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GPS Coyotes
GPS Coyotes


The coyote seen roaming around Downtown Chicago the other night may not be one of the pack fitted with GPS devices and let loose around the city “to help deal with rats and mice,” but learning that there is actually such a pack sent us into ecstatic fits.

According to researchers involved in The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project, there are over 250 coyotes fitted with radio collars now roaming the streets, parks and backyards of the metropolitan area. This is “the largest urban study of coyotes in the world.”

We have tracked the coyotes day and night and located the collared coyotes more than 40,000 times. This allows us to peek into the hidden lives of urban coyotes. We use results from this unique project to answer common questions regarding coyotes in urban areas. Many aspects of coyote ecology have direct management implications. Although our study was focused on Cook County, Illinois, we believe the things we have learned about coyotes and people living together are indicative of many metropolitan areas in the Midwest and eastern United States.


Set up an API to give mobile software developers a way to access those radio pings, and there might be apps to track the coyotes' urban ramblings. Google Coyote®. And yes, we're betting that it will have an audience. It's no different than nature webcams and participatory GIS platforms, like Google Earth, both of which have sizeable user base. It's also not uncommon for a lot of people to have their only extended contact with the wilderness mediated virtually. Make the interface slick, and the data pornographers and Tufte zombie acolytes will come in droves.

GPS Coyotes


GPS Coyotes


Develop it into an iPhone app, and you have the makings of an urban safari fad, as popular as birdwatching or urban GPS-tagged fruit harvesting. And to make it more interesting, that is, to approximate the conditions of a Serengeti safari, dial down the app's locative precision. Instead of giving you exact coordinates, it only tells you that the coyote is roaming somewhere in Hyde Park.

Touring the city in search of indigenous cyborg fauna.


GPS Pigeons


Into the Wild

Prunings LXI
Aerosols


1) “Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it’s nearly certain that you’ll inhale tens of millions of solid particles and liquid droplets. These ubiquitous specks of matter are known as aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice, and every ecosystem in between. They drift in Earth’s atmosphere from the stratosphere to the surface and range in size from a few nanometers—less than the width of the smallest viruses—to several several tens of micrometers—about the diameter of human hair. Despite their small size, they have major impacts on our climate and our health.”

2) “The Norwegian documentary Bergensbanen details the gorgeous 300-mile, 7.5-hour-long train ride from Bergen to Oslo. An intrepid group of DJs have scored the entire journey.”

3) Turkey plans to supply northern Cyprus with fresh water via a pipeline. “As for Turkey, its own water supplies are not so abundant as to be able to be so generous in its desire to share its own dwindling water resources with Northern Cyprus. This only points out the continuing political rivalries going on between Greece and Turkey that has resulted in so many problems in Cyprus over the years.”

4) Another dispatch from the #Super-Versailles: Using two vehicles with high-powered heaters, “Beijing will collect and melt snow this winter in a bid to quench the water shortage that has plagued the Chinese capital for years.”

5) A recent New York Times Room for Debate question: “[E]ven if the U.S. and other countries can find and [mine rare earth minerals], do they have the technical expertise to compete with China in their processing? Is the domestic production of rare earth elements essential to American economic and national security interests?”
Soft Brackets


In case you need reminding, you now only have exactly one month to submit to Bracket 2.

Bracket 2 invites the submission of critical articles and unpublished design projects that investigate physical and virtual soft systems, as they pertain to infrastructure, ecologies, landscapes, environments, and networks. In an era of declared crises—economic, ecological and climatic amongst others—the notion of soft systems has gained increasing traction as a counterpoint to permanent, static and hard systems.

...

Bracket 2 seeks to critically position and define soft systems, in order to expand the scope and potential for new spatial networks, and new formats of architecture, urbanization and nature. From soft politics, soft power and soft spaces to fluid territories, software and soft programming, Bracket 2 questions the use and role of responsive, indeterminate, flexible, and immaterial systems in design.


And in case you've yet to begin work on your submission and need a starting point, check out these videos of landslides and the infrastructural counter-measures to mitigate and manage an ever shifting landscape.















Walking Apiary
David Bowen


A couple of unrelated things —

1) David Bowen's Swarm, as described by Art in America, consists of “a plastic globe propped up by long rods attached to a wheeled platform, which moves erratically within a black circle on the floor. Its path...is determined by the progress of a swarm of flies captured inside the globe. A sensor attached to a microcontroller at the foot of this device translates the flies' aggregate movement into mechanical motion.”

2) A couple of days ago, Geoff Manaugh giddily reported that “a single-family home in California has been 'invaded' by bees—so much so that honey is now leaking from the electrical outlets, coming 'from a giant beehive behind the walls.'” After the bees, “honey-hungry ants” might soon arrive.

