Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review Research // part 8

NEED FOR ARCHITECTURE

Thus, if the World Trade Center was a product of its day, begun in 1966 and finished around 1972, it was an icon for a bygone era, a monument to an economy based on industrial production in a time that had left that economy behind. Never profitable, the towers were outmoded when first constructed. Their vast bulk attempted to accommodate the needs of office planning, which, under the pressures of the cybernetic theorists of Büro Landschaft became increasingly low horizontal structures, vertical circulation being seen as an impediment to communication. Corporate office parks on the urban periphery would soon supplant the office tower as the dominant typology of the corporate headquarters.

In his 1971 essay "The Fluid Metropolis," Andrea Branzi, of the radical architecture group Archizoom, based in Florence, Italy, argued that such skyscrapers were the product of a superceded form of capitalism and would soon no longer be built. In Branzi's prescient text, the concentrated metropolis and the skyline was the product of one phase of the accumulation of capital, acting as a natural record of its accumulation. The skyline represented the capitalist system to an exterior but, with the loss of any uncapitalized exterior, the need for representation disappeared. Branzi concluded that the total permeability of the territory by capital and the growth of telematics would do away with the city as a terminus. No longer viable as a place, the city would become a condition, existing not as a physical entity but as programming.

Much like the process of Freudian therapy, No Stop City was to serve as diagnosis and cure. To name the problem – that late capitalism had no use for the traditional city or for qualities of place and that the creation of the subject through consumption would to a new, less alienated form of homogeneity – would be to allow its supersession. The result would be a proliferation of sublimely useless objects connoting status and "architecturalness" through the applied facades of postmodernism and the spectacular fragments of supermodernism.a brief history of horizontalityKazys Varnelis






The Yokohama Terminal distinctly fails to develop a façade or any kind of iconographic quality. Far from being a shining exemplar of the new, Maya-driven era of the blob – if that era will ever arrive - the project is anti-formal, indeed, anti-appearance, infrastructural rather than architectural.

"The architecture is nothing more than a point of passage, an instrument of change of velocity between modes of transportation or aspects of nature." Toyo Ito

The Yokohama Terminal points toward a reconsideration of contemporary architecture and its relationship to the city. The era of the architectural spectacle is past. Even in the most celebrated case of spectacular architecture, the Guggenheim-Bilbao, what is really remarkable is the alliance of private and public capital that made the project constructable. The dominance of the visual over the last decade is a rouse, a last irruption before architecture turns to the less visible, but more real, work of engaging with the programme and with organizational processes of construction. FOA's Yokohama Terminal announces the emergence of an immaterial age in which we come to reject our frustrated world of objects for programming, much as Archizoom suggested we would a generation ago. As philosopher Jacques Derrida points out, "Form fascinates when one no longer has the force to understand force from within itself. That is, to create."[13] The shimmering masterpieces of the avant-garde are only a sublime distraction from the real obsolescence of architectural form today and the clear direction that leads past it.

Review Research // part 7

Hertzian Space
Hertzian space is as real as the physical world. Physicists tell us that electromagnetic forces are far more powerful than gravity (a tiny magnet holds up a paperclip against the entire gravity of the Earth). Investors find telecommunications and the Internet to be immensely lucrative. What might an architecture that actively engaged Hertzian space look like?

the Invisible Forces

the everyday superimposition of real and virtual spaces, the development of a mobile sense of place, the emergence of popular virtual worlds, the rise of the network as a socio-spatial model, and the growing use of mapping and tracking technologies. These changes are not simply produced by technology. On the contrary, the development and practices of technology (as well as the conceptual shifts that these new technological practices produce) are thoroughly imbricated in culture, society, and politics. To be clear, the new is not good by default. The conditions we observe are contested and give rise to new tensions as much as to new opportunities. With connection there is also disconnection, and networks can consolidate power in the very act of dispersing it.


SEEN - Fruits if Our Labor
Superimposition of real and virtal spaces
In Osman and Omar Khan’s project “SEEN-Fruits of Our Labor,” the designers crafted an 8’ tall, 4’ wide black acrylic screen, reminiscent of the 2001 monolith or perhaps a massive iPhone (the iPhone was actually released a year after the first installation) and installed it in front of the San Jose Museum of Art. The designers set out to foreground questions of labor in the United States by asking members of three groups crucial to the Silicon Valley economy—technology workers, undocumented service workers and outsourced call center workers—the question “What is the fruit of your labor?” The Khans displayed the responses on the screen via a grid of infrared LEDs. This light source is invisible to the naked eye, but can be seen via CCD apparatuses present in digital cameras and phone cameras.

As the mysterious object incited viewers into photographing it, viewers saw a message that otherwise existed only in Hertzian space, invisible to the eye, on their camera screens. Repeated photographs yielded new messages and, as viewers stood in front of the monument with their cameras, the experience spread virally.



Cellphone City

Review Research // part 6

SYMBIOSIS

The term symbiosis (from the Greek: σύν syn "with"; and βίωσις biosis "living") commonly describes close and often long-term interactions between different biological species. The term was first used in 1879 by the German mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary, who defined it as "the living together of unlike organisms".The definition of symbiosis is in flux, and the term has been applied to a wide range of biological interactions. The symbiotic relationship may be categorized as being mutualistic, parasitic, or commensal in nature. Others define it more narrowly, as only those relationships from which both organisms benefit, in which case it would be synonymous with mutualism.Symbiotic relationships included those associations in which one organisms lives on another (ectosymbiosis, such as mistletoe), or where one partner lives inside the other (endosymbiosis, such as lactobacilli and other bacteria in humans or zooxanthelles in corals). Symbiotic relationships may be either obligate, i.e., necessary to the survival of at least one of the organisms involved, or facultative, where the relationship is beneficial but not essential to survival of the organisms.

Mutualism
The term "mutualism" describes any relationship between individuals of different species where both individuals derive a fitness benefit.[14] Generally, only lifelong interactions involving close physical and biochemical contact can properly be considered symbiotic. Mutualistic relationships may be either obligate for both species, obligate for one but facultative for the other, or facultative for both. Many biologists restrict the definition of symbiosis to close mutualist relationships.






Commensalism
Commensalism describes a relationship between two living organisms where one benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or helped. It is derived from the English word commensal, meaning "sharing food" and used of human social interaction. The word derives from the medieval Latin word, formed from com- and mensa, meaning "sharing a table".






Parasitism
A parasitic relationship is one in which one member of the association benefits while the other is harmed. Parasitic symbioses take many forms, from endoparasites that live within the host's body to ectoparasites that live on its surface. In addition, parasites may be necrotrophic, which is to say they kill their host, or biotrophic, meaning they rely on their host's surviving. Biotrophic parasitism is an extremely successful mode of life. Depending on the definition used, as many as half of all animals have at least one parasitic phase in their life cycles, and it is also frequent in plants and fungi. Moreover, almost all free-living animals are host to one or more parasite taxa.



