Posts tagged with "Internet":

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The Architecture & Design Film Festival returns with an exclusive online lineup

Still on the hunt for content? Already exhausted our roundups of movies, books, and podcasts to enjoy while stuck at home? From May 17 through 20, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is presenting the second edition of ADFF:Online, focused exclusively on four “creative geniuses.” Check out the full lineup below, and AN readers can use the offer code ANxADFF to get a discount on any of the movies. Digital tickets, available for purchase here, are $1.99, and each film—screening first at 8:00 P.M. EST and then again at 11:00 P.M. EST—will open with comments from a special guest and close with a director Q&A session. Of special note is the May 19 screening of Space Land Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm; catch a cameo from AN co-founder, the late Bill Menking, as he weighs in on the legendary 1970s avant-garde group from San Francisco. May 17 – Gray Matters “Gray Matters explores the long, fascinating life and complicated career of Eileen Gray, whose uncompromising vision defined and defied the practice of modernism in decoration, design and architecture. Her reputation bloomed in the early 20th century with her traditional lacquer work, then became a critically acclaimed and much sought-after furniture designer and decorator before reinventing herself as an architect, a field in which she labored mostly in obscurity. Apart from the accolades that greeted her first building (which were persistently and perversely credited to her mentor), her pioneering work was done quietly, privately and to her own specifications. But she lived long enough (she died in 1976 at age 98) to be re-discovered and newly acclaimed. Today, with her work commanding extraordinary prices and attention, her legacy remains elusive, contested and compelling.” May 18 – The Man & The Architect: Jorn Utzon “This documentary about Jørn Utzon tells the personal and emotional story about the world-renowned architect and his unique gift. Behind him stood the love of his life through 70 years, Lis, without whom Jørn would not have become the architect and man he was. His story is told by the people who were closest to him for decades: his children, close colleagues, and friends, all of whom share anecdotes and personal experiences. He greatly inspired the people he worked with, and meeting Jørn Utzon had a profound effect on their lives. The film is a portrait of a devoted humanitarian and a sensitive and loving soul.” May 19 – Space Land Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm “This is the first film to consider the work of the 1970s avant-garde architecture, graphic arts, and environmental design firm called Ant Farm, best known for its iconic land-art piece, Cadillac Ranch. Radical architects, video pioneers, and mordantly funny cultural commentators, the Ant Farmers created a body of deeply subversive multi-disciplinary work that questioned the boundaries of architecture and everything else in the process. Incorporating breathtaking archival video, new footage shot over ten years, and animation based on zany period sketches, Space Land Time is about the joy of creation in a time when there were no limits. “ May 20 – GOFF “Bruce Goff was one of the greatest American architects of the 20th century. His unconventional perspective challenged stigmas about the Midwest’s inability to produce innovative work. A peer to Frank Lloyd Wright, his work had a profound influence on the next generation of architects, including Phillip Johnson and Frank Gehry. However, Goff’s willingness to explore original forms often solicited polarized perspectives of his work. As a result of establishing his practice in an otherwise conservative landscape and his unabashed desire to experiment with the possibilities of form, much of his work has been left to decay or forgotten altogether. GOFF explores the life of an iconoclast and chronicles the events that led to the destruction and renewed interest of his memory and dwellings.”
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ArkDes takes its ASMR show online while the physical gallery is shut

