratively as ARTetal Studio since 2001. She is Professor of Sculpture + Architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago."


HOW WE THINK

strategic
edge-dwelling
collaborative
cultural futures
experimental
complexity
ethics + aesthetics
place-based culture
change
participatory
urban ecologies
systemic
re-directive
post normal
art + science
integrative
adaptive"


WHAT WE DO

Whitehead works in disturbed urban and rural sites, to integrate art and cultural expertise into their transformation. A series of linked civic initiatives include the Embedded Artist Project with the City of Chicago, SLOW Cleanup, a culturally driven phytoremediation program for abandoned gas stations, climate-monitoring plant programs throughout the USA and Europe, and an urban agriculture plan with the city of Lima, Peru. Currently, Whitehead is Lead Artist for The 606, a rail infrastructure adaptation project in Chicago, and serves as Advisor to re-imagine the environmental art program at the Schuylkill Center, in Philadelphia."
franceswhitehead  via:anne  art  science  cities  urban  urbanism  remediation  heritage  participation  sustainability  culture  culturechange  culturecreation  community  landscape  interdependence  ecology  civics  artetalstudio  chicago  collaboration  strategy  urbanecology  urbanecologies  ethics  aesthetics  systems  systemsthinking  participatory  complexity  future  futures  edge-dwelling  phytoremediation  lima  perú  the606  engineering  urbandesign  interdisciplinary 
october 2014 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Procedural Forestry
"We looked at procedural Brutalism the other week—and, deep in the BLDGBLOG archives, we explored the moors of a procedurally generated British countryside—so why not procedural forestry?

Designer Florian Veltman tweeted two screen grabs the other week, along with the quick comment that he was "working on a procedural forest." The first image, which you can see in his tweet, is just a path or small clearing—almost a holloway—cutting forward through a forest of algorithmic leaves and branches.

But it's the picturesque errorscape seen in the opening image of this post, and in Veltman's second tweet, that really caught my eye. Captioned by Veltman as a "procedural forest gone wrong... or right?," it resembles a kind of upended tectonic plate overgrown with vegetation, pierced by the alien presence of a miscalculated substrate erupting from below.

Procedural forestry, procedural geology, procedural oceanography—the very idea of a procedural natural history is just incredible. Unstoppable worlds endlessly flowering from roots of code. Imagine landscape information modeling becoming weirdly sentient, self-generating, and aesthetically sublime, laced with errors, topographies gone wild—stuttering and mutated—in the infinite seams between digital worlds.

We watch in unearthly awe as coded terrains crack open or glitch apart just enough to reveal their mathematical interiors, buried operating systems indistinguishable from nature whirring away within the roots and leaves."
bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  procedural  forestry  geology  oceanography  naturalhistory  code  landscape  topography  math  mathematics  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 1: Black Start
"Last month, I was in San Francisco for a few days. Being in California, if you’re from the East Coast, just feels different, in a way that I've never satisfactorily articulated to myself, but then I find myself whooping when I first spot the Pacific Ocean as I cross the peninsula from SFO to Highway 1.

Part of it is a lifetime of living with the mythos of California. Quoting Charlie Loyd: "…California, America’s America: beautiful, dysfunctional, dominant, infuriatingly calm about itself, vastly more diverse and complex than even the best informed and most charitable outsider gives it credit for, built on bones, overflowing with demagogues, decadent, permanently reinventing itself."

But part of my experience of San Francisco, and Seattle and Vancouver, is that the underlying land shapes the city, rather than the city shaping the land. This is literally the case in Boston and New York, where the edges of the city defined by landfill, so all you are aware of in the city is the city. In San Francisco, the bones of the land are apparent in every direction you look, hills rising and falling and beyond them, the sea. The original grid of San Francisco was laid out for the dozen or so blocks of the settlement of Yerba Buena, and then as the city grew and grew the grid was just extended in all directions, heedless of the underlying topography—so today, the topography defines the paths through the city. Every San Franciscan I know thinks about the city in three dimensions—which routes to one’s destination involve the least climbing, the Wiggle, where the beautiful views are.

