The immersed figure in an endless ground
Friday, June 29, 2007
Some photos of Blind Light, one of several installations by Antony Gormley now on view at The Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London till 19 August 2007.
As decribed by The Guardian, it's a 10-meter glass box fitted with “oscillating ultrasonic humidifiers to create a dense vapour reducing the visibility inside.”
Says the artist, “Architecture is supposed to be the location of security and certainty about where you are. It is supposed to protect you from the weather, from darkness, from uncertainty. Blind Light undermines all of that. You enter this interior space that is the equivalent of being on top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea. It is very important for me that inside it you find the outside.”
Obviously we won't be able to physically experience Gromley's foggy exterior-interior, so at best we can only remark here how it reminds us not only of Philip Johnson's recently opened Glass House, arguably one of the finest examples of landscapes wherein the interior and exterior spaces are collapsed together quite harmoniously, and, curiously enough, of certain 18th century French salles à manger decorated to resemble the outdoors, such as a forest glade, whereby the vault over the room appears to be formed by arcing tree limbs and the floor a grassy lawn (e.g., the upper-left rump room in Ribart's elephant-house-fountain), but also of the borderless, architecture-less void prison in George Lucas' THX 1138 to where the eponynous rebel gets imprisoned and tortured, becoming, to use Gromley's words, “the immersed figure in an endless ground, literally the subject of the work” of a different, decidedly sinister kind.
The 17th St Canal Physical Model: or, One Proposal for a Hurricane Katrina Memorial
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Trawling through the labyrinthine website of the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers, always an enjoyable activity here at Pruned headquarters, you will eventually come across the Directional Spectral Wave Generator, an ultra-cool, hyper-sophisticated toy that can create “realistic three-dimensional waves in a laboratory environment for coastal projects that support coastal research and development and site-specific project studies.” Using this gadget you can make your own — what else — artificial waves: tsunamis, underwater explosions, anti-waves, cnoidal waves, and waves that can overturn hundred million dollar yachts.
So if you were ever to install one of these in your ex-urban sprawl, it will be the talk of the neighborhood. And if this one of a kind fountain were to be tele-choreographed by data sets from NOAA's Tsunami Center, your homestead will certainly be the talk of the county.
Towering tsunamis racing across the world's oceans simulated in real-time behind your MacMansion. There will be no need to watch CNN for updates on this major breaking news.
Or the rantings of Midwestern bloggers -- over their tax dollars being spent to replenish beaches inaccessible to the public and to protect coastal properties built or bought by idiots who know full well the risks and go begging for federal money (our money) when disaster strikes to rebuilt yet again on the same, no-less risky post-disaster sites, even when those wealthy bastards can afford to pay for the repairs! -- retransmitted to that fountain as swells and ripples.
Summertime backyard barbecues will never be the same.
And then there's the 10-ft and 5-ft Wave Flume Facility, and the Flood-Fighting Products Research Facility, and the Ice Engineering Flume Facility. What fun engineers must have during off-hours.
But let's move on to the main subject of this post, to a research facility that is better documented photographically: the 17th St Canal Physical Model.
The model measures 14,500 sq feet and replicates at 1:50 scale one of the New Orleans canals whose floodwalls failed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was constructed to help develop “time histories of local wave and water level forces acting on flood protection structures, including flow over the levee or floodwall, wave overtopping, and static and dynamic pressure forces on the structures.” To explain why the levees failed miserably, in other words.
If there is ever going to be a design competition for a Hurricane Katrina Memorial — and there definitely will be one — someone should propose repurposing this canal model, its bold yellow pigment preserved, into a park-fountain-memorial-plaza, programmed to be flooded and drained periodically. It's the anti-WTC Memorial. Less of an absence and more of an event.
You can be sure that its shallow pools will be very popular with kids during the hot, muggy summers. They might even get a lesson in natural and man-made hydrology.
But with every artificially-generated wave cresting and rolling over New Orleans one immediately becomes aware of what is being memorialized, without the intermediation of silly, obtuse symbolism, which in only two years time people will need Fodor's to decipher, or the semiotic screams of a post-modernist banshee.
Hopefully the project site will be along the banks, because rather than purchasing an expensive wave generator, you simply let the fluctuating water level of the Mississippi River inundate this city in miniature.
Or the next Category 5 hurricane?
Teatro del Agua
Thursday, June 28, 2007
In the ad-laden documentary Building the Future: The Quest for Water, produced by and broadcast last week on the Discover Channel, there was a featured segment on the Teatro del Agua, or Water Theater.
It's a desalination plant of sorts, designed by Grimshaw in collaboration with Charlie Paton for the post-industrial port area of Las Palmas in Spain's Canary Islands.
