MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU on Vimeo

May 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm | In fashionable_life | Comments Off on MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU on Vimeo

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU on Vimeo

Click on the title (above) to see a stop-motion animation of some fantastic graffiti carried out by BLU in Buenos Aires.  Amazing.

Found via Cool Hunting (click through for their description/ commentary).

Diigo Bookmarks 05/15/2008 (p.m.)

May 15, 2008 at 5:32 am | In authenticity, links, media, web | 1 Comment

    Published on the same date as The new oases (which I bookmarked at the time), I missed this story the first time around (April 10). Saw it now via Wendy Waters’s blog, All About Cities. Like “The new oases,” this article is also about mobile computing, and its effects on our social worlds/ lived lives.

    It’s odd this topic should have popped up for me today, as the other article (The new oases) was one I thought of as seeming apposite to a discussion around video commenting, taking place on Fred Wilson’s blog. The conversation there is about Disqus and Seesmic, which have joined forces to enable users to leave video recorded comments (vs. text scribblings) on blogs. Somehow, when I read about this (also on Dave Winer’s blog as well as Wilson’s — I left a comment on the latter’s, albeit straight text, no video), I immediately thought of The new oases and its points regarding isolation. Disclaimer: my “ruminations” have nothing to do with the conversations taking place on either blog or their comments boards. I’m thinking about this from a more abstract angle, although the question, “what’s the point of video comments?” did come up again and again on those blogs, too.

    What is the point? More information? More immediacy? More …more? If it’s more more (immediacy, intimacy, contact), then you really do have to wonder. Can the technology can ever produce or recreate “nest warmth,” that sense of communal belonging, or isn’t each instance of technological mediation just another way of giving us yet another perspective view on our own selves? Another perspective, which is a slice but hardly an integration, a whole?

    It’s not the case that “communal belonging” or what the Germans call “Nestwaerme” (nest warmth), which is a kind of fusion, is a good thing; nor is it a question of whether getting a perspective (let’s call that slicing or parsing) is a good thing. They’re both good things in their appropriate times and places. It’s more a question of not confusing one for the other, and I got the impression from reading responses that there’s a lot of confusion — and confusing of the two. On Wilson’s blog there’s much discussion of whether or not the Disqus-Seesmic joint venture (video blog comments) will produce better comments/ comments streams/ understanding. I don’t think it will. It will just refract whatever understanding exists or is able to be seen into yet more facets. That’s all. Whether or not those slices and perspectives will be pulled into a new whole will depend on who’s doing the pulling.

  • tags: the_economist, nomadism, mobile_technology, mobile_city, technology

  • Wouldn’t it be great to have something like this (based on a virus invading the artist’s computer) be digital/ computer-generated, instead of in the same old technique of …?screen-printed banners? C’mon, so it’s a nice pattern — but if it derived from “a virus that invaded [artist Bratsa] Bonifacho’s computer,” why not make it viral in form?

    tags: vancouver, bratsa_bonifacho, art, art_projects, public_art

“Techne” and “Arte”: Qualities.

May 14, 2008 at 10:44 pm | In arts, authenticity, ideas | Comments Off on “Techne” and “Arte”: Qualities.

It’s one of those long-buried texts in the back of my mind: Adorno’s dissection of techne and “art” (both of which he of course spelled in Greek letters, so tough luck for you if the Greek alphabet wasn’t something that tripped off your eyeballs easily…).

I won’t embarrass myself by trying to recapitulate what he wrote, but I’m certain that Martijn de Waal’s blog post from May 12, Is GPS-navigation turning us into ‘Men without Qualities’?, relates to the questions Adorno asked in the texts collected in the book, Aesthetic Theory:

The Dutch Daily NRC Handelsblad published a highly interesting interview with retiring law-professor Egbert Dommering. He enters the current debate about new media, personal development and cultural authority by expressing his fear that the dominance of cultural systems for information retrieving like Google or GPS-Navigation will turn us all into ‘Men without Qualities’ (after the Robert Musil book). Are we becoming blank subjects, servile obedient to the instructions that our computers conjure up for us? (…)

Dommering fears that rather than building personalities with an extended intellectual and cultural substance, the current media system encourages us to rely on algorithms like that of Google, Satelite Navigation etc to provide us with the right information when we think we need it. This might be handy, but will we still be able to paint a bigger picture out of all these fragmented tidbits. Will we still be able to evaluate them critically? Can we still place the facts into a bigger cultural context? GPS-Naviagtion tells us exactly how we can get somewhere. But do we still know where we are? What is the history or culture of the places we are travelling through, what issues are at stake here? Dommering fears that we might loose the interest in and capabilitie to answere these questions. (source)

Sounds like just another negative culture critic, doesn’t he? And yet, consider the profile of Piotr Wozniak by Wired Magazine‘s Gary Wolf: Want to Remember Everything You’ll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm. Wozniak is the driven genius behind SuperMemo, his program that teaches proper “spacing” so your memory will be able to absorb and recall everything. The catch? You have to surrender to the algorithm.

