New Trends in Office Design | Issue 19 | n+1
SITTING USED TO BE CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL to the West; it was presumed that the “great divergence” came because those in the East did not have chairs. A British colonialist in 1851 was disgusted to see Indians squatting while they worked... Now we know an entire aesthetic and social order was based on a falsehood. The truth is this: to ask someone to sit is to take months away from his or her life....

In the world of office design, few things move quickly — two decades after the cubicle is supposed to have died, the rate of new orders has declined only slightly — but the move to standing desks is nonetheless under way. No one dislikes a standing desk, and everyone who doesn’t have one wants one. People who work at them report that the standing desk has ended the classic 3 PM slump....

Compare these options to the greatest standing desk, perhaps the greatest desk in history — George Nelson’s Action Office I, designed in concert with Robert Propst for the Herman Miller Company in 1964 — and you will feel with a sinking feeling that, for all our enlightenment, we live in a fallen age. Rising from gleaming aluminum legs connected by a slim bracing bar (a footrest but compared by a reporter to “the brass rail in a saloon”), Nelson’s desk issued forth on a cantilever, its corners rounded, the edges blunted by rubber. Its most slyly cool aspect was the retro roll top, a feature common to desks in the merchants’ clerks offices of the late 19th century and in Action Office I made of warm wood tambour.
office_culture  workplace  architecture  aesthetics_of_administration  desks 
yesterday
Brand Minimalism - Magazine - Art in America
Visitors to Chicago's Renaissance Society in the winter of 1980 encountered a concise exhibition with a provocative thesis. "Objects and Logotypes: Relationships Between Minimalist Art and Corporate Design" was a polemical juxtaposition of two strands of postwar American culture that, at first blush, could hardly seem more opposed. On the walls hung examples of corporate logotypes, the iconic forms that were meant to project, with a single amalgamation of text and image, a coherent identity for sprawling multinationals like the Aluminum Company of America, Chase Manhattan Bank and International Minerals & Chemical Corporation. The Minimalist objects arranged in the gallery included a steel box by Donald Judd, one of Sol LeWitt's modular aluminum sculptures and a zinc floor piece by Carl Andre....

In an essay published in conjunction with the show, curator Buzz Spector argued that the relationship examined in "Objects and Logotypes" was founded on more than coincidental resemblances. Analyzing texts by sympathetic critics of Minimal art along with excerpts from seminal graphic-design studies, Spector located a shared rhetorical foundation undergirding the morphological similarities. References to precise systemic compositions and "all-encompassing" gestalt perception echo through a series of essays, from art historian William C. Agee's comments on Judd's sculpture to a treatise by designer Lester Beall to artist Robert Morris's writing about his own work....

In Spector's account, corporate identity programs and Minimal sculpture are both strong "reflectors of social values," even though the artists and designers may have radically different attitudes toward those values. The nuanced relationship he posited between Minimal artists and the surrounding corporate culture was founded neither on gestures of ironic appropriation nor on an explicitly antagonistic position. Instead, the visual and material imprints of corporations were, in Spector's view, inescapable conditions of aesthetic discourse in mid-20th century America.
minimalism  corporate_identity  branding  exhibition  graphic_design 
yesterday
Google Lat Long: Go back in time with Street View
Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.
mapping  history  urban_history  palimpsest 
yesterday
Library Lifeline: The Ideas Box from Libraries Without Borders | Editorial
The portable unit, also referred to as a “humanitarian response device,” is actually a set of six colorful, multifunctional boxes that neatly stack onto two pallets. It came into being following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Libraries Without Borders was there, at UNICEF’s bidding, to set up tent libraries and deliver library materials to children. After bringing resources and access to that devastated setting, Libraries Without Borders launched an Urgency of Reading Campaign in an effort to have cultural and intellectual needs included more formally in international aid efforts on an ongoing basis. The Ideas Box, created pro bono by noted designer and architect Philippe Starck, is a concrete tool toward that end...