How does it work? According to Grimshaw: “The essence of the idea is to couple a series of evaporators and condensers such that the airborne moisture from the evaporators is then collected from the condensers, which are cooled by deep seawater. This produces large quantities of distilled water from seawater and is almost entirely driven by renewable energy. The structure is orientated perpendicular to the prevailing northeasterly wind to obtain a supply of ambient air. The flow rate is controlled by louvres on the leeward side, which also incorporates solar panels to provide heat for the evaporators.”
If you have a distaste for textual descriptions and rather watch an animation, simply head on over to here. It's the third one on the list.
Disappointingly both video and project statement do not give estimates on water production. Will it really provide, as the video says, “enough for a city”? At all times or only during particularly high humid and windy days?
We also hear from the video that it “needs no fuel.” Is it really self-evaporating and self-condensing? No fossil fuel is needed?
The very curious really want to know.
Quoting a bit more of the project statement: “The intention is to exploit the natural resources of the island, focusing on its two unique geographic features: steep beaches meaning that the cold water of the deep ocean is close to hand and can be siphoned off for air conditioning, and a steady wind direction that can be harnessed for the production of fresh water. The result should be the world's first harbourside development that is entirely cooled and irrigated by natural means.”
And here we are left to wonder why this “dramatic sculptural form” is relegated to a corner of the marina when it should invade the whole island, bifurcating up to the mountains, snaking out to sea, invading the entire archipelago and nearby Africa, recoiling, perambulant, up and down the Atlantic coast of the parched continent, crossing the Sahara towards the Middle East, saving all from the devastation of the Global Hydrological War.
Fog Water Project
Modeling Urban Panic
Paul Torrens is someone after our hearts, for he has developed a realistic computer 3D model that can predict crowd behavior in various spatial configurations.
It can simulate, for instance, how people navigate through busy city streets, shoppers through urban shopping centers, and tourists through unfamiliar landscapes.
For the greenish, this has obvious practical applications. According to a press release from Arizona State University, “the project will develop simulations to explore avenues of sustainability in downtown settings, such as how cities can promote walking as an alternative to driving, and how pedestrian flow can be better integrated with transit-oriented development.”
Of course, you can also use the 3D model to simulate far less quotidian, obscenely more interesting scenarios.
“The goal of this project is to develop a reusable and behaviorally founded computer model of pedestrian movement and crowd behavior amid dense urban environments, to serve as a test-bed for experimentation,” says Torrens. “The idea is to use the model to test hypotheses, real-world plans and strategies that are not very easy, or are impossible to test in practice.”
Such as the following: 1) simulate how a crowd flees from a burning car toward a single evacuation point; 2) test out how a pathogen might be transmitted through a mobile pedestrian over a short period of time; 3) see how the existing urban grid facilitate or does not facilitate mass evacuation prior to a hurricane landfall or in the event of dirty bomb detonation; 4) design a mall which can compel customers to shop to the point of bankruptcy, to walk obliviously for miles and miles and miles, endlessly to the point of physical exhaustion and even death; 5) identify, if possible, the tell-tale signs of a peaceful crowd about to metamorphosize into a hellish mob; 6) determine how various urban typologies, such as plazas, parks, major arterial streets and banlieues, can be reconfigured in situ into a neutralizing force when crowds do become riotous; and 7) conversely, figure out how one could, through spatial manipulation, inflame a crowd, even a very small one, to set in motion a series of events that culminates into a full scale Revolution or just your average everyday Southeast Asian coup d'état — regime change through landscape architecture.
Or you quadruple the population of Chicago. How about 200 million? And into its historic Emerald Necklace system of parks, you drop an al-Qaeda sleeper cell, a pedophile, an Ebola patient, a migrant worker, a swarm of zombies, and Paris Hilton. Then grab a cold one, sit back and watch the landscape descend into chaos. It'll be better than any megablockbuster movie you'll see this summer.
Equally plausible, Chicago does not suffer total critical system failure. In fact, the built environment is surprisingly malleable, so very accommodating to a wide range of extreme radical transformations, that the city actually thrives during this catastrophe and in the end successfully expels the intruders. Far from being a vector of apocalypses, cities will save the world.
In any case, the resulting video from the simulation will be entered into a film festival near you.
The Kumbh Mela Array
Reconfiguring the Jamarat Bridge
Advertisement: Crowd Dynamics Ltd.
The Parkless Park Resurfaces
The Parkless Park
Subtopia: Urbanization of Panic
City of Sound: Robert Krulwich
Simply because we cannot get enough of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, here's another photo of ATLAS, one of the five particle detectors and the future birth chamber of microscopic black holes and primordial particles not seen since Creation.
For the curious, the subterranean nave housing the detector actually looks like this to an observer, since its monstrous toroidal magnets have warped the fabric of space and time. There is no fancy Photoshop trickery at work here.
And here's another photo, looking down towards ATLAS.
