Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The Centre Canadien d'Architecture in Montreal has an exhibition currently open titled "Actions" that includes work by Travel Office collaborator Sarah Ross. The exhibition includes Sarah's much blogged "Archisuits" that humorously present luxury track suits as a means for visualizing anti-loitering architecture in Los Angeles.
The show also includes work by the Futurefarmers, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, and many more.
Actions: What You Can Do With the City - 26 November 2008 until 19 April 2009
Image top: muf architecture/art (Liza Fior, Katherine Clark, Melanie Dodd); children of Tilbury; Countryside Agency Local Heritage Initiative, from CCA's "Actions"
Image bottom: N55 PROTEST Rocket
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
One of the more interesting pieces in the series discusses churches and other "houses of worship" that are being mostly lost to redevelopment. According to the article, many religious organizations are making deals with developers, choosing to avoid historic landmark status, in favor of new construction that allows for mixed use architecture. A big part of this is the inability for these organizations to fund the costly rennovations that are required of historic landmarks.
Much of the arguments for historic preservation focus on the desire to save some kind of cultural heritage, believing that the material presence of the architectural form is a link to a shared past. Likewise, nature preserves are believed to serve the purpose of protecting some natural space from the process of human encroachment, freezing it in some specific moment in time. Of course, both forms of preservation take extreme amounts of capital and social energy to maintain. What is interesting to us in the articles is the conflict between utopian values. Both the preservationists and the developers are realizing an aesthetic vision laden with ideological value - mythic-historical for the preservationist, mythic-futurist for the developer. And where do those who just need a space to practice their religious services fall in this conflict? Well, they seem to be threatended by both sides:
A year later a bill was introduced in the New York State Senate and Assembly exempting houses of worship from local preservation laws. The measure was defended by the New York Board of Rabbis, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the Council of Churches of the City of New York. But it faced fierce opposition from preservationists.It is important to note that the buildings most preservationists want to preserve are usually (though certainly not always) extraordinary examples of building, rather than exemplary of common forms. And their significance is in their connection to some mythic and formal narrative of the past - the architecture embodies some kind of classic or novel tradition that can be placed on a timeline. The activities and values of the church are not what preservationists want to save. It's not even the history of the church's values that preservationists are interested in, only it's aesthetic connection to a mythic past. The church for them is a building, not a living group of people and their shared ideas.
At West-Park Presbyterian on the Upper West Side, the active membership has dwindled to 20 who now worship at a church nearby, and homeless people camp out in the building's doorways. The pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, said he simply wanted to see his congregation endure, even if that means worshiping in a new, more modest setting. "It's not just saving one small little church," he said. "It's preserving a place of active and vital ministry for the future."
We don't mean to suggest that preservationists are bad and developers less bad. The developers could care even less about the values of the church, except that they might become clients for new construction. And certainly, the homeless camping on the church's steps won't find any sympathy from developers and city planners.
We also don't mean to suggest that the values of religious institutions should be preserved. But an important question for us to consider is what it is we are preserving in architectural form (or nature, for that matter) when divorced from its active use. What preservationism seems to do is locate cultural significance in formal permanence, meaning that narratives that can be embedded in concrete, lasting form are privileged. And as preservation policy workers and critics, such as Antoinette Lee and Angel David Nieves, have pointed out, the ideological link between permanence and cultural significance in historic preservation poses problems for stories originating from minority and oppressed perspectives, where celebrated architectural forms are less common.
This is one reason why we were so excited by the Spectres of Liberty project's form of memorializing histories that recalled the architectural structure of a church, while placing emphasis on speech and action as what made the church a narrative site. Spaces and places were obviously an important aspect of the Underground Railroad - people had to gather, organize and move safely in real, physical space. But the materials that composed these places didn't become an unquestionable, fetishized replacement for historical narrative in that project. That the church building no longer exists is part of the continuing history of remembering the Underground Railroad and slavery, not as a discreet past, but something we still live with and recreate.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
It's a really great publication in many regards. To start with, there is the full color reproduction of so many great projects, including Bureau d'etudes, Center for Urban Pedagogy, LA Urban Rangers, Hackitektura, subRosa and more. Then essays by Thompson, Trevor Paglen and Jeffrey Kastnor, supplemented by short contributions from Matt Coolidge, Iain Kerr, Damon Rich and Lize Mogel that introduce the works in the exhibition. One can always ask for more from a publication of this sort - there will always be gaps of some kind - but it really works as a concise collection of projects and contextual history/theory for beginning to consider where these practices might point for further development.
See also: An Atlas of Radical Cartography.
This is a bit dated, but we recently revisited our Invasive Irrigation Kit project from a few years ago for a really great exhibition (curated by Christa Donner and Andrew Yang) at Chicago's Gallery 400 called Biological Agents. We say outdated, because the exhibition ended on November 22.
However, you can still get quite a bit of information from the exhibition web site, hosted by Ms. Donner.
The Kits were included in a mini exhibition within the exhibition titled Knowledge Virus, a collection of distributable projects including zines, stickers and other such things, like the Invasive Irrigation Kits. Some of our favorite items were the zines by the Small Science Collective and the love letter to the Hepatitis C virus by Caitlin Berrigan (who was in the primary exhibition along with Natalie Jeremijenko and Brandon Ballengee).
