Saturday, February 6, 2010
These new buildings may not be beautiful. They may not even be utoptian, as some architectural scholars and theories of modernism might have hoped, but they are cheap, functional, and they don’t remind people of anything that went before... The new generations will shrug off the weight of countless millennia and symbolically declare themselves free. (pg 79, Bicycle Diaries, Byrne)
Next Navas emails the historical idea of non-places to himself elevating the internet as a place that can also contain non-places to introduce and inform the reader on his curatorial practice and further expand upon the idea of non-place.
Navas then goes into the geopolitical differences, and glocality, and discusses the intent behind his curatorial practice -- “Transitio_MX, Maquilápolis is included to expose the production that goes behind the realization of non-places, and to reflect on how the industry of the maquiladoras supports the global economy.” Maquilapolis opens with a display of borders between Mexico and the U.S. and folding back in non place I think back to Byrne’s ideas that these kind of spaces, both the city structure and these workplaces can take on a the identity of “spaces that need not be visited, but named” as Augé describes non-place.
I feel that corporations have taken on a sense of non-place and this is to their benefit. It takes a spectacle of the yes men, or other mature hacks, to change these spaces into something new that the lens of society can then look at as something new and old as well, but able to scrutinize.
The text is strong in that it clearly lays out it’s idea of non-place juxtaposed to a curatorial practice but I feel that the segments could be tightened up some. I think the ubiquity of non places can lead to difficult space to navigate in and Navas curates works nicely out of it.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
"Producing a nice diagram is not all that is required in making sense of something." but reducing a nice diagram of EPA data could hopefully produce a government job. No one ever said or asked these InfoVis "students" to be critical... they are just doing homework. Who are the artists making such charts and what data are they producing / visualizing?
Arduino now has http://www.pachube.com/: "Store, share & discover realtime sensor, energy and environment data from objects, devices & buildings around the world. Pachube is a convenient, secure & scalable platform that helps you connect to & build the 'internet of things'."
Producing a contained object collecting data in a gallery setting does not create a dialog... it may create an eloquent interesting work of art but not something socially relevant. (See Penticost) Why is one 50% bigger than the other? Come on! this is your great revelation...
Self-promotional fluff... I hate that picture of Dr. Jeremijenko in the lab coat or maybe I just hate her because she took my first name as part of her last.
I didn't read the second interview... but it does have some punchy Data Cloud / infoVis in it.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Has the paradigm of the aesthetic encounter been redefined?
I ask should it... or is it? "Little boxes on the hill side, little boxes all the same." - Weeds Intro this paradigm shifted years ago. Illustration: Brian O'Doherty "Inside the White Cube - The Ideology of the Gallery Space" (1976 Art Forum)
If artists are as ignorant as most people, the structures of participation they offer audiences reproduce existing feelings of paralysis and powerlessness and ultimately contribute to prevailing cynicism about any kind of participation at all. "If ignorance is bliss then whip this smile off my face." - Rage Against the Machine
Solutions have to come from major media not artists or artist need to get the support of major media. Illustration: http://landshare.channel4.com/ Hugh, is a grower of meat and veg and an enthusiast for sustainable practices... even if this mean eating the occasional squirrel.
When artists take action in a public sphere with good intentions their actions tend to have a ironic sensibilities... irony is often lost to large portion of the public.
Illustration: Michael Moore, who isn't an "artist" but uses ironic humor to make a point.
Slow Design - What I see missing from a lot of this weeks text is a connection to the very people that activist and tactical art proposes to save from huge corporations and evil sub-governments - that is to say that it speaks to very finite audiences of technological, aesthetic, urban studies, and typically an affluent educated class and by affluent I would refer to people without the time, capacity or desire to engage in even a beginning conversation to start to understand what it means to care about “reveal” and “expand” when their hopes and desires are already crushed on a regular basis. On both of these texts I feel that they both read as clubs I have to join, another thing I would have to maintain or a password for my firefox to have to remember --
Personally I would like to see this site on it’s own feet apart from a university server.
Situated Advocacy - I get an immediate vibe of what can be measured can be managed, and to tie it into the How Stuff is Made site. While it predicts a conversation it projects juxtaposition. I enjoy the images, some that read like serious examinations (the two genetically identical trees) and other that read like playful studies of the environment they arrive from (Dr. Jerimijenko examining purposefully the relevant data).
There is a great deal to take in from this reading but here are some of my initial impressions which are subject to change as all of it settles. There were some interesting issues raised throughout the discussion in terms of agency, advocacy, roles and creation.
BB and NJ bring up some good points in terms of understanding the context of any data. We need data on the data. Context is data. Then we need data on the data’s data. Repeat ad naseum. We are in the era of data pollution where anything can be argued through “objective” data and however it is framed can be made irrelevant. As such, it has become important to understand how data has been made oppressive and how one can subvert data against the data oligarchy.
