Archive for the ‘Public Space’ Category
Dispossession describes the condition of those who have lost land, citizenship, property, and a broader belonging to the world. This thought-provoking book seeks to elaborate our understanding of dispossession outside of the conventional logic of possession, a hallmark of capitalism, liberalism, and humanism. Can dispossession simultaneously characterize political responses and opposition to the disenfranchisement associated with unjust dispossession of land, economic and political power, and basic conditions for living?
In the context of neoliberal expropriation of labor and livelihood, dispossession opens up a performative condition of being both affected by injustice and prompted to act. From the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to the anti-neoliberal gatherings at Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Zucchotti Park, an alternative political and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed. Bodies on the street are precarious – exposed to police force, they are also standing for, and opposing, their dispossession. These bodies insist upon their collective standing, organize themselves without and against hierarchy, and refuse to become disposable: they demand regard. This book interrogates the agonistic and open-ended corporeality and conviviality of the crowd as it assembles in cities to protest political and economic dispossession through a performative dispossession of the sovereign subject and its propriety.
Text and Image via Politybooks
The Olympic architects reveal that Rio 2016 will take over a lagoon site. But the water’s too polluted to swim – and many of the city’s communities do not fit into the glossy urban legacy plan.
One year after the London 2012 Olympics, the gates to the east London site have reopened to reveal the new Queen Elizabeth Park, the first tangible piece of the two-week sporting circus’ promised legacy. You would think the architects behind the Olympic masterplan might be able to breathe a sigh of relief: the games were deemed a success, and the “legacy communities” still remain safely on the drawing board, judgments withheld. But in the Holborn studios of Aecom, the Olympic team is as busy as ever – working on the next one.
“Rio 2016 is a whole different animal to London 2012,” says project lead Bill Hanway, who heads up the Americas section of the global giant’s 10,000-strong buildings and places division. “Brazil is still an emerging nation, and we’re having to compress what took nine years of planning for London into half that time for Rio.” Text by Oliver Wainwright. Continue at The Guardian
What they don’t tell you about Varanasi, probably India’s holiest city, is that in addition to being filled with sacred temples, mischievous monkeys and bearded ascetics, it’s also full of waste of all kinds: mountains of fetid cow and other, much worse kinds of dung, muddy tributaries of dubious origin, mounds of fast-decaying flowers, shards of shattered clay cups. As I left the utter squalor of Varanasi, a permanent and ancient city of four million, for a temporary religious celebration of even more people nearby, I could only imagine the enormous crowds, inescapable filth and utter chaos that it would produce.
It was January, and I was headed 80 miles west to the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, a Hindu religious festival in which tens of millions of pilgrims come together at the convergence of two real rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna, and one mythical stream, the Saraswati. They stay for all or part of a celebration—this year’s would last 55 days—that is the largest single-purpose human gathering on earth.
In the mythology of the Kumbh Mela, gods and demons fought for 12 days over a pitcher (kumbh) of nectar of immortality from the primordial ocean, and the nectar spilled onto the earth at four different places, including Allahabad. The gathering (mela) takes place every three years at one of the four locales in a 12-year cycle—a day of the gods’ time corresponds to a year of human time—with the largest (maha) celebration in Allahabad. The first written record of its occurrence dates to the seventh century A.D.
Excerpt from an article written by Tom Downey at the Smithsonian. Continue THERE
“Concrete Mushrooms” is a project initiated as an idea for research by two Albanian graduate students at Politecnico di Milano, and the purpose was to emphasize the appreciable assets of Albania such as bunkers which are vast in number and across all the rich and beautiful landscape of Albania. Apart all the studies done about the history of Albania, the reason of building the bunkers all over the country, how the people of Albania nowadays coexists with them, how and why do they use them, it is also thought of how the remaining bunkers can last their lives without being totally disappeared and can become the icon of a paranoid past transformed to the symbol of a bright future of the landscape of Albania. Bunkers seem to be happy of being born and living in Albania, and above all proud to be Albanians. But in fact their happiness masks an enormous sorrow of the past which would be recovered by their contribution to Albania.
Any of the “tourists” interested in adventures and nature, can enjoy natural resources of Albania by passing their nights in local at the same mobile cheap hostels without being obliged to carry their camping tents.
Cheap hostel – that’s what the future function of the bunker could be having the same commodity anywhere in Albania, there is not just one, there are supposed to be around 750 000 bunkers in Albania.
