Thursday, April 29, 2004

Being myself

I spent the day wandering around central London and had a mobile phone experience worth noting. At some point, despite being surrounded by people, I was feeling rather isolated and alone. The city is so congested, with so much ambient noise and visual stimulation, that I didn't recognise that my phone was ringing for several moments. But when I answered it, and heard a familiar voice from home, the surrounding noise receded and my loneliness was immediately replaced by something soft and comforting, and I felt myself again. Later on, I recalled moments of desperate isolation doing fieldwork in the remote Andes - those times when everything that makes me who I am were absent and I felt utterly dislocated. What a difference a mobile phone would have made! I looked around me and saw so many people, walking alone, disconnected from the people around them, and yet connected to people somewhere else. I wondered if it also helped them feel less alone and more themselves...

Central London is fun to walk around. The sex and fetish shops in Soho are entertaining, and brothels are marked by discrete signs that read "models" or by small red lights in the windows and men discretely coming and going. I think I may have to check out The Good Old Naughty Days while I am here as well.

Spent a few hours at the ICA in excellent company, and then another couple of hours browsing books on Charing Cross Road. I picked up a copy of the Metapolis Dictionary of Advanced Architecture and Mark Kalesniko's Mail Order Bride. Sweet.

And I'm off to Manchester tomorrow for Futuresonic/Mobile Connections. More later.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Creative Crossings

The two-day Creative Crossings workshop in which I have been participating has summed up with the following research and collaboration agendas (rough notes) :

Group 1 - Participatory strategies: social networking

practices & roles / values & ethics / visions & methods

how to design for unintended use/creative misuse? how can you design a platform that evolves? what is the moderating role of the practitioner? how can the practitioner negotiate multiple contexts?

how do we establish appropriate boundaries or parameters for participation? how do we establish mutual agreements or common understandings while respecting diversity? what are the appropriate forms of explicit agreements? how do we influence "external" institutions and contexts? what are the values that practitioners should cultivate? what are the responsibilities of practitioners? What are the values implicit in code and software?

what methods can artists use for engaging communities? how can we design for sustainability? how can we evaluate our products and process? what do we mean by participatory design? how can we link artistic, design and research methods? what is the role of time in participatory research?

Group 2 - Media strategies: cross-platform user modes

Need to develop a grammar of critical language and a set of descriptors that define the experience of live data (the middle space: temporal and content and context that might be within specific locations)

Pointed to 2 areas : theories of time & understandings of embodiment and hybrid cultural data ranging from advertising, performance and architecture

This is necessary because we are collectively moving into mobile trans-disciplinary, cross platform practice

Group 3 - Metadata strategies: access, mapping & ontologies

Using metadata and ontologies in authoring and designing public space
- how to construct metada and ontologies for mobile culture
- how to bind together location, movement and temporality

How is a location meaningful when entry of data takes place from multiple locations and temporalities
- seeking p2p presence
- metadata/ontologies in making individual clients relevant to one another

Interface solutions for authoring interactive environments and narratives that pay attentions to the conditions of mobility
- issues of agency as one moves through public space equipped with varying types of mobile media: crossing different cultural domains
- agency as the mode in which one engages with a system
- multiple points of view and their representation
- ethographic research of spatial ontologies and cross cultural engagement and environment design

Spatial metadata: systems strategies
- alternative mapping methods
- pdpal.com
- openguides.org
- placelab.org
- gpster.net/wherefi-design-docs.html

How do we create self organising ontologies for community / user driven metadata
- value systems for filtering
- trust based local information collection and interaction with particular communities, subcultures, etc.

