robertogreco + reynerbanham   17

Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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



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

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

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

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

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A 'radical alternative': how one man changed the perception of Los Angeles | Cities | The Guardian
"In the 1960s, British architectural critic Reyner Banham declared his love for the city that his fellow intellectuals hated. What Banham wrote about Los Angeles redefined how the world perceived it – but what would he think of LA today?"
losangeles  cities  reynerbanham  2016  colinmarshall 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Walled Gardens & Escape Routes | Kneeling Bus
"Slack and Snapchat are two of the platforms that best embody the current technological moment, the fastest recent gainers in Silicon Valley’s constant campaign to build apps we put on our home screens and not only use constantly but freely give our locations, identities, relationships, and precious attention. One of those products is for work and one is for play; both reflect values and aesthetics that, if not new, at least differ in clear ways from those of email, Facebook, and Twitter—the avatars of comparable moments in the recent past.

Recently I compared Twitter to a shrinking city—slowly bleeding users and struggling to produce revenue but a kind of home to many, infrastructure worth preserving, a commons. Now that Pokemon Go has mapped the digital universe onto meatspace more literally, I’ll follow suit and extend that same “city” metaphor to the rest of the internet.

I’m kidding about the Pokemon part (only not really), but the internet has nearly completed one major stage of its life, evolving from a mechanism for sharing webpages between computers into a series of variously porous platforms that are owned or about to be owned by massive companies who have divided up the available digital real estate and found (or failed to find) distinct revenue-generating schemes within each platform’s confines, optimizing life inside to extract revenue (or failing to do so). The app is a manifestation of this maturing structure, each app a gateway to one of these walled gardens and a point of contact with a single company’s business model—far from the messy chaos of the earlier web. So much urban space has been similarly carved up.

If Twitter is a shrinking city, then Slack or Snapchat are exploding fringe suburbs at the height of a housing bubble, laying miles of cul-de-sac and water pipe in advance of the frantic growth that will soon fill in all the space. The problem with my spatial metaphor here is that neither Slack nor Snapchat feels like a “city” in its structure, while Twitter and Facebook do by comparison. I never thought I’d say this, but Twitter and Instagram are legible (if decentralized): follower counts, likes, or retweets signal a loosely quantifiable importance, the linear feed is easy enough to follow, and everything is basically open by default (private accounts go against the grain of Twitter). Traditional social media by now has become a set of tools for attaining a global if personally-tailored perspective on current events and culture.

Slack and Snapchat are quite different, streams of ephemeral and illegible content. Both intentionally restrict your perspective to the immediate here and now. We don’t navigate them so much as we surf them. They’re less rationally-organized, mapped cities than the postmodern spaces that fascinated Frederic Jameson and Reyner Banham: Bonaventure Hotels or freeway cloverleafs, with their own semantic systems—Deleuzian smooth space. Nobody knows one’s position within these universes, just the context their immediate environment affords. Facebook, by comparison, feels like a high modernist panopticon where everyone sees and knows a bit too much.

Like cities, digital platforms have populations that ebb and flow. The history of urbanization is a story of slow, large-scale, irreversible migrations. It’s hard to relocate human settlements. The redistributions of the digital era happen more rapidly but are less absolute: If you have 16 waking hours of daily attention to give, you don’t need to shift it all from Facebook to Snapchat but whatever you do shift can move instantly.

The forces that propel migrations from city to city to suburb and back to city were frequently economic (if not political). Most apps and websites cost nothing to inhabit and yield little economic opportunity for their users. If large groups are not abandoning Twitter or Facebook for anything to do with money, what are they looking for?"



