Archive for mars, 2012

mars 30, 2012

Urban Choreography

Pervasive surveillance is now becoming extremely personalized – is there an infringement of our private space – are we even aware of all the body language we imply in a brief glance at  a piece of chocolate cake, a shiny new bauble in a window display or an attractive woman’s breasts in a magazine or in person! fromThe Economist

Webcams can now spot which ads catch your gaze, read your mood and check your vital signs:

IMAGINE browsing a website when a saucy ad for lingerie catches your eye. You don’t click on it, merely smile and go to another page. Yet it follows you, putting up more racy pictures, perhaps even the offer of a discount. Finally, irked by its persistence, you frown. “Sorry for taking up your time,” says the ad, and promptly desists from further pestering. Creepy. But making online ads that not only know you are…

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mars 30, 2012

The Funambulist

Photo from Construire Autrement. Actes Sud, 2006.

This is not the first time that I write an article about the remarkable creative process that Patrick Bouchain and his office Construire have been undertaking for many years now. I even fear not to write anything different from the last post about an interview he gave to Micropolitiques (see previous article). However, I think that it is useful to re-insist on the importance that the construction process he has developed and systematized through the numerous architectural projects he designed. This process is simple and easily applicable if there is a sincere will from the architects and the traditional actors of the construction to work out a democratic way to build.

His book, Construire Autrement (see this old article  in 2008 about it!) which can be translate by ‘Building Differently’, constitutes a manifesto as much by its contents as by its…

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Parasitic Architecture

mars 29, 2012


Architecture academia posted some ideas about parasitical architecture and I would really like to continue the dialogue and focus on some artistic parasitic projects.

A parasite is an organism that grows, feeds and sheltered by its host while contributing nothing to the host’s survival.  Therefore  parasitic architecture can be defined « as an adaptable, transient and exploitive form of architecture that forces relationships with host buildings in order to complete themselves. » (definition taken from parasitic architecture.)

Parasitic  Architecture can be thought of as  a flexible and sometimes temporary structure that feeds off the existing infrastructure and build form. A parasite has to work with existing infrastructures and use them to its own end but can also  be considered as an architectural intervention that materializes and transforms the built form. A parasitic construction redefines and reconfigures a built structure and provides a new perspective or orientation to the public and potentially offer…

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mars 29, 2012

The Funambulist

The Funambulist’s readers would have probably noticed that I like series articles which brings a specific interest within the frame of a larger research. I am therefore particularly sensitive to the Mixtape series published by Domus and curated by Daniel Perlin. This collection of sound and music, mixed by talented djs and artists, proposes an audio interpretation of a given city. Some attempts to catch the global atmosphere of a city (like for Rio de Janeiro), others chooses to focus on one aspect of the city’s music scene (like for Beijing).
I have been listening to almost all of them and particularly recommend Rio’s, Johannesburg’s and Harlem’s. The latter introduces a precise and local aspect of the extremely specific sound coming from New York, this sound that refuses perfection and assume its dirtiness from the Velvet Underground to the Wu-Tan Clan, from Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion to Mos Def…

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Facade Mashup

mars 28, 2012


The mashup is a term that is often refered to music or video where a file combines and modifies existing works to create a new  work that emulates the original work. The mashup is slightly different than collage because it is a blending of two or more files where collage intergrates contradicting or incongruent forms by keeping the edge of the two elements apparent. I have always been interested in that ‘edge’ – the point where these two divergent forms meet.  However, because of technological advances, blurring or erasing the edge is the goal with many photographers and artists, who try to seamlessly collage their images.  With the removal of the ‘edge’ I feel that something is lost and the image usually appears contrived. By keeping the ‘edge’ there is the perception of spontaneity in collage – the improvisation of forms connecting together but keeping the juxtaposition of both edges apparent. The…

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Deconstructing Reality | Gordon Matta-Clark

mars 27, 2012


Conical Intersect 2. From « Conical Intersect » París, France [1975]

« A simple cut or series of cuts acts as a powerful drawing device able to redefine spatial situations and structural components”.
-Gordon Matta-Clark

The work of Gordon Matta-Clark has been deeply documented in several museums and architecture centres, the way his work changed the meaning and scope of sculpture through architectural interventions has been an undeniable influence in architects and students. He worked mostly with ephemeral interventions on buildings through cuts and extractions on floors, walls and other structures, somehow showing the possibilities of descontructing reality by transforming our consciousness and the way we perceive our world.

