Sunday, September 30, 2007

thoughts on readings

Street Science

The mappings of the Toxic Avengers are interesting in their galvanizing power and ability to deploy community and action at what I see as a visceral level of mapping. The “identity forming” devices employed in the selection of emotive iconography and imagery gives a baseline understanding of the issues at hand and makes for a powerful enabling of it’s stakeholders, regardless of milieu.

Particularly interesting, and more macroscopic, is the notion that as citizenry we are able to acquire, and leverage, professional tools in order to “reframe and reorient definitions of “problems”” (pg 199), which seems like the expected result of technology’s continual evolution, and therefore lowering of the bar for entry. At the same time, I’m not sure that without GIS the Watchperson Project wouldn’t have been able to visualize the same maps, albeit perhaps not as quickly (one of the thoughts I have been grappling with since the beginning, since we are trying to use GIS in a way that somehow allows us to do something we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise).

What appeared to be an eventual stonewalling by the City and EPA that even the federal government couldn’t overcome was disheartening after the amount of effort expended. That calls to mind what Tim said at last Wednesday’s crit about selling these social projects to those with money or power. Although, I’m not sure how that would’ve worked in this case, as compared to the unaccepted streets.

Else/Where Mapping

The notion of car navigation systems being embedded with a “historical patina” is intriguing similarly to the way web sites like serve as a palimpsest of personalized user annotations of an urban fabric, although that example is not satisfying enough. Antenna seems to have grander visions of it as the construct for a vehicular “space of going”, particularly when Sigi Moeslinger says “…we could make driving itself a destination” (pg 111). It seems to have the makings of a lazy man’s urban “walk”, but certainly a step up for the suburbanite.

Secret key but not secret anymore

In the early age of internet society, information we can get from internet world was objective untouchable contents. Somebody made it and other people accepted it. Now, the contents are interconnected flexible one that people can massage with their participation. Projecting their opinion and data they get into the computer interface is not unfamiliar acting anymore. At some point, this would be the reason making internet information less legitimated and more vulnerable and ephemeral. This tendency was same as the early and current mass media at certain level even though the individual power cannot be compared with media’s entire legacy. I assume mapping might be same. GIS was a professional specific technology of geographic field but now we are using it, trying to culminate its meaning toward valuable directions and visualizing its data into the real world. In recent future, people might be able to make their own maps about tremendous level of information because visualizing information and displaying it is people’s basic desire at some point. ‘Watch person project’ would not be only one housed by community organization down the road. Responsive map is also possible. Then, credibility of maps can be a crucial issue. However, before worrying about its dangerousness, I would imagine its potentials.
In a sense, displayed data, maps of spaces would definitely become catalysts for new storytelling, planning and argument about city like Peter Hall mentioned. So, in my premature opinion, mapping might be a secret key to narrow down the gap between physical and nonphysical human environment so connect real and internet world but, which will be common sense someday.

mapping as street science

map is information, however, it also has the power.
with our own view, we could generate different maps as we did using diverse database
and it could appeal to others to act for the city
also if map exclude some information, we couldn't know what happens beyond that.
it is more like contemporary techno society.
who gets the information has the power and could control the space.
however, when we see the situation like pollution and trash map, we couldn't hide tingle experience that we could change the power using the established map-system

also as we see else/where, maps are becoming the live-commuication method.
before the technology time- map is just paper printed inact information.
however, through GPS, we could access live, and active informtion time by time
eventhough, we are not sure how it relates to space or architecure yet. However, through this machine, people could react and respond the information of space, and they could change the atomosphere temporalily.

even though it's alittle bit afraid who could know how to control this method and try to dominate the space. however, it is also interesting to me how people react against the system and systemized device and map

Postmodern Tom Sawyer

Just for fun, the animated (re)presentation of our walk:

Social Mapping


Once we can bring the potential of GIS past the use of trained specialists, maps have a huge potential for allowing people to compare perspectives and make differently informed decisions.

I can imagine that in the future, I pull up my PDA with a map of the Mission, I ask the computer to display all nodes of information from postings of people ages 21-29, posted between 9pm and 3am, and only nodes about clubs in a 3 block radius from where I’m standing. Based on the experiences and perspectives that have been posted, I “know” that what I read will lead me to where I want to go.

It seems obvious that using this type of new information is based mainly on the trust that the user has with what he is reading. But, if millions of people are posting, how long can he trust the map?

Billions of things are posted on the internet, and I know that I probably won’t find validity in 99% of them. How do I know what I am reading wasn’t written by someone “crazy”? (Be that crazy: conservative, liberal, vegan, racist, "tree-hugger", obviously it’s all my own personal opinion). Also, what about the people that post things that are just plain false or fake?

Seemingly, once it reaches mainstream, social mapping could be doomed to fail. How could I possibly sort through the millions of nodes of mediocrity to find what is relevant, important and therefore trustworthy to me?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Subversive Architecture?

I agree that it was good to hear the different views on the work we have been doing, but I do not think there was a clear assessment of our efforts, and that there were some contrasting readings and ideologies about how to move forward. I understand what was being said about "intentionally marginalized" architecture, and that it probably does not make a difference. However, I don't think the architecture necessarily needs to be intentionally marginalized to embrace the margins, or the "space of resistance".

In reflecting on her introduction to "Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center", bell hooks writes that “Though incomplete, I was working in these statements to identify marginality as much more than a site of deprivation. In fact I was saying just the opposite: that it is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance… I was not speaking of a marginality one wishes to lose, to give up, or surrender as part of moving into the center, but rather as a site one stays in, clings to even, because it nourishes one’s capacity to resist. It offers the possibility of radical perspectives from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds.”

Also on the space of resistance, in terms of nomadism:

“Life of sedentary or settled peoples is mostly controlled by state apparati, codified and written laws, and is dictated by resources which they transform and use. In nomadic thought, all human settlement, related to availability of resources, is only temporary.”

“Nomads reject the formation of state because it curtails their freedom of movement; besides, the formation of the state has never been able to fulfill its promises. Nomads have thus developed a way of life, and an aesthetic attitude, which defy and critique both the settlement and art inspired by the state.”

“In nomadic thought, everything is subject to aging. There is nothing timeless or enduring about beauty or aesthetics. It is, therefore, best to characterize the notion of aesthetics as transient or traveling.”

-Teshome H. Gabriel

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

unaccepted street code

official code from DPW on unaccepted streets:

not worried

I thought the jury discussion today was great. They questioned a lot of assumptions we have been making and it all really provides us with a good step back from the work. Now thinking about the unaccepted streets, I suddenly feel that we needn't think of them as purely physical sites. Maybe I've been slow to get this, but it all seems so clear now, this gap between administration and operation that Nicholas has been talking about. As we think of who our 'client' is, our public audience, it clarifies how we may frame these sites. If the client is the city, we must question them not just as geographic fragments but as administrative, bureaucratic fragments. This is an opportunity to plumb the depths of the capitalist system and find action/reaction to that system by a means that is not marginal. We are to take the very system that generates and 'administrates' unaccepted streets and turn it into a productive system for discovering possible future uses.