How do we treat the representation of self in mobile space
- setting personal filters
- how do we link trusted networks
- underline the specificity of public spaces and personal perceptions of that space
- dodgeball.com/social/
- how individuals perform with data objects for example narratives: mark particular objects or points as important, when you put this data together, metadata emerges as a sort of concensus

What are the strategies for engaging communities or user groups in the use of metadata to author content
- user feedback to influence the entire system
- user feedback particular to one individual
- formalising some of the transactions
- sharemyworld.net
- limits on expression when entering personal stories/data

Designs between the virtual and the physical
- design strategies for engagement betweeen physical/virtual environments ( for example hotspots,
- areacode.org
- katamuisti.net
- murmurtoronto.ca
- citypoems.co.uk

Additional methodological questions
- invisible data/archives what about the politics and creativity in data mining
- tagging and authenticating: generating trusted information exchange spamming space, convenience
- decay and appreciation over time in relation to metadata life cycles, and their influence on design methodology, time, distance, popularity, ratings, reducing or increasing relevance
- automatic and manual annotation methods taking into account different media types

How to scale the research tasks to match the distributed condition of individuals and organisations involved
- recognising things that are utopian in nature: like interoperability of archives at large

Workshop follow-ups at Futuresonic/Mobile Connections, ISEA 2004 and upcoming Banff New Media Institute summits.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

101 London conversations

During a walk around Bloomsbury, Holborn and Covent Garden on Sunday afternoon, Michael and I discussed English history, architecture and the triumphs and failures of feminism.

Over dinner Tom was preoccupied with the mermaid's sore nipples, Matt lit up my mind, Rod assured me that although he is an artist this week, he was an assassin last week and would be so again, Ben reinvigorated my love of archaeology, Timo made me feel at home, and Phil entertained me while walking me right to my door.

On Monday I had 92 conversations about art, technology and ethics with a fascinating bunch of Brits, Finns and Canadians. At dinner, Rob and I talked about the use of mobile phones in Brasil and the changing city of Budapest. Giles showed me Urban Tapestries in action, and I realised how very much we think alike.

Everything is good.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Doin' it in 3-D

Via Steve - Every day is a good day for P Funk!

And very early tomorrow morning I'm heading to London, to begin a month of wandering about England, Ireland and Sweden - and blogging when and where possible.

Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication!

Friday, April 23, 2004

Critical lenses

Also from The Feature, David Pescovitz's State of the Artists: "Research laboratories are the avant-garde art galleries of the twenty-first century. That shouldn't come as a surprise though. Art is a lens through which engineers can raise tough questions about the science fiction that they create, and we inhabit."

I've written many times on Jonah's work, and posted on Usman Haque's Sky Ear at SpaceandCulture some time back. I very much enjoy projects like these, and certainly appreciate a critical eye turned on technology.

"I think that art recently has reasserted itself as a creative research tool," Haque says. "It is artists who are these days best able to explore the changing relationship of people to their environments, interactions between people and objects, between objects and spaces."

Um, let's not forget social and cultural researchers.

Come together

Justin Hall's Cellular Cruising for Casual Sex takes a look at using technology in our search for, ahem, companionship.

He begins by introducing the historical shift from supervised family and community courtship rituals to unsupervised public dating largely enabled by car culture, but then makes a dodgy connection between cars and mobile technologies: "The car allows travel between spaces, and it can be its own space. Mobile devices continue this evolution, presenting a private space for communication separate from physical location."

Automobiles, while certainly mobile, provide contained spaces of interaction where metal and glass clearly separate the interior from the exterior. The space of mobile phone conversations involves considerably more slippage between public and private, interior and exterior - where private talk and public performance co-mingle to produce hybrid and fluid spaces.

Regardless, this shift to dating culture created the desire or need to find new ways to meet other people. From bars and clubs to online dating sites, people continue the search for love - and sex. And Hall's basic premise is that mobile or locative technologies increase our "availability," especially to people in close physical proximity, and especially for more casual or fleeting (sexual) encounters with strangers: "Without having to unzip my fly, I can wave my phone around to show that I'm ready for something randy." However, as sociologist Nalini Kotamraju states, "What's technologically possible is not necessarily socially desirable."

