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Claire Bishop on PALACE IN PLUNDERLAND - Artforum International
"The construction of yet another enormous venue for culture feels like the harbinger of a horrible new world in which all public services are drained of resources but every High Net Worth Individual can evade taxes by pouring a fraction of their profits into a cultural project that enhances their social status. The über-wealthy once gave a percentage of their riches to the church; today they give them to flexible and adaptable visual art/performance spaces."



"A Schema for a School is one thing; the more radical proposition would be a cultural institution that includes within its architecture crucial services like a public school, day care, or a branch of the New York Public Library."
charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  publicgood  inequality  wealth  2018  via:shannon_mattern  clairebishop  arts  architecture  taxevasion  democracy  oligarchy  capitalism  influence  power  museums  control 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Maintenance — Cultural Anthropology
"Designed worlds are produced and maintained by human labor. As such, maintenance labor is a key site through which ethnographers might rethink the design of our own research.

* * *

Living in Ladera Heights
The black Beverly Hills
Domesticated paradise
Palm trees and pools
The water’s blue
Swallow a pill
Keepin’ it surreal

—Frank Ocean

In “Sweet Life,” the artist Frank Ocean sings of the affluent Los Angeles black enclave of Ladera Heights. He describes life for the city’s young middle-class black inhabitants as insulated and undisturbed: the sweet life.

A meter shift in Ocean’s vocals and music encroaches on the fiction of this “domesticated paradise.” The veneer of an unblemished pool and of svelte skirted Mexican palms is undone by the song’s chorus: “You’ve had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born.” Ocean’s analysis of a black middle-class subject works to make visible immigrant maintenance labor.

In Ramiro Gomez’s acclaimed series of artworks Happy Hills, the serenity of affluent West Los Angeles is similarly recast by making visible the unmarked labor of Latina and Latino immigrant laborers. Gomez, who worked as a nanny, plants life-sized cardboard cutouts of gardeners on the sidewalk hedges of Beverly Hills mansions and inserts domestic workers into the immaculate kitchens shown in the pages of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens.

Gomez and Ocean make palpable the relationship across Los Angeles’s suburbs between affluent and working-class, leisured and laboring subjects. In their works, disparate social and material worlds overlap by making explicit the maintenance labor performed by workers who are themselves alienated from the very places they enrich.

* * *

How is maintenance work, which is to say life-creating and time-freeing labor (such as the domestic and gardening labor of Latina and Latino immigrant workers), a site from which to theorize ethnography and design?

Maintenance, as Ocean and Gomez highlight, is the work of fiction. It is the repeated labor that creates a neat story about the way things naturally appear to be. Ethnography—as the practice of approaching material reality—is itself a practice of repetition, from repeated travels to the field and reconsulting with field notes to the writing and rewriting of a supposed reality. Maintenance labor, like ethnographic narratives, produce an image of the way things supposedly are by erasing the trace of its constant reworking; that is to say, it makes invisible the labor necessary for its construction. In the case of maintenance work, as Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (2014) argues, labor is made invisible through its gendering and racialization. In the case of ethnography, on the other hand, the author works to remove their labor from the frame so as to represent an unvarnished texture of cultural difference. Or, as Kamala Visweswaran (1994, 1) puts it, the supposed division between fiction and ethnography “breaks down if we consider that ethnography, like fiction, constructs existing or possible worlds, all the while retaining the idea of an alternate ‘made’ world.”

Maintenance, for gardeners and domestic workers, involves the constant reworking of a lawn or the repeated wiping down of a kitchen counter—week after week, sometimes day after day. Conceiving of maintenance as the material accumulation of labor, resulting in well-fed plants or well-fed children, echoes what Keith Murphy and George Marcus (2013, 258) identify as “the complex processes” that designers and ethnographers undertake, which are “almost entirely obscured by the form of their products.” For maintenance, as for design and ethnography, the final products “receive most of the attention from those who consume them” (Murphy and Marcus 2013, 258). Yet there is a surplus contained in the seemingly invisible labor of maintenance.

For Latina and Latino immigrant gardeners, maintenance also means mantenimiento, a practice of organizing days into routes (rutas) and labor sites into divisions of labor shaped by differences in legal status, ethnicity, age, and ability between gardening company owners and their ayudantes or peónes (hired helpers). Mantenimiento reveals a practice of working around the designs of affluent gated neighborhoods, congested Southern California highways, imperatives of state exclusion, and the demands of homeowners and their plants. Mantenimiento challenges the naturalization of racialized and gendered labor, which forecloses the possibility of certain subjects being represented and casts laborers’ repeated reworkings as exacting and skilled labor.

Maintenance is the constant repetition of life-creating labor. As Kalindi Vora (2015) notes, reproductive and affective labor also contains traces of workers’ life activity that, although alienated from the laborers’ social world in order to enrich the lives of others, may retain a collection of stories and affective connections that happen in the service of others’ needs and that, for gardeners and domestic workers, occur in homes designed for others. Sometimes laborers take in excess of the demands of their labor, whether this occurs in the form of a gardener taking a botón of a succulent to reshape the landscape of their own or a domestic worker building a bond with an employer’s child; mantenimiento is attuned to the life that occurs in places where it is said not to exist.

* * *

My interest in maintenance as a concept that raises questions about ethnography and design arises from my experiences as a gardener and longtime manager of a small gardening company in Orange County. As a researcher, the parallels between my own repeated practices of maintenance labor and the repeated practices I employ in representing gardening laborers’ sociality are tethered to laborers’ careful design of their labor and lives."
maintenance  salvadorzárate  ethnography  design  anthropology  2018  via:shannon_mattern  labor  work  domesticworkers  gardening  gardeners  latinos  us  california  frankocean  laderaheights  losangeles  beverlyhills  westlosangeles  fiction  spanish  español  kalindivora  kamalavisweswaran  keithmurphy  georgemarcus  pierrettehondahneu-sotelo  socal 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Arte programmata - YouTube
"Archivio Nazionale del Cinema d'Impresa
di Enzo Monachesi
1963

Il documentario illustra la mostra "Arte programmata" allestita dalla Olivetti nel negozio Olivetti di Milano in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele che fu organizzata da Giorgio Soavi e Bruno Munari nel 1962. Le opere d'arte esposte, in prevalenza sculture, sono concepite per poter essere trasformate dai rumori provenienti dall'ambiente circostante e dall'interazione fra il visitatore e l'opera stessa."
brunomunari  1962  olivetti  giorgiosoavi  enzomonachesi  via:shannon_mattern 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Alessandro Colizzi: Bruno Munari and the Invention of Modern Graphic Design in Italy, 1928-1945 (2011) — Monoskop Log
[See also: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/17647

"This study examines Bruno Munari’s work as a graphic designer from the late 1920s to mid-1940s, with the aim of understanding the emergence and characteristics of the modernist trend in Italian graphic design. Taking shape in Milan, an original ‘design culture’ eclectically brought together two quite different strains of Modernity: a local tradition represented by the Futurist avant-garde, and a European tradition associated with Constructivism. Munari (1907–1998) worked simultaneously as painter and as advertising designer. Concentrating on Munari’s stylistic development, the study seeks to explore the interaction between the Futurist visual vocabulary and conceptions coming from architecture, photography, abstract painting, and functionalist typography that trickled in from central and northern Europe. The discussion positions the designer in his time and place, concentrating as much on the artefacts as on the broader cultural framework. Secondly, the study attempts to assess Munari’s reputation against a body of exemplary work, based on firsthand documentation. It is the first extensive, detailed record of Munari’s graphic design output, and as such provides a substantial base for a full understanding of his œuvre."]
brunomunari  via:shannon_mattern  alessandrocolizzi  2011 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Data USA
"In 2014, Deloitte, Datawheel, and Cesar Hidalgo, Professor at the MIT Media Lab and Director of MacroConnections, came together to embark on an ambitious journey -- to understand and visualize the critical issues facing the United States in areas like jobs, skills and education across industry and geography. And, to use this knowledge to inform decision making among executives, policymakers and citizens.

Our team, comprised of economists, data scientists, designers, researchers and business executives, worked for over a year with input from policymakers, government officials and everyday citizens to develop Data USA, the most comprehensive website and visualization engine of public US Government data. Data USA tells millions of stories about America. Through advanced data analytics and visualization, it tells stories about: places in America—towns, cities and states; occupations, from teachers to welders to web developers; industries--where they are thriving, where they are declining and their interconnectedness to each other; and education and skills, from where is the best place to live if you’re a computer science major to the key skills needed to be an accountant.