Symbiogenesis
The biologist Lynn Margulis, famous for her work on endosymbiosis, contends that symbiosis is a major driving force behind evolution. She considers Darwin's notion of evolution, driven by competition, as incomplete and claims that evolution is strongly based on co-operation, interaction, and mutual dependence among organisms. According to Margulis and Dorion Sagan, "Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking."

Co-operation or co-operative behaviours are terms used to describe behaviours by organisms which are beneficial to other members of the same species. There are several competing theories which help to explain why natural selection favours some types of co-operative behaviour. More than one of the below theories can contribute to the true reason for the selection of these behaviours.

Review Research // part 5

Conservation
Architectural conservation describes the process through which the material, historical, and design integrity of mankind's built heritage are prolonged through carefully planned interventions. The individual engaged in this pursuit is known as an architectural conservator. Decisions of when and how to engage in an intervention are critical to the ultimate conservation of the immovable object. Ultimately, the decision is value based: a combination of artistic, contextual, and informational values is normally considered. In some cases, a decision to not intervene may be the most appropriate choice.
Narrow Definition
Architectural conservation deals with issues of prolonging the life and integrity of architectural character and integrity, such as form and style, and/or its constituent materials, such as stone, brick, glass, metal, and wood. In this sense, the term refers to the "professional use of a combination of science, art, craft, and technology as a preservation tool" [1] and is allied with its parent fields, of historic environment conservation and art conservation.
Broad Definition
In addition to the design and art/science definition described above, architectural conservation also refers to issues of identification, policy, regulation, and advocacy associated with the entirety of the cultural and built environment. This broader scope recognizes that society has mechanisms to identity and value historic cultural resources, create laws to protect these resources, and develop policies and management plans for interpretation, protection, and education. Typically this process operates as a specialised aspect of a society's planning system, and its practitioners are termed historic environment conservation professionals.



TATE MODERN, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1994

The building offers space, but it is not suitable for art, it offers shelter,but it leaks and has to be repaired,it offers a location,but that is also problematic,it offers a beginning, a presence, which could be hard to organize working within contemporary parameters.

TATE MODERN, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1994

Located between the city centre and Heathrow Airport, just outside the congestion zone, the site forms the most Western of all development locations, the last and currently the missing link in a chain of developments that encircle central London.
At present, the area is a vacant strip of land: a 43 acre breach in the urban fabric. It borders the divide between some of the wealthiest areas in London and some of London's most notorious and deprived housing estates. Hinging between the two extremes, the site has the potential to mediate the divide.


APRAKSIN DVOR, RUSSIA, ST. PETERSBURG, 2007

Consisting of multiple freestanding buildings arranged within the market yard, Apraksin Dvor represents a unique urban typology in the historic center of St. Petersburg. The exceptionality of the site that makes it prime for preservation is also the most advantageous aspect for development.What future can be imagined for this area? Is it possible to resist the default treatment of inner city areas: to avoid an uncompromising regime of preservation – no room for maneuvering in the name of authenticity – without surrendering to the forces of commercial exploitation?

BOVISA MASTERPLAN, ITALY, MILAN, 2007

With the rapid growth and expansion of urban centers in the latter half of the 20th century, industrial sites, formerly located on the city’s periphery, now find themselves encompassed by the ever expanding urban fabric of the city. Paralleling this growth has been a shift in the main economic drivers of the city from industrial production to service industries. Consequently, what were once vital elements of the city have gone fallow.Milan, once the center of Italy’s industrial region, is today Italy’s leading financial center and a global center for fashion and design. Currently experiencing a boom of urban redevelopment, the city’s post-industrial urban voids now provide exceptional opportunities for ambitious architectural and urban innovation.


BEIJING CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT , CHINA, BEIJING, 2003


O.M.A.’s CBD Core proposal evolved from the observation that the tower has made the Central Business District into a structure that is identical everywhere. At the same time, however, global economic pressure and extraordinary advances in information technology have dramatically changed the nature of office work. The increasing ubiquity and mobility of information technology paradoxically stresses the importance of face-to-face human interaction so that, at the dawn of the 21st century, business is communication.

The CBD Core, therefore, has to define a typology that promotes human interaction and communication. However, with the understanding that the Beijing CBD will boast over 300 towers, the essential question became one of how the CBD Core could distinguish itself in a forest of towers with isolated cores that minimized interaction. The realization: The same amount of urban substance can be configured in many different ways from a compact tower to a dispersed network. CBD Core evolved to become a lowrise network of dispersed cores and flexible office courtyards combined with commercial and recreational activities that not only maximize interaction, but also offer the opportunity for a CDB with a 24-Hour urban life. As a compliment to this series of dispersed horizontal nodes, a dense network of vertical connections (including offices, apartments, and hotels) is proposed over one of the peripheral urban highways. Beijing’s CBD Core ultimately becomes 100% Park 100% Program.

Reveiw Research // part 4



World Heritage development

World heritage under threat in Prague
UNESCO has ordered the city of Prague to revise a project for constructing skyscarpers near its centre, threatening that unless the city complies it could be struck from the World Heritage list. Prague newspaper Pražský deník notes that the critics of the project can notch up UNESCO's demand as a success: "UNESCO has put an end to the skyscraper plans. These buildings that were to reach a hundred metres into the sky will now end up at least 30 metres smaller because otherwise Prague's unique panorama would suffer. The civic initiatives have won their battle - albeit on international soil. The city authorities had so far proven immune to their demands. Mayor of Prague Pavel Bem claimed that the threat of the city being struck off the World Heritage list was not real. Now we know that it is indeed real.


City centre buildings 'pose threat' to world heritage site
Report claims new developmentsthreaten Toledo’s historic setting

A Government white paper proposes 'buffer zones' to protect World Heritage Sites - such as the Tower of London and Palace of Westminster - from inappropriate development

Plans for a giant skyscraper complex in Vienna's historic 1st District threatens the city's status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Die Presse reported yesterday.

Skyscraper ban next to world heritage sites -Telegraph.co.uk

Skyscraper may see St Petersburg lose world heritage status - guardian.co.uk

Skyscrapers to be banned in Britain's world heritage sites - the independent uk

UNESCO: Pankrác skyscrapers must be lowered -Úvodní stránka CzechNewsPraha - According to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, the skyscrapers planned for the Pankrác district in Prague must be lowered, otherwise they would damage one of Europe's best preserved historical city panoramas.

