Friday, December 21, 2007
Perry Bible Fellowship
Cyanide and Happiness
Monday Night Crew
of Noobs and Men
Street Fighter: The Later Years
What to do in an Emergency
A Simple Apology
Calvin and Hobbes
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Read the article here.
Why this matters: The Wii is so cheap that people like me are able to rock two consoles from this generation. Also, the admittance that they will focus on production until they meet demand means that they are creating a huge hype bubble that will burst on them once people realize that there are only a handful of great Wii games.
Why this doesn't matter at all: The Wii has two built in backup plans for this: the virtual console and GameCube compatibility. I can rock GC and VC games for ages, all the while waiting for great Wii games to release. Right now I am about five or six chapters into Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and loving it. I've got Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Mario World, Super Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Super Metroid, Metroid, and Metroid Prime to beat and I am planning on buying Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and some of the Hitman games for GC. This is enough for me. Plus, I usually can't afford to drop $50-$60 on a new game when it comes out. I usually have to save up first.
Final Analysis: The Wii is the casual gamers console. This business plan will work for casual gamers. It works for me at least.
Monday, December 17, 2007
What am I interested in as far as games go? Anything where the gameplay is fun. I don't like Halo: it's just annoying - there's a room of bad guys, then a hallway, then another room of bad guys ad naseum. (However, the outside levels of the original Halo are fun but too few) I like the original Ghost Recon, all the Gran Turismos, Mario, Zelda, Age of Empires, Metroid Prime, Myst, Knights of the Old Republic, et cetera. I don't really like games that make you save the galaxy, or the planet, or humanity, unless they are fun. That is why I bought a Wii. I thought the Wii would have the fun games.
And I am happy with my purchase. I have had the Wii for about six months now and it is great! I Love Metroid Prime 3, Zelda Twilight Princess, Wii sports, the virtual console, and Gamecube compatibility. The Wii has definitely won the console war up to now. But what about next year? What about 2008?
My prediction is, if the Wii does not get more good games, the PS3 will take over. The XBox 360 is out because the only great game it has exclusively is Mass Effect.
The Wii has had eight: Metroid Prime 3, Zelda Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy, Super Paper Mario, Zack and Wiki, WiiSports, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and Nights: Journey of Dreams. Upcoming is No More Heroes, Mario Cart, and Smash Bros. That is a great past, but a not too bright future. Nobody knows all the games that are going to come out though, and I would bet at least another three great Wii games come out this year besides those listed.
The PS3 has had four great exclusive games: Resistance: Fall of Man, Folklore, Uncharted, and Ratchet and Clank. Heavenly Sword was good but too short. So why will I be buying a PS3? Because of the games that are coming out: GT5, Echochrome, Little Big Planet, and PixelJunk Monsters top the list of my most anticipated exclusives while Metal Gear Solid 4, God of War 3, and Final Fantasy XIII finish the list of exclusives for me but there's also a little game I'll be skipping called GTA IV that people seem to adore.
The PS3 games coming out are much more fun than Smash Bros, or No More Heroes. Watching the trailers for Little Big Planet makes me salivate. Echochrome is astoundingly simple and challenging, GT5 is an obsession of mine, and PixelJunk looks absolutely amazing. This is why the PS3 will win next year. Nobody really cares about delays or how much processor power is present, gamers care about the games. If the games are fun, they will be played, no matter who puts them out on what console. So in the last round of console wars, the PS2 and the XBox won. In this round I predict the Wii and the PS3. And it all comes down to fun.
Friday, December 14, 2007
VTD 344: Done
LARC 383: Done
ARCH 385: Done
FORP 365: Done
ARCH 353: Done
And by done I mean I have finished the assignments, taken the tests, and turned most everything in. Done does not mean the class is over though they will never meet again. This semester was a bank for me. I will be getting stuff out of it forever.
Considering how much Hookah I smoke regularly, and how much more I smoke when I am doing homework, I have been trying ways to measure approximately how much. Bowl counts don't work because I always forget how many. Now though, I have come up with a way. I tested myself over the last two weeks - dead week and finals week - and this is my result:
Two and a half cups of ash. That's about a box and a half of Royal Charcoal Coals made from condensed olive seeds. Granted, I smoke much more than usual during the end of the semester, but that is a lot.
I didn't want to quit this time. There was no "I HATE ARCHITECTURE" this time. I am in it now. I will never get out of it. It is in me. It is me now. It's where I need to be.
Now that my work is done, posting will resume its almost daily frequency. Thank you for your patience.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Formula 1: some of the most amazing machines ever racing around circuits at speeds that scare Richard Hammond, among others. Hands down the most difficult cars to drive. But that is how it should be: the best cars - Scuderia Ferrari, Lotus, Benneton Ford, BAR Honda, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Jaguar, Spyker - requiring a special breed of driver - Schumacher, Fangio, Moss, Stewart, Senna, Prost, Villeneuve, Mansell - to squeeze the car around the best circuits at the fastest speeds, all the while pouring tons of money into research and pushing car technology - turbochargers, monocoque chassis', mid-engines, aerodynamics, tyre performance, desmodromic valves, fuel injection, aluminum in cars, aerofoils - further and further with every passing day. And that is how it has been for 57 years. Basically everything we understand about car's workings today comes from three places: F1, Le Mans, and WRC - in that order. F1 is the massive dick-waving festival. It is prohibitively expensive to play in - making it a very exclusive club to have driven an F1 car - which keeps none but the best out of F1. This is why I love it. This is why I hate it. F1 cars should be able to do this. But you see, there is a slight problem.