Perhaps we're looking up? From 10 seconds back in time? Forward in time? From an angled view?
The Alzheimer House
“Tiny motion sensors are attached to the walls, doorways and even the refrigerator of Elaine Bloomquist's home,” writes the Associated Press. They were installed there to track any deviations in “the seemingly healthy 86-year-old's daily activity,” any small changes in her routine which could be attributed to the onset of Alzheimer's. “It's like spying in the name of science - with her permission,” we read.
And if the sensors detect any wayward behavior, Elaine Bloomquist gets zapped.
Which, of course, isn't exactly true.
This sensor network is a sort of early detection system for the disease. “The theory is that as Alzheimer's begins destroying brain cells, signals to nerves may become inconsistent - like static on a radio - well before memories become irretrievable. One day, signals to walk fire fine. The next, those signals are fuzzy and people hesitate, creating wildly varying activity patterns.”
Currently 112 homes in the Portland, Oregon area have been retrofitted with the devices. A $7 million grant from the National Institute of Health will expand the project to 300.
Firstly, if the experiment proves successful, should we expect to hear about similar tele-monitoring networks operated at the urban scale? CCTV-Alzheimer's®. An entire retirement community comes under the constant, penetrating gaze of their hometown doctors and medical technicians thousands of miles away, diagnosing every move our grandmothers make or incorrectly make, and administering behavior modification electroshock treatment when so diagnosed.
Secondly, might we also expect to hear of a house or a town patterned after the erratic movements of Alzheimer's patients? Rooms, hallways, corners, ceilings, streets, gardens, parks arranged according to fuzzy and hesitating markings of dementia? What would these spaces look like? Perhaps we've heard about this already?
And thirdly, how about houses for, say, the most obsessive of obsessive compulsives, hacked not to monitor their disorder but rather to cure them? Wherein the faucets, for instance, run skin-peeling, scalding water whenever they sense three or more consecutive washes in the span of 15 minutes, wherein the furniture unaligns itself at arbitrary times of the day, and wherein light switches and door knobs and that tempting patch on the wall electroconduct when they come into contact repeatedly with human skin.
Un-vanishing a lake
From January 10, 2005 to October 22, 2006, or thereabouts, Ledia Carroll retraced the ghostly outline of a vanished freshwater lake in San Francisco as part of her Mission Lake Project.
From a press release, to be read in the past tense, unfortunately: “On October 22, 2006, Ledia Carroll will use a field line chalker to recreate the full perimeter of Lago Dolores, a former freshwater lake that stretched from what is now South Van Ness to Guerrero and 15th to 20th Streets. Drawing the line in reference to maps from the 1800s, Carroll’s chalkline allows the still visible ancient depression of the lake to become apparent to the eye. In conjunction with the re-created lake shoreline, Ledia Carroll presents a 'lakeside' barbeque and perimeter 'alleycat' bike race.”
There were also guided tours later in the year to some of San Francisco’s hidden underground waterways. And if someone could let us know where we might find more info on these hidden waterways online, that'd be fantastic.
15 Storeys High
Sunday, June 17, 2007
15 Storeys High is a British television show set in a South London tower block, created by Sean Lock, Martin Trenaman, Mark Lamarr (as Mark Jones), and Mark Nunneley, and whose run of 12 episodes over 2 series ended in 2003.
It has been described to us at various times thusly: “better than The Office”; “what would have been if Krzysztof Kieslowski had conceived Dekalog as a British sitcom”; “the beginnings of a brilliant but ultimately failed Ballardian musical dark comedy”; “architorture by boredom, exquisitely executed”; “a desultory dissertation on post-occupancy, the psychology of space, and Polish energy drinks”; “a damning statement on the impotency of architects in designing anything well except chairs”; “a landscape architect's erotic nightmare”; and as “shit”.
Of course, one of those microreviews is pure gibberish. Another one is made up. Three have actually been cobbled up together from minimally-remembered, drunken conversations, and two more were said by colleagues after seeing only one episode. Exactly one is an accurate description.
It's worth checking out, legally or extralegally, in other words.
And in case you're wondering, some clips of the show have been uploaded to YouTube.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
On hydrology, del.icio.us.ly linked:
1) Artist Eve S. Mosher is leaving behind a trail of blue-tinted chalk as she winds her way through the coastal neighborhoods of southernmost Brooklyn. This chalk line, The New York Times reports, “demarcates a point 10 feet above sea level, a boundary now used by federal and state agencies and insurance companies to show where waters could rise after a major storm. Relying partly on research conducted by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, Ms. Mosher is trying to draw attention to projections that the chance of flooding up to or beyond her line could increase significantly as a result of global warming.”
In a worst-case scenario, according to the research, the line could mark the zone for flooding that would occur every eight years, on average, by the year 2050, meaning that dozens of neighborhoods would soon come to resemble Venice, or maybe ancient Alexandria.
