ARCHITECTURE and RESISTANCE | LEBBEUS WOODS
Resist whatever seems inevitable.

Resist people who seem invincible.

Resist the embrace of those who have lost.

Resist the flattery of those who have won.

Resist any idea that contains the word algorithm.

Resist the idea that architecture is a building.

Resist the idea that architecture can save the world.

Resist the hope that you’ll get that big job.

Resist getting big jobs.

Resist the suggestion that you can only read Derrida in French.

Resist taking the path of least resistance.

Resist the influence of the appealing.

Resist the desire to make a design based on a piece of music.

Resist the growing conviction that They are right.

Resist the nagging feeling that They will win.

Resist the idea that you need a client to make architecture.

Resist the temptation to talk fast.

Resist anyone who asks you to design only the visible part.

Resist the idea that drawing by hand is passé.

Resist any assertion that the work of Frederick Kiesler is passé.
architecture  resistance  politics  manifestos 
3 hours ago
Paris Review – A Photo Essay for National Library Week, Robert Dawson
The 2012 trip filled in the parts of the map that I had not previously photographed and largely completed the project. However, at the end of the summer, I realized that I had photographed many libraries in poor communities but not many in wealthy places. So to add balance I photographed libraries in some of the country’s wealthiest communities near my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Mill Valley, Tiburon, and Portola Valley. Finally, in November 2012, I finished the project by photographing the heroic efforts of the Queens Public Library to provide services to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways in New York City....

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said that citizenship “only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.” New York Times columnist Timothy Egan declared that the American “Great Experiment—the attempt to create a big, educated, multi-racial, multi-faith democracy that is not divided by oligarchical gaps between rich and poor—is still hanging in the balance.” Our national public library system goes a long way toward uniting these United States. A locally governed and tax-supported system that dispenses knowledge and information for everyone throughout the country at no cost to its patrons is an astonishing thing—a thread that weaves together our diverse and often fractious country. It is a shared commons of our ambitions, our dreams, our memories, our culture, and ourselves
libraries  photography 
12 hours ago
Introducing Ear | Wave | Event
Ear │ Wave │ Event is tired of hearing that music or sound is beyond language or outside meaning. Ear │ Wave │ Event can’t deal with another hymn to the ethicality of hearing. Ear │ Wave │ Event will scream if another art historian reports “discovering” sound.   Ear │ Wave │ Event does not consider the descriptive cataloguing of audio recordings as criticism.  Ear │ Wave │ Event was founded because there is a growing community of artistic practitioners and theorists who are eager to come together and address those strains of sonic intelligence (material, intellectual, other) that are too often drowned out by the perpetually rediscovered euphoria of sound’s “mystery.” ...

The reversal of sonic causality implicit in the name Ear │ Wave │ Event seeks to position the listening subject in all her affective, perceptual, conceptual, social, cognitive, and embodied psychological complexity at the center of the discussion. Our title and subtitle are also intended as an intervention into the growing debates around “the status of sound” – in particular, the problematic polarity declared between “conceptualism” and “materialism” as often associated with the work and thought of authors Seth Kim-Cohen and Christoph Cox, respectively. Though this division has recently come under increasing scrutiny3, it remains symptomatically relevant insofar as it describes the self-identifications of a great many sound practitioners. Our own proposition for countering what Amy Cimini diagnoses in her contribution as the latent neo-Cartesianism surrounding such discussions is for the actualization of Roland Barthes’ concept of “sensuous intelligibility”4: an entanglement of “mind” and “body” in the wake of the twentieth century avant-garde that is at once specific to sound (respecting the physiological particularity of audition as a sensory modality), but without any claim to that specificity’s intrinsic value.
sound  sound_art  publications  listening 
yesterday
Huge New York Development Project Becomes a Data Science Lab - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
Hudson Yards is a huge estate development project, the largest in New York since Rockefeller Center. It is to include office towers, apartments, shops, a luxury hotel, a public school and acres of public space. Construction began at the end of 2012, and has picked up recently.

But the sprawling development on Manhattan’s West Side, built on top of old rail yards along the Hudson River, will also become an urban laboratory for data science. The developers, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, are teaming up with New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress to create a “quantified community.”

The people aren’t there yet; the first office tower is scheduled to open next year, and the first residential building in 2017. But the plan is extraordinary in its size and comprehensive approach, built in from the outset. Among the things expected to be measured and modeled: pedestrian flows, street traffic, air quality, energy use, waste disposal, recycling, and health and activity levels of workers and residents.

Privacy issues, of course, loom over the program. Researchers at N.Y.U. insist that any individual measuring, in homes or using smartphones, will require participants to choose to join, or opt in. And information collected for research or to make community services more efficient, they say, will be made anonymous, so people cannot be identified personally.

Yet the conditions under which people will feel comfortable sharing their personal information, the researchers say, will be another subject for experiment in the living laboratory of the Hudson Yards community...

Cities around the world are using data collection and analysis tools to manage traffic, curb crime and conserve electricity and water. But most of the programs, experts say, are efforts to address one goal or another, and are being added to the existing infrastructure in old cities.

Hudson Yards will be different. “To start from scratch and to put all these technologies together in an integrated way is a neat opportunity, and an exciting thing to do,” said Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data, a joint initiative of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory...
The developers were receptive to being able to tap the knowledge of data experts. “We’re a real estate company,” noted Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards. The N.Y.U. researchers, Mr. Cross said, will collect and analyze the data, and his management team will use those insights to make Hudson Yards more efficient and a better living environment.

For example, detailed measurement of energy use in a building or office, Mr. Cross said, could point to steps to reduce electricity consumption by following the practice of a comparable space with lower electrical bills. And an individual, he said, might get a smartphone alert that a jazz combo, fashion show or street theater performance is starting soon in a nearby public plaza...

But with a broader array of measurements in a community, he said, a far wider range of observations becomes possible. An example, Dr. Kontokosta said, might be measuring noise, air quality or social interactions, and seeing how those correlate with educational achievement.

Combining measurements of the environment, physical systems and human behavior, said Steven E. Koonin, director of the N.Y.U. center, will open the door to understanding and modeling communities in new ways. “The real gold will be in combining the data science and the social sciences,” Dr. Koonin said.
smart_cities  urban_informatics  new_york  measurement  engineering 
2 days ago
Paper Pushers - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The more he looked at white-collar workers, the more he saw that their work made their lives qualitatively different from those of manual workers. Where manual workers exhibited relatively high rates of unionization—solidarity, in other words—white-collar workers tended to rely on themselves, to insist on their own individual capacity to rise through the ranks—to keep themselves isolated. The kind of work they did was partly rationalized, the labor divided to within an inch of its life. Mills constantly emphasized the tremendous growth of corporations and bureaucracies, the sheer massiveness of American institutions—words like "huge" and "giant" seem to appear on every page of his book. At the same time, so much of their work was incalculably more social than manual labor, a factor that particularly afflicted the roles afforded to female white-collar workers: Salesgirls had to sell their personalities in order to sell their products; women in the office were prized as much for their looks or demeanor as for their skills or capabilities.

What Mills realized was that, where backbreaking labor was the chief problem for industrial workers, psychological instability was the trial that white-collar workers endured, and on a daily basis.... Mills’s research, a submerged mix of interviews and sociological synthesis, led him to depict white-collar workers as people objectively alienated from the products of their work—they produced only paper—who often labored in conditions that were like factories: The enormous steno pools and legal bureaucracies were nothing like the small businesses of the old middle class. "In the case of the white-collar man," he writes, "the alienation of the wage-worker from the products of his work is carried one step nearer to its Kafka-like completion." And that alienation leads to a joyless life of frenetic consumption...

Workplaces supposedly filled with "knowledge workers," with more potential control over their work, have not become more democratic or equal ones: Bosses fire workers, and more of them at once, with more impunity than ever before; the ones who don’t get fired are temps or contractors, who enjoy even less in the way of security. If the paradigmatic midcentury white-collar novel was The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, in which one of the central struggles was whether the protagonist could successfully rezone his enormous inherited property, meant for four houses, into a suburban development for 80 houses (spoiler: he succeeds), the defining work of our era has been Mike Judge’s Office Space, a movie in which arbitrary layoffs, mindless work in gray cubicles, and desires for revenge and sabotage curdle the "middle class" atmosphere.
labor  cw_mills  workplace 
2 days ago
Listen to This: Don’t Miss the Sound to Convey Data! | Masters of Media
By overlaying sound I am referring to two different multi-modal approaches (text and audio in combination with images) in data visualizations to enrich the user’s experience and learning when exploring the data. On the one hand there is the possibility to introduce a narrative voice which purpose would be to help the user discover the data; and on the other hand there is the chance to introduce sounds or music in order to offer the user the option to experience the visualization differently, not only seeing but also “feeling” the data, a concept used by Andy Kirk, a freelance data visualization specialist.
sound  data_visualization  data_sonification 
3 days ago
How the Modern Office Shapes American Life - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic Cities
The original designs for the cubicle came out of a very 1960s-moment; the intention was to free office workers from uninspired, even domineering workplace settings. The designer, Robert Propst, was a kind of manically inventive figure—really brilliant in many ways—with no particular training in design, but an intense interest in how people work. His original concept was called the Action Office, and it was meant to be a flexible three-walled structure that could accommodate a variety of ways of working—his idea was that people were increasingly performing “knowledge work” (a new term in the 1960s), and that they needed autonomy and independence in order to perform it.

In other words, the original cubicle was about liberation. His concept proved enormously successful, and resulted in several copies—chiefly because businesses found it incredibly useful for cramming people into smaller spaces, while upper-level management still enjoyed windowed offices on the perimeter of the building. In that sense, the design was intended to increase the power of ordinary workers; in practice it came to do something quite different, or at least that's how it felt to many people.

You see this relationship between power and design throughout the history of the office...

But now, with the contemporary rush to tear down the cubicle walls and put people in low- or no-partitioned offices (“open-plan”), it suddenly seems ridiculous that people have identified the cubicle as the source of the workplace’s ills, rather than a shifting symbol of it. As is becoming increasingly clear (from books like Susan Cain’s Quiet, or Maria Konnikova’s piece for the New Yorker website, “The Open Office Trap,” but also just from our own experience as office workers), open-plan offices diminish very few of the problems associated with cubicle-ridden offices, and in some cases they augment them. Noise, visual and aural, makes concentration difficult, such that headphones become the new walls. And hierarchies don’t disappear when you place everyone at a communal table or “superdesk”; they persist in more subtle modes of workplace interaction...

The cubicle became a symbol of an oppressive workplace because the years that the cubicle rose to dominance were also years that the workplace, in many ways, became more oppressive. It really took off in the 1980s and 90s, when mergers and buyouts took over the headlines, and layoffs became commonplace (the original meaning of the word “layoff” was just time off from work -- not mass, somewhat indiscriminate firing). These were the years when the cubicle began to seem less like a space for exerting autonomy and independence, and more like a flimsy, fabric-wrapped symbol of workplace insecurity...

[George Packer]: Amazon’s workforce is made up mainly of computer engineers and warehouse workers, but when you think of Amazon you don’t picture either one (and there aren’t many photographs to help your imagination). What you see, instead, is a Web site with a button that says “ADD TO CART” and a cardboard box with a smile printed on the side. Between clicking “BUY” and answering the door when U.P.S. arrives lies a mystery—a chain of events that only comes to mind if you make a conscious effort. The work is done by people you don’t see and don’t have to think about, which is partly what makes Amazon’s unmatched efficiency seem nearly miraculous...

I’d say industry was always hard to comprehend in the way Packer describes; 19th century thinkers (Marx, especially) made a lot out of the fact that industrial objects appeared in stores or arrived in your hands without a trace of the impressive labor (or the hands of the laborers) that went into them.

But at least on the surface office work is seems to be even more “alienated,” if that’s the right term; it’s not clear what office workers actually “make.” For years, office workers just produced paper, and the paper they produced was often abstractly related to some kind of manual labor taking place elsewhere...

But another feature that office work’s relative invisibility, or opacity, helps obscure is the question of class. Since the rise of the ranks of clerical workers in the 19th century, it became a virtually unquestioned assumption that office work was middle class work. Office work was clean, and you didn’t come home smelling of your job; you wore (pretty much) the same clothes to work that you wore on the street; and you got a steady salary as opposed to an hourly wage...

By the 1930s, office work really did resemble factory work: if you think of old films, even through the 1960s like The Apartment, you have these cavernous accounting or steno pools, where people clock in and out and have daily, repetitive tasks that form part of this enormous, labyrinthine operation that nobody understands, just like in factories...

I tried in my book to do something similar with office workers, to show not just how people are managed but how they manage themselves, and maybe disclose in the process how we might find a more satisfying, a more humane way of working.
labor  workflow  workplace  desks  cubicles  aesthetics_of_administration 
4 days ago
cityofsound: Postopolis!: Lebbeus Woods
Developing this perhaps, Geoff notes how Woods' work often captures the imagination of those outside of architecture. Woods replies that "the irony is that he has always addressed my work to architects." Yet if it's ironic that others would pick it up, he's thrilled that they do, particularly if "architects are asleep" as he half-jokingly puts it. He does want to influence architects, though, as they have an important responsibility to society. He notes that he's approached architecture philosophically, drawing from ethics, cybernetics (from late '50s, early 60s), and so on, and this emphasis on the philosophical and visual side of communicating architecture may have enabled some of this transference to other disciplines or another form of discourse...

He says "The drawings are about ideas ultimately. They're not about drawing." So he uses drawing to find an idea. "If you could use the movie in the same way - it would be incredible". And he know movies have been used in this way – it's clearly a medium he respects and admires, when done well – but he ends by saying that are by and large formulaic. (I suspect he's looking for a malleability and complexity to communicate his work that the economics of movie making just impinge upon (currently). His work to me often suggests film, as powerful as they are drawings. But I love this point about trying to search for ideas through the act of drawing
lebbeus_woods  media_architecture  drawing 
4 days ago
Lebbeus Woods: The Architect Who Dared to Ask ‘What If?’ | Design | WIRED
“He was very focused, I think, in all of his work, in what he said was ‘architecture for its own sake,’” Becker said. “Not architecture for clients, not architecture that is diluted, and not architecture that really had to be held up against certain primary factors, including gravity or government.”... He eschewed practice, claiming an interest in architectural ideas rather than the quotidian challenges of commercial building.”...