Review Research // part 3

Memory in Film




Sans Soleil a documentary that questions our ideas of appearance, memory, and history. “the first part of the film, Krasna’s collection of visual memories, prepares us for the second, which examines the value of those memories, the ability of memory to plumb appearances and write history. Marker’s creation of an invisible character becomes a profound examination of how we store the past.
symbols as the shrine for cats where a couple prays for its lost cat so that when it does die it will find its way to the afterlife [crossing space and time]

“can you completely forget a memory or it is always there somewhere”
William discovers that Maria has been taken to another institution to have her memory of the episode erased. He goes there and talks to Maria, but finds her memory of him has been erased. He succeeds in getting the clinic to release Maria into his care by telling them she is a witness in his fraud investigation. After she is released William proves to Maria that she knows him by his intimate knowledge of her and by showing her the memory recording of when she gave Damian the papele, which includes a shot of William. Williams tells her about the memory erasure, and about how he didn't report her for fraud. Maria is disturbed by this information and becomes very distressed. William gives her a sleeping pill and while she is sleeping, he cuts some hair from her head and takes it to a facility which provides instant DNA analysis. There he discovers that Maria is fifty percent genetically related to him, and that she is a biological clone of his mother, who was one of a set of twenty four in-vitro fertilised clones. This knowledge does not affect William's feelings, but instead of going back to Maria he decides to go home to his family. However when he tries to leave he is not allowed to do so as his cover is now expired.
Afterward, Maria enters a somnambulistic state also caused by the virus which forces her to report the further Code 46 violation to the authorities. She is unconscious of this though William is aware of the virus's reaction. They then rent an old car and travel away to escape the authorities who are tracking them. William crashes the car while avoiding a collision with camels and pedestrians and they are both knocked unconscious.
When William awakes he finds himself in Seattle with his wife and child. He has no memory of Maria or the Code 46 violation, as all memories of her and their time together have been completely flushed from his mind. The authorities had brought William before a tribunal, but decided the empathy virus had affected his judgment. He attempts to use the empathy virus to read his son's thoughts on the drive back from the hospital, but is unable to. Maria is more severely punished by having her memories of William loving her un-erased, essentially forced to remember him and exiled to the place she hated the most, the desert.“can you completely forget a memory or it is always there somewhere”


passage through various time periods Despite the almost inevitable longueurs, not to mention mumbling melancholy offscreen comments that sometimes verge on the self-parodic, this is certainly a superior Sokurov feature, and not only for its extraordinarily virtuoso mise-en-scène. Digitally shot in a single continuous take, it wanders around St Petersburg's State Hermitage, taking in the building, its furnishings and objets d'art, and a host of characters, historical and contemporary, both named (Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas, Alexandra, Anastasia) and anonymous, while pondering the Russian soul and its ambivalent relationship with Europe. As the unseen film-maker and a 19th century French diplomat guide us on our journey through space and time, it's hard not to be distracted by thoughts of how it was all choreographed, but a magnificent ball scene and the final poignant departure manage to work their magic.

The film is structured as a series of interrogations of the city, where our only window into that world is opened to us through the eyes of individuals, through the recapitulation of their own memories. They become a metonymy for the entire city. Having zoomed out, Havana then, is understood as a city made up of thousands of fragments, which can each be extracted and extrapolated into their own individual worlds. Intermittently, the city as a cloud of complex systems, is pushed to the background, and the characters are brought forth in order to rectify those fragments in the construction of a new place.

access of time capsules/ creates a wormhole from one time and palce to another
passage through scales of time [flashbacks to history]beginning and end superimposition/ situations connectedvastness of historical time / creates a labyrinth

Review Research // part 2

MEMORY
Memory Device We have decided to bring the idea of memory to our project because we feel there is a close link between the idea of preservation and personal memory. The World Heritage sites are a past legacy, and one can only prevent its extinction through photography, video, writings but before we had these technologies we can only rely on human memory to recall specific characteristics and events that may have occured among the 878 sites worldwide in an attempt to bring them back to life. Understanding of the past is embedded into humans memories in that connect them back to the different systems working within a space/building/natural environment on a social cultural and physical level. We want to use these memories to gain access to a past history that we never experianced to allow us to recreate the past through technological means.
memory is the mental ability to store, retain, and recall information. Three tasks that the human memory performs are encoding [recieving, processing and combining received information], storage [the creation of a permanent record of the encoded information] and last is retrieval and recall [calling back the stored information in response to some cue for use in a process or activity]. Wikipedia.
levels of processingorganization: act of organizing data makes it more memorabledistinctiveness: say data in a distinctive way/example seffort: one recalls more difficult data compared to easier data since more effort is placed on themelaboration: people recall more elaborate sentences then short paragraphswikipedia.
Buildings and spaces can be seen as external memory structures.
"In his writings Rossi criticized the lack of understanding of the city in current architectural practice. He argued that a city must be studied and valued as something constructed over time; of particular interest are urban artifacts that withstand the passage of time. Rossi held that the city remembers its past (our "collective memory"), and that we use that memory through monuments; that is, monuments give structure to the city." Wikipedia.
We want to look at this idea of memory storage in relationship with buildings on both the macro level and micro in how one engages with architecture personally as well as how an entire culture or society engages with it. Architecture we feel is a way of leaving something behind, and becomes richer as time advances. Architecture can be seen as a "progression of historical time" through its defaults, its decaying materials, the patterns of movement, and traces of past culture to name just a few. Next we need to find a way to use these 'traces' and memories to not only broaden our knowledge on the many world heritage sites but to create a catalog of these valuable personal memories to help us achieve sucessful preservation.





Eisenman Architects’ unique approach to design projects is to consider the layers of physical and cultural archaeologies at each site, not just the obvious contexts and programs of a building. Rather then pursueing a particular building type, Eisenman Architects specializes in a particular problem type: projects with difficult siting, programmatic and/or budgetary constraints, and of strategic importance to their environment.



The building is very distinctive from other museums, since it does not respond to any functional requirements, but is rather constructed to create spaces that tell the story of the Jewish people in Germany. The museum itself is a work of art, blurring the lines between architecture and sculpture.


World Heritage Memorable Sites
The fortified walls, barbed wire, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and cremation ovens show the conditions within which the Nazi genocide took place in the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest in the Third Reich. According to historical investigations, 1.5 million people, among them a great number of Jews, were systematically starved, tortured and murdered in this camp, the symbol of humanity's cruelty to its fellow human beings in the 20th century.
Statement of SignificanceAuschwitz-Birkenau was the principal and most notorious of the six concentration and extermination camps established by Nazi Germany to implement its Final Solution policy which had as its aim the mass murder of the Jewish people in Europe. Built in Poland under Nazi German occupation initially as a concentration camp for Poles and later for Soviet prisoners of war, it soon became a prison for a number of other nationalities. Between the years 1942-1944 it became the main mass extermination camp where Jews were tortured and killed for their so-called racial origins. In addition to the mass murder of well over a million Jewish men, women and children, and tens of thousands of Polish victims, Auschwitz also served as a camp for the racial murder of thousands of Roma and Sinti and prisoners of several European nationalities.
The collections at the site preserve the evidence of those who were premeditatedly murdered, as well as presenting the systematic mechanism by which this was done. The personal items in the collections are testimony to the lives of the victims before they were brought to the extermination camps, as well as to the cynical use of their possessions and remains. The site and its landscape has high levels of authenticity and integrity since the original evidence has been carefully conserved without any unnecessary restoration.