Data USA puts public US Government data in your hands. Instead of searching through multiple data sources that are often incomplete and difficult to access, you can simply point to Data USA to answer your questions. Data USA provides an open, easy-to-use platform that turns data into knowledge. It allows millions of people to conduct their own analyses and create their own stories about America – its people, places, industries, skill sets and educational institutions. Ultimately, accelerating society’s ability to learn and better understand itself.

How can Data USA be useful? If you are an executive, it can help you better understand your customers and talent pool. It can inform decisions on where to open or relocate your business or plant. You may also want to build on the Data USA platform using the API and integrate additional data. If you are a recent college graduate, Data USA can help you find locations with the greatest opportunities for the job you want and the major you have. If you are a policymaker, Data USA can be a powerful input to economic and workforce development programs. Or, you may be a public health professional and want to dive into behavioral disease patterns across the country. These are just a few examples of how an open data platform like Data USA can benefit everyday citizens, business and government.

About Deloitte
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of DTTL and its member firms. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

About Macro Connections
The Macro Connections group focuses on the development of analytical tools that can help improve our understanding of the world's macro structures in all of their complexity. By developing methods to analyze and represent networks—such as the networks connecting countries to the products they export, or historical characters to their peers—Macro Connections research aims to help improve our understanding of the world by putting together the pieces that our scientific disciplines have helped to pull apart. Click here to learn more.

About Datawheel
Datawheel is a small but mighty crew of programmers and designers with a passion for crafting data into predictive, decision-making, and storytelling tools. Every visualization platform they build is a tailored solution that marries the needs of users and the data supporting it. Click here to learn more.

About the Visualizations
The visualizations in Data USA are powered by D3plus, an open-source visualization engine that was created by members of the Datawheel team."
us  data  visualization  via:shannon_mattern  analytics  opendata  bigdata  datausa 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Against Infographics - Art Journal Open
"When design is excellent, graphics reveal data, writes the infographics guru Edward Tufte.1 Good information graphics allow the reader to see relationships not apparent in data without visual form. In principle, such graphics do not impose interpretations but, by showing relationships, make interpretations possible. In Tufte’s oft-quoted phrase: “Good design is clear thinking made visual.”2 Things become considerably more difficult, however, if, pace Tufte, your analytic goal is to complicate rather than to simplify, to open multiple avenues of inquiry, and, most important, to challenge the stability of underlying data, in fact or in principle.

All of these complexities are probed intensely in Depictions, an ongoing print series by the Dutch artist Gert Jan Kocken (b. 1971). Depictions consists of room-size maps of European cities during the Second World War—Rome, Vienna, Munich, and Berlin along the north-south axis of fascism; London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Łódź, Warsaw, and Stalingrad along the east-west corridor of conflict—each built up in layers from dozens of source maps unearthed in archives. Kocken’s three-by-four meter Depictions of Berlin, 1933–1945 (2010), for example, is constructed from 104 historical maps, which the artist scanned, georectified, layered into a single digital image, and rendered as a C-print. The resulting composite is a welter of information representing the breakneck change, contradictory claims, and massive data production of the Second World War.

Visually, Kocken’s Depictions are both familiar and strange. Anyone who knows Berlin, particularly the internal borders drawn in 1945 and ossified in the Berlin Wall that remain central to the city’s identity, will easily recognize the terrain of Depictions of Berlin. But other cartographic ghosts visible in the work are invisible on the ground. In Kocken’s map, along with the outlines of the wall, we see the process of ethnic cleansing as registered in contemporary reports, the footprint of Germania, the megacity with which Hitler intended to replace Berlin, and the view from Allied bombers. At once, the Depictions series draws on the data-rich tradition of monumental history painting, as seen, for example, in Albrecht Altdorfer’s The Battle of Alexander at Issus (1529), and on the defocalizing, allover paintings of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and other artists working in the 1940s and 1950s. Kocken’s Depictions are simultaneously narrative and aleatory."



"For infographic purposes, there are a number of more obvious ways to deal with historical maps than Kocken’s approach. In the first place, we have the computer interface. Clearly, this is a resource available to Kocken, as his maps all pass through digital mediation on their way to their final printed form. One can easily imagine, for example, a mapping application that allows users to pick and choose among the 104 maps that constitute Kocken’s Depictions of Berlin, selecting display options such as color, opacity, and so forth. And, indeed, many such engines exist. Moreover, with the right approach, even Kocken’s print artifact could be rendered more legible. Kocken chose a different angle, allowing competing stories to conflict visually as well as epistemologically. In places, this conflict produces illegibility not unlike what we find in the dark regions of the Ypres map; in other places, coherences and transparencies are themselves a surprise.

In an age of infographics, we tend to forget that infographics age and the foreignness of old graphics matters to our understanding of them. Kocken’s Depictions show us that information graphics are always historical and conveying their opacity is as much a part of the historical project as is translating them into a contemporary visual language."
via:shannon_mattern  ambiguity  cartography  epistemology  complexity  art  maps  mapping  gertjankocken  danielrosenberg  2016  edwardtufte  visualization  infographics  berlin  amsterdam  rotterdam 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Reinventing the Library - The New York Times
"Plato, in the “Timaeus,” says that when one of the wisest men of Greece, the statesman Solon, visited Egypt, he was told by an old priest that the Greeks were like mere children because they possessed no truly ancient traditions or notions “gray with time.” In Egypt, the priest continued proudly, “there is nothing great or beautiful or remarkable that is done here, or in your country, or in any other land that has not been long since put into writing and preserved in our temples.”

Such colossal ambition coalesced under the Ptolemaic dynasty. In the third century B.C., more than half a century after Plato wrote his dialogues, the kings ordered that every book in the known world be collected and placed in the great library they had founded in Alexandria. Hardly anything is known of it except its fame: neither its site (it was perhaps a section of the House of the Muses) nor how it was used, nor even how it came to its end. Yet, as one of history’s most distinguished ghosts, the Library of Alexandria became the archetype of all libraries.

Libraries come in countless shapes and sizes. They can be like the Library of Congress or as modest as that of the children’s concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the older girls were in charge of eight volumes that had to be hidden every night so that the Nazi guards wouldn’t confiscate them. They can be built from books found in the garbage, like the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., set up in 1980 by the 24-year-old Aaron Lansky from volumes discarded by the younger generations who no longer spoke the tongue of their elders, or they can be catalogued in the mind of their exiled readers, in the hope of resurrection, like the libraries plundered by the Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories of Palestine. It is in the nature of libraries to adapt to changing circumstances and threats, and all libraries exist in constant danger of being destroyed by war, vermin, fire, water or the idiocies of bureaucracy.

But today, the principal danger facing libraries comes not from threats like these but from ill-considered changes that may cause libraries to lose their defining triple role: as preservers of the memory of our society, as providers of the accounts of our experience and the tools to navigate them — and as symbols of our identity.

Since the time of Alexandria, libraries have held a symbolic function. For the Ptolemaic kings, the library was an emblem of their power; eventually it became the encompassing symbol of an entire society, a numinous place where readers could learn the art of attention which, Hannah Arendt argued, is a definition of culture. But since the mid-20th century, libraries no longer seem to carry this symbolic meaning and, as mere storage rooms of a technology deemed defunct, are not considered worthy of proper preservation and funding.

In most of the Anglo-Saxon world (but not significantly in most Latin American countries) the number of libraries has been decreasing. In Britain, close to 350 libraries have been shut down in the past decade. In Canada, the public libraries of Toronto were threatened with closure by ex-Mayor Robert Ford and saved in extremis thanks to a campaign led by Margaret Atwood. In the United States, while the number of libraries that have disappeared is not remarkably high, public libraries have seen their budgets cut, their stocks culled, their staffs reduced and their opening hours shortened.

But libraries are resilient. Intent on surviving in an age where the intellectual act has lost almost all prestige, libraries have become largely social centers. Most libraries today are used less to borrow books than to seek protection from harsh weather and to find jobs online, and it is admirable that librarians have lent themselves to these very necessary services that don’t traditionally belong to their job description. A new definition of the role of librarians could be drafted by diversifying their mandate, but such restructuring must also ensure that the librarians’ primary purpose is not forgotten: to guide readers to their books.

Libraries have always been more than a place where readers come to read. The librarians of Alexandria no doubt collected things other than books: maps, art, instruments, and readers probably came there not only to consult books but also to attend public lectures, converse with one another, teach and learn. And yet the library remained principally a place where books, in all their various forms, were stored for consultation and preservation of “ancient traditions or notions ‘gray with time’.” Other institutions fulfilled other complementary tasks necessary in a civilized society: hospitals, philanthropic associations, guilds.

