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robertogreco : nicholasdemonchaux   6

Primer Stories
"Primer Stories, together with our studio arm, Primer &Co is a digital storytelling concern.

We create visual narratives that integrate text, illustrations, animation, photos, and sound to inform, enlighten, and expand the interactive medium. We are dedicated to highlighting, exploring, and sharing the most interesting and complex ideas in the world, through the power of narrative and visual design.

We believe there is an unmined field in online visuals and narrative that is somewhere between the serious long form piece or white paper and the superficial tweet or listicle. Our own user testing*, as well as independent market research, has shown that data retention increases exponentially when partnered with narrative and rich visual media.

For interested organizations, Primer Stories LLC offers both the possibility of native partnerships as well as custom for-hire digital storytelling through our studio, Primer&Co.

Primer Stories LLC has offices in Seattle and San Francisco. If you’d like to meet up for a coffee to discuss a project, or just to say hi, drop us a line, we’re friendly.

* In a series of user tests, we leveraged the audience from our web magazine, Primer Stories, to see if we could prove that dynamic visuals increase knowledge comprehension and retention. Results between users who view plain text versus illustrated primers showed an increase in knowledge retention of 23%"

[See also:

Dragons of the Alps: Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's Scientific Quest for Evidence, by Anindita Basu Sempere
http://primerstories.com/3/dragons

Spacesuits and Spaceship Earth, by Nicholas de Monchaux
http://www.primerstories.com/2/primer-0023-spacesuit

The New Nationalism, by Douglas Rushkoff
http://www.primerstories.com/4/nationalism

Ultimate Dissent: Self-Immolation in the Global Village, by Rob Walker
http://www.primerstories.com/2/self-immolation

The Inventive Solipsism of Mondegreens, by Laura Goode
http://www.primerstories.com/3/mondegreen

Crepuscule with Socrates, by Matthew Glaser
http://www.primerstories.com/3/socrates

You Are Here, a visual investigation of the life and (spoilers) death of the universe
http://www.primerstories.com/3/cosmictimeline ]

[via
https://twitter.com/anindita/status/1012780745537048586
https://twitter.com/PrimerStories/status/1012775219839361024 ]
stories  storytelling  digital  webdesign  books  bookfuturism  classideas  lauragoode  aninditabasusempere  nicholasdemonchaux  douglasrushkoff  robwalker  matthewglaser 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Local Code : San Francisco - Nicholas de Monchaux
"In a world ever-more mediated by data about place, Local Code : Real Estates is a project that seeks to identify and engage legally and socially abandoned urban sites, transforming undocumented, and marginal conditions through emergent, digitally mediated methods into a social, and ecological resource. It takes as its starting point an instrumental, and unfinished project by Gordon Matta Clark: Fake Estates : Reality Properties.

Between 1971 and 1974, it took Matta-Clark months of sifting through microfiche to locate the fifteen vacant and moribund sites – fragments of New York real estate – that form the work. (Photographs, maps, and property deeds for the sites, collected by Matta-Clark, were assembled by his widow, Jane Crawford, into exhibitable artworks after 1980.)

Today, using a Geographic Information System, or GIS, the same search can be accomplished in minutes, and locates thousands of marginal, city-owned vacant lots throughout the five boroughs of New York. When Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates were first presented together in 1992, the mere fact of their documentation, was cause for attention. Today, however, Fake Estates may be essential in considering how we might respond to a revolution that has occurred since that time, in the information architecture of the city.

This is especially true since New York is, at least in this regard, far from unique. Analysis of other North American cities shows a similar pattern of urban vacancy; thousands of remnant parcels, and hundreds of acres of fallow
public land."
sanfrancisco  nicholasdemonchaux  gordonmatta-clark  realestate  nyc  gis  unfinished  matta-clark 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Apple and Star Wars together explain why much of the world around you looks the way it does - Quartz
"One of the most effective critiques of the totalizing approach to urban design—the Darth-design of cities, if you will—was architecture critic, activist, and theorist Jane Jacobs. Towards the end of her bestselling 1962 critique of mid-century urban design, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs recounts the number and diversity of the neighbors in the building where she worked. She reports:
“The floor of the building in which this book is being written is occupied also by a health club with a gym, a firm of ecclesiastical decorators, an insurgent Democratic party reform club, a Liberal party political club, a music society, an accordionists’ association, a retired importer who sells maté by mail, a man who sells paper and who also takes care of shipping the maté, a dental laboratory, a studio for watercolor lessons, and a maker of costume jewelry. Among the tenants who were here and gone shortly before I came in, were a man who rented out tuxedos, a union local and a Haitian dance troupe. There is no place for the likes of us in new construction. And the last thing we need is new construction.”