— now less unrelated:

In Walking Apiary, a foreclosed house is propped up by long rods attached to a wheeled platform, which moves erratically around an abandoned suburban development. Its path is determined not by the paved streets circling around empty lots but by the chaotic activities of bees that have colonized the house. Add more foreclosed houses droning with million of bees, and you have a roving urban honey farm.

It's an overwrought attempt at squishing Archigram into contemporary preoccupations with destabilized ecologies, unpaid mortgages and utopian food systems.


Outdoor Furniture
Drylands
If you're around Burbank, CA, this Thursday, November 11, and are interested in arid water systems, then consider attending a lecture by Aziza Chaouni and Liat Margolis at the Arid Lands Institute, Woodbury University. Titled Out of Water: Innovative Technologies in Arid Climates, they will cover recent research projects in Morocco, the Sahara, and the Israel/Jordan/Palestine watershed that showcase contemporary design strategies for managing water scarcity.

If you can't make it, there is still their Out of Water website. It archives some of the projects included in their traveling exhibition and no doubt will be featured in their lecture.

Aziza Chaouni and Liat Margolis

Their talk, meanwhile, is part of a very interesting lecture series.

The human need for water has ordered landscapes, given rise to culture, and shaped architecture + urban form throughout history.

Excavating Innovation: The History and Future of Drylands Design examines the role of water engineering in shaping public space and city form, by using arid and semi-arid sites in India, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and the New World to explore how dryland water systems throughout history have formed and been formed by ritual, hygiene, gender, technology, governance, markets, and, perhaps above all, power.


The line-up of speakers is stellar. The first was our hero, Katherine Rinne, whose ongoing research project, Aquae Urbis Romae, “examines the 3,000-year history of water infrastructure and urban development in Rome.” Her upcoming publication, The Waters of Rome, is a much eagerly awaited book. Here's the blurb:

In this pioneering study of the water infrastructure of Renaissance Rome, urban historian Katherine Rinne offers a new understanding of how technological and scientific developments in aqueduct and fountain architecture helped turn a medieval backwater into the preeminent city of early modern Europe. Supported by the author’s extensive topographical research, this book presents a unified vision of the city that links improvements to public and private water systems with political, religious, and social change. Between 1560 and 1630, in a spectacular burst of urban renewal, Rome’s religious and civil authorities sponsored the construction of aqueducts, private and public fountains for drinking, washing, and industry, and the magnificent ceremonial fountains that are Rome’s glory. Tying together the technological, sociopolitical, and artistic questions that faced the designers during an age of turmoil in which the Catholic Church found its authority threatened and the infrastructure of the city was in a state of decay, Rinne shows how these public works projects transformed Rome in a successful marriage of innovative engineering and strategic urban planning.


The speaker scheduled for next week is Morna Livingston, author of a book on Indian stepwells.

From the fifth to the nineteenth centuries, the people of western India built stone cisterns to collect the water of the monsoon rains and keep it accessible for the remaining dry months of the year. These magnificent structures—known as stepwells or stepped ponds—are much more than utilitarian reservoirs. Their lattice-like walls, carved columns, decorated towers, and intricate sculpture make them exceptional architecture, while their very presence tells much about the region's ecology and history. For these past 500 years, stepwells have been an integral part of western Indian communities as sites for drinking, washing, and bathing, as well as for colorful festivals and sacred rituals. Steps to Water traces the fascinating history of stepwells, from their Hindu origins, to their zenith during Muslim rule, and eventual decline under British occupation. It also reflects on their current use, preservation, and place in Indian communities. In stunning color and quadtone photographs and drawings, Steps to Water reveals the depth of the stepwells' beauty and their intricate details, and serves as a lens on these fascinating cultural and architectural monuments.


A “magnificent architectural solution to the seasonality of the water supply” in India they may be, but our favorite use for them is as the stage for the spectacular death scene of Charles Darwin, the naturalist, and Wallace, his companion monkey and fellow lepidopterist.

Arid Lands Institute

The titles of the other two scheduled lectures, Canalscape: Ancient and Contemporary Infrastructures of Phoenix and Indigenous Infrastructure and the Urban Water Crisis: Perspectives from Asia, make us wish they were going to be streamed online.
Fugitive Piazzas
Marisa González


Another interesting documentary to look out for is Ellas, Filipinas, produced by Marisa González.

In Hong Kong, 120,000 to 200,000 women from the Philippines work as domestic helpers.

They are women that have sacrificed their personal life to give their own family, their children, a better life and education. They do not have private life. They suffer racism, and in many cases exploitation.