To learn more about this amazing public artwork/guerrilla theater/Christoesque interactive installation, check out HighWaterLine. There's also this blog.
2) In the worst-case scenario of another hydrological matter, National Geographic News reported that 4 people were killed and another 19 injured in northern Sudan during a protest over a proposed dam on the Nile River. And “later, in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, police used tear gas to scatter hundreds of demonstrators outraged by the deaths and stirred by the bitter legacy of the Aswan High Dam. Dozens of Nubian villages were flooded by the dam's construction and tens of thousands of people were forcibly relocated.”
3) This may or may not add to the bitterness simmering along the banks of the Nile, but scientists in Brazil and Peru think they have found a new starting point of the Amazon. This new discovery, BBC News reports, makes it the longest river in the world. “Researchers travelled for 14 days, sometimes in freezing temperatures, to establish the location at an altitude of 5,000m” and to force cash-strapped school districts everywhere to spend millions of dollars updating their now inaccurate geography textbooks and everyone else to reconfigure their whole mental concept of the physical world.
4) But moving on to another part of the world, we read in another BBC News article that “Japan has launched an innovative project to try to protect an exclusive economic zone off its coast” by “planting coral to increase the land mass of rocky outcrops in Japan's waters.” Quoting further:
According to the Law of the Sea, Japan can lay exclusive claim to the natural resources 370km (230 miles) from its shores.
China, meanwhile, thinks they're just rocks, not islands, and so whatever natural resources lie in those waters, it can also claim.
5) Which reminds us of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the setting for some hilarious geopolitical games of brinkmanship. And an opera, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
6) Finally, back to the states, specifically to Nevada, a line of a different kind has been drawn up from the parched city of Las Vegas to the water “rich” valleys in the east-central parts of the state. That line, according to NPR, is a proposed pipeline that officials in Las Vegas hope will bring in 65 billion gallons of rural water a year to feed its phenomenally growing population.
It's but one possible theater of conflict in the future Hydrological World War. At one end of the line are “gluttony, glitter, girls and gambling” and on the other end are “children, cattle, country and church”.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
In what will certainly enrage feline lovers everywhere, Andy Beckerman and his colleagues from the University of Sheffield, UK, are blaming cats for “the ongoing fall in urban bird numbers.”
From New Scientist: “Many accusatory fingers point to the cat, and in areas of high cat density, predation may indeed be the sole reason for the decline. It might not be cats' only effect, however. Becker's team built a model that took both kills and the fear factor into account, and found that apprehension could explain the decrease even where predation is low. A reduction of just one chick per breeding pair per year per cat can lead to a fall in bird numbers of up to 95 per cent.”
Does this mean that urban ecology will simply be variegated, for the most part, by what members of the Westminster Kennel Club and the International Cat Association decide to include in their indoor menageries, and that any further decline in biodiversity will be offset by what is quarantined and confiscated at airports? Does this also mean that cats might be part of the solution to the looming Avian flu crisis?
The article, unfortunately, is too meager to provide an answer, and the source material published in the journal Animal Conservation isn't freely available online.
Nevertheless, there are two projects worth mentioning in this context. One is the Bat House Project.
A collaboration between Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller and partners, the project aims to highlight “the potential for architects, builders, home-owners and conservationists to work together to produce wildlife-friendly building design” and connect “the worlds of art and ecology to encourage public engagement with ecology issues.”
And one way of achieving their goal is to sponsor a competition. Entrants are tasked to design “a purpose-built structure that will provide the maximum diversity of specialised features to attract roosting, breeding and hibernating bats, and the possibility for visitors to engage with the bats and learn more about them.” The deadline is Monday, September 10, 2007, and the winning entry will actually be built.
Similarly exploring ways to increase urban biodiversity and augment the interface between the wild and the city is Natalie Jeremijenko's pigeon paradise, or the Model Urban Development for the Birds. We'll let her give you the tour, courtesy of Seed Magazine.
But we'll let Jonathan Glancey have the final words, though.
“Architecture and wildlife,” he wrote in The Guardian last year, “have [...] been intimately connected in most cultures around the world since the very first baked brick was placed on top of another some 10,000 years ago. Equally, animals were found within buildings, whether in stables, or, in much of the world, in the home itself.”
Today's architecture is determinedly anti-animal. For all the insistent talk about “sustainability” and “green” buildings, and the huge popularity of wildlife programmes on television, animals have been increasingly pushed away from the built environment. So much so, that vast tracts of modern architectural development and urban landscaping are actually reducing the population of some of those animals we appear to be so very fond of at Christmas - if at no other time of the year. This distancing of animals, while imagining ourselves to be safe and clean inside our spick-and-span, chemically cleaned homes is, on one level, darkly comic. In many towns and cities, these same homes sit on heaving piles of maggots, rumpuses of rats, squealing mice and all sorts of other creeping things. Even the most superficially perfect minimalist Manhattan apartment, designed by the most fastidious architect, will be scuttling with cockroaches before the residents move in and take their first power-shower.