Librarians today are forced to take on a variety of functions that their society is too miserly or contemptuous to fulfill, and the use of their scant resources to meet those essential social obligations diminishes their funds for buying new books and other materials. But a library is not a homeless shelter (at the St. Agnes library in New York, I witnessed a librarian explaining to a customer why she could not sleep on the floor), a nursery or a fun fair (the Seneca East Public Library in Attica, Ohio, offers pajama parties), or a prime provider of social support and medical care (which American librarians today nonetheless routinely give).

All these activities are good and useful, and may grant libraries a central role in society once again, but we must be prepared to invest the system with more, not less funds, to allow it to reinvent itself. Librarians are not trained to act as social workers, caregivers, babysitters or medical advisers. All these extra tasks make it difficult, if not impossible, for librarians to work as librarians: to see that the collections remain coherent, to sift through catalogues, to help readers read, to read themselves. The new duties imposed on them are the obligations of civilized societies toward their citizens, and should not be dumped pell-mell onto the shoulders of librarians. If we change the role of libraries and librarians without preserving the centrality of the book, we risk losing something irretrievable.

Every economic crisis responds, first of all, by cutting funds to culture. But the dismantling of our libraries and changing their nature is not simply a matter of economics. Somewhere in our time, we began to forget what memory — personal and collective — means, and the importance of common symbols that help us understand our society.

If libraries are to be not only repositories of society’s memory and symbols of its identity but the heart of larger social centers, then these changes must be made consciously from an intellectually strong institution that recognizes its exemplary role, and teaches us what books can do: show us our responsibilities toward one another, help us question our values and undermine our prejudices, lend us courage and ingenuity to continue to live together, and give us illuminating words that might allow us to imagine better times. According to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, one of the ancient libraries he saw in Egypt carried above its entrance the words: “Clinic of the Soul.”"
albertomanguel  2015  libraries  archives  books  memory  history  society  diodorussiculus  via:shannon_mattern 
october 2015 by robertogreco
An Interview with James C. Scott - Gastronomica
"Tracey Campbell:

Given that few societies, if any, are now fully independent of the kind of market forces that you have been discussing today, how should ethnographers consider corporations as actors when they’re doing their research? To elaborate a little further, a lot of people studying peasant agriculturists bemoan the presence of a market or corporations who extract value from the peasants, but there doesn’t seem to be any robust methodology for dealing with the corporations on the other side of those transactions so that there’s a corporate perspective on the transaction. It seems to be a sort of “here there be dragons” area of ethnographic research.

JS:

I suppose that would be remedied by the kind of ethnography in which people who either undercover, or with permission, go and do ethnographies of corporations as they’re dealing with them, right? So I would recommend a hero student of mine who’s named Tim Pachirat. He had an idea which was not politically correct for a political scientist; he was interested in what it did to people to kill sentient beings every day all day for a living. And so what he did, although he’s originally of Thai-American background and was going to work in Thailand, he learned Spanish and got himself a job in a slaughterhouse working for a year and a half, including working on the kill floor of the slaughterhouse, and ended up writing an ethnography of vision in the slaughterhouse in a book that I promise you, you cannot put down, it is so gripping. Everybody said that this was a career-ending move as a dissertation, but he wanted to do it and the book is an astounding account of the way in which the clean and dirty sections of a slaughterhouse are kept separate from one another and workers treated differently, and the way the line works. You could only write this ethnography, I think, by actually doing this work. And if he asked permission they never would have given it to him, so he just did it. So, he avoided all of the protocols for the people you’re interviewing, etc., he just ignored it all and did it. To begin with nothing much happened; he spent three months hanging livers in a cold room with another Hispanic worker. I mean, three months just taking a liver that came on a chain and putting it in a box and passing it on. And so he didn’t think that there was a lot of ethnography coming out of the room where he was packing livers, but he gradually worked his way into other parts of the plant. But I wish more people would go into the belly of the beast, either of corporations or supermarkets or institutions. At the end of his book he suggests making slaughterhouses out of glass and allowing schoolchildren to see how their meat’s prepared. I always believed that social science was a progressive profession because it was the powerful who had the most to hide about how the world actually worked and if you could show how the world actually worked it would always have a de-masking and a subversive effect on the powerful. I don’t think that’s quite true, but it seems to me it’s not bad as a point of departure anyway.

HW:

Moving on to the state now, you associate developing technologies of rule historically with ever more exploitative forms of hierarchy, and of course revolutionary states come in for focused critique in your work, as you distinguish between struggles over and through the apparatus of the state and you point out that these struggles have generally been disastrous for peasants and the working poor. But in a globalized world where decisive forms—and here I’m thinking about things like vertically integrated food supply chains—operate at ever greater distances and seem ever less controllable to ordinary people, is there not some role for the state; is resistance possible without engaging the state, without using the state in one way or another?

JS:

It’s hard to see any institutional structure that stands in the way of the homogenization and simplification of these supply chains in international capitalism, unless it is the nation state, right? Unless it is a kind of authoritative state structure. So, “yes.” [laughs] Now, qualifications that will leave little of the “yes” standing. First of all, most states aren’t even remotely democracies and most of the people who run these states by and large do the bidding of their corporate masters and take bribes and are servants of international capitalism, right? So we can’t rely on those states, can we? And then you take contemporary Western democracies, let me use my own country which I know best as an example, yes, you have an electoral system, yes you reelected the first black man president, yes there are some changes. On the other hand, the concentration of wealth has grown steeper and steeper and steeper, it allows lobbyists and people who provide campaign finance to basically control a campaign and its message, these people tend at the sort of high echelons of the corporate world to control most of the media and its messaging—right? These people are also able to sit on the congressional committees and write the loopholes in the legislation. Even when there is reform, they’re able to so influence the wording of the legislation that the loopholes are built in, they don’t have to be found, they’re actually legislated. And so then you get a state that in a neoliberal world is less and less able to be an honest mediator, a representative of popular aspirations, to discipline corporations. I want to leave a little bit of the yes standing, because as the result of the financial crisis there were slightly more stringent rules on bank capitalization, on regulation, on some consumer protection, but I think by and large there is not much in that way. Now, Scandinavian social democracy is a better picture, but North Atlantic, Anglo-American neoliberalism is not providing the kind of state that I think can provide this kind of discipline and regulation. I’m pessimistic."
jamescscott  via:shannon_mattern  epistemology  agriculture  academia  geography  2015  harrywest  celiaplender  interviews  agrarianstudies  southeastasia  anarchism  toread  resistance  vietnam  burma  thailand  timpachirat  ethnography  hierarchy  thestate  goverment  governance  capitalism  socialdemocracy  homogenization 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Smartphones and the Uncertain Future of 'Spatial Thinking' - CityLab
"Your brain is indeed relaxing. In a handful of studies conducted over the last decade in the United States, England, Germany and Japan, researchers have shown that GPS navigation has a generally pernicious effect on the user's ability to remember an environment and reconstruct a route. Toru Ishikawa, a spatial geographer at the University of Tokyo, quantified the difference in a study published earlier this year. Asked to recall various aspects of their surroundings, participants using GPS navigation performed 20 percent worse than their paper-map peers.

As Ishikawa pointed out to me, these findings raise questions beyond urban anthropology. Spatial thinking helps us structure, integrate, and recall ideas. It's less an independent field of study than a foundational skill; a 2006 report from the National Research Council called spatial literacy the "missing link" in the K-12 curriculum at large.

Navigating is among the greatest incubators of that ability. A sophisticated internal map, as a famous study of London cab drivers showed, is tied to greater development in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for spatial memory. In another study, participants with stronger hippocampus development tended to navigate with complex cognitive maps, while those with less developed spatial memory memorized turn-by-turn directions.

Isn't it ironic: the easier it is for me to get where I'm going, the less I remember how I got there. As a conscious consumer of geographic information, should I be rationing my access to navigation tools—the mental equivalent of taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator?"



"It's too early to toll the bell for human navigation. GPS remains a clumsy accessory for a pedestrian, frustrating on a bicycle, and impossible on a motorcycle. There are indications that regular car commuters, too, may be impervious to the commands of the dashboard gods. "In general, the reason there's traffic is that people take the same way even if there's a different route," says Julie Mossler, head of global communications and creative strategy at Waze. Old highways die hard.

It seems that digital maps haven't rid wayfinding of its personal touch; rather, they are just beginning to properly incorporate it. New products in consumer mapping respond to the hegemonic efficiency of tools from Garmin, TomTom, and others. A handful of services cater solely to joggers. Yahoo Labs is attempting to quantify a nice walk based on crowd-sourced impressions of the city. A Dutch cartographer aims to chart the streets you have or haven't traveled. Every few months, it seems, some entrepreneur is embroiled in controversy over a map service showing neighborhoods that the user should avoid. The worldwide map, like the sprawling territory of the Internet itself, is balkanizing into a set of increasingly specialized "maplications."

