Thoughts and Columbia

Once again proving that it's all been done before, I sampled recent Columbia studio briefs and found outcroppings of my thesis interests under the surface everywhere. Or I'm just reading in to things. Either way, innovation is lame, so lets just consider this a confirmation of intelligence and a commitment to mastery. Perhaps excerpting some snippets will help me situate myself against alternate theses.

One big divide that seems lurking under the surface (if I may paraphrase and exaggerate a little, these things are probably mostly coming from my head anyway), is the split between:

(1) Briefs that put architecture in service of a de Certeau-like agenda of expanding room for free play within the product world of capitalism. The exercising of biopower as a tactical political move. This idea exacerbates the feelings of frustration I encountered on reading a chunk of de Certeau last night. While I think his conception of the world is elegant, captivating, and most importantly evidencing truth, or at least the image of it along with correctness, his conclusion that tactics must take the form of play seemed deadening, at least for architecture.
It seems like we are either on the side of the generic system (the side of production, the man), or we are forced to minimize our role in the interesting (at least per de Certeau) side of consumption, to disappear, leaving everyman as his own, kinda lame, spatial manipulator.
So, in order for this to work in such a way that interests me, the architect would need to increase agency such that, first, we actually increase the room for play, and second, we actually improve, expand, alter the definition of play to increase its potential effects. We make the biopower stronger and better. So architects could either (1) design the tactics of de Certeau's politics (designing them might already be a contradiction), (2) or they could willingly provide an infrastructure (his iambic pentameter analogy) that increases constraint to encourage creativity (but then aren't we still on the production/man side), (3) or they could open up intentional holes in something that doesn't at first seem like infrastructure, or even within existing infrastructures, which allow biopower to flourish in and capitalize on, and even expand.
One would be a strategy of designing consumption itself, one of designing an infrastructure of consumption, and one of producing holes for consumption (through parasitic, corruptive, deceptive, erasing, altering, hiding/revealing, making hackable etc moves within existing infrastructures (or architectures).
At first blush, the first seems somewhat tedious, with a scale too small for architecture (or maybe for me, thats what frustrated me when reading de Certeau, at least). The second seems to embody contradiction, and be somewhat pompous. The third seems the most immediately appealing. Not just because the quality of the architectural responses it seems to trigger for me sound cool, but because it also seems to actually define a role, an agency, for the architect within a given conception of the world. We are not the man, working on products. But we are also not just the people, working on our tiny zone in a sea. Rather we are a new agent that seeks to operate with the relevant techniques in favor of the people (and to some degree the man, by keeping some focus on production as well) with systems that are relevant, on the systems' own terms. This allows us to slowly encourage play, and then modify it as an appropriate architecture as it/we develop...

(2) Briefs that paint a roughly similar picture of the world, but respond not with biopower but with new network connections. They return political power and agency on a large scale, they believe it. So while some of the rhetoric in these studios sounds correct in framing a scenario, the approach, at least for now, seems less appealing to me. Still useful as oppositional framing devices.

Note: A lot of these also espouse a worldview of increasing statelessness, global-everything, and diffuse something-or-another that seems not so right. I prefer to think that these spaces are within relatively conventional definitions of the world (states, borders, etc) and rather can make a footprint through states of exception. There are weird parallel and/or overlapping conditions, but I don't think that the world is yet turning into a homogenized soup. I think. At least not at the scale I am interested in.

Ok, for fun, interesting (for better or for worse) snippets from Columbia's recent studio briefs. After writing all this the connections to below seem flimsier and less necessary, but have interesting smells and feels within little moments or ideas. The language is peppered with relevancies, which probably means either I have cast my net too wide and vague (surely a truth), or that my topic is super-awesome (also inevitable), or that my project is all-consuming in terms of its ability to materialize in my eyes, to change the forms of things (yup).
So here goes:

Reinhold Martin, Fall 2005
Governor’s Island, New York. In the spring of 2005, Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) issued a “Request for Expressions of Interest” to develop the island.

In response, we propose that:

1. The island be renamed Utopia (an island second in fame and influence only to Manhattan), and that all subsequent development be expected to live up to that name.
2. The new island’s urbanism be one of islands—individual units of space arranged to maximize programmatic mixture—of which Guggenheim: Utopia will be the first.
3. The resulting islands within islands be designed as an escape—“Escape to the Islands.”

Guggenheim: Utopia is therefore conceived as a beautiful object whose primary function is to attract visitors and investment capital to Governors Island through the public display of art and culture.

In particular, we will take notice of—and attempt to neutralize—their shared organicism. As a backdrop for the understanding of architecture as a self-referential aesthetic object...


The aesthetic model we will pursue will privilege enigma over communication and entropy over order.

Utopian Realism

The overall challenge of the studio will be to explore the architectural and urban potential of an approach that can be called Utopian Realism, which asserts that:

1. The further inside (architecture) you go, the further outside (the city, the world) you get.
2. Every building imagines a city.
3. Every building can imagine a better city, and a better world.

Laura Kurgan, Fall 2005
No such permanent institution -- with the ability to prosecute and jail individuals for crimes outside the jurisdiction of a single nation-state -- has ever existed in the history of humanity.

its spatial definition (as an institution with global reach and borderless jurisdiction. but housed in a particular place in built structures) is still being debated.

The institution can be interpreted architecturally, then, as part archive, part courthouse, part stage or broadcast studio, part research center, or as a complex hybrid of existing programs, some of which are not easily compatible, and one whose reach and public extends automatically beyond its temporal and physical location.

Your work should take into account the fact that the courtroom is always a built diagram. Do not confuse the minimal elements of the ICC courtroom's program (interpretation booth, robing chambers, etc.) with the basic diagrammatic structure of any courtroom -- it is the latter on which you should concentrate here, and hence distinguish between the diagrammatic and its programmatic aspects of the courtroom.

Consider what happens to these courtrooms-as-diagrams once inserted into the larger context of the ICC as an institution, and once the ICC is itself active in even larger contexts, i.e. networks of power, information, and ethics. As an institution (not a building), what is the ICC, what might it do or become, and what forces is or will it in turn be subjected to?

Although the building is made of a series of rooms, it is also constructed of a series of networks and remote locations, both visible and invisible, and looks backwards and forwards in history.

Scott Marble, Spring 2006
...we will consider the ubiquitous portable classroom that results from the chronic problem of fluctuating enrollment and general overcrowding of public schools. While they are always intended to be deployed temporarily as an interim solution to space needs, portable classrooms are very often used for many years becoming part of the permanent landscape of public schools. And while they are universally seen as architecturally inadequate and symbolically negative, they continue to expand in use.

Marc Tsurumaki, Spring 2006
At once a space of regimentation and control, the hotel is conversely a site of pleasure, play and social experimentation. In this sense, the hotel approaches an architecture of ludic excess, a technical and bureaucratic apparatus whose primary function is diversion. A provocative assemblage of itineraries, functions and performances, it offers an incubator for emergent forms of collective experience and new techno-social assemblages. Viewed opportunistically, the paradoxical mix of efficiency and excess provides a rich ground for intervention, revealing the complimentary relation between play and order, between the productive and the transgressive, between the conventional and the radically inventive.