Review Research // part 1

Speed Territory Communication

“With the birth of these new technologies and these new economic processes, one sees the birth of a sort of thinking about space that is no longer modeled on the police state of urbanization of the territory, but that extends far beyond the limits of urbanism and architecture. . . .THe Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees and it capital importance in political rationality in France are part. . .It was not architects, but engineers and builders of bridges, roads, viaducts, railways, as well as the polytechnicians [who practically controlled the French railraods] - those are the people who thought out space. [architects]. . . are not the technicians or engineers of the three great variables - territory, communication, and speed. These escape the domain of architects.” - Foucault


WORLD HERITAGE This is an interesting topic we came upon, the idea of preserving these various locations all over the globe as a means of providing future generations with knowledge on past cultural and natural landscapes. It is a sort of historical interconectedness between the 878 sites that they are trying to achieve. Heritage [past legacy, present conditions, and future] can have a universal application without regard to a particular territory. We are taking this idea of UNESCO's world heritage and trying to apply the three terms of our studio title acceleration, communication, and territory to it.
Acceleration/speed is extremely prevalent within this preservation project; the idea of slowing down the acceleration of these site in regards to their immediate surroundings, the anti-speed you could say, since a topic that continually comes up within the research of the heritage project it is a particular care to keep these sites from decaying over the years, but rather to flourish and remain in tack no matter how much circulation passes through. Creating a network of these 'time capsules' internationally while the rest of the world continues to age and progress is an interesting concept to us .
Territory is another idea that is applied in a similar way that speed is in that it is the idea of anti-territory; "the sites are monuments that posses a universal value and should be shared by all mankind" .
Communication is trying to create a way that these sites truly can become universal and any one person anywhere on the globe can have access to these sites whether it be physical or virtual, that one can visit and learn from these time capsules of history. We want to create a new network of transportation in conjuction with the use of current and future technologies in a virtual world to make all 878 sites accessible at any time.

The world heritage team hopes to transmit the valueable information within these sites to future generations. But there is no way to avoid eventual decay and change within the natural and cultural sites, so we came up with the proposition of cataloging the sites. The catalog process can capture the sites as they are today and continue to do so at a predetermined interval throughout their lifespan getting the various stages of change. This would allow for them to remain as they are for an infinite amount of time.
We realize though in taking pre-existing sites, some of which are already their own 'eco-systems' [a natural unit in an area functioning together on a physical and biological level], there come both advantages and disadvantages. Whenever we add something to the site whether it is in a physical world or virtual there will be a reaction from the existing system. For example the addition of a network of transportation within the specific regions containing various sites, creating a whole new sub-economy with the new flow of traffic and visitors. The reactions of these sites could develop in the appearance of a fractal [ A rough fragmented shape that can be split into parts each of which is reduced in size, a copy of the whole, a property called self-similarity. In the world of Math a fractile is an equation that undergoes iteration, a form of feedback - wikipedia]. The reactions in this sense would be based on a process of repetition, that creates infinite complexity. So in using pre-existing sites and conditions that have such value in eyes all over the globe, we are presenting ourselves with a difficult task of trying to assimilate the exisiting and our new ideas of territory, speed and communication.



Cultural CriteriaI. "to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius"; II. "to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design"; III. "to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared"; IV. "to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history"; V. "to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change"; VI. "to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria.)



Natural CriteriaVII. "to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance"; VIII. "to be outstanding examples representing major stages of Earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features"; IX. "to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals"; X. "to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-site conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation." Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.
What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.



UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to:
1. encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage
2. encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List 3. encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites 4. help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training 5. provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger 6. support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation 7. encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage 8. encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage



LIST OF CITY BASED HERITAGE SITES



Austria
City of Graz - Historic Centre (1999)
Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg (1996)
Azerbaijan
Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (2000)
Bangladesh
Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat (1985)
Bolivia
City of Potosí (1987)
Historic City of Sucre (1991)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar (2005)
Bulgaria
Ancient City of Nessebar (1983)
Chile
Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso (2003)
China
Ancient City of Ping Yao (1997)
Croatia
Historic City of Trogir (1997)
Old City of Dubrovnik (1979, 1994)
Dominican Republic
Colonial City of Santo Domingo (1990)
Ecuador
City of Quito (1978)
France
Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne (1997)
Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret (2005)
Germany
Hanseatic City of Lübeck (1987)
Greece
Medieval City of Rhodes (1988)
Holy See
Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying
Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (1980, 1990) * 1
Vatican City (1984)
Iraq
Samarra Archaeological City (2007)
Israel
Old City of Acre (2001)
White City of Tel-Aviv -- the Modern Movement (2003)
Italy
City of Verona (2000)
City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto (1994, 1996)
Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta (1995, 1999) 2
Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying
Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (1980, 1990) * 3
Historic Centre of the City of Pienza (1996)
Jerusalem (Site proposed by Jordan)
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (1981)
Luxembourg
City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications (1994)
Malta
City of Valletta (1980)
Mexico
Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche (2002)
Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (2007)
El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City (1992)
Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco (1987)
Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque (1987)
Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza (1988)
Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (1987)
Morocco
Historic City of Meknes (1996)
Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida) (2004)
Netherlands
Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour, Netherlands Antilles (1997)
Pakistan
Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol (1980)
Peru
City of Cuzco (1983)
Historical Centre of the City of Arequipa (2000)
Poland
Old City of Zamość (1992)
Russian Federation
Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent (2003)
Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl (2005)
Spain
Historic City of Toledo (1986)
Old City of Salamanca (1988)
Sri Lanka
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (1982)
Ancient City of Sigiriya (1982)
Sacred City of Anuradhapura (1982)
Sacred City of Kandy (1988)
Suriname
Historic Inner City of Paramaribo (2002)
Switzerland
Old City of Berne (1983)
Syrian Arab Republic
Ancient City of Aleppo (1986)
Ancient City of Bosra (1980)
Ancient City of Damascus (1979)
Thailand
Historic City of Ayutthaya (1991)
Turkey
City of Safranbolu (1994)
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
City of Bath (1987)
Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (2004)
Uruguay
Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento (1995)
Yemen
Old City of Sana'a (1986)



Friday, February 13, 2009

A brief History of Horizontality / Varnelis

A Brief History of Horizontality

1968/1969 to 2001/2002

Pasajes de Arquitectura y Critica, March 2003

Kazys Varnelis

This article is the third in a series for the journal Pasajes de Arquitectura y Critica [Madrid] examining the relationship of a spectacularized contemporary architecture, the city, and capital. The other two are: "Hallucination in Seattle. Frank Gehry's Experience Music Project," Pasajes de Arquitectura y Critica, June 2001 and "Cathedrals of the Culture Industry," August/September 2002.