The casualty of this gradual fine-tuning, I think, is chance. Routes were once conceived in a febrile mix of logic, accident, and instinct. Today's data-driven apps have mastered logic. They have registered road traffic, train delays, and the other accidents of travel. They have also, by explicitly catering to each of our effable desires, rendered human navigational impulse an eccentricity.

It's still possible, of course, to take a walk or go for a drive; to open your mind and let the city deliver, in Walter Benjamin's phrase, its "hints and instructions." The reverie of wandering, on foot or on wheels, can't be calculated by an algorithm or prescribed by an app.

But technology doesn't go away when you don't use it. From now on, an aimless jaunt is marked not only by openness to the stimuli of the physical world, but by the strain of blocking out their virtual counterparts. Contingent on technophobic self-control, wandering has lost its essential ease."
spatialthinking  cartography  mapping  maps  navigation  2014  via:shannon_mattern  gps  smartphones  orientation  wayfinding  walking  googlemaps  driving  cars  publictransit  memory  henrygrabar 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Avidly / How Email Ruined My Life
"It is not surprising that this self-perpetuating mode of interaction comes alongside a proliferation of (self-)assessment and (self-)documentation—talking about what you will, have, or are doing instead of just doing it. Thus the ability to communicate about everything, at all times, seems to have come with the attendant requirements that we accompany every action with a qualitative and quantitative discourse about that action. Inside and in addition to this vast circularity are all those things that one’s job actually entails on a practical, daily basis: all the small questions, all the little tasks that need to be accomplished to make sure a class gets scheduled, a course description is revised, or a grade gets changed. Given how few academic organizations have well-functioning automatic systems that might allow these elements to be managed simply, and that my own university seems especially committed to individually hand-cranking every single gear involved in its operation on an ad hoc basis, most elements of my job mean that emails need to be sent to other people.

Once I send an email, I can do nothing further until someone sends an email back, and thus in a sense, sending that email became a task in itself, a task now completed. More and more it is just a game of hot potato with everyone supposedly moving the task forward by getting it off their desk and onto someone else’s, via email. Every node in this network are themselves fighting to keep up with all their emails, in the back and forth required before anything can actually be done. The irony of the incredible speed of digital mediation is thus that it often results in an intractable slowness in accomplishing simple tasks. (My solution has been to return to the telephone, which easily reduces any 10-email exchange into a 2-minute conversation. Sidenote: I never answer my own phone.)

In case it isn’t already clear, such an onslaught of emails, and the pressure of immediacy exerted sometimes explicitly but mostly by the character of the media, means that we no longer get to leave work (or school, or our friends or our partners). We are always at work, even during time off. The joy of turning on our vacation auto-reply messages is cursory, for even as we cite the “limited access” we will have to email (in, like, Vancouver), we know that we can and will check it. And of course we know that everyone else knows that it’s a lie. Even if we really do take time away from email, making ourselves unavailable (not looking at email, not answering our texts) does not mean email has not been sent to us and is not waiting for us. And we know it, with virtually every fiber of our being. Our practical unavailability does not mitigate our affective understanding that if we ignore email too long, not only will work pile up, but there will be emotional consequences. I can feel the brewing hostility of the email senders: irritated, anxious, angry, disappointed. Even if I start to relax on one level, on another my own anxiety, irritation, and guilt begin to grow. Email doesn’t go away. It’s never over. It’s the fucking digital Babadook, a relentless, reflexive reminder of the unfathomable mass underlying every small transaction of information."
email  toread  via:shannon_mattern  labor  productivity  catherinezimmer 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Redrawing the map | Boston Society of Architects
"Given the proliferation of GPS devices and interactive mapping online, it’s easy to declare the traditional map obsolete. Intuitive turn-by-turn directions have replaced road atlases, Google has upgraded the static map with everything from real-time traffic to restaurant reviews, and Wikipedia has taken the place of the hefty geography textbook. Is there any hope for a cartophile? Will the stand-alone map, lovingly produced and custom designed, be only a niche product for rich collectors and Luddites?

Framing the question that way is misleading because it conflates two separate changes in recent geographic knowledge. One is the shift from paper to the screen. And yes, even though wall maps still have an important size advantage, it is, indeed, difficult to see much future for the traditional coffee table atlas, road map, or topographic quad. But the other shift is much more important, and here the digital realm offers a huge advantage.

The proliferation of new spatial tools — everything from the GPS and GIS (Geographic Information System) to the easy availability of statistical and environmental data sets — is making certain kinds of mapping more relevant and ubiquitous than ever. We are not facing the decline of maps, but a shift from maps as repositories of geographic fact to maps as interpretive, argumentative, and unapologetically partial. Cartographic authorship has changed dramatically as well, since scholarship, design, and craft are now increasingly mingled. Mapping is no longer a specialist pursuit anxious about its scientific credentials; it is instead a powerful form of everyday communication. Whether these new maps appear on paper or online is largely irrelevant."
cartography  data  mapping  maps  2015  via:shannon_mattern  gps  gis  interpretation  partiality  williamrankin 
july 2015 by robertogreco
| gallery 9 | Cohen/Frank/Ippolito - The Unreliable Archivist
"The Archivist window will move to the front when it has finished loading; this should take 2-4 minutes on a 28.8 kb connection. (Mac users: please wait until the status bar indicates a complete download.) Once this page is loaded, there are no other downloads necessary to view the project.

When the Archivist window appears, you will see a Web page assembled from components drawn from different äda'web projects. Clicking on the arrow tab will open a panel with four sliders that allow you to alter this archetypal äda'web page to suite your preferences.

A toggle switch on the slider panel allows you to view the sources of the äda'web components rather than the slider settings. Where these sources are underlined, you may click on them to open the original äda'web page in a third, separate window.

This version of The Unreliable Archivist requires Netscape 4.07+; we hope to have a version compatible with Internet Explorer posted later. If performance seems sluggish, you may want to increase your browser's cache to at least 5 MB. (Mac users may also want to allocate at least 25 MB of RAM to their browser; you can do this when Netscape is closed using the Get Info command from the Finder menu.)"

[See also: http://news.artnet.com/in-brief/olafur-eliasson-launches-online-artwork-doubling-as-archive-89094 ]
via:shannon_mattern  1998  janetcohen  keithfrank  jonippolito  uncertainty  archives  web  internet  online  archiving 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Olafur Eliasson Launches Online Artwork Doubling as Archive
"In conjunction with his current solo exhibition at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (see “Olafur Eliasson Floods Danish Museum with River Installation“), renowned artist Olafur Eliasson has relaunched his homepage, along with an innovative new web-based artwork entitled Your uncertain archive. A WebGL-based dive into Eliasson’s  immense body of work, inspirations, and interests, the piece is evocative of the Internet itself in its sprawling format. The experimental archive has been under construction for over four years, which is evident from both both its intricacy and impeccable, easy design.

Users can browse freely in “Drift” mode, following an ever-growing pool of connections and associations, or pick a specific interest category to explore—choices include topics like “doughnut,” “fivefold symmetry,” and “Ai Weiwei.” Selecting, for example, the doughnut category, reveals all of Eliasson’s sculptures that resemble doughnuts, of which there are seven. The result of this seemingly endless web is an illuminating artwork made of artworks that would take weeks to fully explore.

“I am thrilled that Your uncertain archive is finally open to the world,” the artist said in a statement. “It is a reality-producing machine, built to generate new content through proximity and contact, and a source of great inspiration to me. It is a living archive that expands continuously. Embrace uncertainty!”"

[See also: The Unreliable Archivist
http://www.walkerart.org/archive/8/A773750C8FDB27636164.htm ]
olafureliasson  archives  art  2014  via:shannon_mattern  uncertainty  internet  cv  howwework  personalarchives  design  archiving 
august 2014 by robertogreco
CTheory.net — Dust and Exhaustion: The Labor of Media Materialism, by Jussi Parikka
"This is a text about dust as well as exhaustion: about non-human particles as well as labor. It takes small things like dust as one vector for its argument, and as a vehicle in the manner of which we sometimes think through objects. Dust is, however, not quite an object, not in the intuitive sense that objects are supposed to be easily graspable. It does not fit the hand, even if it covers vast terrains. It is more environmental and better characterized as a milieu. Well, almost a milieu: we rarely count it among things that matter, but what if we did? What if we followed dust as a trajectory for theory -- theory that is concerned with materiality and media? What if dust is one way to do "dirt research": a mode of inquiry that crosses institutions and disciplines, and forces us to think of questions of design as enveloped in a complex ecology of economy, environment, work, and skill. Dirt brings noise, as Ned Rossiter reminds us, and dirt research can be understood "as a transversal mode of knowledge production [that] necessarily encounters conflict of various kinds: geocultural, social, political and epistemological.""