When thinking about the power of representation as means of architectural thinking, the way that Matta-Clark transformed real buildings into scale models 1:1 by cutting its abandoned structures is at least, provocative, because he was reverting the process of our lineal way of…

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Surveillance Camera System Searches Through 36 Million Faces In One Second

mars 25, 2012

Sculpture: ‘Metropolis II’ (2010) by Chris Burden at LACMA, Los Angeles

mars 25, 2012

Art Blart

Installation dates: 14th January 2012 –


Poetic, historic, amazing, fantastic, incredible, indescribable (the words of an eight year old, comment on the website). Great video as well. Take your ear plugs! Many thankx to LACMA for allowing me to publish the video and the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.




Chris Burden
Metropolis II
Courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation
© Chris Burden

Dimensions: 9’9″ (H) x 28’3” (W) x 19’2” (D) (297 cm x 862 cm x 584 cm)

3 1/2 hp DC motors with motor controllers
1,100 custom-manufactured die-cast cars
13 HO-scale train sets with controllers and tracks
Steel, aluminum, shielded copper wire, copper sheet, brass, various plastics, assorted woods and manufactured wood products, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Dado Cubes, glass, ceramic and natural stone tiles, acrylic and oil-based paints, rubber, sundry adhesives



Chris Burden
Metropolis II

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The Exposed City

mars 23, 2012


I am reading The Exposed City Mapping the Urban Invisibles by Nadia Amoroso. Nadia Amoroso specialises in visual representation by using mapping strategies and reorganizes information and patterns found in architecture and the urban environment to create innovative new maps. What is unique about her approach to mapping is that she is interested in capturing invisible information such as statics or transportation patterns or even things like phone use in a region. I find this particularily interesting because the current series of drawings I am working on references invisible infrastrutures in architecture and I am always intrigue at how other proffessionals or artists interpret the invisible and how information is translated.

Two artists that incorporate the notion of invisible structures are Cath Campbell and Matt Shlian.  While Cath Campbell seems to be using mapping to reinvent our understanding and recollection of built environments. Matt Shlian implodes blueprint representations (or structural…

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Urban Voices: The Situationists, Psychogeography and Drift

mars 22, 2012



Formed by the coming together of a number of avant-garde European groups in 1957 and dissolved in 1972, the Situationist International “developed an increasingly incisive and coherent critique of modern society and of its bureaucratic pseudo-opposition, and its new methods of agitation were influential in leading up to the May 1968 revolt in France” (Knabb, “Preface” ix). Guy Debord’s work The Society of the Spectacle (1967), which was to become the most recognized written work produced by a member of the SI, explored the city as itself a commodity-form riven through by capitalist ideology in material form. Consisting of 221 numbered entries, ranging from a sentence to a length of several paragraphs and organized under nine chapter-headings, the work seizes upon the Marxist trope of totality to explain the spectacular nature of contemporary urban and social life: “The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social…

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Sarah Sze

mars 21, 2012


After a seven days’ march through woodland, the traveller directed towards Baucis cannot see the city and yet he has arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there, they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the foliage. 

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

I have always been influenced by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.  As a work of fiction Invisible Cities offers a whimsical approach to thinking about cities and the built forms that shape them. Calvino’s imaginative descriptions defy the laws of physics and the limitations of modern urban design. He provided expanded…

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mars 20, 2012

100 Ways To See... A Street

I’ve been focusing (largely) on the aesthetic elements of the street so far and I thought I’d just continue in that vein for now and possible for the rest of the month.

The next few posts shall look at specific design elements.  Today, I explore the wealth of typography (read: FONTS) on Wythe Ave.

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mars 20, 2012


There is a rich literature on space in videogames.

(non-specialists should start with M. J. P. Wolf’s The Medium of the Videogameand the two readers on videogame theory he’s edited with B. Perron).

But how much of this is relevant to urban space specifically, and not merely to space in the abstract?–the answer: some, but not enough (yet).

Which only makes work by Michael Nitsche, for example, stand out more. His book Video Game Space: Image, Play and Structure in 3D Game Worlds with MIT Press even references urban theorist Henri Lefebvre. Here’s a brief online review.

