September 20, then and now

According to the Collected Writings of Robert Smithson, Smithson took his Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey forty years ago today. Without Smithson, of course, there would have been on CLUI, nor would there have been an AUDC.

Now it happens that the Collected Writings reproduced a common error. Smithson’s tour actually took place on September 30 (since that is the day that the New York Times article by John Canady entitled "Art: Themes and the Usual Variations" was published.

But let’s not burst anyone’s bubble. For one, I live in Montclair, a few miles from Passaic and if the tour was not forty years ago to this date, I was born that day.

So, to celebrate my fortieth birthday, my incomparable research assistant at the NetLab Leah Meisterlin and I have finished a draft of the Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles for ACTAR. I’m going to be transferring it from my laptop to my home server and then uploading the 2 gigabytes of files to Barcelona overnight.

I’ve gone on about this project, but it really merits going on about. We hope to revolutionize the understanding of the city as much as Reyner Banham’s Los Angeles, The Architecture of Four Ecologies, published thirty-six years ago. Even today, the understanding of the city as a system of systems seems surprisingly primitive. I’ll be highlighting parts of this book for the next few months to give you a glimpse of what I’m talking about.

Curiously some thirty-six years before Banham, Anton Wagner wrote his seminal Los Angeles: The Development, Life, and Form of the Southern California, which revolutionized the understanding of that city as well as others. We’ll see if history validates our lofty ambitions, but it’s been a great summer (which is over on the 22nd!). In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be finalizing Networked Publics and then on for more.

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