in my inbox today:

mail from ArchVoices "Ten Reasons to be HopefulAbout the Future of Architecture"By Louis B. Smith Jr., AIA

on another note:

in finishing my final paper for my environmental design on the west coast, though my wicked carpal tunnel (one of the blessed gifts from my pregnancy4yrs ago) has overcome me from all my writing. i am reflecting on how good a class it was. it combined planning, landscape arch. and architecture from pre spanish colonization to present. and we basically had to just write an essay every week summarizing what we learned and what stood out for us and kind of our take on things its amazing how much better one can learn when more of the context is presented. again, i'm such a proponent of interdisciplinary study. and this guy was a great teacher not just b/c he didn't ask us to memorize a hundred million dates and images like every other art and architecture history course i've taken over the years but he attempted to engage us in discussion...a little more seminar-esque. amazingly i think i've retained more from this little 5 weeker than any of those other classes.

in being reminded of how refreshing it is to have a good teacher, i am remembering after our final review this spring one of our prof.s gave us:

Bruce Mau's incomplete manifesto, i just kind of revisited some of them. some of these things aren't neccessarily new, but i thought several good ones to keep in mind. i am kind of thinking about checking out his little alternative design education thing, it would be interesting to compare to archeworks.


oh really?

ran across:  The Archeworks Papers, edited by Stanley Tigerman.

The first installment in Chicago school Archeworks's eponymous Papers features a lecture given by Victor Margolin at the school in October, 2003 titled, "Healing the World: A Challenge for Designers." Responses to the text are given by Douglas Garofolo and co-founders Eva Maddox and Stanley Tigerman. Margolin argues that in order for design to make a difference socially it must address five forms of capital: human, social, financial, institutional, and physical. By demonstrating that market economies derive success by doing the same, he also cites social programs that use one or more of these capitals successfully, such as MoveOn.org. Basically, he is framing an argument for giving Archeworks - and other socially-responsible schools and programs - more impact. Garofolo adds a sixth capital to the list, symbolic, while Maddox avoids direct reference to Margolis's text, instead discussing her ideas on good design. Tigerman concludes the 42-page Paper with a call for ethics to go beyond words and into practice, a situation the school finds itself in ten years after its formation as it finds a way to make a difference beyond mere words.
i formed some strong opinion's about archeworks and tigerman after i started the archeworks program as a student in 2000 and found major ethical conflict with precisely the gap he describes between preach and practice.  hopefully in the last 4 years they've worked those issues out. its a fantastic concept...i really hope they acheive what they espouse.  i also hope their efforts have paved a way for new voices and efforts for socially-responsible and community based design education...'cause i'm on my way =)

oldie but goodie

my job working toward/on/around sustainable affordable housing gets pretty hum drum in my menial day to day role. most of the time i am researching alternatives to toxic building materials and helping with post-occupancy evaluations on buildings to determine energy efficiency...or copying and putting together a leed application...but today in rearranging the library i ran across these again, and it somehow made it feel a little less 'hum drum' and i guess, noble.

The Hannover Principles

As host of the world exposition in the year 2000, the City of Hannover, Germany, commissioned the following design principles to insure that the design and construction related to the fair will represent a sustainable development for the city, region, and world. It is hoped that the Hannover Principles will inspire an approach to design which may meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability of the planet to sustain an equally supportive future.

Insist on the rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition. Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.

Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems, and their right to co-exist.

Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes, or standards.

Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.

Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.

Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever, and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.

Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers, and users to link long-term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.

—Excerpted from The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability by William McDonough Architects

"...what you people call your natural resources, our people call our relatives..."

from a man in the Onondaga nation which McDonough includes in the dedication in his newest book cradle to cradle


on marjetica potrc

so today, i knew i'd have a long wait in the hospital waiting room so i brought along some reading. i partially read the latest art papers and was intrigued by the article "Shanties to Go: Can a shack in a museum teach us something about life in the west bank?" which is about the work of marjetica potrc and her 1st  presence in a U.S. show "Urgent Architecture", written by sabir khan.  she is a slovenian artist and architect who in her words "translates things she finds fascinating and typical for today's society into the gallery, so that it becomes a three dimensional object that speaks about the conditions of contemporary development world wide".  she works in many mediums to address her interests..for instance she photographs wild animals who's terrain has been overcome by urban sprawl in her series 'animal sightings' and in her 'powertool' series she designs and photographs the use of experimental prototypes of utiliarian objects. however the thrust of the article is a critique of the reproductions of shacks, and other humble, perhaps spontaneous abodes made by the people who inhabit them that she exhibits in musuems and galleries world-wide.  there was only one quote from her in the article but i gathered that she is both commenting on the beauty of these structures as well as the compelling contrast of the striking class differences of viewing 'art" in a gallery as opposed to living 'art' in the process and struggle of surviving.