Fred Levrat, Spring 2006
Geopolitical investment and brilliant marketing has allowed the small city of Dubai to recently become one of the major metropolitan players in the world. Fantasy and marketing has become a way to attract capital, generating a city not based on “demand” or “necessity” (there is absolutely no local population need) but on the satisfaction of the materialization of a “virtual environment.”

In Rem Koolhaas retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan “Delirious New York” the main reference for the iconography and driving force for the constitution of Manhattan is fuelled by the fantasy of Coney Island and the concept of New York as an attractor of new population and capital. If the Chrysler Building or the Empire State building are to be labeled as subconscious association to the Coney Island land of pleasure, one has to recognize the entirely conscious and meticulous planning of operations such as the Palm, the World or the Burj Dubai.

The double physical condition of the tabula rasa, on the desert sand and on the water has been quite helpful for this construction of dreams. The other tabula rasa is happening socially, where international capital and an imported “slave” labor allows almost any materialization.

Arab investors are not anymore interested to invest in the US stock market, and are looking for an outlet to develop their own “progressive” environment.

The role of the architect is not just to solve problems but to invent new environments. To constitute a package of virtual materialization – with the name, the design, the product, the materials, etc. Even invent the type of user that should use it. Not at an object level but on an environment level, on a neighborhood level…

Leslie Gill and Tina Manis, Spring 2006
the first studio focused on the formation of the Department of Homeland Security and the housing of its workforce in a regional outpost in the American Southwest. The following semesters examined a federally mandated agenda to increase security in the form of sanctioned programs to build barricades along the border. This year, we extend our focus to examine the role of the American Embassy in Mexico City and/or the role of a Mexican Office of Consulate Affairs in San Diego; both programs have historically represented two scales of the domestic and international identity at home and abroad.

The State Department’s mission for embassies is clear, yet the identity and presence of the embassy remains in a state of flux becoming increasingly a fortress of secrecy rather than that of a house of entertainment. The world’s perception of the US Embassy extends the country’s image abroad and is at once a symbol of American vulnerability and one of arrogance and excess.

Conversely, the role of the consulate is less directly tied to national identity and politics. Its smaller scale and flexible mandate provide for a nimble, bottom-up, organizational structure. As a result the consulate has been less architecturally emblematic, more accessible, and better integrated into the local environment. Ultimately its obscured status is more accessible than its larger sibling.

Ed Keller and Moji Baratloo, Spring 2006
Control of water, protocols for its treatment and distribution, and an evaluation of the overall influence on urban morphology will be a key factor for socio-political formations over the coming decades. The impact of these factors on urban use patterns, as well as developing architectural, urban and political morphologies will be the focus of this studio.

As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century, one thing is clear: a general economy and scarce natural resources ever more powerfully dominate global relations, and this economy subsumes all political, passional, and imaginative systems. A set of constraints with water, energy and resource management as their prime concern dominates global discourse, which still relies on the residual artifacts of an old school geopolitic, one that represents nation states are the primary arbiter for both global, political and personal agency. As global citizens we are facing a potential crisis of unprecedented dimensions, but also the opportunity for rapid response, growth and change at a pace never before possible.

recent actions by individual cities to adopt the Kyoto Protocol independent of their host nation’s actions on Kyoto point to a new kind of global association emerging that dissolves previous fixed relations and repositions cities as networked mini-states with global agency. [eg. the dozens of US cities connected through ‘Local Governments for Sustainability’.]

will investigate this new relationship between water, networks, and bio-power management and suggest emergent social, political, and economic bodies that can affiliate literally overnight, thus developing new tactics for program invention, landscape control, and indeed resource use.

By engaging in this project, we imply that the new, global, networked city is more than just a disintermediated cultural field that individuals can coopt for new forms of ‘play’, but indeed offers unprecedented opportunities - if cities such as Brisbane and the Gold Coast in Australia can prepare- to channel water and resource use such that they become real organs for social and political equity.

TECHNE- Tectonic and Organizational
The New York Waterfront: ed. Kevin Bone
City of Quartz, Dead Cities: Davis
Organizational Space: Easterling
Critical Path, B. Fuller
Once Upon a Time in the West : Leone Manhatta : Sheeler + Strand


Means Without End: Giorgio Agamben
Geopolitical Aesthetic: Jameson
Practice of Everyday Life: deCerteau
The Accursed Share: Bataille
Fire and Memory: Fernandez-Galiano
A Thousand Plateaus: Gilles Deleuze + Felix Guattari

Psychogeographies of Water and Landscape

Taking Measures Across the American Landscape: Corner + MacLean
Crying of Lot 49: Pynchon
Red Desert: Antonioni The Return : Zvyagintsev
The Kingdom, Element of Crime: Lars von Trier Repo Man : Alex Cox
Delicatessen, City of Lost Children : Caro + Jeunet Fitzcarraldo : Herzog
Mulholland Drive: Lynch Beau Travail : Denis
Stalker: Tarkovsky The Last Wave : Weir
Apocalypse Now : Coppola Bright Future: Kurosawa

Systems Behavior, Material Controls

1000 Years of Non Linear History: Manuel DeLanda
Emergence: Johnson
Hypersea: McMenamin and McMenamin
Smart Mobs: Howard Rheingold
Empire, Multitude: Hardt and Negri
Cymatics, Hans Jenny
Syriana: Gaghan Lessons of Darkness: Herzog
Chinatown: Polanski Videodrome, Crash: Cronenberg
Heat: Mann

Scenarios: Past, Present and Future

Modernity at Large: Arjun Appadurai
Electronic Disturbance, other texts: Critical Art Ensemble
Diamond Age: N. Stephenson
UBIK: Philip K. Dick
Transmetropolitan: Warren Ellis
Shockwave Rider: J. Brunner
Dune : Frank Herbert
Koyanisquatsi : Reggio Playtime : Tati
Apu Trilogy : Satyajit Ray The Day After Tomorrow : Emmerich

Jeffrey Inaba, Spring 2006
The term 'Bubble City' is used to describe the explosive development of urban areas throughout the world that we have experienced in the past three decades. Bubble cities have been of interest to planners and architects for revealing new professional conditions they must or will soon encounter, such as accelerated economic investment and divestment, fast-track planning, and 'instant' construction processes (e.g., Tokyo, Houston, Barcelona, Berlin, "Holland," Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Dubai, Mumbai, etc.).

or every contemporary city that is hot, now there are several that are not. This studio explored the conceptual situation bubble cities face after the apex of rapid growth. With the growing number of major world cities that have recently hit a plateau, it is possible to examine the efforts of these bubble cities to re-bound in ways that previous cities have not, fueled in part by the not-so-distant experience of irrational prosperity.