Woods said as much when he spoke with The New York Times in 2008. “I’m not interested in living in a fantasy world,” he said. “All my work is still meant to evoke real architectural spaces. But what interests me is what the world would be like if we were free of conventional limits. Maybe I can show what could happen if we lived by a different set of rules.”

...Research Institute for Experimental ARchitecture

Woods found his place in the conceptual architecture movement that sprang from the 1960s and ’70s, when firms like Superstudio and Archigram presented a radical peek into a possible — if improbable — future. Casting a skeptical eye on the way humans lived in cities, these conceptual architects were more interested in raising questions than in crafting blueprints for buildings that would actually be built of concrete, steel and glass.

In fact, only one of the nearly 200 fascinating drawings and other works on display in Lebbeus Woods, Architect was ever meant to be built, said Dunlop Fletcher. Instead of the archetypical architect’s detailed plans and models, carefully calibrated to produce a road map to a finished structure, Woods’ drawings are whimsical and thought-provoking, with radical new ideas being the intended result of his efforts. “No project is fully designed,” she said. “This is intentional — Woods allows the viewer to complete the project in his or her mind.”

Woods’ ideas started in his sketchbooks, which he crammed with detailed drawings. “He was extremely gifted with the pen,” said Becker, adding that many of the pieces are notated in a strange hybrid language that could be part Latin, part invented. The curators likened it to a kind of code that connected the conceptual fragments that run through Woods’ highly theoretical work.
lebbeus_woods  media_architecture 
4 days ago
The New Academic Celebrity - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
That was academic stardom then. Today, we are more likely to bestow the aura and perks of stardom on speakers at "ideas" conferences like TED... In a famous essay, "The Unbearable Ugliness of Volvos," first published in the early 90s, the literary scholar Stanley Fish wrote that "the flourishing of the lecture circuit has brought with it new sources of extra income ... [and] an ever-growing list of stages on which to showcase one’s talents, and geometric increase in the availability of the commodities for which academics yearn, attention, applause, fame, and ultimately, adulation of a kind usually reserved for the icons of popular culture." Fish was Exhibit A among professors taking advantage of such trends, and his trailblazing as a lit-crit celebrity inspired the dapper, globe-trotting lit-theory operator Morris Zapp, a character in David Lodge’s academic satire Small World...

It’s hard to argue against millions of people getting a dose of a Daniel Gilbert lecture—or hearing the MIT cognitive scientist Nancy Kanwisher talk about mapping the brain, or the behavioral ecologist Sara M. Lewis, of Tufts University, discuss firefly evolution (both also spoke in Vancouver this year). But plenty of observers have argued that some of the new channels for distributing information simplify and flatten the world of ideas, that they valorize in particular a quick-hit, name-branded, business-friendly kind of self-helpish insight—or they force truly important ideas into that kind of template. They favor the kind of idea that fits into our "life hacking" culture: providing pointers or data that can be translated into improved productivity or happiness (often assumed to be the same)...

In describing the shift of the limelight away from the humanities, many people invoke the decline of theory—specifically the abstruse poststructuralist thought espoused by Jacques Derrida and his acolytes—which once seemed set to take over not just the humanities but all of academe. "There is a particular kind of theory-head who thinks that they can explain everything to everyone," says Stephen Burt, a professor of English at Harvard University. "That’s gone. The people who think they can explain everything are in the sciences—or in one case linguistics, Steven Pinker. But I don’t think there’s an explanation for everything, so I don’t miss it."...

Hard scientists, for their part, seem utterly unperturbed by the opportunity events like TED afford. "Especially for those of us who do research funded with federal grants, I think we have a responsibility to explain to people what our science has found out," says Tufts’s Sara Lewis, the ecologist and self-styled "firefly junkie."
academia  labor  celebrity 
4 days ago
Workshop on Workshops - Mark Allen Lecture - 10 April 2014 - 2
What are the different forms of workshops, and why do people participate in them? Why are workshops an interesting form to work in as an artist, curator, or organizer? This event will consist of a two-hour session on the creation, planning and production of educational programs as a form of experimental curation. The process begins with an intensive brainstorming exercise where each participant comes up with 50 topics they have some minimal knowledge of (crochet, escaping from handcuffs, satellite design, napping, etc). From there we will take selections from the topics and develop them into workshops which are not only open to different styles and speeds of learning, but satisfying, surprising, and welcoming to the public.
workshops  pedagogy  skillshare  curriculum 
4 days ago
The letterpress fetish reaches its logical conclusion » MobyLives
A newly-completed project from the Folio Society is sure to mark the saturation point on letterpress printing’s undulating curve of shifting expectations. Eight years in the making, the complete Letterpress Shakespeare is exactly what it sounds like and has all the hallmarks of a print fetishist’s ultimate fantasy.
letterpress  printing  fetishism 
5 days ago
Updating Washington, D.C.’s Mies van der Rohe Library - A/N Blog
Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C. Public Library announced that Martinez+Johnson and Mecanoo had won their competition to design  the next phase of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  Check out AN‘s coverage of the winning design here. The firm beat out two other finalists to revamp van der Rohe‘s iconic work. Here’s AN’s guide to the competition and the runners-up.


According to a press release from the D.C. Public Library, each team “developed two preliminary design ideas: one of a stand-alone library and one of a mixed-use building with additional floors.” All three teams propose ways to respect and restore the structure’s original facade, but re-imagine the library’s interiors and offer ideas for what can go on top of it. There are also two competing proposals to add “a cloud” into—or onto—Mies’ structure.
libraries  cloud  mies 
5 days ago
Typographer Tobias Frere-Jones searches for a lost NYC neighborhood.
I was able to plot out the locations for every foundry that had been active in New York between 1828 (the earliest records I could find with addresses) to 1909 (see below). All of the buildings have been demolished, and in some cases the entire street has since been erased. But a startling picture still emerged: New York once had a neighborhood for typography...

My guess is that they were following the newspapers. New York had dozens of newspapers back then, with most headquartered around Park Row, later nicknamed “Newspaper Row.” Crews composed and recomposed dozens of pages for every issue, with some papers publishing multiple editions throughout the day... delicate Victorian letterforms at tiny sizes (six and seven point were common sizes for text) could not have resisted fatigue for very long. Each paper would have placed large and frequent orders to keep their composing rooms running and their issues printing. So the foundries would have been staying close to their best customers... The newspapers were, in turn, huddled around their most frequent subject and adversary, City Hall. And for its part, City Hall had been built at the start of the century on “The Commons,” an open area then at the northern edge of the city. But that frontier was moving outwards so rapidly that City Hall was well inside the developed city when construction finished after nine years.
type  typography  printing  newspapers  media_city  media_history  media_archaeology 
7 days ago
Decoding Nature’s Soundtrack - Issue 12: Feedback - Nautilus
he’s amassed a veritable Library of Alexandria of nature’s sounds, and he emphasizes that they’re not merely recordings of individual creatures. The traditional approach of bioacoustics, focusing on single animals and species, is anathema. It’s “decontextualizing and fragmenting,” he says, like trying to extract a single violin from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. “Take an instrument out of the performance, and try to understand the whole performance, and you don’t get very much,” he says...

In each spectrogram, Krause points something out: No matter how sonically dense they become, sounds don’t tend to overlap. Each animal occupies a unique frequency bandwidth, fitting into available auditory space like pieces in an exquisitely precise puzzle. It’s a simple but striking phenomenon, and Krause was the first to notice it. He named it biophony, the sound of living organisms, and to him it wasn’t merely aesthetic. It signified a coevolution of species across deep biological time and in a particular place. As life becomes richer, the symphony’s players find a sonic niche to play without interference.

“The biophony is the pure expression of life, of the given organisms in a habitat,” he says. “When you’re in a healthy habitat, all the species are able to find bandwidth where their voices fit.” He puts an ancient Borneo rain forest onto the speakers. At the top of the spectrogram are bats, their echolocation a bare hint of a sound to human ears; below them are cicadas, a plenitude of insects, one chestnut-winged babbler and nightjars and the booms of gibbons, each in its own place.

Krause magnifies the view, zooming in so that each animal’s call can be discerned as individual orange dots. From this view, the spectrogram looks like constellations seen through a telescope. “You’ve got a whole universe in there,” he says. “Look at the discrimination here. It’s so beautiful. It tells you how old this habitat is.”...

He estimates that nearly half of the habitats he’s recorded are now compromised or rendered silent, primarily by human development and insatiable appetites that relegate most non-human interests to irrelevance.
soundscape  nature  evolution  acoustics  ecology 
8 days ago
Decoding Nature’s Soundtrack - Issue 12: Feedback - Nautilus
he’s amassed a veritable Library of Alexandria of nature’s sounds, and he emphasizes that they’re not merely recordings of individual creatures. The traditional approach of bioacoustics, focusing on single animals and species, is anathema. It’s “decontextualizing and fragmenting,” he says, like trying to extract a single violin from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. “Take an instrument out of the performance, and try to understand the whole performance, and you don’t get very much,” he says...

In each spectrogram, Krause points something out: No matter how sonically dense they become, sounds don’t tend to overlap. Each animal occupies a unique frequency bandwidth, fitting into available auditory space like pieces in an exquisitely precise puzzle. It’s a simple but striking phenomenon, and Krause was the first to notice it. He named it biophony, the sound of living organisms, and to him it wasn’t merely aesthetic. It signified a coevolution of species across deep biological time and in a particular place. As life becomes richer, the symphony’s players find a sonic niche to play without interference.

“The biophony is the pure expression of life, of the given organisms in a habitat,” he says. “When you’re in a healthy habitat, all the species are able to find bandwidth where their voices fit.” He puts an ancient Borneo rain forest onto the speakers. At the top of the spectrogram are bats, their echolocation a bare hint of a sound to human ears; below them are cicadas, a plenitude of insects, one chestnut-winged babbler and nightjars and the booms of gibbons, each in its own place.

Krause magnifies the view, zooming in so that each animal’s call can be discerned as individual orange dots. From this view, the spectrogram looks like constellations seen through a telescope. “You’ve got a whole universe in there,” he says. “Look at the discrimination here. It’s so beautiful. It tells you how old this habitat is.”...

He estimates that nearly half of the habitats he’s recorded are now compromised or rendered silent, primarily by human development and insatiable appetites that relegate most non-human interests to irrelevance.
soundscape  nature  evolution  acoustics  ecology 
8 days ago
Mimi Zeiger on the symmetry between the TED talk and the Rant
Schumacher's commentary, which continued all day, ending in a summary document and the reposting of related news items, coincided with day two of TED 2014. My Twitter feed documented the both in real time and with parallel emphasis as if they were conjoined twins. As I watched the missives go by, the paired events allowed for a reflection on the current media models filling our bandwidths: the TED Talk and the Rant. The two are uncanny in their dark symmetry. They are fuelled by access, personality, and true belief and leave little room for complexity, failure, or doubt.... But the rant is something quite different from the manifesto. The rant is a privilege. Ranting is a spectator sport, which means it is predicated on the status of the ranter. You need to know someone is looking in order to publicly tantrum.
discourse  architecture  architectural_criticism  rhetoric  manifestos  TED 
9 days ago
Everyday Listening - Sound Art, Sound Installations, Sonic Inspiration
Everyday Listening collects inspiring and remarkable sound art and creative sound design projects, installations, reviews of urban soundscapes, places, contemporary or experimental, mostly electronic music.
sound_art  sound_design  music 
9 days ago
Good Night: A Dazzling New Era of Metropolitan Light | Places
Urban street lighting was, for Mayakovski, nothing less than a locus of modernism.... seen through the poet’s eyes, electric light decisively manifested what other arts could only evoke — a new vision calibrated to the technology and turbulence of modern society... in pulling back nighttime’s mantle of darkness, artificial lighting doubled the duration of industrial production and enabled the instrumentalization of the other half of the diurnal cycle. Indeed, much of the motivation for improving urban lighting sprang from electric utilities that needed higher nighttime loads to use the capacity they had built up to meet skyrocketing daytime demand... Advocates of City Beautiful, for instance, were recommending that light be graded across the city, with the bright lights of downtown giving way to dimmer and warmer effects in residential neighborhoods. Where such ideas were put in place, the city as a whole exhibited diverse lighting that underscored its distinct parts...

today technicians can pinpoint light nearly down to the photon and, equally important, they can measure responses to light at a neural level. [4] Taken together, these changes are enabling designers to investigate in ever-greater detail what is known as mesopic vision, that is, vision under mixed lighting conditions, in contrast to the even photopic lighting of broad daylight and the scotopic vision of near darkness... Leading designers and firms — including Light Collective, Light Cibles, Agence Concepto, ACT Lighting Design, Philips Lighting, Arup Lighting — now conceive entire cities as luminous canvases for creating effects that are simultaneously evocative, urbanistically sensible and environmentally responsible... as cities seek to reposition themselves in the wake of suburbanization, deindustrialization and globalization, lighting has become a versatile means of adding amenity and meaning — for instance, improving orientation and developing visual motifs — to the nighttime environment... As transit networks become increasingly complex — as they integrate bicycles, shuttles, trams, automobiles, railcars and pedestrians — lighting can help both to differentiate modes and to visually unify the systems... lighting become a means to revitalize distressed or underused areas... A whole new field of guerrilla lighting has emerged, too, with flash-mobs wielding light grenades or sudden light graffiti attacks on a skyscraper executed from innocuous vans parked blocks away. With information and D.I.Y. tutorials on everything from LED-Throwies to Light Bombing events to L.A.S.E.R. tag, the art collective Graffiti Research Lab has become a clearinghouse for guerilla lighting tactics, and various politically motivated groups are deploying light projections to broadcast their messages at large scales, seemingly in violation of property rights yet with no outright vandalism... nearly animate, the material world has become since the introduction of digital technologies. Light, the most immaterial of effects, makes the digital visible and in doing so confers the possibility that it can also become substantial.
media_city  light  urban_planning  electricity  infrastructure 
9 days ago
Research shows professors work long hours and spend much of day in meetings | Inside Higher Ed
On average, faculty participants reported working 61 hours per week – more than 50 percent over the traditional 40-hour work week. They worked 10 hours per day Monday to Friday and about that much on Saturday and Sunday combined. Perhaps surprisingly, full professors reported working slightly longer hours both during the week and on weekends than associate and assistant professors, as well as chairs.
labor  workload  academic  time_management 
9 days ago
Muriel Cooper, ‘Messages and Means’ at Columbia University
Best known for her long tenure at MIT Press, Cooper is the subject of Messages and Means, an exhibition at Columbia University that places her influential design contributions to the press within the broader context of her life’s work.
graphic_design  book_design  textual_form 
9 days ago
Fugazi's sound and fury, now on demand | The Verge
Between 1987 and 2002 Fugazi played more than a thousand shows all over the world. While it wasn’t a particularly jammy band in the tradition of the Grateful Dead, Fugazi never used a setlist. This allowed the songs to flow into one another organically so that every performance had its own distinct sonic footprint. More than 800 of them were recorded to cassette and DAT tapes, which piled up over time. Five years after the band went on hiatus, an NYU student named Peter Oleksik was looking for something to do for his graduate thesis in moving image and archive preservation. He met MacKaye at a book fair in 2008 and learned about the unorganized archive that was languishing in his old bedroom. “I was like, ‘Hey, would you mind if I came down in January and did my thesis on this?’ And he was game.”...