The question of casual sex (or any kind of sex for that matter) is one poorly understood by anthropologists and sociologists. Historically, it was considered immoral (pervish) to study people's sexual activities and currently it is considered unethical (privacy-violating). Given this scenario, we tend to look at popular culture for indicators of social sexual mores (which are quite often different from actual practices).

In the 1954 educational short film Towards emotional maturity Sally and Hank negotiate whether to pet or not to pet, and the 1958 short film How much affection? asks "How far can young people go in petting and still stay within the bounds of personal standards and social mores?" Today's social norms are much more relaxed, although the most sexually permissive cultures remain somewhat fringe or hidden.

But what about technologically or otherwise mediated sex? And those types of intimacy that require distance, or what social theorists call "absent presence"? I suspect that 19th century love letters often enough explored sexual (and emotional) intimacies not permitted in public. Likewise - but perhaps more often with people we do not know in person - with phone sex, instant messaging and SMS.

But socially and culturally, I think it is most interesting how this absent-presence relates to when we physically come together. What is possible or desirable in one scenario but not the other? The key, I think, is not to ask which comes first - technology or social norms - but to pay attention to how the two slide together, and shape each other, in actual practice.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Cultural logic and computing

Tom Coates: "It's not that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - it's that the aim of all technological advancement is to aspire towards the appearance of magic."

Update: I'm not sure I agree with this, but it reminded me of the common practice of black-boxing technology.

Genevieve Bell, Auspicious Computing:

It is interesting to contemplate why people don't talk about these nascent usages of technology for spiritual and religious ends. Why don't we celebrate these experiences that technology supports in our tales of cyberspace and technological utopias? Partly, it is difficult to talk about religion in America, no matter its form—it is contested ground, highly personal, and emotional. Religion is almost the polar opposite of how we think about technology and computing, things that embody rational thinking and logic. Our separation of religion and technology goes straight to the underlying assumptions about the kinds of cultural work that technology should, does, and could perform. In turn, these assumptions actively shape the narratives of technology's future—in both the visionary work of various technology gurus and in the specifics of technology design, manufacture, and deployment.

Yet religion shapes ideas about time, space, and social relationships in countless, often subtle, ways. In many cultures, it is impossible to delineate between religious practices and beliefs and society's larger structuring. As such, religious systems' cultural logic must necessarily impact the very ways in which new technologies are created, consumed, and, indeed, rejected. Our desire to bring new technologies into our homes; the persistence of values such as simplicity, grace, humility, modesty, and purity; and ideas about modernity, subjectivity, and the self are all implicated in shaping the contexts for new technologies. And if we ignore them, we shortchange our own experiences of the technology as well as our understandings of what it could be for others.

Well put. (via)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Sigh

Ever had one of those days when you get shit on by a pigeon, and all you think is of course?

Now imagine it happens twice in one day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Machinista

International Arts and Technology Festival - Machinista 2004 - Glasgow May 6th to 9th

Featuring:

Balalaika / Mobile Phone by Konstantin Goretsky & Alena Boika
Soundscape by Jeff Wookey
»sale away« by staalplaat soundsystem

Invention as social process

Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process - Sociology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Rather than take the identity of social and material entities as given and foundational, the concept of invention points to the way in which persons and objects should be understood in terms of temporality in general and novelty in particular, through, for example, notions of life, duration and process. This orientation connects the interests of the Centre in science, technology and art with questions of identity and the body, ethics and politics.

If I weren't going to be in Dublin, I would be attending this event:

Wednesday May 5th 2004
4:00pm - 6:00pm, Seminar Room, 12th Floor Warmington Tower
WORKSHOP ON SOCIOLOGY AND DESIGN
With Martin Wooley, John Wood, Celia Lury, Andrew Barry and Alex Wilkie

Thanks Alex!

Dreaming technologies

Why does my dissertation focus on mobile technologies still in development?

In Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance, Jon McKenzie draws on Bruno Latour's Aramis, or the Love of Technology and writes:

The social dimension of technological performance is not external to some realm of pure technology. While one can compose readings that focus on the technical history of a particular device or system, this can only be done by disconnecting the technology from the social forces that help to produce it. Before any production, before there is a high performance missile, or computer, or transit system, there are only projects, and projected technologies are more social than technological, more fantastic than objective.

I'm more interested in how technologies come to be, than in what technologies are. The primary benefit of this sort of approach is the ability to identify precise moments and locations in which we may possibly intervene and alter the course of events, thereby reasserting the role of social and cultural agency – and the potential for critiques of everyday life - in the development and use of ubiquitous computing.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Technology + art cities

Alex Steffen on smart places, reputation capital, flows and treating goods as services. Anthony Townsend on how urban designers can respond. (via)

Dan Hill on the Archigram exhibition currently at the Design Museum in London. Mmmm. Looking forward to catching that in a couple of weeks. Dan also points to breaks in the road and sounds of the city.

Plus Intel's Urban Atmospheres - proactive archeology of our urban landscapes and emerging technology - research project brings us Jabberwocky:

Jabberwocky is a freely available mobile phone application designed to promote urban community connections and a sense of familiarity, anxiety, and play in public urban places ... As two people approach one another, each person’s individually carried Jabberwocky mobile phone application transparently detects and records the other’s unique identity ... Over time each Jabberwocky application accumulates a log of unique entries of people that have been previously encountered. Later, as the user crosses through another part of the city, takes the subway, or waits at a street corner, the Jabberwocky application senses nearby groups and crows and renders an abstract real-time visualization of familiarity.

And e-Xplo:

e-Xplo takes on the part of a topographical agent by developing projects which engage a space and the people who inhabit it:

DENCITY is a live performance of electro-acoustic music on a nightly bus tour through New York's hidden landscapes. It is the contemporary urban equivalent of an explorer's notebook- a kind of Huck Finn on land.

Continuing the physiographic narrative e-Xplo initiated with DENCITY, 65 MPH re-orients the "tourist" with a new vocabulary for the city structured through the highway's imperative for speed and distance.

And more...

Thanks Rene!

Friday, April 16, 2004

Design for Hackability

Our panel on Design for Hackability has been accepted for DIS 2004 - hope to see you there!

Design for hackability draws on hacker, punk DIY and remix cultural practices and values. It encourages designers and non-designers to critically and creatively explore technology and media, to reclaim authorship and ownership of new and existing technologies, and of the social and cultural worlds in which we live. Hackability implies more than customisation or adaptation - it calls for redefinition. Design for hackability involves creating spaces for play where people are never forced to adapt to technology. It involves recognising and working with tensions between people and artefacts. It also subverts the traditional function and use of networks. In a world where technologies are increasingly mobile and invisible, design for hackability means allowing and encouraging people to work with resources at hand and to make technologies be what they want them to be. It cultivates reciprocity between users and designers and supports transparency and graceful responses to unanticipated uses.

We invite people to further explore with us what it means to design interactive systems that are creative as well as socially and culturally responsible - to explore what design for hackability might involve and how it may inspire our design objectives and processes.

I will be moderating, and panelists include Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Lalya Gaye and Elizabeth Goodman.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Playing with words

Via Caterina, a fun diversion:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"I aint got no money but I need a drink."
- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

But what I'd really like to see is a narrative made of all these fragments... the combination of technical manuals, academic texts and fiction is strangely compelling.

Look See (Listen)

I was looking at a copy of Digital Beauties yesterday. The focus on "artistic achievement" was interesting for sure - the work of Rene Morel is almost startling in its realism - but I have to agree with this review: "The dryness of the text is a great disappointment because the very idea of generating a sensual idol within the depths of a powerful computer begs critical, if not poetic, analysis." The gaze, after all, is never neutral.

In other news, the BBC reports that "an unglamorous schoolgirl has become a feminist icon in Russia after she was entered for an online beauty pageant by a friend as a prank ... the vote for Alyona was against unnatural beauties who cannot be distinguished from each other, fake emotions, smiles and gazes reflected in the lenses of professional photographers, products of the same type and trademark, popular music, cigarettes without nicotine and coffee without caffeine."

