Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Final Parking Spot

A friend just sent us a link to a blog post by Wesley Treat about cemeteries that have become surrounded by parking lots... a land use conflict we hadn't considered in our Parking Public research. Of course, there have been plenty of land use disputes involving sights of significance, including burial sites and heritage-related claims, but this is such an odd way to see such a conflict "resolved". Also such a strange way to remind ourselves that there is earth under there, and it has a history.
Lots of comments to that post point to even more examples.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Touring Urban Food Production Zones

The Futurefarmers have just launched a "garden registry" component of their extensive San Francisco Victory Gardens initiative, which will enable a map and connectivity tool for city gardeners there. The online map shows the area's micro-climates, visualizes how much land is farmed versus available and also shows "surplus alerts" - when someone has an overflow of produce.
We have been working with some folks in our own 'hood on some neighborhood growing strategies, and have been looking at Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell's past Amity Works projects as a source of inspiration.
The production of these "everyday" produce-places as simultaneously exploratory and touristic is something we'd like to look more into, as it's something we've been engaged with for a while in various ways. The relationship between these more DIY, participatory forms and more conventional agri-tourism (which occurs at a variety of scales, from the small to global) is equally interesting.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Military Natures

Last October, the Travel Office presented with some other fine folks at the Public Memories Project's Visible Memories conference at Syracuse University. Our session, titled "Remembering Military Natures" was co-organized, and included presentations by Nick Brown + Sarah Kanouse, Laurie Palmer and Shiloh Krupar, along with ourselves. One of our goals was to discuss the manners in which environmental languages and policies are utilized for militaristic and otherwise violent regimes. In order to help facilitate and distribute our concerns and ideas a bit more, we (the organizers/presenters) produced a poster/map. We've decided to make it available here as a document/record. Download the PDF.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Positive Speculation

So, we just got a message from the Yes Men - their much anticipated (at least by us) self-directed follow up film to Chris Smith & Sarah Prices's 2003 film is apparently completed. You can read more about it and see a trailer on their site. The Yes Men have crafted a combination of critical irony, satire and utopian gesturing that is hard not to appreciate. While their work has rightly been discussed in terms of tactical media and pranksterism, including the problems that plague a lot of that work, we think it deserves to also be considered in terms of speculative fiction, utopian prefiguration and uncoventional documentary. The Yes Men may be responding to current developments in capitalist disasters, but their ironic speculations certainly recall aspects of literary disaster fiction, like Poe's Conversation of Eiros and Charmion, even as they ironically pretend to "fix the world" rather than depict its spectacular end.
We'll be thinking, and writing, more about speculative fiction and pre-figuration in the near future, as we continue our "consulting" work with the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, FL.

Black Gold, Texas Tea

Lots of great announcements coming into our inbox! The Center for Land Use Interpretation has been busy down in the land of big hats and armadillos as the first artist-in-residence at the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center. They've been working from a field station (built with the help of students in the School of Art, College of Architecture and the Creative Writing Program) at the site of a former junkyard, located near a metal scrap yard at the juncture of the bayou and the Port of Houston Ship Channel, an important nexus for the refining and transportation of oil in America.
The exhibition at the UH's Blaffer Gallery, Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry will be the culmination of the CLUI’s study of Texas and will show how the extraction and refining of oil has sculpted the state’s terrain. The exhibition will open with a “landscan” video, an extended aerial shot of petroleum refineries and shipping yards that shows the massive scale of these places. In addition to this projection, the galleries will be filled with CLUI photographs and texts on many different sites across the Lone Star State from west Texas oil towns such as Odessa and Kermit to petrochemical processing centers on the Gulf Coast and everywhere in-between. These places tell the incredible and often surprising story of an industry that fuels our civilization by using deposits of hydrocarbons to create gasoline, fertilizers, plastics, and many other products.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

An Unnatural History of the Golden Gate Bridge

The SF based Studio for Urban Projects has produced an audio tour of the Golden Gate Bridge area. At their project site, you can download PDF maps and download the audio tour (via a podcast) or access it with your mobile phone by calling a provided number.
image above by Anirudh Koul