The six colorful elements hold a thoughtful range of technology and materials, including 250 print books, 5,000 ebooks and 50 ereaders, four laptops, digital courses, a film collection and screens, HD cameras, board games, and supplies to make arts and crafts. This combination of offerings, built out at a net cost of $60,000, creates an intellectual lifeline. It enables people to engage in four main strands of activity framed by the project: connect, learn, play, and create.
Fresh from the unit’s first trial this February in a refugee camp in Burundi, in southeast Africa, the Libraries Without Borders team was ready to share the box’s features. What materials get added, noted Sylvain Courret, the point person on IT, is defined by the local context. The book collection and online materials are selected for each setting. With lots of preloaded digital content, there is depth offline, and several types of connectivity are enabled so people can both take in information and link out to the world. The organization has even thought out how to help sustain viability after its facilitator departs with the development of a local team, led by what Courret called the “Head of Box,” who masters the unit’s capacities and works with a local partner to meet ongoing operational costs.
libraries  popups  kit_of_parts  little_libraries  developing_world 
yesterday
Jason Griffey’s LibraryBox Project Awarded Knight Foundation Prototype Grant | LJ INFOdocket
We’ve been chronicling the development of Jason Griffey’s (librarian, author, speaker, developer) LibraryBox project for a couple of years.

Earlier today, Jason posted on on his Pattern Recognition blog that the LibraryBox has been awarded a prototype grant by the Knight Foundation. LibraryBox and 16 other projects received these grants in this round according to the Knight Foundation’s news release.
libraries  popups 
yesterday
Artist Zimoun Creates a Roiling Ocean of Packaging Peanuts inside the Windows of an Art Museum | Colossal
Swiss artist Zimoun (previously) just unveiled a large installation inside the windows of the Museo d’Arte di Lugano in Switzerland. Titled 36 Ventilators, 4.7m3 Packing Chips, the kinetic artwork relies on large fans that perpetually blow clouds of packaging peanuts against the museum’s broad windowframes. At night the effect is especially eye-popping as it appears the entire space is filled with a turbulent white sea. Via bitforms gallery:

Using simple and functional components, Zimoun builds architecturally-minded platforms of sound. Exploring mechanical rhythm and flow in prepared systems, his installations incorporate commonplace industrial objects. In an obsessive display of curiously collected material, these works articulate a tension between the orderly patterns of Modernism and the chaotic forces of life. Carrying an emotional depth, the acoustic hum of natural phenomena blends effortlessly with electric reverberation in Zimoun’s minimalist constructions.
things  objects  sound  sound_space  sound_art  object_oriented_philosophy 
yesterday
Sonic Terrain | listening, field recording, environmental sound
Sonic Terrain is dedicated to field recording: Audio and sound recording not inside the studio environment, but in the outside world around us. We encourage not just hearing the world around you, but to listening to it, and recording it, for reflection, relaxation, art, science, or entertainment.

We don’t draw hard boxes around disciplines or styles, because field recording is used by an incredibly wide array of people and professions: laypeople, sound designers, sound mixers, multi-media artists, musicians, scientists, researchers, acoustic ecology conservationists, and more. Sonic Terrain offers a place for these disciplines to be cross-pollinated, in order to expose everyone to aspects of sound and recording they may not have considered.
field_recording  sound  sound_space  methodology 
yesterday
The Flora of the Future: Wild Urban Plants: Places: Design Observer
Many landscape architects feel conflicted by the restoration debate, trapped between the profession’s idealistic rhetoric about the innate superiority of native ecosystems and the constraints imposed by the financial and ecological realities of a particular site. Over the past 250 years, people have altered the basic trajectory of modern ecology to such an extent that going back to some earlier native condition is no longer possible and is certainly not a realistic solution to the increasingly complex environmental problems that we face.