And on a completely unrelated note, I am really enjoying mind the GAP*? these days.

Current listening.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Interconnected

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Sharing as soft sociability

My childhood school report cards say that I didn't like to share. And that's mostly true. I didn't want to have to play by other people's rules, so I wouldn't share with them. But as I grew up, I realised that if sharing is understood as "soft" sociability - or ways of interacting with others that don't rely on "hard" rules - I actually like the sense of reciprocity, and even obligation, that comes with it.

Avoiding the "hard" sociability (the structural or totalising aspects) of Mauss' gift economies or game-theory, sharing is a "soft" form of gift-giving or exchange. As a practice, sharing also involves long histories of local and global interaction, and the associated power relations between people, objects, activities and ideas - but it does so in less formal or directed ways.

Most simply, sharing binds us to each other; it is a classic example of intimate sociability.

And so I was thinking about intimacy, soft sociability and technology when I was able to try out Diego Doval's new (beta) file-sharing application CleverCactus Share. I won't pretend to know anything much about the technology behind it (you can read about that here and here) but I can describe why I enjoy using it.

Like Matt Webb's Glancing, Share seems to appreciate the more ambiguous and subtle aspects of sociability. And it has something in common with FilePile (maybe my favourite example of sociable software).

Share is soft and intimate, and quite beautifully communicative. Instead of sending email to certain friends, I have taken to sending them songs and pictures to communicate what I am feeling, or simply to let them know they crossed my mind. We have always liked to share artefacts-of-all-sorts, and every file sent to me is like getting a little surprise, not to mention a sweet challenge to reciprocate. Sometimes we have direct contact - we chat - but I think I may be more comforted by the always sense of indirect connection and playfulness.

Never entirely impressed by social networking sites, I nonetheless appreciate their sense of serendipity - something I see stifled in Share. So I was a bit surprised to find out that I also really like being surrounded only by those people I consider to be friends (whatever that means to me). The setting is informal, I already trust these people, and the software simply allows me to add another layer of communication to our relationships.

How simple, even elegant. This moves much closer to my idea of sociable technology, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Just a little bit geek

When I think of the Gopher protocol I smile fondly. In that time "before the clutter and commercialization of the Web" it was the first way I accessed the Net. And, apparently, it isn't dead.

In Gopher: Underground Technology, John Goerzen explains that "Put most simply, gopher is fun. Any programmer with experience with network programming can write a pretty much full-featured gopher server or client in a couple of hours." He also sees gopher as a solid alternative for mobile devices, and is interested in "using gopher as a protocol for dynamic information exchange in a way similar to XML-RPC and SOAP." Hmm.

On the topic of text-only web pages, I also love, and still regularly use, Lynx. (Ever wonder how your site renders?)

Completely unrelated, but damn fascinating, is the Museum of Unworkable Devices. I've always been taken by things like luminiferous aether and alchemy, and if you've ever had an interest in perpetual motion and free energy machines, you'll like this too. (via)

The Gallery of Ingenious, but Impractical Devices includes some lovely things like the Water Kiss Fountain, where you can drink from the lips of a beautiful woman carved of stone. But I got stuck on the static/dynamic trap - where people "draw, and analyze, a static picture of an unmoving wheel, and use the results to draw inferences about a rotating wheel. [Or] sometimes they do it the other way around."

I understand maps (or any sort of representative account) as static portrayals of things in motion. The problem of correspondence (of truth-making) is most interesting to me here. But when I read about correspondence in mathematics and economics, I don't understand. Are maps seen to have predictive capacities? Are they understood as facts in-and-of themselves? How are social network maps mapped onto software? What are the static/dynamic tensions at play?