Hmm, what do I want? Superhuman powers of recall (but nearly servile dependence on an external clock that brooks no escapades of artistic whimsy)? Or…?

Just what do you call the alternative, anyway? “Normal” is so …well, 90s. Or 80s. Or something altogether unhip.

After running through alternatives to what looks like a pessimistic cultural perspective on Dommering’s part, Martin de Waal closes his blog post with some excellent questions:

So what should locative designers or theoreticians take from this discussion? Is it an attitudinal problem, where people get used to not look beyond the first 5 results that Google produces on any search? And is that attitude promoted by the technology itself or the way it is presented? Is it an algorithm-cum-interface problem, where the strength of an algorithm plus the design of the interface might promote deeper understandings of local contexts? Can we design locative media in such a way to promote a richer experience of place, rather than just getting us where we want to go as efficienly as possible? [see complete article here.]

I think those questions — and Piotr Wozniak — prove the need for arte coupled with techne. Wozniak is an artist in his way — but I bet his technique would suffer in “mass” deployment. It works for him, it works for many people. Which doesn’t yet mean that many people should use his techne, his technique. Not everyone could keep hold of “qualities” in the face of such algorithmic rigour.

That same day, Kazys Varnelis coincidentally posted a brief and cryptic-seeming post about Bruno Latour’s book, We Have Never Been Modern, entitled On distinction:

I’m rereading Bruno Latour’s We Have Never been Modern. (…) What’s striking me right now about this seventeen-year-old book is that it’s predicated on an argument against the modern sense of distinction between spheres. In the intervening period, it seems to me (please feel free to shoot me down …better now than later), the postmodern process of “blurring boundaries” has been made obsolete by a thorough loss of distinction in society and culture. The Enlightenment project of modernity, it seems to me, is increasingly something that our generation cannot even conceive of. [see entry here.]

Back to Adorno and his belabouring of the “distinctions” between techne and arte?

Part of Adorno’s point — if I recall correctly (and I should probably follow Kazys’s example and re-read the text, instead of producing a new one off the cuff) — is that the distinction between the two is itself artificial. They are in fact interwoven and are perceived as antitheses or separate endeavours because we learned to parse them that way.

In reality, neither exists without the other — which is obvious when you think about it. You can’t make art without technique, and technology or technique without some sort of art (most highly and refinedly practiced by the best technologists) isn’t particularly compelling, either.

So anyway… to bring this ramble (so precariously close to artlessness and certainly not polished in technique, either) to a close: we are in the thick of rethinking the distinctions between art and technology — albeit too often at the expense of art. During the Enlightenment (as Adorno correctly deduced) people believed the distinctions were clear, and that it was possible to move ahead without further hiccups. Then, when technology was used (artfully, or not) to carry out irrational projects (the world wars, the genocide, other atrocities), that belief was shaken to the core. Now we’re “cynically enlightened“: hip to the fact, perhaps even resigned. But I bet those old distinctions will be back to haunt us yet.

Building taller buildings: in wood, not reinforced concrete

May 13, 2008 at 10:55 pm | In affordable_housing, architecture, housing | Comments Off on Building taller buildings: in wood, not reinforced concrete

An article in today’s local media reports that British Columbia’s Premier Gordon Campbell is proposing changes to the province’s building code to allow wood-frame construction for buildings taller than 4 floors.

Going higher … using wood
Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A plan by the province to raise the minimum height for wood-framed apartment buildings to encourage more use of the province’s timber is receiving strong support from builders.

Premier Gordon Campbell told mayors attending a Whistler convention he wants to support the province’s forest industry by allowing the construction of wood-framed condominiums above the current four-storey limit.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman told the Canadian Home Builders’ Association he wants to see wood-framed building up to six storeys high. Coleman said the necessary building code changes could be accomplished through regulatory change and could be in place by September.

B.C. is already pushing the limit under the National Building Code by going as high a four-storeys in wood, said architect Richard Kadulski, but going higher, is doable, he said. [Article here.]

Sean Holman of Public Eye Online asks, “So where did the Campbell administration get the inspiration for this plan?” And answers as follows:

Well, back in February, International Forest Products Ltd. vice president Ric Slaco attended a Campbell administration climate action meeting. And, at the meeting, Mr. Slaco delivered a PowerPoint presentation [*] urging the government to promote British Columbia wood products by making “BC’s Building Code and procurement policies wood-centric” and expanding the province’s wood first policy to private buildings. This, as part of an effort to increase wood product use in construction for both environmentally and economic reasons. Fancy that! [Article here.] [* note: the presentation links to a 30-page PDF, worth clicking through on.]