In the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the early parts of the 90s, Formula 1 was everything it hoped to be. Almost every year a major change in technology was introduced by one team or another. Rivalries developed and races were always exciting. Now, however, on the television, races are just dull. One or two cars make it through the first corner smash-up to take the race by over 6 seconds - an eternity in F1 time. The race is often won and lost in the pits rather than on the track. Michael Schumacher showed us how the drivers are taking a bit of the power back from the cars. So what has F1 done to counteract this lack of development leading to lack of excitement? Put a freeze on development, of course.
It fails to make sense any way I think about it. They put a ten year freeze on engine development - the same engine will be used from 2008 through 2017. They restricted aerodynamic research - the only research actually progressing at a pace anywhere close to that of the first four decades of F1. They even restricted computer research. So, if you are in college now, switch your major to Double A and learn how to model and run an F1 car on a computer and you'll be rich in four years. I promise.
F1 is the FIA's cash cow. It does have the biggest dick and the most money. Why are they doing this to it? Yes it needs to be fixed, but over-research isn't what is wrong! Among other things it's these draconian politics that are wrong with F1. Is this a salary cap idea? A way to even everything out? I'm not so sure it is. I mean, now it is more prohibitive than ever to enter F1 - you have to develop a body while working only five days a week, with a restriction on the amount of team members and time spent per member, and then plug somebody else's 2008 engine into it and hope the package works because if it doesn't, the FIA wont give you enough time to fix it. Is this a way to cut costs? No! F1 teams have their own wind tunnels already so what is the use of not letting them use 'em? Attract new manufacturers? Prodrive already made their comment on that one. Now computer engineers and aerodynamics engineers are going to be getting the most money on the team because there are so few of them and so much work to do! Possibly this will allow drivers to take the prominence they deserve. But hasn't that been happening since Schumie left? I certainly know more driver's names since he left than before. Improve reliability? This makes a certain amount of sense but doesn't explain why the rules are so drastic. And also, the first two years under this will be unreliable because the engineers reached so far to get an engine to the FIA by March 31st, 2008 that will win for 10 years.
F1 can never go back to what it was. F1 has to become something else. Making it static for 10 years is not the solution. As much as he was boring because he was so damn good, Michael Schumacher gave F1 a hint of what direction they should go - focus on the drivers. Yes the cars are amazing. Yes they are expensive. Yes they have the biggest dicks. But that is a given. It has always been a given and will always be a given. The driver's are what should be interesting. Since when have we had a Prost Senna rivalry? A Moss Fangio? We haven't in a over a decade! Only in the last year have we seen the start of some beautiful rivalries and now F1 has put the focus firmly back on the cars and engines. This is exactly why I don't watch F1 anymore. I can't handle the frustration at what it has become compared to what it was when I started watching it. This year I watched a few races because of the drivers alone, they have started to interest me again. But F1 just shot itself in the foot and the wound wont heal until 2017.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The design embraces the only human invention: the grid.
The grid is the essential and only human invention. It has become so pervasive that not only is a reaction against the grid now impossible, it is likely that to try and exist outside the grid proves impossible as well. Rather than lacking in appeal, the grid done right has provided some of the most effective landscapes and erection in the history of humanity. From Chinese courtyard housing to Egyptian necropoleis, from Roman streets to American property lines, the grid has become what we exist within. It is more than the sum of its parts though: it is an ideological frame and the field of human thought. It is the basic construct of humanity and perception. So if humanity is not God, if they are separate, then Hundertwasser was correct, "the line is godless." But if humanity and God are connected – or one in the same – then "putting things in order" as Corbusier says, is a celebration of humanity.
The design embraces the grid on multiple levels. Each room is a piece of the grid. Each section of the house is a piece of the grid. Each floor footprint is a piece of the rowhouse. Each rowhouse is a piece of the rowhouses. Each yard is a piece of the private park. The rowhouses are a piece of the street façade, in turn a piece of the block, the neighborhood, the city, et cetera ad nauseum. The design allows each piece of the rowhouse to exist in its own section of greater grids. The grid then is not the mode of organization for the rowhouse, but is the rowhouse itself.
Where Hundertwasser finds a lack of grid more interesting, his buildings still exist within a grid. Corb finds what happens within the grid more interesting but takes that to mean that the architecture should attempt to react against the grid while at the same time creating, or perpetuating, the grid. Neither of these makes as much sense to me as Eisenman's embracing the grid as a design partner. The context of any building is a grid.
The experience of the spaces is largely derived from the user. The user further defines the grid through the stack of commodities they bring into it – it becomes owned – and that ownership defines the experience of the space. The owner's claiming and marking their territory means that a positive experience of the space relies on the relationship with the owner.
And while not trying to give the impression that perpetuating the grid is the only answer to working appropriately with it, it is my answer in this case because of the visibility of the grid within the human context. The grid allows for density. It allows for connection, usability, proximity – all these things a rowhouse wants. And for me it was the most appropriate response because it fits humanity. It is humanity. Rather than trying to design spaces for specific people – designing a space when I don't know the user and their hobbies or habits doesn't seem realistic – my design is for humanity. It separates defined and definable space and allows being within the varying scales of the context of the grid. The grid is all we have and how I addressed it became the design.
On one corner is a grocery market on the lower level. Second floor is a restaurant/wine-bar in a loft space called "Up." On the opposite corner is a basement bookstore, a record shop on the street level, and a classics/foreign theater upstairs. The yards are connected into a community park for the residents and designed by the residents – a portion of the purchase price goes right into the park.