Monday, September 24, 2007


The initial thesis identified two topographies of analysis, which was revised up to three or more (an infinite number technically). These roughly corresponded to categories of use, but were modified as they overlapped and intersected with formal and informal topographies. Further, several classifications of unaccepted streets were identified, which can now be roughly summarized as: edges, crossings, topographic anomalies, scar tissue, intersectional voids, valleys, and what appear to be ordinary streets. All of these classifications overlap with the previously defined topographies of both terrain and use, creating a complex mosaic of typology that can only be read through simultaneous investigation of mappings and the experience of the walk (talk).

The second walk(talk) has revealed that the existence of these layers (overlaps and intersections) can be read simultaneously through the experience of the city. It has also revealed an additional component, that of the event. The horizontal and vertical layering of events and space are exposed in various spaces, and these spaces in particular have begun to define our analysis. We will use the mapping and categorization of unaccepted typology as our system of way finding, and then systematically dissect each space to explain how it relates to other adjacent layers. With any luck we’ll get something good out of it. Go Bears.

on our walk:

so we actually found a banana peel....

Nick and Cindy's thesis r3

A map of park spaces in San Francisco reveals an archipelago of ostensibly open space scattered throughout the city, concentrated in the large islands to the west. To the southeast, the open space and city fabric appears highly irregular and largely devoid of the great parks shared by the rest of the city and is replaced instead with a high concentration of the land use category known as "public works" and a disproportionate number of vacant lots. Still, this landscape is inhabited and must serve its denizens with an amenity of "open space", which a totalizing view of the city is unable to characterize.

We are challenging the accepted definitions of open space, probing through the boundaries of these leftover spaces to discover the nature of their use. Who are the users of these spaces, and by a similar token what sort of plant life emerges from a landscape of survival of the fittest, where no hedge clipper presides? Through our experience of walking, we hope to bring a relief to the flatness of the unknown space, writing a new topography of bound and boundless.

Traveling through these spaces is like tunneling beneath the earth, leaving the city of light and streets with names and manicured trees for a wooly wilderness where literally you see the city from underneath (often looking up at a freeway overpass). Yet ironically from inside of these thick spaces, views of the city open up, and new perspectives are achieved. The landscape is opened up by paths of desire which are the spaces of going. The thresholds into these spaces, often a hole ripped through chain-link fence, are pinpoints of transition from one world to another, a singularity which may orient the nomad as she/he travels through.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Between the settled space and the nomadic space, a thesis

The city is not a static, built object. Over-simplified, it is a relationship of the settled space (buildings) and the nomadic space (streets) that together create the urban system.

Although we inhabit this architecture that we have created, we do not do so statically. Humans are still roaming beings, with our territories in continuous transformation. An analysis of census data over ten years shows the very nomadic quality that lies within this urban system of buildings and streets.

Once we become aware of this nomadic quality, we must acknowledge that the urban system is more than just solid and void; places of exchange exist between these two extremes. It is within these grey areas that we can discover the visual evidence of our nomadism.

Just as the Paleolithic man who roamed the earth, we still use menhirs to orient space and claim and define territories within the solids and voids of the city. In these grey areas (between private and public, street and building), graffiti and murals become our menhirs. Through walking and experiencing these spaces of exchange within the urban system, one can begin to understand the intricate system that attempts to symbolically construct our landscape as we continue to roam.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Edwin and Chris thesis

Panopticonically Known: San Francisco topography, locations of resevoirs, lakes, ocean, bay, water infrastructure, and streets, both accepted and unaccepted

Uknown: evidence of other forms of water

A planimetric view of San Francisco presents a geographically dynamic field composed of various water systems and topography. Evidence of water is an impetus for an encounter with these knowns.

Through the mapping of a recursively systematic walk we intend to decipher local phenomena that might reveal itself in relation to water. Of particular interest are other forms of water whose confluence create atmospheric qualities visible only through the construction of a space of going. A mapping of water at multiple temporal scales would reveal a contemporary texturology specific to San Francisco, leading to a projection 50 years into the future.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jungmi and Christian walk thesis

(post-walk, but only minimally post-rationalized)

San Francisco is a topographically varying city, and it is in the
negotiation of that topography that it is exposed as a city of
section. Our walk intended to find a particular category of public
lands, those categorized as "slope protection," for we presumed that
we would find a topographic condition of interest. What we
discovered was that the "slope protection" often meant nothing more
than an exposed slope, rather than some engineering response. We
expected to find other slope conditions that we had not encountered
in maps, and did find them: stairs, ramps, sloped concrete, sloped
earth, retaining walls (some of which were used for murals), and
shear (situations where a sidewalk or property occurs at or creates a
sectional difference--a mini-cliff)...all of which revealed an
underutilized portion of SF real estate. Our hope was to see the
possibility of an urban playscape in that slopescape and slipscape.
These vertical expressions of the earth beg to be enjoyed and

nick and cind'y revising theis

based on previous critic
we will find more systemical way to search and to present

what we are interested about the boundary moves to path
desirable way and unmarked way on the streets are also related with boundary
also we would like to think how people walk the space if it doesn't have boundry, or how people try to get in if the space has boundary

only taking the pictue with certain height and certain angle will help us to make
systemical way
also will record more speed record to create the data to represnt the map

so map are going to be about desirable path, ediable sf and speed of space

Monday, September 17, 2007

"great" maps

After an hour of fruitless internet searching for "great" maps, I found one good resourch and was tipped off to another:
I've had fun searching through the Texas maps (bigger is better):

Also (click on projects):

Space of going /me of going

Sense of place, the notion that architecture is started in the space of staying might be a huge principle that many architects still believe. However, as we stare at the nomadism, the world becomes more complicate and rich with the different dimension. It’s time by journey. It is not the time while a girl is looking at the clock and feeling the time goes, but the time while a girl cannot feel the time is going when she is walking. It is because the sense of time in the normadism cannot be detached form the sense of place as the pure time itself. So, I agree with that different use of space is also different use of time.

As a body experiences a continuous time line, we can say the time line is same when we move around. But as a body experience different space, we can also say the time is different when we are in the difference place because human sense is mostly affected by the sense of place than sense of time itself.
Liquid space, ephemeral accident which is only existed till others erase it, might be highly dependent on time as a strict system but, at the view of nomads, the system might not be crucial component. To them, important thing is the change of time mode or place in their time line not the time system inside the space they pass by.

Actual concept of nomadism couldn’t be realized in the architectural world because it has the sense beyond five sense. It involves shift of sense not the sixth sense for now.
Extra value we could get while we were struggling with nomadism is the tool we can read the space which is full of nomadic components. We got many ways include artistic, emotional or indivisual ways to express flow, energy, entropy and power. One thing I feel thirsty is the scientific ways to record its movement.

From the menhir as the first staying agianst nomadic life to the situationalist’ proposal going back to nomadism, we had quiet long walking in terms of cognition system in the architectural view. We are already ready to see the invisible but we don’t have many apparatus to see it yet.

Different use of space also different use of time.