Litter-Free Landscape and the Politics of Pollen
The Forest Freak Show
Into the Wild
Rome Stillborn 1.0
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Before news reports of the unveiling yesterday of a digital reconstruction of Rome circa A.D. 320 swept through the wires, we have always imagined the city to have contained people. And also trees, villa gardens, roving animals and kids, garbage, loose bricks and faded paint, pornographic graffiti, inclement weather, migraine-inducing smells and noises, sewage and stormwater underfoot, and prostitutes and their pimps — all swirling together in the urban vortex.
Enlightened as we are now by Rome Reborn 1.0, we realize how fundamentally wrong we were. Walking through the streets of the city back then wasn't really like walking now through the jumbled street maze of Varanasi, that frenetic, sometimes stultifying, temple-field Hindu holy city on the banks of the Ganges in India. In actuality, “the state of our knowledge about the urban topography of ancient Rome” tells us that it was verifiably spacious, its architecture pristine, the center of the world inhabited by no one.
And “about how the city looked,” “students or the general public” will be taught that navigating through “the alignment of built features in the city” was a breath of fresh air with cool winds tickling your hairy arms, the sun safely lighting your back to fend off murderers, thieves and whores, and the soothing operatic sounds of modern Europe drowning out the howls and the din of ancient city life.
Of course, we could be wrong and might not yet have heard that the reconstruction team, realizing that no new insights can be gained from their expensive simulation without the everyday physical marks of urban habitation, or urban violence, will be bringing in game designers from EA for v2.0.
SimRome 2007®. See how Romans bath; their shit flowing through the sewers; molest their slave boys while taking pointers from those Third Style porno-frescoes decorating the atrium; move from one temple to another temple to yet another temple offering gifts, etc.
Anyway, they will be hoping that the all-powerful Soprintendente will not send letters to all parties angrily demanding an apology for the use of archaeological sites as a backdrop for their violent simulations.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
If you misspell Utah on Google Maps as Utak like we did recently, you will be taken to Krasnovodsk, Turkmenistan. Apparently, UTAK is the city's airport code. Some cursory searching tells us that somewhere nearby is a weather station that has been gathering data since 1883. And not much else.
But look to the right of the green arrow, and you'll see a series of horseshoe-shaped tumuli, each one measuring at least 100 feet wide, bisected at the middle, and paired with a linear mound in the front/back. The configuration reminds one of an amphitheater.
Lest someone tell us that they are simply defensive fortifications or ordnance storage bunkers or outdated meteorological instruments or the beta test site of Bush-Putin's Transcaucasian missile shield or Michael Heizer's Complex Four or ancient auroral observatories — don't!
Better to speculate than to be told the truth, right?
In any case, sensing that other places might also have their own lexical doppelgängers, which you can only navigate to via a careless mistype on Google Maps, we typed in Chiago, Ney York, New Yoirk, Califronia, Oaris, etc.
But rather than being sent to some antipodean other place, dotted with strange manmade formations that defy explanations by even the most seasoned CIA satellite intelligence analysts, Google asked us if we meant to type something else. Very irritating, to say the least.
One can't help but wonder, then, if Google is intentionally preventing us from finding these counter-sites and terrestrial obverses, and only through the most random slip of the fingers can we possibly break its algorithmic barrier and discover other Utaks. After all, online cartographers have stumbled into weirder places by accident before.
Real Estate for the Future
Monday, June 11, 2007
According to an Associated Press article that's been making the rounds through the wires since last month, Lo'ihi Development Co. is to start selling lots in Hawaii with spectacular 360º ocean views for the introductory price of $36.05.
The catch: these prime real estates are still submerged more than 3,000 feet below sea level and won't surface for another 10,000 years. That is, if the submerged volcanic island will actually break the surface.
Nevertheless, the real estate entrepreneurs want to create “online chat rooms and newsletters to discuss everything from street names to what kind of government to install” and “hold a 'homeowners association' meeting — a boat ride over the volcano — every April Fool's Day.”
A couple of suggestions:
1) Hire volcanologists and supranational mining conglomerates to engineer island-sized earth-moving machines, which will orchestrate lava flows, earthquakes, undersea rock falls and sedimentation to (de)form fantastical landscapes of your own designs — orogenic espalier, this can be called.
2) Hire Dr. Moreau, or a similarly inspired landscape architect, to sketch out an ecological succession scheme to be carried out the moment the island emerges, and all the while recombining plants and animals into myriads of chimeric hybrids, which will further evolve as they wait for their new habitats — new landscapes, other ecologies.