The priority of “Concrete Mushrooms” project is facing the symbol of xenophobia (bunker) with deliberate awareness for the purpose of inverting its meaning, the preservation of the memoir of a significant period of the Albanian history, giving bunkers value instead of having them as burden and as a result the promotion of an underdeveloped touristic sector such as Eco-Tourism which has an enormous potential at the same time growing the financial viability, social and environmental sustainability.
The project aims to create an institutional support for initiating the first steps of realizing it, the designed website will be a significant tool for any information related to the bunkers, to the implantation of network of transformed bunkers, the possible itineraries around them and great possibility for hunting and recording the number of the rooms of this huge hostel already built in Albania.
Production by Elian Stefa & Gyler Mydyti. Text and Images via Concrete Mushrooms
Why Accessible Playgrounds?
Because kids in wheelchairs can’t play on playgrounds covered with wood chips. And children with muscular disabilities can fall out of swings that lack sides and backs. Or a child with vision or hearing problems can benefit from equipment specially designed for play alongside friends, siblings or any other child.
New federal requirements define playground accessibility as a civil right. And under those rules, playgrounds built or altered after March 14, 2012, are required to have wheelchair-friendly surfaces and equipment that helps kids with physical challenges move around.
You can Help HERE
“Totem and Taboo: Grindr remembers the Holocaust” is an online archive of Grindr pics of people using another architectural icon to meet people. Running since 2011, this incredible collection of amateur shots of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin provides another insight into spatial appropriations for casual sex purposes. As they state on their website:
“In an age when ignorance is prevalent than ever, Grindr, the latest most addictive gay obsession, has wowed its members in relentlessly promoting the memory of the holocaust. While the gay community is being under scrutiny for promoting hedonism and alienation, this tribute seems all the more compelling. Totem and Taboo […] asks nothing more but to harness the vibrant blogosphere to Grindr users’ innovative manoeuvres to keep the memory alive, fresh and attractive.”
In a green outfit with silver trim and matching mask, a superhero waits by the stairs of a Tokyo subway station, lending his strength to the elderly, passengers lugging heavy packages and mothers with baby strollers.
“Japanese people find it hard to accept help, they feel obligated to the other person, so the mask really helps me out,” said Tadahiro Kanemasu.
The slender 27-year-old has spent three months being a good Samaritan at the station on Tokyo’s western side. Like many in the city, it has neither elevators nor escalators and a long flight of dimly lit stairs.
Inspiration came from the children he met at his job at an organic greengrocer, which also prompted the color of his costume. He picked up the green Power Rangers suit and two spares at a discount store for 4,000 yen ($41) each.
Since Kanemasu can set aside only a couple of hours each day for his good deeds, he hopes to recruit others in different colored suits. Already he has inquiries about pink and red.
Hayato Ito, who works alongside Kanemasu at the greengrocer, said his kindness to others over the years meant his alter ego did not come as a complete surprise.
“There were hints of this from a long time ago but finally he flowered as a hero,” Ito said.
Kanemasu admitted he got off to a bit of a rocky start.
“When I first began, people basically said ‘Get away from me, you weirdo’,” he said. “Now they still think I’m weird but in a good way.”
($1 = 97.6850 Japanese yen)
Text by Tokyo Reuters. Via Huffington Post
For Antony Turner, pictures make a story come alive—and in the climate change story, one of the main characters is invisible. In 2009, together with artist/scientist Adam Nieman, he founded Carbon Visuals to help people “see” the carbon dioxide that’s trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. Their strategy: Transform the mass (tons and gigatons) of carbon dioxide emissions we hear about so much into volumetric representations and then show them as 3-D shapes in familiar landscapes. Carbon Visuals has worked with governments, schools, corporations, and others to help them make sense of carbon footprints, comparisons, and sequestration targets. Changing the trajectory of the climate story, Turner believes, starts with getting the antagonist in our sights.
The Tasveer Journal is an online magazine for photography in India. New articles are added each week showcasing work from the 19th century to today – contributed and contextualised by our network of critics, writers and curators.
The discovery of a law governing the growth of cities means that future urban populations can now be forecast in advance. When you live in a city, you can sense its pulse, experience its pace of life and get to know its unique character. It’s almost as if a city is a living, breathing entity in its own right.
