Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Quick blog-related announcement: we've revived del.icio.us/pruned as a link dump for our bookmarks of landscape architecture firms. We've added 15 offices so far, and 5 more will be added each weekend for you to click around during week. Subscribers to our RSS feed should already be aware of this, as these links get spliced to the blog feed.
We also have a quick request: we're looking for landscape architecture firms, offices, studios, ateliers, research labs, syndicates, cartels or one-person operations not based in the U.S., Canada or Western Europe. Those regions are ridiculous well-represented on our list while there's none representing Africa and South Asia. We don't have yet any firm guidelines of what sort of firms we're looking for (unless “whatever piques our biases” and “whatever we fancy that day” are considered helpful guidelines), so just leave any links you have bookmarked in the comments or email them to us.
The Foodprint Project will truly go international on Saturday, July 31, when Sarah Rich and Nicola Twilley will head to Toronto to host the next batches of conversations about food and the city.
As a sort of preview of Foodprint Toronto, we asked the two curators a few questions about their multi-city project and the themes forming and informing the discussions.
Pruned: What is the Foodprint Project, and why was it started?
Nicola Twilley: The Foodprint Project is basically an exploration of the ways cities and food shape each other. So far, it's taken the form of panel discussions, one city at a time, but Sarah and I are imagining that it will gradually evolve and expand beyond that format as we go along. We launched it on January 1 this year, as a sort of shared New Year's resolution to take this interest we both have in the relationship between cities and food, and explore it in more depth by getting people with quite different perspectives together to have a public conversation about it—past, present and possible futures. The first conversation was driven by curiosity—both our own in the topic and to see whether other people would be as interested as we are — and now with the second, we're already seeing the potential to start conversations and comparisons between cities, as well as within them. So the precise what and why of Foodprint Project might expand over time—but it all comes out of a sense of the potential of using food as a lens to re-perceive, re-imagine and re-design cities.
Sarah Rich: The two key words I'd sort of add in there are design and place/space (I guess that's three words). The way we want to look at the relationship between food and cities has a lot to do with urban planning, architecture, infrastructure and the way unintentional or intentional manipulations of physical space can steer patterns of consumption and behavior.
Pruned: Many aspects of urban food systems are inextricably linked to a much wider system within an even wider system, from the regional to the national to the continental and then further on up to the inter-continentinal scale. But the project, at least in these first two iterations, is squarely focused on the city. Why this focus?
Twilley: I think a large part of the reasoning behind our city-by-city focus is for exactly the reason you describe: urban food systems are inextricably tied to a much wider system—so we can use the former as a way into the latter. In other words, we can talk about NAFTA in terms of the evolution of the Ontario Food Terminal [pdf] or corn subsidies in terms of bodega inventory. It can be really helpful to have that sort of grounded, place-specific way in to the larger discussion.
Another part of our reasoning is that most people—and more of them everyday—live in cities. Twenty-first-century urbanism is increasingly going to define and reshape our relationship with food: why not try to understand that and even flip it, to see how food could redefine twenty-first-century urbanism.
Pruned: On that last note, I'd like to tease out some of your ideas on how food should inform 21st century urbanism.
Twilley: I’m definitely interested in hearing what our panelists think about that (much more so than answering it myself!). But not to evade the question totally: I am certain food can be a helpful tool in designing and upgrading cities because it is so down-to-earth, everyday, and necessary—yet it is tied to all of the other factors we usually think about optimizing for (for example, economics, health, transportation, land-use, sustainability). So if you evaluated your designs through the lens of food (a sort of “food reality check”), then perhaps you would be sure to consider all those other important factors, in balance, and create a plan that is workable and accessible. These ideas, I should add, were originally very much inspired by architect Carolyn Steel (author of Hungry City).