Another book Space Time Play. Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism provides a number of articles that suggest a dialectical relationship between videogames/digital representation and the practice of urban planning itself. The Introduction to the book can be downloaded here.

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Urban Voices: Georg Simmel (on urban movement)

mars 20, 2012


Georg Simmel (1858-1918) was a sociologist of the urban environment who wrote (among other essays) the essay « The Metropolis and Mental Life, » where he in effect describes the modern urbanized consciousness: “The psychological basis of the metropolitan type of individuality consists in the intensification of nervous stimulation which results from the swift and uninterrupted change of outer and inner stimuli” (original emphasis).

Simmel continues: « Lasting impressions, impressions which differ only slightly from one another, impressions which take a regular and habitual course and show regular and habitual contrasts–all these use up, so to speak, less consciousness than does the rapid crowding of changing images, the sharp discontinuity in the grasp of a single glance, and the unexpectedness of onrushing impressions. These are the psychological conditions which the metropolis creates. »

–in a sense, Simmel was an early forerunner of more contemporary urban theorists who define the city in terms of movement and…

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Public Workshop | 

mars 20, 2012

CONCERT URBAIN : pour une citoyenneté créative

Via Scoop.itLe BONHEUR comme indice d’épanouissement social et économique.

A cheerleader of possibility, Public Workshop creates uniquely engaging opportunities for youth and their communities to shape the design of their cities.


via Manu Fernandez


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#6 – L’espace public chez Habermas : idéal, dégénescence, espoir démocratique

mars 19, 2012

Girlfriend in a coma

L’ouvrage L’espace public de 1962 vise à entreprendre la généalogie de la sphère publique bourgeoise depuis le XVIIIème siècle jusqu’à sa dégénération à l’époque contemporaine.

D’après Habermas, cette sphère serait apparue avec la naissance de l’Etat moderne et l’émergence d’une nouvelle classe sociale : la bourgeoisie. Corrélativement à cela, la mainmise étatique sur l’économie de type mercantiliste a poussé cette nouvelle classe émergeant de la société civile comprise comme sphère des échanges et du travail à se constituer en un public critique capable de juger les actions de l’Etat. La famille dans laquelle ont apparu des habitudes de lectures et la société civile animée par le capitalisme en train de se développer ont été à la base de la sphère publique littéraire puis politique composée par la classe bourgeoise.

Il s’agissait alors pour cette classe constituée de faire un usage public de sa raison, raison dont la finalité était de juger…

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traversées urbaines #2

mars 19, 2012

cycle de projections de la cinémathèque de Grenoble

Traversées spatiales, traversées temporelles, traversées thématiques, mais aussi impossibles traversées.
Ville et cinéma se réfléchissent mutuellement depuis plus d’un siècle. Réinterrogeons les classiques et débattons de l’actualité de cette relation à l’heure où la condition urbaine et l’image numérique se généralisent.

Découvrez le cycle Traversées urbaines en vidéo sur Dailymotion

gated communities

mars 19, 2012










Dans le cadre du séminaire «Villes et (in)sécurité : de l’ère globale aux réponses locales »
(B. Morovich –  F. Lopez),

Conférence ouverte à tous :

Stéphane Degoutin
Gated communities et autres figures de l’enfermement en réseau

Mercredi 21 mars, de 11h à 13h
salle de réunion – 3e étage
à l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Strasbourg

mars 19, 2012

mars 19, 2012


Retro basha. (Zamalek)

These photos were all taken in August 2011 on a walking tour of Cairo, in an effort to capture the remaining traces of the revolution. The mediums are variedstencil, graffiti, wheat paste, poster, and paint—but there’s an unmistakeable urgency behind each piece needs to be preserved and shared. (I snuck in an anachronistic sculpture of Gamal Abdel Nasser out of sheer surprise with the simultaneous effect of reverence and caricature it produces.) Much of the original street art produced during the January 25 revolution has been removed (by a paid shadow army of graffiti removers, it is said). All photos taken on an iPhone 3GS camera.

 Vintage Hosni Mubarak. (Tahrir Square)

The luckiest air conditioner in Cairo. (Zamalek)

‘Hind Rustom, who died about two weeks ago. The caption says, “We’ll get you from Sharm, Sona, you traitor.” The second part plays off a line in…

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