The studio used Hong Kong as a case study. Students proposed new directions in light of its 1990s growth, its reunification with China, the 'Asian Economic Crisis,' and SARs. The 'One Country, Two Systems' mantra has effectively shifted from a policy to use Hong Kong as a laboratory to 'learn' from the market economy, to one largely limiting Hong Kong's economic power, expertise, and infrastructure. Hong Kong is an example of a major world city that must invent its future where the advantages of location and advanced infrastructure have been minimized.

HERE'S ONE BIG POOPER, I ALMOST DON'T WANT TO WRITE IT. Its really just the term, the rest seems undeveloped, even malformed. But still.
Ed Keller and Douglas Diaz, Summer
Historically unprecedented relationships emerge today as the centuries-old idea of a 'state of exception' finds increasingly networked channels of operation. The contemporary boundaries of global institutions create utterly new forms of territory, and these require a different range of urban and architectural solutions.

Today an emerging space of freedom and agency may have a chance to install the sociopolitical intensities envisioned by Constant in his New Babylon schemes; fully activated and responsive to Bataille's general economy, for better or worse: catalyzing unexpected transitive relationships in the world system of politics, culture, capital, energy, and information.

The studio began with a four-week project, analyzing precedent models of insurrections (historical or imaginary). A range of filmsâ€"Battle of Algiers, Code 46, Passenger, etc.â€"were screened and discussed to provide a theoretical framework for the design process. After the mid-review, the studio divided into two general camps: either anti- or pro-insurrection.

Projects operated at multiple scales and questioned how they might promote notions of control or freedom at the level of the city, crowd, or individual, through landscape, media, urban design, and architectural intervention. As the nation-state fades as a meaningful construct, the tectonic plates of sociopolitical drift govern all systems, behaviors and interactions. The studio tactically intervened within this geopolitical system to test the limits of architecture.

Ok, tomorrow I will go through last year, but frankly it is not getting that much more helpful. Writing that paragraph at the top was much more helpful.

Today's Radical Proposal

Today's Radical Proposal (after digesting the revelatory introduction of de Certeau's "The Practice of Everyday Life" (which I am only beginning, for now, to scan, appropriate and assimilate (good words)), which also happens to further frame Peabody Intervention as an observation test case: The thesis prep document becomes a tactical manual for resistance for the Allston community in the face of Harvard's expansion, a tactical assemblage for "renting" and therefore exerting political control over its geographic (maybe no longer legally...) space, and The Thesis becomes either the exercising of these tactics in a war-game mock scenario to create seeds/holdouts, or better (maybe) the provision of the infrastructure for such operations to utilize ("a body of constraints stimulating new discoveries, a set of rules with which improvisation plays") as a complement to the manual, or maybe better even the deployment of a parasitic architecture that leeches off the existing architecture/infrastructure to improve the conditions to nourish such new modes of consumption.


Web Giants Angle for Spectrum

Web Giants Angle for Spectrum: "Google and company wants to tap what they call the 'white spaces' of unused spectrum within the frequencies of TV channels 2-51 that the Federal Communications Commission has set aside for traditional broadcasters once the digital switch-over is complete in February 2009. Google and company then would transmit to a plethora of devices."


Internet Black Holes

(Also from AB) States of Exception on the Internet:

Junkstate of Exception

Junkstate of Exception:
AB forwarded me this quote from Junkspace:

"Entire miniature states now adopt Junskspace as political program, establish regimes of engineered disorientation, instigate a politics of systematic disarray. . . . the secret of Junkspace is that it is both promiscuous and repressive: as the formless proliferates, the formal withers, and with it all rules, regulations, recourse…"

Unique US home with Cold War Ambiance

Unique US home with Cold War ambiance

BBC News

For those of us who remember the destruction of the Berlin Wall more clearly than the Cold War that preceded it, it is a chilling lesson in just how real the fear of nuclear annihilation was.

The Cold War warriors did not do things by halves. These Titan 1 missile bases took two-and-a-half years to build and were the most extensive, complex and costly ever constructed by the US Air Force that ran them.


Built to withstand a nuclear blast as close as 1,000m away, every room was either mounted on springs or a cushioned floor to protect from vibration.

In the domed control room, there are still springs on the ceiling, from which the early computer equipment was once suspended.

Vast black tanks loom in side chambers. They held diesel fuel for the generators and drinking water for the staff of about 25 who lived underground for days at a time.

They would have been sealed in for weeks after a nuclear attack. The round surface air vents in the ceilings could be snapped shut at the flick of a switch. The escape tubes, sealed at the bottom by heavy iron lids, were filled with tons of gravel to slow the progress of any invasion force.

The atmosphere is cool down there, regardless of the temperature on the surface. The drab green and cream paint is peeling in places; pipes and vents snake everywhere.


It never came. But the last base commander, Colonel Clyde D Owen, told me they were constantly aware of just how much destructive power they had.

He said he would never forget the first time he was brought through the tunnels to see a giant Titan missile in its silo, describing it as "an awesome sight".


Eventually, hundreds more silos would be built, scattered across America's quiet backwaters.


Some of these underground warrens are now owned by water companies and storage firms. Others have been turned into homes.

Of the rest, many were abandoned with their silo doors open and have slowly filled with water, prompting illegal night-time visits by extreme scuba divers.

Bari Hotchkiss, who is selling Larson Site A on internet auction site eBay, says he has been approached by a company interested in turning one of the 160-foot missile silos into an artificial reef.

An entrepreneur and amateur historian, he bought the complex on a whim in 1998. Ideally, he would like to see it turned into a children's summer camp and educational facility.

It is an admirable aim - though for the moment the base still feels haunted by the ghosts of Armageddon.

Talk about reprogramming.

Peabody Intervention - Inspirational Source Material (Tactical Situational Awarerness)

So, in the tactical spirit of my next exercise - Peabody Intervention - I am proposing that as far as "source material" goes for thinking up something, I am only allowed the first two informational things I could find quickly and spontaneously about Peabody Terrace (less than 5 minutes on Google). You go to war with the army you have. Right. Also, there are things we know we know, things we know we don't know, and things we don't know that we don't know. Thanks Donald.

I will attempt to use them as starting points. Or I will summarily dispose of them. Whichever is quicker and more effective. No mercy.

Situation Briefing
Contextual Intel

(1) Harvard Workers Respond As a Team to Peabody Terrace Emergency
see article highlights below

The first is an article concerning a fire/evacuation at Peabody Terrace in 2000. I think its most salient aspect is its indication that a series of scripted responses by agents of the surrounding networks, of which Peabody Terrace is a node, demonstrate the connectedness of the Peabody Terrace enclave to wider the University System.

A scripted event-response revealing a hidden condition of differentiation (Is it really legible? To whom?). Procedures exposing underlying rules. It momentarily highlights Peabody's extreme difference from its immediate surroundings. Its enclave-ness. A situation of unusual occurrence, responded to with pre-prepared tactical force, revealing a difference in underlying structures (legal, property, social), enabling awareness (is awareness capital, convertible to power?). I guess one real meaty question to ask would be, what if a similar electrical fire were to happen in a surrounding area? More importantly, how can I understand this architecturally. Can I?