"To conclude, it is in this context of the materiality of labor and dust that we need to talk not only of the soul at work, but of the lungs at work. This essay serves as a reminder of the alternative materialities of technical media culture that tie together issues of political importance with the murky sides of hardware. Bifo's reference to the "cognitariat" -- the class of cognitive, creative, information technology supported smart labor -- as the "semiotic labor flow" includes a wider materiality than any loose reference to a virtual class. For him, the cognitariat involves "the body, sexuality, mortal physicality, the unconscious." This description resonates with Matteo Pasquinelli's call to include both material and darker, libidinal energies in our accounts concerning media cultures and creativity discourses. [58] It is precisely because of this call that any extended understanding of the cultural techniques and technologies of the cognitariat needs to be able to take into account not just souls, but where the breath comes from. This includes both the mental labor that is increasingly invested in high tech communicative work processes that consume mental energies and the lung violated by dust. It also includes chemicals, minerals, and hardware as socio-technical conditions for the existence of information technology culture. In Bifo's words, "life, intelligence, joy, breathing -- humanity is going to be sacrificed in order to pay the metaphysical debt." [59]

The lack of breath, whether from dust particles or from the increase in anxiety disorders and panic attacks, is indicative of the tie between immaterial labor and the material exhaustion of bodies of nature. Le Corbusier's modern fantasy of rationalized, filtered and optimized "exact air" in The Radiant City has proven to be a short-term dream. With a different focus, Peter Sloterdijk identifies the beginning of the twentieth century with a specific event of breathlessness, in the early phases of World War I: "April 22, 1915, when a specially formed German 'gas regiment' launched the first, large-scale operation against French-Canadian troops in the northern Ypres Salient using chlorine gas as their means of combat." [60] Lack of breath, or "atmo-terrorism" (as Sloterdijk calls it), escorts the technological twentieth century into the twenty-first century, where we continuously face the same danger: not only from state terrorism, but from (in)corporate(d) terrorism across industrial and postindustrial production; the twenty-first century as the century of dust, depletion of water resources, desertification, as well as the residues of our modes of production."
jussiparikka  dust  via:shannon_mattern  materiality  2013  francoberardi 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The sound of one ant walking – inside the world of a wildlife audio expert | Radio Times
"Chris Watson, who has worked on Attenborough's Frozen Planet and Life in the Undergrowth, shares a remarkable insight into sound recording, some exclusive clips - and his feelings about music in wildlife shows"



"The only way that Watson was able to capture sound in such detail was thanks to the help of Peng Lee, a man with perhaps the greatest job title in the world – Principal Investigator of Insect Acoustics at the University of Mississippi.

Lee was researching how to record within ants' nests and had made a highly specialised piece of equipment to do so. When Watson told him he was making a programme about ants at the same time, Lee sent over two of his strange, home-made devices.

“They're literally like black box devices with a knitting needle on a wire. But they were actually classified at the time and we had to battle to get clearance to have them exported from US customs.”

Deploying new technology to interesting effect is something Watson has been doing all his recording life. The first step he took on his journey into sound happened back in the 60s, during his early teens, after his parents had bought him a reel-to-reel tape recorder. It involved a kind of aural epiphany, and is something he describes in detail in the Radio 4 documentary The Listeners (available on BBC iPlayer here).

One day he was standing in the family kitchen watching starlings feeding at the bird table in the garden, when he realised he was merely watching; he could hear nothing of the birds' activity.

“I was watching through a large picture window that gave it a large CinemaScope frame. But it was like watching a silent film.”

Realising he could use his new present to rectify this, he attached the tape recorder and microphone to the bird table, pressed record and waited. The results were a revelation.

“I was just amazed at what I heard. This was the sound of another world. A world where we cannot be because our presence would affect it. All this beautiful, exquisite, fascinating detail came out.”"



"Though there may be certain places on Earth you just can't hear, such as volcanos, Watson is one person who has gone further than any in uncovering hidden worlds of sound.

One of his favourite pieces is from another David Attenborough documentary, Frozen Planet. It's the sound of Weddell seals singing under the sea ice.

“It is another world, but it does sound as if it's from outer space, this wailing voice. But because it's recorded under the sea ice, there's no wave action, so it doesn't sound underwater but there are these haunting voices that are absolutely amazing.”'
ants  audio  sound  nature  recording  via:shannon_mattern  2013  chriswatson  davidcrawford  wildlife  insects  soundtracks  soundscapes  penglee  acoustics 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook (3D Maps)
"If you’ve ever visited Hong Kong you will have undoubtably discovered that the city has three distinct, albeit tangled, levels - street level, underground and overground – which can be navigated by pedestrians via a complex network of elevated walkways and underground tunnels that have evolved over the past 50 years. You can literally walk for miles through interconnected shopping malls, office lobbies, train stations, parks and other public/private spaces.

What’s fascinating is that these networks did not develop as the result of some grand master plan but due to the scarcity of usable land and the realisation that the space about the ground floor was just, if not more, valuable. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that these networks are the result of collusion between the government and property developers to drive up traffic to over-priced shopping malls, of which there is probably some truth, but more important is that they facilitate the relatively smooth circulation of people without having to interrupt the movement of cars.

Case in point where I live in Quarry Bay I have to walk up through Tai Koo MTR station, Kornhill Plaza mall and a covered walkway from the top of the building to reach my apartment which protrudes from the side of a mountain. On rainy days I can walk the whole way to work without going outside.

Until now traditional two-dimensional maps have been woefully inadequate at displaying these dense layers of information but a group of academics and architects have co-authored a book which comprehensively documents these walkways using highly detailed 3D drawings/models. Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook, by Adam Frampton, Jonathan D. Solomon and Clara Wong, provides a totally fresh perspective on Hong Kong and the result is frankly amazing (via Atlantic Cities)."

[See also: http://citieswithoutground.com/ ]
hongkong  via:shannon_mattern  maps  mapping  layering  layers  urban  urbanism  cities  books 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Chattanooga Public Library to pilot three Mozilla-funded community education projects | Library as Incubator Project
"The Chattanooga Public Library is in a unique position to be innovative. On the one hand, having an award-winning and future-focused leadership team makes it possible on a daily basis by creating a vision and a culture that is adaptive and entrepreneurial, like a start-up. But we are also located in a city whose current transformation and tempo encourages innovation in a multitude of ways. Chattanooga, a city with the fastest internet in the western hemisphere, actively seeks and supports start-ups and the risk-taking spirit needed to move our city forward. As the only public library in the country offering free access to high speed broadband, we have quickly become a solid and active community collaborator helping to answer the question:
What in the world do you do with a gigabit network? And perhaps more importantly, how can a gig library in a gig city leverage that network to benefit the community?

To that end, the Mozilla Foundation and the National Science Foundation launched the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund here (and Kansas City) in February to help answer that question and to encourage innovative pilot projects that use the gig as an education or workforce development platform.

As the kick off event’s host venue, it was especially sweet to have the fund’s incredible launch team and partners in our innovation space on the 4th floor including Ben Moskowitz from Mozilla, Bill Wallace from U.S. Ignite, Erwin Gianchandani from the National Science Foundation, Dennis Bega with the U.S. Dept. Of Education, Mark Berman with GENI project, David Wade with EPB and Leah Giliam with Mozilla’s NYC Hive Learning Network. How great that a public library is right in the center of a city’s most promising conversations about its own super-connected future. ​

Today, we couldn’t be prouder to announce that the Chattanooga Public Library is at the center of the fund’s first grant awards, announced this week. Along with several community partners and anchor institutions, the library will be helping pilot three exciting and innovative community education projects that use the awesome power of the city’s gig network:

• Hyperaudio Hyperlocal, a content remixing curriculum that uses locally produced content from partners including the Library, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Public Education Foundation, and the Chattanooga History Center

• Adagio, a collaborative, cloud-based music education app to be piloted with the Library and a local public elementary school

• Viditor, a new online video editor piloting at the Library’s teen center digital and at the art and design classes at Baylor School.

We can’t wait to share the progress with everyone at LAIP as the projects develop. Meanwhile you can read more about the fund and inaugural projects on the Mozilla Blog. It’s going to be a busy summer!"
broadband  infrastructure  libraries  chattanooga  2014  mozilla  via:shannon_mattern 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Sonic Terrain | listening, field recording, environmental sound
"Sonic Terrain is dedicated to field recording: Audio and sound recording not inside the studio environment, but in the outside world around us. We encourage not just hearing the world around you, but to listening to it, and recording it, for reflection, relaxation, art, science, or entertainment.