And added, in a forceful footnote: “No, the last thing we need is some paternalist weighing whether we are sufficiently noncontroversial to be admitted to subsidized quarters in a Utopian dream city.”

That there is little room for controversy or discord in the Death Star—amongst its legion of same-suited stormtroopers, say—may go without saying. But what of Apple?

It is clear, first of all, that the company’s success—for all the apparent imperiousness of Jobs—relied, and likely relies still, on discussion, disagreement, and diversity. Jobs himself was famously a stickler for regular “no-holds-barred” meetings in which, while his own leadership had to remain unchallenged, no other presumptions or suppositions were sacred. (Pixar’s irrepressible Alvy Ray Smith would be one of the only employees to challenge Jobs’ control of a whiteboard, part of a duel with Jobs in which dry-erase markers, presumably, stood in for sabers.)

Like the products themselves, however, Apple’s core identity relies on keeping disagreement and discord behind a tightly controlled façade. And sometimes even a tightly controlled interior; one of Jobs’ least successful management interventions on his return to Apple was a short-lived attempt to have all his many thousand employees wear the same, black, custom Issey Miyake clothing. To Jobs’ credit, he quickly withdrew the proposal—but it lived on in the many hundred black turtlenecks Miyake crafted for Jobs’ own, resulting use.

No, if there is something disturbing in the design of Apple’s own apparent Death Star, it is not so much in the company’s clearly successful internal operations, nor in its beautifully singular product range. Rather, it lies in the runaway result of this success; the way in which so many of our interactions with the world, and with each other, are now filtered through the efforts of a single, well-designed and Apple-authored interface.

And beyond well-intentioned, we might even say essential. Particularly given the disorder and predictable unpredictability of complex technological systems, we all crave, and need order. The first Star Wars shoot was so plagued with technical difficulties (and the related derision of the unionized British workforce on the Pinewood Studio lot) that more than one cast member observed that George Lucas appeared far more sympathetic to the authority and order of the Empire than the ragtag Rebel Alliance. Apple has thrived above all in the last two decades by offering the particular beauty that lies in order, organization, and simplicity, and in the predictable delight that results when something technical, unexpectedly, just works."



"We might start inside. A recent profile of Sir Jony Ive in the New Yorker by Ian Parker, “The Shape of Things to Come,” shifts seamlessly from the discussion of consumer objects to that of architecture. Ive, it is suggested, sees himself as an architect too. He finds it, he says, “a curious thing” that in design “we tend to compartmentalize, based on physical scale.” He is reported to assert that he has (in Parker’s words) “taught Foster’s architects something about the geometry of corners,” introducing a seamless, curved detail between wall and floor that now runs throughout the building’s interior.
Yet this detail, and its future life, points to what is in fact one of the main differences between design at the scale of consumer electronics, and that at the scale of architecture and the city.

Apple’s great success as a consumer-focused company is rooted in the one power a consumer has above all: choice. Apple’s products are ubiquitous, above all, because they are far better than what they compete with, a quality that comes precisely from the tight control that Apple exerts on them and their design. But, at the point we don’t like our device, we can—and will—buy a different and better one—from Apple, or from some as-yet-unimaginable competitor.

Yet it is in the nature of architecture that it offers no such choice—the more so the bigger it gets. We can, if we are lucky, sell a house we don’t like. But we can’t sell or dispose of the terrible building across the road. And architecture involves many more people than those who design it, or even pay for it. Myself, I keep thinking of the cleaning staff of the new Apple headquarters; it is for these people, above all, that the usual, clunky detail of wall-meeting-floor exists, with a skirting board to hide the edge of the floor-wax, and catch and disguise the dirt that escapes the polishers. One hopes a special, super-functional polishing device has been designed for them, that will seamlessly clean and feather the floor-wax as it slowly curves into the wall—but one fears that it has not. One thinks as well of Apple’s desk-bound employees, who, so as to preserve the clean lines of the building’s exterior, will not be able to open windows in their offices—despite the Bay Area’s preposterously perfect climate. (“That would just allow people to screw things up,” Jobs apparently declared.)

But here is where the design of products and buildings is most different. The particular conundrum solved by the best teams of architects and city-builders (including all of us as citizens) is how to balance a whole set of competing demands, physical, environmental, and social, against each other—including the demands of the powerful against the needs, and rights, of the powerless.