In a paper on playful mobilities I wrote a few months ago, I was thinking about playful ways of mapping technologies and I looked to Alexander Calder's sculptures for inspiration:

What if we were to imagine socio-technological assemblages as mobiles? What kind of mobility might that be? What if we instead imagine them as stabiles, as assemblages that suggest or represent mobiles at particular points in space and time? And what if we imagine these assemblages as standing mobiles, where the fixed elements are autonomous forms and not just support for the mobile elements?

Friday, April 9, 2004

Here be systems (and tensions)

Adam Greenfield's End to ends:

Designing function into the network itself freezes a moment in time, with all its arrangements and priorities and valuations intact. The trouble is, of course, that all of those things change over time, in unpredictable directions ...

Life, living things, organic things: they're messy, they continually flow and leak and fold back on themselves. It takes a certain maturity to accept this, to find beauty in it, especially for those of us who (have been trained to) associate harmony first and foremost with order. It's not easy to let go of the idea - the introduction of which into my own life which I associate with eighth-grade biology's unit on Linnean classification - that the universe of phenomenal objects can be comprehensively named, ordered, and understood ...

But there does come a place where a systematic approach is called for, and that place is the network that connects these local, heterogeneous, wildly and delightfully variable moments with each other and that facilitates movement between and among them ...

Such systematization is all about providing a stable platform for the emergence of what are, I trust, the more interesting sorts of complexity and diversity. Put concretely: would you rather live in a city with a hundred different, locally varying practices for the labeling and coloring and shape and placement of street signs, or one that imposed this one standard on its constituent parts? All of the interesting, complicated stuff still exists in the things connected to the network, but the network is left to do its job.

My dissertation research has brought me back to this question over and over: what are the relations between mobility and stability, platforms and actions, stages and performances? Is it really just a matter of scale? And how, exactly, does power come into play here?

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Mmmmm... Slow...

slowLab

'slow' is a holistic design paradigm.

It envisions positive human and environmental impact of designed products, environments and systems, while constructively critiquing the processes and technologies of which they are born. It celebrates local, close-mesh networks of people and industry, it preserves and draws upon our cultural diversity, and it relies on the open sharing of ideas and information to arrive at innovative design solutions.

'slow design' is not time-based. It doesn't refer to how long it takes to make something, but rather describes the designer's elevated state of awareness in the process of creation, the quality of its tangible outcomes and a richer experience for the end-user.

via

No small task

Scientists seek 'map of science'

Researchers maintain that the very nature of knowledge is different in the digital age because information held on computers can be cross-referenced and linked. That opens new possibilities and presents new problems of extracting meaningful and relevant information from largely unorganised data collections ... Scientific landscapes might have hundreds of possible dimensions, presenting a challenge in creating two- or three-dimensional maps.

And to appease Liz, I will mention the map-territory problem :)

Random notes on remembering and forgetting

I just don't seem to have the time to work on my forgetting machine as much as I would like right now, so I keep filing away things I read about memory.

Matt Jones recently wrote about the role of the hippocampus in newly formed memories and how, after a period of time, memories seem to consolidate outside that part of the brain:

If our life recording devices are 'outboard-hippocampi' then perhaps balance and consolidation processes are the natural progressions.

But I'm having a hard time connecting this to my interest in how we remember - and in what forgetting has to do with remembering...

In Photographs and Memories, Douglas Rushkoff writes:

The cameraphone is terrific in that it gives us the ability to snag a photo whenever we want, even if we never carried a camera around, before. They certainly don't cost us anything in weight, and given how we already keep our phones in the most accessible pockets we've got, it costs us almost nothing in time to click off a few shots. And here we are passing digital photos around to one another like they were email signatures - moblogging them onto our websites or just passing our phones physically around our classrooms and workplaces to share the accident or sexy person we happened to capture.

But that's just the point: it's the photo we happened to capture. Instead of elevating the events in our lives to "memories," as we did in the Kodak era, we are simply grabbing some visual data points or a momentary sensation. The intentionality is gone. And unless the image is spectacular (not in execution, but in its content) we'll trash it without printing. Who can be bothered filing all those little jpegs?