In an ironic turn of events, the threat of the novel coronavirus has forced Sweden’s national center for architecture and design to move WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD, what was supposed to have been an in-real-life manifestation of ASMR, totally online. The exhibition was originally supposed to have run in ArkDes’s experimental Boxen, an enclosed gallery within the Stockholm gallery’s main space. ASMR—Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, scalp tingles caused by whispering, lip smacking, crinkling, and other quiet, close sounds—is typically thought of as an internet phenomenon, thanks to the popularity of YouTube videos and communities that share material. The main conceit of the James Taylor-Foster-curated WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD was to translate the digital into the physical through design; a concept now flipped yet again, as the exhibition is fully accessible online. ArkDes kicked off the show on April 7 with an interactive, virtual private tour (viewable here) and interviews with “ASMRtists” PierreG ASMR, WhisperingLife ASMR, UNO ASMR, Life with MaK, ASMRctica, FredsVoice ASMR, MissASMR, anoASMR, and Made in France ASMR. After the interview, viewers were guided through the exhibition, complete with splicing in of video clips from the show, and Taylor-Foster took questions from the audience. The stream offered viewers a chance to ask clarifying queries about what ASMR is, how advertising influences (and disrupts) ASMR videos, and for more information about binaural, or 3D, audio. A major theme of the show is the confluence between technology and the human form, and the exhibition design from architecture studio ĒTER lines Boxen’s walls with squiggly, waving biomorphic forms reminiscent of intestines, brain folds, audio cables, and erratic waveforms. “Intentional” ASMR, like the work made by the artists mentioned above, sits alongside “unintentional” ASMR as well; clips of Bob Ross painting, a soft-spoken Björk interview, and other examples of videos that trigger an involuntary response, despite it not being their intention. While WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD was originally slated to run April 8 through May 31, the digital version is now slated to be open from May 15 through November 1.
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Op-Ed: Coronavirus might give us the internet we’ve always wanted