I miss Toronto, my hometown. I miss its unparalleled diversity. I know it’s not what was when I was growing up there, but I miss living in a place with a determined commitment to collectively making the lives of its residents better. When I was there in June, I found myself driving in an unfamiliar part of the city. The wide road was lined with modest but pleasant single-family homes, and every few blocks there was a small park and a school. Peace, order and good government. What I don’t miss from Toronto is the physical geography—the city sits on the fertile lowland between two rivers and, besides being on Lake Ontario, has virtually none to speak of. When I trained for a marathon in grad school, I would head due north up a major street for mile after mile, the road gently sloping upwards as I went away from the lake, which meant a gentle downhill as I returned home. That’s basically it. The city is defined by the city.

In contrast, when I miss Seattle, I miss the landscape. I miss seeing the Cascades and the Olympics on clear days, and I miss coming over a hill and seeing Puget Sound. But above all, I miss Mount Rainier. I still remember the first time I saw the mountain. I vaguely knew that you could see Rainier from the city, but I was completely unprepared when I turned a corner and saw this giant stratovolcano just looming. My relationship with the person I was in Seattle to see ended not long after, but I have yet to fall out of love with Rainier. Years later, I moved to Seattle to do a sabbatical at the University of Washington, which has a long quadrangle, the Rainier Vista, aligned with the mountain. For a year I walked past it every morning and evening, pausing on the days I could see the peak. Almost the last thing I did before returning to the quietly rolling New England landscape was to get a tattoo of Rainier on my ankle. The lock screen of my phone is a photo of the peak I took from a mountain meadow within the park.

Some Japanese immigrants to the area have called Rainier 'Tacoma Fuji', but Mount Fuji is known for its symmetrical cone, and part of the beauty of Rainier to me is its distinct asymmetry—the prominences on its flanks would qualify as mountains in their own right. I don’t suffer from Stendhal Syndrome in its traditional form, but there are a few places in the world where I have to work hard not to be physically overcome by beauty. One is the Marin Headlands, and the view over the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Another is the east coast of Vancouver Island, looking over the Strait of Georgia towards Vancouver. And one is still pretty much every time I see Rainier. The beauty of San Francisco and of Cascadia is a wild beauty, the juxtaposition of human habitation and landscape, but one where the landscape holds its own. I was in Switzerland a few years ago, near Lausanne, and I've never been in a place that looked more like the tourist conception of the place. The mountains were high, sure, but the green velvet of pasture was spread high on their slopes, dotted with placid brown cows. The net result was one of pastoral domesticity, where the mountains were tamed. It was pretty, but it wasn't beautiful. The West Coast is beautiful.

But even before I set eyes on Rainier for the first time, I knew that it was dangerous. The primary risk isn't from a Mount St Helens-style eruption, but rather from lahars, the mudslides that would result when the heat from the eruption melts the glaciation on the peak. A hundred and fifty thousand people live nearby, in what appear to be gentle flat-bottomed river valleys but which are actually the paths of previous lahars. In 1985, twenty thousand people, including two-thirds of the population of Armero, Colombia, were killed by lahars resulting from the eruption of the Nevada del Ruiz volcano. Partly as a result of that tragedy, Rainier is the most instrumented mountain in the world, providing about forty minutes of warning to the nearest community, and schoolchildren there do volcano drills, fleets of school buses waiting to rush them out of the danger zone. The best estimates are that there’s a one-in-ten chance of lahar flows that make it as far as the Puget Sound lowlands within a human lifetime. And a repeat of the massive Osceola Mudflow, five thousand years ago, would send glacial mud as far as downtown Seattle, and cause tsunamis in the Sound and in Lake Washington.