We produced a new poster that discusses the questions of "native" versus "invasive" species and Brassica juncea, a type of mustard that is considered invasive in most of the US but is also widely used as a food and spice (seeds of this plant are distributed in the kits).
And we have a few left, so if you'd like one, we'll send one to you (while supplies last) for the cost of packing and USPS Priority postage - (5USDin the US, 12USD International). Order via Paypal (see the bottom of this page).
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A colleague just sent us a link to a post on the Strange Maps blog that juxtaposes a 2008 presidential electoral map (by county) and an 1860 map of cotton production. The comparison reveals a correlation between the production of cotton in the antebellum South and counties that voted for the Democratic candidate. The obvious conclusion is that a higher concentration of African Americans would have lived in cotton producing regions, and that they continue to live in those same areas in high numbers today.
It turns out that the comparison was originally made by Allen Gathman a professor in Biology at Southeast Missouri State University. The Vigorous North Blog (A Field Guide to Inner-City Wilderness Areas) followed up on Gathman's comparison, noting the geological origins of the soil that made certain areas better for cotton growing.
Obviously this conclusion would have been made easier with simple census surveys, but this particular juxtaposition makes visible the combined narratives of geology, slavery and the contemporary intersection of race and space that the census does not take into consideration.
As our friend remarked when pointing us to the link, a larger question may be one of mobility.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Important Project's "40 Houses in Bucks County" is a designed travelogue of sorts, documenting the door-to-door canvasing in Bucks County, PA.
The Important Project is an organization that addresses political issues through research, writing, and design, composed of James Reeves and Candy Chang. From their commentary on the canvasing:
It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Kids play, dogs bark, lawnmowers growl, and I’m standing on a faded welcome mat, worrying about the politics of the porch. There's no doorbell. Do I knock on the screen door or should I open it and knock on the actual door? Should I address the person by name? It's written right here on my map, along with her age and party affiliation. I knock hard on the screen door frame and decide to stick with Ma'm. If a stranger knew my name, it would frighten me. Feet shuffle, voices mumble, and an elderly woman in a house dress answers.
"Hi, I'm a volunteer with the Obama-Biden campaign-"
"Go! Just go! Get the hell away from me!"
From the Telegraph: 80 per cent of readers are more likely to visit the US now than they were before the presidential election. Until now many Telegraph readers have said they have been put off the US by its draconian border security arrangements and the foreign policy decisions made by George Bush.It will be interesting for sure to see how the economic crisis will intersect with the political enthusiasm going into the Obama presidency.
Or the Wall Street Journal: Despite some rates surpassing the $1,000 per night mark, rooms are also booking, on average, three times faster than for the last inauguration, according to the travel Web site Expedia.com. Many hotels have imposed two- and three-night minimum stays.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
November 12, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SPECIAL TIMES EDITION BLANKETS U.S. CITIES, PROCLAIMS END TO WAR
* PDF: http://www.nytimes-se.com/pdf
* For video updates: http://www.nytimes-se.com/video
* Contact: mailto:writers(at)nytimes-se(dot)com
Early this morning, commuters nationwide were delighted to find out that while they were sleeping, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had come to an end.
If, that is, they happened to read a "special edition" of today's New York Times.
In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to prearranged pickup locations, where thousands of volunteers stood ready to pass them out on the street.
Articles in the paper announce dozens of new initiatives including the establishment of national health care, the abolition of corporate lobbying, a maximum wage for C.E.O.s, and, of course, the end of the war.
The paper, an exact replica of The New York Times, includes International, National, New York, and Business sections, as well as editorials, corrections, and a number of advertisements, including a recall notice for all cars that run on gasoline. There is also a timeline describing the gains brought about by eight months of progressive support and pressure, culminating in President Obama's "Yes we REALLY can" speech. (The paper is post-dated July 4, 2009.)
"It's all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever," said Bertha Suttner, one of the newspaper's writers. "We've got to make sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do. After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start imagining heaven."
Not all readers reacted favorably. "The thing I disagree with is how they did it," said Stuart Carlyle, who received a paper in Grand Central Station while commuting to his Wall Street brokerage. "I'm all for freedom of speech, but they should have started their own paper."
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
We just received word of this event from our friends at the Backstory Cafe in Chicago. It's a free walking tour of sites related to the infamous 1924 murder of Bobby Franks. See more information below:
WHAT: "Crime of the Century: Leopold and Loeb and the Murder of Bobby Franks"
(A walking history tour of relevant sites!! and screening of Hitchcock's "Rope").
WHEN: Sunday, November 2 and Sunday, November 9 at 2:00 PM
WHERE: Starting at the corner of 49th and Ellis in Kenwood ending @ Backstory Cafe for screening.
WHO: "Pocket Guide to Hell" tours with tour guide Paul Durica
HOW LONG: Approximately ninety minutes for tour, and an eighty minute screening.