The history of the recent world can be bracketed by two unexpected events that shattered the existing order: the uprisings of May 1968 and the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. Each marks our entry into another era, the bounds of which architecture and culture must set themselves to understanding. This article proposes to draw out the cultural ramifications of the contemporary moment by comparing it with its predecessor. Two architectural projects, Archizoom's No-Stop City of 1969 and Foreign Office Architects' Yokohoma Terminal, completed in 2002, will help us in uncovering the relation of architecture, capital, and the city today.

May 1968 marked late capitalism's attainment of the world stage. As theorist Fredric Jameson describes it in his seminal essay "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," after World War II, capitalism entered a new, purer stage in which it came to permeate all forms of human life. Jameson cites economist Ernst Mandel's understanding of late capitalism as that phase in which the most distant reaches of the globe and most archaic work practices had been reshaped by the industrialization of agriculture. Jameson continues, however, to suggest that the thorough capitalization of art, culture, and everyday life have led to a new condition in which there is no more separation between interior and exterior, even in the subject itself. Lacking any separation across which to express meaning and the end of any metaphysics of inside and outside, late capitalism would produce postmodernism, a cultural logic dominated by the schizophrenic play of the depthless, empty sign.

The riots of May 1968 were so shocking because they came largely out of nowhere: not in conditions of deprivation and oppression, but rather in countries – particularly France - that were largely social democracies, possessing a nascent culture of affluence. It is, however, precisely this satiated condition that drove the young revolutionaries. By the mid-1960s, capitalists had realized the limits of a production-oriented approach. The middle class had already had its desires fulfilled. Their needs for housing, transportation, food, clothing, even in-home laundry facilities and televisions had been accounted for and, as a result, consumption began to drop off. In response, marketers began to understand that only by fully colonizing everyday life, making the creation of the self something to continually perform and re-perform through the act of consumption could capital continue to grow. To this end, the proliferation of rock music, fashion, design, and art during the 1960s is the product not so much of a rebellion against the system from outside but of capital seeking new, more lucrative, and more sustainable channels of investment.[1]

The enragés understood this as they hurled cobblestones and Molotov cocktails at the police. May 1968 was not a rebellion to seize the means of production, but rather a last ditch attempt to regain control of everyday life – what one did outside the sphere of work – even as this was being utterly subsumed by capital. While the revolutionaries lost, the regimented channels of consumption associated with the culture industry of the 1950s were annihilated. The result was a new culture industry, able to engage and exploit the desires of the youth of the day for the transgressive, the avant-garde, and the pursuit of pure sensual pleasure. The emphasis on production and rational consumption associated with organized capitalism up until that point was now obsolete.[2]

Thus, if the World Trade Center was a product of its day, begun in 1966 and finished around 1972, it was an icon for a bygone era, a monument to an economy based on industrial production in a time that had left that economy behind. Never profitable, the towers were outmoded when first constructed. Their vast bulk attempted to accommodate the needs of office planning, which, under the pressures of the cybernetic theorists of Büro Landschaft became increasingly low horizontal structures, vertical circulation being seen as an impediment to communication. Corporate office parks on the urban periphery would soon supplant the office tower as the dominant typology of the corporate headquarters.[3]

In his 1971 essay "The Fluid Metropolis," Andrea Branzi, of the radical architecture group Archizoom, based in Florence, Italy, argued that such skyscrapers were the product of a superceded form of capitalism and would soon no longer be built. In Branzi's prescient text, the concentrated metropolis and the skyline was the product of one phase of the accumulation of capital, acting as a natural record of its accumulation. The skyline represented the capitalist system to an exterior but, with the loss of any uncapitalized exterior, the need for representation disappeared. Branzi concluded that the total permeability of the territory by capital and the growth of telematics would do away with the city as a terminus. No longer viable as a place, the city would become a condition, existing not as a physical entity but as programming.[4]


Archizoom elaborated on this in their 1969 No-Stop-City, an extrapolation of the postmetropolitan urban condition – that was simultaneously utopian and dystopian. By pushing Branzi's diagnosis of the post-urban condition to a limit, No-Stop-City became amoral and without qualities. Modeled on the supermarket, the factory, and the horizontal plans of Büro Landschaft, No-Stop-City was envisioned as a "well-equipped residential parking lot" composed of "large floors, micro-climatized and artificially lighted interiors." Without an exterior, these "potentially limitless urban structures" would be "made uniform through climate control and made optimal by information links." Rather than serving to identify a place, No-Stop-City would be a neutral field in which the creation of identity through consumption could be unfettered.[5]

Much like the process of Freudian therapy, No Stop City was to serve as diagnosis and cure. To name the problem – that late capitalism had no use for the traditional city or for qualities of place and that the creation of the subject through consumption would to a new, less alienated form of homogeneity – would be to allow its supersession. The result would be a proliferation of sublimely useless objects connoting status and "architecturalness" through the applied facades of postmodernism and the spectacular fragments of supermodernism.

Branzi's diagnosis was correct: the project of the city had come to an end, at least as far as architecture is concerned. The Twin Towers were among the last significant skyscrapers constructed in North America or Europe. Such construction has moved to the newer economies of Asia where it seems a record of capital's achievements is still desirable, for now. Moreover, the pursuit of difference has led to a new homogeneity, if one in which alienation is experienced only nostalgically, as affect.

Fast forward by a generation. An architect and planning historian, the writer of a doctoral dissertation on "City Planning in the Syrian Town of Aleppo," born in September 1968, Mohammed Atta leads a successful conspiracy to destroy the World Trade Center. If the spectacular nature of this attack is compelling, its aftermath cements the supersession of the capitalist metropolis.

The continued threat of such attacks – amplified in Europe by the targeting of the Pirelli Tower in Milan – means that nobody wants to work in such tall structures for fears of safety. While developers, architects, and politicians propose to rebuild the towers, the reality is much harsher: no insurance company would ever consider such a risk and few tenants, if any, could be found above the fiftieth floor. Corporations have understood that to be visible is to be a target, and not always of terrorism. If the most recent readily identifiable tower to be constructed in New York was Johnson/Burgee's AT&T building of 1979, rather than ensuring the corporation's place as a government sanctioned monopoly, the structure seemed to magically draw in the Justice Department to break up the entity which was then forced to sell the structure to the Japanese firm Sony. Visibility is no virtue in the late capitalist society: the first outrageously tall skyscraper of the twentieth century, the 792' tall Woolworth building, completed in 1908, emptily symbolizes a chain of discount stores that closed in 1997, mainly due to competition from Wal-Mart which replaced the now-empty symbolic value of the towering corporate headquarters with the real economic utility of a computer database reputedly second in size only to that of the Pentagon.