The wildest of wild West Coast beauty: that Mount Rainier, the greatest physical threat to Seattle, is celebrated and beloved."
seattle  washingtonstate  2014  westcoast  landscape  mountrainier  cascadia  beauty  debchachra  toronto  california  vancouuver  britishcolumbia  charlieloyd 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Science Studio
"The Weight of Mountains

Here’s a short film by a children’s book illustrator about “the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed, based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp.” It’s eye-meltingly gorgeous and starkly scientific. The tone is meditative and incantatory, turning geological terms into epic poetry. If you’ve ever wanted to read John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World” but only have 11 minutes, watch this."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/87651855

"This is a short film about the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed. It is based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp, and was shot in Iceland.

Physical geography and geology is an enormous and fascinating subject, and this film only touches upon the surface of the discipline. For those who wish to further advance their knowledge in this field, additional reading and research is recommended.

The film was created as part of The Weight of Mountains filmmaker residency program. For more information please visit twom.is/

Animation courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio" ]
via:vruba  2014  johnpablus  ldudleystamp  mountains  earth  science  earthscience  landscape  geology  film  scale  height  geography  history  naturalhistory  oceans  atmosphere  platemovement  platetectonics  sun  frost  eathering  wind  weather  erosion  glaciers  ice  rain  water  denudation  nature  gravity  johnmcphee 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Whyfinding: what pervasive gaming has taught me about 3D videogame design | Christy's Corner of the Universe
"The thing I came back to was my experience with pervasive games. Those games set in the actual world — on websites, social media, newspaper, in your street. Is my frustration because I’m corrupted by my background designing and playing pervasive games? In pervasive games I could actually pick up a bow. I could actually be crawling through the cave. Is the problem that I want the seamlessness of mission play and can’t get it in some 3D games? So I played with that idea. What is the difference in how the missions would be designed and experienced in a pervasive game versus a 3D digital game?"



"Looking for Internally-Motivated Navigation

I looked at works that seem to be about this internally-driven navigation of space: Michel de Certeau’s ‘Walking in the City’ in The Practice of Everyday Life [PDF], Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space [PDF]; Walter Benjamin’s The Arcade Project [PDF], John Stilgoe’s Outside Lies Magic, and Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking. I jumped from flâneurs to the larp movement to (with the help of Johanna MacDonald) Laban drives (link, link) — all in the hope of finding design techniques relating to internal motivation. I remembered my theatre experiences and thought maybe that relates to my type of play.

These works are all about internally-driven movement, but specifically about a free-movement, where you walk (or run) where you please and with a particular way of seeing. This is related, but doesn’t explain exactly what I’m talking about. A common thread in these works, however, is that it is about being present in the moment…in the world…in the streets. I look around to the rise of digital exploration games, and see a similar trend. Indeed, I don’t think the growing attraction to open world games, experiential games, and thin play is  coincidental. These are parallel phenomena that speak of an urge for a different kind of experience: one of being present in the (digital) world. But these types of experiences are often couched in phrases such as agency or choice that an open world games affords, such as the “exploring freedom in World of Warcraft.

There are many reasons for the attraction to these types of experiences (both as designers and players), including having an alternative to the magical dad stories of first-person shooters, and the reflection a “walking simulator” affords. Indeed, there are more and more of these sorts of games, or “first person exploration games, ” “first person adventure,” “story exploration games,” “a game of audio-visual exploration,” “non-combative exploration games,” or “not games,” or whatever. There are well known ones such as Gone Home, Dear Esther, Proteus, Bientôt l’Été, as well as ones more recent or in development such as Ether One, Dream, Sunset, Firewatch, Virginia, and HomeMake, and Hohokum.

I believe that one of the attracting factors of these games is the desire for intrinsically-motivated movement. (This trait, however, certainly isn’t shared by all of the community-created “walking simulator” tags on Steam.)