Some Thoughts on a Revised Thesis

Upon closer, ground level inspection, the 9ZeroZero thesis is born out / holds true and is simultaneously differentiated into various singular and plural readings. First, the identified topographies must be seen as more of a topology, or perhaps more accurately a contrast between point set topology and point-less topology. Point set in that it can be seen as the analysis of spatial concepts such as compactness, connectedness, and countability, and pointless in that it studies these lattices without consideration for points. A veritable mobius strip (two sides of the same coin) instead of opposing topographies (of which we should have noted three, possibly four originally, not two).

However continuous the pointless strip is, it still has distinct transitions. These transitions, formerly topographies, are the distinctions previously mentioned and should still remain identified as geometric and anthropological, nomadic and settled, smooth and striated; but these are not in opposition, they intersect, overlap and integrate. This should inform a map of absolute unintelligible lines, but we give it order. Such is our disposition.

In addition to the 3 transitional spatial systems a second order of classification is revealed, the organization and categorization of unaccepted streets. This categorization can be broken down into categories of the bridge, the void, the unbuildable, and the ‘to be built’. A third observed system is that of the activity that orders these spaces. It has been identified by the presence of people and trash cans. This system is temporal in nature and therefore demands further investigation. It is most relevant to moving forward into a more 'atmospheric' realm, and to dealing with the matter that surrounds such atmosphere.

Now, only 72 more pages of Careri.

Nick on Careri

A corrupt arcmap program (thank you Murphy's Law) gives me extra time to respond to Careri. Here goes:

The eternal nomad--are we not all nomads, moving about pastures varying in size and complexity? I feel affinity for the Jews (possibly because I am also married to one...) who according to Chatwin (p. 34) have "moral ambiguities" about settlement. Their history is one of homelessness, whose roots are embedded in time, not space. All Jewish holidays are rituals of time and repetition; the Sader itself is a re:enactment of the flight from Egypt. Sukkot is a holiday with precedent similar to the Passover, but instead of the ritual dinner, one builds a temporary structure, the sukkah, in which to eat meals and entertain guests and sleep in for one day. If we consider life as only that of immediate experience, the here and now, then do we not build symbolic sukkahs at every instant, a space which is made and destroyed at the turn of our gaze?

Thus we are all nomads, inhabiting a desert world where we must search for objects which do endure the eroding forces of time. And this is key for me as I read Careri: where do the orienting devices, the menhirs, come from, and more importantly, what makes them stay? In terms of Constant's New Babylon, what gives form to the collective roof of the gypsy camp, when all elements beneath are ephemeral and interchangeable? What holds a city together, and at an even more basic level, what makes a place what it is and how do we respond to it given the premise that every signifier is shifting, eluding a cohesive, static signified object?

Careri posits that the menhirs were erected to "stabilize the vertical dimension" (p. 50), the sun being an object with a shifting arc, revealing the nature of time yet confounding the two-dimensional plane bound by the horizon. The sun is rationalized by a vertical object which may trace the passage of the sun by its shadow. Moreover, a complex territory may be rationalized by the menhir as a "lettered stone", inscribed by "symoblic figures, elements with which to write on the territory, signals with which to describe the territory" (p. 52).

We are no longer permitted to make "lettered stones" as such; our markings are too numerous to convey in an analog format, our perceptions of territory too diverse to symbolize in a singularity. A building set in the ground is inherently flawed by Careri's walkscape; the nomad wants to pick up the building and carry them with him. And yet, the nomad wants the building as a solid entity, to mark the passage of time so he has a place to return to, a way not to become ka, the eternal wanderer.

The grass lifts up from beneath the tread of a now ghostly Richard Long footstep, returning to its original position, leaving no trace, no identity. Or does it?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

when downloading waypoints

before you can download your waypoints make sure to download the USB drivers from otherwise DNR Garmin won't recognize the USB port...too bad it took me an hour to figure that out

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nick and Cindy's thesis

I realize I am now posting this post-walking, but I will try to be fair and post what our original "clue" was on the city prior to sleuthing:

We are automatons in an unfamiliar cityscape, "rovers" sent from the red planet to discover the order of this green land. This is our directive from the totalizing eye, the solar god, the voyeur from on high who wishes to know all.

Given the city as a an ecosystem, and human inhabitants as its protagonists/antagonists, what is the nature of their interaction with the ecosystem, specifically the connective, collective tissue that is moderated by the city's governing body: public land? The question is simplified by acquiring a binary data set: boundary or no boundary. Where we are able to walk and 'trespass' upon their open land, we move quickly. Where we see open space, but cannot access it, we walk slowly, and we inspect closely the barrier which denies our access. We ask questions with our rasterizing devices, to let loose our hound-dog pixels to carve out the qualities of the barrier's thickness or thinness, vegetated or dead surface, transparency or opacity. In this way we might glean some understanding of how these earthlings live about their collectively owned spaces.

the walking thesis

The aggregation and flattening of demographic data in the census is problematic when thinking about its spatial implications. This flatness encourages a one dimensional overgeneralization that can only be overcome by walking. By traversing the in between of demographic extremes we can record the spatial evidence of these differences in the third dimension.

Friday, September 14, 2007

9_Zero_Zero: Walk Thesis Version 1 (MB / SY)

In the mapping of San Francisco multiple topographic systems have become apparent, but two particular landscapes epitomize the character of the city. These systems are separated by various organizational specifics, including geometric and anthropological, nomadic and settled, smooth and striated. The derive / diction will evolve out of this initial understanding and into the exploration of geologic sediments through temporal analysis. Additionally, irregular conditions revealed through mapping present a thread that will be followed loosely (not without deambulation, of course). A systematic documentation of the irregularities, as well as observations of the manipulation of spatial organization (by us and the lines drawn by others) will define the walk / talk.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tufte on mapping, online

This particular thread on Edward Tufte's discussion board relates to the london underground map; but it links further to many differentdiscussions on map graphics.

modern menhirs

There's some tasy meat in this reading. Some of it answered my previous questions (on nomads, anti-art/architecture, aesthetic practice).

The difference between roaming/wandering and nomadism (p48) helps give purpose to mapping. Our maps make nomad-ing in the city possible. Without our maps, we would be wandering, but perhaps not quite lost. The possibility of getting lost with maps in hand must exist. That deambulation might allow one to slip into an altered consciousness, which then means receptivity to the field and what it offers outside of our preconceived, premapped pre-dilections. In a city where we are comfortable with nomadism, it is not the straight roads and thoroughfares by which we orient ourselves; it is the events or menhirs that--like a lighthouse--guide without being a target, and provide just enough orientation or visibility.

What would the modern menhir be? Is Ian Ritchie on the right track? Just enough monument?

What is architecture in this psychogeographic environment? "The simplest means of articulating time and space, of modulating reality, of engendering dreams. It is a matter not only of plastic articulation and modulation expressing an ephemeral beauty, but of a modulation producing influences in accordance with the eternal spectrum of human desires and the progress in realizing them." (p97, Chtcheglov) What's on the eternal spectrum of human desires? (Coffee, wine, not-work, play...? and if you're not a Situationist?)