So I started giving this. Then I just hit upon the main points as the critiquers got restless. Then I could tell they weren't listening, they were thinking, so I folded and they started. Some minutes later I wasn't sure if I did well or not. I sat in the back. For a long time. Then I realized that the project did what I wanted: it spawned questions. And I started to realize how much I grew with this project - especially over the last one. About that time the critiques were over. I was... proud. I knew I was much better for that class. I was sure I could do this. I can do this architecture thing. Than Dillon said, "here's your final grade," and showed me an A. Thank you Dillon. I needed that class.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
So their new album; I was - and am still - looking forward to it. Seriously. I am. I believed it would tear me in half. Then I read the story behind it. Now I'm scared it might rip me in half. I am more excited for this album than for the Opus X Perfecion X that I have aged for two years and am going to smoke tomorrow night. It doesn't come out until the 29th of January, so why am I hyping it now? Because the internets are my friends and my girlfriend didn't want to talk about this album any more. On the 29th I will be taking work off. I will be too busy trying to find the pieces of my face that got rocked off. And trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the lyrics.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Links not at all random but I'm just not sure how all of them aren't yet:
Justin Power: music on myspace. Now that Death Songs has died, Justin Power is out on his own and rocking it sans mandolin.
Coudal Partners are in the midst of making a new movie and telling us all about it. The latest is a five-episode movie about looking for stuff: Los Alamos and the Black Hole.
Interpreting Government Icons
Ten Godliest Gamers including a great Street Fighter bit.
Street Fighter the Later Years
Monday, November 26, 2007
Answer: New Belgium Brewing is one of my favorite breweries on the west coast. Their new winter seasonal ale, 2° Below, is another in their line of seasonal ales. Springboard, their spring seasonal, is my favorite brew of theirs so I was looking forward to trying 2° Below. At first it tasted like a crisper version of Widmer's Snow Plow, overly malty and molassesy. But after half the bottle the hops really started to open up and the molasses receeded nicely. Unlike a lot of winter seasonals, all three tastes (threshold, body, and final) are superb. But like most winter seasonals, all three are quite different.
I give it a 3 out of 5 initially but I could see the rest of that six pack pushing it up a little higher.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
So 2008 they'll do better, right? Well, the list is released and let's take a look.
LMP1: There are 2 Audis, 2 Peugeots, and 2 Judds. Good mix of engines so far but only 3 chassis types.
LMP2: 2 Zyteks, 2 AERs, and 2 Porsches. Four different chassis. Better. Hope they bring an Acura on.
GT1: 3 Corvettes (2 sixes and 1 five), 2 Maseratis, 1 Saleen, and 1 Aston Martin. Better, but they need to keep it up and bring a Ferrari and a Lambo onto the ticket.
GT2: 4 Porsche 997 GT3Rs and 4 Ferrari 430s. Wow. That sucks. Where's Spyker? Panoz? BMW? Chrysler? Cadillac?
So the ACO is at it again. When are they ever going to learn that what I want is not just great racing between great cars, I want great racing and a lot of cars. Sure, GT2 will probably be quite exciting if these eight are all that are invited, but come on, how boring is that? To expand the sport of racing and get Le Mans back to the prominence it as held in the past there needs to be a ton of cars and marques on tap. I want Morgan. I want Lotus. I want Acura. I want Nissan. I want Alfa Romeo. I want Gillet. I want Jaguar. I want Cadillac. I want Bentley. I want Subaru. I want Mazda. I want Pagani. I want more cars on track but most of all I want more marques on track.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Peter Eisenman’s Houses I-VI
In this first batch of pre-Jungian houses Eisenman is saying that humanity and house collide in specific and separate ways. The uses are often separated in plan with walls and doors, but rather than separating the different uses with these tried-and-true elements Eisenman is trying to find separation through different means and in the meantime has to decide whether separation is needed at all.
House I is a series of six two-story bays. The structure consists of columns supporting beams that divide the bays. The floorplans are in the shape of a separate L for each horizontal plane or texture. There are two atrium spaces and one forms the shape of an L. This seems to be unintended rather than a deliberate decision by Eisenman as House II explores that more deliberately.
House II (above) is designed by Eisenman’s latching onto the idea of the magazine as both a vertical and horizontal element. As a result the house becomes a series of nesting Ls of air. This house still relies upon the 3x3x2 grid though. It looks like a two-level tic-tac-toe game. The house’s structure is 16 vertical posts – four on each side and four in the middle. 2-3-9-16. It becomes a 9 square grid on the outside which, when imposed onto the exterior, shows a division of space into three magazines.
In House III Eisenman begins with the 9 square grid. Top and bottom are 9 squares while each side is six. First the house is divided into three magazines, then the grid is extracted and reintroduced at a different angle into the leftover solid of the intersections of the three bays. The corners/intersections of the grid in its original placement dictate the angle of the twisted grid. A skeleton grid is erected conforming to the original orientation and the space not used by the new cube is taken over by a second cube on the original grid. The structure is complex: basically a series of window bays progressing along two axis but using the same vertical supports. This is a nesting of magazines. The three magazines from House II are implied by skeleton frame structures but they are twisted in the new use of house space.
So Eisenman is using generic space, not actually defining anything as bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, et cetera. This is him saying that house is devoid of meaning like all erections. We place meaning on and in them through the use of commodities. A house is an empty box until a bed, a kitchen, a sink, a bathroom, a couch, a television, et cetera are injected into its void space. The house itself is also devoid of site, designed to be injected into a site like commodities are injected into itself. So in a way this is an ideal house. A house as a house and not one filled with or created from latent meaning. But it actually is. It is created from the latent meaning of the process. Looking at these pages filled with iterations of plans and axonometrics – these are the latent content, these are the site. So it is perhaps design as design more so than house as house.