Landscape architects — and anyone else who works directly with vegetation — need to acknowledge that a wide variety of so-called novel or emergent ecosystems are developing before our eyes. They are the product of the interacting forces of urbanization, globalization and climate change, and are made up of organisms that have been brought together by the elimination or neutralization of barriers that had kept them separated for millions of years. [2] The concept of a novel ecosystem applies not only to our cities and suburbs but also to many landscapes that have been subjected to the disturbance-intensive practices of agriculture, industry and mining. It is unrealistic to assume that turning back the ecological clock will be any easier than reversing the economic forces that created these landscapes. [3]...

New Infrastructural Taxonomies: The plants that appear spontaneously in urban ecosystems are remarkable for their ability to grow under extremely harsh conditions — most notably in soils that are relatively infertile, dry, unshaded and alkaline. -- chain-link fence, vacant lots, median strips, stone walls, pavement cracks
cities  plants  botany  infrastructure  nonplace  landscape_urbanism  landscape_architecture 
yesterday
On writing: assume you’ve won
The piece of writing advice I’ve found myself giving lately, more than anything else, is: “assume you’ve won.”  So much writing in the humanities and critical social sciences is defensive–making sure an argument is protected from all comers.  I understand that some aspects of both graduate school and journal reviewing lead to this way of doing things.  But it’s not generally fun to read or write and it’s an impossible task...

I try to write pedagogically and invitationally rather than defensively. I imagine that my audience is ready to hear what I have to say, now I have to take them through it.
writing  academia 
2 days ago
Bonfire of the Humanities | Mali | OutsideOnline.com
Before me was a vast cache of knowledge pulled literally from the fires of war. These were the famed manuscripts of Timbuktu, the legendary caravan town that had thrived here between the 12th and 16th centuries. Relics of a sophisticated African trading culture that stretched from Mauritania to Zanzibar, they had emerged in the past decade as one of the great archaeological discoveries of our time, a hidden-in-plain-sight secret. Inside wrappings of rag paper or gazelle leather, scribed onto camel- and goatskin parchments, written on Italian Renaissance paper and even stones, the Timbuktu books were a mountain of literature in a supposedly illiterate part of Africa, the secret history of a continent before Europeans arrived.

And then, in January 2013, they were burned. Jihadi rebels occupying Timbuktu entered the town’s great library and set the manuscripts ablaze. The world condemned it as the most despicable act of vandalism since the Taliban dynamited the monumental Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001...

Timbuktu was known for tolerance as well, and for its love of sensual pleasures like music and tobacco. Founded around 1100 A.D. where the Sahara meets the Niger River, it became a trade hub fed by caravans that crossed the desert with salt and books, connected by camel to Cordoba and Constantinople. By the 15th century, Timbuktu was home to 100,000 people, with as many as 25,000 scholars crowding its dirt lanes. One urban quarter served as a medieval xerox machine, lined with scriptoriums where calligraphers churned out handmade copies. Only the rise of European sailing ships pushed it into obscurity...

Then the jihad arrived. Belmokhtar united about 2,000 Tuareg fighters with a smaller, hardened force of jihadis—a quicksand mixture of smugglers and holy warriors bolstered by perhaps 1,000 heavily armed mercenaries returning from Libya. That April, the Malian army abruptly collapsed and the rebels captured Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal, the desert’s main population centers. In Timbuktu, the Tuaregs promised tolerance and respect. But when the troops of Ansardine arrived, flying the black flags of Al Qaeda, the rebels set up Taliban-style rule across northern Mali, a place they called Azawad and governed with harsh sharia laws.

In previous wars—a Moroccan invasion at the end of the 16th century and a jihadi uprising in the 15th—manuscripts had been destroyed or looted, too. But centuries later, mountains of old paper were still there, in small family collections, preserved by the desert climate and Islam’s reverence for the written word. “We don’t care about books,” one Tuareg rebel had assured a local collector, but that didn’t last. While overwhelmingly Islamic, the books embraced secular science, Sufi magic, and intellectual argument—the wrong kind of Islam, at least for Al Qaeda.

The occupation lasted ten months. Then, on January 26, 2013, as a French military expedition approached the city, the retreating rebels paused to commit one final crime. Entering Timbuktu’s modern new library, the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research, they carried more than 4,000 manuscripts into a courtyard, where they built a bonfire of words. One match and about 30 minutes of stirring was all it took.