It isn’t as if exploration is ignored in conventional videogame and theme park design though. For instance, Scott Rogers talks about enabling exploration by creating subpaths or alternate paths that people discover that get them to the main attractions. But this way of navigating space is different. It isn’t just about exploring space either. Most of the internally-driven movement I found though, was about exploring or viewing space differently. There is something else. Then I found it.”
videogames  situationist  worldofwarcraft  digital  sandboxgames  freedom  exploration  flaneur  derive  2014  johnstilgoe  larp  larping  gastonbachelard  micheldecerteau  walterbenjamin  rebeccasolnit  wandering  whyfinding  pervasivegames  gaming  games  play  maps  mapping  landscapes  landscape  gamedesign  motivation  visualattention  attention  christydena  experience  dérive 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Land Arts of the American West
"Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech is a transdisciplinary field program investigating the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. It is a semester abroad in our own back yard. Each fall students venture across the American southwest camping for a two months while traveling six-thousand miles overland to explore natural and human forces that shape contemporary landscapes—ranging from geology and weather to cigarette butts and hydroelectric dams. Sites visited include Chaco Canyon, Roden Crater, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Double Negative, Sun Tunnels, Spiral Jetty, the Wendover Complex of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Bingham Canyon Mine, Lake Powell, Jackpile Mine at Laguna Pueblo, Chiricahua Mountains, Cabinetlandia, Marfa, the Very Large Array and The Lightning Field.

Land Arts situates our work within a continuous tradition of land-based operations that is thousands of years old. Analysis of sites visited provides a basis for dialog and invention. Issues of spatial and material vocabulary, constructional logics, and inhabitation serve as the foundation for an investigation through making. Students construct, detail, and document a series of site-base interventions in a context that places emphasis on processes of making, experiential forms of knowing, and transdisciplinary modes of practice. The immersive nature of how we experience the landscape triggers an amalgamated body of inquiry where students have the opportunity of time and space to develop authority in their work through direct action and reflection. Land Arts hinges on the primacy of first person experience and the realization that human-land relationships are rarely singular.

Land Arts was founded in 2000 at the University of New Mexico by Bill Gilbert with the assistance of John Wenger. From 2001 to 2007 the program developed as a collaboration co-directed by Bill Gilbert and Chris Taylor, then at the University of Texas at Austin. In the fall of 2008 Taylor moved to Lubbock and now Gilbert and Taylor operate the program autonomously at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico and College of Architecture at the Texas Tech University. For information about the program at UNM see http://landarts.unm.edu/. In January of 2009 the Nevada Museum of Art announced the creation of the new Center for Art + Environment and the acquisition of the archive of Land Arts of the American West.

Operational and curricular material about Land Arts at Texas Tech is located on the College of Architecture website. This site is regularly updated to include current information and hopefully will be widely updated to provide greater access to the program archive. Please contact Chris Taylor for any additional information."



"Land Arts of the American West is a field program investigating the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. Land art or earthworks begin with the land and extend through the complex social and ecological processes that create landscape. Encompassing constructions that range from petroglyphs to roads, dwellings, monuments and traces of those actions, earthworks show us who we are. Examining gestures small and grand, Land Arts directs our attention from potsherd, cigarette butt, and track in the sand, to human settlements, monumental artworks, and military-industrial installations. Land Arts is a semester abroad in our own back yard investigating the American landscape through immersion, action and reflection.

Land Arts 2013 field season at Texas Tech was made possible with generous operational support from Andrea Nasher and student support from the James Family Foundation. The 2013 Texas Tech field crew was composed of a sculptor, designer, architect, art historian, musician/painter, and performance artist. Future years will continue to broaden the interdisciplinary involvement from students across the Texas Tech community and participants from outside the university."
art  classes  education  landart  texastech  landscape  west  americanwest  texas  centerforlanduseinterpretation  cfluirodencrater  spiraljetty  robertsmithson  marfa  billgilbert  johnwenger  christaylor 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding | The American Reader
"But for all of its private jargon, skateboarding’s poetry has never been linguistic. It is forever embodied and also, though this is difficult to speak of seriously, spiritual. How else to explain its appearance in Uganda without even a single retail outlet to support it? In fact, the only conveyable language of skateboarding, outside of participation and socialization in the activity itself, has always been spoken through film.