"I made up a numbering system and organized everything so that we could get it out of Ian’s head and into a database," Oleksik explains. "From there I prioritized everything in terms of obsolescence — there were a ton of DAT tapes that were really shitty." Before flash recorders and hard drives were cheap enough to use as audio-storage media, the most convenient way to get a high-quality digital recording was on the notoriously unreliable Digital Audio Tape. When affordable SD cards became the norm, DAT equipment disappeared from the market quickly, leaving the archivist with limited hardware options for pulling the Fugazi material into a more accessible format. The only high-speed DAT reader he could find was Sony’s SDT-9000, an internal drive that offered only a SCSI-50 connection. To accommodate the old standard Oleksik found a vintage turquoise Power Mac G4 tower. "When we went to get it from this Craigslist guy he was just like, please take it!" With school back in session Oleksik headed back to New York, leaving MacKaye with the Frankensteined transfer station and a massive job ahead of him. In a bizarre sort of reverse twist of fate, Sony discontinued the SDT-9000 just two weeks later.

For months, the rock ‘n’ roll icon would pop DATs into the drive, set an egg timer as they transferred, and go downstairs to do other work. Meanwhile, Fugazi’s longtime engineer Joey Picuri set about digitizing the cassettes — but the huge volume of material still had no set final destination. "I hate to do archiving for archiving’s sake," says Oleksik. "We can preserve stuff but what’s the point if no one’s gonna listen to it?" MacKaye also felt that the tapes had a higher calling than rote preservation: "I’m a Hendrix fan, and I’ve studied many, many live recordings of his … I’m glad someone taped those shows, and I’m glad I was able to get ahold of them. My sense was, well, we have all these tapes, let’s not just take a few of them. Let’s put ‘em all up."
fugazi  archives  music 
9 days ago
American Library Association to Host Invitational Summit on Future of Libraries | LJ INFOdocket
What can we do to bring knowledge of what libraries have to offer to more people? Are we doing enough to let people know that many (not all but many) library resources and tools are accessible 24x7x365. Pew studies during the past couple of years show that while people support their library they are very often not aware of the services available to them.
Do libraries (of any type) require trained librarians to be a library? We believe this is going to be a growing issue and something we’re already seeing in the K-12 space.
Should there be a professional requirement that librarians work to improve their skills or at least keep their skills current? If not, why not?
Does ALA need to work harder to bring different groups of librarians together? For example, should there be more dialog and sharing between K-12 and academic librarians since students (their users) move from one group to the next?
Should ALA work to market the skills/value of the librarian as well as library services?

The two day summit will explore the following:
What are the societal and technological trends that will influence and shape the
communities and society that libraries of all types serve?
What do these trends mean for libraries of all types in light of our values as educators,
librarians, and community members?
How can we build public will to help achieve a better future based on these values?
libraries  future_of_libraries 
11 days ago
The Search for Silence - NYTimes.com
All of ARUP’s offices have a resource — the Sound Lab — that allows clients to listen to the soundscape of an environment or the acoustics of a space at the early design stages, before that environment or space even exists. ARUP’s acoustic engineers work with clients to help them understand what their building or environment will sound like....

Other recent projects include helping a five-star hotel group that was trying to determine whether the noise reaching guest rooms from a busy Midtown corner would exceed their guests’ acceptable threshold of noise — it would have — and a project to assess the aural experience as you proceed from the future PATH station to the World Trade Center Memorial. Cushner argues that this sort of acoustic modeling at all scales is essential. “Almost no project big or small goes without the owner getting a 3-D visual model to show what it will look like before it is built,” he says. “But no one gets to hear it before it is built. The work we are doing is to render the outcomes so everyone involved can know what the result will be. And if they are horrified at what has been designed, we can help them fix that, too.”

A lot of the firm’s work is happening in health care, where design solutions are often far simpler and more low-tech (and thus less expensive) than you might think (and where noise has a measurable effect on health outcomes). The loudest spikes in noise can be caused by things as mundane as someone grabbing a paper towel from a dispenser, opening a trash bag or rolling a cart. Lighting can also be a factor, says Cushner: “Simply dimming the lights in the N.I.C.U. makes people speak more quietly.”...

He and his colleagues, collaborating with a sound artist, have experimented with essentially bathing patients’ heads in transparent sound from nature. “You can hear conversation and instruction,” Dallam says, “but the sound of nature so absorbs you that your system focuses on that rather than all the distracting, irritating noises.” Dallam’s team will be able to measure the efficacy of the proposed intervention by determining, for example, whether it can lower the patient’s blood pressure.

Dallam’s team is working with two dozen sound samplings from nature — for instance, being in a meadow or by the ocean. User feedback has already resulted in modifications. “For men,” he says, “the sound of a babbling brook almost immediately sent them to the men’s room.”

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But perhaps more important than the choice of running water versus branches blowing in the wind is the very presence of choice itself. Says Dallam, “One of the things that’s taken away from you in a health care environment is choice — you can’t control light, noise. This small thing gives you some agency.”...

ARUP is working on this, too, funding research to investigate connections between noise and performance in the workplace. “There’s a lot of bad science,” says Cushner. “And no good controlled experiments. So we’re trying to create a structure to convince those reducing square footage to determine at what point noise actually matters.”
media_architecture  acoustics  noise  sound_space 
12 days ago
Internet Week New York
Presented by CBRE Group, Inc., Internet Week has launched The NYC edition of Internet Week Tech Digs, an original web series exploring the workplaces of 12 of the top digital companies driving New York City’s vibrant tech-based economy. The series will include leading business executives from Bloomberg, Fueled Collective, Squarespace, Thrillist and Tumblr. Tech Digs' very first episode features Tumblr's Creative Director Peter Vidani, About.com's CEO Neil Vogel and Fueled Collective's Co-Founder Rameet Chawla. Learn about three dynamic workspaces and see how each companies' ideals are reflected in their respective work environments.
media_architecture  media_workspace  labor 
12 days ago
About | Archive of Spatial Aesthetics and Praxis
Mission
ASAP is an archive of practices. It advocates architecture and its value as part of a broader social, political, and aesthetic discourse through the collection, exhibition, writing and circulation of media.
Objectives
The Archive of Spatial Aesthetics and Praxis (ASAP) aims to be the foremost collection of spatial practice today, collecting and exhibiting architecture as part of a broader social, political, and aesthetic discourse.
2004 is taken as a point of departure, a moment when architecture moves toward an expanded practice to address the spatial environment as the most pressing political issue of our day.
ASAP houses three collections — spatial and artistic objects, virtual media, texts and ephemera. Its objects exist as bastard objects, 1:1’s somewhere between art and architecture. Practitioners of interest range from architects, artists, designers, performers, filmmakers, writers, to engineers and scientists, and choreographers.
The archive will form the basis of a discursive and sometime polemical forum in which things provoke debate and assemble action. The aim is to expand the understanding, agency, and value of architecture as a theoretical, practical, and aesthetic pursuit.
archive  architecture  media_architecture  spatial_practice 
13 days ago
Interview with John Szot of "Architecture and the Unspeakable" film series | Features | Archinect
Architecture and the Unspeakable is a triptych of short, magnificently animated films, each exploring a different symptom of architecture’s vulnerabilities. Produced by Brooklyn Digital Foundry and directed by architect John Szot, the films feature architecture proposals from John Szot Studio, imagining distinct fictional buildings in New York, Tokyo, and Detroit -- all animated in striking digital realities.
media_architecture  film 
14 days ago
The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives | ArchivesNext
And what are they looking for when they search and browse online? While among this audience—the general public—there are people who are looking for one specific item, I think the majority of people are looking for either something that just interests them or one example of something. Let me explain. My guess is that most people are interested in a category of information—such as “I’m looking for old stuff about the American Civil War” or “I want to see pictures of old trains.” And so, in their Google search, they will look at the top five search results and be happy. Or they will want an example of something, such as “I want a picture of Bill Clinton shaking someone’s hand” and they don’t care who the person is that he’s with. This means they don’t care about finding your stuff, specifically. They just want to find something that’s about the right topic. So the specific and unique nature of archival collections is not valued in these cases.

Again, in the old model, scholars, publishers, and the traditional media took the archival material made available by archives and crafted it into finished products for public consumption, but the public is now accustomed to—and enjoys—accessing the raw materials themselves. So in the new business model we have a larger pool of potential customers who want access to original historical materials—or digital copies of them on the web....

So given that we have seen a radical restructuring of our business model, I think we need to examine the mission of archives and change it to better meet the needs of the way we work today.

And to do that I’m going to borrow an idea from the American librarian, David Lankes, who began talking about this, I think, back in August of 2012. In a number of talks he has used the metaphor of “library as platform.” [Link to one of his presentations on this topic: http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/Presentations/2012/SCLRC.pdf] Platform is a tricky word in English. It can mean a lot of different things, but in this context Lankes defined it as meaning: “Technology and content assets organized in an architecture to achieve some goal.” So, not worrying about the details of that definition, in general it means what you have is organized in a meaningful way to achieve some goal. So the important question is—what’s your goal? If everything is organized to achieve something, what is that?...

I think most archivists, at least in the U.S., would agree that the traditional goal of archives has been to: Collect, preserve and provide access to materials of lasting value... What is not included in this kind of mission is anything related to outreach—to attracting new users or to actively informing people about the materials in the archives... The new mission I propose for archives is that: Archives add value to people’s lives by increasing their understanding and appreciation of the past... relatively few people actually need access to what you have. Rather, we must make people want access to what we have, and to do that we must figure out what uses they want to make of the collections....

An important way to add value to people’s lives is to give them the tools and opportunity to create things. Archives have done this in the past and continue to do it today by providing access to our collections, which then allows people to do whatever creative or scholarly things they want with them. (As we see in this recent example from the New York Public Library’s map collection... But many archives are also finding ways to have users interact with and create meaning using tools and technology provided by the archives. In other words, the archives itself is serving as a platform for added value, and so attracting users who don’t have the time or skills to take the content away and work with it on their own. Just as sites like Ancestry.com are successful in large part because they don’t just give people access to scanned documents, but also to a whole network of tools, data, and like-minded people, archives need to become more active as locations that people go to do things...

There are many ways in which you can characterize how archives can be participatory, but I think it’s useful to start with the most basic level: engagement. This kind of activity is based on appealing to a wide range of people who aren’t necessarily interested in exploring archival content on a deeper level. These kinds of activities can engage with people through things like storytelling, contests, conversations, sharing and rating(e.g., Nat'l Archives Document of the Day tumblr; NYPL's Stereograminator; archival Pinterest boards)....

A more advanced level of participatory activity invites the public to make their own contributions to historical work (e.g., NYPL "What's on the Menu?"; crowdsourcing correction of OCR'd documents)...

Other participatory examples draw on people’s personal knowledge and experience. The most common sites of this kind are connected with identifying photographs.... Some other interesting projects are the ones that involve more direct personal contact, in which people are asked to contribute their knowledge to not just identifying collections, but building more complex knowledge resources or contributing to the organization as a whole....

Another possible class of work in this area would be archives that are allowing users to add comments, tags and other information to the actual finding aids or descriptions of records. I have not included an example of this because while many archives are providing this functionality, I have yet to find a case in which the public is in fact actively participating by adding information....

There a few examples too, but not many, of archives consulting with the public about the work of the archive—so far I’ve seen examples of asking the public what should be prioritized for digitization and how to improve declassification, for example. But this level of participation—seeking assistance at a management level—is rare.
libraries  archives  platforms 
14 days ago
Holl’s Pricey New Library in Queens Must Tone it Down a Notch - A/N Blog
Looks like Steven Holl’s impressive design for a new library in Queens, New York costs quite a bit more than expected. DNA Info reported that bids for the 21,000-square-foot project came in about $10-20 million over budget. But that doesn’t mean the project is dead just yet. While the city has nixed a planned geothermal heating and cooling system, is swapping customized interior fixtures for standard ones, and is replacing the aluminum façade with painted concrete, they say the library will stay true to its original design.

Despite the changes, the library will still include an amphitheater, community room and a reading garden.
libraries 
14 days ago
ALA Responds to Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Proposal That Recommends Elimination of IMLS | LJ INFOdocket
We were shocked to learn that Representative Paul Ryan recommended eliminating IMLS, the agency that promotes library services for the American public. IMLS administers the primary source of federal funding to libraries. Libraries depend on the support they receive from IMLS to help patrons learn new skills, find job opportunities and access reading materials that they otherwise could not afford. More than $180 million has been appropriated to the Institute for Museum and Library Services through September 2014 to help libraries make information and services available to the citizens they serve.
In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities....

