Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rendering the Diaspora

declare The New York Times has an interesting visualization of detainees released from the US "prison" at Guantánamo Bay. It maps where the 599 living (6 died in custody) former prisoners are currently—although they may still be prisoners in the new host countries. Unfortunately, these individuals are rendered as cubes that are stacked and configured as so many cargo containers in an international shipping logistics map.

(img above from NY Times)

Closer to home, they have a couple of articles addressing the continued disavowal by Southern states of slavery as a primary instigator in their 19th Century secession from the Union. In preparation for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the US Civil War, many states are apparently planning celebrations of the "glory days of the secession." With the continued rise of right-wing political nostalgia, this kind of revisionist historical tourism should be troubling. 
Author and historian Adam Goodheart gives an anecdotal account of Harriet Tubman's last missions on the Underground Railroad as the war approached. In the current climate, where contemporary white Southern leaders are celebrating their states' rights to secede in order to keep people as property, the existence of the Underground Railroad and the many people who made it work is important to remember.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stories in Reserve, Chicago Events!

For those in the Chicagoland area:
Wednesday, November 10 - book launch and presentations by contributors Sarah Kanouse and Ryan Griffis at Green Lantern Gallery.
Thursday, November 11 - Exhibition opening at Trinity Christian College's Art and Communication Center. The exhibition will feature photographs not included in the book as well as interactive kiosks that present a virtual and illustrated experience of audio tours.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stories in Reserve Events in Vancouver - Nov 4-5

We'll be launching the first volume of the Stories in Reserve series with an audio-enhanced walking tour of False Creek (with Lize Mogel and Ryan Griffis), a public lecture at Emily Carr University of Art & Design and a reception/book launch at Emily Carr's READ Bookstore!
Get the full scoop >

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Parking Privatization Schemes

So, Pittsburgh has already followed Chicago down the road of selling off future revenues from public street parking to the corporate sector, and now it seems New York is seriously considering it. Given the criticisms that have emerged from many of Chicago's local politicians and the local press (and are fairly well documented), it's difficult to see how such a move represents any good faith, democratic intention on the part of the city's administrations.

We may have to produce a tour of privatization of parking infrastructure... In the meantime, here's a graphic we produced for the recent AREA Chicago Number 10 issue on Institutions & Infrastructures (full PDF available). It looks at the history of parking in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, leading up to the impact of the privatization of the meter system.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Automobility Before the Civil Rights Act

The New York Times ran a recent piece on the "Green Books" that once served as travel guides to North America for black Americans. The books (fully titled "The Negro Motorist Green Book") was published by Victor H. Green, a NY postal worker, from 1936 until the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The book is an interesting artifact on many fronts. It is simultaneously an indirect document of the everyday violence and exclusion faced by black Americans and of the desires for mobility. It also shows how the growing domestic tourism industry was seen as potentially interested in black tourism as a growth market—see the ad below asking potential service providers if they are represented (and if the clip art is not taken for granted, these service providers would have been white businesses).
The byline near the bottom of the cover, "Carry your Green Book with you. You may need it." is an unmistakable warning to those considering travel without a guide to refuges and accommodating businesses. While white travelers consumed auto-guides to the growing national park system (now linked by the expanding highway system), the "wild" for black tourists was white-ruled society itself. The 1964 Wilderness Act, passed on September 3, that created a system of wilderness areas "administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people..." would have only recognized the full rights to enjoyment of black Americans by two months, the Civil Rights Act having just passed in July.
Of course, the equitable implementation of those rights was/is another matter.
A PDF of the 1949 edition is available for download and an exhibition titled the Dresser Trunk Project looks further at the realities faced by black travelers in the US during segregation through sculpture (a downloadable catalog is also available for the exhibition).

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Parking Energy Mashups

The latest newsletter from the National Parking Association highlighted yet another example of a parking structure incorporating a "green" energy feature (the last example was a surface lot with solar panels). This time, it's a garage in Chicago with a wind turbine. A description from inhabitat.com:
Designed by HOK, the wind-powered garage also features rainwater collection, electric car plug-in stations and placards throughout the garage to educate parkers on sustainable living.
We wonder if finding a way to convert political corruption into alternating current might be the ultimate source of renewable energy for the city (and possibly the entire state of Illinois), but wind will have to do for now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stories in Reserve Launch

The Temporary Travel Office is pleased to release the first volume in its Stories in Reserve series of guidebooks.

The series will feature original guided tours created by artists, activists, historians and storytellers that span from polemic narrative to experimental soundscape. Taking its title from 20th Century scholar Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life, the series will attempt to engage with “fragmentary and inward-turning histories, pasts that others are not allowed to read.”

Stories in Reserve: Volume One presents three audio guides that take reader-listeners on journeys within the territory known as North America. Iowa City-based artist and educator Sarah Kanouse guides listeners into a National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Illinois. Kanouse’s tour, America Ponds, intervenes in the conventional knowledge of the Refuge as a preserved landscape, reminding us that the Superfund-classified land is “a place where our most romantic feelings about nature collide with the reality of near-total human engineering.”

In the West Coast border town of Tijuana, Mexico, artist Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga (New York) finds one example of transnational commerce in a rather unexpected place–a dentist’s chair. With Dentimundo, Miranda Zúñiga shares interviews with several dentists working along the Southern perimeter of the US- Mexico border, finding that their practices serve a broad clientele that include a large number of US citizens.

Siting Expositions: Vancouver, a walking tour of Vancouver’s False Creek, examines the history and impact of two global mega-events—Expo 86 and the 2010 Winter Olympic Games—on this rapidly-developed part of the city. Produced by artists Ryan Griffis, Lize Mogel and Sarah Ross, Siting Expositions presents tourists with a conversation among voices that view the development through different lenses.