Surely a symbol of the new economy would have been a better target than the outmoded structures of the World Trade Center, but where to find such an architectural icon? The suburban corporate headquarters of companies such as Wal-Mart, Microsoft, or Intel are deliberately outside of public view. Moreover, the weeks after 11 September demonstrated that the late capitalist economy is anything but reliant on the urban center. With its main offices uninhabitable after the destruction of the towers, The Wall Street Journal's reporters and editors went online with their laptop computers to put out the next day's edition. A month later, Dow Jones, the newspaper's parent company announced that the Wall Street Journal would relocate half its staff permanently to New Jersey. And although Wall Street was closed for a week and many investment banks and stock trading companies, located in the towers, were destroyed during the attacks, trading reopened on September 17 due to the redundant systems kept off-site. Even Cantor Fitzgerald, a trading company that lost some 700 of 1000 workers based in the city because of the attacks was able to resume operations one week later.[6]

Having visited Manhattan three times since the attacks, I sense an unmistakable change in the city. The loss of the ever-present symbols of production of the World Trade Center together with the remarkable cleaning-up of the city over the last decade has made it much more a European historic core than the American production-machine it once was. Endless shops and bistros with chalkboards outside, entire stretches of the city converted to an upscale shopping mall underscore the shift in the city from a center of production to a site of consumption. It is no accident that the most talked about structure opened in Manhattan during the last year is OMA's Prada Store.

Al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks failed to destroy the world center of capitalism. Its collective psyche was shaken and damaged to be sure, but beyond a few billion dollars of losses and an ominously deepening recession, capitalism was unaffected and the markets resumed operation swiftly. The failure of the attacks to do sustained economic damage validates Archizoom's predictions: it is the invisible, placeless world of the network and the database, now indistinguishable from capital itself, which characterizes this second phase of late capitalism.

If Archizoom's No-Stop-City was a prophecy for the future, our current period seems to be singularly averse to such thoughts. In hopes of better understanding our contemporary condition, however, we could turn to one architectural prophecy of the present that specifically sets out to deal with the relationship of architecture and late capitalism, Foreign Office Architects' Yokohama Terminal.


To begin our discussion of this project, we start with the observation that the structure's relationship to the visible – and to prophecy - is particularly fraught. In the seven years since FOA won the competition, images of the virtual Yokohama Terminal have been reproduced to the point of overexposure. Accompanied by a relentless celebration of the Terminal as the first product of a new generation of very young, computer-driven practices, these images force us to pit the reality of these drawings, or rather, renderings, against the reality of the building. Given that the built project and the renderings both stem from the same computer model – modifications for construction aside - then the Yokohama Terminal has already existed for some time now.

But not entirely: now that the defamiliarizing effect of the enigmatic renderings of black silhouettes on a deformed gridded field has worn off and become familiar, it is an astonishing physical quality of the structure that strikes us. Shrinking down and away onto the water, the structure pulls the observer out onto the surface. But these are the qualities of a bridge or highway, not a building. The Yokohama Terminal distinctly fails to develop a façade or any kind of iconographic quality. Far from being a shining exemplar of the new, Maya-driven era of the blob – if that era will ever arrive - the project is anti-formal, indeed, anti-appearance, infrastructural rather than architectural.

Toyo Ito, who served as one of the jurors, understood the infrastructural nature of the building and applauded it. In contrast to the common reading of the Yokohama Terminal as a virtuoso work of formalism, Ito suggests precisely the opposite: "In this proposal the concept of façade does not exist. É In contrast to this posture [the monument exemplified by the Sydney Opera House], the proposal by [FOA's] Zaera Polo and Moussavi formulates an architecture where the form hardly has significance. It could be called an "architecture without exteriors.'" [7] For Ito, the Yokohama Terminal acts as not a self-sufficient entity but rather as a state between two geological conditions, the undulation of the slabs creating a union between fluid ocean and solid land: "The architecture is nothing more than a point of passage, an instrument of change of velocity between modes of transportation or aspects of nature."[8]

The reconception of the building from monument to infrastructural mediator is FOA's response to the competition brief's urging of designers to consider the project as ni-wa-minato, a mediation between the local condition of Yokohama and the global flows of the cruise ships and between the garden and the harbor.[9] Thus although advocates of Maya-driven architectural form point to the Yokohama Terminal to validate their visions, FOA saw the project's goal of mediation realized not through form but rather through the materiality of the object. FOA writes: "Our proposal for the new Yokohama terminal aims for an artefactual rather than a representational mediation between the two elements of the concept."[10] In this, FOA distinguishes themselves from other surface-complex architecture, arguing that they conceive of architecture as "not a plastic art, but the engineering of material life."[11] Echewing the spatial effects of Frank Gehry, who sees himself as a master-builder, attempting to implement his vision as directly as possible, FOA's focus is on building program and the process of construction: "our main priority is to produce consistency in the process of construction and material organization."[12]

The Yokohama Terminal points toward a reconsideration of contemporary architecture and its relationship to the city. The era of the architectural spectacle is past. Even in the most celebrated case of spectacular architecture, the Guggenheim-Bilbao, what is really remarkable is the alliance of private and public capital that made the project constructable. The dominance of the visual over the last decade is a rouse, a last irruption before architecture turns to the less visible, but more real, work of engaging with the programme and with organizational processes of construction. FOA's Yokohama Terminal announces the emergence of an immaterial age in which we come to reject our frustrated world of objects for programming, much as Archizoom suggested we would a generation ago. As philosopher Jacques Derrida points out, "Form[13] The shimmering masterpieces of the avant-garde are only a sublime distraction from the real obsolescence of architectural form today and the clear direction that leads past it. [1]Thomas Frank. The Conquest Of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, And The Rise Of Hip Consumerism. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). fascinates when one no longer has the force to understand force from within itself. That is, to create."