Furthermore, the Institute has been a vital component in facilitating collaboration between federal agencies that relate to library services, such as the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Communication Commission and the Government Printing Office, among others. For example, the Institute has been instrumental in working with the U.S. Department of Labor so that libraries can be considered additional One-Stop partners for job-seekers in search of employment training and jobs opportunities.
Library funding support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services wields large returns in the form of literate and civically engaged communities. We hope that Congress will support the important role that the Institute for Museum and Library Services plays in supporting educated communities by rejecting the House Budget resolution.
libraries  funding  government 
14 days ago
The Whitney Biennial for Angry Women – The New Inquiry
Dear White Curators,

1. Diversity is not the inclusion of those not from New York. Diversity isn’t more white women. Diversity isn’t safe art. Diversity isn’t black bodies put on display by white artists.

2. You don’t get to appropriate diversity as a buzzword for your PR work. Besides, we know how to count:

—There is one black female artist (we refuse to count your fictional black female artist)

—You put the two Puerto Ricans in the basement …
curating  biennial  race  gender  exhibition_design 
14 days ago
At the Center: Is Your Library Driving Engaged Civic Solutions? | Editorial
There’s something wonderful and seemingly simple about the photograph on the cover of this issue that I don’t want you to miss: the mayor of Wichita, KS, and the director of the library—Carl Brewer and Cynthia Berner Harris, respectively—standing side by side in a group of civic leaders and key staff. This coalition is “activating” Wichita with strategic thinking that is informed through an open town hall–style forum that taps solutions from the community. If your library isn’t part of such planning, and gathering a similar group in your library would be a no-go, you have work to do.
You also have a road map of sorts to follow in the story of Wichita Public Library’s (WPL) role in Visioneering Wichita, a citywide process to establish new priorities for the institutions, agencies, and governance of the city and how the library aligns its work with those priorities. The inspiring story is detailed in John Berry’s profile of WPL, the winner of the 2014 LibraryAware Community Award, “Engaging Everyone in Town.”...

What made WPL stand out? Among other strong initiatives, the library brought the community itself to the process of shaping Wichita’s future with the development of a tool for crowdsourcing solutions to issues: the Activate Wichita website. Activate Witchita is powered by MindMixer software, which was created in 2010 by two urban planners who wanted to encourage more involvement and feedback than they had witnessed in traditional face-to-face community meetings. The website, which is used by the library to explore potential services, has also enabled a new level of community engagement in municipal decision-making on issues from the priorities for the city budget to responding to a water conservation crisis and much more.
libraries  civic_engagement 
15 days ago
How Iwan Baan Became the Most Wanted Photographer in Architecture - WSJ.com
Baan, who began shooting buildings in earnest less than a decade ago, balances politeness with relentlessness—qualities that help explain his rapid rise in the architecture world. So compelling is his work, which depicts the world's buildings being used, misused or even abused, that top-tier architects like Herzog & de Meuron, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid dispatch him to photograph all of their new projects, requiring him to fly hundreds of thousands of miles a year. Baan also finds time to document buildings by younger, less established architects, including Tatiana Bilbao of Mexico; Mass Design Group, a Boston-based firm that does pro bono work mainly in Africa; Kunlé Adeyemi, a Nigerian architect based in Amsterdam; and Tokyo's Junya Ishigami.

By photographing buildings that might otherwise escape attention, then bringing them to the attention of editors, curators and award committees, Baan has made unknown architects stars and known architects superstars....

AS MUCH AS aerial shots are a specialty for Baan, he is perhaps best known for his up-close and intimate photographs of buildings, often with people in the frame. A construction worker cooking dinner at a building-site stove or a teenager skateboarding on a roof are the kinds of subjects that attract him, putting context front and center and juxtaposing the messiness of real life against the sleekness of cutting-edge design. His shots of an unfinished skyscraper in Caracas occupied by several thousand squatters became the talk of the 2012 International Architecture Biennial in Venice. Baan's work owes more to the street photography of Alfred Stieglitz and Eugène Atget than the perfectly composed tableaux of 20th-century architectural photographers like Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman. ...

As a documentary photographer, Baan sometimes regrets that his photos are used to glamorize buildings rather than spark discussions of their strengths and weaknesses. For the same reason, he sometimes tangles with architects who want him to digitally remove blemishes on and around their buildings. "Those 'distractions' are as important to me as the architecture," he says, though he occasionally uses Photoshop to achieve darkroom effects, like raising or lowering contrast. He also generally eschews retouching, largely because he doesn't have the time: "I don't like to sit at a computer screen, so I try to get the photos right the first time."
media_architecture  photography  iwan_baan 
15 days ago
Infrastructural Ecology’s Value in Conceptual Design | Scenario Journal
The late historian of technology Thomas P. Hughes was the first to identify the seemingly autonomous nature of the growth of infrastructural systems. Infrastructural ecology is a useful conceptual framework that builds upon the Hughesian conceptualization of infrastructure as both contextual and “autonomous.” Although Hughes never described his large technical systems as ecological organisms, the incorporation of ecological concepts that relate the built environment to the natural environment has the potential to aid in the conceptual design of sustainable infrastructure. The term “infrastructural ecology” expresses that built large technical systems — such as water distribution systems, transportation networks, and power transmission and distribution networks — function at many different scales, have metabolisms that require social and natural resource inputs and outputs at those diverse scales, interact with their surroundings, and can adapt, die and be succeeded, in a similar way to natural ecological systems.
infrastructure  network  ecology 
17 days ago
MAS CONTEXT: narrative
Architecture and narrative, as Victor Hugo nostalgically pointed out in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, have walked hand in hand through history, crossing paths without really risking the extinction that the archdeacon of Notre-Dame gloomily predicted. Today, in a moment where the conjunction of the crisis and the entrance into a new stage in the communication era impulse the discipline into new, multiple directions, the narrative aspects of architecture come to the front. This issue tackles the intersections between architectural practices and different forms of visual narrative. Within this overall theme, our NARRATIVE issue moves on both sides of the line that separates these two disciplines, presenting three different perspectives, organized in three consecutive parts. The first section of the issue deals with the presence of graphic narrative in disciplinary architecture, both past and present while the second one discusses the crossing of borders portrayed by comics artists who also make forays into the built world. Finally, the third one moves towards both sides of the spectrum, briefly covering the tangents with (implied) written narratives and emerging animation practices in architecture.

Contributions by Andrea Alberghini, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Sir Peter Cook, Manuele Fior, Factory Fifteen, Iker Gil, Jones, Partners: Architecture, Tom Kaczynski, Jimenez Lai, Klaus, Léopold Lambert, Luis Miguel (Koldo) Lus Arana, Marc-Antoine Mathieu, Clara Olóriz Sanjuán, Cesar Reyes Nájera, François Schuiten, Joost Swarte, Mélanie van der Hoorn, and Chris Ware whose work is featured in our cover.
media_architecture  drawing  narrative  stories  comics 
17 days ago
The Sense-able City | Carlo Ratti |
Ambient intelligence can indeed pervade new cities, but perhaps most importantly, it can also animate the rich, chaotic erstwhile urban spaces — like a new operating system for existing hardware. This was already noted by Bill Mitchell at the beginning of our digital era: “The gorgeous old city of Venice […] can integrate modern telecommunications infrastructure far more gracefully than it could ever have adapted to the demands of the industrial revolution.” Could ambient intelligence bring new life to the winding streets of Italian hill towns, the sweeping vistas of Santorini, or the empty husks of Detroit?

We might need to forget about the flying cars that zip through standard future cities discourse. Urban form has shown an impressive persistence over millennia — most elements of the modern city were already present in Greek and Roman times. Humans have always needed, and will continue to need, the same physical structures for their daily lives: horizontal planes and vertical walls (no offense, Frank O. Gehry). But the very lives that unfold inside those walls is now the subject of one of the most striking transformations in human history. Ambient intelligence and sensing networks will not change the container but the contained; not smart cities but smart citizens.
smart_cities  urban_archaeology  urban_form 
17 days ago
Open Access Maps at NYPL | The New York Public Library
The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.* To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page, and downloaded (!), through the Map Warper.
mapping  maps  open_access 
18 days ago
Sean Kelly Gallery - Idris Khan - Selected Works
Drawing on diverse cultural sources including literature, history, art, music and religion, Khan has developed a unique narrative involving densely layered imagery that inhabits the space between abstraction and figuration and speaks to the themes of history, cumulative experience and the metaphysical collapse of time into single moments.

Whilst Khan’s mindset is more painterly than photographic, he often employs the tools of photomechanical reproduction to create his work. Photographing or scanning from secondary source material–sheet music, pages from the Qur’an, reproductions of late Caravaggio paintings–he then builds up the layers of scans digitally, which allows him to meticulously control minute variances in contrast, brightness and opacity. The resultant images are often large-scale C-prints with surfaces that have a remarkable optical intensity.

This visual layering also occurs in Khan’s videos, such as Last Three Piano Sonatas…after Franz Schubert, a three-channel video installation wherein he films multiple camera angles that capture numerous performances of the sonatas Schubert composed on his deathbed. The work is both an elegy and a paean to creative genius. As Khan explains: “The last three sonatas form a kind of cycle and thus illuminate one another when performed. Thematic, rhythmic and harmonic links are evident between the movement of each sonata and they also hold the idea that each piece is in some way inhabiting the persona of the lonely, alienated wanderer.” As with his richly layered photographic images, the meaning of the work emerges slowly and experientially with the passage of time.

Khan’s oeuvre has expanded to include sculpture and painting. For sculptural works, using materials such as steel plates, cubes and horizontal stone slabs, Khan sandblasts the surface with templates of musical scores or prayers, continuing his investigation into the ways in which cultural, visual, cinematic and temporal memories coalesce into a dense, synesthetic whole.
text_art  drawing  palimpsest  temporality  photography  music  layers 
18 days ago
LEGO Calendar: a Tangible Wall-Mounted Planner that Can be Digitized - information aesthetics
The LEGO Calendar [vitaminsdesign.com], developed by design and invention studio Vitamins, is a wall-mounted time planner that simply can be photographed to create an online, digital counterpart.
The calendar is big, visible, tactile and flexible, as it makes the most of the tangibility of physical objects, and the ubiquity of digital platforms. It also looks neat and tidy, while keeping a certain degree of anonimity, not revealing client names or project information by casual passers-by.
data_visualization  calendar  temporality  time_management  project_management  tactility 
22 days ago
Engaging Everyone In Town | 2014 LibraryAware Community Award
The Wichita Public Library (WPL), KS, has become a coalition builder for larger community goals. WPL signed on as an early “vision partner” with Visioneering Wichita, whose goal is to develop a strategic plan, through extensive community engagement, for the whole Wichita metropolitan area. Visioneering Wichita’s process identified six “foundations” that became the top priorities of the city, its leaders, its people, and its institutions and agencies. WPL committed its resources and staff to work to achieve these goals. The Friends of WPL were enlisted as well....

With funding from the Knight Foundation, WPL led the development of the “Activate Wichita” website, which works on MindMixer’s virtual town hall and survey software to seek input from citizens on critical issues, problems, and programs...

WPL partnered with the local chapter of SCORE, a national organization of retired executives who use their expertise and mentoring skills to help small businesses. WPL added its staff and resources to SCORE’s. WPL’s business services always paid particular attention to serving small business owners, people wanting to start a business, and businesses “that started small and are now ready to take that next step,” as Harris puts it. For 18 months, WPL sponsored monthly seminars with experts on business topics, integrated with specific content from WPL resources....

Two other Visioneering Wichita priorities were “developing a globally competitive education system that encourages and supports lifelong learning and contributes to the vitality of the community” and “having a healthy, safe community with a vibrant recreation, entertainment, arts, and cultural focus.”
Addressing these and other priorities, WPL works with the League of Women Voters to provide monthly current events programs. A coalition of the library and local cultural organizations supports “Senior Wednesday” activities for older adults. Since 2008, the library has received Big Read grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Big Read Wichita partnerships included more than 60 organizations in 2013. WPL’s Big Read initiataive, designed with significant community input, has been identified as a best practices model for other cities....

WPL’s teen volunteer program, operating for nearly three decades, enlists youths as young as 12, who start in the summer to help with the summer reading program, doing book talks and other things to encourage younger readers. If they return for a few summers, they are integrated into other WPL activities. At first, they perform entry-level clerical work. Ultimately, some are offered permanent jobs at WPL....

WPL’s effectiveness in meeting the needs of citizens and its efforts to increase awareness and support have been demonstrated in other ways as well. In July 2013, the city council approved release of a request for qualifications for schematic and design development for a new Central Library. This vote came after strong demonstrations of support. Jeff Fluhr, president of WDDC, spoke in favor of the project, stating, “The library project is an important part to Wichita’s downtown future and also for the region.” Mayor Carl Brewer recognized the impact of WPL on economic development and a skilled workforce. Other speakers referred to the library as “a gathering place and resource for learning, enjoyment, access to information, and fostering human interaction and cultural literacy” and as “the heartbeat to [the] city.”
In recent years, WPL has made very effective interactions with local media a top priority. KCTU TV5 includes a weekly WPL segment on its Your Hour daily talk show. KWCH, the local CBS affiliate, offers a similar segment once a month on its Saturday morning news program. The Wichita Eagle regularly reports on WPL programming and has published many supportive editorials about WPL. Media outlets are especially supportive of Activate Wichita and regularly link the site to stories on community issues.
“This project is about reminding people of all the things that a library can do to benefit a community. People are always surprised when they discover all the library can provide and do,” says Harris.
lbraries  social_change  community_engagement 
22 days ago
We Love Collecting... Text Art - artnet News
In case you missed the memo, word and text-based art has been getting top billing in the art world lately, what with Christopher Wool’s recent retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, the thriving market for Ed Ruscha’s work, and the perpetual attractions of Mel Bochner’s paintings. Look familiar?
text_art 
27 days ago
How the internet works, and why it’s impossible to know what makes your Netflix slow - Quartz
“Until we get some transparency into how companies peer, we don’t have a good portrait of the network neutrality debate.”... What happens before the last mile? Before internet traffic gets to your house, it goes through your ISP, which might be a local or regional network (a tier 2 ISP) or it might be an ISP with its own large-scale national or global network (a tier 1 ISP). There are also companies that are just large-scale networks, called backbones, which connect with other large businesses but don’t interact with retail customers....