Rich: In my mind, part of the big challenge around food in the 21st century is in making it a higher priority both within systems and for individuals. In schools, in hospitals, at home, in commercial zones—everywhere we go, the act of feeding ourselves is often an afterthought and the desire to spend money on food is very low. The ramifications touch education, health, tax burdens, environmental quality, the list goes on. As we think about what our cities will look like in the future, I think it's important for food to be an integral part of the conversation so that we design infrastructure and services that improve rather than degrade food systems and human health. Can bodegas manage to stock an inventory that remains relatively cheap without guaranteeing astronomical healthcare costs down the line? Can public spaces facilitate civic engagement around growing food? I think in a way this is the essential goal of Foodprint.
Pruned: Why did you choose Toronto as the next stop? I’m assuming you could have picked any city.
Rich: Toronto came in as our second stop mostly through the urgings and generous encouragement of a few of our connections there. One was Tim Maly, who writes the blog Quiet Babylon. Tim came to Foodprint NYC and he gave us a book at the end called The Edible City, published by Coach House Books, which is a collection of essays by Toronto-based writers all about food in Toronto/Ontario, approached from numerous angles. That book (as well as Food, edited by John Knechtel of Alphabet City) proved to be a great resource and a great way for Nicky and I to dive into understanding the role of food in Toronto. It was immediately clear that many people in Toronto already think about the deep connections between urbanism and food systems, so we felt like the conversations and the audience were there and we had a good opportunity to thread them together in some new ways.
We decided since Nicky and her husband, Geoff, would already be in Montreal for the summer in order for Geoff to do a research fellowship at CCA (and since Toronto's much nicer in summer than winter!), it made sense to head there.
The other early supporters of Foodprint Toronto were Mason White and Lola Sheppard of InfraNet Lab. Once we agreed to bring Foodprint to Toronto, they've all been very helpful connecting us with great people there. It should be said, we first got to know Tim and Mason via Twitter! Twitter's been a major vehicle for driving the success of this project.
Twilley: I’d just add that we always intended Foodprint Project to be an international series, so the idea of doing our second event outside of the US was especially tempting.
Pruned: The names of the panel discussions for Foodprint Toronto are the same from last time. I take it then that you'll be picking up some of the dialogues from Foodprint NYC.
Rich: I don't know that we are picking up specifically on the dialogues from Foodprint NYC, but we are threading some of the same themes and frameworks into this one. We felt it worked well to have these four, which were basically (when you take the titles away) a look at zoning/policy/economics, geography/demographics, the past and the future. These helped guide our search process as we selected panelists to invite, and they help us formulate questions that lead to distinct but complementary sessions
Twilley: I think there are some specific conversations we’ll be picking back up (two examples of questions we’ll ask in both cities, just off the top of my head: the role of different agencies in creating food policy, and the regulations governing street food vending). There are also some conversations I hope we’ll return to in different cities, but we aren’t this time (for example, the city’s foodscape as seen from other species’ point of view). Either way, our discussions will flow from the same basic questions—what can you learn about city when you map it using food as the metric? how do policy, infrastructure, and economics shape a city’s food? and so on—so there will be definitely be thematic overlap.
Pruned: Are there any new trajectories you're planning to pursue?
Twilley: There are definitely some new trajectories we'll pursue, based on the individual research interests and expertise of our panelists as well as the specificities of Toronto's urban/peri-urban context. Toronto has a green belt, for example, so we'll want to talk about that. And in Toronto, we have a First Nations fisherman joining us, so our look at food traditions can extend back some way into pre-Columbian heritage. In other cases, we'll be looking at similar themes in slightly different ways. For example, in NYC, we looked at the future of school food with Amale Androus speaking about Work AC's design for an Edible Schoolyard at P.S. 216, while in Toronto, we'll be looking at shifts in school food over the past fifty years, including the evolution of the concept of “brain food,” with historian Rebecca O'Neill.
Foodprint Toronto will take place on Saturday, July 31, from 12:30 to 5:00 pm, at Artscape Wychwood Barns. Here's a map.
Foodprint Toronto will be open to the public (with seating for up to 400). If you can't make it to the event, the talks will be available to view online.
Lastly, many thanks to Sarah Rich and Nicola Twilley for taking the time to answer our questions.