Where House III has one corner breaking out of the original grid, House IV starts with all four corners breaking out of the grid but instead becomes a redefinition of the grid. The space Eisenman is working with now is a true cube – 9x9 grids on each side. This is not a real breaking of the grid, rather it is an addition to the grid of one more layer. It is now a three-dimensional tic-tac-toe board and the centre space is hidden. Prominence is granted the outer edges by the shifting caused by the grid’s centre becoming smaller. The magazines are now only able to be visualized as three-dimensional elements rather than two-dimensional elements. They are cubic but only occupy the air of three cubes at once. The design, though now taller than Houses I-III, retains the sense of horizontality because Eisenman cheats, he squishes the building down and elongates horizontal cuts.
The elevations of House three start to deny the shifted grid. Because the second grid adds only one vertical element to the original grid there is no was to tell how the house is arraigned simply from the elevations.
Up to House V the structure and the constructions generally coincided – one brings the other into being and vise versa (even in house three which has two structures). In House V though, Eisenman begins with each of the four corners breaking out of the grid but soon becomes a discussion of grid. First there is one diagonal element in plan that becomes a strong vertical element in perspective – basically the house cut in half. Then the grid and the Cube are the same but the void is at a 45 degree angle and centered: this void allows a view of the grid and the houses are placed and arraigned according to the void not the grid but the grid still defines the overall cube. Then a grid is rotated out of the original grid and the cube becomes a sort of implied double-cube. Then the cube and the grid are at odds with each other while the void and the grid agree. These views of structure, of space, of multiple grids, of overlaying patterns never develop fully into a house design. (House V begins where House IV got away from breaking the grid) House V really ghosts or implies the second square of House III but using only one element.
Are these for the urban environment or not? No. The amount of space used for these houses and the lack of livable space do not conform to the density needs of an urban environment. Then does that make his process of design based on grid applicable if these are for living outside of city limits? Yes. Everything is on a grid. Farmland, states, counties. From longitudinal and latitudinal lines all the way down to property lines, grids overlay the environment we exist within. We cannot escape them. So is that where these Houses come from? Eisenman trying to redefine the grid? No, he uses the typical grid. Perhaps his application of the same scale grid on all six faces is new, but it is still just the grid multiplied and folded. This is Eisenman using the grid to its full potential rather than rethinking it. I don’t get that term, re-think. It doesn’t make sense to me.
House VI starts to have more to do with Houses I and III than Houses IV or V. In House VI Eisenman examines how far away from the original grid a design can get while still implying its precedence and existence. House I called in to question structure and the necessity of columns and beams, but left them all on the grid as a way of organizing the elements and increasing confusion. House III had two cubes – did one hold up the other, did one hold up only air, was one not structural at all? House VI begins with another unresolved element of House I – the cross. The cross is blue before Eisenman flips the cross and creates a red one of the flipped one. The two crosses are now separated by space and become a cross of air. This empty cross is the basic formational element of the building and it starts to define its own grid. The house itself inverts – the staircase is green, but the staircase on the ceiling is red; the space used in one corner of the cross on the ground floor is used in the opposite corner on the third floor. The building quickly becomes the intersection of four 3x3x2 grid-cubes and the empty cross. Spaces are then inserted into where the structures and grids line up – which implies a single, overarching grid.
Friday, November 09, 2007
The Divorce Papers
Where it Was Back Then
last night I dreamt
they cut off your hands and feet.
you whispered to me,
Now we are both incomplete.
I held all four
in my arms like sons and daughters.
I bent slowly down
and washed them in magical waters.
I placed each one
where it belonged on you.
you said and we laughed
the laugh of the well-to-do.
(page 509 of the complete)
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The original title means Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, and the movie still scares me. Luckily the copyright is up on it so you can download it freely and legally from the Internet Archive here.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Continuing what is becoming a week of remembrance (RIP Jeep & W.O.), today I turn to remembering November 7th, 1917. It gave us Lenin, McCarthy, Stalin, Reagan, proliferation, Ten Days that Shook the World, an alternative, and Super Mario Brothers.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
In this war He too lost a limb,
But His disciples hide apart;
And now the Soldiers bear with Him.
Near Golgotha strolls many a priest,
And in their faces there is pride
That they were flesh-marked by the Beast
By whom the gentle Christ's denied.
The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But they who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate.
Rest in Peace Young Soldier
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
So we have this new show up at the local gallery by Brian Oglesbee. His work is awesome, but walking through the first time I kept thinking of him as Man Ray the Second before I realized I wasn’t looking at crooked photographs – these are all unaltered. Where Man Ray showed us how photographs could be constructed and taught us that photographs are all lies, Oglesbee takes it a step further.
His Water Series is so dependent on context for meaning. Each one can – and does – say its own, but only through stringing them all together did I realize that each were telling different pieces of a whole. Just like his images are composed of different parts of an/the image, each image is a part/piece of his whole. He is taking the next step from Man Ray’s “photography is a lie so let us lie” and pointing out that what we see is a lie because of our preconceptions. Seeing them most people think “Oh that’s beautiful Photoshop,” or “He is a darkroom god.” But once the realization came that his photographs are unaltered I started to question what we see. I remembered different experiences where what I thought I saw turned out to be something else. Like in Paris I swore there was a gunman on the roof but it wasn’t, it was just scaffolding. So if what we see is not truthful – not even accurate – but we still take it to be such, what does that make us?