There was a time when the internet, then new, and untested, was widely welcomed as a revolutionary technology that promised to alleviate—even fix—many of the evils then affecting late modern societies. That brief, juvenile spell was followed by almost 20 years of remorse and misgivings: from the early 2000s to this past month the internet, now ubiquitous and inevitable, has been seen by many with mistrust and suspicion. This is now changing again for obvious, contingent reasons. In just a single generation, our perception of the new electronic technologies of information and communication has already gone through two sudden and violent reversals of judgment. The second U-turn started a few weeks ago, and, albeit due to the coronavirus pandemic, it does not yet have a name. The first U-turn, which started in March 2000—20 years earlier almost to the day—is in the history books. It is known as the dot-com crash. For the benefit of younger readers, who will not remember it, here follows a brief recap of that momentous story. Around the mid-1990s, many started to claim that digital technologies were about to change the world—and to change it for the better. Architects and designers were enthralled by the creative potentials of the new digital tools for design and fabrication; digital mass-customization (the mass-production of variations at no extra cost, as advocated by Greg Lynn and Bernard Cache, among others) promised a complete reversal of the technical logic of industrial modernity. At the same time, sociologists and town planners were trying to make sense of a new information technology with the potential to upend all known patterns of use of urban space, and of cities in general: the internet was still a relatively new concept (many still called it "the information superhighway" or the "infobahn"), yet some started to point out that, with the rise of the internet, many human activities were inevitably poised to migrate from physical space to what was then called "cyberspace" (i.e., again, the internet): Amazon sold its first book in the spring of 1995. In the years that followed every company with a dot and a "com" in its name, as per its URL, seemed destined for the brightest future. So was the internet in general, and with it, many then thought, the world economy. As the late William Mitchell pointed out in his seminal City of Bits (1995), many things we used to do in physical space can now be more easily and more efficiently done electronically: think of e-commerce, e-learning, e-working (or remote working, or telecommuting), etc. One proverb frequently cited at the time went: for every megabyte of memory you install on your hard disk, one square foot of retail space downtown will disappear. Strange as it may seem today, everyone at the time thought that was a splendid idea. The valuation of all dot-com companies (companies doing business on the internet, or just saying they would do so at some point) soared. Between January 1995 and March 2000 the NASDAQ composite index, where many of these young companies were quoted, rose by almost 600 percent. As the then-chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States, Alan Greenspan, famously said, that extraordinary surge was not all due to "irrational exuberance": valuations were rising because the internet made our work, in general, more productive, and many things easier to find, buy, or sell, hence cheaper. Thanks to the internet, we were told, we were all doing more with less: more work, more reading, more teaching, more learning, more researching, more interacting, more dating—you name it. The electronic transmission of data costs so much less than mechanical transportation of persons and goods: think of the advantage of reading a scholarly article from your office—or from your couch!—without having to travel to a faraway library. What’s more, the elimination of the mechanical transportation of persons and goods could be environmentally-friendly (or, as we would say today, would reduce our "carbon footprint"). If all that seemed too good to be true, it’s because it was. The NASDAQ peaked on March 10, 2000. It lost 80 percent of its value in the 18 months that followed. That was the dot-com crash, aka the burst of the internet bubble. Many tech companies disappeared; Amazon barely survived, after losing 88 percent of its market capitalization. The NASDAQ itself took 15 years to crawl back to its peak valuation of March 2000. In the contrite climate of those post-crash years (which were also the post 9/11 years) few still saw the internet as a benevolent, or even a promising, technology. The anti-internet backlash was swift and predictable. As many had warned from the start, technology should not replace human contact; there can be no community without physical proximity. Ideologues and philosophers from various quarters soon chimed in, fueling the anti-technological spirit of the time. Christian phenomenologists, for example, had long held that the elision of human dialogue started with the invention of alphabetic writing: if we write, we use technology to transmit our voice in the absence of our body. For those sharing this worldview, disembodiment is the original sin of all media technologies: after that first and ancestral lapse into the abyss of mediated communication, things could only go from bad to worse; the internet is just more of the same. A few years into the new millennium social media reinvented the internet; in recent times we have learned to fear the media companies' intrusion on our privacy. Furthermore, by abolishing all traditional tools for thoughtful moderation, and giving unmediated voice to so many dissenters, outliers, and misfits, the internet has been seen by many as the primary technical cause of the rise of populism. (That may as well be true, regrettably, although I suspect that if I had been a Roman Catholic cleric around 1540 I would have said the same of the use of the new barbaric technology of print by the likes of John Calvin or Martin Luther.) I write this while self-isolating in my London apartment, like hundreds of millions of Europeans, contemplating the unfolding of an unspeakable man-made catastrophe, created by human error and compounded by political cynicism, criminal calculations, and incompetence. The internet is, literally, my lifeline. It is all I have. I wish I could use it to replace my errands to the grocery store and to the pharmacy—but, as everyone is doing that, Amazon deliveries are now few and far between. Two weeks ago I started to use the internet to improvise classes, tutorials, and meetings, for my students in London and elsewhere. I wish I had started practicing a bit earlier—say, in 1994, following the example of a handful of pioneers like Mark Taylor, then at Williams College. I must also use the internet to read the papers, to keep paying my bills, and to carry out my duties in the schools where I teach. I use it to see family and friends. I may even restart using Facebook, which I jettisoned some 12 years ago (and my reasons for doing so back then are likely still posted on my Facebook page). From my living-room windows I used to see, in the distance, the uninterrupted flow of airplanes gliding into Heathrow, evenly spaced, three or four minutes from one another. I could still see a handful today, oddly—I wonder where from, and who for. Only a few months ago Greta Thunberg still incited us, by words and deeds, to flight shaming; she can rest now—she has won her battle big way, albeit not in any way she would have chosen. It appears that as the carbon-heavy economy of the industrial age (or the Anthropocene) has almost entirely stopped, we may have already staved off the global warming catastrophe—or at least postponed it. Only a few months ago some climate activists were more or less openly advocating the elimination of part of the human population as the only fix to save the planet: well, there you go. Meanwhile, something we have already learned is that internet viruses are less lethal than real ones. The coronavirus traveled by plane, boat, and rail. It was born and bred as a pure product of the industrial age. If a few months back, when this all started, we had already been using more internet, and flying less (as we are doing now, by necessity not by choice), many lives would have been saved, because the virus would have had fewer conduits for spreading. So perhaps, in retrospect, this is exactly what we should have been doing all along. Sooner or later schools, offices, cafes, restaurants, stores, and cities will reopen, somehow. When that happens, we shall be so starved for the human contact we lost, and missed, during our quarantines that my guess is the use of the internet will plunge—at least for a while. But at that point we shall also have learned that the traditional way of working—the mechanical, "anthropocenic" way of working—is no longer the only one. We shall have had evidence that in many cases viable electronic alternatives to the mechanical transportation of persons and goods do exist, and—when used with due precautions, and within reasonable limits—they can work pretty well. Remote working can already effectively replace plenty of face time, thus making plenty of human travel unnecessary: the alternative to air travel is not sailing boat travel; it’s the internet. Service work and blue-collar work cannot yet be despatialized as effectively as white-collar work, but that’s not too far away in the future either; automated logistics, fulfillment, and fully automated robotic fabrication are already current in some industries. Robotic factories are mostly immune to economies of scale, and they can be located closer to their markets, thus reducing the global transportation of mass-produced goods and components. Anecdotally, but meaningfully, I know that some among my friends and colleagues, like Manuel Jimenez Garcia at the Bartlett, or Jenny Sabin at Cornell, have already converted their 3D printers and robotic arms to produce protective equipment for medics and hospital workers—on-site, on specs, and on-demand. Because this is indeed the point; this is what robotic fabrication was always meant to do: where needed, when needed, as needed. The same robotic arm that made a Zaha Hadid flatware set last week can make face shields for medical staff today—10 miles from a hospital in need. No airport needed for delivery. During the Second World war, the brutality of the war effort had the side effect of revealing the effectiveness of modern technologies. Many who had resisted modernism in architecture and design before the war got used to it during the war, out of necessity; then adopted and embraced modernism out of choice, and without cultural reservations, as soon as the war was over. Likewise, the coronavirus crisis may now show that many cultural and ideological reservations against the rise of post-industrial digital technologies were not based on fact, nor on the common good, but on prejudice or self-interest. From the start of the coronavirus crisis to March 23 the Dow Jones Industrial Index lost one-third of its value; the tech-heavy NASDAQ, one quarter; Amazon lost nothing; and Zoom Video, the company making and selling the tool many of us use for online teaching, was up almost 140 percent. That was before the U.S. government and the U.S. Federal Reserve stepped in with a number of stimulus measures, which reflated all valuations indifferently; at the time of this writing, April 1, Zoom Video was still up about 100 percent. This looks a bit like the dot-com crash of twenty years ago in reverse. Perhaps, as many thought and said in the 1990s, and up to March 2000, the internet is not such a bad thing after all. Mario Carpo is the Reyner Banham Professor of Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett, UCL, London. His latest monograph, The Second Digital Turn: Design Beyond Intelligencewas recently published by the MIT Press.
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A spine-tingling show on ASMR is coming to ArkDes