Today in Greig Crysler's theory class, the question was raised of how the Situationists funded their merry "aversion for work" (106) and "wander[ing] from cafe to cafe" (109). Good question (though Berreby says they made due with very little money [109]...must have been before the price-adjusted Parisian $6 cappuccino [not that I would know]). The equivalent today might be paying $300 to go to Burning Man, or maybe $3000[0] to go to grad school. Nomading should be free, but there's a history of sophistication and headiness about this process of losing oneself and discovering something else. Take for example Rosalind Krauss' diagrams of sculpture in the expanded field (131). We publish concerted efforts at making a modern-day cave painting (a diagram attempting to resolve sculpture, architecture, landscape and what is non/not those things). Instead of pictograms on cave walls, it's dotted lines between words on paper. It's polished austentitic stainless steel erected in a day instead of 300-ton menhirs erected by 3,000 people. Put on your rose-colored glasses; we're heading for Passaic. Ah...look where I've wandered....alienation of the academic class! (Don't read into this. I kid. Really. Because I can. It's serious play. (I was going to insert a child psychology reference, but but this is more up an architect's alley: )

"We all agree then, that a grand adventure is at hand." (Careri 83)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Confluence, Confusion, or Catastrophe

This is the colloquium on California water that I mentioned in studio today. The lecture will be tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5:30 in Wurster 112. Water dudes, and you know who you are, I hope to see you there.

John Cain
Director, Restoration Programs, Natural Heritage Institute

"Confluence, Confusion, or Catastrophe: Prospects for Ending the Delta
Abstract: The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta - the source water for more
than 20 million people and habitat for several endangered species- is
the geographic center of a decades long-debate on how best to share
water between northern and southern California. For years, the Delta
debate has deadlocked on the amount of water the state and federal water
projects divert out of the Bay-Delta ecosystem, but recent reports and
crises have refocused the debate on a larger set of issues including
levee fragility, climate change, flood plain development, upstream
diversions, and new strategies for diverting water out of the Delta.
Dividing up the Delta's water is only part of the problem. Delta
stakeholders now realize they must also figure out how to restore
habitats, sustain fragile levees, protect farmland, and clean-up
polluted run-off. The Governor has convened several forums including
Delta Vision and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to develop a
comprehensive plan for the Delta. Although promising, these efforts must
first overcome the scientific uncertainty, interest group intransigence,
and lack of political leadership that doomed previous efforts. John Cain
will describe the new and newly recycled proposals for re-plumbing and
restoring the Bay-Delta watershed that have emerged from these forums,
and discuss the enormous political, technical, and economic challenges
toward breaking the stalemate that has characterized the Delta debate
for the last two decades.
If the link below doesn't work for the NYTimes article, click HERE

walking is talking

Somewhere in my last post, I wrote "Walk, don't talk." De Certeau corrected me. Walking is talking. His "pedestrian speech acts" section captures the potential of something that other disciplines seem to have realized (perhaps later in time): appropriation. By walking, one "appropriates the topographical system" and performs an act of enunciation. Choosing a path is a statement. Walking is rhetorical and emotive in ways similar to language.

Tourner un parcours
What would de Certeau think of the fairly recent (and French-founded) art of parcour? Maybe he spawned it.

Graphical statistics can communicate vast quantities of data, but it isn't until one has appropriated the space of the map that the field takes form. Then the field becomes relational, the senses become engaged, and the mind and body must perform fundamental tasks.

We encounter a similar situation in "making" architecture. While we must be able to appropriate a field with language, we must also at some point act/react/do/see/make in order to find or produce hotspots. Surrender to context and impulse in order to find and create the art and order by which we construct the image or understanding of our personal and collective input-output transform.

"The Art of Mapping on the Run" - NYTimes

From Sunday's week in review

CCA event next week

A History of the Zwischenstadt
(with photographs by Shawn Records)

Thursday evening, September 20, 2007, 7:00 pm

California College of the Arts
1111 8th Street
San Francisco
Free admission

Taking Beaverton Oregon, as a point of departure, this lecture investigates the new shapes and logic of what we have called "cities." The home of Nike and Linux, Beaverton is a nebulous sprawl — larger, more diverse, and more densely populated than Portland, the city of which it is at least nominally a suburb. Whereas most urban theorists identify the centerless cities of the American West as a recent phenomena, this lecture finds parallels between the "zwischenstadt" or "in-between city" of today and the spatial organization in an earlier iteration of American settlement: namely, the extensive trade and transportation routes established by Native Americans and Euro-American trade partners prior to the urbanization of the West.

The lecture asks whether the history of North American settlement can help us find the logic and the beauty of the zwischenstadt. It suggests that beauty is an essential resource to compel our full and wise use of an environment. The lecture argues that the widespread dismissals of "sprawl" as ugly or irrational rest in nostalgia for the concentric city and that we can no longer locate urbanity in the center, nor declare its absence from the periphery. Instead, urbanity permeates the whole.

The photographs of Shawn Records ( ) investigate the features of this transitory, nearly invisible landscape. Not made to be looked at, the zwischenstadt is nonetheless the site of moments of incongruous and quiet beauty. The subtle atmospherics of Records' photographs suggest that the "in-between city" is itself composed of in-between spaces — roads leading to nowhere, abbreviated forests, paved expanses.

Matthew Stadler is a writer whose books include Allan Stein, The Sex Offender, and Landscape: Memory (all novels). His writing on cities has been published in The Architectural Bulletin of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Domus, Wiederhall, The Stranger, The Oregonian, and elsewhere.


I have seen the 12th cent. map of China before, though I'm sure I was more amazed by the fact that someone could walk in so many parallel lines and not mess up. What is most interesting about this map is contradictory to Tufte's rule #2 (induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than the methodology). In this map we understand the scale of the human being who measured the map, as it is titled "Map of the Tracks of Yu the Great". It is the tracks that become the dominant plotting, and the recording of coastline and rivers subordinate. Why is that interesting? We can imagine him walking across the landscape in a rational pattern over an organic landscape, the physical acting-out of a rational projection.

Now I'm not advocating we just go breaking the rules, as much fun as that is. We should be most concerned with making the map content as clear and unobstructed by digital tracks. Yet we will be walking as well, and perhaps we should be emulating a rational pattern in our tracks as we try to understand a chaotic, irrational landscape of forgotten futures.

Well my landuse/open space buffer clip operation, which takes over 10 minutes to calculate, just failed for the fourth consecutive time. The night is young...

walking in the city_cindy moon

I love walking in the city. As the article said, I could feel city or I am changing in very seconds through my step. Even though many people are walking in the city, people became the unidentified objects. And city is communicating with each of the object to change its text. In this sense, I really liked this article in spite of its difficulty.
This article is talking about the transformation of the concept of city. Regulated and systemized urban organization could have a crack from the movement of people’s walking. And this fragment create the another appearance of city and makes the city identify itself differently.
also moment experience by walking is quite unique.unidentified people share the street at the same time and appropriate the city for a moment. even though I don't know how it relates with rehetoric concept. however physical walking activity affects to out psychological experience and also affect to other unknown peoples's.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The advancing geoweb

From this week's Economist


Within my own mapping, I feel that I have reached the point that is comparable to Tufte’s data maps showing cancer. Sure, I have some data that will give the viewer an insight to what interesting thing is going on, but I am still searching for the next level: I am missing that “umph” of data that when combined with my “interesting data” will seek a causation, explanation, or correlation to what I have mapped. If Tufte had mapped the concentrations of the chemical industry over his stomach cancer data, the new data would start to bring an elevation in significance and a new level of understanding to the graphic; reminiscent of Gilbert’s Cholera map.