With the shift to ubiquitous and pervasive computing an avenue has opened up which many people can use to generate data. In fact I believe that BB & NJ propose that we collect our own data, with our own agendas. I believe it to be true that people will rarely act unless it is in their self-interests and what better interest than our own health. We forget how closely our health may be tied to the environment and therefore we should care about the environment.
Through the Environmental Health Clinic we see how one can appropriate an established role of reverence (in an almost yesmen vein) to serve as a vehicle for action. Perhaps it is through these types of actions that the general public may be mobilized to take action on making the changes that directly affect them.
Slow Design principles presents a philosophy for design that, to me, simply formalizes a number of design principles currently in practice under a specific umbrella term. Apart from this it sets out a lofty goal to be an agent of change by changing the designer’s behavior and subsequently changing the mindset of those who consume the creations of said designers.
The principles are hardly novel but the thread connecting all of them is interesting. “Stop to smell the roses” is something we have all heard yet it is something we can rarely afford to do. Doing so is what I advocated through these principles.
The examples provided are great and many of them do a fine job in embodying each principle under which it is presented but the problem I see is that they tend to only embody one principle but may not embody another or may make assumptions as to how it will be received by the public at large. What is the value in this evaluation methodology if other principles are broken? Does it matter?
The most potential, I believe, lies with the ENGAGE principle and the Rural Studio project which teaches these principles towards sustainability with a focus on locality. This not only engages the community but also engages the designers to change a local philosophy (which is the longer-term goal) while also providing a more tangible positive feedback to the designer who is also part of the community itself. I believe it is through this symbiotic immersion that they Slow Principles can serve as a vehicle for both change in society and a shift in design philosophies within the design community. In this sense I believe that it is no accident that two of the principles involve collaboration. It is through this collaboration that anyone can invite different perspectives so that one can be better equipped to address any shortcomings in any given effort and it also serves as a vehicle for spreading and obtaining buy-in to one’s philosophies.
The case study presented is an exercise which I believe falls short on being particularly interesting but it does frame the principles in a manner which was described in the abstract -- “..to interrogate, evaluate and reflect on their design ideas…” I believe that this publication does a fine job in collecting a number of principles and offers great examples but I do not think that there will be a mass conversion of “slow designers”.
People always ask why I don’t eat meat and it’s not really because of animal cruelty, it’s more about were it comes from and how detached I am from it. This slow design idea I believe is in the same frame of thinking. We as a culture of consumers only think about the transfer of a product to the store in to our possession and after that as long as it doesn’t break or go out of style we don’t really think about it. The designed objects talked about in the Slow Design Principles really push the user of the object to think about what the object does for them and where the materials came to make it. I can just hear some of the disgusted responses by some people who might have seen the lamps made from lamb stomachs and then went home to sit on their leather coaches and eat their animal products that no longer look anything like the animal they came from without even cringing. I don’t care if someone eat steak or has a whole furniture set made of leather just realize it came from an animal that ate up and used resources it self to produce you something. I think if people did this more often people would waste less and try to care of what they had instead of replacing blindly.
Claire Pentecost also talks about this in "Autonomy, Participation, And"
We notice that the “auto” in autonomy starts to resonate with the auto, that all too precise symbol of individual freedom that appears indispensable to a life of agency in America. The auto that creates tedious traffic jams, respiratory diseases, wars, and deformed environments and, as long as we have one, saves us the inconvenience of coordinating our needs and desires with a larger populace. The lubricant of individual freedom so complicit in the erosion of community and social encounter that symbolic micro-gestures of participation are meant to salve.So I think that a lot of technology and gizmos also give us those illusion of control over our lives - that having constant access makes us smarter, more productive, etc. They don't necessarily, especially if we allow them to run our lives. On the balance, I'm sure one day I'll get a cel phone. But for the moment, I'm planning my next technology move - rain barrels recycled from factory equipment.
The Bratton and Jeremijenko conversation discusses the information used to solve large problems like global warming and air pollution. The information found by either academics or government organizations is most of the time absorbed by our society without much questioning. What is being offered in this discussion is that there should be some kind of movement to allow the general population to find and take in their own data about the environment so they compare their own personal data and relationship with their localized environment, to the large-scale findings of institutionalized data.
The idea of using the model of a health clinic for environmental purposes is a pretty original idea that I thought made since. Placing environmentalism in the same category as social programming keeps the problem at a level which people can get their heads around. I wonder though how such an unfamiliar idea even though formulated after a health clinic would be taken seriously by the local community unless they knew such action would make them healthier and economically better off. I don’t think that they get into how they will educate the public why such an idea is a good one and why they should use a service like an Environmental Health Clinic. The public is use to listening to those government agencies and academics on why they should be doing and what to worry about.