"If we’ve learned anything from recent technology, we can expect Slack and Snapchat to reveal their own serious flaws over time as users accumulate, behaviors solidify, and opportunists learn to exploit their structure. Right now most of the world is still trying to understand what they are. When the time comes—and hopefully we’ll recognize it early enough—we can break camp and go looking for our next temporary outpost."
walledgadens  web  online  internet  2016  snapchat  slack  darknet  darkweb  instagram  twitter  legibility  drewaustin  fredericjameon  reynerbanham  email  venkateshrao  benbashe  identity  communication  openweb  facebook  texting  sms  flowlaminar 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Learning to Look at L.A. : The New Yorker
"What does interest me is why L.A. is still seen as a place unsuitable for serious thought. It’s a notion that many of us cling to in order to justify the cramped and sometimes squalid conditions in which we live in New York. It’s the lingering myth of the drafty garret housing the starving artist, the amplitude of whose genius can be traced alchemically back to the degree of her suffering. Don’t get me wrong: having lived in New York for a decade, I get that impulse. I really do.

I spent six years writing music (which, for most people, requires silence) in a small apartment one floor above a middle-aged couple whose domestic disputes frequently reached decibel levels that would not have been out of place on a tarmac at J.F.K. And there was the time when, working as a bartender, I watched my boss at a dingy midtown bar douse his genitals in vodka in order to “sterilize” himself after a basement assignation with a female patron, only to turn around and fire me an hour later for “overpouring” and thus wasting his liquor. I told myself that these were the wages of true artistry. So I understand the impulse for self-justification. But the record shows that there is a vast and impressive catalogue of great work that’s been created in Southern California, sunshine and all."



"In New York, where we have just endured a grueling and seemingly interminable winter, we intuitively perceive built environments as being fundamentally against nature. To a certain extent, we have no context for Schindler’s genius, given our relationship to private space. And Los Angeles is, still, largely a collection of private spaces."



"The city has relied for most of its youthful existence on movies and television to do the job of representing it. Yet Hollywood’s ability to disseminate images and impressions of Los Angeles around the globe more readily than, say, the architectural community of Southern California is in no way tantamount to saying that Hollywood depicts Los Angeles accurately. I propose, in the spirit of bicoastal harmony, that we shift our gaze toward those pockets of culture in L.A. that are too often overlooked in favor of all that’s louder, brighter, faster."
losangeles  2014  gabrielkahane  hollywood  media  reynerbanham  architecture  rudolphschindler  mikedavis 
june 2014 by robertogreco
There is no Such Thing as Invention — I.M.H.O. — Medium
"I remember the very instant that I learned to be creative, to ‘invent’ things, to do things in an interesting and unusual way, and it happened by accident, literally.

I created mess around myself, the kind of chaos that would be very dangerous in an operating theater but which is synonymous with artists’ studios, and in that mess I edited the accidents. By increasing the amount of mess I had freed things up and increased the possibilities, I had maximised the adjacent possible and was able to create the appearance of inventing new things by editing the mistakes which appeared novel and interesting.

[photo with caption "Francis Bacon’s studio did not look like a clinical laboratory.']

If you really think about it, there is no other way. Whether this mess in internal in our brains, or external in our environment, we can only select things that are possible, invention is merely when the possible is new. Real invention, out of nowhere, not selecting from the possible, is impossible, by definition."