As we attempt to design 21st-century cities for an increasing landscape of uncertainty, this is an important lesson to remember. Instead of single, grand projects, the staying-power of a city depends on a million connections between its inhabitants, and the natural and technological systems that sustain them. Cities designed tabula rasa, as Jane Jacobs cogently characterized it a generation ago, lack this robust resilience. Instead, their monumental visions of order turn out to hide brittleness, fragility, and frequent catastrophe. Even the most seemingly ordered long-lived city-grid—Manhattan, Barcelona, even San Francisco—simply allows us to better negotiate what is, in reality, a riot of real-world diversity.

It is in this light, perhaps, that one might also examine Apple’s greatest points of corporate difficulty: the interface between the company’s tightly designed and integrated products, and the public software ecosystems it has developed in service of them, the App Store and the Mac App Store. To this architect, these places read a bit like a modernist cityscape; beautiful, elegant, even nice to visit—but very difficult to live in. Like such cities they are also—at least in the case of the Mac App Store—increasingly abandoned, as is usual, by those who can afford to leave.

And yet it is not really Apple that is entirely to blame. The revolution in architecture today—one where the world of screens and devices and the common infrastructure of our cities merge, overlap and combine—is much larger than even the enormous, careful company.

In an awkwardly received, hauntingly prescient diatribe while presenting the Oscar for Best Director in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola declared, “We’re on the eve of something that’s going to make the Industrial Revolution look like a small out-of-town tryout.” What Coppola saw was our world today: “a communications revolution that’s about movies and art and music and digital electronics and satellites, but above all, human talent.”

Steve Jobs’ Apple set out to help create this world—and has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams of the future. George Lucas hired Pixar’s founders, originally, to use technology to make the production of culture easier for himself and a cadre of directors. But Lucas’s digital editing system was quickly eclipsed by Apple’s own, far cheaper, Final Cut Pro—and then, of course, by the iPhones that put high-quality filmmaking and editing into all of our hands. In this, and much else, Apple has helped author a world much like that of Lucas’s far-off galaxy; where all of us are connected, and can tap into vast reserves of invisible power through the device we hold in our hands.

But as Apple’s reach extends into the city and world, into the public sphere as well as the private screen, we should do well to remember these hard-learned lessons of control and openness, hardness and softness, brittleness and resilience. After all, the only thing one can say for certain about a Death Star is that it unexpectedly explodes right before the ending."
apple  starwars  georgelucas  architecture  cities  design  stevejobs  nicholasdemonchaux  history  siliconvalley  filmmaking  urbanism  urbanplanning  control  predicatability  fragility  resilience  unpredicatability  hackers  hackability  jonyive  janejacobs  discussion  disagreement  friction  discord  serendipity  authority  cupertino  pixar  canon  openness  hardness  softness  brittleness  isolation  uncertainty 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Nicholas de Monchaux: Local Code : Real Estates --------------------------------------------
[now here: http://demonchaux.com/Local-Code-San-Francisco ]

"Proposal Location : Major US Cities with city-owned abandoned lots, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC. Case study developed for San Francisco.

Local Code : Real Estates uses geospatial analysis to identify thousands of publicly owned abandoned sites in major US cities, imagining this distributed, vacant landscape as a new urban system. Using parametric design, a landscape proposal for each site is tailored to local conditions, optimizing thermal and hydrological performance to enhance the whole city’s ecology—and relieving burdens on existing infrastructure. Local Code’s quantifiable effects on energy usage and stormwater remediation eradicate the need for more expensive, yet invisible, sewer and electrical upgrades. In addition, the project uses citizen participation to conceive a new, more public infrastructure as well —a robust network of urban greenways with tangible benefits to the health and safety of every citizen."

[See also:
http://demonchaux.com/Local-Code-Los-Angeles
http://demonchaux.com/Local-Code-at-SFMOMA
http://demonchaux.com/Local-Code-Venice-Ecology-of-Strangers
http://demonchaux.com/Local-Code-at-the-Biennial-of-the-Americas ]
landscape  health  interstitialspaces  space  spacesbetweenplaces  digitalmapping  publicland  remnantparcels  mapping  maps  digitalhumanities  matta-clark  greenways  wastedspaces  urbanism  urban  sanfrancisco  washingtondc  chicago  localcode  abandonedlots  losangeles  nyc  cities  nicholasdemonchaux  dc  interstitial  gordonmatta-clark 
november 2012 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Spacesuit: An Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux
"I was looking for a way to discuss the essential lessons of complexity and emergence—which, even in 2003, were pretty unfamiliar words in the context of design—and I hit upon this research on the spacesuit as the one thing I’d done that could encapsulate the potential lessons of those ideas, both for scientists and for designers. The book really was a melding of these two things."