The Slow designed Principles are described as a “new interrogative and reflexive tool for design and research practice that offer an opportunity to find fresh qualities in design research, ideation, process and outcomes.” Most importantly Slow Design is a unique and vital form of creative activism that is delivering new values for design and contributing to the shift toward sustainability. The Slow Design Principals include: revealing, expanding, reflection, engagement, participation, and evolution. This text, though it provides a certain framework that suggests that by following these ‘steps’ a project will be successful, in my opinion has the potential to choke off other opportunities a work may present. However, after rereading the text, I couldn’t help but think of other examples that I felt fit in to the Strauss and Fraud-Luke’s design strategies. As students I think that is wise to take in to consideration principles such as those presented within the text. They are open enough to be applied to any project as strictly or broadly as desired by the maker. Below are two projects that I thought were other examples of how these principles could/were applied to contribute towards the “shift toward sustainability.”
Pig 05049 by Christien Meindertsma
Farm Fountain by Youngs and Rinaldo
A quick response to the Autonomy, Participation, And text by Clair Pentecost:
I found this text to be incredibly enlightening and valuable to read within the context of this course. As a student it found it interesting to read her notion of how we must produce work that becomes condensed to fit within the gallery setting to be ‘accepted’ and even then, depending on the type of work, it must jump through several sets of hoops to be shown, the more prestigious the gallery, the more hoops to jump through. Though I am guessing my thoughts have strayed from the points of the article I found it interesting to read these two selections together. Though they both touch on many similar notions, I can’t help but think that the Slow Design Principles are trying to set up a framework to aid in work production where as Pentecost’s text, though encourages and gives several examples of successful works, in the beginning points to the lack of freedoms in making art. Pentecost says “We will accept the rules because we will have worked so hard to get there, and because in every way we are starved for validation” not necessarily discourages art practice, but does highlight the problems one will face regardless of whether they follow design principals or not.
I consider the guiding principles they present to be open enough to allow them to be applied to a very broad set of fields (all design related fields too, of course), and this is clearly seen by the range of examples they present. Personally, I have to say that the idea that really captivated me was “[…] slowing the metabolism of people, resources and flows”. I just think the societies of developed countries need this idea, but not only applied to design, but to every single field.
Nevertheless, regardless of my personal inclination to the idea of slowing our metabolisms (through revealing, expanding, reflecting…etc), I found the description of the workshop that Fuad-Luke run to be quite less deep into the matter than it should. Maybe it is just a matter of the short description of the workshop that is presented, but from my perspective, it looks like a methodology to create collaborative designs. That is to say, even though it is an interesting methodology, it does not go as far as the Slow Design principles state. Collaborative design is not a groundbreaking idea (and its not their only point), so I believe the workshops they create to introduce the Slow Design principles should go a little bit further in how they change the methodology of design (which I found very interesting an potentially positive).
Buddhist monks meditate while the take slow steps across an enclosed space in circles. I look at these designers like monks with a purpose, trying to realize their place in the world through their designs. They communicate with nature just as spirit seekers do and get to a place where time slows down, the heart rate is magically relaxed, the blood flow is fresh and nervousness and anxiety is unheard of. There is a facebook note I found that echoes my opinion of how Slow Design is something that must have come out of Zen meditation and stuff like that.
I have to say tough, that regardless of the relevance of the topics they discuss, I found some aspects of the text quite superficial and unjustified. When they for instance criticize the spectacularization of information I feel they just leave their opinion there without a sound series of examples to get a little bit deeper into the matter. I think “The Environmental Health Clinic” and other initiatives they describe are relevant enough by their own without the need to criticize other practices (specially when I didn’t find consistent examples in the text). Of course the ideas of co-production of knowledge, one-to-one talk, participation, or locality that they present, pose interesting directions to work on.
One of the main points they make, in my view, is the idea of locality as a necessary ingredient for people to get involved. I think its pretty clear that the “natural” selfishness of human beings make it quite difficult for us to act upon something, unless we see a clear connection to our daily lives. In relation to this idea (and also to complement the great image posted by JD), I would like to post Eliasson’s project Green River, which places the attention on the very matter that surrounds us, as a way to increase our awareness in our environment (in a visually striking manner).
The Situated Technologies Pamphlet series concentrates on the exploration of the “implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism. Specifically this series addresses how our experience of space and the choices we make within are affect by the range of mobile, persuasive, embedded, or otherwise situated technologies.” Within this text Bratton and Jeremijenko discuss self-advocacy, environmental protection, and various human rights and social injustices. To address these issues both Bratton and Jeremijenko take a close look at the value of data collection and the importance of its purpose and more importantly how those doing the collecting sway its importance and presentation.
In regard to data collection, they present us with many examples of devices that utilize different types of sensors to detect non-human organisms to provide important information about their conditions. Thus allowing a new form of data collection and ultimately an important, useful, and informed method for activating data to spark change and awareness.