The mayor of Timbuktu told The Guardian that the fire had destroyed not one but two libraries, “a devastating blow.” But smoke gets in your eyes. Although pictures emerged of torched manuscripts lying in piles, Malian officials soon backtracked. Only some books had been lost. Over the next few months, news reports emerged of a remarkable effort by ordinary Malians to smuggle out these treasures, by truck and trunk, donkey and canoe. The jihadis never knew how badly they themselves had been burned: before they lit their blaze of ignorance, the vast majority of the city’s manuscripts were already gone....

The institute was founded in 1973 but only gained real traction in 1984, when Haidara joined, bridging the gap between state researchers and some 65 families with private collections. Like most, he retained physical control of his books, and his own 45,000 items make up by far the largest collection in Timbuktu. These were not just piles of old scraps. Often they were high-quality works with spectacular Arabic calligraphy, illuminated with bright red and blue inks and graced with gold-leaf arabesques that wrapped in infinite loops, reflecting the never-ending nature of God. In 2000, Mali greatly expanded the institute, and this new building opened in 2009 with a staff of 50 Malians trained to protect and digitize the books.

This was Big Data, Sahara edition. The books are “heirlooms of an African renaissance,” says South African historian Shamil Jeppie, who runs the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project at the University of Cape Town. They include everything from astronomy to zoology, from Turkish maps to Jewish wedding contracts, along with a mother lode of commercial records about caravans and the salt trade. One of the few scholars to have examined the works firsthand, Jeppie has found law and theology but also poetry, a history of tea, and two sex manuals, which he describes as “very practical—I mean, very impractical.”

Yet, by 2012, the institute had digitized just 2,000 manuscripts. You couldn’t exactly slap them on a scanner: the paper was as fragile as a mummy, and the ink (typically made of charcoal mixed with gum arabic) could burst into flames from the hot beam of light. When the jihadis arrived to trash the library, this inefficiency turned out to be a partial blessing: compared with the tens of thousands in state hands, there were hundreds of thousands still in private homes, waiting their turn for restoration and copying with cold-circuit photography. The people of Timbuktu had been careful, even grudging, with their books. As in centuries past, this was a winning strategy....

This is why I had gone all the way to Timbuktu. To see how people acted under pressure, when there was no plan, only instinct. The librarians simply grabbed books and walked out, passing with fake confidence by armed men ready to kill them. The sound of a culture surviving was the discreet rustling of men’s underpants.
media_city  manuscripts  archives  scriptora  writing  reading  preservation 
2 days ago
“The Space of Poetry” exhibition in Boston examines the built environment of poetry | News | Archinect
"The exhibition delves into the space of poetry by bringing it together with architecture history, theory and design, encouraging viewers to look critically at poetic construction and promoting a more evocative understanding of architecture and writing...

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

"Using the lens of architecture and art, she visually considers story, structure, music, and imagination as building blocks. Then, through architectural analysis techniques such as solid/void analysis and diagramming, she translates individual poems into a set of spatial relationships that becomes art in its own right. This allows the work of poets such as John Donne, Jean Valentine, and Jane Mead to converse across time and brings to light similarities in form, structure, and meaning.
Cara draws attention to the silences/pauses in the poems, the places between the voiced lines, which call our minds to the implicit and explicit patterns in and between stanzas. Her insightful drawings and notations blur the boundaries of architecture, poetry, and art to find a transdisciplinary discourse that examines how form, space, and order can be generative and convey meaning, while creating zones of indeterminacy and focus, of repetition and release. The drawings create discontinuities and capture turns of mood and phrase. By holding the words under ink and wash, she gives us a new way of reading."
media_architecture  reading_rooms  poetry  space  textual_form  reading 
2 days ago
The Ploughshares Round-Down: You’re Not That Busy. | Ploughshares
“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance,” essayist Tim Kreider wrote in the New York Times.