TODAY! marcos talk at woodbury

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wrong About Architecture // kazys.varnelis.net

I was wrong.
Previously, I've suggested that the architecture of the last decade (the decade of the Bilbao-effect) did little to embody network culture and I thought it peculiar that the best examples of architecture that fits network culture are from the 1990s.
Over at
Strangeharvest, Sam Jacob suggests otherwise and he is right.
I was wrong. The emptiness of the last decade perfectly embodies the period.
The punch-line (but do read the article):
Tomorrows visitors to todays (or yesterdays) iconic buildings will feel the swoosh of volumes, the cranked out impossibility of structure, the lightheadedness of refection and translucencies. They will marvel at buildings that hardly touch the ground, which swoop into the air as though drawn up by the jet stream. They will feel stretched by elongated angles that seem sucked into vanishing points that confound perspective, and will be seduced by curves of such overblown sensuality. And in this litany of affects they will find the most permanent record of the heady liquid state of mind of millennial abstract-boom economics. We might rechristen these freakish sites as museums of late capitalist experience, monuments to a never to be repeated faith in the global market.
Well said.
This is going to take a lot of unpleasant work to unpack from a historical perspective, but it's part of this year's
book project.

Monday, February 9, 2009

World Heritage Articles / Sites in Danger

http://www.eurotopics.net/en/search/results/archiv_article/ARTICLE33660-World-heritage-under-threat-in-Prague

Pražský deník - Czech Republic Thursday, August 14, 2008
World heritage under threat in Prague
UNESCO has ordered the city of Prague to revise a project for constructing skyscarpers near its centre, threatening that unless the city complies it could be struck from the World Heritage list. Prague newspaper Pražský deník notes that the critics of the project can notch up UNESCO's demand as a success: "UNESCO has put an end to the skyscraper plans. These buildings that were to reach a hundred metres into the sky will now end up at least 30 metres smaller because otherwise Prague's unique panorama would suffer. The civic initiatives have won their battle - albeit on international soil. The city authorities had so far proven immune to their demands. Mayor of Prague Pavel Bem claimed that the threat of the city being struck off the World Heritage list was not real. Now we know that it is indeed real."




http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/City-centre-buildings--39pose.4689008.jp

City centre buildings 'pose threat' to world heritage site
Published Date: 13 November 2008
By Brian Ferguson
TOWERING new buildings, large-scale developments and modern schemes out of keeping with their historic surroundings risk damaging Edinburgh's world heritage site, Unesco chiefs warned yesterday.

The city council and the business community have been warned the whole "integrity" of the Old and New Towns will be in doubt if developments are allowed to proceed unchecked. On the opening day of an official visit which could see Scotland's capital stripped of its world heritage status, Mechtild Rössler, Europe and North America chief at Unesco's world heritage centre, said it was vital for Edinburgh to guard against development that was "incompatible" with its surroundings. She said it was particularly crucial that key views of the city centre, including from the main approaches to the city, were not ruined. Dr Rössler dismissed claims that Edinburgh's world heritage status risked holding back development and instead warned the city's economy could suffer long-term damage if widescale change in the heart of Edinburgh was accepted. She spoke out as details emerged of a damning report to Unesco from a key advisory body, warning that the scale of developments planned for Edinburgh city centre could have a dramatic impact on the city's world heritage site. Dr Rössler, who is accompanied by Professor Manfred Wehdorn, of the International Council on Monuments, in Edinburgh this week, said: "We are well aware of the strength of the debate in Edinburgh. We have received hundreds of letters and the arguments have been very passionate. "It's important to remember that world heritage status was awarded to Edinburgh based on its historic buildings and street patterns. We are not arguing that cities should be maintained like museums. "It's totally false for anyone to suggest that, but development has to be compatible with what is there, whether it is a tall building or a modern new development in an historic location. "It's very important that existing views are maintained for the citizens of Edinburgh and great care should be taken to ensure that new developments are in keeping with what is already there."

http://www.citymayors.com/development/toledo_development.html

Report claims new developmentsthreaten Toledo’s historic setting

By Daniel González Herrera, Spanish Editor*
7 February 2006: Toledo, situated some 70 kilometres south of Madrid, is one of Spain’s most important historic cities.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, the city was once the country's capital and is renowned for its medieval architecture. It is also famous for steel making. Toledo swords were the most sought after hand weapons of their time. However, now a report by one of Spain’s oldest art academies says that the city’s historic setting could be seriously damaged by new developments planned by the city council.The municipal authorities published a municipal urban development plan (POM) to construct some 37,000 dwellings between now and 2025 on the outskirts of Toledo, in areas known as Huerta del Rey and Vega Baja. This plan has been severely criticised by the Royal Academy of Arts of San Fernando, Madrid’s oldest art institute. The Academy said that implementation of the plan would mean the end of Toledo’s environment, which has been cherished for centuries. Toledo Mayor José Manuel Molino counters that the old part of the city would not be touched. “POM will only affect the outer edge of the old quarter,” he said.However, for the deputy director of the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Pedro Navascués, this is no reassurance. He points out that is not only the historic part of the city, but also the natural environment that surrounds the town, which allowed Toledo to gain World Heritage status. Mr Navascués used Venice as an example, saying that if a plan like POM was applied to the Italian city, it would mean draining its canals. “The development plan poses a real threat to the symbiosis, the marriage between the medieval city and its surrounding environment,” he explained.Pedro Navascués also accused the city council of “violating the legislation which have protected Toledo and its landscape since 1940”. A number of special laws have offered special protection to Toledo and its surrounding environment ever since. The development plan would change the current legislation, modifying classification of most of the low and high meadows on the Tagus river, on which presently no construction is allowed. The city council describes its plans as sustainable development to justify the building on land, which, until now, was considered part of Toledo’s historic legacy.Mr Navascués stresses that the Academy was not opposed to economic growth. “We only ask that the city council considers alternative sites for expansion,” he said. The Academy also suggests that the Huerta del Rey and Vega Baja areas should be developed as “green lungs”, which would attract tourism and would allow citizens to enjoy the city without destroying its physiognomy. Another reason against POM is the presence of archaeological remains in Vega Baja, dating back to the Visigothic period, which are in danger of being damaged or destroyed if the development plan went ahead.The academy is aware that there is a lot of money at stake. Deputy Director Navascués was surprised to learn that even though POM had not been finally agreed, land had already been allocated. He fears that if the plan goes ahead Toledo’s World Heritage listing could be under threat. The UNESCO delegate in Castile-La Mancha, Fernando Redondo, said that the city council acted rather too hastily in drawing up POM. “The council should have consulted the International Council of Monuments and Sites, an organization part of UNESCO,” he explained.The Royal Academy has sent its report to superior authorities including Spain’s Ministry of Culture, the regional government of Castile-La Mancha and, of course, to Toledo’s city council.Toledo was the first capital of the Visigothic Hispania, after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was declared an imperial city during the reign of Cahrles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Because of its amazing beauty, the city has been immortalized in many literary and pictorial works, including paintings by El Greco, who lived in Toledo from 1579 until his death in 1614.