COST: Free!!! (Bring $ for cider, coffee, and pumpkin treats @ Backstory during screening)
On May 21, 1924, in the city of Chicago, a young boy went missing. He was walking in the late afternoon between the Harvard School, where he was a popular student, and his house, one of Kenwood's many mansions. Later that night his father, Jacob Franks, received a phone call informing him that his son, Bobby, had been kidnapped but could be ransomed for ten thousand dollars. The next morning, south of the city, near Wolf Lake, a pump man for the American Maize CO saw a human foot sticking out from the edge of a culvert. Bobby had been beaten to death with a blunt object. Suspicion fell on the boy's teachers but then the chance discovery of a pair of glasses with a unique tortoiseshell frame led police to question the nineteen year old son of a shipping magnate. The young man, an amateur ornithologist, claimed he'd been at the Lake the week prior, looking for cranes. He had an alibi for the night of the kidnapping, a friend, also a resident of Kenwood, the son of the vice president of Sears-Roebuck. But suddenly there were all these things - the glasses, an Underwood typewriter, a green touring car, a length of rope, a chisel with a taped handle, a bottle of hydrochloric acid, another of chloroform, a checkered stocking - that traced a series of encounters disproving the story told by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Had these young men of wealth and education killed Franks, as they claimed, for the "thrill of it"? Could famed death penalty opponent Clarence Darrow save them from the gallows? What is the enduring legacy of what the press dubbed the Crime of the Century?
Pocket Guide to Hell invites you to return to the scene of the crime. Join us for a tour of the Kenwood neighborhood that will visit, among other places, the site of the kidnapping, the Harvard school, the Franks house, and, of course, the houses of Leopold and Loeb, in order to restore a sense of contingency and chance to a long ago event and to reflect upon its continued effect on a neighborhood and an issue of national importance. The tour concludes with a special
screening of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" and refreshments for sale at Backstory Cafe (6100 S Blackstone).
There are fifteen slots for each date. Please email Paul Durica your preferred date and the number of people in your party. Slots will be filled on a first come, first served basis.
image above: "Two police officers dredging the water near the scene where Bobby Franks was murdered," 1924. From Jazz Age Chicago
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
We're not sure how we keep getting pulled back into the parking universe of Hollywood, but we're grateful that we have the opportunity to visit with some great folks there and revisit the ever changing (especially at the moment) Hollywood place-scape.
This time, we're offering our tour as part of a series of De/tours organized for the LA Freewaves "Hollywould" festival, and will have a special guest. Hollywood urban planner Sarah MacPherson will expand our itinerary to the equally interesting and overlooked spaces of alley ways.
The De/tours will take place on Sunday, October 12, and the look extremely promising. Below is an overview of the schedule.
4:00 — Ryan Griffis, artist – Parking Public: a Tour of Parking Lots and Utopias: Hollywood
4:15 — Elizabeth Lovins – Excavating the Lost Hollywood Art Colony, a walking pod tour; BYO mobile video player
4:30 — Greg Goldin, architecture critic – Stepping on the Cracks: Skeptical Promenade thru Hollywood Redevelopment
4:45 — Matthew Reynolds, visual culture scholar – The Glamour of Surveillance: A User's Guide to Looking in Hollywood
5:00 — Sara Wookey, choreographer and Deborah Murphy, urban designer – Actions of Time and Space on the Walk of Fame Workshop at LA Forum/Woodbury Hollywood Exhibitions
5:00 – James Rojas, urban planner – playful brainstorming workshop with props and 3D model about Hollywood's future
See the LA Freewaves site for more info on the tours and festival.
Friday, September 5, 2008
On a lighter note, Miller also pointed to a mobile walking project hosted by Yellow Arrow, one of the most widely known locative media projects. Surprisingly, we hadn't seen this specific project - Capitol of Punk, a mobile documentary video work that looks at the geography and history of the Washington DC punk and hardcare scene. Some great, brief edited interviews with folks like Ian MacKaye, Ian Svenonius and Allison Wolfe.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Our compatriots over at AREA Chicago are plugging away at their People's Atlas of Chicago project. They have taken another step towards improving community feedback and input, incorporating drop-sites where maps can be picked up and dropped off for incorporation into the Atlas.
If you're in Chicago, these locations are:
Backstory Cafe: 6100 S. Blackstone Ave
Women and Children First Books: 5233 N. Clark St
Southwest Youth Collaborative: 6400 S. Kedzie Avenue
Quimby's Books: 1854 W. North Avenue
The Map Room Tavern: 1949 N. Hoyne
Mail maps to AREA Chicago PO Box 476971 Chicago IL 60647
Monday, July 28, 2008
So, it's no surprise that with the 2008 Olympics opening next month there would be a dramatic increase in journalism focused on Beijing. From the apparently policy-resistant smog to that human rights dilemma that just won't go away, and of course, the endless lists of who is or isn't going to be at the games, there's more than enough to chew on.