We absolutely love the music video you did for Röyksopp's single Remind Me. It's brilliant, to say the least. And to say that we've seen it on YouTube dozens of times and then many times more afterwards would not be an exaggeration.
We also love the commercial you guys made for the French energy conglomerate Areva. We're not huge fans of nuclear power plants, but watching how uranium mined in Canada ends up lighting a dance floor somewhere in China via maps, graphs, isometric projections, sectional cut-outs, flowcharts and systems diagrams — all to the groovy disco beats of Funkytown — really made us want to buy shares in the company.
Have you seen the parody that someone made of the ad, by the way? If not, you guys should really check it out. It's hilarious.
Funnily enough all three videos remind us of our childhood — those groggy Saturday mornings waiting to see if ABC might again broadcast Conjunction Junction or any of the number of Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons showing us how the various parts of our bodies work; and those halcyon after-school afternoons watching Mister Rogers tour a factory and learn how familiar items like crayons, stuffed animals, spoons, and zippers get mass produced in a sort of mesmerizing Fordist ballet.
But we're not writing this open letter to tell you guys all about our television staple when we were
About 20 seconds in Remind Me were devoted to it, but we think it deserves a longer treatment, if not a full cinematic homage to the diagram. Don't you agree?
No doubt you are quite familiar with what goes on, but for the unenlightened, here are the search results from Google Images for “wastewater treatment” and “sewage treatment”. Additionally, this Wikipedia entry gives a nice introduction, although some parts might be confusingly too detailed.
Most people don't know much about what goes on at the treatment plant. For one thing, they are generally zoned out to the urban periphery. The more segregated they are from the populace, the better. The more they get unnoticed visually, aurally and olfactorily — again, the better. And yet sewers practically underpin modern civilization. Without them, it would be hard to imagine how megalopolises like New York City could have come into existence and then thrived. Their importance is such that people should sacrifice a virgin every year among the filtration towers, aeration tanks and Daphnias. Or to absolutely ensure that no empires and nations will crumble: two virgins.
Oh, sure, our readers will remind us that Chicago has a recycling facility located right next to the city's most popular tourist destination and in the shadow of Oprah Winfrey's palatial condo, but it's so unassuming, so pedestrian that it hardly draws much attention to itself. New Haven, Connecticut had the right idea when they asked Stephen Holl to design their facility. So many people wrote about it, most recently in Wired. Herbert Mushcamp wrote about it in the New York Times way back in 2001, calling it “poetically expressive”, but on Michael Van Valkenburgh, Holl's co-designer, he judged him to be “a splashy form maker but not a sophisticated thinker.” Ouch! Muschamp was probably right, but we've always wondered whether Nicolai Ouroussoff inherited his philistine indifference towards landscape architecture from his predecessor.
We're sure you don't give a fuck about Nicolai or his myopic architectural reportage, but we can't remember the last time people's shit (as a spatial concern) got this level of coverage. Ideally, the process alone should generate mass enthusiasm, but it seems celebrities need to be involved to stir interest. And even then that kind of attention is always fleeting.
And another thing, a lot of people have yet to fully grasp the often monumental task of channeling our shit from anywhere in the city all the way to these treatment plants, something that always boggles our mind. Sewers are understandably hidden. There's the issue of public health, for one, and there's also the matter of property values — Not In My Backyard, that sort of thing.
But apart from manhole covers and storm drains and maybe a bump in the road where a pipe got too close to the asphalt, there isn't a lot of surface evidence. They're everywhere, rhizomatically entrenched, and yet only when a main sewer line gets clogged and stinks up the neighborhood or when there's an outbreak of cholera or when some photogenic kid falls in and an entire nation becomes hysterical, engrossed by the endless media coverage of the heroic rescue, does this all-pervasive subterranean landscape momentarily reveal itself to us, and we wonder then where our shit actually ends up. But such contemplation should be performed on a daily basis.
So this is where you guys come in. An H5 music video (avant-doc?) will certainly get copious amount of airplay on MTV2, even if it's about sewage. Your style is eye-popping, though definitely not intellectually vacuous; it is so hyper-slick that it will inject some glamour to an otherwise unglamorous subject. Predictably, someone will upload it to YouTube, where millions will watch it. Many more will embed it on their blogs or use it to further disfigure their MySpace pages. Bored interns will e-mail it to everyone. It'll be the new viral video, ingeniously parodied endlessly by yet more bored interns. One such parody on the near nonexistent wastewater treatment of Mumbai will appear on VH1's Best Week Ever, E!'s The Soup, Bravo's Outrageous and Contagious Viral Videos, and several other pop cultural affairs programs.
And then joy upon joy, the appalling state of ignorance and popular apathy towards wastewater treatment is reversed.