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Part 1: The First Try
What does a rowhouse want to be?
What is a rowhouse?
•Row – A series/line/linear arrangement of things
•House – A place for activities on all three planes of humanity
•A house is an erection that provides interior spaces. The house itself is a commodity but only with the addition of other commodities can all three planes of physical human existence be embraced. It is separated through a sense of privacy achieved through the sense of ownership attained through the house’s commoditization (purchase); also, the threshold allows the owner the ability to accept or reject guests – people who have no sense of ownership. A row is a series of literal or metaphorical things placed or connected generally linearly.
What does a row want? To become a punctum.
What does a house want? To become a place of primary use.
What does a rowhouse want? To become a punctum of places of primary use.
Part 2: Well that sucks. Lets try again. No bullets. No separations.
What does a rowhouse want to be?
The house is not a machine for living: living is much less hierarchical than that statement implies. I.e. “living” happens away from the houses as much as or more than in the house. (Living means gaining. With this definition the office, the car, the street, shoes, clothes, nature, sunlight, et cetera become machines for living.) What then is the house? A space or group of spaces that shelters. A house is a modern base – no longer military and without the depth of intimidation a military base implies. A house is more like a base camp – a static space in a larger environment. (A place for being static physically and mentally) It is as intimidating as a military base, but primarily psychologically rather than primarily physically. The house as a modern base (a base camp) allows ownership to develop and commoditization; this places importance on the threshold – it is there the owner rejects or accepts guests – those who have no sense of ownership.
The house often contains spaces that allow movement or static (no noun form) on all three planes of humanity: —, l, and + (horizontal [sleeping], vertical [standing], both [sitting] according to Dillon); but this support requires the addition of more commodities. Is a house a stack of commodities then? Yes, but that is not inclusive enough. It is a base camp and a stack of commodities and a space(s) of shelter and static.
A rowhouse wants to be a piece not a whole. But rowhouses want to be the punctum piece of a neighborhood or lifestyle (urban & personal scales) with a strong sense of responsibility to others for actions.
I'm still not there yet but I will never be. I'm getting closer is all that matters and all that is important.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Antony Gormley: I love this guy's latest works at the Hayward. Blind Light, a glass room filled with fog, exhibits human reliance on definition and intensely creates a feeling of isolation. Blind Light acts as a counterpoint to Event Horizon: 27, a monumental scale installation viewed from three exterior platforms at the Hayward. The piece consists of life-size casts of Gormley attached to buildings and landscapes near and far from the viewing platform. As you start to look outward at the expanding scale of the casts you start to notice real people moving and London and from the pictures I get a sense of community. These two pieces show both sides of Gormley's stated hypothesis that "architecture is another kind of body: body is our first habitation, the building our second." The above picture by grahammcnally exquisitely communicates both sides of his current installations and shows the coexistence of isolation and community found at the heart of architecture.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I even got some sleep last night.
And now for the entire catalog of Cursive. I'm feeling Burst and Bloom. Well, I usually feel like listening to that album, but now I MUST.
Who cares? Right now, right this very second, I am caught up in the exhilaration of creation.
The hookah is billowing, the Monster is flowing.
I started off with Sparklehorse and now it's my Modest Mouse collection. "Steam Engenius" is a great MM song.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
This Board-Based design by Morphosis of their proposal for the Los Angeles Arts Park works really well because it emphasizes the mood and feel of the project while still incorporating all the elements of traditional architectural presentations like a model, floorplans, sections, and a perspective or two.
Photograph from John.
Weiss/Manfredi's concept diagram proposal for the Olympic Sculpture Park is so simple I understand an immense amount about the site without ever being there. Its simple and pervasive and scaled application creates an intimate feeling and human scale in what is actually a huge park. This method for creating a human space out of two blocks of downtown Seattle is genius. This diagram says all that. Perfect.
Here is the third one. It's a book.
The simple concept of creating a book for the proposal of a library and the inclusion of copious amounts of process and diagrams definitely show the focus of OMA. If you've visited the building you will realize that this is not the final design for the building. Apparently when they awarded the contract to OMA they said, "We don't quite know what it will look like but we want it to do what you say it will do in that book." Building as information, as Dillon puts it.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
This is clean water, in Seattle. In the Puget Sound. At Pier 70. On the site of a former refueling station. The massive project to clean up the Puget Sound was furthered and defined by Weiss/Manfredi during their work on their new building in Seattle, the Olympic Sculpture Park. They also did the Women's Memorial/Gateway at Arlington National Cemetary and the awesome complex in Olympia Fields, Illinois.
I fully believe their work is the future of architecture. Their simple mixing of Landscape, Buildings, Interiors, and Urban spaces makes so much sense, but is astounding at the same time. Together they are one of the most important architecture firms this world has ever seen - up there with OMA, Isidore & Anthemius, Iktinos & Kallikrates, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Imhotep & Sneferu, and the most important firm of all: the anonymous modern and ancient innovators in vernacular architecture.
In the coming weeks I hope to feature a few articles on each of these firms and why I feel they are so important. Stay Tuned.
Monday, October 08, 2007
The "High"-tech industry has always been so good at marketing. I own many Microsoft and Google and Apple and 20th Century products. More than a ton, really. But what do I use the most every day? Running water. A bicycle. A stove. Books. My shoes. These are not "High"-tech. These are old technology, "Low"-tech.