As the New York Times often does, they found an interesting cultural angle from which to approach some of the vast changes unfolding across the city and China at large. A recent story focuses on a struggle over the preservation of the historic hutong neighborhoods. While the writer does point to the class inequities that usually accompany architectural preservationist movements, at least in the U.S., the piece tends to find sympathy with the connection between architectural preservation and the preservation of disappearing social traditions and conventions. Interestingly, this is also applied to the socialist-modernist housing projects built during the heyday of China's socialist regime in the 1950-60s. The similarities, and differences, among this architectural narrative in China and the U.S. is striking... modernist, government housing projects in China are still, according to the NYT article, a desirable place to live:
So ingrained is the bias against hutong living among middle-class people that Yan Weng, a forward-looking architect who once lived in the Qianmen neighborhood, told me that he had recently moved into a high-rise. "For those of us who grew up in Mao's China, the government complexes were always the ideal," he said. "And that has not changed much."Certainly not the case with state-sponsored housing in the U.S. But then again, our housing projects were built with completely different objectives in mind, and our tag-team racialized and capitalist state has produced such a ghastly image of government housing, that it's hard to imagine it being rehabbed.
The article continues, getting to the fact that the hutong neighborhoods are being reoccupied by wealthy foreigners and Chinese alike. Sounds very similar to the process of gentrification that has been happening in cities across the U.S. for several decades - upwardly mobile small families and couples renovating previously working-class bungalows in close-in urban areas. We're sure there are differences, however, given the extreme divergences in history between the two countries.
One place we're looking to for information on how the games and Beijing's development is effecting housing there in more politicized terms is the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, who just released a new report entitled "One World, Whose Dream? Housing Rights Violations and the Beijing Olympic Games." We havn't finished reading it yet, but the findings seem in line with the overall trend of displacement in the wake of urban redevelopment schemes designed around the Olympics.
Image above from COHRE website, apparently it reads "Demolish quickly, Welcome the Olympics, Switch to a New Look"
Saturday, July 19, 2008
At any rate, some of the stories this past week about Olympics caught our eyes. For example:
The remnants of industrial production coming back to haunt London in its preparation for 2012.
The Australian Press' fears of a sterile Olympics in China.
And reports that over 1600 people have been arrested since June in Hong Kong alone - who knows what the number of arrests are in China at large, but it has included so far some inarguably egregious crackdowns on critics of the state.
We've come across some books that we're looking forward to getting into, in trying to come to a better understanding of the mechanics of the contemporary Olympic Machine and localized resistances to it. A few of the more recent ones that we are particularly excited about are:
Helen Jefferson Lenskyj's Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics and Activism that seems to be written from a scholarly position that is simultaneously invested in resistance to the inequities enacted in Olympic host cities.
Mike Weed's Olympic Tourism
Andrew Billings' Olympic Media
and more generally related to the political economy of sport arena construction, Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause's Field of Schemes.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tracing the infrastructure of trucking and transport, the project is an examination and meditation on the truck and the trucker as a slippery signifier. Oscillating between the pure functionality of the movement of goods and the poetics of being on the road, trucking generates an array of mythologies that in turn are tied to concrete policies regarding trade. The project attempts to playfully represent this spectrum through videos and drawings installed at FIT, Berlin, a project space housed in an old petrol station.
Based on the networks and infrastructures of trucking and roadways, Active_Trucking maps and notates idiosyncratic aspects of this system. Acquiring information from a variety of sources including trucking companies, notes from excursions on the road and interviews with truckers in the Los Angeles area Active_Trucking seeks to present narratives about the existing system and structure of trucking in the United States and give form to these infrastructural expressions as both economical and alchemical. We are particularly interested in the movements and intersections that occur on the roads of the US both as material embodiments of trade policies, that is, as an example of the constantly negotiated abstract dynamics of transport and markets that have significant local impact, and the mythic fantasies of the open road and the desire for freedom. In the spaces of the highway, we imagine narratives of "Free Trade" intersecting with Easy Rider: multiple narratives that mark the road both as a site for cultural mores and economic activity. The labor of the trucker, the mechanics of trucks, and the workings of dispatchers and related transport companies, feature as efficient systems always on the edge of disruption, distraction, and delay according to the complications of laboring bodies fixated on the roadway.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Travel Office friends Nato Thompson and Fritz Haeg recently had a conversation about Fritz's hybrid art-architecture-education practice and how it interfaces with notions of the public and the private. We like this response to questions about public v private space:
Right now I am most interested in private spaces that have the capacity to be public. It’s not that I have given up on public space (though maybe I have!) but I do think that private property, and in particular the home, has become the focus of our society. We are obsessed with our homes as protective bubbles from the realities around us. Today's cities are engineered for isolation, so starting a salon in your living room or growing food in your front yard become ways to subvert this. Perhaps at this moment working from private space out may be more useful than working from public space in.We're currently working on, with our long time associate Mark Cooley, an upcoming curatorial project based on artistic, collective and otherwise coordinated uses of agricultural methodologies to transform the political and social dimensions of place. Fritz's work will be included. This should happen in Wash D.C. area in the Spring of 2009. More on that later...
pictured above: Edible Estate Regional Prototype Garden #3: Maplewood, New Jersey, established July 8th, 2007 / as viewed from the upstairs bedroom
Photo: Fritz Haeg
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Centralia was just another sleepy northeastern Pennsylvania town until the local coal mine was filled with a raging inferno that burned unabated for decades. Even that didn't disrupt the peaceful Centralia life until 1981, when a smoldering sinkhole nearly swallowed a 12-year-old boy. In the wake of the national attention that followed, Centralia became a cult travel destination. To this day, the subterranean fire is still burning. "You can drive through and not even notice," says Chris Perkel, who produced a documentary on the place. "But when the fire's close to the surface, the trees are blackened, and steam and smoke billow from the rocks."