In broad terms, skate media splits time between documentation and advertisement, and their commercial evolution has skewed ever more crass and spectacular. Recent work from select video artists, however, attempts to confront the activity’s basic mystery and meaningful meaninglessness. Non-skateboarders have tended not to look very closely at these films. They mostly do not care. Skateboarders meanwhile care far too much to care exactly why. In any case, it’s here that an attempt toward a poetics of skateboarding must begin."



"Nor can we call such an effort unselfish. My own struggle with the mystery of skateboarding began five years ago, fifteen after I first stepped onto a board, when I began work on my second novel. The problem I encountered was that none of skateboarding’s confectionary can or should be dismissed. Speaking technically and contra Ian Mackaye, skateboarding today is a sport and a hobby both, along with countless other things: a therapy, an obsession, a conservative anti-drug. In its basic meaninglessness, skateboarding has become the tool that takes the shape of whoever’s hand it’s in."



"What in those first years had fit awkwardly into a de facto rubric of athletics—a sport to be timed and judged for athletic merit—became in the 1970s something more rhetorical. The ethos was the punk scavenging of revolution by way of repurposing. Whatever prefigurations of the object we had seen, never before had they been deployed creatively. To speak in China Mieville’s terms, what emerged was something counterposed to the comfort of the uncanny. The activity, new, unrecognized, and bounded only by imagination, was abcanny."



"While the basic spirit of skateboarding might have remained constant since the addition of polyurethane, the marketplace around it quite obviously has not. Now and once again the importance of skateboarding in our time is on the increase. Today, it is on Fox. It is on ESPN with real-time algorithms for evaluating tricks. Once more the marketplace would have us comprehend skateboarding as a sport.

We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.

Systems such as these have no bearing on skateboarding, of which even the most negligible acts, no matter how brief or private, simply are skateboarding. Consider: between my home and the nearest skatepark is a well-paved boulevard with sewer caps embedded into the blacktop every half block or so. A source of joy for me is to push down this boulevard and pop tiny ollies over these sewer caps, sometimes barely scraping my tail, other times popping hard and pulling my knees up to my chest. These are not tricks proper, just ways to see and engage with the street’s reality. This is not, as athletes might call it, practice; I am not training for a future event. It is travel, yes, but the joy has little to do with the scenery or distance covered. In the purview of skate competition, this pushing down the boulevard, the single most fun I have in any given day, is not a scorable act of skateboarding. It is worth zero and it is worth everything.

In a world increasingly data-driven and surveilled, skateboarding lives beneath scoring and resists all datazation by establishing everything as a performance. It deflects the surveillance state by its primal devotion to documenting and sharing itself, monitoring every possible development, repetition, and failure. It pre-empts the onslaught of observation by embracing it. To pre-empt is to deflect, but also to admit defeat. Luckily, skateboarders are shameless—in this way, they’re the perfect actors to play the role of themselves.

Our potential heuristic now approaches what literary and cultural theorists today speak of, with a smirk, as the so-called authentic self. But a skater, whether standing on his stage, behind a camera, or at a keyboard, sees and thinks and performs precisely as what and who he is. What other memberships function in this or a similar manner? Parenthood. Romantic partnership. Citizenship. Does artistry?

***

To date, the most complete attempt to theorize skateboarding has been Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body (Berg, 2001). Borden, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at The Bartlett, University College London, treats the activity of skateboarding as a Lefebvrian practice with a potential to become its own sort of architecture: not of construction, but by the “production of space, time, and social being.” He traces the history of skateboarding into the 1990s’ street skating movement, and speaks of the way this “oppositional subculture” rethinks architecture “as a set of discrete features and elements…recomposing it through new speeds, spaces and times.” The gears of capitalism create spaces in which behavior is prescribed and easily accounted for. Skateboarding’s opposition is thus a compositional process, partially of the individual body, which is recomposed against the “intense scopic determinations of modernist space,” and partially of a deeper critique of urban life: “production not as the production of things but of play, desires and actions.”"