All these different kinds of companies work together to make the internet, and at one point, they did so for free—or rather, for access to users. ISPs would share traffic, a process called settlement-free peering, to increase the reach of both networks. They were worked out informally by engineers—”over drinks at networking conferences,” says an anonymous former network engineer. In cases where networks weren’t peers, the smaller network would pay for access to the larger one, a process called paid peering...

But now, as web traffic grows and it becomes cheaper to build speedy long-distance networks, those relationships have changed. Today, more money is changing hands. A company that wants to make money sending people data on the internet—Netflix, Google, or Amazon—takes up a lot more bandwidth than such content providers ever have before, and that is putting pressure on the peering system.
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In the facilities where these networks actually connect, there’s a growing need for more ports, like the one below, to handle the growing traffic traveling among ISPs, backbones, and content providers....

There are three ways for companies like these to get their traffic out to the internet.
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With cheaper fiber optic cables and servers, some of the largest companies simply build their own proprietary backbone networks, laying fiber optic wires on a national or global scale... Or your company can pay for transit, which essentially means paying to use someone else’s backbone network to move your data around... The final option is to build or use a content distribution network, or CDN. Data delivery speed is significantly determined by geographical proximity, so companies prefer to store their content near their customers at “nodes” in or near ISPs... Amazon Web Services is, among other things, a big content distribution network. Hosting your website there, as many start-ups do, ensures that your data is available everywhere. You can also build your own CDN: Netflix, for instance, is working with ISPs to install its own servers on their networks to save money on transit and deliver content to its users more quickly.
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Ready to be even more confused? Most big internet companies that don’t have their own backbones use several of these techniques—paying multiple transit companies, hiring CDNs and building their own. And many transit companies also offer their own CDN services... These decisions affect the speed of your internet service, and how much you pay for it...

As long-haul networks get cheaper, access to users becomes more valuable, and creates more leverage over content providers, what you might call a “terminating access monopoly.” While the largest companies are simply building their own networks or making direct deals in the face of this asymmetry, there is worry that new services will not have the power to make those kinds of deals or build their own networks, leaving them disadvantaged compared to their older competitors and the ISP.
internet  infrastructure  net_neutrality  networks  peering 
27 days ago
The truth about Lorem Ipsum » MobyLives
It turns out that Lorem Ipsum, the dummy text that printers and typesetters use as a placeholder, can in fact be translated. And has an obscure beauty all its own.

In a blogpost for the LRB, Nick Richardson traces the history of Lorem Ipsum back to the sixteenth century, when a printer “mangl[ed] Cicero’s De finibus bonorum et malorum, an exposition of Stoicism, Epicureanism and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon.” But because it has its basis in a real Latin text instead of being pure invention, it’s possible to translate it...

it turns out that the hack assemblywork of Renaissance printers has a modern parallel in the random text generating capabilities of the internet. Flarf poetry, @Horse_ebooks when we thought there were no real people behind it, the “What Would I Say” Facebook status and NSA Haiku generators, and a whole bunch of spin-off Lorem Ipsum sites have been mining the possibilities for linguistic experiments on the edge of nonsense.
printing  book_history  hacks  graphic_design  textual_form  error 
4 weeks ago
5 Ways Koolhaas’ Biennale Will Be Different From the Rest | ArchDaily
2. Think that an exhibition on the fundamental elements of architecture might be bland? Koolhaas understands…but he thinks he’ll be able to change your mind. “A few years ago, I would never have thought of proposing such a bland idea for an exhibition,” says Koolhaas, as he clicks through slides of floors, walls and doors, windows, stairs and toilets. “But when we started researching the histories of these elements, it was like looking for the first time through a microscope and discovering completely unknown species. I hope others will feel the same excitement when they visit.”

3. For the first time, the content of the Arsenale will be multi-disciplinary (and not just nominally so). “I thought that architecture alone should not fill these vast spaces…so we are creating different enclaves where theatrical and intellectual activities can take place over the six months.”

4. Will there be a characteristic Koolhaasian polemic or political charge attached to this Biennale? You bet. Research into the history of the balcony, for example, wouldn’t be complete without examining how they’ve been used by dictators.
architecture  exhibition  biennale  koolhaas 
4 weeks ago
No.14: Transcoding the Digital: How Metaphors Matter in New Media, Marianne van den Boomen | Institute of Network Cultures
Transcoding the Digital: How Metaphors Matter in New Media by Marianne van den Boomen is a material-semiotic inquiry into the constitutive role of metaphors in our daily encounters with computers and networks. While interface concepts such as desktop and windows are easily recognized as metaphors, this research shows how in fact all digital sign-tool-objects – ranging from icons and email to Facebook friends, from hyperlink and tweet to Pirate Bay – are digital-material metaphors. They frame and organize how we access the black boxes of software and machinery, which in turn organize and reconfigure society. The same holds for discourse metaphors such as virtual community, cyberspace, Web 2.0, and social network. Metaphors matter in digital praxis, literally. This study makes an intervention into the contemporary theory of metaphor by extending it with the notion of material metaphor, including a manifest for hacking digital-material metaphors.
metaphors  media_theory  interface  language  materiality 
4 weeks ago
How sound affects the taste of our food | Life and style | theguardian.com
The sound is what sensory science nuts call modulating taste, and the past few years have seen a boom in research in this area. Sound is the final frontier in food presentation. Restaurants agonise over menus, crockery, furniture and lighting, yet often any old CD will be stuck on for background music with nary a thought. However, now that we're starting to understand that everyone has synaesthetic tendencies when it comes to taste, sound is set to play a bigger part in our eating experience. Ben & Jerry's, for example, is considering a sonic range of ice-cream flavours, with QR codes on the tubs that will allow eaters to access complementary sounds via their phones.
sensation  synesthesia  sound  smell  taste 
4 weeks ago
dark mirrors: theaster gates and ebony - artforum.com / in print
SINCE THE MIDDLE OF THE LAST CENTURY, the magazines produced by the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company—most famously Ebony and Jet—have visualized models of black aspiration and bourgeois achievement. At the same time, they have directed their readers’ sights toward texts and photographs of transformative import, from Larry Neal’s writings on black aesthetics to images of the brutalized body of Emmett Till. These periodicals, along with the company’s cosmetics and hair-care lines, provided sources of employment as well as safe havens for black cultural producers forced to navigate a segregated world in an even more segregated city....

With his wife, Eunice Johnson, JPC founder John H. Johnson audaciously imagined and financially supported a modern black world that would become a tendentious model of commercialized uplift, a bulwark against racialized oppression, and an inspiring Gesamtkunstwerk. As such, JPC stands as a peculiar mirror to another Chicago-based corporate enterprise: namely, the practice of Theaster Gates. An ensemblic concatenation that includes performance, painting, sculpture, and video, as well as a series of urban-renewal projects, Gates’s work has at times specifically evoked or cited the images and infrastructure of JPC. But, more broadly and significantly, Gates’s art is animated by the same tensions between social imperatives and economic exigencies that have shaped JPC’s shifting fortunes. To consider his practice alongside the company’s history is, then, to illuminate the contradictions that mark the lives of black institutions, and to underscore the ongoing necessity of such formations in our own neoliberal moment, in which white supremacy’s hold still seems secure even as its means of reproduction take on ever subtler guises.

Certainly, Gates is not the only artist for whom JPC and its magazines have functioned as generative sites. Ellen Gallagher, for example, has been exhibiting modified pages from the company’s publications for over a decade, while in a 2010 painting by Hank Willis Thomas, the titles Ebony and Life are neatly conjoined, underlining the shared visual logic of the two magazines’ branding as well as the distance between their coverage and constituencies. In Stray Light, 2011, a film by David Hartt that is part of his larger multimedia project of the same title, the sumptuous William Raiser and Arthur Elrod–designed interiors of the JPC’s 1972 John Moutoussamy skyscraper on Michigan Avenue become the ethereal stuff of late-modernist fantasia....

Gates’s own connection to the Johnson brand is considerably more material and far more synergistic. For his 2012 exhibition at London’s White Cube gallery, alongside other items redolent of African American progress and protest, the artist displayed John H. Johnson’s sprawling office library, which was given to Gates by Linda Johnson Rice, current chair of JPC’s board. Wheeled ladders and reading tables installed in the gallery made the library accessible, establishing it not as a monument to be mourned or a cipher to be commoditized but as a capacious resource to be engaged. Other works on view, though, were available for sale; in one of several nods to JPC’s array of brands, there was even a Fashion Fair Cosmetics booth open for makeover consultations. The exhibition as a whole, titled “My Labor Is My Protest,” brought into focus Gates’s characteristic confusion of those boundaries—between work and resistance, art and commerce, radicalism and reform, politics and policy—that black practitioners working within hegemonic frames have sought to at once master and disarticulate in reimagining history and tracking the past’s unfolding in the present.

LIKE GATES’S ECLECTIC LONDON INSTALLATION, Ebony and Jet have consistently played with and against hegemonic assumptions about the realities of life lived black. But this tack has not always guaranteed financial success. As hardly needs saying, the past ten years have not been easy for the publishing industry, especially for companies that market to “niche” groups, and JPC has weathered its fair share of storms: layoffs, restructuring, and declining subscription rates for its flagship magazine, Ebony, which is synonymous in many minds with an older generation’s Cosbyesque dreams of black success....

The irony here is worth lingering over. In order to survive in the digital economy, JPC is expanding its brand by hawking a greater range of lifestyle wares and representations while selectively unburdening itself of physical stuff. By contrast, Gates’s acquisition of those very same materials crowns his triumphant emergence within and recasting of contemporary financial economies....

Gates’s best-known work, Dorchester Projects, 2009–, is a suite of beautifully restored South Side buildings that collectively function as a hybrid art center, gathering place, and residence; almost from the start its development was intertwined with the economic downturn that affected JPC so adversely. Searching for a house within his means in 2006, Gates selected a property located on South Dorchester Avenue in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood, a predominantly black area whose neglect by the city abetted both the house’s decay and its affordability. Within a few years, thanks to the subprime mortgage crisis, he was able to acquire the adjacent building and another property across the street. He used the structures to house his growing collections of cast-off cultural artifacts, many of them—such as the University of Chicago’s glass lantern slides and a cache of vinyl records from a neighborhood music store that had gone out of business—casualties of the digital revolution. As the economy fell, Gates rose up to meet it, at once satisfying and exceeding sociocultural demand with a vision to rival the Johnsons’, albeit one that materially foregrounded rather than wished away the precarious circumstances in which blackness often unfolds.

Since then, Gates’s production has only grown more expansive and complex, constantly shifting to meet his own outsize ambition as well as the demands and criticisms of the communities within which he operates. Indeed, his practice can be said to work with and against a particular admixture of aesthetics, theories, contexts, and attitudes: white guilt, the archival turn, DIY aesthetics, the uplift impulse, parafiction, actor-network theory, and, perhaps unavoidably, privatization and the concomitant proliferation of nonprofits and NGOs. His endeavors reflect the extent to which nonprofits, rather than government agencies, are now viewed as providers of crucial services and as “agents of change,” a term favored by postmillennial plutocrats and policy wonks alike....

The exhibition strategy modeled by the “13th Ballad” tends to position the museum as a mere repository or an occasional staging area, just as JPC’s buildings, art, and library have been left out of the loop of its attempted reinvention. In both instances, the object is set adrift from the economies that produced it in order that black life might thrive elsewhere. For scholar Fred Moten, this is a key aspect of Gates’s sculptural works, since they ask for—even if they do not enact—a reconfiguration of the gallery as the kind of “open institution” that blackness itself is and that the artist has materialized “nowhere, everywhere.”

Nowhere, everywhere: This, I think, is an apt characterization of Gates’s decentered practice and of JPC’s transnational brand, both of which differently pose questions about what constitutes an aesthetic enterprise, where it ought to reside, and how it ought to be considered in light of the deformations of race....

While Gates’s strategies may read as very much of their moment, they should also be understood as feints and tactics grounded in opposition to a racialized social order that has much deeper roots than our current socioeconomic condition and that must be battled on all fronts, within and beyond artistic discourse. Like two sides of the same coin, Gates and JPC are for-profit purveyors of goods with divergent aims and attitudes—one aesthetically down-home, the other committedly aspirational. But both are also invested, whether primarily or incidentally, in the construction of spaces of black autonomy.
magazines  periodicals  race  theaster_gates  urban_media  relational_aesthetics  urban_development  libraries 
5 weeks ago
The Good Way to Do History by Robert Darnton | The New York Review of Books
"The Allure of the Archives is a reflection on the experience of long, hard research in manuscript sources and on the difficulties of working up the results into a persuasive interpretation.... But digital cameras tempt the researcher to take endless pictures without actually reading the manuscripts. Although the reading can be done later, on a computer, I doubt that it will take place with the intensity of reading the originals, pencil in hand. It eliminates marinating...

You may feel sympathy for the obscure lives you encounter, she writes, but don’t identify
with them or you will project your concerns on theirs. Keep a critical distance from the material. Remember the arbitrariness that went into the creation of the archives in the first place and the absence of everything they exclude. Above all, resist the temptation to add fictitious touches about what people might have thought and felt. That should be left to historical novels."
archives  historiography  methodology  Foucault 
5 weeks ago
limits of control: rain room and immersive environments - artforum.com / in print
Rain Room is the brainchild of Random Inter­national, a London-based collective founded in 2005 by Hannes Koch, Florian Ortkrass, and Stuart Wood. They debuted this technically impressive (if far from random) environment at London’s Barbican Centre in October 2012 before installing it at MoMA within a large, orthogonal black tent in the lot adjacent to the museum building this summer....