The fire starts in architecture, because of a faulty network component within the architectural enclave. This sends a shockwave, an alert, through the networks. They send agents to respond, to protect the architecture. Ok, this is a little much I realize, but the closest analogy I can come up with is the the electrical fire was 'probing the defenses' of the enclave. Forcing it to reveal its tactical significance through momentarily leveraging its strategic value in order to protect it. In exploiting its state of exception status, it is also revealing it.

The following image comes peripherally to mind, which would seem to somewhat illustrate this concept through analogy in a purely visual manner, by deploying a representational device - the cut section axo. It is from an article on the TVA by William Jordy (recommended by TH). It harks to the seam between a surrounding context and a deployed infrastructural enclave that seemed interesting from my previous looks at/readings about the TVA. In this case, it illustrates the complexities of the boundary between nature and machine.

In the case of Peabody Terrace, the architecture is dependent on its state of exception status in order to maintain its function. It must be Harvard to survive. Scale matters, and this complex is a product of subtle connections with a much broader, more powerful and multiple context, without which it could not survive, function, be inhabited.

However, in order for it to function fully as Sert intended, the boundaries between it and its context must also be minimized. It cannot broadcast its status as an enclave, its edges are blurred and porous, paths are sutured within its fabric. A delicate balance is maintained. Complaints about Peabody Terrace don't seem to focus on its functional/spatial difference from its surroundings (problem solved?), but rather its formal/material differences. The balance might be altered significantly, for example, if the formal and material properties were more directly identifiable with the broader Harvard network (ie if Harvard was concrete modernism, or Peabody was pomo colonial funk). There are subtle reversals going on, oscillations which maintain balance.

The fire serves a similar function to the section axo of the TVA damn. It momentarily reveals the connections and problematizes the seams. Only I suppose that in the case of Peabody, the situation is further complicated by the fact that there is no formal and material continuity between the enclave and its host networks (whereas the damns are a satellite formal gesture, a node in an architectural network as well, and therefore in that case the drawing is more ideological propaganda than revelatory gesture). But there is programmatic and functional continuity to be sure. It is a mutation of the dorm/cloister type, pried open and wrought urban. There is a slip between Peabody's formal and programmatic structures. And between the structures of those and its sustaining networks. Perhaps we can exploit these slippages, reveal the connections (perhaps in an ideological complex manner, rather than a simplistic revelation or assault) beneath through a tactical activation, a probing of the defenses. Ok, that's what we are taking from this article.

The article (excerpts):
""The University has this infrastructure for support in operations like this. We didn’t have to call an outside environmental unit to help. We didn’t have to call an outside bus company," said Susan Keller, director of residential real estate for Harvard Planning and Real Estate. "Those relationships were key in making things work."

On the scene Sunday were personnel from the Harvard University Police Department and several University Operations Services units, including shuttle bus drivers, fire group and university operations center personnel, electrical engineering and utilities workers, and building operations staff. Public Affairs staff were also on hand to manage media interest in the incident.

Harvard Planning and Real Estate (HPRE), which manages Peabody Terrace for the University, took a lead role in managing the situation. HPRE had its own managers on the scene providing critical assistance to those who were evacuated and important information about the building’s physical setup.

Dining Services also pitched in, creating meals for the 300 to 400 Peabody Terrace residents who were temporarily housed at the Gordon Track. University Health Services Director David Rosenthal helped obtain medication for those whose prescription drugs were left behind. And Kathy Bray, manager of freshman dormitories for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, had extra mattresses and bedding trucked over to Gordon Track in case an overnight stay was needed.

Environmental Health and Safety personnel were also at Peabody Terrace, working side-by-side with Cambridge firefighters to test the air for carbon monoxide. University Information Services also offered help, providing cell phones to workers and residents to help keep communication lines open ."

(2) Why Don’t the Rest of Us Like the Buildings the Architects Like?
see article highlights below

The second is an article which is a speech by Robert Campbell (grumpy old man?) of which only really his descriptions of Peabody Terrace are even somewhat relevant. He gives them within the context of asking the eponymous title question. Though I guess he suggests the idea of enclave as critical as well, vis a vis utopia and modernism. Nothing surprising here, for sure. Generic background problems and information.

I think it is relatively obvious how this is just sort of appropriate critical-architectural background noise for my intervention. The correct architectural waters from which to pull my Intevention-calibur from.

The article (excerpts):

No building could have had more praise heaped upon it by the architectural community than Peabody Terrace. It’s still greatly admired by architects, including myself. But more or less everybody else did, and does, hate it.

It does have a number of qualities. First, it is porous to the neighborhood. When he designed it, Josep Lluis Sert said that he didn’t want it to be like Dunster House and the other Harvard houses, which created a barrier between the neighborhood and the Charles River. And, in fact, you can walk through Peabody Terrace. What Sert didn’t foresee is that the people
in the neighborhood would act as if they’re wearing electronic dog collars. When they step onto Harvard land, they feel uncomfortable."

Second, it’s a much denser development than anything around it, but it steps down in height to match the heights of lower buildings along the street. The towers are in the center; at the edges, Peabody Terrace comes down to the scale of the neighborhood. I don’t think it’s overwhelming. The towers are very slim.

And the whole complex is ingeniously organized. There’s a corridor only on every third floor, which means that the apartments above and below the corridor run all the way through the building, so that you can enjoy ventilation and views in both directions. And the corridors are lined with windows. They’re not the usual so-called double-loaded corridors, running in darkness down the middle of the building. The balconies double as fire escapes: Sert was particularly pleased by that because he realized that if there were a budget problem, nobody would be able to cut the balconies. The pattern of balconies, sunshades, and brightly colored, operable panels, set against the raw concrete of the walls, makes for a very rich façade in the modernist manner. Sert loved Paris and liked to talk about it as “elephants and parrots”: long grayish buildings enlivened, at street level, by the bright color accents of the shops and cafes. Peabody Terrace is inventive and fun; to me, it seems to handle the issues of scale–of putting a big building in a small place–very well. But its architectural language remains, for most people, unfamiliar and offensive.

The rads and the trads are the same. They’re much more like each other than they are different. That’s because they both seek to substitute a utopia of another time for the time we actually live in. The trads find utopia in the past; the rads find it in the future.

Avant-gardism usually rides on some new wrinkle of technology, whether it’s the speeding cars of the Italian futurists in the early twentieth century, or the public health and hygiene movement that underlay so much of early modernism. Now it’s computers.

What both the rads and the trads ignore, in their love of utopias of the past and the future, is the present. They both try to elbow aside the real world we live in and substitute a world of another era. It’s a lot easier to design a utopia than to deal with the complex reality of a present time and place. You don’t have to deal with the tension between memory and invention. You just take one or the other.

I think he got that exactly right. If you think of a teenager learning for the first time about baseball or rock music, that’s how you move into any new subject, by admiring what’s familiar and by labeling and classifying. Lewis Mumford said that what he valued in architecture is what he valued in life itself: “Balance, variety, and an insurgent spontaneity.” But you can’t have insurgent spontaneity unless there is some stable frame against which to be insurgent.