So how about it? Let us know.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
We're purging our bookmarks, deleting from our browsers everything not on queue to be posted on Pruned, and storing them online here for your voyeuristic self-frottage. A cathartic vomitry of XXX-Link-Pr0n. A critique of the del.icio.us life. A commentary on blogs, bloggers, and blogging. A manifesto. A self-portrait.
A lyric poem or the lyrics to a hip hop song.
Call it what you will, we're just glad to have a bit more breathing room.
And here they all are, all linked together under the all-enveloping theme of landscape.
Yto Barrada: A life full of holes /// Yto Barrada Interview /// Suwar al-kawâkib al-thâbita /// Biochemical Pathways /// Saturday in the Park with Friends Painting Seurat on the Rock River /// Douglas Edric Stanley /// Beautiful China /// National Parks Conservation Association's Public Service Ads /// 2006 Visualization Challenge Winners /// Urban Agriculture Photos /// NASA Space Power Facility /// The Great Wall of Los Angeles /// On the Aesthetics of Wind Farms /// Hungarian water towers /// Plant more natives /// Cultures of Repair, Innovation /// Europe's largest tropical leisure world in Berlin /// NOAA Comes to Second Life /// Aeroporto na Nigéria /// Wöhr Autopark-Systeme
The Magellan /// Dolbear's Law /// Carmontelle's Transparency /// DanishDogmaLandscapeCamp /// Mark Fisher /// Blueshift Engineering /// Patrick Keiller's London and Robinson in Space /// Don Justo's Self Built Cathedral /// Ant Farm 1968-1978 /// Brian Dillon interviews Patrick Keiller /// Architecture for Sale: Premier Online Resource for Architectural Real Estate Properties /// Erik Conrad /// Utility Fog /// The Edinburgh Standards for Urban Design /// The Canals of Venice, Los Angeles /// del.icio.us/mikel_maron/locativeanimals /// Re(di)stricting Urbicide /// Demotion in the Age of Cultural Cleansing /// Implosions /// Mulching the American Dreamscape
Index of /misc/space /// News from the annals of spontaneous green space /// Nuclear Weapon Effects Calculator /// Remote-controlled diggers /// Building Utopolis /// The Marsden Archive /// Sun Symbolism and Cosmology in "Michelangelo's Last Judgment" /// Garden Guy Refuses to Work For Gays /// European Landing Sites for Shuttle Flights /// ostmoderne /// The Ten Stupidest Utopias! /// Cloud /// Green Animals Topiary Garden /// Chris Drury, Land Artist /// Sri Mayapur Vedic Temple /// HELI-AFRICA 2006 /// Siemens Future Study /// Are the Swiss Alps Noisy? /// Pacific Tsunami Warning Center /// Warning Signs
Downtown Los Angeles Homeless Map /// Picture Stones /// une mission ephemere /// Wave Power /// How to measure anything with a camera and software /// The proper reverence due those who have gone before /// Erwan Frotin /// TRASHFORMACIONES /// gev_20070124_1341_laslm /// How to Upholster a Tree Stump /// Ilana Halperin /// Airchive /// Titan arum /// John Deere American Farmer Game /// Calthorpe /// Ancient Greek Aurorae /// Meigs Field /// Decodeine /// Hydrographic Survey Data /// Olly and Suzi
Mars Green House /// Bollardian nightmare? /// Johann König /// Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation /// Protozoa Games /// gunsaveslives.com /// Kinematic Models /// Pidgin* /// Public Land Survey System /// Pedreres de s'Hostal /// Brøndby /// Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the Political Poster 1914-1989 /// Scenic Spectacle /// Print Yourself Some Bacon /// Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road /// Movingstructure.info /// Furttenbach Architectura /// Flight Patterns /// Reef Ball Artificial Reefs /// WWF Beautiful Day
Voisin de Paris /// Double Negative /// Atlas de Trudaine /// Albin's Natural History /// Makrolab /// 360 Risk Project /// Archaeology Image Bank /// Training & Simulation Journal /// Stone Foundation /// American Battle Monuments Commission /// Engineers Without Borders /// ruderal land trust /// Urban Forestry Images Project /// National Hurricane Survival Initiative /// Global Crop diversity Trust /// OneSmallProject /// Urbanology /// Parco d'Arte Vivente /// DisasterNecessities.com /// Operation Migration
Tehran 24/7 /// Concrete Canvas /// The Aurora Page /// Julian Raxworthy /// Google Earth Hacks /// Semiconductor Films /// Arkansas Grand Prairie Irrigation Project /// Aqua Sciences /// Architecture on Air /// Phoenix Urban Research Lab /// For Sale: Johnston Island /// Enough Room for Space /// grupo A12 /// Guernica Magazine /// Edible RFID /// The Endeavour Botanical Illustrations /// SFMOMA 2003 Architecture + Water Exhibit /// A Descent into the Maelström /// Geomorphology from Space /// Growth and Form