These appeals to the spectacular logic of the expo or to the urgency of environmental problems are hardly unusual or unprecedented. But in bringing the two together, the museum torqued institutional parameters, producing a symptomatic topology whose contours begin to throw Rain Room into a strange relief. Its presentation revealed the intersecting stakes emerging from the decades-old dream, shared by both art and architecture, of engaging postindustrial technologies to create interactive environments. Such environments have long embodied tensions inherent in the implementation of these technologies—which promise new, liberating forms of participatory experience while simultaneously circumscribing their users within increasingly sophisticated mechanisms of control....

Rain Room’s visitors are not, of course, walking into a cloud of rain. Rather, they are entering into and interacting with a field of data processed by invisible electronic circuits (for which their bodily movements serve as input) whose visual and acoustic expression or output is a spatiotemporal, three-dimensional matrix of droplets. What they encounter is information embedded in, or materialized as, water. Rain Room reminds us that even if cybernetic systems have long been modeled after “natural” ones, and even if we use such scientific paradigms to model complexity—whether in environmental, social, economic, or technological domains—this does not mean that all these systems actually operate in similar ways, only that we understand them to do so. Indeed, the project speaks not only of our desire to control nature but also of our dependence upon science and technology to understand and occupy it, of our condition of being always already immersed within a media-technological condition for which Rain Room is a symptomatic reflection...

As with these earlier works, the Rain Room installation is a classic black box—both in the technical and social-scientific senses—its input and output known but its internal mechanism opaque. Wood explains, for instance, that “the idea came about from the idea of exploring people and people’s behavior in different environments.” But Rain Room would not necessarily be more radical if its apparatus were rendered more transparent. If the custom software were revealed, the cameras made visible, the wiring and infrastructure exposed, the behavior monitoring acknowledged in a wall text, we would still be blind to most of its workings; the institutional, socioeconomic, and political systems through which it operates—and within which visitors remain inscribed—would not necessarily become less inscrutable. Such transparency would require interpretation—not only intellectual but of a kind including other types of “performance” than those anticipated by the museum, interactions that self-reflexively open onto new types of social space and through which a viewer might decide how to respond. There is little to suggest that Random International wanted to script this encounter to reveal articulations within such systems, or to put them into doubt, provoking the subject to think. We are very far from institutional critique.

Yet that is precisely why the glitches in Rain Room are so arresting. Although most accounts repeat the claim that you walk into a field of water without getting wet, for many visitors, including myself, the system fails, just slightly, at keeping them dry. Even if you don’t run, mechanisms occasionally lag and drops of water hit you; something unscripted happens that may or may not be the result of your behavior. The system exhibits what appears to be a degree of noise or entropy, an unanticipated effect that is presumably undesirable, but which actually produces a nominal encounter with the work. MoMA’s website, in fact, offered warnings about the system’s limits, what it cannot see or detect: “In order for the technology to work most effectively, visitors are discouraged from wearing dark, shiny, reflective fabrics, fabrics made of raincoat material, or skinny high heels.” The alert was an uncanny reiteration of the apparatus’s behavioral norms, deliciously hilarious in its implications: No fetish queens, no dominatrixes, please! It’s a prohibition that all but begs us to get dressed up. “Since security functions so often by making you visible,” Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri remind us, “you have to escape by refusing to be seen. Becoming invisible, too, is a kind of flight.”...

But Rain Room seems even more closely aligned with the environmental logics and media interfaces developed by the Architecture Machine Group (Arch Mac), founded at MIT in 1968. Arch Mac’s vanguard research brought architecture into an intimate—if at times unholy—alliance with artificial intelligence (AI), computerization, robotics, management, and the political and social sciences, and even into the institutional context of art. In 1970 the group contributed to the exhibition “Software,” curated by Burnham at the Jewish Museum in New York, which aimed to point out the pervasive nature of communications technology in the environment.
installation  media_architecture  climate  environment  sensors  climate_change  weather  data_aesthetics  glitch  error  interaction  software  software_art 
5 weeks ago
a f a s i a: Urban-Think Tank | Brillembourg & Klumpner . Baan
Torre David, a 45-story office tower in Caracas designed by the distinguished Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez, was almost complete when it was abandoned following the death of its developer, David Brillembourg, in 1993 and the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994. ..

Today, it is the improvised home of a community of more than 750 families, living in
an extralegal and tenuous occupation that some have called a vertical slum.
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, along with their research and design
teams at Urban-Think Tank and ETH Zürich, spent a year studying the physical and
social organization of this ruin-turned-home. Where some only see a failed
development project, U-TT has conceived it as a laboratory for the study of the
informal. In this exhibit and in their forthcoming book, Torre David: Informal Vertical
Communities, the architects lay out their vision for practical, sustainable interventions
in Torre David and similar informal settlements around the world. They argue that the
future of urban development lies in collaboration among architects, private enterprise,
and the global population of slum-dwellers. Brillembourg and Klumpner issue a call to
arms to their fellow architects to see in the informal settlements of the world a
potential for innovation and experimentation, with the goal of putting design in the
service of a more equitable and sustainable future.
media_architecture  photography  housing  informal_infrastructure  squatting  venezuela 
5 weeks ago
Iwan Baan - Toree David
The Golden Lion for the Best Project embodying the theme of Common Ground goes to Torre David / Gran Horizonte by Urban-Think Tank (Alfredo Brillenbourg, Hubert Klumpner) Justin McGuirk, Iwan Baan and to the people of Caracas and their families who created a new community and a home out of an abandoned and unfinished building.
The jury praised the architects for recognizing the power of this transformational project. An informal community created a new home and a new identity by occupying Torre David and did so with flair and conviction. This initiative can be seen as an inspirational model acknowledging the strength of informal societies.
media_architecture  photography  venezuela  south_america  informal_infrastructure  housing 
5 weeks ago
Hello Past, I Can Hear You! - WNYC
Audio signals from the past are also embedded in "carriers," which in this case means a physical format such as cassettes, records, or wax cylinders; and, just as with radio waves, if we want to hear the content we must extract the audio on our end with a specialized device —a cassette deck, say, or a contraption such as the Archaeophone, used to play wax cylinders.

Physical carriers also degrade with time....

In audio archiving we cannot get closer in time to the original recording (although there are exceptions, besides time travel), but we often have similar options to the ones described above. Although the content within a carrier is seldom irretrievably lost² (a magnetic signal embedded in audio tape, for example, is remarkably robust), the effort necessary to retrieve it (and retrieve it well) from a carrier generally increases with time, and eventually may not be worth it.

An additional complication is that audio archivists often deal with obsolete formats for which players and their corresponding support infrastructure barely exist. (It is as if your station were not only far away, but broadcasting on shortwave: the effort necessary to retrieve such a signal with good audio will probably be much higher)
audio  archives  sound_archives 
5 weeks ago
Elevator Music You Actually Want To Listen To - Stephanie Garlock - The Atlantic Cities
Shaw asked six local musicians from Philly's Chinatown North/Callowhill neighborhood to produce tracks that would help "foster community" in the area. The result is the 13 track album of "really good elevator music," which is playing in the elevators of the nearby, mixed-use Wolf Building for the month of March....

Each artist interpreted the prompt differently, though common threads include street sounds and interviews with local residents, as well as tempos, instruments, and musical keys that are far more upbeat than most background music. Several of the tracks from fellow artist-in-residence Steve Parker, titled "InterMuzzak," act as a direct parody of typically bad elevator music, punctuated with "surprise" recordings from local residents. (In one, a woman reminds, "Attention: Today, make sure to take a moment to watch the sunset.") Another track features interviews with passersby about that most mundane topic — the weather. The last track captures the chaos of a middle school graduation rehearsal, as rowdy 8th graders try to perfect their Miley Cyrus medley.

The point of these more obtrusive background tracks, Shaw says, is to encourage conversation and connection in these places where people are so often alone, together.
sound_space  muzak  elevators  music  sound_art 
5 weeks ago
Doctoral Level Graduate Programs Approval Process | NYU
a. Describe the purpose, goals, and objectives of the proposed program, highlighting important or unique aspects.

b. Indicate how the program relates to the institution's mission and its existing programs.

c. If the proposed program will be supported substantially by existing resources, explain how its implementation will not strain institutional resources, either financial or academic.
PhD  curriculum  proposal 
5 weeks ago
Where Sounds Have No Barrier - NYTimes.com
Open-plan offices are good for several things: saving money, flexibility, collaboration. But they are also hard on our ears — not because they are loud but because they are so very quiet.

Much office equipment no longer clacks, whirs and pings the way it did in the past. Quieter machines, combined with the spread of open space, have converged to bring other unwanted sounds to the fore, placing an extra burden on our brains. It would be impossible to measure the cost of noisy distractions, but companies with open offices surely pay it....

Both consciously and unconsciously, we are monitoring our work area for sounds and classifying them as they hit our ears, Dr. Goldsmith said. Then we decide to ignore them (the colleague’s conversation with a spouse) or heed them (someone calling our name).

People must deploy “selective auditory attention” to work effectively in noisy environments, said Adrian K.C. Lee, director of the Laboratory for Auditory Brain Sciences and Neuroengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. This work can be complex and mentally draining, and some people are better at it than others....

Some companies now install sound-masking equipment — which emits a continuous, nonirritating sound to help deal with noise concerns and protect confidential conversations. At first it may seem counterintuitive to add sound rather than subtract it, said Jack Heine, founder and chairman of Cambridge Sound Management in Massachusetts. But research shows that if you can’t understand what people are saying, you can more easily ignore it, he said. (The same principle holds when you overhear people speaking in a language you don’t understand.)

Of course, workers whose companies don’t have sound-masking systems can use ear plugs or headphones to block out noise. But these come with their own set of issues — and not just because you can’t hear people calling your name.
labor  acoustics  noise 
5 weeks ago
Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond - NYTimes.com
The Boston Public Library, which was founded in 1848 and is the oldest public urban library in the country, is moving rapidly in that direction. With a major renovation underway, this Copley Square institution is breaking out of its granite shell to show an airier, more welcoming side to the passing multitudes. Interior plans include new retail space, a souped-up section for teenagers, and a high-stool bar where patrons can bring their laptops and look out over Boylston Street...

Such plans might shock anyone who thought that in the digital age, libraries — those hushed sanctuaries of the past — had gone the way of the Postal Service.

“Just the opposite,” said Susan Benton, president and chief executive of the Urban Libraries Council. “Physical visits and virtual visits are off the charts.”

Library usage has increased across the country for a variety of reasons, librarians say, including the recession, the availability of new technology and because libraries have been reimagining themselves — a necessity for staying relevant as municipal budgets are slashed and e-books are on the rise. Among the more innovative is the Chicago Public Library, which offers a free Maker Lab, with access to 3-D printers, laser cutters and milling machines. The Lopez Island Library in Washington State offers musical instruments for checkout. In upstate New York, the Library Farm in Cicero, part of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, lends out plots of land on which patrons can learn organic growing practices.

Along with their new offerings, libraries are presenting a dramatically more open face to the outside world, using lots of glass, providing comfortable seating, as much for collaborative work as solitary pursuits, and allowing food and drink.

“This is what’s happening at a lot of libraries, the creation of an open, physical environment,” said Joe Murphy, a librarian and library futures consultant based in Reno, Nev. “The idea of being inviting isn’t just to boost attendance but to maximize people’s creativity.”

Libraries have long facilitated the “finding” of information, he said. “Now they are facilitating the creating of information.”
libraries  media_architecture  makerspaces 
5 weeks ago
The Monuments of Tech - NYTimes.com
Increasingly, Silicon Valley companies are paying builders to fuse their values of speed, change and productivity with their perceived corporate smarts and quirkiness. It is a big shift. Silicon Valley long prided itself on building world-changing technologies from the humble garage, or the nondescript office park. The new spaces are more distinctive, as companies seek to build a consumer profile and maybe even lasting loyalty.

The companies are dreaming big. Apple plans to build a new ring-shaped headquarters that will be as distinctive as its products. Up in Seattle, Amazon is building a new urban-style headquarters — utilitarian and functional, like its website.

When companies feel that they are changing the world as much as these tech enterprises do, they don’t need just offices. They need monuments.
media_architecture  media_workplace  Google  Amazon  Facebook  Twitter  labor 
5 weeks ago
The Lost Art of Critical Map Reading | Graphicarto
Critical map reading takes the greater pedagogy of critical reading and applies it to maps and visual graphics. It is a form of map reading that does not take a map at face value, but instead examines the data, authors, sources, presentation, and prose of a map, investigating the claims those components assert. Maps are a unique medium in which every part of the composition is data.

Read all textual components and prose on the map carefully
Learn as much as possible about the data shown on the map
Note that everything on a map can be considered data
Be aware of what the map is NOT saying
Notice that graphic representation and color encode bias and implied meaning
mapping  critique  rubric  teaching 
5 weeks ago
National Geographic Thematic Maps Launch in New Google Tool
National Geographic has been producing thematic maps for decades, revealing not just physical features but also location-based details on cultures, history, wildlife, science, and more. Now, a treasure trove of more than 500 of those maps are available online in a new service from Google Maps.

The National Geographic maps can be found in their own section of Google Maps Gallery, which launched officially on February 27. This includes reference maps, wall maps, National Geographic magazine supplement maps, and other creations from over the years, all laid on top of the relevant Google basemaps.

Examples include a detailed map of Civil War battles, a classic Africa wall map, a map of adventure activities in the Dominican Republic, and a map that shows comparative information about the two Koreas.
mapping  google 
5 weeks ago
Paris Review – An Audible Compendium of Typewriters, Sadie Stein
If you go to that typewriter repair shop my dad recommended, you will hear a cacophony of typewriter sounds—a living anachronism. It’s not for effect, or to create the illusion of age like the ersatz sepia patina on a highball-slinging new bar, but because the machines are being serviced, and oiled, and tested, and tweaked, and there is nowhere else for them to go. Somehow, those sounds give me a greater chill than they would if the typewriters were being used in some attempt to evoke an earlier time; the functionality and utility of the sound is what is transporting.