[via: http://kottke.org/13/06/how-to-invent-things-edit-your-mess ]
davidgalbraith  creativity  invention  messiness  adjacentpossible  2013  francisbacon  howwework  reynerbanham  alanturing  claudeshannon  jazz  harlem  richarddawkins  theselfishgene  stuartkauffman  naturalselection  siliconvalley  freedom  autonomy  burningman  openstudioproject  lcproject  environment  innovation  critical-messtheory  criticalmesses 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Architecture needs to interact - Op-Ed - Domus
"Instead of bringing together users through machines, what if interaction design were reconceived to foster positive friction between different design disciplines? What would interaction design look like if it wasn't only (or even necessarily) digital, but if it genuinely melded architecture, industrial and product design, graphic design, art, video narrative, tiny technology, large scale networks, and so on? What would debates between the disciplines be like? What might win, and more importantly, what would they unearth about interaction design in general? What other disciplines might emerge and what new visions of the world might appear? The recognition that many other fields have dealt with these issues and continue to do so, may open up a larger conversation that reveals new relationships, isomorphisms, productive frictions—even interactions."
architecture  design  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  mollywrightsteenson  fredscharmen  mit  medialab  nicholasnegroponte  janejacobs  christopheralexander  cedricprice  archigram  reynerbanham  urbancomputing  interactiondesign  networkarchitecture  billmoggridge  billverplank  ideo  philtabor  2011  mitmedialab 
june 2011 by robertogreco
sevensixfive: But Today We Collect Gizmos
"The application of a heuristic gizmo is an act of pattern recognition - the intuition that some set of undifferentiated circumstances is isomorphic to some other set that was previously encountered, even if the context was wildly different. ... It has been said that things hardly "exist" before the fine artist has made use of them, they are simply part of the unclassified background material against which we pass our lives. The application of gizmo metaheuristics requires a certain kind of approach to interdisciplinary work and expertise: try it first, then read the manual. Like a western tourist using chopsticks, there is an attitude of being cheerfully out of one's depth, but willing to learn, and eager to add this new technique to the repertoire and impress the folks back home."

[See also: http://snarkmarket.com/2010/5803 ]
fredscharmen  architecture  cities  collecting  patterns  urbanism  patternrecognition  tcsnmy  classideas  art  science  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  recombinantgizmos  gadgets  gizmos  theadjacentpossible  hacking  hacks  glvo  mashups  frankenstein  robertsmithson  reynerbanham  vernacular  collections  objects  folkart  closed-loop  ecosystems 
july 2010 by robertogreco
this is a456: Story of an Eye (and Another Eye, and Yet Another Eye)
"This post was a riff on Bruce Sterling's notion of atemporality. My purpose here was to elaborate his claim by demonstrating possible ways in which to articulate a history and a theory of atemporality. The point was not to claim that Sterling's view about history not being a science or that his desire to locate atemporality in contemporary network culture are evidence of ahistoricity. I would like to think that this post, though rooted in ideas about history and art history, to a certain extent aspires to be atemporal. Can we go ahead and claim that our current existence is one predicated on atemporality? Are we currently engaged in daily practices that amounts to "serene skepticism about ... historical narratives?" Whether or not you buy into the idea of atemporality, let me suggest that it is something that we do all the time."
atemporality  design  history  representation  vision  brucesterling  reynerbanham  herbertbayer  albrechtdürer  leonbattistaalberti 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Markasaurus » The House of the Future is in Your Pocket
"iPod = ultimate in self-contained gadgets- requires no hard-wired infrastructure connection, mouse, keyboard, peripherals...doesn’t even provide you w/ method for connecting them. While Evinrude outboard that Banham loved may have allowed you to mount motor on any boat...iPhone is limited only by what developers create for it. Banham focused on mechanical devices that did specific tasks & failed to see that in future you wouldn’t need “precise gadget” to deal w/ variety of tasks- 1 gadget can now function as phone, camera, research library, file cabinet, Rolodex & more. Social networked & augmented reality applications allow another world to be created on top of physical 1. Banham believed most futuristic home was RV that allowed residents to be endlessly mobile. Instead of needing traveling home, we live in virtual space enabled by gizmo that fits in shirt pocket. I think Banham would approve.