There is much I want to say about this, but for now I am reminded of:

Henri Bergson's Matter and Memory

And Deleuze's Bergsonism, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image

See also:

Gilles Deleuze's Bergsonian Film Project by Donato Totaro

Images of Thought and Acts of Creation: Deleuze, Bergson, and the Question of Cinema by Amy Herzog

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Read

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Future

I'm off to London on the 24th, and will be spending the 26th & 27th participating in CREATIVE CROSSINGS: Location, Community and Media.

The Finnish - British - Canadian workshop is a research and networking forum for discussing participatory and creative applications for the development of mobile/located and cross-platform media. Of special interest are the transformative use of spaces and places and the social networks created in participatory authoring. The workshop is a collaboration between the Finnish Institute, Arts Council of England, m-cult centre for new media culture (Finland), and the Banff New Media Institute (Canada).

On the 29th, I'll be heading to Manchester for Mobile Connections (more here) at Futuresonic 04. On the 30th, you can find me in the Locative Media panel - with Ben Russell, Anthony Townsend and Marc Tuters - "exploring the potential of location aware technologies within wireless environments for social networking and collaborative cartography." Sweet.

Also looking forward to seeing Katherine and Jonah again - Katherine is giving a workshop on Oscillating Windows and Jonah is presenting Wi-Fi Hog - great work!

I'll be in the UK and Ireland for most of May - anything else of interest going on?

Monday, April 5, 2004

Many, because orchids

The Hellenistic poet Meleager wrote that Sappho's poems were "few, but roses" and this phrase, with its emphasis on quality, was taken up by 19th century aristocrats and 20th century urban and cultural planners. Reyner Banham reminds us of its implied corollary, "Multitudes are weeds" and suggests replacing it with "a new slogan that cuts across all academic categories: 'Many, because orchids'."

Many, because orchids. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds wonderful.

Saturday, April 3, 2004

Revealing bodies

Bodies in Formation

As the body is considered to be our most reliable, continuous and comprehensive metaphor for life and its meaning, multiplied bodies in mass gymnastics display are in the same way metaphor for desired society and its leadership. The ritual of the display of strong, young, beautiful and disciplined bodies offer an attractive reading of a society as whole and consequently legitimized the leadership as a promoter or creator of such a society. Since its origins in the early 19th century, the symbolic potential of coordinated movements of thousands of trainees has been exploited by various movements and regimes, varying from the extreme right to the extreme left. The purpose of this exhibition is to explore how this symbolic potential was confronted with and transformed by the communist ideology in mass gymnastic rituals all over Eastern Europe. It will study how the key concepts that the mass gymnastic performances offered - strength, youth, beauty and discipline - were transformed into symbols of a strong, young, beautiful and disciplined socialist society, and how this was used to legitimize the leadership, which observed these rituals from the tribunes of stadiums.

Wow. And the Spartakiad photos by Czech photographer Zdenek Lhotak are gorgeous.

via

Friday, April 2, 2004

Like wet choking water

Voluptuous spaces

invagination

n. the action or process of being turned inside out or folded back on itself to form a cavity or pouch. from L. vagina 'sheath' (OED)

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Still restless

I was just searching for something in my archives and came across this great quote by Steve Himmer:

My mind is offline today, on topics that make all their sense in the flesh when they make any sense at all.

When it resonated with me last year I thought I was merely experiencing spring-time restlessness; our winters are long, and I wait impatiently for spring to arrive. But around the same time last year I see I was also posting about (hinting at) a different, more profoundly felt, restlessness. I shoved the feeling down into my toes, and it stayed there. Until recently.

I am restless again. No. That's not right. I am still restless. And I don't want to push it away this time, despite still being a bit scared.

I've heard all sorts of stories about personal dissonance during the PhD, and it makes me wonder how we change during this time...

(And if you're looking for something to read, Thomas has posted more Archigram links than you can shake a stick at. I'll be in London next month and am looking forward to the exhibition.)

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