“At the typewriter you find out who you are,” said that seriocomic sage of Washington State, Tom Robbins. Maybe; I hope not. But I recommend pecking away as a form of therapy if you are feeling overwhelmed. There is a reason the mechanism of the keys is called “action”—and sometimes taking action, however small, is very comforting. Even if, like me, you cannot really type.
typewriter  objects  sounds 
5 weeks ago
The Technologists' Siren Song - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Technology comforts, surrounds, and confounds us. When we argue about MOOCs, hydraulic fracturing, NSA surveillance, or drone warfare, we’re arguing about technology. Unfortunately, the conversation is impoverished by the absence of a robust cadre of scholars who can engage with and critique the role of technology in society. Instead, we have the glib boosterism of tech intellectuals like the former Wired editor Chris Anderson, the media gadfly (and CUNY journalism professor) Jeff Jarvis, the British writer Andrew Keen, and the Google executive Eric Schmidt. A fairly homogenous group of white men with elite degrees inclined to champion innovation, disruption, and the free market, these tech intellectuals have usurped the role of explaining technology to policy makers, investors, and the public. Their arguments and advocacy are too often a tepid substitute for robust analysis and honest critique.

There are three main problems with how many tech intellectuals frame public debate about technology. First, they both foster and reflect an intellectual monoculture that favors Silicon Valley’s corporate point of view. In other words, innovation is almost always championed....

In his now-classic book, Forces of Production (1984), Noble argued that Cold War military priorities and corporate concerns shaped industrial automation. As a result, sophisticated machine tools took precedence over more labor-­friendly but lower-tech options despite the latter’s economic benefits. Unlike most tech intellectuals, Noble questioned the motives of corporations (and their academic allies) in promoting innovation, something he certainly did not see as an unalloyed benefit.
innovation  ideology  fetishism  digital_humanities 
5 weeks ago
Glen Oaks Branch Library / Marble Fairbanks | ArchDaily
Glen Oaks Branch Library is a new 18,000sf LEED Gold certified building located at the juncture of a low scale commercial and institutional area and a residential neighborhood. The building doubles the area of the previous building, providing reading rooms and collections on three floors, community rooms, and computers and digital technologies integrated throughout. A landscaped plaza and exterior reading garden provide seating for the community outside the building.
libraries  media_architecture 
5 weeks ago
» Dominic Boyer on the Anthropology of Infrastructure blog.castac.org
the question of “Why now?” And I had essentially three reflections. The first was that concern with what we are calling infrastructure, lower strata of experience, has a deeper [disciplinary] history. Not even to get into material culture, but just this idea of deeper strata that have consequences upon surface phenomena. Whether in a cognitive model, as for example with Lévi-Strauss and his structuralism, or in a more physico-material, Marxist investigation of how sub-structures condition the higher level structures of consciousness. I think that this sort of surfacing of hidden relations is a basic operation within anthropological knowledge–-we have a sort of revelational impulse more generally...

That led me to the second reflection, which is to say that today’s focus on infrastructure often appears as commentary upon infrastructural collapse, infrastructural decline and decay, which seems to me impossible to sever from our position at the end of a 30-year period of more-or-less unquestioned neoliberal hegemony, which has never taken public infrastructure, public services, as being very high-priority goods. In some sense we’re living today in the ruins of Keynesian infrastructure, and that seems to me to be at least in the background here, too. In part, infrastructure signals our relationship to the failure of Keynesianism, and now 30-40 years later, to an incipient failure of neoliberalism to really deliver on its own promises.

But the third reflection, which connects more closely to the work I’m doing now, was really the question of where do we go conceptually and theoretically in the anthropocene. I think that if you were to look at the genealogy of critical analytical projects in the human sciences since the 1970s, the Marxian turn got shut down pretty quickly just as actually-existing Marxisms turned into rubble, and neoliberalism became ascendant. But second-wave feminism and ecofeminism prove a lot more durable, much more difficult to silence, and fed directly into science studies via Haraway and others. Challenging the human subject-centered world was central to that project. I think science and technology studies more generally has a kind of intimate relationship with Keynesian technocracy. It’s critical – rage is too strong a word – but a critical position against the failure of the technocracy to continue to deliver on its promises of an ever-intensifying, -perfecting modernity. Instead after the 1970s as cracks in that apparatus multiply, analytic attention gets drawn to the constructedness of modern science and technology, and voila STS is born. And that decisive shift sets the stage in the 80s and 90s in turn for movements like posthumanism, and more recently, the New Materialism. They very much share in this anti-anthropocentric turn that begins, I think, first in the 1970s and only comes to fruition much later. And recognizing that theoretical trajectory means recognizing that we’re dealing with something very big here. This marks a real shift in the epistemic attentions of the human sciences. Certainly anthropology is part of it, but I really see this as a larger shift....

..you’re quite right that anthropology is loath to give up the human, and wisely so, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t likely to see some very interesting experiments on the margins of the human. We already are. You look at the work in the burgeoning posthumanist anthropology of life, multispecies ethnography, and you can see how that sort of approach could easily be adapted to thinking about infrastructural questions. So I would expect that we’ll see everything from some pretty far-out, artful, posthuman experimental anthropologies of infrastructure – how do roads think? – all the way down to brutally empirical, realistic accounts of pipes, grids, etc.
infrastructure  posthumanism  humanism  methodology  epistemology 
5 weeks ago
The Price of "Free" | Inside Higher Ed
You’ve probably seen the news. Getty (not to be confused with the Getty) has made millions of their photos free.
Well, not exactly. You have to use their embedded code which includes branding, a bit of surveillance, and other money-making potential. Getty figures since people are already using their photos without paying, this is a way to get some control over those uses and montetize it. When you embed these images, you’re giving Getty access to information about who sees the image on your page and you provide them ad space on your site, a little virtual real estate where they might someday put up billboards.
Also, it’s not quite accurate to say that they are making their photos free. Many of the photos don’t belong to Getty. The copyright for many of them belongs to photographers who contract with Getty so that people who want to reuse their photos can discover them and pay for that use, with Getty pocketing a percentage of the fee....

When free is thought of as a radical price, it generally means we’re paying for whatever it is using a different, sneaky currency. We make micropayments of personal information that get aggregated, sold, bundled like high-risk mortgages, repurposed, and used – and not just by businesses.
As we’ve learned, this data made in exchange for "free" stuff is being collected and mined by the state in unprecedented ways. No need for warrants. No need for probable cause of a crime. The price of free, it turns out, is our freedom. And we’re losing it at a terrifying scale.
free  information  information_wants_to_be_free 
6 weeks ago
Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture
Texts have long been written, painted, drawn, and carved onto objects, buildings, and bodies. Though specialists in the material culture of certain traditions (particularly Islam) have long recognized the visual powers of inscribed text, scholars who focus on pre-modern European and Mediterranean cultures only recently have begun to appreciate the aesthetic qualities of such inscriptions. However, as these texts gain attention as images in their own right, the danger of privileging the decorative qualities of the text over the text itself also increases. By analyzing the visual and material properties of texts as well as their content, we may better understand some of the “original” modes and processes of textual reception and more clearly define the full range of readers that took meaning from inscriptions.

This symposium will consider inscribed texts from antiquity to the modern period with the aim of articulating shared problems or issues related to materiality, legibility, and literacy and forging connections between readership in different cultures and contexts. In three thematic sessions, papers will consider the problematic of the “speaking object,” from Greek vases to early modern dinnerware, visual and conceptual reactions to pages and books, and the material and visual properties of inscriptions in the ancient and medieval Mediterranean.
material_texts  books  reading  materiality  literacy 
6 weeks ago
ARCHIST: Illustrations of Famous Art Reimagined as Architecture | ArchDaily
Federico Babina has unveiled yet another playful collection of architecturally inspired illustrations: Derived from the ”symbiotic relationship and implicit partnership” between art and architecture, Archist reinterprets the expressive language and aesthetic of prominent artists as built form. 

“Art and architecture are disciplines that speak and lightly touch each other, the definition and function of the architecture are changing constantly with the development of contemporary art,” described Babina. “I took pleasure imagining architecture steeped of art, designed and constructed through the interpretation of an artist’s language.”
media_architecture  illustration  presentation_images 
6 weeks ago
Mixcloud: A Streaming Service for Mixtape Lovers - NYTimes.com
A new outfit called Mixcloud is hoping to fill the gap with a free web and mobile service that lets people upload and share their custom mixes for the public to stream. It differs from services like Pandora because people — actual humans — mix the music themselves and upload it to the service.
cassettes  music  mix_tapes 
6 weeks ago
Semiotic Review - Architectural Fictions: Renderings, Rats, and the Virtualization of Urban Space
This imagery is ubiquitous in “up-and-coming” urban neighborhoods. Empty lots are digitally metamorphosed into gleaming glass condos and retail arcades. These virtual constructs are often populated by uncanny figures, pixelated people engaged in a range of activities (talking on cell phones, carting small children or armloads of shopping bags). The pictured environments are eerily sterile, presenting a stark model of the future “developed” city, and of its inhabitants. ...however ephemeral they might be, digital renderings perform a critical role in remythologizing and repackaging the contradictions of the newly configured waterfront....

Architectural renderings have traditionally served the purpose of providing a two-dimensional representation of a planned project, depicting a building, for example, as it would appear when viewed from a particular position. They translate the coded and specialized representational tools used by planners into an accessible, immediate, and idealized projection of a conceptual structure within its environment. Architectural historian Robin Evans has written about the peculiar relationship architects have with their drawings, which serve as “intervening mediums” between the designers and “the object of their thought,” the end product of their work (Evans 1997:156). The experience of the architect, then, unlike that of the traditional painter or sculptor, is one of a “displacement of effort and an indirectness of access” (Evans 1997:156). Yet the architect’s drawing contains a kind of virtual power that inverts the classical relationship between reality and representation; “drawing in architecture is not done after nature,” he writes, “but prior to construction; it is not so much produced by reflection on the reality outside the drawing as productive of a reality that will end up outside the drawing” (Evans 1997:165). This “unacknowledged generative power,” he argues, results in a situation where “drawing’s hegemony over the architectural object has never really been challenged” (Evans 1997:156). The architectural rendering imposes itself upon the structure it imagines into being. ]...
In a study of the increasing use of online promotional interfaces in the marketing of residential developments, Andrew Morrison and Synne Skjulstad describe the emergence what they call “unreal estate,” “the digital projection of a property that is yet-to-be-built” (2010:189). Navigating online tool palettes, prospective buyers can view enhanced “hyperreal” models of planned apartments from an array of angles. The spaces depicted are elegantly furnished, with vistas of their urban environments visible outside. We witness a “medley” of technologies and tropes (CAD models, flybys, traditional drawings, text, enhanced floor plans, photography, and hyperlinks) that work, collectively, to create a multilayered project site for the viewer to explore. The imagery does not appear realistic, per se—this is clearly a simulation, and the emphasis upon navigation makes the viewer an active participant in the technological infrastructure at work. Yet it does mediate between the digital projection of the future and the visual vestiges, usually photographic, of a preexisting reality....

Available in stock-catalogues, free-download sites, or by creating your own cut-outs from pre-existing photographs, digital people can be combined with other cut-out objects and elements to add scale, texture, and “personality” to a site. “Need people with a cosmopolitan flair?,” the Urban Moods People listing from RealWorld Imagery bekons, “This collection of 104 people is ideal. Featuring gritty urban youth to sophisticated nightlife trend setters. People in international dress and people suggesting alternative lifestyles also on this fresh and original CD.”5
Clicking through these sites, one is struck by a strange process of ontological equalization. As Houdart notes, “according to the logic of these image creations, every single element, a tree, sky, a person, and so on, must be considered equally. In these nascent cosmologies, in the form of catalogues and lists of things, everything is treated alike and as basically of the same nature”...

In a strange kind of reversal, it seems to me that the self-conscious, sly, dystopian imagery of the radical 1960s groups have influenced the aesthetics of the contemporary digital imaginary, yet are often re-invoked, minus the politics and with no visible self-awareness, in the utopian sales pitches of contemporary developers. Yet there is still room for artistic noise within the program....

One of my favorite, more recent interventions into architectural fiction is the Hypothetical Development Organization, which imagines “implausible futures for unpopular places.” Their first project took place in New Orleans, where they had artists create renderings in high-real-estate-style of imaginary developments based on real, abandoned locations throughout the city.
media_architecture  renderings  Photoshop  drawings  marketing  real_estate  speculation 
6 weeks ago
Never Neutral: Critical Approaches to Digital Tools & Culture in the Humanities | Josh Honn
This question that’s been put to librarians—will technological critique emerge with the emergence of digital librarianship—is important for us to also ask of the humanities more broadly.... As early as 1995, Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron were critiquing what they called “the Californian Ideology,” “a mix of cybernetics, free market economics, and counter­culture libertarianism;” an ideology powered by technological determinism and the seemingly­ Leftist belief in techno­utopianism.... Since at least the 1960s, the rise of this venture ­capital-funded deterministic technocracy has been accepted, funded, actively promoted and further developed by research universities and academic libraries, as administrators and researchers implement what Evgeny Morozov has dubbed “solutionism,” the belief that supposedly novel digital technologies will, through quick, unthinking application, solve pressing social, economic and political problems that may or may not even be problems in the first place. With calls for “innovation” and “disruption” bountifully buzzing about—often as if utterance alone could bring about change—the solutionism affecting higher education is really no more than the Californian Ideology made manifest through austerity measures, best exemplified, of course, by MOOCs.

However, along with scholars and graduate students across the disciplines in the humanities, some digital librarians, like Davis, are rejecting the fast­-paced, techno­utopian allure and, instead, further activating the humanistic tradition of librarianship that demands we think critically about digital technologies in much the same way it’s done for decades with sources, and the organization, of information...

So, we’re dealing with technologies that are inherently incapable of neutrality, and the problem becomes one of graspable, actionable confrontation, in understanding just what, when we confront technology, we are confronting.

First, we’re confronting an artifact, for despite the rhetoric around “the digital” and “the cloud,” our tools are not ephemeral, but material cultural artifacts.... “Like other texts, artifacts are constructed with particular purposes in mind, have values … and … politics embedded in them. The purposes and values and politics embedded in technology are subject to critical analyses and deconstruction like other texts.”...