- And he detests the avant-garde technique:
Here is a contrasting quote from another architectural theorist, Charles Jencks: "The architect proceeds as the avant-garde does in any battle, as a provocateur. He saps the edges of taste, undermines the conventional boundaries, assaults the thresholds of respectability, and shocks the psychic stability of the past by introducing the new, the strange, the exotic, and the erotic.

The conventional language did reinforce a sense of place and of time at Harvard, just as does the conventional language of all those little red Veritas emblems. Harvard is a stage set, just as is any city. Now it is so into its brand image–red brick, Georgian, all that kind of iconic imagery–that every time Harvard renovates the Faculty Club, it looks older.

At Princeton, the board of trustees and its planners have divided the campus into four quadrants. The old part of the campus is brand-image Princeton, where they’re building a Gothic Revival dorm. Princeton existed for 150 years before it ever did any Gothic Revival; that didn’t come along until about 1900. Gothic Revival was seen as the Anglophile tradition that America should be following, instead of all those other foreign things. That’s brand-image Princeton. Then they’re doing another quadrant that opens to the future with buildings by Frank Gehry and other current stars. So at Princeton, the rad-trad conflict is now immortalized by stylistic zoning. It’s a new invention.

What I’m arguing is that the same thing has happened to architecture. It has become frameable and signable. We’ve found a way to rip the building out of its context in time and space. And that, of course, is the result of the arrival of photography and other visual media. Photography is the removal of context. You can’t define it any better than that. A photograph of a work of architecture frames it off from the world and freezes it at a single moment in time; it frames it in both time and in space. We now live in a media culture so pervasive that we barely notice it. It is a world of framed visual images in our magazines, on our screens, and increasingly in our imaginations. We have come, therefore, to think of buildings as we think of paintings, not as existing in a specific time and place but in the worldwide stream of images.

Yes yes, its stale and tired, but its in the context of my Peabody research, and therefore its nice, basic points and implications will serve as my other basis for intervention. Enough research, onto speculation...



BLDGBLOG: "In any case, at one point, Reisner describes something called N.A.W.A.P.A.: the North American Water and Power Alliance. N.A.W.A.P.A. is nothing less than the hydrological fantasy project of a certain class of U.S. water engineers. In fact, Reisner talles us, N.A.W.A.P.A. would 'solve at one stroke all the West's problems with water' – but it would take 'a $6-trillion economy' to pay for it, and 'it might require taking Canada by force.' He quips that British Columbia 'is to water what Russia is to land,' and so N.A.W.A.P.A., if realized, would tap those unexploited natural waterways and bring them down south to fill the cups of Uncle Sam. Canadians, we read, 'have viewed all of this with a mixture of horror, amusement, and avarice' – but what exactly is 'all of this'? Reisner:
"Visualize, then, a series of towering dams in the deep river canyons of British Columbia – dams that are 800, 1,500, even 1,700 feet high. Visualize reservoirs backing up behind them for hundreds of miles – reservoirs among which Lake Mead would be merely regulation-size. Visualize the flow of the Susitna River, the Copper, the Tanana, and the upper Yukon running in reverse, pushed through the Saint Elias Mountains by million-horsepower pumps, then dumped into nature's second-largest natural reservoir, the Rocky Mountain Trench. Humbled only by the Great Rift Valley of Africa, the trench would serve as the continent's hydrologic switching yard, storing 400 million acre-feet of water in a reservoir 500 miles long."
And that's barely half the project!
The project would ultimately make "the Mojave Desert green," we read, diverting Canada's fresh water south to the faucets of greater Los Angeles – thus destroying almost every salmon fishery between Anchorage and Vancouver, and even "rais[ing] the level of all five [Great Lakes]," in the process.
After all, N.A.W.A.P.A. also means that the Great Lakes would be connected to the center of the North American continent by something called the Canadian—Great Lakes Waterway.
But N.A.W.A.P.A. is an old plan; it's been gathering dust since the 1980s. No one now is seriously considering building it. It's literally history."


Mobile Sweatshop

Just to agitate before bed:

Why would it be controversial for, say, Nike to set up a fleet of mobile sweat shops that can capitalize on the needs of the global refugee crisis, and either
(1) act as a basis for a new society (think of the ads!)
(2) withdraw and relocate under threat

Headline: Nike Pod 4C Workforce lands in Lebanon

Jones Partners - ProDek System

- Related enough when I saw it that I thought I'd include it. Architecture as infrastructure, as a machine for the living of/with other machines. Cohabiting in a machine with other machines of your choosing/specification. I love the accommodation of pre-designed corporate units, and the idea of the street as infrastructural delivery vein (here on the roofs), which is in line with Vidler's reading of infrastructure from Hausmanian Paris.

Two quotes (different articles, probably not relevant).

- "Here Eisenman is presented with a tactical difficulty since he does not have enough program to literally overwhelm, or even outflank Mies, which us the point of any Eisenman project. He must relinquish what Jacques Derrida has shown to be the superior position. In architectural terms, though, there is another level at which the concept of frame can be thought, another position opposed to figure: the ground, or the foundation of the frame, the frame of the frame. This becomes the site of his intervention and the vehicle for his critique." 110

- instead of ducks, Koolhaas builds duck-billed platypi (campus-as-architectural-zoo), therefore the IIT center is "all this platypus splooge" within a one-story box. wow.


Note to Self

As I begin completing dossier-style initial case studies, I will attempt to create a list of techniques, as well as a list of agents, relating to the state of exception.

Sophie Calle

I looked at Sophie Calle, this was indeed the coolest, and most relevant (TACTIC), project:

"Auster later challenged Calle to create and maintain a public amenity in New York. The artist's response was to augment a telephone booth (on the corner of Greenwich and Harrison streets in Manhattan) with a note pad, a bottle of water, a pack of cigarettes, flowers, cash, and sundry other items. Every day, Calle cleaned the booth and restocked the items, until the telephone company removed and discarded them. This project is documented in The Gotham Handbook (1998)"

Bertolt Brech, Handbook for City-Dwellers

I need to get a hold of a copy of Brecht's "Handbook for City-Dwellers." I saw two mentions of it today that, along with the title, make it seem potentially relevant. The problem is, I don't know what form of media it is, and I can't see much helpful mention of it online.

Notes on Dutton, Street Scenes of Subalternity

Not sure how all this is directly relevant, nor how I even found it, but there are reverberations, and it sure gets the blood up, if nothing else.
Its also VERY LONG.

"Meanwhile, back in the PRC, things were different. Once the chairman
shuffled off this mortal coil, the curtains lifted on a new party performance
called economic reform. In sharp contrast to previous party
efforts, economic reform unleashed market forces, opened China to the
outside world, and introduced the benefits and vices of globalization to
the Chinese people. For this, the reform program received widespread
applause. But as the clapping dies away, one begins to wonder whether
reform has bought off or merely postponed the same kind of crisis that
turned "big brother" Russia into a very poor cousin. Indeed, as Rupert
Murdoch's Star TV beams in 1960s reruns to an ever eager Chinese
audience who are ordered not to watch, one is left wondering whether
other types of 1960s reruns are also about to be aired. Maybe the 1960s
show that sent shivers down the spine of the mayor of Philadelphia is
about to be relayed to China.