"But then the actual spacesuit—this 21-layered messy assemblage made by a bra company, using hand-stitched couture techniques—is kind of an anti-hero. It’s much more embarrassing, of course—it’s made by people who make women’s underwear—but, then, it’s also much more urbane. It’s a complex, multilayered assemblage that actually recapitulates the messy logic of our own bodies, rather than present us with the singular ideal of a cyborg or the hard, one-piece, military-industrial suits against which the Playtex suit was always competing.

The spacesuit, in the end, is an object that crystallizes a lot of ideas about who we are and what the nature of the human body may be—but, then, crucially, it’s also an object in which many centuries of ideas about the relationship of our bodies to technology are reflected."

"The same individuals and organizations who were presuming to engineer the internal climate of the body and create the figure of the cyborg were the same institutions who, in the same context of the 1960s, were proposing major efforts in climate-modification.

Embedded in both of those ideas is the notion that we can reduce a complex, emergent system—whether it’s the body or the planet or something closer to the scale of the city—to a series of cybernetically inflected inputs, outputs, and controls. As Edward Teller remarked in the context of his own climate-engineering proposals, “to give the earth a thermostat.”"

"most attempts to cybernetically optimize urban systems were spectacular failures, from which very few lessons seem to have been learned"

"architecture can be informed by technology and, at the same time, avoid what I view as the dead-end of an algorithmically inflected formalism from which many of the, to my mind, less convincing examples of contemporary practice have emerged"

"connections…between the early writing of Jane Jacobs…and the early research done in the 1950s and 60s on complexity and emergence under the aegis of the Rockefeller Foundation"

"Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt—who have gone a long way in showing that, not only should cities be viewed through the analogical lens of complex natural systems, but, in fact, some of the mathematics—in particular, to do with scaling laws, the consumption of resources, and the production of innovation by cities—proves itself far more susceptible to analyses that have come out of biology than, say, conventional economics."
militaryindustrialcomplex  tools  cad  gis  luisbettencourt  janejacobs  meatropolis  manhattan  meat  property  fakestates  alancolquhoun  lizdiller  cyberneticurbanism  glenswanson  parametricarchitecture  parametricurbanism  interstitialspaces  urbanism  urban  bernardshriever  simonramo  neilsheehan  jayforrester  housing  hud  huberthumphrey  vitruvius  naca  smartcities  nyc  joeflood  husseinchalayan  cushicle  michaelwebb  spacerace  buildings  scuba  diving  1960s  fantasticvoyage  adromedastrain  quarantine  systemsthinking  matta-clark  edwardteller  climatecontrol  earth  exploration  spacetravel  terraforming  humanbody  bodies  cyborgs  travel  mongolfier  wileypost  management  planning  robertmoses  cybernetics  materials  fabric  2003  stewartbrand  jamescrick  apollo  complexitytheory  complexity  studioone  geoffreywest  cities  research  clothing  glvo  wearables  christiandior  playtex  interviews  technology  history  design  science  fashion  nasa  books  spacesuits  architecture  space  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  2012  nicholasdemonchaux  wearable  elizabethdiller  interstitial  bod 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Spirit of the Spacesuit - NYTimes.com ["The success of this “soft” approach — ad hoc, individualistic, pragmatic — should be a lesson to us."]
"Props and costumes mattered in this theater of war. That NASA’s equipment should be painted white, and feature no military shields or corporate brands but only “USA,” “NASA” and the flag, was a deliberate decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Yet American rockets were nevertheless cobbled together from instruments of war, their craftsmen drawn from the same network of systems engineers that was devised to manage the arms race and its doomsday scenarios. Our first astronauts went to space hunched into an improvised capsule atop ICBM’s, squatting in place of warheads. The brilliance with which the resulting achievements shone was — like a diamond’s — the result of terrible pressure. We should be glad that this era is past.

But if the dazzling image of midcentury spaceflight obscures its dark origins, close scrutiny of the Apollo spacesuit reveals a different and more robust approach to innovation — one that should inspire us at this uncertain moment in space exploration."
space  spacerace  history  war  2011  ingenuity  nicholasdemonchaux  via:javierarbona  spaceexploration  spacesuits  spaceflight  coldwar  adhoc  innovation  nasa  us  bureaucracy  militaryindustrialcomplex  possibility  optimism  dwightdeisenhower 
july 2011 by robertogreco

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