1. The Dominican Republic: A group of engineering students are in a small town wandering around when the locals start talking to them. Apparently they have a water problem. You see, they have a huge tank full of water for the town and a small tank that is supposed to drip chlorine into the water to purify it. Unfortunately it doesn't work right. Either the water is too rusty from the old pipes pumping the water to the tank or it has way too much chlorine. This is a small, isolated town with very few commercial outlets. The students cut the bottom off a new jerry can and bolt it to the inside of the water tank upside down, above the water line. They then run a line from the chlorine tank to the top of the jerry can and attach the existing drip valve to a float and a line from the spout of the jerry can. They put a valve and float from a toilet on the end of the line into the jerry can. This keeps the chlorine at a constant level and hence a constant pressure and the residents are able to fine-tune the drip valve to get their water tasting right. This is now applied in at least 50 towns in the DR.
(Article in the latest GOOD magazine)
2. Vcommunicator Mobile: At the Modern Day Marine show last week, Vcom3D showcased its one-way translator for soldiers in Iraq. It's an iPod and speaker with a custom library of Arabic & Kurdish voices and phrases as well as the Arabic, Kurdish, and Phonetic alphabet. This allows a soldier to learn exactly how to pronounce, "We need to see your papers." The soldier simply goes to a playlist like Patrol or Checkpoint and finds "We need to see your papers," hits play and the phrase will come out of the speaker for the soldier to repeat, or loud enough for the audience, and also displays on the screen in English, Kurdish, and Arabic alphabets for the deaf. "We went low-tech," explained Ernie Bright, operations manager with Vcom3D.
So what is "High" and what is "Low"? First off, I don't believe these hierarchical symbols should apply here. There is a big push for living machines in architecture right now - that is simply a series of swamps contained in large tubes that naturally purifies waste. Is this "low" or "high"? It is technology as ancient as the world, but it is only recently been understood enough to apply it inside the home to human waste. That makes it neither "high" nor "low", it simply is technology: 1. The relationship a society has with its tools, 2. The practical application of knowledge, 3. techne (craft) + logia (saying). Technology is how and with what we do things. My hammer is technology in the same way my Jeep is technology in the same way my laptop is technology in the same way a comb is technology. A comb? Everybody still uses that antiquated technology. (Well, except me but we'll not get into that now)
These students in Example 1 are educated at MIT, one of the highest formal educational institutions in the world. Yet they come up with a design using technology from a 4500 year old device to fix a very modern problem and it works perfectly and cheaply in many different towns.
Example 2 shows how creating cheap, quick, one-way translators instead of bulky, expensive two-way translators can help connect the American soldier with the Iraqi people. Also, playing on a technology most people know and/or own allows various models to be on the market at one time for soldiers with or without an iPod. But this is considered "low-tech" because we can do more. I realize that in places the political situation does not allow it, but isn't a human who knows both languages the "low"-tech option here? The term "low-tech" is certainly taking on a new meaning with ten year old technology considered "low"-tech.
Basically, I believe we have thrown away too much common sense in the last two-hundred years. Ancient Greek buildings are not beautiful just because they adhere to phi or show a standardization of form and symmetry that is breathtaking, for me it's because of their orientation to give prominence to natural elements and features in the landscape and because of the technology used to create intriguing relationships between spaces. Humanity is going back to using nature as an element in design and building. Is this push "low" or "high"? It's just a push. It's just technology. And the separation between the two technologies has helped create some of the environmental crises we have today.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Synthetic genetics is not only fun to say, but it may be a reality. According to this Guardian article, a meatbag actually beat robots to the whole creating-life-in-a-test-tube thing. And now he's trying to patent it. Because he wants to make a buck. As usual. Who is this new Dr. Amazing/Dr. Evil? None other than the Biological Researcher's number one Bad Boy, Craig Venter.
Yes, the bastard that tried to privatize gene coding so people would have to pay, well, him, to access that data. In June 2005 he founded another company, Synthetic Genomics, which set about trying to make a buck off of creating microorganisms that create - or become - alternate energy sources. It seems like he has finally done it - or at least created something. Now he is in the process of duplicating his experiment and if this works, he will likely announce it to the world. Oh yeah, and he has a patent on it of course. And he named his sloop the Sorcerer II. I've long suspected that if Venter could patent scientific research he would.
Now the guy is greedy, but he is one damn fine scientist. The first human to create life is quite a notch on the resume. I only wish this technology was in the hands of someone a little less interested in money.
This announcement coming so close to the announcement of cloaking devices and perhaps Star Trek is upon us. Don't expect Jeri Ryan or the rest of the Borg on your doorstep anytime soon though.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Listen to: Akron Family
Their newest album, Love is Simple is poppy and folksy and rocky and dear God is it good. The first two songs alone should get anybody. I listened to this CD five times today alone. They are the band to finally put their finger on the folk-rock pulse that many, many bands have tried for. This music is perfect.
The Shaky Hands & Death Songs (band and side project)
Portland, Oregon is one of the top five cities in the world for working like a city should work. The Shaky Hands is proof. Death Songs is their side-project. Wonderful people and wonderful music. If you want to see some good mandolin rocking out, watch them.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Art Lebedev is a pretty cool designer and studio. For all those Russian TV's with just 102 channels comes this cool remote. Now why is it cool? It looks nice, it is legible and symbolic without overplaying it, and it is different. But is different always better?
Yes: Even if the specific product that differs from the norm sucks, at least someone is thinking in a different direction, at least someone is trying to innovate. Also, inspiration from seeing a product that doesn't work, but is different, leads to new products that work better. (See, I'm innovating my sentence structure here)
No: "Different" is this excuse designers use when they are too embarrassed or blind to actually say, "I'm sorry." Too many products come out simply because they're different. There should be a screening process besides the public to weed out crappy products and only allow the good new ones to survive. Plus, Yes, your sentences suck.