"By contrast, today’s most compelling skateboarding films aim to capture not only the play of skateboarding, but enact what Borden calls the “positive dialectic that restlessly searches for new possibilities of representing, imagining and living our lives.” The “Panoramic Series” from Philip Evans, for example, relieves the actor from the full burden of attention. Here Evans follows Phil Zwijsen through his hometown of Antwerp:"



"The skater, Austyn Gillette, appears only after the environmental context, resulting in a portrait not of one or the other, but both. The subject is, as skateboarding’s always has been in practice, the interactions between city and individual body. Alongside recent work by Mike Manzoori, Evan Schiefelbine and select others, these films find energy beyond the progressive trickery of athletics, or the documentation of extant geographies. They combine the skateboarder’s practice—creative, productive—with a distinctly non-skateboarding meta-awareness of the activity’s potential for meaning. Their grounding within the geist of skateboarding is obvious: there is nothing a skater spots more quickly than the fraud, or tourist. These are films made by skateboarders who have lived within the activity’s world, and who choose to leverage the activity as a tool to understand itself. How long, they ask, must a toy endure before it becomes something else? What does it become, and does this mean it has ceased to be a toy?"



"Roberto Bolaño called surrealism “something convulsive and vague, that familiar amorphous thing.” If indeed there is ever to be a poetics of skateboarding, familiarity will have to play a role. Suvin argued that science fiction’s value lay in its ability to effect cognitive estrangement. Campbell’s film documents and creates ostranenie by the re-presentation of a familiar world as captured by, and portrayed through, the glance of the radical dreamer. In fact, what Cuatros does better than any film I’ve seen is remind us that skateboarding’s heuristic usefulness is ontological. Its topos is not that there is a world inside the world, but rather: there is a world the exact shape and texture of the world that you know laid seamlessly over top of it, and you, for some reason, fail to see how beautiful it can be.

Convulsive, vague, and conveyed by slidy looks. Campbell’s subject is our ineffable, binding thing, that lurking, trembling essence that he can only render by images and motions of the surreal. The artist whose art was born from skateboarding has made an object about skateboarding that conveys this birth and mode of being. Skateboarding infects the filmmaker infects the musicians infects the viewer. Viewer goes out skating. Skateboarding is self-perpetuating in this way. It is always itself and something else, it is infectious, it is comprehensive and sublatable to the core. This is how the infinite comes to be—once born, skateboarding can never now die.

But the dreamscape of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños is not an expression of this infinity. Rather, it is mimetic. What world is this?, asks the skateboarder. A familiar one we have seen so many times that it’s rendered unseeable. More importantly, what is to be done in it? The answer, like Campbell’s film, is incoherent, and thank goodness. The answer is anything at all."
skating  skateboarding  skateboards  quantification  measurement  urban  urbanism  surveillance  iainborden  meaning  film  video  robertobolaño  thomascampbell  cuatrosueñospequeños  performance  datazation  repetition  monitoring  failure  documentation  process  capitalism  henrilefebvre  space  place  play  culture  movement  infectiousness  inspiration  feral  ecosystems  socialbeing  time  architecture  landscape  kylebeachy  understanding  experience  robertzemeckis  pontusalv  punk  metrics  schematics  markets  poetics  filmmaking  darkosuvin  sciencefiction  ianmackaye  technology  history  circumstance  california  socal  sports  chinamieville  abcanny  zines  creativity  competition  commercialization  commercialism  commoditization  diy  systems  rules  revolution  resistance  practice  authenticity  artistry  philipevans  philzwijsen  colinkennedy  stasis  motion  austyngillette  mikemanzoori  evanschiefelbine  javiermendizabal  madarsapse  dondelillo  cities  meaninglessness  participation  participatory  democracy  tribes  belonging  identity  spirituality  social  socializati 
july 2014 by robertogreco
SEFT-1 Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe: Modern Ruins 1:220 | www.furtherfield.org
"Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene (Los Ferronautas) built their striking silver road-rail SEFT-1 vehicle to explore the abandoned passenger railways of Mexico and Ecuador, capturing their journeys in videos, photographs and collected objects. In their first London exhibition, SEFT-1 Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe - Modern Ruins 1:220, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and presented in partnership with Furtherfield in their gallery space in the heart of Finsbury Park, the artists explore how the ideology of progress is imprinted onto historic landscapes and reflect on the two poles of the social experience of technology - use and obsolescence."