That may be little more than the fantastical imaginings of city dwellers who tend to humanise all things inanimate. And yet, there is much demographic evidence to show that cities have their own unique identity, even though they are made up of millions of seemingly independent individuals.
One test of the idea that cities are coherent entities is the ability to predict their future characteristics based on their past behaviour. Text and Image via MIT Technology Review. Continue THERE
The other day I walked into my gym and saw a dog. A half-dozen people were crowding around him, cooing and petting. He was a big dog, a lean and muscular Doberman with, I later learned, the sort of hair-trigger bark you’d prize if you wanted to protect a big stash of gold bullion.
“This is Y.,” the dog’s owner said. No explanation was offered for the pooch’s presence, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to have a dog in a place usually reserved for human beings. Huh, I thought.
The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond. The dog pushed his long face toward my hand, the canine equivalent of a high five. And so—in the same way it’s rude to leave a high-fiver hanging, especially if the high-fiver has big teeth and a strong jaw—I was expected to pet him. I ran my hand across his head half-heartedly. I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened—for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.
Anyway, happily, I survived. But wait a second. Come on! Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here? When this beast was barking at passersby through the window as we were all working out, why did no one go, Hey, just throwing this out there, should we maybe not have this distracting, possibly dangerous animal by the free weights?
Excerpt from an article written by y Farhad Manjoo at SLATE. Continue THERE
For the next round of discussion I’d like to shift the subject to the physical environment, posing the question, Is architecture rational?
Much of the newer work we see as we walk the streets of the city whether it’s New York, Seattle, Dubai, or the newer sections of Copenhagen, is more dramatic than architecture once was: taller, swoopier, twistier, less symmetrical. Architectural language, informed by the capabilities of parametric software and computerized fabrication tools, has become more fluid and less rectilinear.
From the onlooker’s perspective, it looks a lot like style. But when you talk to an architect, you often wind up having a conversation about how utterly pragmatic the building in question is.
For instance, the Seattle Central Library by OMA, completed in 2004. The lead architect on the project, Joshua Prince-Ramus, once told me: “Style freaks us out, the very word style.” He went on to explain the strange shape of the building—it looks like a monstrous mechanical jaw—by showing a diagram made by the library’s administrators of all the functions they required in the new building. Prince-Ramus claimed the architects translated the librarians’ chart directly into architectural form. He called this method “hyperrational.”
More Info HERE
Book-ish Territory: A Manual of Alternative Library Tactics by architect NIkki O’Loughlin is an exciting and interesting way of conceptualizing the idea of libraries as a public space not just for the public but by the public. Read it HERE
Through an un-usual DNA collection method, American artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg creates portrait sculptures from the analyses of genetic material collected in public places. From cigarette butts to hair samples, she works using random traces left behind from un-suspecting strangers. In a statement by Dewey-Hagborg, ‘Stranger Visions’ calls attention to the impulse toward genetic determinism and the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance. Using DNA facial modeling software and a 3D printer, physical models are conceived – reconstructed from ethnic profiles, eye color and hair color.
Text and Images via DesignBoom
Did you ever want to hide something from prying eyes, yet were afraid to do so in your home? Now you can secrete your valuables away from home, by following Dennis Fiery’s eye-opening instructions. The world around us is filled with cubbyholes and niches that can be safely employed….and this book identifies them. Illustrated with numerous photographs, and including an index of hiding places, appendices of Simplex lock combinations and appropriate vendors, and a bibliography, this is the most comprehensive and informative book ever written about public hiding spots. Eliminate the risks involved with hiding your possessions at home by utilizing the techniques described in this book. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Text and Image via Amazon.
Are you among the millions of people whose only opportunity to observe wildlife comes after it has been run over and pressed into a patty by big rigs, then desiccated by the elements until even flies don’t recognize it? This is the field guide for you! Roger Knutson, a biologist at Luther College, IA, fills an important gap in our natural history knowledge and fosters a heightened respect for the ecology of the paved environment. FLATTENED FAUNA is a classic field guide to the 36 most common species of roadside remains in North America. The book includes descriptions and silhouetted illustrations of the top squashed avian, mammalian, reptilian, and amphibian species. Due to rabid interest from overseas, the expanded new edition includes global ramifications of international necrology.