ASMR—Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or the tingles you feel on your scalp when someone whispers in your ear—is making the leap to ArkDes, Sweden’s national center for architecture and design in Stockholm. From April 8 through May 31, WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD will be on display at Boxen, ArkDes’s gallery-within-a-gallery for experimental work. ASMR is a nebulous concept that varies from person to person, but the exhibition will attempt to translate the phenomenon into the physical world and contextualize it as a craft, design typology, and art at the intersection of the technological and the “real” world. As ArkDes notes in the press release for WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD, ASMR is a divisive internet industry. Some people watch videos of whispering, scraping nails, paper crinkling, or popping bubble wrap to relax, but others are just unnerved by it. It doesn’t help that ASMR videos can sometimes veer into incredibly esoteric topics with little delineation of whether something is a “joke” or intended for serious consumption. Still, for many, ASMR represents a way of slowing down and finding their center in an ever-quickening and connected society. “The incredible growth and emerging appreciation of ASMR over the last decade can tell us much about the way we live today,” said Taylor-Foster in a press release. “At a moment governed by a feverish speed, ASMR offers slowness. In harnessing the very technologies it seeks to subvert—hyperconnectivity and the Internet, the screen, and streaming platforms—it carves out a niche for kindness, care, empathy, and new forms of hospitality online.” ArkDes hasn’t announced the full list of show participants yet, but curator James Taylor-Foster has so far put together a preliminary whos-who of sensory stimulators. That includes audio and visual works from Apple, Björke, IKEA, pieces from pop painter Bob Ross, Marc Teyssier's Artificial Skin for Mobile Devices (a pinchable, prod-able fake flesh covering for phones), and more. Multinational architecture studio ĒTER will be designing the exhibition, and design and animation firm PostNew and Irene Stracuzzi will be responsible for the graphic design.
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Snøhetta selected to lead Wikipedia rebrand