I was specifically interested in the “Death of the User” section of the text (pgs. 51-53). Specific to my work/ideas and that of many other current artists, how we structure non-human agency poses a great opportunity to integrate non-humans at the instigation point of distributed interactions where the otherwise human user would be. By biodiversifying who is represented in agricultural, urban, and suburban contexts humans pay closer attention to those with which we cohabitate. More importantly by investigating data found from works that sense non-humans we can “reconsider structures of ownership, including private property and how it extends to these non-human agents in the environmental commons”.
Though I agree with much of what Jeremijenko discusses in this section and feel that she is calling attention to very important ideas, I do not agree that the user, in Bratton’s terms, has “died”. Rather, I feel that the user has simply changed from human to non-human. Though many would argue that non-human organisms cannot be users because they do not comprehend their actions, there are many accounts where data of human behavior is being collected and they too are not aware that they have the ability to manipulate data (i.e. using hidden cameras and infrared sensors to track a particular event in any project).
Ultimately what is important that through these non-human sensing works, we can begin to recognize a “non-human-centric world” and can begin to see to see a non-human point of view that would allow us to act upon our surroundings and provide better solutions for our environment issues.
Feral geese, like other populations of urban animals are either disdained, hunted, or at best ignored. They are not the 'wildlife' that environmentalists heroically seek to protect, and yet their survival testifies to a functioning urban ecosystem - they have critical functional, remediative and arguably redemptive roles to play in an urban ecosystems that are poorly understood. They are the most hopeful of environmental agents precisely because they demonstrate adaptive strategies that we have not observed before, and do not understand. There is a great deal to learn from them. Moreover, they demonstrate that we and our urban environment are inside nature, not separate or distinct from it. When animals make autonomous choices to inhabit places that we do not recognize as 'natural' they teach us that we live in something natural.
OOZ takes the urban animal habitats that animals themselves have initiated as its starting point. These contexts provide an opportunity to learn what the resources and structures animals themselves have exploited by directing our attention to the architectural and adaptive innovations these nonhumans have made
Monday, February 1, 2010
They provide some interesting examples of sensing structures in which non-human entities become aggregate political groups, e.g. co2 sensors on trees. Also, the portions of the text in which they discuss the role of the artist as an additional individual engaging science as "model citizen and naive scientist.” This is similar to artists like Vibeke Sorensen working alongside scientists at the San Diego Supercomputer Center in the capacity as peer, as early as the 1970s. They valued the perspective that Sorensen brought to any project she worked on, perspectives that were outside of rigid scientific method and therefore fostered innovation. Jeremijenko and Bratton make the excellent point that perhaps artists are the only beings that could take the vast clouds of data and create an “image” that has some sort of cultural/environmental/emoitional currency beyond merely a sexy data visualization.
I think Jeremijenko’s How Stuff Is Made project provides the provenance of manufactured objects in a way that is very accessible. Rather than the common extremes of showing the cost/benefit of our culture through either consumable media coverage or white paper dissection, How Stuff Is Made democratizes the contemplation of where our stuff comes from.
I thought many times throughout this text about various efforts of artists recently present a non-data based image of environmental impact--for example, many of Burtynsky’s photos.
But, still I could see some evidence of helping an ecosystem by creating interventions in their work. For example the fish display thingy in the Hudson river which responds to fish movement and also enhances people interactivity by having them feed the fishes with food that apparently removes bad stuff from them. I also thought such interventions might some time negate the positiveness they promulgate when people start throwing in lays chips wrappers, hot-dog packages and other crumbs of waste stuff into the river and start polluting it themselves.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
On the other hand, it is well known that Nike employees people in third worlds countries, pays them $0.001 a day and sells its products with %400 of profit. The fact that the public is aware of this situation didn't seemed to change neither Nike's profits nor the its methodologies. Who do we blame for this? Maybe the designers how made such nice shoes, or us for keep buying them, or the governments for not prohibiting Nike to commercialize its products.
Let us consider the designers for a moment, in the Slow Design reading we meet Julia Lohmann, a designer how "believes that acknowledging the origins of a product is the first step towards making more informed and ethical choices about what we consume." What does Julia designs taking into account this premise? Lamps made out of cow stomachs:
I find the lamp pretty gorgeous, I know that is a cow's stomach and I still want one, even more, because is a cow's stomach I want one!!!! By having this lamp I will be more empathetic towards the cruelty inflected to the cow's, by having this lamp I'll be a responsible consumer. I wonder how much it will costs me to buy 100 lamps, we will need 100 cows.
It seems to me that being a responsible consumer has turned out to be another good strategy for selling. Examples of this phenomenon can be found everywhere: "if you buy this water, you will be contributing to starvation" To buy is to change the world.