The area's anthracite coal stoked the furnaces of the industrial revolution, but by the mid-19th century, companies left the region - and their messes - behind in favor of cheaper energy sources like petroleum. In 1962, burning garbage in an abandoned strip mine sparked a fire. In the years that followed, the flames grew as debate raged about whose problem it was to fix (the debate remains unresolved). Suddenly appearing sinkholes and carbon monoxide poisoning continued to threaten residents until
the 1980s, when Congress paid to relocate them and bulldozed their houses - though a handful of hard-core Centralians can still be found there.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
According to an earlier and more detailed Tribune article on the property, Chicago's
Olympic bid proposes a $1.1 billion complex that would be privately developed and converted to private housing after the Games. The city intends to pursue this development regardless of whether it beats out Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo to host the Games.The city is definitely putting some redevelopment in motion regardless of the Olympic outcome, unless you have a conspiracy theory that Daley knows something about the bid selection we don't. Also interesting, the company who currently owns the property, Medline bought the hospital property for $24 million, so they're making a hefty sum off the sale as is.
In These Times has a great summary of what's at stake in Chicago, bid or no bid.
And check this out, another use of activist tours in Chicago.
Monday, July 7, 2008
So, we came across this series of photos while scanning news related to the Olympics, photos by Chinese photographer and television host Ou Zhihang.
In other odd China Olympic news, the Chinese authorities are planning on "dispersing" clouds if needed to maintain good weather. Another instance of state-based attempts to "Own the Weather." Also see this documentary on weather modification history.
Climate modification, once the sole domain of James Bond's enemies, has been getting increasing amounts of attention (though we suspect that most would still consider it aluminum foil hat thinking) as a strategy for climate change. Thankfully, as the ETC reports, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity has agreed to a moratorium on "ocean fertilizing activities" - a process of geo-engineering that would reduce carbon in the atmosphere by manipulating oceanic chemistry. It will be interesting (and disturbing) to see the frenzy of corporate activity to deal with climate change, as it becomes more and more a reality that can't be ignored... naked push ups won't seem so wacky.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
As tourism "consultants," we're obviously concerned about the future of travel-based tourism... and what tourism isn't based on travel? According to a story in today's NYT, rising costs of airline operations, such as an 80 percent rise in jet fuel over the last year, the airline industry as a whole will cut back its flights by 10 percent starting this August. The story quotes one analyst's predictions that the cost of air travel may go up 40 percent over the next four years. As we've seen with the rise in oil prices, however, it wouldn't be surprising if it exceeded those expectations - airline tickets have jumped 17 percent in the last year alone.
From the NYT story:
How about considering energy usage and climate change? Well the EU is building airline travel into its carbon trading scheme, with U.S. resistance, of course. And how easy will that hour and a half drive to a nearby airport be?
By year's end, roughly 100 American communities will be left without regular commercial air service, and that number may double next year, according to the Air Transport Association, the industry trade group.
"The guy who is used to taking a nonstop flight on a small airplane now has to drive an hour to an hour and a half to an airport to take a trip," said David Castelveter, a vice president with the trade group. "It is a crisis of great magnitude and it is having an impact already."
"I implore American Airlines, as well as the other carriers considering various cost-saving scenarios, to take into account more than profit when they evaluate routes," Gov. David A. Paterson of New York said this week after American announced a series of cuts affecting La Guardia and other state airports.
Well our friends in Boston, iKatun, just sent us info about how they're thinking about climate change - getting ready with a parade! Their "Parade for the Future" (organized through their collab project Platform2) will inundate the city of Boston with a wave of people wearing blue, demarcating the predicted flood line. It's been postponed to Sat. Sept 13th... ironically for inclement weather!
If you're not in Boston the Fall, but will be in Chicago this July, you could talk about energy policy with the Futurefarmers and a group of energy experts they've organized for their "Energy Plans" series.
[image above from davidszondy.com]
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This also reminds us of the different forms of medical tourism (which we have posted about here before), where often wealthy tourists travel for lower cost procedures, or in some cases treatments not available at home.
See our friend Ricardo Miranda Zuniga's investigation of dental tourism along the US-Mexico border.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Our friend, experimental geographer and artist, Trevor Paglen is showing some new work in Berkeley related to his ongoing investigation of all things secret and hidden in the world of the US Military. This time it's a look at the Earth's "secret moons" a.k.a. classified satellites. For the last couple of years, Trevor's been working with amateur astronomers, like these folks, and some artsy computer folks to track and photograph these things, which sounds like no small feat.
Also, see Wired's brief write up of the work.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Caution, may rise too fast and deflate unexpectedly.