In their only day off, Sundays, they invade the downtown financial and commercial district, where they transform and occupy the streets, bridges, parks, plazas, shopping centre, the main commercial street, and also the emblematic building of the HSBC Hong Kong Bank. These women change the meaning of the commercial public space, where they transport their habits and traditions through leisure, rest, religion and culture. The luxury downtown city on Sundays becomes a domestic space where they meet, rest, eat, dance, play cards and pray.

They impose different codes into the space, building a new and unique human cartography. Their location is precise, constant.


We haven't yet seen this 1-hour documentary, but we're sure it will profoundly resonate with us, as our own immediate and extended family history abounds with stories of displacements. Ours is a transnational family whirled about the world by the diasporic forces of globalization.

Here's the trailer:



This testimony given to the filmmaker by Cecilia, a nurse who has been working in Hong Kong for 10 years, is typical.

I left my home in the Philippines because I needed the money to maintain my family. Working as a domestic helper I could pay the medical studies of my daughter, the education of my five brothers and sisters and the medical assistance of the cardio problems of my father.

But it is difficult to explain the bitterness and the great sacrifices of our lives. We all feel very lonely. We live far away from our husbands, from our sons and from all our loving friends. We do not have our own family life nor a social or cultural environment. It is an immense sacrifice that we do not deserve, even if we are poor. We also suffer discrimination and abuse in our work during the long daily hours.

We must have high school or university studies but we are treated as servants. In most cases we are more qualified than our Chinese employers.

We have only two weeks of holidays every two years of work. Only every two years we can visit our sons, our family. On Sundays we are happy when we invade the open spaces of Hong Kong and meet together to remember our identity and our culture. It is the only day in the week that we can do our personal things like shopping, go to the bank to send our salary to our families, go to Church and send boxes back home full of clothing, shoes, books, toys. This is our only physical contact with them.

We can laugh, sing, dance, eat and share between women our happiness, friendship and the solidarity that we miss in our domestic work. On Sunday we feel happy in foreign land. The parks and streets of the financial district of Hong Kong become Filipino territory, like the plazas of our little towns. The HSBC Bank is our cathedral and the cardboard casitas are our home.

But we are homeless women. At 8 or 9 in the evening we have to return to our job. We cannot sleep at the houses of our employers.


It's interesting to point out the HSBC Bank that Cecilia refers to above. Designed by Norman Foster, its public space was created with a specific urbanist purpose, as as financial and commercial center of the city. An area that otherwise might be empty and abandoned on weekends is instead turned into a bustling small town, somewhat autonomous from the city and with its own parallel economy of exchange and transactions.

Marisa González


For related reading, check out Rhacel Salazar Parrenas' Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work, which briefly explores similar transient spaces by a similar immigrant community group, but in Rome and Los Angeles.

Particularly in Rome, they congregate at Santa Pudenziana, the national church of the Philippines; the parking lots of Mussolini's EUR; Metro stations; and crowded post-war tower block apartments on the periphery. In these pop-up piazzas temporarily dotting the eternal Papal and Fascist grid, Filipinos seek relief from feelings of exclusion both from their host country and distant families, find solidarity with their fellow countrymen, and commit acts of resistance through fugitive visibility.

Prunings LX
Matusevich Glacier


1)Dimensions takes important places, events and things, and overlays them onto a map of where you are.” For instance, try the 2010 Pakistan floods, the Gulf Oil Spill and the Chernobyl Disaster.

2) Check out David Bowen's tele-present wind and mildly creepy fly drawing device.

3) In Chance Encounter on the Tiber, two American Academy in Rome Fellows, Lisa Bielawa and Robert Hammond, transformed “the walkway along the Tiber River in the center of Rome into a vibrant social open space by focusing on two simple means: movable seating and musical performance.” Their post-event summary of what worked and what didn't work is a good read.

4) “During the 1850s and 1860s engineers carried out a piecemeal raising of the level of central Chicago. Streets, sidewalks and buildings were either built up or else physically raised up on jacks.”

5) “You don’t expect to find a full murder investigation, rangers with rifles and warning signs, hikers trembling and looking anxiously around the corner of every trail. For the first time in the 72-year history of one of the nation’s most beloved national parks, a wild animal has fatally assaulted a human.” The killer is a goat.
Fish Ladder
Fish Ladders


Instead of building a fish ladder only long enough to let migrating fishes go around just a single dam, how about one that bypasses not just that one dam or all the dams on the river but the entire river itself?

Starting at the mouth of the river, this fish ladder loops and curlicues a new hydrological continuum, passing through forests and hills and even cities, doing arabesques around mountains, sometimes on stilts and sometimes tethered. Like an aqueduct staggering through the plains of Latium.