[It's] a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

Writers and those in other creative industries seem particularly susceptible to the notion that Busyness = Significance. This is in part because we feel undervalued by society; we’re often afraid everyone’s looking down his nose at our writing/editing/painting/music-making, wondering when we’re going to grow up and get a real job.It’s also because we feel a little guilty about putting work into creativity when there are people in the world with “dirty jobs” and/or horrifying survival situations who’d give anything for the luxury of writing a short story...

As Robinson has shown, we often think ourselves into Overwhelm because we want to be overwhelmed—because it makes us feel essential. So the question is, what else can make us feel essential? What could make us feel significant without requiring denial and/or manufactured chaos? As Tim Kreider wrote,

I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.
time_management  busyness  labor 
2 days ago
Our first digital publication series: Archaeology of the Digital | Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)
Most of the material displayed in the 2013 exhibition Archaeology of the Digital had a strong physical presence – sketches, printouts, photographs and models – and exposed the fact that many of the digital files were lost or inaccessible. But subsequent phases of this three-year research program— which studies the genesis and establishment of digital tools for the conceptualization, visualization, and production of architecture—have created new challenges on how to display and give access to the twenty-five projects being documented.

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

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

“It features interactive slideshows and videos, a nearly unique innovation in a published reflowable ePub. New issues will continue to advance the boundaries of ePub technology in relation to both its users and producers, a process that parallels the subjects covered by the series,” explain New York-based studio Linked by Air, who designed and developed the series.
material_texts  media_architecture  digital  publishing  multimodal_storytelling  tools 
2 days ago
The Lost, Surprisingly Soulful Art of Corporate Identity - Steven Heller - The Atlantic
Before corporations, entertainment companies, sports franchises, and political parties acquired “brand narratives,” the notion of branding was a subset of a practice called “corporate identity.” CI, as it was known, required companies and design firms to develop, refine, and maintain an integrated identity system defined by laws set down in a bible known as the graphic standards manual...

Nonetheless, manuals are ephemeral, and many were simply discarded when identities changed or businesses merged or closed. Now, a thick, rich compilation with the deceivingly dreary title, Manuals 1: Design and Identity Guidelines (Unit Editions) digs back up some of these treasured tomes.
branding  graphic_design 
3 days ago
Art Makes Data Sticky - Laurie Frick
Laurie Frick is a data artist. She uses self-tracking data to construct hand-built works and installations to imagine a time when sensors track and predict our behavior. She holds an MFA from the New York Studio School, an MBA from the University of Southern California and studies at New York University’s (arts & technology) ITP program. Using her background in engineering and high-technology she explores the future of the quantified-self where iphones and gadgets gather and present patterns of how we feel, stress level, mood and bio-function digitally recorded and physically produced as intelligent wallpaper.
data_visualization  self_tracking  quantified_self  time_management 
3 days ago
Looking @ Archival Sound: Enhancing the Listening Experience in a Spoken Word Archive | First Monday
Drawing from studies in a variety of disciplines that demonstrate that much of our learning is multimodal, the SpokenWeb project in Montreal, Canada is using digitized live recordings of a Montreal poetry reading series from 1965–1972 featuring performances by major North American poets to investigate the features that will be the most conducive to scholarly engagement with recorded poetry recitation and performance. Visual features such as tethering audio playback with a written transcript, sound visualization and including videos and images are discussed as means to enhance the listening experience in a digital spoken word archive....

hopefully the increasing availability of audio poetry coupled with the call from scholars such as Bernstein, Eichhorn and Furr for critical attention to them will lead to rich scholarly engagement with audio archives....

In her exploration of the PennSound digital archive and the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard, she concludes that “even when recordings are restored and made available to the public, they invariably lack the qualities that mark the poetry reading” [14]. Indeed, it is difficult to recreate the “liveness” and the particular local and evanescent qualities that characterize a poetry reading. However, librarians and archivists who work on providing access to poetry recordings, particularly on the Web, nonetheless have tools, technologies and most likely a willing and appreciative potential user base of scholars and poets available who can help create better online environments for listening to and looking at a poetry reading, an inherently multisensory event, on the Web, an inherently multimodal tool....