The streets of China aren't burning . . . yet. But the endless caravans
of rural migrants heading for the cities in search of work and wealth may
well have their own plotlines to add.

In conditions reminiscent of those outlined by Marx in his description
of the formation of the European working class, tens of millions of
would-be proletarians are now streaming into the cities of China in
search of employment. As they reach their destination, some find jobs
but most find their lives increasingly circumscribed by ever tightening
laws against vagrancy, prostitution, and hooliganism. Under these circumstances,
the odor of the backstreet begins to reek of social unrest.
For the Marxist, this is the smell of the backyard furnaces of revolution.
For me, I guess, there is the whiff of a different form of sedition.

While Marxists look to the macrolevel story, sifting through the tea
leaves of change to discern the beginnings o f a revolutionary class, more
localized street-level divination suggests something else. That "something
else" tells of more intimate and private rebellions. It is a story line
straight from Brecht, for it is not about revolutionary heroes but antiheroes.
It is in the lives of these often "resourceful, humorous nobodies"
that one begins to recognize a form of backstreet biopower that leads to a
kind of resistance very different to that imagined in Marxist dreams." 63-64

"Biopower is an interesting expression. It forces us away from grand
homologies and makes us attend to the seemingly insignificant. It introduces
a new concern for the interstices of government that turns, in so
many ways, on microlevel "ways of doing things" that produce calculable
outcomes for government. From social security to public security, government,
it seems, is about the disciplining of the everyday. Moreover,
under the Maoist-inspired mass-line local security systems, such disciplinary
forms appeared to operate everywhere. Indeed, the picture being
presented would be a perfect image of totalitarianism but for the fact that
it is less than "total." As we shall see, ordinary people have their own
forms of "disciplinary technologies" that can, and do, run counter to
those of government. In other words, just as there can be no display of
power without resistance, so can there be no deployment of biotechnology
without a struggle." 64-65

"An entirely different picture of the art of struggle in this era of global
maneuver emerges in these diminutive and modest forms of resistance,
which belie the Marxist message of revolution. Indeed, the artful subversions
of the sly dominate and work to ensure that government is not the
only thing generating "calculable outcomes." Here, one discovers a form
of "sly civility,"to steal a line from Homi K. Bhabha, that reveals
through its shadowy forms Michel de Certeau's "art of the weak."'
"Sly as a fox and twice as quick, there are countless ways of making
do," proclaims de Certeau as he lists innumerable examples of the heterogeneous
tactical plays on life by the antiheroes of this more modest
form of rebellion. From a stolen word to a stolen wallet, these are the
petty thieves of the everyday whose actions are crouched just below the
threshold of the label "rebellion." My concern, then, is not with the
political dissident whose words we all too readily know and whose voice
we hear so clearly. Rather, it is with those whose words are whispered or
whose contempt is articulated just out of earshot. Their words are mere
murmurs, for should they be otherwise, it would be an open declaration
of war on a "strategic field" that could only result in failure. A guerrilla
war of the everyday is going on just below the surface, requiring, it
seems, far more subtle forms of maneuver and resistance." 65

"A society," writes de Certeau, "is composed of certain foregrounded
practices organising its normative institutions and of innumerable
other practices that remain minor. The former practices he labels strategies
while the latter he names the tactic. While a strategic field of government
emerges out of "monotheistic" panoptic power, de Certeau quickly
adds that "a polytheism of scattered practices survives, dominated but not
erased by the triumphal success of one of their number." The "tactics of
the weak" come into play through these latter "subjugated" forms of
power or even through the "exchanges" opened up between them and
triumphant power. If power trades time for space, then resistant tactics
will always attempt to "turn the tables" and trade it back again. Thus the
prisoner in the cell has "all the time in the world" to map the cracks in
the wall that offer the opportunity to escape, for, as Catherine Ingraham
notes, even panoptic power must blink." 65

Wang's promise grew into a museum project that transformed his
tiny house into a shrine. Much to the chagrin of the local party officials,
the "very small museum" (xiuo xiuo bomuguun) he established was a success;
it led to the founding of a magazine (aptly named Contenlporary
Cultural Relic) and to the formation of an international communist
alliance. (See figure 1.) Like the rhetoric of Polus that Socrates so sarcastically
labeled his "museum of ornaments," Wang's museum was a "turning
of the tables" on the official Mao. It resurrected a Mao obsessed with
cultural revolution, a Mao as excessive as the badges that are pinned to
the chest and tell the Mao story. Wang's efforts spike the drinks of the
teetotaling homogeneous party accounts of Mao by mixing a more
potent radical otherness into the cocktail. This is champagne Mao, and
one we readily recognize, for it is on the surface of every badge ever
made in his image. It is a Mao who trades on the sacred, the erotic, and
the excessive. It is this other Mao who, quite by accident really, reveals
the scandal of both the chairman and the party's selective history of him.
The party, it seems, may set the strategic field, but the procedures within
that field always leave room for tactical maneuvers that can undermine it.
Yet de Certeau's account of tactics is remiss in at least one respect. It
fails to adequately recognize that the government of the strong plays its
own tactical games. In other words, tactics are not "of the weak," but
are "anybodies." Indeed, it is their very promiscuity that gives them protean
life." 66

"This is pure tactics. Nowhere is this subtle rewrite
more graphically demonstrated than in the theme park of revolution constructed
in Mao's home village of Shaoshan." 68

"the party has its share of problems with pirated copies
that would not only steal their thunder but will also steal their logo." 69

"In this way, language is transformed into a
variable code for the marking of different bodies, times, and positions.
The dexterity and speed of re-marking the body illustrates the nature of
the tactical lives these people live. But flexibility of meaning isn't always
to be found in the quick turn of phrase. It is also about remarking the
landscape to highlight one's own values and aspirations. While thieves
marked the body, it was always the party that marked the ground on
which these bodies walked." 70

"...one could not think of going home or going out without "going red," for virtually every
street name demanded it...some 475 streets were renamed to include the
word revolution. Between the "Red Sun" Roads and Study Chairman
Mao Alleys, one could not help but think revolution when thinking about
where to go." 72

"At the height of the cultural revolution, the street
on which the Soviet embassy stood was renamed and the embassy was
given a new number. Their new address: 1 Oppose Revisionism Road,
Beijing." 72

"They are the migrants who populate the cities but for whom the city
will always be a foreign place. They are despised as uncultivated or uneducated
tramps, or as morally unworthy streetwalkers. They are marked
out not only by overt signs of difference, such as the tattoo, but by a
series of less visible birthmarks. The way they dress, their speech patterns,
their dialects and customs all mark them out from city people.
With one designation, one Chinese character, they are marked as the
eternal undesirable. That character is liu and it means "to float." In combination
with other characters, liu marks out the social lepers of Chinese
society." 74

- This is almost reading like a textbook of ways to articulate social change (dubious types of change, to be sure) within legal petri dishes
or fabricated realities. Quite a bit sounds spatial, even quasi architectural. Scary. It also sounds weirdly like MODERNISM (I mean the arch kind).