Memorial Necópole Ecumênica /// Plan Philly /// Eduardo Kac /// Aleksandra Domanovic's New Me /// Fortress America /// High Desert Test Sites /// UN Atlas of our Changing Environment /// Archeworks /// Death by Architecture /// Blue Monday /// The Water Project /// Sewage flood causes Gaza deaths /// Hypoallergenic Hotel Rooms /// Future Cities Lab /// Do it yourself cremation /// The Age of the Climage Refugees /// Egyptian tycoon plans alpine oasis /// Kinky Muff Land /// Carina Nebula /// Techno Kolossos
straddle3 /// Vicente Guallart /// Philip Beesley /// Down the Drain: Chicago's Sewers /// Top 10 Things to Experience in a Space Hotel /// River Glow /// London 2012 Olympic Boom Unlikely /// Hydrodynamic Building Set /// Battles | Atlas /// Funkytown /// Bolivia's Water War Victory /// 17 ways to get around Istanbul /// Manual of River Restoration Techniques /// Raising Alexandria /// Falling Man /// SeaPower Pacific Pty Ltd /// The Garden of Instruments /// Burnside Skatepark, Portland, Oregon /// The Thoreau Problem /// Obstacles to peace: Water
LandArchJobs.com /// Roman Chiu /// ASLA 2007 Professional Awards /// Podactility /// The Landscape Architecture / Landscape Design Flickr Pool /// Petra Blaisse /// The Greywater Guerillas /// U.S. Embassy, Iraq /// Urban farms empower Africa /// The Enclosed Garden /// 21st Century Garden Art /// Shifting Ground: Landscape Architecture in the Age of the New Normal /// Tokyo Canal: Re-constructing Open Cross-Relations of a Water City /// The Floating Islands of Zacatón /// Nanofactory Animation /// Seeds promise mass-produced nanotubes /// Hong Meigui Cave Exploration Society /// National Park Service Artist-in-Residence /// Mythical Islands /// Terra
pallalink /// Bernhard Edmaier /// The Dodo and Mauritius Island /// Wout Berger /// E-volver /// dear deer /// Fermilab Main Control Room /// Michael Poliza /// Michael Heilemann /// Alps Transit /// xRez Extreme Resolution Photography /// Security Patterns /// Giant Container Ships /// "Fossil Water" in Libya /// Bollard Porn /// Maps of Active Solar Regions /// Manmade Bubbles to Multitask in Space /// Simulated lunar soil /// The Chicago Loop Alliance /// Italy village gets 'sun mirror'
Natural deselection /// Plants racing for survival /// Phil Ross /// Miya Masaoka: Pieces for Plants /// FlexIt /// machineARIA /// Spore 1.1 /// Glowing tobacco plant.jpg /// Fly Away (Not Going Very Far) /// Life Support Systems /// Small works for robots and insects /// Dataplant /// Tumtum Tree /// Photosynthesis Robot /// Patric Blanc /// Vaughn Bell /// Re:orient - migrating architecture /// The Telegarden /// Wildgruen /// NARA on Google Video
London by Patrick Keiller /// A scene from In the Mood for Love directed by Wong Kar-Wai /// Internet Archive: Triumph of the Will /// Troubled Waters /// Radiant City: A Documentary About Urban Sprawl /// A Walk on Water /// INTERKOSMOS /// green green water /// contested Streets /// The Los Angeles River /// The problem with underground architecture /// Grass Created in Lab Is Found in the Wild /// The U.S. Army prepares soldiers stateside with frighteningly lifelike war games for the guerrilla attacks they will encounter on their tours of duty in Iraq /// A Tissue Engineer Sows Cells and Grows Organs /// Europeans Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs /// Alex McDowell, Production Designer /// Urban coyotes make their homes in Chicago and other cities around the country /// World-renowned landscape architech of Disneyland & Shanghai Expo site to visit Dubai /// Vibrations could reveal landmine locations /// Human changes to landscapes now on par with the wasting power of weather and tectonic uplift /// Can anything stop the superbug
Bacteria 'Zoo' Thrives on Human Skin /// Remodeling the Churches /// Walt Disney's utopian dream forever changed Orlando, Florida, and laid the blueprint for the new American metropolis /// Suncook River Shifts Course /// So bad it's good: Koolhaas on Lagos /// A 150-km panoramic image of New Mexico /// PandemicFlu.gov /// Lidos in London still open /// Archinect Discussion: Archinect @ Postopolis! /// YouTube Storefront /// Postopolis! Flickr Pool ... and then all this copying and pasting grew tiresome and we didn't care anymore, so we just trashed the rest, unarchived.
More links on del.icio.us/pruned.