Snøhetta has been selected by the Wikimedia Foundation for its rebrand. The Foundation, which operates the 19-year-old Wikipedia is looking to update its visual identity, as well as focus their public persona less on the foundation and more on their principal project. In a press release, Snøhetta describes the joint initiative as the “cutting-edge of collaboration in design” and wrote that the firm and the Wikimedia Foundation “will explore how strategic branding and digital design can generate engagement and promote knowledge sharing across cultures and geographies.” A website the two groups have put together claims, in further consultant-speak, that “Snøhetta will meet the Wikimedia brand network in person and online to gather insight and generate concepts that Snøhetta will use as a foundation for design development.” The website will host drafts of new designs as well as suggestions for public comment and contribution, in the Wiki spirit. The Wikimedia Foundation will also be considering new naming conventions for their many interrelated projects, working to center the better-known Wikipedia in order to simplify public communications. A representative for Snøhetta said that while the details are yet to have been hashed out, the firm hopes to “create a brand identity system that supports Wikimedia’s international commitment to ‘setting knowledge free.’” They went on to say that “The goal is to design a new visual identity system that represents Wikipedia and the Wikimedia mission as part of the essential infrastructure of free knowledge in the digital age.” The hope is to release the new “brand system” in the second half of 2020. There is, of course, a Wikipedia page with all the details
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Internet-infamous, truck-decapitating bridge will finally be raised

It’s the end of an era. The 11-foot, 8-inch railroad trestle that went viral for sheering the roofs off of campers, freight trucks, and other too-tall vehicles in Durham, North Carolina, is finally being raised. Nicknamed the “Can Opener” for obvious reasons, the Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass gained notoriety after Durham resident Jürgen Henn set up a webcam in 2008 (and a second in 2009) to capture the carnage. Although there are plenty of signs nearby warning of the bridge’s low height, drivers either ignored or didn’t see them, and the resultant crashes were preserved forever on A subreddit, documentary, and plenty of memes soon followed, as viewers often binge watched the oddly soothing footage and shared tales of similar bridges in their own cities. But on October 18, that all changed. The Durham Transportation Department announced via Twitter that they would be raising the overpass by eight inches and closing the street below from October 23 through November 5. The upgrade is one of the North Carolina Railroad Company’s (NCRR) Major Capital Investments projects, which is intended to improve railway conditions around the state. In the case of the Can Opener, the NCRR is undertaking a “Rehabilitation of NCRR bridge over Gregson Street in Durham to increase the roadway clearance from 11 feet, 8 inches to 12 feet, 4 inches for the purpose of improving safety and reducing damage to NCRR infrastructure from vehicle strikes,” according to their list of capital improvements. What took the NCRR so long? According to 11foot8, the railroad company had installed a crash bar to mitigate damage to the bridge, and lowering the road would be prohibitively expensive due to the sewer main that runs right below the span—thus placing the upgrade on the backburner, as the crashes weren’t impacting NCRR service. As Mel Magazine laments, the raising of the overpass marks a blow to collective internet meme-making and schadenfreude-based binge-watching. When one hits play on an 11foot8 video, they know exactly what they’re getting into, no matter how fast or slow the approaching truck tries to sneak under. Still, just because the bridge is getting raised doesn’t mean the “fun” is over; as numerous online commenters have pointed out, the maximum allowable height of a truck in North Carolina is 13 feet, 6 inches. 11foot8 might live on after all.
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The Cursed Architecture Twitter feed showcases the best of the worst

What drives the internet’s (perhaps morbid) obsession with bad design? Strange angles, melting paint, oddly-placed and vaguely threatening toilets, signage that hinders rather than helps, stairs to nowhere, and misplaced windows have all caused digital rubbernecking. Whether it’s critiquing the bric-a-brac nature of suburban homes assembled by the nouveau-riche in McMansion Hell, or posting abject failures in the 1.5-million-member-strong r/CrappyDesign subreddit, the demand for “bad design” to critique seems bottomless. The worst offenders are frequently aggregated on Instagram, meme-y Facebook pages, Twitter, and listicles, repackaged and reshared failures of design for new audiences. Enter the Cursed Architecture Twitter account, which has been posting baffling, incomplete, and/or possibly haunted buildings since September of last year. When asked about where they compile their material from and why they think it has such an enduring appeal, the owner of Cursed Architecture had this to say: "I started collecting the images a couple of years ago because I thought they were funny, and later on made the account for my own entertainment. I never expected it to be so popular—or popular at all. I’m a little stunned by it, honestly. The images come from all over the Internet: house listings, DIY forums, and so on. Some are submitted to me. "We live in a very planned, sanitary, squared-off world. I think that’s why the failures are so funny, and why they resonate. So much current architecture is totally impersonal, but a bizarre mistake is the opposite. It invites the question of who did it, and why, and who thought three urinals crowded into a corner or a staircase to nowhere was a good idea. There’s something very human about that." Perhaps the collective fascination with such failures stems from the internet’s ability to give would-be critics a seat at the table, allowing anyone to weigh in. It’s also possible that when faced with overwhelmingly terrible design that fails at a basic level, everyone can put aside their quibbles and unite to make fun of it, together.
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Net art turns the internet into a space of performance