Volume One consists of one full-color, 36-page booklet and three audio compact discs.
For more information and to obtain the book (available in hard copy and in digital form), contact the Temporary Travel Office or see www.temporarytraveloffice.net/stories.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do Shaded Cars Dream of Solar Powered Sheep?

The New York Times has a recent post on their "Green" blog about one company that is building solar-panel-covered parking spaces. The company's (Envision Solar) CEO Robert Noble refers to their current efforts to produce tilting panels that optimize sun exposure as "solar forestation." He also notes that this will be a benefit to parking lot operators because “you can charge more for shaded parking.”
Why is it that these architects/engineers can imagine a future with automatically rotating solar panels, but can't imagine that future without surface parking lots?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Parking Public Tour of Wrigleyville (Chicago) Available

A couple of weeks ago, we led some hardhatted folks on a walking tour of public parking in Chicago's Wrigleyville on a dark, chilly, early March evening. We now have a printed guide book for folks wishing to take their own, self-guided tour (download the 1.8 MB PDF), just in time for warmer weather.
The tour covers a broad range of stories and histories, but continues our investigations of the "front" and "back" spaces of public parking - where parking happens and where it is legislated, where the materiality of parking collides with its symbols and myths.
Chicago, and Wrigleyville in particular, offers a rich landscape in which to view and consider the role that public parking has played in transforming urban space and how we live in it. In the one block area around Wrigley Field, we find passionate battles over land use, government and corporate corruption, Native American struggles for economic and social equity and creative informal economies - all taking place in and around the spaces of parking. The tour concludes at a location where we can consider the past, present and future of the city's public parking infrastructure, namely the development and growth of the municipal parking meter program that was recently leased to a private corporation for 75 years.
Our tour was commissioned by Deke Weaver for the DIRT: Land/Use Festival at Links Hall in Chicago. We thank Deke and the Links Hall staff, as well as everyone who came out for the tour.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicagoland - Parkingland

We are really happy to be a part of a series of events coming up at Links Hall in Chicago's Wrigleyville area this March. The series, organized by artist Deke Weaver, is called Dirt: Land/Use and takes place over 3 weekends, featuring a great line-up of video, performance, dance and other aesthetically challenging art forms. For some reason, amidst all of this exciting activity, we were asked to give a tour of public parking - a subject that may induce increased heart rates, but not the kind we usually want from art.
Chicago does, at least, have some interesting parking stories. As you may expect, the business of parking in Chicago is riddled with corruption and violence, but that's not the most interesting part to us. Our walking tour will be relatively brief - just 30 minutes, but will touch on a few instances where parking has become a visible site of struggle.
We'll also be conducting a workshop on parking, creating a kind of "People's Atlas" of parking in Chicago, while looking at parking lots as a form of wealth accumulation and property conservation.
The tours are Saturday March 6 (starting at 7:30pm) and Sunday March 7 (at 7pm) and the workshop will begin at 1pm (on Saturday only). We REALLY encourage you to attend the entire 3 weekend program if you can. Check the Links Hall Website for the full schedule of events.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Contaminating the Preserve Takes a While...

Our ongoing, unsolicited consultancy for the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve continues in spurts. Not having a permanent base in Jacksonville, FL has made our progress slower than desired. But we now have five proposed additions to the Preserve that we firmly believe would expand its geographic boundaries in productive directions. Eventually there will be some distributable artifacts and more complete tours available. For now, please have a look at our suggested directions for the Preserve in their more incomplete form.
  • The Ash Site Annex - an almost 42 square mile area that served as a solid waste burning ground for the city for the first half of the 20th century, largely due to racist demarcations of space. How would the city's conception of history and ecology change if communities (that have been forcefully marginalized and made toxic) used the mandates of ecological and historic conservation and preservation?
  • The Wilson Armstrong Memorial to the Timucuan Rebellion of 1656 - What can a failed 17th Century Timucuan insurrection possibly have in common with a failed mid 20th Century Jacksonville City Council campaign?
  • 1964 Climatological and Civil Unrest Learning Center - 1964 was a turbulent year for Northeast Florida. Along the coast, efforts to achieve racial equality were being met with extreme violence, a devastating hurricane wrecked havoc, and somehow the Beatles managed to play a concert to a racially integrated audience in a football stadium surrounded by flood waters.
  • Eartha M.M. White Trail to the Acosta Electoral & Ecological Platform - Take a walk through the history, present and future of electoral and climate monitoring technologies, while learning something about the personalities and events that helped shape the political and physical landscape of Jacksonville.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Opportunistic Vistas

We just received an announcement for an exhibition of video work by Cynthia Hooper titled "Opportunistic Vistas", opening at the Center for Land Use Interpretation January 22. Hooper has done work with Simparch and at CLUI's Wendover Residency program.
CLUI's announcement:
Exhibit open January 22 - February 28, 2010
Cynthia Hooper creates short films that observe sites such as waste disposal landscapes, effluent pipes, and salt mines. This CLUI Independent Interpreter exhibit features seven of Hooper's films: CESPT, Cuyahoga, Bay Dredge, Cummings Road Landfill, Lazaro Cardenas Electrizada, Basura Quemada, and La Morita Enamorada.
Opening night event - Cynthia Hooper will talk about trans-border water issues in the Mexicali Valley of Mexico and the Imperial Valley of Southern California, and will screen her latest film, Meximperiali on Friday, January 22 at 8pm. Please arrive early - seating is limited.
We were particularly drawn to her video of the Cummings Road Landfill that slowly reveals the technology subtly, and not-so-subtly, manipulating the landscape. Both humorous and insightful, it presents squirting pumps as geysers and bubbling methane fields as geothermal springs.

Cummings Road Landfill from Cynthia Hooper on Vimeo.