Monday, July 19, 2010
We recently noticed that a good number of our readers have lately been accessing our blog via an iPhone (with a few via a BlackBerry). We don't know if they're doing this on a regular basis or had simply stumbled through by accident. Regardless, to make Pruned easier to read and navigate around on (some) mobile devices, we have mobified it.
Our mobile URL is pruned.mobify.me. Mobile users needn't bookmark it, as you'll be automatically redirected to it from Blogspot. But let us know if the redirect isn't working for you.
A few more since the last self-link-o-rama:
1) The self-replicating, self-similar geology of San Lucido: geo-efflorescences on the Italian coast.
2) The Ocean Pools of Madeira (and Sydney): Suprematist fractalogy on the coast of Australia.
3) Cedar Island: If you build it, rich Lebanese expatriates will come. Maybe.
4) San Francisco As It Will Be: an ideas competition.
5) The Tide Pool of Saint-Malo: an Atlantic exclave.
6) Flemish Island Constellation: the Office of Permanent Modernity's anti-Dubai.
7) This Land Is Really Your Land: returning to the beaches of Malibu.
8) Reclaiming Saemangeum: the future Dubai of Northeast Asia.
9) Buy a lighthouse and get off the beach!
10) Morris Island Lighthouse: an immovable geoglobule secreted by its parent island. #glacierislandstorm
11) Site Specific: documenting the imminent destruction of a house teetering on a cliff edge.
12) Trestles Beach Access Competition: organized by Architecture for Humanity.
13) Sea Change: our ur-beach.
14) Soft Pavilions: a herd of nomadic cybergeoglobules.
15) Slurry #1 #2 #3 #4.
Now that images posted here are no longer doubly constrained by borders and sidebars, we've got all this negative space to play around with.
And we are playing, first with these beautiful typological studies of some of India's famous cultural landscapes. There's the Adalaj Stepwell, the Ajanta Caves, the Diwan-i-Khas pavilion at the Red Fort and even an iconic boxshop.
They were produced by students at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville for This is India!, a Summer 2009 exhibition documenting “a journey through its Greedy Streets, an approach of its Furnished Cities and a walk though its slums where Mess is More.”
That's about the extent of what we know about the exhibition, so if you were one of the students, leave us a note.
Meanwhile, the text, as you can see if you're reading this on the blog, doesn't have to be confined to a single column anymore. In fact, the sequence of text and image in Blogger's single post format can be reconfigured to approximate the front page of a newspaper, complete with floating newsflashes of Lindsay Lohan's impending incarceration in anticipation of county jails and rehab centers perhaps becoming the celebrity architecture du jour again.
A single post, in other words, can be a mini-zine, a corpus of half-narratives, counter-narratives and pata-narratives. Rather like these illustrations in some ways.
Feed readers, unfortunately, will see a much messier clutter than usual and have to work harder to make sense of it. We don't think our readers expect the clearest, most straightforward narrative from us anyway, so there really won't be much out of the ordinary. And besides, we think you're already used to posts (not just ours) demanding that you complete the narrative, that is, to click on the links, to reread an earlier, related post, to come back for updates and postscripts, to decode the thousand words embedded in each image, to add additional meaning and interpretation, to do backflips. Like how the internet works.
Of course, we can just not even bother with readability at all. Screw the grid! Fuck 'best practices'!
Because “mess is more,” right?
“This would eventually result in a huge equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans.”
(Im)possible Chicago #4
All records of the city's subterranean infrastructures are no longer in the public domain, their maps classified by the federal government as state secrets.
Public works employees have to undergo extensive background checks and sign non-disclosure agreements. Those who break their contract, Guantanamo awaits. Similarly, urban adventurers are charged with espionage if found hiking down in the sewers and subway tunnels. If they try to evade capture, security forces have orders to shoot to kill.
Digging is banned, so among other things, this means that gardening is done with containers, hydroponics, roofs, walls and zeppelins. Exposed ground is carpeted with feral turf or, more likely, prairie grasslands that once grew thick in the region. Parks are mere prosceniums on which plants-on-wheels and fountains-on-wheels are rearranged in countless configurations by parkgoers and passing storms, until of course they've all been wheeled away and there are no more planters to play with. This botanical piracy is but one outward manifestation of strange pathologies brewing in a city now geologically oppressed.