“At a time when the total world fauna is surely shrinking in both absolute numbers and species complexity, the road fauna is clearly increasing. Before 1900, in the United States, its presence was recorded by only the most fragmentary references to the occasional horse-stomped snake. With the development in the twentieth century of a much elongated road network and dramatically increased traffic speed, the flattened fauna has increased in both species and total numbers.” — Roger M. Knutson
Text and Image via Amazon
Today, art is simple, direct and clear. No illusions. Today, art could not possibly function as l’art pour art, or ‘art as art’, or ‘art as idea as idea’. Unlike historicism, it does not aspire to exalted objectives (aesthetical or political), as it did during the epoch of historical modernism1, neither is it eclectically dispersed or decentered as pure pleasure like in the era of consumer post-modernism.(2) Today, art subjects are socially explicit(3), culturally referential(4) and artistically realistic(5). The relationship between art and reality(6) is ontological.
Art is not a mirror representation of the world, but it is a representative, or rather a probe of an ‘artistic action’ in the world that is a ‘new-or-other’ nature. Here the term ‘nature’ denotes polysemy of culture, or to be more precise, the multifold effects of the struggle for power inside culture and society. In the course of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, this was the ‘class struggle’ between capitalists and workers. In the second half of the 20th century the struggle was waged between politically opposed blocs (the East and the West) in the symmetrically split world (influential spheres). Today it is the struggle between the ‘center’ and ‘margins’:
- within individual (localized) societies,
- within culture as new nature,
- within private or public art of communication,
- within global politics,
- within local or global economy,
- within the distribution of power inside our everyday,
- within production, exchange and consumption of values (information, influence, pleasure).
Written by Miško Šuvaković. Continue HERE
“A group of Russians went to Egypt and climbed the Great Pyramide. According to their story, they arrived there early while the complex was open, then waited in shadows till the visitor hours are over and the night came down, so later they climbed on the top and made photos. “There are lots of signs on the top of the pyramide on different languages, including Russian, and they say somewhere among them there is a signature of last Russian Tsar who climbed it too sometime long ago”. The security didn’t notice them, they got back down uncaught, keeping in mind that according to Egypt’s laws there is a possible couple of years sentence for such kind of things.”
Touring internationally since 2008, “Play Me, I’m Yours” is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over two million people worldwide – more than 700 pianos have already been installed in 34 cities across the globe, from New York to London, bearing the simple instruction ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’.
Located in public parks, bus shelters and train stations, outside galleries and markets and even on bridges and ferries the pianos are available for any member of the public to play and enjoy. Who plays them and how long they remain on the streets is up to each community. Many pianos are personalised and decorated by artists or the local community. By creating a place of exchange ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment.
Play Me, I’m Yours is currently taking place in Monterey in California until 24 March 2013. Watch out for Street Pianos coming to Munich, Cleveland OH, Omaha NE and Boston MA later in 2013! Watch this space as we will be announcing further new cities for 2013 over the coming months.
The Sky Orchestra is an artwork designed to deliver music to sleeping people from out of the sky. A form of provocative urban art, Sky Orchestra questions the boundaries of public artwork, private space and the ownership of the sky.
The Sky Orchestra is made up of seven hot air balloons, each with speakers attached, which take off (at dawn or dusk) and fly across a city. Each balloon plays a different element of a musical score, creating a massive audio landscape.
Many thousands of people experience the Sky Orchestra event live as the balloons fly over their homes at dawn. The airborne project is both a vast spectacular performance as well as an intimate, personal experience. A form of provocative acoustic urban art, Sky Orchestra questions the boundaries of public artwork, private space and the ownership of the sky.
All text and images via Luke Jerram.
BASTARD CHAIRS BY Michael Wolf. The bastard chairs of china from the book “Sitting in China” published by Steidl in the fall of 2002, distributed by D.A.P. in the United States.
There’s something eerie about a clown-striped fumigation tent on a dark, residential street. Perhaps, in addition to its incongruous looks, it’s the knowledge that the house underneath is abandoned, its air rich with aerosoled death, necessitated by an infestation of parasitic insects. It evokes a sense of the uncanny – a mood that photographer Robert Benson went to great lengths to capture in his new photo series.
“I was never arrested and always stood on public property or had permission, but I definitely got some weird looks,” says Benson, who by day is an editorial and commercial photographer.
For several months Benson scoured San Diego (where he lives) for tented houses. At first he tried shooting the project by day with a film camera, but the photos were flat. By shooting at night with a digital camera, he found an added contrast and a tone that makes the photos so evocative, almost menacing.