[See also:
http://www.seft1.net/
http://www.artscatalyst.org/projects/detail/ferronautas/
http://hyperallergic.com/133636/a-homemade-artist-train-runs-on-the-abandoned-rails-of-mexico/
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27929846
http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/06/modern-ruins-an-artist-homemade-vehicle-traverses-the-abandoned-railways-of-mexico/
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/jun/11/ruins-hunters-mexico-car-railway-derelict
https://vimeo.com/74649097
https://vimeo.com/99226389 ]
mexico  ivanpuig  andréspadilladomene  rail  railways  migration  art  seft-1  obsolescence  landscape  losferronautas  exploration  ecuador  2014  technology  progress  travel 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Multispecies Salon | a companion to the book
"A novel approach to writing culture, multispecies ethnography, has come of age. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes are appearing alongside humans in novel accounts of natural and cultural history. Anthropologists have collaborated with artists and biological scientists to illuminate how diverse organisms are entangled in political, economic, and cultural systems. Delectable mushrooms flourishing in the aftermath of ecological disaster, microbial cultures enlivening the politics and value of food, and emergent life forms running wild in the age of biotechnology all figure in to this curated collection of written prose and artifacts.

Coming on October 17th with Duke University Press.

Recipes provide instructions on how to cook acorn mush, make cheese out of human milk, and enliven forests after they have been clear-cut. The Multispecies Salon investigates messianic dreams, environmental nightmares, and modest sites of biocultural hope."
art  multispecies  multispeciesethnography  ethnography  via:anne  anthropology  biotechnology  animals  plants  2014  books  food  landscape  life 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Matthew Fuller » Questions to Ask a City
[via: https://twitter.com/fdrubio1977/status/472142243910782977

"Reading "Questions to ask a city" by M. Fuller: -How does the city feel to a rat, a human, a bank?"]

"From, Cybermoholla Ensemble & Nicholas Hirsch / Michael Müller, eds, ‘Cybermoholla Hub’, Sternberg Press, NYC, 2012

10
How do things enter and leave, how are they built and how do they decay?
What is modifiable?
How can things be attached on to one another?
Where does idea become infrastructure?
What arranges speeds?
How does the city feel to a rat, a human, a bank?
What is inside and what is outside?
How many gradations of waste are there?
Does sweat taste different according to the work that produced it?
What has an address?

9
Are there any certified means to bring about what is longed for but unspoken?
If from the top of the tallest tower can be seen just a little further over the horizon, how much more sunset?
How perfect are the corners of rooms?
Where is the deepest most profound insomnia to be had?
How is it possible to evaporate?
Which came first, sewage or drinking water?
What is the most thoughtful species to eat?
What must be smuggled?
If the ratio of cockroaches to butterflies is to be improved, must slugs work harder?

8
To those in the city who are numb with exhaustion beyond bearing, have you tried special tablets?
Do you, as a city, objectify the most sophisticated knowledge in a physical landscape of extraordinary complexity, power, and splendour at the same time as you bring together social forces capable of the most amazing sociotechnical and political innovation?
Of the names of the city, which are curses?
Are there any observances to be made when moving in or out of a place?
Which words, without intermediary, can be directly exchanged for food?
Who composites disinterest?
What is after all the intersections?
Who eats what is left?