Lest they were to sprout DIY tunnels that might accidentally brush up against or puncture the network, a lunatic Rachel Whiteread was let loose on all the city's basements. Open any door that once led to those lower floors, and you'll be greeted with bare concrete.
Meanwhile, all post-blackout structures, from houses to street lights to skyscrapers, must use non-geologically invasive support systems. You can't plant anything. As a result, the city's famed skyline is beginning to look like Tatlin towers wrapped inside a jungle gym designed by Superstudio with buttresses sloping down towards the periphery. Hanging jewel-like within are the Millennium and Grant Parks re-landscaped as a cubic shrub and a parterred cylinder.
A boy went missing once when he fell down a blank spot on the map, but no search party was ever organized. There were no prayer vigils, no strapping firemen, and no television vans camped for days on end in front of the boy's home to provide 24-hour news coverage of a local melodrama for international consumption. There was no prolonged national hysteria over his fate, and definitely no photogenic heros confected by the whims of the masses. The missing kid was simply censored from the day's news.
If only his parents knew the existence of those anarchist cartographers. They could have helped. Armed with GPS-equipped mobile laser scanners, these spiritual descendants of Harry Lime and Trevor Paglen nightly infiltrate in secret these dark geographies to map them anew, to reclaim their lost cultural heritage. Their ultimate goal, however, is to solve the mystery of why these rhyzomatic contours were redacted in the first place, hopefully before the last cell member is caught or gets lost permanently in the interdimensional knotted terrain the city had constructed to deter and imprison aberrant surveyors.
But the grief stricken parents didn't and eventually were plainly informed that they never had that child. The boy, like the maps, was redacted.
Personal Artificial Sun
When we set out to upgrade our Blogger Classic Template to Blogger Layouts (or is it Blogger Design?), we planned on streamlining the layout down to just one column. But then we accidentally stumbled upon an embeddable personal artificial sun. We were instantly smitten, and knew we had to incorporate it into the new design, single column be damned.
Courtesy of Philippe Rahm and fabric | ch, this sun
Accessible everywhere and to everybody thanks to the Internet, this artificial climate called i-weather makes it possible to live in a situation completely removed from natural locations by producing an artificial circadian rhythm synchronised to match the inner cycle of the human hormonal and endocrine system. In the absence of the natural terrestrial cycle of day and night, it becomes apparent that this inner cycle in fact lasts around 25 hours, and that body temperature, the alternation between sleep and wakefulness, and the accumulation and secretion of substances such as cortisone and oligopeptides, all depend on it.
Hopefully, then, if you stare for a while at our twinkling blog, any temporal and spatial displacement resulting from marathon coding or CADing sessions might be mitigated.
Of course, you could also hack a TV to blast your room with a pastel maelstrom. At airports all over the world, there could also be coin-operated Artificial Weather Rooms for One in which the eternally jet lagged stabilize themselves with a refreshing technicolor shower. Should such enclosures be considered a security threat, perhaps an iPhone reconfigured as a portable weather machine might be enough to spatially and temporally normalize yourself.
POSTSCRIPT #1: New layout and new look implemented today.
Deep Space Public Lighting, Chilean Coper-Gold Mines, Rare Earths Geopolitics, and iPhones as Portable Artificial Suns
Monday, July 05, 2010
Appearing for the fourth time here on Pruned is Busby Berkeley's marvelous ziggurat of interlocking limbs, spraying jets and titillating ladyflesh seen at the climax of Footlight Parade's “By a Waterfall” musical number. It's Hollywood's secular reinterpretation of Michelangelo's Genesis and Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel, those marvelous frescos with somewhat similar iconographies — interlocking limbs (of the damned and the saved), spraying jets (of Divine Glory) and titillating (man)flesh.
And oh yeah, after years of trying, we finally upgraded Pruned from Blogger's Classic Template to whatever the new templates are being referred to as, and this necessitated redesigning our layout. Let us know what you think.
POSTSCRIPT #1: New layout and new look implemented today.