Installation Art // Hertzian Space



Interesting article that Yuan pointed out to me that could definetely apply to the way we are thinking about our project. Here is a brief clip from the article about an installation involving the concept of designing in Hertzian Space.

In Osman and Omar Khan’s project “SEEN-Fruits of Our Labor,” the designers crafted an 8’ tall, 4’ wide black acrylic screen, reminiscent of the 2001 monolith or perhaps a massive iPhone (the iPhone was actually released a year after the first installation) and installed it in front of the San Jose Museum of Art. The designers set out to foreground questions of labor in the United States by asking members of three groups crucial to the Silicon Valley economy—technology workers, undocumented service workers and outsourced call center workers—the question “What is the fruit of your labor?” The Khans displayed the responses on the screen via a grid of infrared LEDs. This light source is invisible to the naked eye, but can be seen via CCD apparatuses present in digital cameras and phone cameras.

As the mysterious object incited viewers into photographing it, viewers saw a message that otherwise existed only in Hertzian space, invisible to the eye, on their camera screens. Repeated photographs yielded new messages and, as viewers stood in front of the monument with their cameras, the experience spread virally.

SEEN-Fruits of Our Labor provokes a series of questions. To be sure there is the very real social content of the project, content that might appear heavy-handed if simply displayed on a visible-light LED screen. By hiding the messages in plain view, however, the designers subtly expose our own complicit relationship to conditions that we prefer to keep invisible. The project does not so much make visible the invisible as force us to engage in it. We can’t help but ask what mysterious forces—Hertzian or economic—permeate the city?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Momenta // Michael Wesley





Your photographs are long exposures that last between days and years. How do you protect the camera (keep the film from being over-exposed, the camera from being knocked around?
The tripod isn’t a tripod as you know. think more of a steel construction, really rigid and heavy, that is attached to an open location in the building. It is always a different style tripod, and I have to plan for it to sit there "unremovable" for many years, which requires certain structural planning. Neutral density filters keep the material from getting overexposed. but there is no way to calculate the filters, I have to experience the time before I can repeat the shot.
Have you ever come back to a project a few months later and found that the camera had been moved, or finally tried to develop a picture and have it not come out?
There has been little loss of images over all these years. But once in a while there are problems with the tripod, when the house is being renovated, for example. then all sorts of people run around the camera and touch it, hit it. This is why I also like to keep the construction a bit oversized, so that once you see the camera you get the feeling: "do not even try to think about moving me".

These projects seem to require a lot of waiting for the final product. Have you always been patient?
Since I do so many other projects, it is very easy to forget about a camera for a while. but sometimes, in a quiet moment, I think about this or that camera. Sometimes friends ask about certain places they have been (right now it’s mostly at the moma construction site in nyc, where I have 8 cameras). Then I return to the place out loud and also realize how fast time is passing.
How do you think the time that it takes to produce these pictures changes the way you perceive them? That is, how much does the long exposure time enable you to see what time does to the image and to you? Is there a time when you set up a photograph and something happened to change the meaning of the photograph for you?
No change of meaning, but the moma project was kicked off right before september 11, 2001. and for that reason (in the end the images will be exposed for four years), there is an easy link available for talking about the things that have changed since. I love collecting time, so these images give me a lot of satisfaction. Usually photography deals with the exposure time as something very aggressive, because it is about ripping something out of the flow of time. the click and action is very aggressive. In the "low end" photography I do, there is no decisive moment, no aggression, just a special light and a changed space. And this is a big part of my interest, and for that reason I consider my way to be soft and slow.
What are the emotional implications of your work?
Everyone is kicked back to the basic questions of life: the fragility, our limited time frame in eternity. these concepts go along very easily with the images.
This system of photography seems pretty clinical and very organized, but the photographs come out both messy and emotive. Do you agree? Was that what you expected?
I like that regular life is "writing" the photograph. Some lines are added every day and in the end it has a very precise logical appearance, even if it looks totally messed up. We cannot access this logical system, we can only guess. and this guessing is in large part the poetry that, for me, makes these images rich.
You seem to be on a project to shape visual culture. What are the political or social implications, if any, of the images you present?
If you analyze my work long enough, you will reach a level of moral understanding that is very important to me, but not very visible. In fact we all love images because of the voyeuristic qualities the medium gives us. There are two main reasons we love photographs. one is the moral aspect: in real life no one can look at another person’s face for more than a glimpse without being violating or aggressive, so photography is a tool that makes every detail accessible for an unlimited amount of time. The other aspect is the time frame: the 1/100 of a second that it takes to make these moments is not accessible to us usually, since they are so short. So the long exposure times especially, give other qualities to the images. People disappear, only the rigid stuff remains in focus, etc…so the less you see, the more has to happen in your head. these works are a lot about fantasy, individual fantasy, and not so much about voyeurism.
There are a few fundamental differences between Germany and the US –in Germany the fairly large social state pays for university education and for unemployment, whereas in the US many art students are either being supported by their parents or go into large debt afterwards, without much promise of work. Even though the economics are different in Germany, is there pressure from families not to go into art programs for fear that there’s no future employment? Was it hard for you to get employed after you graduated?
It is an international conflict, I think, of parents not wanting their children to become artists, for a variety of reasons, and some just say: okay, it’s your own life. In my family nobody said anything bad about me studying art. I was never employed, I worked as a photographer to survive, which is very easy once you learn the technique. but being paid for my work sufficiently took many hard years.
How was your university experience?
I studied straight photo technique for two years, and spent six years as an art student. It all happened in munich. German schools are usually well equipped and you could work all day if you wanted to. The limitation is more inside of every student. The more active you are, the more fun it is to study art. That way you can get to know your soul mates and have fun with them. This is key: discussing and working hard and a lot.
Have you ever lost interest in photography and regained it? How?
The wish to do good photographs never left me. This is the motor: creating really good images.
Are you still constantly looking for work, commission, projects…?
Always.
How does being in the business of visual production change human interactions? Do you feel judged (or encouraged) by the way you look, not just the way the photos look?
The definition of an artist is basically created by society. And it is the opposite of what simple people do: they go to work for at least eight hours a day (artists work sometimes), they have one wife (we always have a lot to make us creative) and they get paid some money at the end of the month (artists get chunks of money for some work), and so on. I survive pretty well. There are days where i feel really weak and then the judgement of others sucks. Usually I am fine and do not care. I cannot care so much about what other people want me to look like. I just try to follow my ideas, no matter what it takes.
One of your current projects is photographing the construction site of the new Museum of Modern Art in NY. Is it exciting to work with MoMA?
Yes. It is a strange project. we are together for such a long period of time (with preparations and so forth, it will be almost six years) which is very unusual. The photo department has almost become an extension of my family, since I go there twice a year to check my cameras.
What do you want to do next?
More photographs in Brazil.