with this in mind, first i found it odd that she doesn't install them herself, but rather she faxes directions to the gallery installers to follow. secondly she specifies parts not from junk/salvage yards but from home depot (if she is so interested in locality and vernacular structures...why use such a generic resource which has dominated over and eliminated local neighborhood hardware stores everywhere). also interesting is that, according to Khan, she for the most part researches the structures almost exclusively via internet as opposed in person and in the field. i think some of these revelations seemed to warrant Khan's critique of her work as 'curiously passive'...and further commentary that the shanties are too clean and have a "dollhouse lightness", lacking the "funk, patina, or residents' point of view".  this really made me think about my little notions about participatory design.  i think the thing that is so, fascinating about these kind of structures is indeed the story of who made them, how and why.  it doesn't really matter what they look like. so when presented in a gallery they lose that significance.   somehow, the work of beverly buchanan, does seem to acheive it (that funk, that deeper story) a little better..maybe b/c she is from the area and she is documenting/recreating these structures that she's around everyday but i dunno. in potrc's other 'utlilitarian industrial design' work she certainly seems committed to the significance, assets and needs of a particular place.

i appreciated the interesting questions Khan raised about the ethics of her work, however ultimately i found it hard to form a completely informed opinion without hearing her voice at any point in the article to understand her intent. i find myself wondering if it should be neccessary to hear the artists intent in order to understand or form opinions on the work.  i guess it shouldn't...i guess that's the point. everyone forms their own opinions. however with art which seemingly attempts to overtly address and comment on social conditions...i wanted to hear her stance. if it is not apparent in the work, is it indeed "weak activism" as Khan suggests? or is her point to be vague and therein situate the complexity of her arguement? antyways...

next up i need to getting around to reading article that immediately follows this one,  "why architecture hates art". more on that later i imagine...

wooster collective

love it love it love it.


bring it

wow its taken me almost a whole week to get back to this...i've been churning away on this thing called an "art plan" which i had a review for yesterday...which was the culmination of the class that inspired this blog.  i had never heard of an "art plan" or an "art planner".  Apparently, an "art planner" gets hired by a body ( municipality, organization etc.) to come up with an overarching "plan" for the integration of art in a certain area. for instance, carolyn law, who works here locally and nationally, was hired as an 'art planner' for the city of seattle to come up with a plan  for the parks system here. she also developed another plan for the community centers here which essentially involved artists programming the volume of space through which one passes (threshold) from outside to inside for all the community centers in seattle.   so interestingly enough  art plans do not involve creating any art. rather they are about setting parameters and purpose which artists then come along and either fit in b/c their work is in line with those purpose or parameters or, they apply them to their work.  Maybe its most akin to curating.

"antyway"...my plan had to do with placing artists in residence  at select south eastern sites on the national register of historic places and commisioning them to produce ephemeral work (sound installations primarily) which provided critical commentary, and richer historical perspectives about those places (e.g. address complexities of human use, race, gender, labor/economy then and now, agricultural/environmental issues.  general overriding themes were: the politics of historic preservation, memory and the idea of critical tourism. the review went well. ..not as intense as an architecture review but the art plan was about 20 pages, with site analysis, and background, history, vision, goals and all that. we had outside reviewers, predominantly public artists.

though i am bummed that the class is over, i am so pumped that i took it.  i totally needed some inspiration, particularly the interdisciplinary kind that helps me, despite the pedagogical approach of my department, remember and affirm the connections i saw in architecture, art and the social realm. year two archictecture school? BRING IT ON! hopefully i can get it together this next year, and not get quite so muddled in  how many treads my stairs have, or be so self conscious about how precise my drawing and modelling is/isn't, but rather really tackle my conceptual approach and personal aesthetic and cultivate a consistency and rigor to applying that to every project.


on the gates (from tuesday's post)

so, after reading up on the Gates project, a new yorker article, a caa conference speech, and a christo interview from the 80's when they first came up with this idea(around the the time of the surrounded islands project) i came up with about 3 pages of my answers...thinking that is a bit too much to post but will post a little of how i answered those questions :

on ethics, aesthetics, and politics. Aesthetically, I find The Gates phenomenally moving and provocative. The tactile aspect of the human scaled thresholds make it appear to be just the intimate experience that they project it to be. Ethically and politically, I’m not sure it really conflicts with my beliefs per say but I think there are critical issues at play that should always be addressed. I do take major issue with the environmental impacts of some of his projects but not neccessarily this one. If the very idea of the GATES did conflict with my ethics and politics, there’s a long list of things in front of this one. It is contradictory to take issue with this project without taking issue with capitalist society in general. While, I do take some issue with capitalism, I am an active participant in the maintenance of this system everyday. ..its not so easy to separate the two. I think Christo says it best himself when he responds to the following comment by the interviewer:

“…an aspect of the projects has to do with the way that they short-circuit the normal consumerism in art. Collectors cannot buy a project. There is some kind of exploitation of the situation of capitalism, which is the accumulation of capital. You’re not making any money from the project directly, you’re spending tremendous amounts of money to do it (from the sale of drawings of the project), and in the end, what you have is the realization of the project and the perception of theat project and of you as an artist, by the public. In the normal sense of enterprise in a capitalistic system, you should end up with a huge sum of capital, which you don’t have.”

by saying, “…at a basic level, there is a subversive dimension to the projects, and this is why I have so many problems. All the opposition, all the criticisms of the project are basically that it puts in doubt all the acceptable operations of the system that we should follow normally. If the project was a movie set for Hollywood and we spent a million dollars for the movie, there would be no opposition, they could even burn the islands to be filmed and there would be no problems. The “irrationality” of the project disturbs and angers the perception of a capitalist society”. In otherwords, if he were doing this to make more money, it'd be cool.

on understanding. Now the complicated part, “worth”. If we are thinking fiscally, first of all since it is not coming out of any public pocket its not hurting anything fiscally. As a matter of fact, it appears that the city of NY stands to gain millions of dollars (mostly in tourism) from this project…not to mention the MOMA show that has already started designing totebags and souvenir scarves (that the artists will not benefit from by choice). There are sooo many ways to assess worth on this project. My man is employing thousands of people in the production of this thing…that is certainly valuable. Now, if the city were paying for it, I think that brings up a whole separate issue. I am emphatically in favor of public funds for public art, I think a question of scale and context to other public spending would be a major consideration though. I think the best solution is combined public and private funding. But it gets back to who and how one defines worth and i think there are very few things that people can unanimously and universally agree on as "worthy"...if everyone unanimously believed that homelessness was the single most critical social issue to solve, it would be solved...the wealthy and the philanthropic community could take care of that without a single public dollar ever being spent. However we all know its much more complex than that, people spend their money on what they think is important, and many of them don't do it just to benefit themselves, they believe that that 'thing' benefits the larger world community in some way. Art cannot just be thought of fiscally, if it were, there wouldn't be any art.  Quality of life has to be a consideration.  My memory of seeing/experiencing the Gates 40 years from now is priceless. I wonder what NY is going to be doing with the MILLIONS of dollars in tourism related spending that they receive as a result of this privately funded project. I would hope it would benefit the people of NY who need it most.

there are socialist underpinnings prevailing in christo and jean-claude's work according to them anyway. they are upholding olmstead's "vision" in the sense that this work is completely accessible. though...there seems to be this strange sense of individualist self importance in their unyielding efforts to control everything related to their work...they don't see it that way. It seems more about delivering an unfiltered truth about what and how we value.


the black factory

check it out...William Pope.L...i dunno...


would you use this?

i would! more on the idea, i guess the tate has had this for a while...as usual, i'm late =)

gates project

place and permanence assignment for today due for thursdays class:

write about how the GATES project supports or conflicts with your personal ethics, aesthetics and/or politics. Is the work environmentally sound? does it belong in central park? is it "worth it" from a fiscal or experiential standpoint? Is it right or wrong to create such bold work that will impact the lives of thousands of people? how do you feel about artists funding projects in the public realm? for instance, does it set a precedent for eliminating public funding for the arts? if you were mayor of NY would you approve it? does this work uphold or contradict olmstead's design/intention for central park?

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm more on this later...


"Americans are very private people so we don't create very good public spaces. Somebody once said we have private glory and public squalor. we don't like interacting that much. we like our homes and we like our privacy. so we don't have much of a communal life"

exerpt from susan swartzenberg collaborative piece "The Plaza" from Cento a Market Street Journal 1996



"sooo..are we to assume that every molecule on the earth is art?"

7.5 year old art critic to curator mom inside the andy goldsworthy show at Tacoma Art Museum

on public art

on the way to the park yesterday we passed by a public art piece that had a fountain component. my 3 year old asks, "what is that?" to which we promptly replied, "its art!" to which he promptly replied, "no its not, its just water", i always wonder how not just children view public art but how different populations respond to it. there was a piece in the park with two metal chairs atop two long tall sticks, what does it mean i wondered? is it an isolated object and should i just appreciate it for that? why does everything always have to mean something to me...i'm sure it has different meanings for different people? why do 90% of the calls for public art insist on something in metal its a perceived permanent materal...but what is the place for things that aren't permanent.