Mapping Baghdad

With maps on the brain, i found this to be very informative/interesting...


Language for gestures

Honestly, I cannot understand what he talk about comparison of pedestrian process to linguistic formation. Reading twice was not working at all at my language level.
Things I can catch are comments about relationship of street and walking. He mentions us as a voyeur and walker. All we, not only planners but also dwellers, could be both voyeur and walker. Now, we have many tools to look down city where we live not just when we are on the 42 floor of sky scraper. Looking at or zooming in and out the city, for instance, searching places and directions is almost everyday life. Then, the poem of the ordinary place where we practiced as a walker becomes legend at some point. I fully agree with walking is the process of appropriation of the topographical system on the part of the pedestrian. And, if it does, a bold idea coming in mind is every level of city we can walk makes us possible to experience various cities which might be literally different cities just linked with memories.

Also, I totally agree with urbanists and architects have looked at the city in the level of ‘the drifting of “figurative language”.’ I think it’s because we didn’t have language to defining the city as ‘forests of gestures’ and ‘wandering of the semantic.’ We are not familiar with the language for describing movement. For photographers, motion was substance they can catch in moment but for architects, motion was just motion which is difficult to be visualized. Some architect tried to involve it, but most of them were crystallized one.

If people’s motion and their waste product can liberated space - ‘linking acts and footsteps, opening meaning and directions become liberated spaces that can be occupied.’p105-, what would be a software for architect of those liberated spaces other than act of walking? I know this is our assignment but I am still in nebulousness even though I really want to find the ways.
Mapping might be the demonstratives he mentioned, a tool indicating the invisible identities of the visible. Recently, I deeply feel meaningful mapping containing motion and cognition matter, requires both high intelligence as a detective and sensibility as a rover of the city. It looks like meandering between the role of geographer, sementicist and photographer.

Graphical Excellence includes veracity of data

‘Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production, or something else.’ is clear and helpful direction to me because I think I confused the potentials of mapping as a data and design material.
Like the case of the cancer map, it’s easy to have crucial flaw- ‘wrongly equating the visual importance of each county with its geographic area rather than with the number of people living in the county’- in the graphic presentation. Map authors would struggle with the paradox of powerful visual effect and veracity of data sometimes.

‘An ill-specific or preposterous model or a puny data set cannot be rescued by a graphic.’-p15 Importance thing in the process of mapping might be building up authentic theory without a premature scenario.

Conventional Wisdom vs. Careri?

Matt wrote that these voids often contain the darker side of the urban condition. I agree that conventional wisdom and my own personal “bias” tell me that within these systems of urban voids, we will more often find crime and depravity than not. However, I am under the impression that Careri has a much more optimistic feeling about these voids and how they represent us as a civilization in our unconscious, multiple becoming.

Conventional wisdom and personal bias versus Careri: I guess we can’t figure out who is more right unless we set out to discover it ourselves! Hopefully we will find a “lightness” rather than a darkness when we wander in these places beyond surveillance, control, and full of spontaneity and freedom.


I found Careri’s description of the new “barbarians” humorous and relatable: Those diffuse settlers who live outside of the most elementary civil and urban laws, because they exist only in their homes, their offices, their cars and occasionally the shopping mall. These are the barbarians that obliviously stand to the left on the escalator, stop in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, and stop at red lights only when they have completely blocked the crosswalk. Savages!!

the inverted panopticon

De Certeau begins with asking 'what is the thrill of experiencing the "totalizing eye"?': a privileged view of a cityscape that is itself a representation, a fiction of the real thing. (I think of our view of San Francisco from the 8th floor of Wurster--more clearly a fiction by all the fog that obscures it, a view that is different every time I see it). He declares the panopticon as fallacy, unable to see beneath the layer of the simulacrum, where the real identit(ies) of the city are played out. He then proceeds to unpack the semantics of walking, philosophizing upon what was laid out so poetically by Careri. He digs all the way back to the origin of our separation from the "maternal object", and thus the initiation of ability to observe as a completely detached point occupying no space (since as a child we still identify ourselves with the mother). Let's leave Freud behind and talk about what this means for our ambulatory investigations.

Our challenge, and I think it is a significant one, is to elevate ourselves from the realm of "urban practitioners", loosely defined by de Certeau as people who "write but do not read" the fabric of the city. We wish to elevate because we want not only the view but a glimpse of the governing order, to see the tropisms that make people move. The risk is that if we separate ourselves too far from the thickness of experience, the localizing forces that de Certeau argues are the actual space producing agents of the City will disappear. We risk becoming too much like the planner or cartographer who is concerned with norms and the homogeneous. It's our job to uncover Corner's "latent possibilities", and so how do we find them?

A walker generates possibilities, finds unseen shortcuts and writes space where none existed before (if you define space not as a totality but rather as an amalgam of everyone's perception of it). I agree with de Certeau here, and I think it is our object in this class, that by walking we can explore "unlimited diversity", question certainties, and trespass upon laws. The walker "defies the graphic trail", a trail which only represents the absence of something having passed by. This begs the question, what can the planner really know about the "practitioners" in a traffic diagram? By extension, what does the architect know about the occupant around which she fixes walls to make a space, placing windows here or doors there? That space is itself a myth, and only becomes real by the walker, in the present, who creates the space by moving across it. This is like Careri's 'territory of going', in which the citizen never 'enters' the city but only occupies a transitory space that occupies its voids.

While these ideas are fancy and inspiring, I still feel a little paralyzed about where the designer may begin. If we become ourselves the "walkers", we may see clearly for ourselves what latent possibilities exist for a site, drawing our own subjective relationships to the city, and we end up with a highly unique (and stylized?) concretization of an individual, highly localized truth. And we know too well the other, polar alternative. So what is the in-between plan of action, how shall we take our maps and our observations that we will get on the ground into an idea about building space?

p.s. I loved the metaphor of a worn coin to a place-name, that its value is lost but its ability to signify meanings far beyond its original intention persists. Perhaps there is some meat in there to satisfy my question...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

On Top of It All (Certau)

Within the supposed form of proper meaning delineated by architects and urbanists, the act of distinguishing self by distinguishing that there are no distinctions is found. However, this may be a pretense, in that their mostly panoptic considerations of urban manipulation are almost always not misrepresentative of an attempt to explain or justify totalitarian control.

Furthermore, synecdoche and asyndeton explain that the running of a thousand shoes might impact the urban walkspace, but without linkages. But is this fragmented theory of representation the fundamental center of Walking in the City, or, for that matter, walking in the city? No. This is because these two phenomenons are in opposition, thinning and thickening simultaneously. Therefore they cannot form a coherent thesis together.

Therefore I posit that Certau suggests that opposing signifiers turn the city into a desert which is simultaneously disorienting and spelling out significations. The walkers follow these, even though in the end they are devoid of meaning. This is because functionalist totalitarianism attacks superstitions, exterminating any special places. Walking is the substitute for these legends (read as a widely distributed untruth, not a signifier).

