practice


…Frank Loyd Wright['s] design for Broadacre City … was based both on his wholesome appreciation of the hygienic and domestic values of rural life, and his Jeffersonian contempt for the many-sided corporate and institutional life of the city. In the name of the first, he was ready to shrink the acreage of productive soils and break down the special human values of the rural landscape, with the functional divisions of meadow, pasture, and woodland, of cultivated land and wild land, in order to give every house and family a subsistence garden; and he was no less ready to break down the natural coagulations of life in villages and country towns, in a new fashion that made every social activity call for long distance transportation and therefore the incessant use of the motor car….The high price of such remote lots automatically turns the farmer into a real-estate speculator, and results, as in California, in the slaughter of orchards, vineyards, and market gardens that once gave both health and delight–to say nothing of fresh food–to the nearby urban communities.

… the anti-city combines two contradictory and almost irreconcilable aspects of modern civilization: an expanding economy that calls for the constant employment of the machine (motor car, radio, television, telephone, automated factory, and assembly line) to secure both both full production and a minimal counterfeit of normal social life; and as a necessary offset to these demands, an effort to escape from the over-regulated routines, the impoverished personal choices, the monotonous prospects of this regime by daily withdrawal to a private rural asylum, where bureaucratic compulsions give way to exurban relaxation and permissiveness, in a purely family environment as much unlike the metropolis as possible. Thus the anti-city produces an illusory image of freedom at the very moment all the screws of organization are being tightened….

Because the anti-city is by nature fragmentary, any part can be built by anybody anywhere at any time. This is the ideal formula for promoting total urban disintegration.

Not the least factor in this development, certainly in America, is the persistent residue of the curious pioneer belief in space and mobility as a panacea for the ills of social life…. [which] is the current doctrine of space for space’s sake…. This has become the “space age” with a vengeance: in architecture space has become a substitute for urbane design….

No secondary modes of intercourse, neither the printed page, the telephone, nor television, can take the place of that direct face-to-face intercourse whose occasions the city, when it remains close to the human scale, multiplies. Without an urban container deliberately planned for such intercourse, the dominant economic and technical pressures of our time tend to form a multitude of over-specialized, non-cooperating, and non-communicating enclaves, whose spatial remoteness and social segregation favor the totalitarian automatism of our time….

Though the isolated institutional parts might be as hyper-productive as those computers whose data is already too abundant to be assembled and interpreted, the cultural creativity that fosters further human development is bound to drop, within a generation or two, toward zero.

– Lewis Mumford, “The Megalopolis as Anti-City” [c.1962-3]. In Jeanne M. Davern (ed.). Lewis Mumford. Architecture as a Home for Man: Essays for Architectural Record. New York: Architectural Record Books, 1975, pp. 121-128.

“But  while architectural changes in the window were coincident with changes in perspective in modern painting early in the twentieth century, the media of film and television retained  a perspectival frame through the “modern” period. The moving image offered  multiple perspectives through the sequential shifts of montage and editing; yet, aside from a few historical anomalies, it has only been with the advent of digital imaging technologies  and new technologies of display in the 1990s that the media “window” began  to include multiple perspectives within a single frame.

Now, a variety of screens — long and wide and square, large and small, composed of grains, composed of pixels — compete for our attention without any (convincing) arguments  about hegemony.”

Anne Friedberg, “The Virtual Window” in Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition, ed. David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Kindle Edition, 2003), 4710-4714. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Hardcover Edition, 2004), pp. 347-348.

The collage is the provisional syntax of creative synthesis, a mass syntax. The collage is the assembly of simultaneity, a general totem…. Technology is achieving such sophistication that it starts to require the year zero of a NEW BARBARISM to unblock its pores. Society is ever more rich, life is ever more poor. . . . Today’s models of consumption are the models of production 40 years ago … This is the time of PRODUSUMERISM. The student is for the university what the worker is for the factory. The student is the information worker. Students in the [political and ideological] superstructure are still copying the old models of struggle of worker in the [economic] base. [This is the time of] PRODUSUMERISM. The world of consumption is superseded by the world of information, where the decisive battle will take place. NEW BARBARISM: an open field for the new models of the information war. The elites, especially the academic ones, are rotten with stupidity: every new [produsumer] barbarian knows more than them. It is not necessary to wait until everyone owns a motor car for the new culture to be born. Ownership is for the world of things, culture is for the world of signs. The artist is the language designer, even if — and especially if — they’re marginalised. This is the [time of the] artistic guerrilla…. Collective joy is the final vindication: intimacy in deep harmony. Beyond ciphers. And against the [tyranny of the] $$.

– Décio Pignatari, Contracomunicação, p. 27, quoted in Richard Barbrook. The Class of the New. London: OpenMute, 2006, p. 76.

May Sky is a slowly-unfolding visual novel made by Japanese company Scrubbing, translated lovingly, painstakingly and slowly by Irene Ying. Ying writes about her translation process, “Remembering previous adventures, I reread May Sky multiple times, but not enough — I failed many times to realize I was setting up for the next scene. Possibly the hardest lesson for me to learn was listening to the voices of the speakers while I read…. all this was one very long lesson to me in listening to the piece and the characters inside. If I’d had more time that’s what I would have tried to focus on more. Since that was not the case, I will be spending some time after the release to study the original and the translation more.” You can download it from Insani, the hobbyist group Ying works with, which specializes in the “localization” of visual novels.

May Sky: Minori Kamiake at a piano in a Shinto temple and in the thoughts of Haruki Mizoguchi.

May Sky: Minori Kamiake at a piano in a Shinto temple and in the thoughts of Haruki Mizoguchi.

Media are designed to fit the human, the way telephone handsets or headsets literally fit from ear to mouth, but also the way telephone circuits, satellites, and antennas fit among their potential consumers, as integral parts of communication / information networks that literally shape what communication entails for individuals in the modern age. And if media fit humans, humans adjust themselves in various ways to fit media, knowingly or not. Hands physically adjust themselves to different keyboards, different keypads, and different pointing devices, while users subtly adjust their sense of who they are.

– Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey B Pingree. “Introduction: What’s New About New Media.” In New Media, 1740-1915, edited by Lisa Gitelman, and Geoffrey B Pingree, xi-xxi. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2003: xx.

I know that there’s a lot going on in technoscience discourses and practices that’s not about the devil, that’s a source of remarkable pleasure, that promises interesting kinds of human relationships … not always oppositional, but something often more creative and playful and positive than that. And I want myself and others to learn how to describe those possibilities. And … even technoscience worlds are full of resources for contesting inequality and arbitrary authority.

– Donna Haraway in Penley, Constance, Ross, Andrew, and Haraway, Donna. “Cyborgs At Large: Interview With Donna Haraway.” Social Text (1990): 13.

We can’t afford the versions of the “one-dimensional-man” critique of technological rationality, which is to say, we can’t turn scientific discourses into the Other, and make them into the enemy, while still contesting what nature will be for us. We have to engage in those terms of practice, and resist the temptation to remain pure.

– Donna Haraway in Penley, Constance, Ross, Andrew, and Haraway, Donna. “Cyborgs At Large: Interview With Donna Haraway.” Social Text (1990): 11.