An excellent example of pairing audio playback with a written transcription of the spoken word content comes from an experimental Web site, the Radiolab player demo (http://hyper-audio.org/r/), a collaborative design effort from Radiolab, Mozilla, and SoundCloud [58]; [59].

This site features both a transcript of the spoken word content as well as a waveform display, which is a visual representation of the recorded audio signal’s amplitude (i.e., the physical correlate of perceived volume) over time. More importantly, these two features are interactive. A user can click on different positions in either the transcript or waveform display in order to navigate the content. Impressively, the site also offers two–way synchronization or tethering (i.e., clicking on a particular point in the waveform display changes the highlighted position in the transcript, and vice versa). Figure 1 shows the Radiolab Player demo interface....

The waveform display can be useful in a number of ways. First, it allows a user to see a recording’s length, and to understand the current position of playback relative to the entire recording. Waveform displays also allow for improved navigation and browsing. A user can click on different sections of the waveform in order to quickly move around from section to section, in order to hear non–adjacent parts of the recording. Waveform displays are used in digital audio workstation software because they allow a user to see characteristics of the audio that would otherwise be indiscernible. The waveform display allows a user to better understand the audio and, consequently, to interact with, edit or manipulate it in sophisticated ways....

Mashup Breakdown: The site’s interface includes a fairly simple master timeline at the top and uses different colored blocks, stacked vertically and of varying lengths, to indicate when different samples (differentiated by different colors) enter and exit the main mix...

Variations Audio Timeline: These annotations are intended to be used by instructors so that notes about specific sections of the piece appear at the appropriate time, and are correlated with a visual breakdown of the music in order to improve a student’s comprehension of a musical work’s component parts and of how they interrelate — all while a student listens...

The RECITE team has experimented with open source speech analysis software named Praat (http://www.praat.org), which uses waveform, spectrogram, and pitch curve analyses in order to support phonetic analysis. The RECITE team used Praat to analyze speech patterns in audio recordings of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”...

The Web is intrinsically visual, and offers many possibilities for scholarly enrichment through the development of thoughtful graphical user interfaces. Video, images and other visual features of a site’s design can enhance comprehension, appreciation and scholarship of audio content. Archives with sound recordings may also have other media that would complement the content of a Web–based audio archive. Some other content that could enrich an audio archive include photos of the poet; photos taken at the poetry reading that show the poet, other speakers and audience members; or ephemera from the readings such as promotional brochures or posters, clippings from newspapers, or programs. - photos of poet, of sound storage medium...

Sometimes close listening may best occur when the researcher is looking at nothing in particular, or has his or her eyes closed in order to shut out other sensory stimuli. If poetry performances captured in audio recordings contain so much auditory information that can enhance our appreciation or understanding of poetry, then it follows that designers of interfaces should also be willing to accommodate a researcher’s need to simply listen, without undue visual interference.... we have approached the SpokenWeb project in a spirit of “digital bricolage” (Camlot, 2011b) by assembling components and functionalities from different content management systems, Web sites and services in order to mix in different functionalities. This modular approach helps us envision an interface with features that can be added or subtracted according to a user’s preference.
sound  archives  poetry  materiality  performance  interface  reading  speech  methodology  listening 
3 days ago
Fabrica researchers explore hot and cold for Milan installation
Industrial, graphic and interactive designers at Fabrica created a series of sensory installations that aimed "to give a visual and experiential form to temperature" for air conditioning brand Daikin, in Milan last week... Following research into the effects of temperature, the designers curated a series of kinetic, material and sound-based works led by the project's creative director Sam Baron. "In this project we conceived design as a practice that must communicate through form and function, a design that sets out from an object, and reaches towards sound, graphics and interactivity," said Baron...