In the end, the salvageable comprehension of the literary conflation of word and page is only the representation of a system of walking that comprises a (spatial) system for the city. The panoramic overview is an illusion. It is the trace of walking that becomes the imprint on the map. However, it is and is not permanent. On the one hand to be forgotten on the other leaving an indelible memory, much like the relationship of speech to conversation, where no trace but memory remains. This process can make or break a space based on a decision, but the palimpsest always remains.

Go Bears!

Needs Salt (Tufte)

In dealing with data representation, the Tufte piece makes strong points about mapping methodology and technique. He argues that the data maps are best when they are concise. He supports the idea that the focus should be content, not methodology or technique. His criticisms primarily relate to the lack of normalized data in the maps. In his discussion of the John Snow cholera map, he suggests the importance of discovery, and in the galaxy map discusses the possibilities that have been opened by mapping.

The maps he uses to illustrate his points attempt to display data in an unbiased manner, and Tufte seems to praise the effort. The flaws he identifies deal with statistical or representational inaccuracies. However, as we have discussed (but perhaps not agreed), no map is completely factual or unbiased. I also believe that calling attention to methodology and technique is an interesting way to open up a dataset or map, or statistic for that matter, to alternative interpretations.

BladeRunning (Careri)

Earlier notions of the periphery and collage, such as those defined by Joel Garreau or Colin Rowe, provided well defined characterizations of urban space, even though they broke with the standard definitions of 'urban'. It is interesting that the next step in this evolution is the nomadic space which is defined, or discovered, in various histories by visits, deambulation, drifting, and ‘zonzo’. The nomadic spaces discussed here are most compelling in that they no longer follow rules, and they appear, shift and disappear before they can be defined and cataloged. They are freespace, unconstrained, chaotic. On some level I’m reminded of our discussion last week about Nueromancer and other literature & film within the genre such as Blade Runner.

While these spaces are of great interest to me, I often find myself wondering if these are the type of places that should be celebrated. They often contain (as much as a nomadic space can ‘contain’) the darker side of the urban condition. While we may enjoy that this is the “last place we can feel we are beyond surveillance and control”, it is for this reason that criminal activity and human depravity can be dominant features. Do we embrace this? Try to change it? Could we even if we wanted to? According to Careri ‘nomadism’ is not anti-architecture. But we need to adapt, perhaps moving beyond conventional notions of site, program, and building (see standard thesis prep documentation). We would at least become part-time wanderers. Then there may be a place for us. If not, we could always just start writing about it.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I have talked with a some of you about the color situation, and I was wondering how everyone felt about trying out the black and white scenario as opposed to the CMYK. A few people agreed that it would be an interesting challenge. Votes?

pure CMYK colors

Folks, some of you may have figured out how to get the pure CMYK colors (so that our maps will POP out so much Nicholas will have to run and hide!), but here is how to do it:

When you are selecting a color (for any symbol or whatever, it doesn't matter), choose More Colors..., then there is a little black arrow at the top right. Click on that, and change the sliders to CMYK sliders. Then you can maximize each hue and, this is important, SAVE the color by clicking on the arrow again. Now when you go to choose colors, you will have your new saved colors in the top left.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

keyboard customization in arcmap

Has anyone tried yet to customize gis commands on the keyboard?

If you go to Tools>Customize, then Commands tab, then click on Keyboard..., it gives you the option to add shortcut keys. However, I have only been able to add ctrl + __ and alt + __ commands. It would be nice to have commands as in rhino or cad where you just enter a letter. There is a command line though it doesn't seem to work as easily as in CAD.

happy mapping.

good thoughts on careri so far.

and I meant to post these images last week, saul steinberg's view of the world from ninth avenue and maira kalman's newyorkistan - the latter relevant to the hazards and delights of the neighbourhood designation!


Careri has confused me, so perhaps others can focus on this and clarify it for me. Bear with my forensics.

Just before the section "Toward a new expansion of the field," he describes transurbance/walking as pre-architecture.
In "toward...," he does the following:

-describes walking as an "aesthetic form." I assume that these words are being used as "pleasurable" or "inducing pleasure" and line (or possibly space, but he calls the path an "architectural object"). This sounds good so far. I think I might enjoy walking in splines rather than polylines, but I'd like to walkshare with someone who's more vertexically inclined. (For a digression, check out this diagramming of this idea: )

-Then he writes that the path has "led to the pursuit of the historical foundations of anti-architecture in nomadism." Does that mean that nomadism is anti-architecture? I can understand that. If architecture is the built, and nomads wander, then they have no need for architecture, and might even be anti-architecture....though that doesn't necessarily seem like a logical leap. Just because nomads are pro-wandering doesn't make them anti-architecture. Architecture has tried to learn from nomadism (e.g. Ito's Nomad projects in 1985/1986) and apparently Deleuze discussed the nomad as extra-national or extra-societal around the same time. What's the rest of the background here? And what about "pursuit of historical foundations"?

-Then he mentions Rosalind Krauss and "anti-art."

-Then he mentions "the field" and how landart and architecture both expanded into landscape.

-Then "in this direction we also find the crossing of space, seen not as a manifestation of anti-art but as an aesthetic form that has achieved the status of an autonomous discipline." First of all, what is "this direction"? I haven't read the 1985 compilation "The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture", but Rosalind Krauss' piece is in there, so my next question is: how do anti-aesthetic, aesthetic, and anti-art come together, and what happened between 1985 and 2005 (when Careri's book was published)? Is Careri being post-postmodernist? Post-critical? (Walk, don't talk.)

-Then he writes: "Today architecture could expand into the field of path without encountering the pitfalls of anti-architecture." He seems to use "field" as "discipline" rather than planimetric space. So it was just timing that led to anti-architecture? Did the walkers feel that architecture was poaching before?

-Then "space of encounter" gets used. This is three years after Libeskind's book was published. Mere coincidence?

-"Aesthetic tool" is mentioned once more, and there's a great spelling error in the same line. "Nature" becomes "uatnre." I had to read it a few times, because that misspelling just looked so great and distracted me. I even looked up the misspelling, hoping that it was some new and fantastic word.

-Then he uses "mutations." That implies a lot that I hope is intentional, but there seems to be a looseness to this writing that disturbs me. Are we getting lost in the translation from Spanish to English?

-Finally, he writes that "today, architecture can transform the path from anti-architecture into a resource, expanding the field..." So we're beyond avoiding pitfalls. It's actually time to claim the path.

One last unrelated thing, since I've driven you all mad:
Look at the original castellano for "that global Happy Valley" (p180): "aquella Paperopólis Global".

Buena transurbancia. Hasta mañana.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ambulations on Careri

From one who enjoys exploring the trapezoidal concrete drainage channels (er, rivers) of Southern California and tracing "lost" streams, those channelized or even buried waterways, I found the reading enjoyable and illuminating.

Walking for Careri, like mapping for Corner, is "the first aesthetic act" (p.20). Careri links walking and thus generation of the path to the first human intervention with a landscape, the menhirs. In this way walking is pre-architecture, it is the generation of an idea about a place before any physical intervention occurs. And for us, I hope walking about these unaccepted streets will itself be a generative act, a way to discover natural, intuitive ways about moving across space before we imagine something built.