Another thing we confront when we confront digital technology is history. In the introduction to Always Already New: Media, History and the Data of Culture, Lisa Gitelman posits that media “are historical at several different levels, from themselves being “denizens of the past” to being “functionally integral of a sense of pastness.”...

If a set of guidelines is what we need, it’s possible Neil Postman, in his book Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, may have provided us a place to start. [slide] When confronting technology, he says we should ask six questions:

What is the problem to which this technology is the solution?
Whose problem is it?
Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological solution?
What new problems might be created because we have solved this problem?
What sort of people and institutions might acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?
What changes in language are being enforced by new technologies, and what is being gained and lost by such changes?...

As Alan Liu has stated, “the appropriate, unique contribution that the digital humanities can make to cultural criticism at the present time is to use the tools, paradigms, and concepts of digital technologies to help rethink the idea of instrumentality. The goal … is to think ‘critically about metadata’ (and everything else related to digital technologies) in a way that ‘scales into thinking critically about the power, finance, and other governance protocols of the world.’”...

For instance, one of the most important metadata fields in DiRT to consider is “Developer.” While there is much to consider here—was the tool developed by a single person or a team? a center or a company? for­profit or not?... A second important metadata field to consider when confronting a digital tool is “License.” Was the source code for this tool released under an open source license? If so, what are the varieties of open source licenses, and how does that affect users or those who might wish to interrogate further or build upon? If the code is proprietary, what needs to be further investigated?... Finally, a third field to consider is “Technical documentation.” It seems obviously important but it also leads to the advice that so few want to ever hear or heed: read the documentation. If you want to know what a tool does and how it does it, your best bet is to read the documentation first. Especially in the humanities, this documentation can actually be far from dry or strictly limited to the technical specifics of the tool itself.
solutionism  Silicon_Valley  ideology  making  digital_humanities  innovation  tools  material_consciousness 
6 weeks ago
Infrastructure: Introductory Commentary by AbdouMaliq Simone — Cultural Anthropology
These are expressions of physical exertion, visible arrays, and symbolic arrangements — all of which constitute possibilities and constraints for what can be done. Infrastructure exerts a force — not simply in the materials and energies it avails, but also the way it attracts people, draws them in, coalesces and expends their capacities. Thus, the distinction between infrastructure and sociality is fluid and pragmatic rather than definitive..... While infrastructure attempts to suture, articulate, or circumvent, its proficiency of engineering, substance of investment or institutional support does not guarantee that it will accomplish what it sets out to do. .. The subsequent relationships may retrospectively reveal properties that explain how things are attuned to each other, complement or engender new capacities. But these characteristics or properties of the relationship cannot fully account for how the relationship was operationalized. The efficacy of infrastructure retains a dependence on affiliations and investments that can never be fully specified... the resultant media of connections — roads, networks, wires, pipes — may be appropriated for unanticipated uses and movements....

Infrastructural breakdowns and deficits become occasions for remaking forms of political claims, technical adjustment in equipment, and realigning institutional and political relations. It is a process that must be continuously worked on, for the working out of completing claims, policy frameworks and technical capacities means that the water will inevitably run dry.

This process of mobilizing sufficient pressure ends up intensifying the volatility of relations in the city and thus the uncertainty as to where adequate supplies of water are to come from....

What it can reflect, defer, and distribute. The development of infrastructure often trips up on this point of “passing on,” instead aspiring to a complete summation of everything “so far” or a more-perfect form imposed upon an environment. Whatever stability infrastructure accomplishes, however, still depends on the messy earthly and social actions infrastructure provides sufficient definition for while at the same time not draining them of their intensity....

Much infrastructure operates as weak, gestural interventions into spectral matters reflecting the recognition that a multitude of operations, metabolisms, algorithms, and forces converge in a particular space. This convergence produces unforeseen implications and potentials. Thus, the spectral gets seized upon as a horizon of control....

Villagers as landlords made large amounts of money providing not only rental accommodation but spaces of inhabitation and production that forged a large degree of autonomy from the enforcement of maps, directives and imaginaries operative in the rest of the “official” city.

At the same time, the official city offloaded much of the costs of service provisioning to the villages that enabled it to continue to grow at a breakneck pace.
infrastructure 
6 weeks ago
BOMB Magazine — Prem Krishnamurthy by Zachary Sachs
It used to be an old exhaust systems contracting office, so it was divided up between two offices with interior windows between them, which seemed really strange to me, and I liked it. I saw the interior windows and immediately knew I wanted to project film works on them. And I knew that they presented an obstacle, it's not necessarily a great space for many people who want to run a gallery or exhibition space, because there's only one door. And you can only show work that fits through that door—but to me, it's a great constraint... It's such a simple thing, but it's these details: the fact that it's not rectilinear—it's a parallelogram. It creates these weird relationships. It was important to me that the architecture of the space not be just a passive thing, but somehow be activated...

Whether a decision is a curatorial decision or an artistic decision or a design decision or just a decision that is conditioned by the space: all of those things coexist. There's no definitive way to tease out whose agency a particular decision is; those things are enmeshed...

The main thing is: if you have a gallery in Chelsea, there’s a relatively homogenous group of people that go over there. You have the High Line, but if you're in Chelsea on 22nd or 24th street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue, you're a person going to a gallery. That's a self-selecting public. The opportunity of being in this particular spot is that it's a mixed public. Broome Street is a major access point in Manhattan—I often try to use the storefront in an active way. To make the storefront as much part of the space as anything inside of it... The signage is in Chinese and English, and there are shows that incorporate things that relate to Chinese culture in particular ways...

And many people who walk in here don't know what to make of it. That’s a positive thing. I'm interested in the space feeling very, very different from show to show. And so when we did a show at the beginning of this six-month cycle on copying, where Rich Brilliant Willing worked with us to make the space into a reading room, you'd be amazed how many people said, "Oh, so you're a bookstore now? You're a reading room?" And I said, "No, it's an exhibition." And they were like, "What do you mean?" I want to create that confusion. When Slow and Steady Wins the Race opened a weeklong pop up shop here, as part of a show, same thing. "Are you a retail store? Are you selling bags or are you a gallery?" And I replied, "Both/and." It's encouraging that people still don't know what the hell we are...

So I'm not necessarily interested in the distinction between art and design (or architecture or music or fashion or fiction writing, for that matter), but rather creating a new space of viewership for it all. It’s more about putting these cultural objects into conversation, and calling out the fact that sometimes they function in similar and sometimes in dissimilar ways. Also, I'd like to create a context in which people may work in a way that is non-native to them, to have people doing things in this space that are—not, maybe, outside of their practice, but are perhaps underrepresented in their practice. And that itself is speaking to the question of disciplinary boundaries. Rather than being defined by a particular idea of what an artist does or what a designer does or what a musician does, thinking about how those things resonate with all the other ideas surrounding them....

...reminds me of an Experimental Jetset quote, something like, "design ought to perforate the thing it communicates."... I hadn't heard that particular quote, but the idea of perforation is, in some ways, right—in that individual agencies are somehow made manifest, and visible, creating a rupture or break. In most art systems, there is some sort of suppression of certain kinds of agency. In many exhibitions, one talks about artists, or curators, as discrete entities that do these very discrete things. But it's clear, I think, to people who are working as artists or curators—or as designers or anything really, involved with installation—that there's a lot of overlap and ambiguity between those roles. But most of the time in the end it's cleaned up, there's a way in which things are presented as being straightforward. It's listed, who does what.... Maybe it's just that it goes in and out of vogue in a curatorial sense. There are moments when one thinks more about the autonomy of the object or the autonomy of the artist, and there are moments when one thinks more about the interrelationship of objects....

Both in design, and in curating, it's a Brechtian estrangement, instead of the medium being presented as totally transparent and disappearing. It's going to affect what it's mediating one way or the other, there's no other way that it could be....

Part of the space is also about asking questions about commerce and culture and how intertwined those things are. In the case of this show, it's been evoked in a number of different ways. In the previous show in the cycle [Permutation 03.3], Peter Rostovsky was showing digital paintings that are distributed for free online. There was a pamphlet that we produced with him, a new text, a dialogue about painting and politics, and the question of how to create a mass-produced, democratic artwork, that's neither kitsch nor something that's elite.... The reason that I'm interested in looking into models outside of the white cube is not just because I'm interested in breaking some norm; it's because the white cube exists to create a certain kind of value. It exists to generate a certain kind of object, to sanctify it....

I was talking to a performing arts institution about a project, and they asked me if there was admission to the shows here, and that made me realize there's a total gulf there. We go to galleries, we're conversant in the norms. We know that if we want information, we go and ask for the checklist. If we're dressed well enough, we can ask for a price list. We know these modes and we navigate them fluidly. But the truth is many people don't...

Copying: There's a mode of citing things that's acceptable in one discourse but not another. But then if you cross those lines, you're allowed to steal wholesale. But it depends on whether you're doing it within a disciplinary narrative or not... instead of thinking of something as being original, these things are really permutations of previous versions, and they're circulating fluently, and the point isn't the original idea but the specific substantiation of the thing: taking it in the own context of its making....

The people I feel most inspired by are people like Judith Berry, who is an artist but who moves between the realms of art, architecture, exhibition design, writing, and more. Group Material was really important example for me. I wouldn't say predecessor in a direct way, but I admire them for bringing things of different contexts into a single space. In their case, much more in the mode of making an artwork: which is not what I'm interested in. I guess I also see my influences in this being less curatorial models and more wide-ranging, as design but not just design. I like the idea of a World's Fair. You put all these things together, and there they are.
typology  exhibition  exhibition_design  public_space  curating  medium_specificity  habitus  copying 
6 weeks ago
Yale DH Working Group - Data Visualization with Lauren F. Klein
Professor Klein began with a short overview of the present, a “golden age of data visualization”, and then looped back to the past to examine how we got here and how the roots of data visualization continue to feed the current practice. Examples from current day practice include self-quantifier Nick Felton, power network exercise TheyRule, and Paul Rucker’s animated visualization of the proliferation of prisons in the United States. We started in the past with two men generally credited with first using data visualization, William Playfair and Johan Heinrich Lambert, continuing through Emma Willard, Thomas Jeffrys, Joseph Priestly, William Rankin, and Thomas Jefferson, among others.

This last served as a particularly good example of the need to keep in mind human agency behind and through data visualizations, not just in any single example but also in the aggregate of examples. Jefferson vigorously recorded data on many aspects of his life and business, but notably and (from the vantage point of the contemporary scholar) conspicuously omitted representation of enslaved people. Klein showed a Protovis representation of Jefferson’s correspondence, arguing that he engaged in more significant correspondence with people enslaved under his control than with his family members.* Through extensive research in Jefferson’s archives, Klein asserts that visualization should also be used to facilitate thematic exploration of archives as a precursor to further investigation. In fact, one of the primary messages for Klein from investigating data visualization extensively remains that data visualization needs to be used as a starting point rather than a bright flash of light and a cry of “Fiat knowledge!”.
data_visualization  methodology 
6 weeks ago
Google Opens Its Online Exhibition Interface to All
Today, Google launched Google Open Gallery, which opens its online exhibition tools to any artist, museum, archive, or gallery.

It’s currently invite only, which isn’t exactly “open” in our book, although you can peruse some initial launch examples to check out what an Open Gallery might look like for your project. Open Gallery is part of Google Cultural Institute’s Art Project, which has been collaborating with museums and galleries for online exhibitions like a digital exploration of the transformation of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris from train station to museum, and street art from the walls of São Paulo, Brazil.
exhibition  google  multimodal_scholarship 
6 weeks ago
Essay on why faculty members work so much | Inside Higher Ed
we tell ourselves that the boundarylessness of our time and service is a privilege and even a practice of freedom. Over and over I have heard academics say that they couldn’t bear to punch the electronic time clock as our professional colleagues do. But the alternative is the culture of deemed time: by flattering us with what looks like trust in the disposal of our modest obligations, the university displaces all responsibility onto us for the decisions we make about how much to give. There is the problem of imposing limits on ourselves.
time_management  labor  academia 
6 weeks ago
Film preservation 2.0 / The Dissolve
As the death of film accelerates, the terms and stakes of the battle are changing rapidly, in ways that aren’t well understood outside the small community of archivists working directly in the field. Digital technology offers a chance for perfect, lossless preservation, but only at significant financial cost, and higher risk of catastrophe. Unless the unique challenges of digital preservation are met, we run the risk of a future in which a film from 1894 printed on card stock has a better chance of surviving than a digital film from 2014...

The added cost and difficulty arise from a major conceptual difference between digital and analog preservation: In digital preservation, the media isn’t itself the object that needs to be preserved. The original camera negative of a film is a unique, irreplaceable object—any copy is inferior to the original. With a digital production, it doesn’t matter in the slightest whether the digital files are written to a hard drive, magnetic tape, flash drive, or Jaz disk. Archivists can use whatever media best suit their needs. But right now, there aren’t any great options.

The most commonly used format for digital archiving is Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology, a magnetic tape format that is most commonly used for enterprise data backups. LTO tapes are more stable than hard drives, which are subject to mechanical failure, but they’re far from ideal....

the issues with digital preservation became apparent while most people who cared about the history of film, archivists included, were fighting to keep 35mm alive. Digital-media weaknesses were seen as ammunition for that battle, not problems to solve. There’s a deeper reason, however, and I think it comes down to narrative. The stories of film preservation from the analog era are stories: lost treasures resurfacing years later, like Tutankhamun’s Mask. The prints James Mason found were physical objects that Buster Keaton himself handled and viewed. Over time, mechanically reproduced art can acquire an aura—as long as it’s a unique, analog reproduction. But digital cinema—media severed from content, every copy exactly as good as the original—will never have this quality. Right now, aura is a crucial part of the way we think about all types of historical preservation—and part of what draws people to historical enterprises to begin with. No one is ever going to tell the story, years from now, of the tape-copy operation that gave The Wolf Of Wall Street five more years. But digital cinema—our cinema—won’t survive for some future Howard Carter to find generations from now. It will be saved, if it is saved, by an older kind of archivist: monks in scriptoria, loading tapes into drives, painstakingly transcribing old data to new media, outrunning history.
archives  preservation  film 
6 weeks ago
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