"Two separate and unrelated acts of
government ensured this stilling of city populations. The first act symbolized
the type of mobile city life that was to be left behind, while the
second flagged the stable, static, socialist life to come. Both acts were
designed to halt the movement of people and things and to set in place a
regime of perfect calculation.
Act one of this two-part performance began at ten o'clock on the
morning of 10 June 1949 when the head of the newly formed Shanghai
Public Security Bureau led a team of 400 police and garrison troops
down to the Shanghai stock exchange. After surrounding the building
and calling on the occupants to come out, the police immediately arrested
238 of the occupants as speculators and registered the rest as suspects
before sending them home. The chaotic and fluid world of shares and
speculation came crashing down. A registered, stable life, not the floating
world of the share, would, in the future, determine one's fortune and
fate. A new equity came to displace old (in)equities! This alternative
vision of the future was unveiled a few months later.
This second act began in September when the Social Section of the
Central Committee of the Communist Party passed an edict instructing
all workplaces to establish personnel security sections to monitor, survey,
and register all staff and workers. This was the final brick in a wall that
surrounded a social arrangement known as the work-unit system. The
panoptic quest of the work-unit security forces could only succeed, however,
if these units supplied what Mauss, in a very different context and
with a slightly different meaning, referred to as a system of "total services."
Local work-unit-level party committees, therefore, developed a
system to provide for virtually all of life's material needs. As a consequence,
the concept of the main street, of shopping precincts, and of city
life as we know it began to fade into memory, and as these things waned
the work unit spread into most areas of life.
So it was that hidden behind compound walls that designated their
jurisdiction, work units set about establishing a labyrinth of small institutions
to provide for life's needs if not its pleasures." 76

"That dream imagined an "algebraic society" of registers (of
workers) and (work) units that would make everything visible and measurable.
The dream of a mathematically calculable socialism seemed but
a few sums away." 77
And this sounds like algorithmic architecture. I'm just sayin' sounds like.

"By trading in obligations, connections, and reciprocity,
work units not only began to cohere as tiny societies but were
able to live up to the production demands of party planners." 77

"The architectonics of the traditional compound house reinforced
patriarchy by ensuring an internal economy based on the hierarchical
ordering of family members. The ordering of rooms in the house hierarchizes
bodies, privileging the central gaze and guidance of the patriarch.
At the same time, its closed nature reinforces the powerful bonds of
interdependence between family members. A floor plan of the compound
house is, in this way, a map of the ethical and moral order of the
Confucian world. Space, symbolically coded and hierarchized in this
manner, makes every home a temple to the family and a "machine" to
train bodies in the art of Confucian comportment." 78

"Those who are not tied into such networks of social relations
are always on the outside, and limits are placed on their action. They are
the people to fear and the ones who remain huddled under the character
liu." 79

"...says Yi Zhongtian, "the day when every single person has a place that will
secure their fate and enable them to have a roof over their head is the
day when there will truly be great harmony under heaven." The opposite
of this, he continues, "is a state of great confusion. "If work units represented
stability, the people of liu are its opposite. Outside of any compound
wall, they signal danger to a society unused to movement. After
all, as Yi goes on to note, "floating or drifting is a form of movement
and movement leads to chaos."" 79

"Above ground, the neon lights and bright window displays
dazzle us. Beneath the surface, however, live the people of liu.
Street Scenes of Subalternity
The "people of liu" are the Chinese subaltern. They are the floating
outcasts of a society that is organized to ensure that everyone has a
place. They signal a challenge to this stability in a way that fundamentally
threatens the Chinese sense of community and self. If chai is the mark
of destruction of the old, then liu flags a fear of what the future might
bring. If chai signals a physical reorganization of the city-space to promote
a consumer-based future, liu signals the underside to this new
more mobile and more class-based society. Economic reform has left the
people of liu-the internal migrants, the poor, the destitute, the criminal,
and the undesirable-more vulnerable than at anytime since the 1949
revolution. Without connections, money, or position these people are
vulnerable both to police harassment and arrest and to popular local
resentment. Theirs is the human rights story all too often ignored in the
West, for it is a tale that seriously challenges the Western approach to the
question of rights." 81-82
- Yeah, that was a little much.


Case Study Questions ROUND 1

A basic list of questions to use on each case study. This should help keep the initial inquiries short and sweet. However, each initial dossier should get a little specific to the case at hand. Then, as I have the first five or so cases, I will begin attempts at arranging/connecting/matrix-ifying them.


(1) What was its intention?

(2) What is the product/outcome?

- objects
- organization
- (nouns & verbs)
- is it consciously representational or not?

(3) What is the primary instrument with which the exception is made/outlined/enclosed?

(4) In what system(s) is the exception being made?

Case Study List ROUND 1

A no-holds-barred, no promises, compilations-style list of potential case studies:


Gitmo Mobile Court . DMZ . Zeebrugge Terminal . Yokohama Terminal . Offshore / Iron Mountain Data Haven . Google Pages . Baghdad Green Zone . Antarctica / The Moon . The High Seas (historical, privateers v pirates) . West Berlin / Marshall Plan . Big Ports (HK, Singapore, Denmark (BIG), Rotterdam, Bayonne) . Airports (Beijing, Hong Kong/Osaka, Manhattan Heliport). North Korea Tourist Zone . Cruise Ships . Disneyworld (w celebration) . CCTV Zones in London . Downtown Manhattan Security Zone . Dubai FTZ's . Military Bases (US, Germany, Diego Garcia, Uzbekistan/Azerbijan) . UN ICC . UN Refugee Camps . UN Yugoslavia / War (NGO's) . Insurgency Zones (Terrorists) . No-Fly Zones. National Refuge Zones . Ellis Island . National Parks / Wildlife Refuges / Coastal Public Zone . Oil Platforms . Tiny, Retarded Wannabe countries and Utopian Projects . Apec/Davos Summit Areas . Protest Pens . Google Earth Resolution . Phone / Data / Satellite Free Zones . Cell Phones and Data in Public Places / Google 700 MHz . Hudson Tards / High Line / (Special) Economic Development Zones . Syrian-Jewish Community and Jewish 'Property' zone in Manhattan . Ghettos (historical and current) . Favelas . Yakuza / Mafia . Cite Soleil . Mexico City . Kowloon Walled City . Cyprus and Belfast. Chernobyl / Three-Mile Island . Historical Modernist: TVA, Chandigarh, Brasilia . Nazi Germany (Speer) . Japanese-American Internment Camps . Shenzen . Vatican City and that country within a country within a country in one of the Emirates . Roche & Lavaux, exp. the Dust Bunny Building .

Notes from Meeting with TH: 10_05_07


in response to the relationship between the TVA and Modernism, between a State of Exception and modernism, between state power and tabula rasa as an ideal design condition/goal:

- Modernism as always needing a Tabula Rasa (one that was always gridded)
- Is the Green Zone modernism?

other historical examples (related):
- Brasilia (something about 10 old sheets of paper???)
- UN Headquarters
- Laws of preservation
- Chandigarh

Talk to AD about exploring this connection between modernism and state power/state of exception for my paper topic.