Walking is action from our creative unconscious. Moreover, the tracings of our ambulations is a background to the foreground of restful spaces, which Careri argues has been too much the focus of urban history. With the expanding periphery of cities, we have now pockets of space within which is fertile ground for walking as a way to explore the under-belly of our metropolis. He is promoting the act of walking to reveal Smithson's "forgotten futures", the tracings of what-could-have-been (though not lamenting the lost potential, but extracting from those vestiges what-might-still-be).

The notion of walking as "simultaneous reading and writing of space" (p.26) draws the most clear connections between walking and mapping. In mapping, as per Corner, we are writing even as we record data; we are participants in the generation of the map, and thus of reality. With walking, we are enacting Smithson's entropy, and creating the badass idea of New Babylon, the nomadic city. When we walk, as when we map, we are recording an irreversible pattern, scattering the black and white sand until it is gray. In a map, our perception of reality is forever altered by its representation of reality.

And here's where the reading became really interesting , when Smithson talks about filming the child in the sandbox (p.12 in the pdf), then playing it in reverse as an attempt to reverse the chaos, but that entropy will eventually consume the film material itself. All simulation will eventually break down, and all that will be left is a forgotten future.

To escape from this paralysis, we have this other notion of transurbance. The creation of voids within city fabric from the rapid expansion of the periphery, which is, while entropic, not actually destructive. "Voids are the protagonist" (p.180), made up of many actors whom we may know as "diffusion dwellers". (I wonder what sort of "diffusion dwellers" we will find on the unaccepted streets--maybe we will become them!)

I think the thing for us to remember when we visit these sites is that empty is not actually empty, that "these urban amnesias are not only waiting to be filled with things, they are living spaces to be filled with meanings". (p.183)

The end of the reading, while quite enjoyable and poetic, breaks down a little bit for me in content. Careri expands a little on the "New Babylon" within the city, voids shifting like desert sands, navigating the seas and all that. It's interesting, and so is the idea about a person never actually "entering" the city but only occupying the "territory of going". However, this is contradictory to the notion of walking as a way of (paradoxically) rooting oneself in a place: finding orientation, contemplating where things have come from and where they are going, and what sort of habitation belongs to a place, which is where Careri begins. In conclusion, a little bit of rest and stableness can be a good thing too.

Back to the Blocks

Like some of the other blog entries, I am interested in how an analysis like this would apply to architects. Other than the map on poverty policy since 1900, the study does not go into detail as to what crimes/policies were influential in the crimes. I feel that one way of arriving at something upon which we can act, at least with regard to social values, is to look map crimes as they relate to specific policies and who they have sent/kept individuals in prison. The upward trend in incarceration rates since 1970 is very compelling, and seems to be the direct result of policy changes. Perhaps at the very core we should be asking ourselves the larger questions about how our milieu shapes our value systems unconsciously and, often times, without our very knowledge. An analysis that somehow places all these variables in relationship with one another may uncover the realities that mapping claims are largely unseen or unimagined. And iff, as Corner says, mapping is to "engender the re-shaping of the worlds in which people live", then we need to be looking at the complex network of forces that shape our predilections, sense of awareness, etc. that manifest themselves in very concrete ways.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


When reading Careri's aim to debunk the notion of an anti-architectural image of nomadism, I am led to think about the itinerant world of the gypsy, whose motions, I feel, constitute a "space of going". Through their ability to "dream dwellings" (Daniel Willis), they are able to make anywhere home. It seems that in order to do this their wanderings would have to have what DeBord calls a psychogeographic awareness, as well as aesthetic act. What's interesting to me is that their walking seems to have both an element of survival, as well as symbolic form. That being said, I do however think there is a fine line between walking as art and one in virtue of your milieu.
I imagine that James Corner would have appreciated the political and policy discussions generated from the compellation of maps in the Million Dollar Block project. While the ensuing policy discussions were probably informative, I am certain that the Spatial Information Design Lab falls short in where they “lay the blame” for the current situation in Brooklyn that they have mapped.

Is it a coincidence that the 4.1 million dollar block (p 13) appears to have been developed as a large-scale housing block?

The group of buildings on the block shown on page 13 is very reminiscent of projects from the 1960s, when city planners decided that they best way to build low-income housing was to create “utopias” where the residents would have modernized conveniences and housing costs proportional to their income, all while conveniently “tucked away” from the rest of the community.

Jane Jacobs was a fervent believer that short blocks, walkable alleys, and the constant presence of people and “eyes on the street” made an area of a city desirable and safe. The “utopian” affordable housing projects lacked all of these and – not surprisingly – became the breeding grounds for crime and drug use.

I’ve provided two links below that describe Sursum Corda, a project in Washington, DC, sure to be a “million dollar block” for the capital. From the map, you can see how the through streets were stopped to preserve the mega-block “utopia” for the project when it was designed in 1967, and not surprisingly, it is one of the most crime-ridden areas of the city, despite it’s central location (only a few blocks from Union Station).

I would put money on the fact that probably a large proportion of the most expensive blocks in this Million Dollar Block project lack a basic infrastructure of buildings that have a direct relationship to the street and alleys and streets that cut through the entire block. Perhaps the Spatial Information Design Lab should not have cast all responsibility back to the policy makers, and instead, acknowledged that it is also the responsibility of today’s urban planners and architects to correct our own design mistakes from the past.


sursum corda map and aerial

article on sursum corda


BTW, the city’s “fix” for Sursum Corda is to completely demolish it, reconnect the road system through the site, and then build anew at a much higher density (The projects new name will be Northwest One). Current residents will be given a percentage of the profits from the sale, as well as $80,000 to either take and leave, or reinvest in a new affordable property within Northwest One, where market-rate one-bedroom apartments will start in the 400’s.

Not My Job

Corner would approve of the Million Dollar Blocks mapping on a few particular levels. It certainly follows the formula that he enumerates in The Agency of Mapping. It takes a field (Brooklyn), analyzes the extracts (criminal data), and generates plottings (the relationship of crime to the location of the criminals, not the incidents). It attempts to “engender the re-shaping of the world we live in” and “uncovers realities previously unseen or unimagined”. This is the concept behind The Agency of Mapping, that data is not neutral, it influences.

On another level, it does not meet all of the thematic practices of drift, layering, game-board and rhizome. But to analyze this too closely might completely miss the point.

More importantly, Corner suggests that designers are “barking up the wrong tree believing that new spatial structure alone would yield new patterns of socialization”. I would think most architects now realize that the burning desire to design buildings as the solution to the world’s problems is an ill conceived idea. The modernists have taught us the pitfalls of faith in architecture and technology as a global panacea. So assuming that the environment needs improving, and that it is still possible for architecture to assist in the process, and that architects are interested in being a part of the solution (many assumptions and a discussion in itself), Million Dollar Blocks / Agency of Mapping could be a step to counter prior errors by looking outside the traditional limitations of architectural practice.