Easy Answer? For me, yes. Yes is the obvious answer.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Who do we have?
Sufjan Stevens: Though his songs are narrative and his album centers on a theme, I wouldn't count him as making story-cds.
Tha Mars Volta: Their first two LP's did it for me - and I'm sorry to hype another Rick Rubin production but dear God De-Loused was good. Yeah, I know Flea did the bass, and Rubin did the sounds, but come on, you ever heard anything like that before? And though hard to hear and understand, this surrealist album, and Frances the Mute both moved me. But I couldn't help feeling more could be done. Especially on Frances. Tom and I were discussing this and I agree with his statement that "De-Loused blew us all away, showed us what could be done, it was so innovative, and then Frances and Amputecture were kind of let-downs. It was the same thing again - they didn't keep innovating." Amputecture is definitely their worst LP but it contains some great songs. However, lacking a story I can't really get into the album like I can with De-Loused, I keep trying to connect the songs but can't. So The Mars Volta has almost done it. Their music is innovative and interesting as are their semi-surrealist stories, and I certainly wait in line for their albums the day they come out, but they haven't quite perfected it yet. I haven't yet watched El Búfalo de la Noche, but hopefully that film helped them perfect their storysong telling. January 29th will tell a lot about their ability to attain my Holy Grail of Music.
The Kinks: I haven't yet heard enough. Do they do it for you?
Pink Floyd: Close as The Mars Volta, but not quite there for me.
Coheed and Cambria: Yes, and no. They are the closest, as far as pure storytelling goes. And on some levels I really enjoy knowing the middle of the story without knowing the beginning and the end, but the highly sci-fi nature turns a lot of people off.
Why Not? Okay, so it could make a better CD - and has in the cases of Coheed & The Mars Volta - because of this grand unifying gesture so sought after in architecture today. However, most bands use over-arching stories as a way to excuse crappy - or filler - songs. I lust after this working.
Please send me or comment on what your favorite concept album is - not thematic concept album, but story concept album. This is an idea/concept/tactic I want to experience more of.
Click here if you like books and/or this building:
If you haven't heard the new Electric Six album, I Shall Exterminate Everything Around me that Restricts me from Being the Master, give it a listen. There's, as always, some good social commentary and some pure awesomeness. "Dance Pattern" contains these lines:
"She tells me she's a liar
But I don't believe her
She tells me almost anything"
And here's two shots from the next song:
"He said: "My people need a place to Go!" (Go!)
My people need a place to Go! (Go!)
People need a place to go
People need a place to go
Now everybody down at McDonnellzzz
They down with Ronald McDonnell
And now they hitting the bottle
And everybody cool!"
C'mon, give it a listen.
Okay, it's no secret I'm an Iron & Wine fan. I was a little scared about their new album, after all, it was not going to be just Sam Beam. Now, the live show has never really been just him and his guitar so I wasn't too scared. And now I'm talking in circles and the new album is incredible. Incredible. Let's talk this way: it's like a live show recorded in the studio. It's got all the emotion and power of his earlier work with a new energy that just keeps me coming back. Or this way: I got it about a week ago and have listened to it once a day so far. It's good stuff. Get it.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Then why do Architecture students study only Architecture and a little Engineering and a little Art? Where's Landscape Architecture? Where's Interior Design? Where's Sociology? Politics? English? Film? Psychology? Save us Marcus Vitruvius Pollio! Where's Astronomy? Chemistry? Linguistics? Business? Economics? Archeology? Medicine? Music? Forestry? Biology? Fisheries? Law? Where is it all? This seperation does no good for the profession and is slowly dying. Economics and business catch-phrases like "streamlining," "efficiency," and "common sense" have finally begun to reunite the branches of architecture. Finally. Hopefully schools will realize this soon and let students take various classes without punishing them.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Jeremy: There are two sides to Holland. The Rembrandt side: where time is spent in stuffy boardrooms painting accountancies and very important people. Then there's the van Gogh side: where you move to the south of France and cut off your ear. Which side do you think [the Spyker C8] comes from?
James: The reason, I think, that the Porsche is the best car is, you know when you drive some cars, you get a, a sense that the car is smiling, when you're driving?
Richard: What on earth are you talking about?
Jeremy: ...it even has the traditional Mercedes voice activated computer which doesn't understand a blind word you're on about. Let me show you... Dial number.
Mercedes Computer: Dialling.
Jeremy: I haven't told you what to dial yet... Dial number.
Mercedes Computer: The number please?
Mercedes Computer: 0785.
Jeremy: No, you missed the one.
Mercedes Computer: Pardon?
Jeremy: You missed the one.
Mercedes Computer: The number is deleted, please continue.
Jeremy: See what I mean?
Mercedes Computer: 202.
Jeremy: Where did that come from?
Mercedes Computer: Pardon?
Jeremy: And so it goes on.
Jeremy: I have an announcement to make. Top Gear, this... pokey motor show on BBC2, this week won--I've got it here--in New York, an Emmy! We've won an Emmy! Check it out!"
Richard: Wow! Can I touch it?
Jeremy: What this is for, okay, is for the best non-scripted entertainment show that wasn't made in America. That's us!
Richard: Why didn't you go and pick up the award from the ceremony?
Jeremy: Well, because I was writing the script for this week's show.
Richard: Thing is though, when the Office, you remember that sitcom series?... won some Golden... Globes recently, the whole of the BBC ground to a halt while everyone said congratulations and... they were showered with, like, gifts, and gold and diamonds...