We don’t draw hard boxes around disciplines or styles, because field recording is used by an incredibly wide array of people and professions: laypeople, sound designers, sound mixers, multi-media artists, musicians, scientists, researchers, acoustic ecology conservationists, and more. Sonic Terrain offers a place for these disciplines to be cross-pollinated, in order to expose everyone to aspects of sound and recording they may not have considered."
fieldrecording  sound  space  methodology  soundscapes  recording  audio  via:shannon_mattern 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Our first digital publication series: Archaeology of the Digital | Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)
"Most of the material displayed in the 2013 exhibition Archaeology of the Digital had a strong physical presence – sketches, printouts, photographs and models – and exposed the fact that many of the digital files were lost or inaccessible. But subsequent phases of this three-year research program— which studies the genesis and establishment of digital tools for the conceptualization, visualization, and production of architecture—have created new challenges on how to display and give access to the twenty-five projects being documented.

Following the release of the print publication accompanying the 2013 exhibition, the question was how the born-digital materials of these projects could be disseminated and their experience enhanced. The decision to develop a new type of electronic publication for Archaeology of the Digital was to highlight the specificity of the digital material and make it as widely accessible as possible. The result is a monthly series of digital monographs on each of the featured projects.

Each monograph includes a conversation between the series editor Greg Lynn and the architect of the featured project, as well as a selection of media that will be published for the first time as digital files, rather than print representations of those files, advancing the boundaries of architectural publishing.

“It features interactive slideshows and videos, a nearly unique innovation in a published reflowable ePub. New issues will continue to advance the boundaries of ePub technology in relation to both its users and producers, a process that parallels the subjects covered by the series,” explain New York-based studio Linked by Air, who designed and developed the series.



Forthcoming publications in the series will include the Expanding Sphere and Iris Dome by Chuck Hoberman, Odawara Municipal Sports Complex and Galaxy Toyama Gymnasium by Shoei Yoh, Lewis House by Frank Gehry, Muscle NSA by ONL (Kas Oosterhuis and Ilona Lénàrd), Hyposurface by deCOI (Mark Goulthorpe), Objectile Panels by Objectile (Bernard Cache), Catastrophe Machine and X Phylum by Karl Chu, Virtual New York Stock Exchange by Asymptote Architects (Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid), H2Oexpo by NOX (Lars Spuybroek), the Yokohama Ferry Terminal by FOA, projects by Neil Denari, UN Studio, RUR/Reiser Umemoto, Wolf Prix, Preston Scott Cohen, Morphosis/Thom Mayne, and more. The series is available on iBooks and can be downloaded directly to your Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

The CCA’s first e-book accompanied the exhibition Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, in collaboration with Lars Müller Publishers – a fixed-layout ePub that replicated the graphic design and narrative structure of the original print publication for tablet reading."
digital  publishing  ebooks  media  mediaarchitecture  archives  archaeology  digitalarchaeology  via:shannon_mattern 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Bustler: “The Space of Poetry” exhibition in Boston examines the built environment of poetry
"Who knew that architecture could let you perceive poetry in a new angle or two. Currently at Boston Architectural College's 951 Boylston Street Building until May 1, "The Space of Poetry" exhibition reveals the intricate ties between the written art form and architectural history, theory, and design — all by Cara Armstrong, a trained architect and poet who works as an educator, writer, and illustrator.

As an exhibition extra, the gallery is inviting everyone to a free talk on April 30 at 5 p.m. We can be sure this won't be like your typical poetry analysis class.

"The exhibition allows us to delve into the space of poetry by bringing it together with architecture history, theory and design, encouraging viewers to look critically at poetic construction and promoting a more evocative understanding of architecture and writing.

By considering poetry as a built environment, Cara reveals spaces, meanings, and relationships in poems that may not be immediately evident to a reader. She draws out connections between images, sounds, and lines. She plays with the cadence and mathematical organization of poetry and draws to make new readings and alignments evident. First, to understand the components (story, structure, music, imagination) of a poem, Cara looks at poet Gregory Orr's Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry."

"Using the lens of architecture and art, she visually considers story, structure, music, and imagination as building blocks. Then, through architectural analysis techniques such as solid/void analysis and diagramming, she translates individual poems into a set of spatial relationships that becomes art in its own right. This allows the work of poets such as John Donne, Jean Valentine, and Jane Mead to converse across time and brings to light similarities in form, structure, and meaning.

Cara draws attention to the silences/pauses in the poems, the places between the voiced lines, which call our minds to the implicit and explicit patterns in and between stanzas. Her insightful drawings and notations blur the boundaries of architecture, poetry, and art to find a transdisciplinary discourse that examines how form, space, and order can be generative and convey meaning, while creating zones of indeterminacy and focus, of repetition and release. The drawings create discontinuities and capture turns of mood and phrase. By holding the words under ink and wash, she gives us a new way of reading."
architecture  space  poetry  2014  caraarmstrong  gregoryorr  via:shannon_mattern 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Bonfire of the Humanities | Mali | OutsideOnline.com
"Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West ­Africa’s most mythic locale."
archives  manuscripts  timbuktu  mali  2014  africa  patricksymmes  ahmedbabainstitute  libraries  culture  via:shannon_mattern 
april 2014 by robertogreco
New director, young guns guiding Chattanooga’s library system through a renaissance | Times Free Press
"Over the last 18 months, Hill has fostered a culture of change and innovation that has affected nearly every aspect of the library, from how its book and film collections are managed to its newfound role as a technical and creative brain trust for the city.

To help realize her vision for a library that could serve a new, expanded role in the digital age, Hill headhunted a group of young, free thinkers from around the nation, individuals whose novel ideas and projects already had made them veritable rock stars of the library world.

They came from all over — Maine, upstate New York, California and Texas — and brought video games, programming tutorials, 3-D printing and even rock music into a space some people still think of in singular terms as a dusty, quiet storehouse of books. In 18 months, they have, in no uncertain terms, turned the decades-old concept of what the library is and the role it can play in Chattanooga on its head...

“I’m now working with this whole system that’s full of people who are approaching it from the same angle that I am, so it feels like the wind is at my back,” says systems administrator Meg Backus, who Hill wooed away in September from the Northern Onondaga Public Library in Cicero, N.Y., where she served as public relations director and programming coordinator.

Backus came to Chattanooga with a history of inventive projects already under her belt, including the LibraryFarm, a half-acre organic community garden on her former library’s property in New York, and a creative maker space she established at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, N.Y.

“I don’t do a lot of public stuff, but it doesn’t feel like I’m behind the scenes or in the background,” she says. “I feel like I’m part of it.”

Backus was Hill’s second hire. She joined Nate Hill, who took over as assistant director for technology and digital initiatives in July 2012. Teen Librarian Justin Hoenke was hired in November 2012, while Youth Service Manager Alei Burns came onboard in April...

The library’s fourth floor languished for years as a storehouse for archives and unused furniture — 14,000 square feet of wasted space. Under the direction of Nate Hill, formerly a web librarian at the San Jose Public Library in California, it has been transformed into a creative laboratory, providing access to cutting-edge “maker” equipment, including a high-resolution flatbed scanner and 3-D printer as well as the library’s gigabit Internet service.

In a Jan. 29 interview with Fox Business’ “Money” program, former mayor Ron Littlefield specifically mentioned the evolution of the library’s 4th Floor — the library’s rebranded moniker for the space — as an example of how Chattanooga is effectively luring technology specialists to the city...

In the last year, the 4th Floor has been the venue for many events, including a computer “hackathon” in June, celebrating the National Day of Civic Hacking, and a Maker Day event in March touting the growing popularity of 3-D printing technology. The latter event attracted 1,200 people and garnered a mention in a June 25 article by Time magazine.

Earlier this week, the 4th Floor was the site of the Gig Tank competition’s demo day, during which teams of specialists pitched proposals for effectively taking advantage of Chattanooga’s high-speed Internet connections....

Since April, Hoenke has hosted teen center events such as a rock concert and a month-long summer computer coding camp. Traditionalists might think such unconventional programming is out of place in the stereotypical quiet libraries that are associated with, but they helped earn Hoenke a spot on Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers feature on March 18.

“I like it when people come in here and say, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know you could do that in a library,’” he says, laughing.

In June, Hoenke spoke about personal branding at the American Library Association’s national conference in Chicago while, at the same event, Backus co-hosted a workshop on turning libraries into communal maker spaces.