The Solar exhibit used NASA's interpretations of what planets sound like. In the centre of the exhibition, the team hung a mechanical model of Venus and Neptune, the hottest and coldest planets, orbiting the sun.
sensation  temperature  exhibition  exhibition_design  synesthesia 
3 days ago
Daniel Bejar: The Visual Topography of a Generation Gap
A copy was made from my original apartment key, then a copy was made from that copy. This process was repeated until the original keys information was destroyed, resulting in the topography of a generation.
Benjamin  copying 
4 days ago
An Archive, Public Participation, and a Performance: Five Perspectives | Public: A Journal of Imagining America
Archive-building, and the creation of the community-based learning (CBL) course from which we developed this archive, both require many things, not least a tremendous amount of institutional support. It is not news that many truly worthwhile community-based projects cannot be fully implemented without a high level of fiscal support; we are fortunate enough to be based at a university that sees engagement with the city as central to its mission. In our case, this support is allowing us to team-teach a small course each year for five years and has funded a doctoral fellow for two of those years to design and build our digital archive. The university has also recognized the contributions of our community partners through honoraria, when appropriate....

What made this program transformative for us was a combination of the practical linkages we were able to form with community partners and the kind of visionary questions that CCE leaders were posing about how to push community-based learning to a new level. At the core of these questions was, how can we as educators help change the relationship of the university to the community? While much of what we learned in the group was practical, the most important question we took away was both philosophical and ethical. One of the conversations that proved most influential in our thinking was about using community knowledge to build academic learning, through a circular model of knowledge flow from community to university and back again. In other words, once our students had amassed knowledge from their community-based research, how would it serve the community?...

Interview-based documentary drama gained popular attention in the late 1980s, after Anna Deavere Smith visited communities in the wake of social traumas (such as the Crown Heights and Los Angeles riots) to interview a wide range of subjects, stitching their words together to create theatrical solo performances. Smith works to perfectly reproduce the words, pauses, and gestures of each interviewee, including commentators not present during the events. The documentary performance is based on personal perspectives rather than official documentation or statistical data.

Documentary theater today is still used to reframe history and expose social injustices. In The Exonerated (2000), playwrights Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen used interview transcripts with death row inmates who had been exonerated of their crimes to create a drama that questioned the use of the death penalty and sparked public conversation about this issue. Another notable example of documentary theater in this period is The Laramie Project (2000), a play about the murder of college student Matthew Shepard, created by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. This play was based on interviews by ensemble members of Laramie residents in the wake of the tragedy (Dawson 1999; Martin 2010).

We wanted to draw upon all of these traditions but also focus on the interplay between personal testimonies and other forms of historical documentation. Both The Laramie Project and Smith's repertoire center on discrete, dramatic incidents in the life of a city or town, seen through interviews with residents; our approach, by contrast, creates a conversation between the city's archives and the living memories of its citizens—a conversation about events that may still be taking place, like segregation, desegregation, and resegregation....

What would a community archive mean? How could we use new technologies, materials, and spaces, both digital and actual, to create a living archive—one that could capture the ephemeral nature of performance, memory, and history by not just collecting objects from the past but also including the stories of those objects' owners as they looked back over a distance of decades? We wanted an archive that would constantly bring past and present, memories and current conflicts and dreams, into dialogue with one another. And we wanted an archive that would be shaped by community needs—in this case, the need to collect the scattered materials of a pivotal time in the lives of many Richmonders who participated in desegregation.
archives  civic_engagement  documentary  theater  performance 
4 days ago
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 
5 days 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 
6 days 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 
6 days ago
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 
8 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 
8 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 
9 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 
9 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 
10 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 
10 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 
10 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 
10 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 
10 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 
11 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 
13 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 
14 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 
14 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 
14 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 
14 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 
15 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 
15 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 
15 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 
15 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 
17 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 
18 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 
18 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 
19 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 
20 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 
20 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 
20 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 
20 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 
20 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 
21 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 
21 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 
22 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 
23 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 
23 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 
24 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 
24 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 
28 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 
28 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 
4 weeks 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.
+
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.
+
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 
4 weeks 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
6 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 
6 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 
6 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 
6 weeks ago
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