In addition, Corner and others have been investigating so called ‘Landscape Urbanism’, and a movement toward hybrid practice is evident in the work. Landscape Urbanism suggests that information coming from outside the discipline can positively influence architecture. In Terra Fluxus Corner discusses at length the necessity of looking to “capital accumulation, deregulation, globalization, and environmental protection”. A recent Harvard Design Review symposium suggests looking toward “real estate development, flow of populations and activities, construction materials, and time”.

The Million Dollar Blocks piece suggests that the maps “pose difficult ethical and political questions for policy makers and designers”, and “that when linked to other urban, social, and economic indicators of incarceration, they also suggest new strategies for approaching urban design and criminal justice reform together”. This does not suggest that we should take on all of these specialties, but have an understanding of them. It also acknowledges that the map itself is not ultimate solution, but a tool. We may want a mapping project to tell us how to design a building, but perhaps that is what we should bring to the conversation.

Monday, September 3, 2007

what the information is for?

As James corner's article, mapping has so many possibilities. However, in this Million Dollar Blocks, it just showed us the possibilities and doesn’t have any further step.
First of all, the relationship between city structure and criminal activities was interesting. We usually assume there would be something and try to be far away from the prisons and jails. So this mapping process tried to show us through the urban scale diagram activity. However, in my opinion, it just ended as the information.
Anyone can hardly expect what could happen for the next architectural gesture using this mapping. If this mapping stopped in this step, it will be the source for sociology or urban studies not for architecture. I believe architecture is doing for physical things.
As I read the James corner article, I was skeptical that without any efficient evidence, he told mapping could be the basic step of performance. I know mapping is so important to prepare the cooking. However, I think we need to consider how to cook with different and diverse materials and make them harmonious.
I think James corner also want to see the next step of milling dollar blocks. And it could have real meaning for the real output in the city, even though we are not sure every our choice is good.

Purpose of mapping

Corner might think ‘Million dollar block’ developed nice process of ‘field’, ‘extracts’ and ‘plotting’ and operation as well as the topic is also innovational.-“The layers are not mapping of an existing site or context, but of the complexity of the intended programme for the site.- P235: 20.
Yet, I am continuously confusing about the meaning of mapping between finding reality and a tool for creation.

An image as the format of map is definitely having power itself because it looks like representing more accurate information about reality than images and photos. So, I would say mapping is a powerful tool for presentation as well as promotion of architecture and urban planning.
Million dollar block is effective in terms of making issue and showing it to random people. But to me, it is slightly reluctant to accept as information at some point.

Why people are using map? It’s because they believe information on map has objective validity. If it does, how we can use the map as our tool for extending our territory of thought without harming the original pureness of map.
How much can we cook up reality on the white field.

Are we all free from the responsibility mediating reality to people if we want to test and challenge our territory?
Can we say the reason many architects now obsess mapping instead of diagramming is not related with promotional or presentational purpose like Christian mentioned?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Seeing red and real

Like Chris and Beth, I’m not convinced by the Million Dollar Blocks piece, mostly because of its source and its trajectory. It smells like something architects cooked up.

Spatial Information Design Lab: it’s a great name, but is this article any more than pictorial statistics? (If it used to be that statistics could tell any story that you want, is it now true that datamaps can do the same?) Is the real lesson for architects that our spatial and social intelligence will enable us to be the graphic information consultants of the future?

Maybe this is a clever bit of self-promotion. The more architects can co-publish nicely illustrated reports on issues that will require themselves (and/or planners) for new solutions, the less we’ll have to worry about cad monkeying for developers. Someone call the office of eminent domain…we’re going to need some architects to redesign Brownsville after we excise the criminal core of Brooklyn. Or maybe our urban design ambitions should be more ambitious, following the logic that NYC accounts for less than half of NY state’s population, but accounts for roughly 60% of the incarcerated population (1). (Ok, I know the retort: NYC accounts for 65% (2) of the state’s GDP, so we’re covering our criminals even if “million dollar blocks” really are in the red.)

Which brings me to this: if you can’t make it good, make it big, and if you can’t make it big, make it red.

Wow, this New Yorker is off to a great start. Blogging brings out my anonymous best.

And I haven’t even touched on James Corner.

Take 2.

While doing one of the ESRI GIS tutorials, I came across this gem of a line:
“The goal of every GIS user is to represent the world as accurately as possible.”
I think the Spatial Information Design Lab hopes to represent the world accurately, or at least to help policy makers to more accurately understand the information that is already available to them. They did a pretty good job of excavation and extension. Corner might not aim for maps to be used for accurate representation, and might emphasize the abstractive and projective potential of maps. (I think there are a few escape routes in Corner’s piece…after all, if one could really understand what mapping is or could or should do, his piece wouldn’t nearly have the life it’s found.)

It’s on the last page of the Million Dollar Blocks piece that the authors really let on to what’s at stake. They juxtapose the idea of “exostructure” with the more common infrastructure, and suggest that the “Soft Map” is not a statistical analysis, but rather something that is “infinitely scalable, absolutely contingent, and open to vision, and hence, revision.” Maybe the SIDL team has a dog-eared copy of “The Agency of Mapping” kicking around, and they’re in the same boat as Corner, but are they too worried about reality?


of maps and meat

fyi re. our discussion on elizabeth's map!

Image of the City

Map of Boston

Kevin Lynch's Image of the City

Saturday, September 1, 2007

cmd_million dollar blocks

Generally, Corner would be supportive of this mapping, which mines latent extracts from the field to reveal new relationships that may exist through plottings. He would also concur with the sentiment that “There is no such things as raw data,” and that no data collection and mapping (or exclusion) can be neutral or objective.

The plottings generated suggest a discussion about public policy, urban planning and zoning. The key finding, that criminals are more physically concentrated than crime itself, seems plausibly relevant to those fields. It’s less clear to me what the role of the architect would be in interpreting and taking action (operating in Corner’s parlance) with this new information. The planner, policy wonk or geographer would all seem to be respondents. The author acknowledges that the designer is a stakeholder in this, remarking that “The maps pose difficult ethical and political questions for policy makers and designers; they also suggest new strategies for approaching urban design and criminal justice reform together.” It’s unclear what the authors have distilled that would be of use to a designer? Their conclusion -- “The maps are both a picture and a design strategy…build, incrementally, new networks which might inform this crippled urban infrastructure.” (13) – leaves me similarly puzzled. I agree that the mappings have revealed a pertinent yet latent reality. But what precisely is the divined design strategy for the architect or urban designer? And is this a problem which architecture can address?

Of course there is a relationship between physical and social infrastructures, but I wonder if they are being conflated here. How would a designer act differently with knowledge of the maps? Does the morphology of areas with high concentrations of criminals differ significantly from others, which may be even poorer? My sense is that it probably does not; Peabody Terrace uses the same skip-stop organization as Pruitt-Igoe did, to obviously much different ends.

This observation from Corner seems critical: “In addition to geometrical and spatial plotting, taxonomic and genealogical procedures of relating, indexing and naming can often be extremely productive in revealing latent structures. Such techniques may produce insights that have both utility and metaphoricity.” (230) More generally, beyond the Milllion Dollar Block project, is Corner advocating for mapping as a technique to extract knowledge to suggest metaphorical relationships to architectural organizations from the data? Might this address the question (for me) of how data may be aestheticized vis-a-vis architectural form?