Each member of the team has become something of a library celebrity.

Earlier this year, Nate Hill was named to the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators, a three-year program through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of the network, he will participate in an international convention this fall in Rotterdam, Netherlands...

Now that they’ve set the pace, the team members say, they must maintain it. Moving forward, Nate Hill and Backus say they want to forge more relationships with other organizations in the city’s tech sector and to maintain the 4th Floor’s role as a breeding ground for creativity and innovation in Chattanooga.

Burns says she is determined to improve citywide literacy by expanding library programs such as Baby Bounce and Every Child Ready to Read, which will be integrated next month into children’s programming at all library branches to help build foundational reading skills."
libraries  chattanooga  makerspaces  mediaspace  innovation  2013  aleiburns  justinhoenke  megbackus  natehill  corinnehill  via:shannon_mattern 
february 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA’s ‘There Will Never Be Silence,’ About John Cage - NYTimes.com
"Seventy years later, Cage is back at MoMA, the subject of an exhibition that charts the influence of Duchamp and other visual artists on his experiments with chance operations that culminated in his groundbreaking and still-controversial four minutes and 33 seconds of silence....

The final nudge toward Cage’s silent work came from Robert Rauschenberg, whom he met in 1951, while the artist was working on his white paintings. These smooth, monochrome canvases went a step further than Barnett Newman’s “The Voice,” which is also part of the show. That painting is almost entirely white, too, but the variations in brush strokes and a subtly vertical line running down one side like a scar give the viewer’s eye plenty to engage with.

By contrast, Rauschenberg’s white paintings were not articulated in any way, Mr. Platzker said. “Cage recognized that what Rauschenberg had done was remove all the elements of ‘art,’ ” he said. “And that if you put up a painting like that in a room, it’s going to interact with the light and dust particles in the air.”

In August 1952, Cage presented the first of his multimedia Happenings at Black Mountain and used Rauschenberg’s white paintings as a backdrop. (Soon afterward came the premiere of “4’33” ” in Woodstock.)...

The second part of the exhibition looks at the Fluxus movement and traces Cage’s own influence on artists, beginning with those he taught in his course on experimental composition at the New School. MoMA’s collection includes notebooks from that course, photographs of the class itself and pieces directly derived from it by students including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, Dick Higgins and others.

Yoko Ono and La Monte Young provide playful examples of verbal instructions. Ms. Ono’s book “Grapefruit” is open to a page containing “Kitchen Piece,” dating from the winter of 1960. “Hang a canvas on a wall,” she writes. “Throw all the leftovers you have in the kitchen that day on the canvas. You may prepare special food for the piece.”"

[See also: https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2014/01/03/composing-silence-john-cage-and-black-mountain-college-3/ ]
johncage  eventscores  erasure  silence  music  blackmountaincollege  2014  bmc  art  happenings  moma  marcelduchamp  barnettnewman  yokoono  lamonteyoung  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  fluxus 
january 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA | Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College
"In the summer of 1951 at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg began a series of entirely white paintings. (His 1965 instructions for the White Paintings are on view adjacent to the album in the exhibition.) Only a few months prior, Cage was introduced to Rauschenberg at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, initiating a period of close exchange that lasted throughout both artists’ lives. Upon witnessing the development of the White Paintings, Cage was taken aback by the younger artist’s bold abandonment of figuration. He recognized that the White Paintings were not, in fact, devoid of form, but rather served, in his words, as “mirrors of the air” and “airports for the lights, shadows, and particles.” As early as February 1948, Cage introduced the theoretical foundations for 4′33″—to “compose a piece of uninterrupted silence”—during a lecture at Vassar College. However, he claimed that it was not until seeing Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that he had the courage to explore silence within his own work.

In August 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain College and organized Theater Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance considered by many to be the first Happening. The event took place in the college dining hall and included Rauschenberg, Cunningham, and Cage’s frequent collaborator, the young pianist David Tudor, among others. As Kyle Gann described in his book No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4′33″, the audience was seated in four triangular sections, while Cage stood on a ladder at the center. From his elevated position, Cage delivered a lecture as artists, musicians, and dancers moved freely through the space—which featured at least one of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—deflecting attention from any single narrative and complicating the distinction between art and life. Just weeks after the production of Theater Piece No. 1, David Tudor encouraged Cage that the timing was right for Tudor to publicly perform Cage’s “silent” piece during his upcoming program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York.

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ reunites many of the figures and works that influenced Cage between 1948—the year in which he first discussed his idea for 4′33″—and its premiere on August 29, 1952."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/arts/music/momas-there-will-never-be-silence-about-john-cage.html?pagewanted=all ]
johncage  silence  happenings  performance  music  erasure  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2014  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  josefalbers  annialbers 
january 2014 by robertogreco
JSTOR's Hidden Power - Alan Jacobs - The Atlantic
"Most academic journals get started at particular institutions, arising from the interests of a professor or two or three, but, while small numbers of people can edit such journals, the actual publication and distribution of them are more complicated. Eventually some academic presses came to specialize in such work—in America, Oxford University Press and Johns Hopkins University Press are probably the most prominent—and they provide multiple services to journal editors: They not only print and distribute, they also provide a kind of imprimatur, a seal of academic approval from well-regarded presses. To get your journal taken up by Oxford or Johns Hopkins is something of a coup.

It’s easy to see how these powers have been amplified in the digital age—and they’re powers that have had an enormous influence on how academic work gets done, from high-school students to the more elevated reaches of the professoriate. JSTOR (where the Oxford University Press journals, among many others, went) and Project Muse (which was created by Johns Hopkins University Press specifically for its journals) can make a very strong case for the value of their services to everyone in the academic ecosystem.

To the editors of journals, they say: We can get your articles—including long-forgotten ones, decades old—read and used by countless thousands of people who otherwise never would have heard of them.

To libraries, they say: You don't need to devote your staff’s limited time and energy to sifting through thousands of academic journals, trying to figure out which ones to buy access to. Just pay one fee to us—and perhaps to a couple of other equally prestigious services—and we’ll give your community instant access to thousands and thousands of peer-reviewed academic articles the quality of which we solemnly vouch for.

To students, they say: Figuring out what sources to use for your research paper is hard, isn’t it? You never know whether your professor is going to acknowledge a given source as reliable and appropriate, do you? Well, just search our database and use what you find there, and you’ll be good as gold.

And to faculty, they say: Students really have no idea how to evaluate sources, do they? And who has time to teach them? It’s not like you don't have enough to do already. So just point them to us, and they’ll be good as gold—and you’ll have one less thing to think about."
publishing  teaching  archives  digitalrights  copyright  research  openaccess  academia  robinsonmeyer  alanjacobs  2013  power  education  highered  highereducation  via:shannon_mattern 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Why the cult of hard work is counter-productive
"In the vanguard of “productivity” literature and apps was David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) system, according to which you can become “a wizard of productivity” by organising your life into folders and to-do lists. The GTD movement quickly spread outside the confines of formal work and became a way to navigate the whole of existence: hence the popularity of websites such as Lifehacker that offer nerdy tips on rendering the messy business of everyday life more amenable to algorithmic improvement. If you can discover how best to organise the cables of your electronic equipment or “clean stubborn stains off your hands with shaving cream”, that, too, adds to your “productivity”...

The paradox of the autodidactic productivity industry of GTD, Lifehacker and the endless reviews of obscure mind-mapping or task-management apps is that it is all too easy to spend one’s time researching how to acquire the perfect set of productivity tools and strategies without ever actually settling down to do something. In this way, the obsessive dream of productivity becomes a perfectly effective defence against its own realisation.

As Samuel Johnson once wrote: “Some are always in a state of preparation, occupied in previous measures, forming plans, accumulating materials and providing for the main affair. These are certainly under the secret power of idleness. Nothing is to be expected from the workman whose tools are for ever to be sought.”

...

"It took a long time before the adjective “productive” – which once simply meant “generative”, as applied to land or ideas – acquired its specific economic sense, in the late 18th century, of relating to the production of goods or commodities. (The noun form is first recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary in an essay by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in which he writes of the “produc­tivity” of a growing plant.) To call a person “productive” only in relation to a measured quantity of physical outputs is another way that business rhetoric has long sought to dehumanise workers.

One way to counter this has been to attempt to recuperate the supposed vice of idleness – to hymn napping, daydreaming and sheer zoning out. Samuel Johnson is sometimes counted among the champions of faffing, perhaps simply because of the name of his essay series The Idler"



"David Graeber, the anthropologist and author of Debt: the First 5,000 Years, would also probably approve of it as a characterisation of what he calls “bullshit jobs”. In a recent essay for Strike! magazine, Graeber remarks on “the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations”, all of which he describes as “bullshit” and “pointless”. Their activity is to be contrasted with that of what Graeber calls “real, productive workers”. 