Use case studies to explore didactic states/types of exception:

- Basic questions: what was intention, what is the product/outcome
*object, organization - noun & verb, is it consciously representational or not?

- Make a 50-case matrix, 1 hour each, looking for salient issues to start actually making connections/groupings/deductions/assumptions

- for example, TH had a nice little blurb for the TVA case: It was intended to always increase potential.

In relation to my mention of the Roche & Laveaux article:

- Scripting vs. scripts
- 'scripting' as tactic (or strategy?)
- vs. a field manual
- assemble a set of case studies on TACTICS [and perhaps another one on OPERATORS] within these case studies of states of exception

- start thinking of small interventions that reverberate (as opposed to modernism); small scale but city wide


- Francois Roche: Dust Bunny Building (also garbage collector thing?)

- Things become infrastructure when they are controlled (see: Air after Pollution)

- Law/Code as soft infrastructure
'Negative' or opposite of infrastructure

- Matter is what is being controlled

- Maybe architecture can produce a state of exception rather than just build on one. This has huge potential for agency, no?


- Sophie Calle - artist - w/Paul Auster (Maybe talk to MM?) (Total Recall??)

- understand scripting as a contemporary architectural tactic. Like:
D+S Blur
Rem doing Wired

- Jameson, "Enclaves..." in Assemblage (Zeebrugge, "seeds of time" (?))

- Hans Hollein - later interventions/happenings (tactics...)

Notes Prepping for Meeting with TH on 10_05_07

For the purposes of summarizing where I stand today, it would be best to first begin with a list. This list is a breakdown of ideas. These ideas are all interrelated somehow.

  1. State of Exception
    1. Agamben
    2. History in relation to democracy
    3. History in relation to the 2 world wars
    4. Power and lacunas
  2. Power and Architecture (The TVA)
    1. The TVA as an architectural example of state of exception (not technically, I think, but we are getting there)
    2. The state of exception placing specific demands on architecture
    3. The TVA as infrastructure
    4. The TVA in relation to Corb
    5. The TVA in relation to modernism
    6. Utopian projects, infrastructure, and power relations
  3. Disciplinarity, Agency, and Power
  4. Contemporary issues of power
    1. States of exception as legal lacunas
    2. Other types of legal lacunas
    3. Architecture as relating to defunct powers
    4. Specific, interesting lacunas
    5. Operators within these lacunas
    6. Easterling, Counterinsurgency
  5. My thesis is (a nice closed loop...):
    1. Restoring agency to architecture
    2. Agency through large-scale speculation
    3. Realistic speculation through real relationships with power
    4. Political action through realistic power
    5. Meaningful architecture through politics

And dont forget Kant and public works...and Deleuze...

- 4 types: executive (government), military (increasingly anti-terro, counterinsurgent), corporate (multinational, nomadic), informal (lawless)
- need a technique/set of issues/goal of presentation to approach these studies and organize them....what am I trying to learn from them.
- today, my thesis is about combining the refugee problem with the abandon ftz/shipping zone

Ok, so the first big problem for me is to how to arrange/choose/get into these dossiers/case studies. What to have in 3 weeks...

Richard I and the Science of War in the Middle Ages

A couple of random notes on an essay about strategy/tactics in the middle ages, I guess made relevant by the same things that make the military relevant, and also because the Middle Ages seems like a somewhat related (and mentioned elsewhere...?) time period in terms of anything from power structures/state structures to a time of guilds and bandits and networks and nomadology...

- campaigns w/o battle vs. fighting on the march vs. pitched battle

- war as 'strategy of maneuver' requiring mostly effective administration

- the dominance of the fortified strongpoint meant that wars of attrition were dominant (rather than battles) ... leads to the importance of garrison troops, artillerymen (engineers), bowmen, incendiaries [guys tasked with the systematic razing of villages] and foragers.

- a War Machine (Delezue/Nomadology), no?

Involuntary park - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Involuntary park - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Involuntary park is a term coined by science fiction author and environmentalist Bruce Sterling to describe previously inhabited areas that for environmental or political reasons have, in Sterling's words, 'lost their value for technological instrumentalism' and been allowed to return to an overgrown, feral state. Discussing involuntary parks in the context of rising sea levels due to global warming, Sterling writes:

"They bear some small resemblance to the twentieth century's national parks, those government-owned areas nervously guarded by well-indoctrinated forest rangers in formal charge of Our Natural Heritage©™. They are, for instance, very green, and probably full of wild animals. But the species mix is no longer natural. They are mostly fast-growing weeds, a cosmopolitan jungle of kudzu and bamboo, with, perhaps, many genetically altered species that can deal with seeping saltwater. Drowned cities that cannot be demolished for scrap will vanish wholesale into the unnatural overgrowth.[1]"

Examples include:
* The Green Line separating Greek and Turkish Cyprus
* The Korean Demilitarized Zone
* The Zone of alienation around the area of the Chernobyl disaster
* The White Sands Missile Range U.S. government military reservation. Location of the Trinity test site."

Downtown NY Security Zone

Downtown Security zone (Outside the Stock Exchange, Etc) with Will.


Portable Halls of Justice Are Rising in Guantánamo

Portable Halls of Justice Are Rising in Guantánamo - NYTimes
But in the five-year effort to prosecute Guantánamo detainees, very little has gone according to plan. So, to be ready for all eventualities, the Pentagon’s new judicial complex is portable — a prefabricated but very high-tech court building surrounded by trailers, moveable cells, concertina wire and a tent city — all of which has been shipped here in pieces that could be unplugged, disassembled and put back together somewhere else.

This year, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates rejected as “ridiculous” a plan to erect a $100 million permanent federal-court look-a-like here. The $12 million “M*A*S*H” set for the age of terror was born.

The centerpiece will be the courthouse, a squat, windowless structure of corrugated metal. Though it will hardly be much to look at, it will be outfitted with the latest in trial technology: a computerized system for digital document display; wiring for hidden translators working in as many as five languages; and a 10-camera automated system to beam video of the proceedings to a press center in an aging aircraft hangar nearby.

One new feature for trials expected to involve classified evidence is a plexiglass window separating the small press and spectator gallery from the floor of the courtroom. At the touch of a button, the military judge will be able to cut off the sound in the spectator section.

The tent city, complete with military cots and a recreation tent, is where some 550 court officials, lawyers, security guards and journalists from around the world are to live for weeks at a time once military commissions get under way, perhaps as soon as this spring.

“If you’re an avid camper, it’ll be great,” said Maj. Chad Warren, the operations officer of the construction unit, the 474th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron.

If and when the trials begin, they will be held under a set of rules created especially for trying terrorism suspects. And now they will be held in a setting created especially for terrorism suspects.

Architecturally, it is beyond state of the art. “It’s something new,” Professor Lederer said. “We do not normally design courtrooms that can be folded up and shipped.”