OK, enough with the silly metaphors (sorry food is on our minds). "Reality mining" is described by its founder, Sandy Pentland, of MIT:
The science behind reality mining is that subtle patterns in how we interact with other people reveal our attitudes toward them. These biologically based “honest signaling” mechanisms, including a person’s activity level and how the timing of their actions is influenced by others, offer an unmatched window into our social life, intentions, and health. By understanding these subtle patterns we can better understand ourselves, and begin to engineer our society to be a happier, more human place to live...Locative Media meet genetic determinism. Apparently a "right to the city" isn't as important as a profitable index of it in these people's utopian vision of a "more human place to live."
The real beneficiaries of the US Government's requirement for all mobile phones to carry GPS location awareness are becoming more and more apparent.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The NY Times has a great Op-Ed on the current problems with the banana industry. While it talks about the coming price jump (estimated to over $1/pound) due to floods in Central America and the rising cost of fuel, the more interesting story is the likely decimation of the variety of banana we in North America and the EU think of as THE BANANA. Apparently, the banana variety we consume is a Cavendish (a Chinese variety) that became the staple for industry in the 1960s, after the previous staple, the Gros Michel, was wiped out by a fungal epidemic. Now, a more virulent form of this fungal disease is attacking the Cavendish variety, which was previously immune.
Why is this significant, well for starters, pretty much the entirety of the banana industry is monopolized by the singular genetic variety Cavendish. Already, the effects of the disease on Asian plantations has been significant, and scientists speculate that it will hit Latin America sometime in the next 5-20 years.
Both traditional forms of cross-breeding and genetic engineering are being employed to create resistance and edible replacement crops, but the problem that cultivated bananas have become a monoculture cash-crop, and one that can't even reproduce on it's own (they don't produce seeds) will most likely just be repeated with whatever is designed to take the Cavendish's place. With the combination of factors facing the well-traveled banana, we'll see if it remains one of the developed world's favorite fruits much longer.
image above: map of world banana production
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Here's what they have to say about Spectres of Liberty:
Spectres of Liberty is a public memory, site-specific art project. Beginning with a sense of loss about the changing built environment of Troy, New York, we set out imagining ghosts of demolished buildings and structures. Through imagining inflatable sculptural extensions to buildings whose facades have been destroyed to thinking about recreating vanished historic sites, we decided on creating a ghost of the Liberty Street Church.
The Liberty Street Church is not only significant as a vanished part of Troy's architectural history, but also for its value as a historic site in the fight to abolish slavery. From old photos of the site provided by the Rensselaer Historical Society, we created an inflatable 1:1 scale reproduction of the church and will install it at the former site of the church, which is now a parking lot. We will be animating this ghost church through video projections that call forth the history of the site, as well as through the social context of a cultural event that will bring community members to the site to think more deeply about the space and its history.
Through our research we learned more about Henry Highland Garnet, the pastor of Liberty Street Church from 1843-1848. He was known around the world for his militant orations and publications calling on people to actively participate in the fight to end slavery. When we read Henry Highland Garnet's words from the 1840's: "Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance," we do not think they are dead words from a forgotten time - but a call, an urging, to participate in transforming our world now.
Monday, June 2, 2008
(via NY Times)
For a while, this country’s geographic center bounced around the heartland like the ball on an old movie-screen singalong. When Alaska joined the union nearly 50 years ago, the government determined that the center — the theoretical balance point — had moved from outside Lebanon, Kan., to some inaccessible prairie here in Butte County, 439 miles to the northwest. (Fret not, Lebanon has adapted; it now calls itself the “Historical Geographical Center of the 48 States or the Contiguous United States.”)
Then, when Hawaii became a state soon after, the center moved again — just six miles to this spot, about 21 miles north of Belle Fourche, a small city of ranching and agriculture. The center of the nation was now a few dozen yards from what was then Highway 85; local officials gazed into the open pasture and saw visions of camera-wielding tourists, jammed parking lots, a Belle Fourche boom.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Continental Drift Through the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
The NY Times has an interesting piece on local resistance to a local measure in Los Angeles that would force taco truck to change location every hour. In the Times article, the debate becomes one about authenticity, at least for those who want to get rid of the trucks. As one East LA business owner, who thinks the trucks are a blight on the community, says, "People say this is part of our culture. I don't recall any towns in Mexico having taco trucks."
One thing this makes us wonder about, is the recent upsurge in food prices along with the cost of gas... what is the future of taco trucks, and those that depend on them, in an era of commodity food prices and four-dollar-plus gasoline?
Of course, one has to wonder, if the FBI's investigation does actually deal with the obviously racist and illegal manner in which the original investigation was handled, will it also deal with the obvious continuation of such problems in the current city and state's legal avoidance of that historical legacy?