Hotly debated already are safety issues (fire, seismic issues) and feasibility of building “that high” using wood. But for those willing to brave a bit of German, here’s a link (via Architekturvideo.de) to a company in Berlin (E3 and Kaden + Klingbeil) that’s building the first 7-story building in wood in that city. It’s causing a stir there, too, because people just assume that stone is what endures, concrete is a decent second place, and wood just doesn’t rate — it rots. But if you watch the video, you’ll be convinced that it’s entirely possible. I have to admit that their construction techniques are spectacular, almost over-engineered, and I have no idea whether BC’s builders will be held to quite that sort of standard. If the buildings are to last, however, maybe BC builders and architects should check out the Kaden +Klingbeil video and pick up a few tricks.

Note that current building codes in Berlin allow for wood construction up to 5 stories, so this project (E3) is breaking that barrier.  Note also that it has to meet very stringent fire code regulations: if you watch the video, you’ll see that basically all the wood (except for some ceiling panels) is covered up with thick slabs of fire-blocking material, which is why the building doesn’t look like it’s made of wood.  The architect also talks about how energy efficient the building is, as well as the building method.  There’s a lot of carbon off-setting in this construction material (which is what the BC PDF emphasizes, too).  In addition, the architect mentions that this building took only one third of the time to build as opposed to concrete construction.  In other words, you can get people into housing faster using wood.

Diigo Bookmarks 05/14/2008 (a.m.)

May 13, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In cities, links | 1 Comment
  • While some people say that “gritty” = “edgy” (and therefore “cool”), there’s an undeniable line that gets crossed at some point, and then gritty isn’t edgy anymore, it’s just shabby & run-down & dirty. It seems that too many North American cities are on their way to that, primarily because of problems brought on by aging infrastructure as well as social infrastructural neglect. I’m reminded of my oldest sister’s visit to Victoria a couple of years ago. She lives in the heart of Tokyo, and her observations of Victoria were that it’s dirty — which would no doubt come as a shock to Victorians, because we think our little city is so …well, green and tidy. But then she didn’t mean its air (compared to Tokyo), which is clean to breathe.  She meant the litter on its streets, and obvious signs of infrastructural decay (roads in disrepair, for example), and other obvious signs of social decay (panhandlers, open drug use), which suggest a neglected social infrastructure. Maybe things have gone downhill in Tokyo since her remarks, but they have also gone further downhill here.

    This article in the National Post (by Barry Hertz) should be read in conjunction with some of the other commentaries appearing on infrastructure, whether on Richard Florida’s blog, or on the CEOs for Cities blog, or even on Doc Searls’s blog (see his recent piece, Handbasket weaving on the Berkman blog, or his infrastructure-related pieces in Linux Journal).

    I think the basic message is that this is not a question of “style” or edginess or cool or whatever, and it’s not even a question of tourists.  It’s instead a question of underfunded infrastructure, which is crumbling around our ears, and the resulting shabbiness is a symptom of that bigger problem. Underfunded cities and underfunded infrastructure has long term deleterious economic impacts.  The tourists staying away (or not staying as long) is just the tip of an economic iceberg.

  • tags: toronto, infrastructure, infrastructure_funding, economy, competitiveness

  • “The main principle of MapTube is that shared maps can be overlayed to compare data visually. For example, to see a map of the London Underground overlayed on top of a map of population you simply go to the search page and enter the keywords “tube” and “population”. Then click on the two relevant maps to add them.”

    This has potential for some really fine-grained mapping, specific to local place.

    tags: maptube, mapping_apps, maps, mash_ups, reference

Diigo Bookmarks 05/13/2008 (p.m.)

May 13, 2008 at 5:30 am | In links | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 05/13/2008 (p.m.)

Diigo Bookmarks 05/13/2008 (a.m.)

May 12, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In links, victoria | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 05/13/2008 (a.m.)
  • Earthquake hazards mapping for Greater Victoria, including amplification, liquifaction, and other risks, relative to one another for the region.

    Basically, if I can just make sure I’m at home (in Rockland — *rock* land, see?) when the big one strikes, I could be alright. Small comfort, though…

    tags: earthquake, seismic_data, victoria

Diigo Bookmarks 05/12/2008 (p.m.)

May 12, 2008 at 5:30 am | In links, sprawl | 1 Comment

Diigo Bookmarks 05/11/2008 (a.m.)

May 10, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In links | 1 Comment

Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit – New York Times

Something to think about “out west,” where existing public transit might be spotty, or where the only public transit is buses. Rail definitely makes sense for many people here.

“Some cities with long-established public transit systems, like New York and Boston, have seen increases in ridership of 5 percent or more so far this year. But the biggest surges — of 10 to 15 percent or more over last year — are occurring in many metropolitan areas in the South and West where the driving culture is strongest and bus and rail lines are more limited.”

tags: transportation, transit, transit_oriented_development, cars

Creating new habits = essential for innovation; old habits remain, but can be lessened (if bad,eg.) by new habits.

…brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks.

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

This reminds me very much of SEED magazine’s 2006 article, The Reinvention of the Self, by Jonah Lehrer, which profiled the work of Prof. Elizabeth Gould.

tags: psychology, brain, habits, innovation, success, business

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