Jeremy: It's true, the director general of the BBC spent a whole week rubbing warm pig fat into the back of Ricky Gervais.
Richard: So, how many chocolate covered lap dancers do you think were sent to us?
Jeremy: [to the audience] How many do you think? Not a damn thing!
Jeremy: And if you think that's outrageous, then please write to us, as of Monday, to Top Gear, Channel 4 television...
Richard: Look. A petrol station, the natural home territory of the Ford GT. And there it is, at the watering hole, drinking its fill. For the forty-seventh time today. How can he need more?
James: Have you noticed how his right bicep is now slightly bigger than his left one?
James: ...have you also noticed that when he fills his car up, he stands like a teapot?
Jeremy: James, I've run out of money.
James: Have you... what an interesting predicament.
Jeremy: Please can I borrow some money.
Richard: I'm not--we're not bailing you out!
James: You want me to pay for your petrol?
James: Right, the nation is observing...
Jeremy: I haven't got any money...
James: ...while I fund your ridiculous petrol habit.
Richard: James, well, let's put it this way: if you were to be locked inside a phone box for half an hour with: a) a lion, and b) a monkey, there you go! what would you go for?
Richard and Jeremy: What?
James: No, you see, monkeys, in confined spaces, those monkeys get really, really vicious.
Jeremy: I love the fact that James thinks that monkeys are, in some way, the greatest peril that we're facing... in the next hour of our lives.
Jeremy: Uh... it's on fire.
Richard: What?! It can't be on fire! It's on fire.
Jeremy: It's on fire. Just run. Just run.
Jeremy: The thing is, we managed to set fire to something that's basically made of water!
Richard: How did you do that? Did you see the owner of the car wash afterwards?
Jeremy: He was...
Richard: Cross. Very cross.
James: He was especially cross when I rang him up and asked if we could have our three pounds fifty back.
Jeremy: If you go though the Pearly Gates, backwards, in a fireball, that's a cool way to die!
Richard: I love that vision of just blasting through the gates, backwards, in a flaming Swedish supercar! Yes! I'm here! Where are the women?
Richard: Ow! Oh, that sounded expensive.
Jeremy: Was that your finger?
Richard: There's gonna be swearing!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Three Gems was an experience I will never forget. Ever. It is pristine. His work very simply plays with light, sound, touch, smell, and views. He is one of the few sculptors who actually plays with the five senses and as such it is hard to not call him an architect. I went into Three Gems with a group of people, then twice more alone and I will never ever try to describe it.
Roden Crater is slowly coming along, slowly. Apparently construction progresses in spurts based on funds. However, Alpha Tunnel may be completed. Rodenmonk got in and posted the video on youtube. I asked about the experience and rodenmonk said, "the week before we were there, Turrell and company held the first-ever lunar projection in the tunnel (the moon aligns with the mouth of the telescope every 18.5 years or something); also, Turrell plans on putting in about 25 more celestial viewing rooms, another tunnel, and an amphitheater between the two crests of the craters. The video is still mysterious--the camera couldn't adjust to the light at the end, obviously, thereby obscuring the room with the bronze staircase, leaving things still a bit unclear. but I like it that way. It seemed to drag a little at normal speed, even though I was running up the entire scope as i shot it (it's 854 feet long--I was out of breath by the time I reached the light!). Note the dim circle at the very beginning of the video: that's the solid slab of marble that serves as a surface for projection of the moon."
If you live in Seattle and have not gone to the Henry Art Museum since 2003 or have not sat in Light Reign alone, do so now. Like Three Gems it presents a skyscape. His skyscapes are starkly meditational and I warn you that going inside any of them may confront you in unexpected ways.
He also plays with artificial light sources, creating shapes and canvases that appear solid but actually have no mass. If you're lucky enough to live near a Turrell, go see it. Here is a list of his works and their locations.
It's easy to say he is my favorite sculptor/architect right now, damn easy. For those who don't know, I am currently designing a meditation chamber on a floating platform in the middle of the south pond in the UI Arboretum - the new one. The simple, stark, meditative, rich feel of his work is very influential in my design. My two other inspirations are the movie "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Again" and the quiet and astounding equilibrium in Alexander Calder's work.
ps - search flickr for James Turrell or just link here to the first page.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
When I am without sleep it is Imogen Heap and Bjork.
In later stages of sleep deprevation I've been known to sing The Knife's "Na Na Na" off Silent Shout. Go listen to it.
My amount of shisha intake is a direct result of the amount of architecture homework due and how soon.
I play a mean Wii Tennis.
You know how the bottom of your mouse accumulates the packed dirt stuff? I've been at the computer with a mouse for so long that my hand has that stuff. No joke. I couldn't figure out what it was for ever. Nasty.
The last great Hollywood movie was Lawrence of Arabia.
The first was Nosferatu (Sorry Mrs. Stroker).
I will be seeing the Bourne Ultimatum for three reasons: John Powell, Joan Allen, and morbid curiosity because Maria doesn't get shot in the car on the bridge in book two, she is kidnapped. What trickery will Hollywood pull now? Not hoping high.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Album: Gulag Orkestar
An 8 person band created by a 21 year old guy named Zach Condon from New Mexico. He plays low intensity balkan gypsy meets solo acoustic guitarist and the songs are astounding. My favorite so far is "Gulag Orkestar," track #1.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Who is John? A personal friend of our prof who also used to be the lead designer at Morphosis.
And his big building was Diamond Ranch High School. One of my three favorite Morphosis buildings.
Photograph by mello yellow at flickr.