Monday, April 21, 2008
We've been reading Gregory Sholette and Blake Stimson's book on collective cultural practices, and the chapter on Japanese collectivism by Reiko Tomii was especially interesting due to our lack of knowledge about collective art in Japan. Of special interest is the work of the Sightseeing Art Research Institute and the Play. Of course, Hi-Red-Center's work, slightly more known to us, is also really fascinating, especially the Cleaning Event staged during the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Apparently, the Sightseeing Art Research Institute also performed a doughnut eating performance at the Olympic stadium as well. We're going to look more into this work (starting with Tomii's endnotes) and its relationship to the Travel Office, but if anyone has any immediate information, including other book suggestions, please let us know.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
The report, titled "Contaminating the Preserve," outlines two proposals: our 2006-7 proposal for an 800 km elevated boardwalk connecting the current Preserve to Guanabacoa, Cuba as well as the more recently proposed extension to the current Preserve that we are currently referring to as the Ash Site Annex, a 43 square mile area of Northwest Jacksonville that contains 7 former incinerator and ash-dump sites.
You can download the report as a 3.4MB PDF file
The Travel Office is also planning the second phase of our consultation, which is being planned as an exhibition and series of discussions at the University of North Florida sometime between Fall 2009 and Spring 2010.
Monday, April 7, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, we received an email from Armin Medosch announcing a new audio/oral history project titled "Hidden Histories" in Southampton.
From the project description:
Hidden Histories uses the revolutionary new concept of Street Radio developed by Hive Networks to make the treasures of Southampton's Oral History Archive available in the public realm of the city. Street Radio is a totally new way of experiencing the city. The system utilises wireless communication technologies such as WIFI and Bluetooth in combination with FM radio to create captive 'puddles' -- specific places where particular stories and themes can be heard. By broadcasting using very weak radio transmitters with a range of about 10 meters a selection of stories from the OHU can be heard along 10 nodal points (location) from where byte-sized stories are transmitted. These nodes link together to form a media rich walk that transports people through the changing life of the city.
The Oral History Unit is an almost hidden jewel in Southampton's culture and heritage department. While well known and highly regarded in the international Oral History expert community, it is literally unknown outside Southampton otherwise. For more than 20 years the OHU has been recording the life stories told by the people themselves. Through the voices of common people it offers a window back into time: on the "tale end of the Dickensian age" as one interviewee puts it himself, where men had to queue every day for work at a shed at the entrance to the docks, to the hard life on the passenger ships and tug boats, an oral history is told that does not conform to the cliches and stereotypes of the official versions produced by todays media industry. The unsung heroes of historical moments such as the sinking of the Titanic or famous journeys of ships such as the Queen Mary are telling their own stories from the insiders perspective. Lesser known stories such as the secret social life on ships, the achievements of women in the heavy industries during WWII, and the troubles of immigrants from Asia and the Caribbean surface in this archive. While many of these stories tell of trials and tribulations they also shine with humanity and joyful moments.
The project comes out of a group of people in Illinois working to abolish the state's Tamms Prison, or at least return it to the mandate that originally opened under. Tamms is a "C-Max" prison, which is a form of "supermax" facility in which its prisoners are kept in constant solitary confinement. For more info on this movement, see the Tamms Year Ten Campaign.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
It sounds great!
Here's an interview with her from a recent Weekend America.
Here's the schedule for the Living Kitchen/URBANFORAGE workshops (in Chicago) this Spring:
APRIL 20th, sunday 2-4pm
urbanforage walk humbolt park – meet at boathouse
10th, saturday, 2-4pm
urbanforage walk kinzie metra tracks – meet at kinzie & racine
14th, wednesday, 6-9:30pm
sprouting essene bread, raw crackers, nut milks, sprouting
learn the basics of sprouting and ways of using enlivened seeds
28th, wednesday, 6-9:30pm
raw milk cheese 1 - cultured butter, buttermilk, yogurt, yogurt cheese, ricotta and paneer we are using local raw milk. you will be taking home some of everything we make.
22nd, sunday 2-4pm
urbanforage walk medical district – meet at taylor & damen
28th, saturday. 9am -1pm
local medicine herbal tinctures/salves/syrups/linaments/lozenges/infusions
the solstice is the perfect time to forage and collect plants for medicinal use through the year. go home with some of everything we make.
For more information, including registration, email Nance at nettlesting+at+yahoo+dot+com.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Taking the notion of health beyond the individuated body, they project the metaphor of the biopsy into the realm of public health. As they put it:
Instead of taking tissue samples as one would from a human being Christian Nold and participants will be using a range of cultural probes to investigate the local social body and its unique ailments.Since cartography and public health go way back, we remain skeptical of utopian community mapping projects. But we're also heartened to see the expansion of inputs to include the sensing of issues that might lie below (or beyond?) the physiological surface.
We just received an announcement from another colleague about a new project that sounds extremely interesting. Lize Mogel (co-editor of An Atlas of Radical Cartography) is opening a show at common room 2 in New York titled Area of Detail.
Speaking of which, here are the details:
common room 2
April 6 - May 31, 2008
Sunday April 6, 6-8pm
Thursday May 8, 7pm
The translation of the spherical world onto the flat plane of a map is a mathematical problem; the translation of the political world into a map is an ideological problem. How does one represent the world in a way that does not show dominance? Something or someone is always on the top or at the center.
The United Nations emblem is a world map centered on the North Pole. The continents are not divided by national boundaries, thus geopolitical relationships are not pictured. This map is purely symbolic, representing nations united under common interests, all parts considered equal.
