welcome to spook country

studio-x in the fog

Welcome to Spook Country.

The view from my desk at Studio-X today.

The morning began with bagpipes at the Watchung Plaza station marking the two moments the towers collapsed. The names of the people who didn’t come back to Montclair six years ago remind me of what happened every time I pass by, running to catch the train or exhausted and relieved to get back home.

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how do you make utopia anymore?

Here’s a brief email exchange with my former student Derek Lindner.

Kazys:

this semester’s studio is going to be about network culture. i’m proposing that every great modern era has had its utopian/dystopian architectural investigations (the ideal city of the renaissance, ledoux, the russians, corbusier, hilberseimer, archigram, archizoom, rossi and scolari’s drawings, delirious new york, d&s in the 1980s, and etc.) but ours is lacking in that. This, I think, is because of the realism that architecture recently developed—partly a reaction to the building boom and partly a reaction to the realism of network culture. Nevertheless, this kind of research not only advances architecture, it moves society forward. That said, everyone will take an aspect of network culture and develop an extreme, utopian/ dystopian response. Less research, more utopia. Any thoughts?

Derek:

architecture developed realism when it became real. the last round of serious ‘investigations’ developed into a body of built work when the 80’s ‘paper architects’ (the term doesn’t have currency any longer, and curiously, no digital version has taken its place) started building in the 90s. did architecture’s leap during this building boom (perhaps more of an achievement than a reaction) continue to test recent utopian visions through their realization or abandon them? when utopianism went from being marginal to being state-sponsored (WTC masterplan, CCTV, Zaha masterplans), did it fail interestingly?

How do you even make a utopian proposition when it can be neither a self-sufficient community in the hills (because network culture precludes the possibility) nor a vision for urban metamorphosis (because that’s the new mode of practice)?

so, yeah, I like it.
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labor day never ends

I’m exhausted.

I’ve been tired for days since returning from my vacation, but it’s a good tired, the product of a burst of intense work as Leah Meisterlin (my amazing intern, working on the book’s maps) and I continue to chip away at the Infrastructural City for ACTAR. Alas, it looks like it won’t be on anyone’s Christmas lists, but it’s shaping up to be a great Valentine’s Day present.

Today, I had an opportunity to present the Network Culture studio at school.

I had hoped to show one of favorite videos today, but alas Vista wasn’t up to snuff. For anyone who witnessed it and still needs to see the video, here is the human slingshot in full glory.


Two things interest me about this video. First, that this is what you might do in a culture of relative affluence and total boredom and second, that this kind of YouTube production is a successor to reality TV.

While I’m posting youtube videos, I discovered this the other day on Underworld Live

I am really excited about seeing Underworld in Central Park next Friday, although a little sad too, since I would have enjoyed them at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve never seen them, and I’ve pretty much listened to nothing else for years… (not kidding).

Oh and the underworldlive site? It looks like a blog, but it’s not. The top posts seem to disappear. (compare with google cache while it is still there) What kind of site is it if it isn’t a blog then? Interesting…

Regarding that post… The videos is of a Schneider TM song. Underworld recalls hearing Schneider TM on John Peel’s farewell show. That brings up a string of memories for me. In studio presentation, I showed the following image:

kazys in macweek(click on the image to read the text)

Even though I’ve come relatively late to the impact of computation on architecture (just what was I thinking until 2003?), I have always been fascinated by digital technology and by the Internet.

I must have first accessed a network (Tymnet) in 1982 or 1983, 25 years ago. My first encounter with email would have been in 1983 or 1984 in an army sponsored high school program called CRESS at North Carolina State University (incredibly enough, enshrined in an archive here). By 1990, I kept in touch with some of my friends via email and used FTP and USENET daily at Cornell’s University libraries. I remember the day when I first accessed a site overseas, it was in Finland and thought how strange it was that somehow a hard disk was being according to my instructions.

What ties this episode of Connections together is that at the same time I had a purchased a shortwave radio to listen to non-U. S. news (again: memories of listening to the ouster of Gorbachev immediately just two weeks after my first visit to Lithuania and being terrified that it would all end badly and listening to the first Gulf War because NPR was just far too in favor of it, as usual) and had discovered John Peel and his incredible radio show. Even with all the interference, this was a little hint of the up side of the globalized world we would soon live in, as well as the immense richness of the Long Tail. After a hack that I shouldn’t have made, the shortwave radio never worked right again and, in any event, the Internet had captured my interest.

I should have gone back to John Peel after he was on the net, but I was preoccupied with other things. Stupid.

Still, two things to carry away from this long post…

1) Although it can be very difficult to tell at the time, your world already contains the future within it.

2) Here’s to John.

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