It is telling that even in such a bracingly critical analysis, the signal virtue of “productivity” is left standing, though it is not completely clear what it means for the people in the “real” jobs that Graeber admires. It is true that service industries are not “productive” in the sense that their labour results in no great amount of physical objects, but then what exactly is it for the “Tube workers” Graeber rightly defends to be “productive”, unless that is shorthand for saying, weirdly, that they “produce” physical displacements of people? And to use “productive” as a positive epithet for another class of workers he admires, teachers, risks acquiescing rhetorically in the commercialisation of learning. Teaching as production is, etymologically and otherwise, the opposite of teaching as education. 

Idleness in the sense of just not working at all, rather than working at a bullshit activity, was championed by the dissident Marxist Paul Lafargue, writer of the 1883 manifesto The Right to Be Lazy. This amusing denunciation of what Lafargue calls “the furious passion for work” in capitalist civilisation, which is “the cause of all intellectual degeneracy”, rages against its own era of “overproduction” and consequent recurring “industrial crises”. The proletariat, Lafargue cries, “must proclaim the Rights of Laziness, a thousand times more noble and more sacred than the anaemic Rights of Man concocted by the metaphysical lawyers of the bourgeois revolution. It must accustom itself to working but three hours a day, reserving the rest of the day and night for leisure and feasting.”"
productivity  brain  labor  idleness  bullshitjobs  2013  time  gtd  davidallen  via:shannon_mattern  lifehacker  samueljohnson  laziness  puritans  work  workethic  gettingthingsdone 
december 2013 by robertogreco
4th Floor | Chattanooga Public Library
"Our Vision: The 4th floor is a public laboratory and educational facility with a focus on information, design, technology, and the applied arts. The 14,000 sq foot space hosts equipment, expertise, programs, events, and meetings that work within this scope. While traditional library spaces support the consumption of knowledge by offering access to media, the 4th floor is unique because it supports the production, connection, and sharing of knowledge by offering access to tools and instruction."

[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/397082628106780672 ]
via:shannon_mattern  libraries  chattanooga  openstudioproject  lcproject  makerspaces  arts  tools  appliedarts  technology  natehill 
november 2013 by robertogreco
6 ways neoliberal education reform is destroying our college system - Salon.com
Here are six ways neoliberal education reform is creeping onto the college landscape.

1) Misdiagnosing the root problems... Mismanagement and poor teaching do exist, but the performance of US students is less a function of poor schools than unprecedented poverty. Analyses of international test data show that the one-in-five American students raised in poverty depress our otherwise admirable test scores. The OECD’s most recent report noted, “Socio-economic disadvantage translates more directly into poor educational performance in the United States than in other countries.” The fault lines of inequality and poverty define the landscape of educational achievement.

2) Pushing accountability through perks and penalties... Test-based teacher-evaluation has so far eluded any empirical justification. Researchers with the Educational Policy Institute conclude, “There is broad agreement among statisticians, psychometricians, and economists that student test scores alone are not sufficiently reliable and valid indicators of teacher effectiveness.” Multiple studies found that New York’s evaluation pilot program showed “little impact on student proficiency or school environment.”

Obama’s college ratings initiative doesn’t have standardized tests to lean on, so the president offered other guideposts: graduation rates, tuition costs, post-college earnings, number of Pell grant recipients enrolled. According to these measures, “students attending high-performing colleges could receive larger Pell Grants and more affordable student loans.”

3) Gaming the ratings... it’s easier to change numbers than people. This came to be known as Campbell’s Law, by now a well-worn chestnut. When No Child Left Behind went into effect in 2001, states began dumbing downtheir standardized tests in order to dodge the fell blade of Adequate Yearly Progress. Much-touted gains made in New York under Mayor Bloomberg, inflated by depressed standards, shrunk from 86.4 percent to 61 percent when those standards were realigned. They plummeted to 26 percent when Common Core-aligned tests were introduced this year. In Washington, D.C., much-ballyhooed achievement gains turned out to be the result of officials quietly fiddling with the achievement benchmarks.

4) “Saving” schools by sacrificing students.

Data-driven measures can distort school systems in more insidious ways, though. If the leading indicator for colleges is graduation rate, it’s likely some fudging and manipulation will result. Low-income students and students of color, who historically graduate at lower rates than their white and more affluent peers, will likely see fewer acceptance letters every spring.... Colleges that enroll the hardest-to-graduate students could be penalized for their students’ demographics... Given the choice between graduating high proportions of low-income students and screening out needier applicants, colleges will be tempted to pursue the latter.

5) Privileging “value” in the university.

Obama used the word “value” eight times in his speech to convey his idea of what students ought to demand of higher education—value not in the sense of a moral disposition, but in the “Value Meal” sense. The ratings plan will “help students compare the value offered by colleges and encourage colleges to improve.” But the president disregarded the staggering number of university classes taught not by tenured, tweed-clad professors but grad students and adjuncts in second-hand cardigans. A prevailing obsession with “value” in higher education would presumably hone in on instructor quality, but unlike RTTT, the administration’s new plan wastes no ink distinguishing between effective and ineffective instructors... No more reassuring for college instructors, adjunct and tenured alike, are the new initiative’s endorsements of MOOCs, or massive open online courses.

6) No College Left Behind. The foundation’s other forays into higher education—an accountability challenge, numerous nationalcollege completion initiatives, and a series of research paperswith consulting firm HCM Strategists made Gates “one of the strongest voices for accountability measures in higher education.” Gates’s $472 million in higher-ed munificence aims “to set an agenda, to help clarify an agenda and rally momentum around an agenda.” That momentum has brought the agenda all the way to the President’s pen.

Those who’ve followed K-12 reforms see the writing on the wall for higher education. The agenda is already set.

For some, however, that agenda’s familial resemblance to Race to the Top and reform patriarch No Child Left Behind is cause for concern. The president of the American Association of University Professors calls it “little more than a version of the failed policy of ‘No Child Left Behind’ brought to higher education.”
education  neoliberalism  MOOCs  testing  quantification  nclb  rttt  2013  ratings  via:shannon_mattern  mooc 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child – The New Inquiry
"Tiqqun can insist, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that the Young-Girl is “obviously not a gendered concept” because it knows that we know that it knows this. Tiqqun uses works of Continental philosophy in the same way that schoolyard bullies use in-jokes: as passwords that grant access to a protected inner circle. Tiqqun assumes that readers will assume that writers so well versed in texts that have spoken truth to ­power could not really hate women. The prestige of the theoretical vocabulary that Tiqqun’s members have mastered bolsters their credibility...

Because Tiqqun’s collage does not attribute sources, we can read any given passage in disavowing quotation marks, as a lightning bolt of original insight, or as both. Publishing anonymously is only a backup measure for evading responsibility...

In each case, a speaker insists that he is not saying what he says. If we accept a standard definition of verbal irony as saying one thing while meaning another, the comedians and Tiqqun both appeal to their identities to control the contexts in which they are understood. Claiming that its mastery of the misogynist philosophical tradition entitles it to do this, Tiqqun steps into what looks a lot like an old-­fashioned patriarchal role.

Even when adopted by radical theory, this knowing posture is conservative. Knowingness is the attitude that allows sexism to persist in progressive institutions that you would expect to know better, precisely because you would. When casual sexism pervades leftist theory, one assumes it is ironic; when progressive institutions ignore gender politics, one assumes this is because struggles for equality have already been won, or must be deferred so we can attend to more pressing political needs. Intellectuals tend to show class allegiance, bracketing or ignoring casual sexism in their own circles. They project misogyny outward, onto Middle America megachurches and racialized others, or onto the powerful men that pander to those masses...

Tiqqun resembles the mainstream Man-Child to the extent that everything that it does is a delaying tactic, a way of putting off the future. The rhetorical strategy of Theory of the Young-Girl is to remain undecidable: Its self-ironizing speaker refuses to settle the question of whether the book is in fact ­sexist or just impersonating someone sexist in order to make its point. The trait that everyone has recognized as endemic among men, and many young women, of our generation is i­ndecision.

Both postures spring from a fearful refusal to take a position, to make a choice among alternatives that feel compromised. The bourgeois Man-Child who refuses to “grow up,” refuses to mate, and refuses domestic labor resembles the radical who wants to bide his time until capitalism collapses from within. "
theory  mediatheory  UMS  feminism  sexism  tiqqun  via:shannon_mattern 
july 2013 by robertogreco

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