What is at the center of the UN emblem? A blank spot that belies the geopolitical realities of the area. This area of detail, the ice-bound
ocean of the Arctic Circle, is regulated by the UN through the Law of the Sea which sets how nations define and exploit their territorial
boundaries. As the climate warms and ice recedes, new possibilities for commerce and capital become possible. This center of the World is becoming a focal point in other ways, as surrounding nations look to claim territory in order to develop new energy resources and commercial routes.
Area of Detail is a continuation of Lize Mogel's work on rethinking familiar representations of the world, including the world map and the spectacle of World's Fairs.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Join urban planners, architects, environmentalists, and community activists for a one day mobile conference by train, trolley, and foot that explore the local and regional cultures, land use, and environment within the Southern/Baja California region.
The train travels through both spectacular natural settings and heavily polluted sites. The train trip brings together both man-made systems such as transportation and land use patterns with natural systems such as rivers and water sheds. The train travels through the poorest and richest communities. This conference will use transportation infrastructure to host discussions on four topic areas: transportation, social issues, and how the natural and built environment impact the region. In addition the conference will take advantage of views from the train, trolley and foot to illustrate these points while cruising by the LA River, Hobart Rail Yards, 710 Expansion, Great Park, San Gabriel River, Casa Familiar, Tijuana River and many other projects.
Community activists from Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana have been invited to participate and share their ideas. These groups include Natural Resource Defense Council , The Nature Conservancy, Reconnecting America, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Friends of the Los Angeles River, The Coalition for Clean Air, Latino Urban Forum, Environmental Health Coalition, Casa Familiar and many others. This will help frame local issues into a large regional framework.
The date is May 3, and for more information check out latinourbanforum.com
Monday, March 24, 2008
Some French activists with Reporters Without Borders staged a disruption of the torch lighting ceremony in Athens today! Along with the banner unfurling, other peaceful demonstrations pointing to the ongoing repression by China in Tibet were planned and executed, including a woman who doused herself in red paint in front of a torch bearer. The protesters were arrested by police, and Chinese television apparently cut away to some pre-recorded footage, no doubt created for just such an occasion.
This may not be the end of the Olympics portrayed in the Travel Office's recent tour of Los Angeles' Olympic park in a speculative 2030 future, but there's still time...
Monday, March 17, 2008
Summer camps, in popular culture, evoke memories of bonfires, tents, and teenage crushes. For me, it evokes memories of gun-wielding terrorists on an El Al flight to Israel.
The hijacking, of course, was imaginary—a re-creation staged in an auditorium at Camp Interlaken, a summer camp sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee. The bizarre scene involved counselors dressed up as Palestinian terrorists, wearing Palestinian keffiyehs and wielding fake guns, while the campers, some as young as 8, played the part of frightened air travelers.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Touring Olympia: Exposition Park, Los Angeles
March 14th - 2:30pm
Pasadena City College
The Temporary Travel Office and artist Sarah Ross will be leading an experiential tour of Exposition Park in South Los Angeles, the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Summer Games. The tour will look at the site from the vantage point of a post-2020 future, where the Olympic Games no longer exist due to a popular revolt against their waste and inequities. As tourists are transported South from Pasadena to Exposition Park and forward into the future, they will hear a narrated history of Olympism, the international movement responsible for the Games. Once at the Park, an exploratory walk of the grounds, now a memorial to the last Olympic Games, will conclude with a participatory reenactment of the last Olympic torch lighting ceremony.
The audio tour and accompanying guide book will be available for purchase and as a free downloadable packet.
The tour is conducted in conjunction with the Anytime, Anyplace: Collective Art in the 21st Century program at Pasadena City College's Digital Media Center
The symposium also features the Futurefarmers, Temporary Services and a keynote address by Grant Kester.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
We've been pretty busy recently, so our posting duties have been neglected. One quick comment on a story by the New York Times (yes, we're actually sorry we refer to the NYT so much) about U.S. city and state efforts to boost tourism. The story points to the nose dive of the dollar and the attraction that its demise should have for foreign tourists bringing more competitive currencies. The author points out however, that the decline in U.S. tourism since 9.11 has however not quite recovered. Apparently, the U.S. is an odd ball when it comes to global tourism, as it doesn't have a centralized tourism bureau (although this is in the works).
What the story doesn't discuss, not surprisingly, is the impact of U.S. policies on visitation of various kinds. Seems like the number of people visiting the U.S. might drop if it is made more difficult for them to visit, no?
On another note, the Travel Office has some great stuff coming up! We're excited to be a part of a weekend-long event at the fabulous community art space Mess Hall in Rogers Park, Chicago. In late February, we'll be presenting our own form of tourism to the art department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And in March, we are extremely excited to join our friends Temporary Services and the Futurefarmers for a weekend of events and discussions at Pasadena City College organized and hosted by Deena Capparelli and Claude Willey. We'll (with the help of artist Sarah Ross) be giving an experimental tour of Exposition Park in South Los Angeles, as the first in a series of explorations of the global Olympiad.
Happy travels in 2008!