" who is the audience for public art? how can public art represent the public when there are many publics?"

"For an activist artist, the trick is not to allow the ritual to become so compelling, so much a world unto itself, so repeatable that it pushes aside the issues that inspired it. One way to deal with this problem is by making the ritual ephemeral" both quotes from Sculpture Chicago's book Culture in Action.

the last quote was in reference to the inital Street-Level video crew project where teens from a local high school made 40 videos about their daily lives, on subjects ranging from gang life to their families to the gradual gentrification of their neighborhood,the Neutral Ground project, gave a voice to rival gang members, who used cameras to craft video letters to strike a temporary truce.. A giant community block party, with 70 television monitors lining the street playing the students' works became an insitution in the west town community. Street-Level is a full fledged organization now. i don't know that every participatory art project needs to become an organization but it certainly seems that projects such as the block party and the digital installations that make it up, that have a limited time, a place, and target specific issue can be an effective tool for mobilizing people around that issue...i definitely want to be involved in creating situations not just objects.

anyway speaking of fountains, wish i could find a good picture of this


on a more mundane note...

things heard on seattle public transportation:

two guys on the back of the bus talking about their recently finished prison bid and filling eachother in on latest activities , one says to the other, "all you need to do is get you a good woman so you can stop getting into trouble" the other replies, "naw, i like hoes...i like a broken bitch".

disturbing =(.


trying to track

i am taking this class, "place and permanence in public art" our assignment last week was:

think of an art experience that raised your awareness of your own perceptions. describe both the art and your experience of it. what do you remember from the experience and what did you learn?

in trying to come up with an answer to that question. i started to remember an influential experience that no doubt has influenced where i am and what i am thinking 10 years later. i guess i didn't make the connection until now but...its kind of amazing how you have to go back to go forward sometimes. i thought back to senior year of highschool when Andrea Zittel came to do a residency at my arts highschool. my school was somewhat traditional in focus...drawing, painting, printmaking...but this woman came in and i had never encountered anyone like her or anyone who did work or raised the issues she did in her work. she was addressing issues of consumption and the perception of need in the built environment...mostly specifically domestic environments. she showed some of her work and it was "conceptual" stuff that blurred the line between art and industrial design like carpets with a large sofa sized rectangle where the sofa would be etc. being a minimalist, at the time she designed an outfit for the year...made a few copies and wore that same thing everyday. she explored this issue of individuality vs. collective identity and it seemed tied to place and spatial experience. she was designing and still does design compacted all encompassing living units she was also dealing a lot with portablility...which is what she worked with us on. we were all to design something that was a portable version of some activity/function in our lives. i designed a portable altar...anyway she was there for a week, there was an exhibition and she left and to be honest i never once thought about that experience besides putting the piece in my portfolio. i think that experience did totally change my perception of art and it has influenced my perception of myself as an artist. fast forward, low and behold, its 2004 i find myself in architecture school and i realize my conceptual interests in architecture are tied to many of the issues she dealt with in her work. here it is 10 years later and she's in the whitney biennial (again, i guess, b/c apparently she was in it that year too 1995). i am trying to navigate my path in architecture school where i have this dichotomous interest...which maybe isn't as dichotomous as i've been thinking. my practical desire to want to be a part of designing healthy affordable and transitional/public housing is very much tied to my social interests in the politics of place, and my conceptual interest in the connections between race, gender, class and space...then there's my fascination with ephemeral and temporary (in reality or spirit) public art and architecture (for example the blur building and lucy orta's stuff just to name a couple...)and how they can be used to amplify voices of the underserved, spur community participation, and help facilitate social change.

its nice to have little epiphanies like that, discover where something came from...now, i feel like that can serve as a reference point in charting my path in the next 10 years.


coming to terms

5 years ago, we bought a domain name and hosting and have been paying for it ever since. we never actually finished designing the website, therefore never uploaded it. last month was the first time we admitted to ourselves that it was time to let it go if we werent going to put anything up. this is in part a challenge to myself to see if i can cultivate a habit of interacting in a digital media on a regular basis, chronicle my thoughts and possibly get feedback...maybe, I haven't decided if I'm interested in that. hopefully i will build up to actually doing the website...but this is a baby step i guess.


the journey of a 1000 miles begins begins with this first step...