What happens on the ‘net stays on the ‘net. Or maybe not, according to the new exhibition The Art Happens Here: Net Art’s Archival Poetics, a history of net art from 1985 to today presented by Rhizome at the New Museum in New York. The show brings net art out of the tubes of the internet and into the gallery, part of an intensive archival project curated by Michael Connor, artistic director, Rhizome, with Aria Dean, assistant curator. The show focuses on sixteen artworks selected from Net Art Anthology—Rhizome’s major online exhibition of one hundred works from throughout net art history—born-digital art that both resulted from and influenced a rapidly changing network culture that pervades the real world, beyond the browser. The show’s title comes from MTAA’s 1997 Simple Net Art Diagram, which outlines the relationship of computers, the network, the artists, and the art. Two personal computers are linked with a label, “The art happens here,” pointing to the space between the computers. An important distinction is made here—and in the show—between net art and a broader conception of digital art that focuses on techniques in a new digital media: “net” implies that the art is a performance that investigates how people relate to each other and these machines. We can see how the artworks in this exhibition were at the front edge of using the technology and investigating what the critical and societal impacts might be in the future. These were social networks before social networks, tag clouds before tag clouds, and streaming services before streaming services. Goofier early works include Alexei Shulgin’s 1998 386 DX, a “band” (a computer) that performs punk music, and StarryNight, a 1999 conceptual visualization of Rhizome’s early email listserv content, displayed with tags that connected dots connected to event “pages.” The later work in the show is more overtly political. The earlier works are more concerned with tautological questions about the medium/space of the internet: experiments in relating to one another and defining ourselves across new digital platforms, such as StarryNight and Simple Net Art Diagram. More recent works, however, signal more toward how we use these platforms—and their more advanced, codified descendants like Facebook—as places to enact politics. For example, Miao Ying’s 2007 Blind Spot is a Chinese dictionary with all the words redacted that the Chinese government would censor online. Artist-activist Morehshin Allahyari’s Material Speculation: ISIS was an attempt in 2016 to reproduce 3D-printed replicas of a set of twelve artifacts from the ancient cities of Hatra and Nineveh, destroyed the year before by ISIS. Perhaps this evolution makes sense since those early experiments—the band in 386 DX or StarryNight for the Rhizome “website”—are also a form of political speculation about social relationships in the face of new technology. The show tracks these developments in the technology and art as well as changes in society that unfold alongside the art historical narrative of the show. Or perhaps it is less about the tracking of changes in broader culture, and more of a change in how the technology is used: As it becomes more user-friendly, it becomes available to people who are not only interested in it as an experimental medium. Or, as we become more comfortable with it, we begin to turn to how it can be employed critically, rather than simply as a technological experiment. All of the works in the show resonate as a history that still echoes through our experience of online art, but also the internet in general. Are Facebook and Twitter net art projects, extended to their logical conclusion and rocket-fueled by capitalism? Like all good histories, it recasts our understanding of the present by presenting prescient works such as a recreation of Chu Lea Cheang’s para-fictional Garlic=RichAir, a 2002/3 work that speculated on a future where capitalism had collapsed, and garlic was the only currency. Artist Melanie Hoff created a video game for the 2019 show, complete with a Wi-Fi network where players could claim and trade their garlic. The work reads today like an early version of so many blockchain speculations that artists today are doing. There is also a feedback loop between digital and physical in the net art posited here, which when viewed as a space for performance becomes a sort of new commons where different people come together, but also find people like themselves. Notably, Wolfgang Staelhe’s Untitled, turned a webcam into a lens for landscape photography as it broadcast the physicality of Manhattan’s skyline in 2001, and serendipitously interfaced with current events as it captured the events of 9/11. It would be a stretch to say these online places have replaced physical terrain as the main place of community as well as conflict, but it could be said that they inherited the DNA of conceptual art and spatial practice, leaving it a final, feral Wild West for experimentation. Today, we have more controlled spaces such as Facebook that are mediated by corporate interests, but new spaces are always opening up online and underneath it in places like crypto-raves and online black markets where artists can get their rocks off. Perhaps it is no coincidence that one of the most striking works—or spaces of performance—in the show is Olia Lialina’s Give Me Time / This Page Is No More, an archive of GeoCities websites, logged at first at a moment saying, “under construction” and then at a moment when they had been closed. GeoCities was shut down by Yahoo! in 2009.  
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Does architecture have a crisis of ideas?