Today, you don’t need a new environment to live or work in. You just need a new app"
iphone  applications  reynerbanham  mobility  rvs  homes  technology  outboardmotor  nomads  neo-nomads  ipod  architecture  ios 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Today We Collect Nothing | varnelis.net
"We will need at least a decade to absorb the excess housing currently in the market...Mobility will rise, but homes will become less the spaces of self-realization that they were...& more shells to be filled temporarily, with only a few, highly-intelligent objects in one's possession...Is this an end condition to architecture? Maybe. But when hasn't architecture been in an end condition?...But maybe there are other possibilities? It strikes me that architects are missing a major opportunity here. All of this is very similar to what the Eameses were up to when they moved away from construction to media. They built the best house of the century but architecture couldn't hold their attention. It was too slow. Instead, they turned to media. Today's media are more spatial than film ever could be. Hertzian space—and the interface to it—is the new frontier. Architects should be sure not miss out."
neo-nomads  nomads  mobility  modernism  eames  architecture  kazysvarnelis  housing  housingbubble  realestate  future  reynerbanham  stevejobs  postdisciplinary  design  glvo  cv  unschooling  deschooling  gamechanging  change  hertzianspace 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Complexity and Contradiction in Infrastructure | varnelis.net
"As societies mature, Tainter observes, they become more complex, especially in terms of communication. A highly advanced society is highly differentiated and highly linked. That means that just to manage my affairs, I have to wrangle a trillion bureaucratic agents such as university finance personnel, bank managers, insurance auditors, credit card representatives, accountants, real estate agents, Apple store "geniuses," airline agents, delivery services, outsourced script-reading hardware support personnel, and lawyers in combination with non-human actors like my iPhone, Mac OS 10.6, my car, the train, and so on."

[annotated by Bruce Sterling: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2009/12/california-in-ruins-i-blame-the-dominant-ideology-of-the-whole-earth-catalog/ ]
architecture  urban  cities  space  transportation  losangeles  complexity  infrastructure  kazysvarnelis  california  history  future  stewartbrand  proposition13  jareddiamond  josephtainter  2009  reynerbanham  robertventuri  collapse  society  bureaucracy  education  universities  californianideology  economics 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Welcome to Banham's Los Angeles - Los Angeles Times
""The Santa Monica / San Diego intersection is a work of art, both as a pattern on a map, as a monument against the sky, and as a kinetic experience as one sweeps through it," Banham wrote. "Kinetic" is the key here: For Banham, cities were about movement, whether by foot, as in London, or in the car. "So, like earlier generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original, I learned to drive to read Los Angeles in the original."
losangeles  reynerbanham  urbanism  landscape  books  via:cityofsound  cities  movement 
july 2009 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Postopolis! LA, day two / Los Angeles
"By the time we’re back in Downtown, the traffic is building up and Broadway is a chaotic, honking mess of slow-moving steel. By this time, though, the city has won me over. Its constant contradictions - the very contradiction of it being here in the first place - have little negative effect now, only continually beguiling. Despite everything, this city continues to grow. As the Carey McWilliams poem from 1946 says:
losangeles  cities  us  urbanism  cars  density  reynerbanham  danhill  cityofsound  bencerveny 
april 2009 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Postopolis! LA, day one / Los Angeles
"It still shocks...so radically different for the European. The flight descending over the city, through the yellowy haze and over endless brown and grey grids of low-rise - so different to landing amidst Sydney’s greenery & deep blue harbour - and then the slow drive from the airport - was it a 10- or 12-lane highway? One loses track - through flat plains of housing w/ downtown impossibly distant on the hazy horizon. It looks like the Emerald City, which is hardly surprising when you think about it. You can immediately see why it appealed to Reyner Banham, as it’s so radically different to England. Progressive through constant reinvention, in a particular way that cannot occur in the UK. Yet I often find it appalling too. You’re disarmed & charmed, then despairing and confused, often within seconds of each other. There’s no reason for this city to be here at all & yet it’s this constantly growing & transformed mass of humanity. The constant contradiction of LA is almost overwhelming."
losangeles  reynerbanham  cityofsound  cities  future  progressivism  contradiction  reinvention 
april 2009 by robertogreco
On the Bus With Banham
"A tour of unseen LA—in the spirit of Reyner Banham—rambles through the city"
reynerbanham  losangeles  architecture  cities 
december 2007 by robertogreco

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