7
What is a given for what?
Is there a difference between the markers of strangeness and those of familiarity?
How many doors do you need to make a floor?
If a photograph is taken, how much darkness can it reveal?
Which buildings design themselves?
Is there one code to translate all others without itself being breakable?
Who is safe?

6
When does a palace become a cupboard?
Who are the connoisseurs of the chaos?
How many rooms are inhabited only by investments?
Is what it looks like the same as what it does?
Which edges are conduits?
Who respects the delicacy of letterboxes?

5
Where is the tongue at home?
Is there an office for the air between walls?
What grows?
What songs are sung by those who cannot else withstand their work?
What is first to collapse?

4
Does the architecture of sleep have a school?
What shriek of joy is that?
Is it reasonable to assume that all documents are forged?
What builds up?

3
What is found by accident?
What jumps scales?
Does the idea of home require medicine?

2
Who files the complaints?
Can you wash your face with a building?

1
At what degree of heterogeneity does the idea of a whole come about?"
cities  matthewfuller  nicholashirsch  michaelmüller  cybermohollaensemble  multispecies  darkmatter  animals  urban  urbanism  landscape  heterogeneity  decay  complexity  power  splendor  technology  place 
may 2014 by robertogreco
California Open Spaces
[Explained more:
http://content.stamen.com/mapping_the_intersection_between_social_media_and_open_spaces_in_ca ]

"From family vacations in a national park to mornings at the dog run or lazy days on the beach, Californians live their lives outdoors—and share their experiences online on Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and Foursquare.

The idea is pretty simple. We’ve taken the actual shape of every park in California and used it as a window to watch social media streaming out of our parks.

From the teeny pocket park down the street to huge Stanislaus National Forest—the state’s biggest!—this project bears witness to a simple story a million different ways: parks are part of our lives in California.

We hope that this project helps connect Californians with their parks—from the liveliest and loudest to the quiet and secluded. And that park rangers, managers, and advocates find these stories and connect with the Californians who use their parks.

• Explore social media from giant parks to tiny parks….
• Which parks are most tweeted about?
• Which are the most photogenic parks?
• Where are people checking in?"
california  stamen  stamendesign  maps  mapping  parks  landscape  openspaces  flickr  twitter  instagram  foursquare  socialmedia 
may 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
Zoolandscape
"This project records forms of artificially constructed biotopes and landscape scenes of the environment of European zoological gardens. Zoological landscapes have a specific role. Their purpose is to simulate biotopes of presented animals. The animals’ environment is made artificially out of imitating materials or is reconstructed from original living products of nature. The landscape is simplified, systematized and idealized. It is adjusted to meet the aesthetic demands of a viewer and just like a stage in a theater it aims to present the animal - the performer - in the most ideal way. This project focuses on environments inside of terrariums, cages, and outdoor and indoor spaces. Photographs of these installations introduce new roles of a landscape and point out traditional anthropocentric understanding of nature in relation to the need of order and aesthetics. It is apparent from these photographs that environments found in zoological gardens do not only result from the natural living needs of the animals but also from the aesthetic requirements of humans. These two dimensional photo-translations of the landscape installations reveal visual references to landscapes known through the cultural history. The project shows a significant role of an image in understanding and creating a landscape. This is even more true in the environment of a zoological garden, which accumulates surreal scenic formations created by human beings. The exact record of these landscape installations maps out aesthetic intentions reflected in the landscapes and their spectacular impact. The project broadens options of interpretation of a photographic image of landscapes and understanding the term landscape in general."

[via: http://www.designboom.com/art/jakub-skokan-artificially-constructed-zoo-landscapes-04-21-2014/ via @annegalloway]
animals  zoos  landscape  2012  jakubskokan  martintuma  biotopes  photography  posthumanism 
april 2014 by robertogreco
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