Like everything, architectural history and theory have been radically realigned by the internet and digital culture. Now, ideas are passed through relatively unfiltered media, such as 140-character tweets that have turned writers’ attention from writing to spewing fragments of criticism that float off into the ether. Curation today is often merely a manic production of online content driven by clicks, which come from posting more (and more, and more) content. This makes young writers who are feeding this content beast truly starved for new things to write about. It is a dramatic shift from the days when magazines like Architectural Forum and Progressive Architecture were the curatorial gatekeepers that held the conversation at a high level.

The result is that bad ideas can come to be front and center in the architectural discussion very easily due to metrics and algorithms. What passes for “radical,” “idea,” “theory,” and “concept” today is becoming eroded as quickly as our political discourse.

For example, a recent headline on a popular architecture-oriented website proclaimed: “Designer Dror Benshetrit releases three conceptual proposals for residential skyscrapers in New York.” The article showed a series of towers as rudimentary as a student project before a first crit. While it makes business sense to do speculative projects on sites in New York that could attract luxury development, the media has a responsibility to question whether these are actually conceptual, or just a bad unbuilt project. What purpose these serve is unclear, although one claims it is a new, efficient structural system. As far as ideas go, this leaves much to be desired.

In a similar pointless exercise in mediocre conceptual architecture that looks good on the internet and keeps content producers busy, oiio—which also made a clever proposal to add onto the Guggenheim by extending its spiral upward—has proposed one of the least likely and most useless pieces of architectural speculation in history. According to the Huffington Post, this speculation was “The Big Bend, A U-Shaped Skyscraper, Could Become The Longest In The World.” But it almost certainly couldn’t. The conflation of possibility and wild speculation harms the media’s credibility and creates the architectural equivalent of fake news. And the project, essentially two 432 Parks that bend to meet at the top, isn’t even a compelling idea. It barely even qualifies as formalism, let alone conceptual architecture.

That would be the silliest architectural concept ever, except that an article on Forbes, “New York Architects Plan Enormous Skyscraper Hanging From An Asteroid In Space,” wins that prize. This bizarre fantasy is based on some actual scientific research, but when translated sloppily to architecture, it becomes simply childlike: Why would we want to “hang” a skyscraper from an asteroid, and why are we taking this proposal seriously? It would be hard to find something more useless for architectural discourse than the hanging-asteroid skyscraper.

Where are the relevant ideas in architecture? While taking the latest philosophy or digital technology and applying it to architecture is at least a stab in the right direction, what happened to innovative formal ideas, or cultural innovations in architectural form? Where are the radical ideas that might spark our imagination and make us think differently about the discipline and the world in which it exists?

Where are the good ideas, and how can we help to get them into the discussion?

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Struggling to express yourself? Try an Archemoji

Until now, architects have had few ways of expressing themselves when faced with a palette of emojis. The dull depictions of a hospital, hotel, or town hall simply do not suffice the range of architectural expression in the modern world. Cue Alexandra Lange and Curbed, who recently launched Archemoji. The name says it all. Emojis, whether you like it or not, are part of modern day life. Last year, the Oxford English Dictionary officially added "😂", or "Face with Tears of Joy", and so it's probably only fair that the architecture scene got in on the act. After all, Kim Kardashian has already added her own set, Kimoji. Thankfully, #Archemoji has taken twitter by storm, trending for all the right reasons, and now there's even a quiz that lets you know what specific Archemoji you are. With Archemoji, you can now swear at someone with Frank Gehry without having to source a meme from the web. You can let someone know you disapprove with the disapproving-Zaha emoji, or passively send them a Doric column to let them know how basic they are. Denise Scott-Brown's power-stance, Lange's favorite, is also featured. Quite how emotionally liberating Archemoji's will be remains to be seen, though Lange points out that the common dilemma of articulating yourself through emoji's to say "fell into a Brutalism rabbit hole online" has now finally been solved. "Won’t it be nice to just say Heart + Villa Savoie? Or Side Eye + Shipping Container? Sadly, I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of Heartbreak + Wrecking Ball + Boston City Hall, as yet another heroic concrete building goes down," says Lange.
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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill selected for high-tech overhaul in South Bend, Indiana

Union Station Technology Center (USTC) in South Bend, Indiana began its life as a train station. Now it's a data center and the state's second largest carrier hotel. As a piece of internet infrastructure, it's high tech. With the help of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the building owners are aiming for a design to suit. The building is in South Bend's Studebaker Corridor, so named for the wagon company turned automobile titan. Before it closed in 1963, Studebaker was the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in the nation, employing as many as 23,000 people in South Bend. Union Station Technology Center is among the tech-oriented rehabs that local businesspeople like Nick Easley, director of strategic initiatives for USTC, and developer Kevin Smith are using to rebrand the area as South Bend’s Renaissance District. AS+GG was selected as the emerging district's master planner in 2012. On Sunday it was announced that the Chicago-based firm—known for energy-efficient, eye-grabbing projects around the world—would lead the redesign of USTC, as well as “a mixed-use campus consisting of more than one million square feet of Class A office, education, technology, research grade manufacturing, data center, and live-work spaces.” A press release promises to turn USTC into “a large scale, sustainably designed tech hub that promises to spur a second economic boom for South Bend and the surrounding region.” South Bend's boosters hope the cold climate—which cuts server cooling costs—and local knowledge base at University of Notre Dame will help it stand out among cities from coast to coast currently chasing tech jobs to replace manufacturing work.
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Using Unused TV Channels for Connectivity in New Orleans

New York–based conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll will debut her newest project, PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0, at New Orleans' contemporary art biennial, Prospect.3 in Fall 2014. In it, she identifies communities across New Orleans that remain choked for resources since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005. Responding foremost to the lack of connectivity in these areas, Carroll is utilizing unoccupied TV channels, cultural motifs, and an innovative wireless technology developed at Rice University in Houston, Texas, to create infrastructure that will become a permanent characteristic of The Crescent City. PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0 will consist of two broadband Internet broadcast towers built in sections of the city that will then connect to hubs. The locations of the hubs will be distributed throughout greater New Orleans based on crowd sourcing. By using Internet broadcast towers, Carroll hopes to reimagine traditional city planning by prioritizing what she calls “the elevation plan and broadcast spectrum.” In doing so, physical location will have little correlation with lack of connectivity of under-resourced communities. A key motivator of PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0 is its potential impact on a national policy debate about the scheduled auction of airwaves for wireless broadband in 2014 by the Federal Communications Commission. Carroll compares the government selling the unused television spectrum to selling public land. The technology that empowers PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0 is in the developmental stages in Rice University’s Wireless Network Group, led by professor Edward Knightly. The group is experimenting with launching residential broadband Internet service through “TV white space” or TVWS. The service will function like a WiFi hotspot, though it differs in that TVWS emits “lower-frequency TV signals [that] penetrate walls and propagate over distances, meaning it can serve a larger population. The latest TVWS technology released by Knightly’s team earlier this week is estimated to reach a range of about 1 1/4 miles. Carroll hopes PUBLIC UTILITY 2.0 will reach beyond New Orleans to become a template that other U.S. cities can utilize. She envisions the broadcast towers becoming cultural symbols similar to Moscow’s Shukhov Tower, LA’s Watts Tower, or the RKO transmitter. “The towers would be the visible presence in the city, and the connections they provide would create a cultural, economic, and social platform for greater New Orleans,” she said.