Sometimes it flows besides its parent river, which has been nearly desiccated by global warming, Aral Sea-style irrigations or over damming by energy gluttons from faraway Los Angeles and Phoenix. Awaiting the fishes at the end is a reservoir replicating their ancient spawning grounds.

Along the banks of this artificial river valley, this infrastructure of pure ethology, might be a series of public viewing areas from which to view the endangered spectacle of wild animal migration. And/or catch dinner.
Deep Space Public Lighting, Chilean Copper-Gold Mines, Rare Earths Geopolitics, and iPhones as Portable Artificial Suns
Deep Space Public Lighting


For the past few months, I-Weather.org, developed by Philippe Rahm and fabric | ch, has been churning up a pastel maelstrom here on this blog for use by our spatially and temporally displaced readers to restore their circadian rhythms, whether this is actually possible or not. You, too, can embed this artificial sun on your website to blast your asynchronous readers into metabolic normality. Its open source code is freely available.

At the recent 01SJ Biennial in San Jose, California, we saw a less earthbound and less private platform for this quasi-light therapy: a flickering light tower for “confined and conditioned environments of space exploration vehicles” and “speculative public spaces of distant colonies.”

To distribute and synchronize these pockets of simulant terrestrial cycles of day and night across vast distances, fabrica | ch proposes using a theoretical Deep Space Internet.

Deep Space Public Lighting


Deep Space Public Lighting


By coincide, we first learned about this project just as the first reports about the trapped miners in Chile started trickling in to our attention, specifically, the news that NASA scientists have been flown in by the Chilean government to offer advice on how to help the men stay physically and mentally healthy during the weeks-long rescue.

Copiapó


Al Holland, a NASA psychologist, says during a press conference:

One of the things that's being recommended is that there be one place, a community area, which is always lighted. And then you have a second area which is always dark for sleep, and then you have a third area which is work, doing the mining, and the shifts can migrate through these geographic locations within the mine and, in that way, regulate the daylight cycle of the shift.


It occurred to us that one should make a portable version of Deep Space Public Lighting for future mining disasters. It should be able to fit through bore holes and then easily assembled by survivors in the murky depths of a collapsed tunnel.

A deployable piazza for subterranean “distant colonies.”

Copiapó


Rather than being illuminated by the anemic brightness of a hard hat or video camera, one bathes in soothing electromagnetic wavelengths from a technicolor torch.

Or from an i-weatherized iPhone.

i-weather


And yes, considering the high demand for coal and industrial minerals, there will be many more mining disasters, many more trapped miners and, depending on various fortunate circumstances, more tunnels to be reconfigured. In fact, only a few days after the last Chilean miner was brought to the surface, 11 miners were trapped at a coal mine in China after a deadly explosion.

Consider, too, the recent export ban by China on shipment of rare earth elements to Japan after a kerfuffle between the two countries involving a collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats near some disputed islands. The ban may have been brief, and China may have denied having instituted one in the first place, nevertheless, the incident points again that China is willing to use its near resource monopoly of rare earth metals as a political tool, to get its way, in other words. Other countries have again taken notice, and are scrambling to develop alternative sources, if not already, to ensure future supply. With new mines opening and even old mine operations being restarted, there are more potentials for disasters.

Reformatted in this context, Deep (Inner) Space Public Lighting engages not just with issues such as “public space, public data, public technology and artificial climate” but also with the geopolitics of natural resources, globalization and our collective networked boredom that seemingly can only be satiated by an epic spectacle of natural and man-made disasters and the ensuing heroic rescue of survivors.
Junk Jet nº4
Junk Jet


High-end-Kinko's-xerox-ine Junk Jet's latest issue, the statistics-of-mystics-issue, is now available to order via PayPal. And yes, it comes with a magic mask, which unfortunately has come too late for this year's Halloween.

Junk Jet


Editors Mona Mahall and Asli Serbest write:

Junk Jet n°4 was combing through studios, laboratories, and garages to find those works and theories that make 1 become 2, 2 become 3, 3 …, works that make something out of nothing or nothing out of something, that discover new – even if microscaled – galaxies, that believe in alchemy and maintain a certain kind of apocalyptic thought; works that move from mumbo-jumbo to real magic and back.

Junk Jet daydreamt of alga plantations, cristal architectures, optical jamboree, synthetic foam buildings, multimagic rainbow colorings, of all that has the potential to question contemporary design and architecture and its statistical rationality. Junk Jet daydreamt of alga plantations, crystal architectures, optical jamboree, synthetic foam buildings, multimagic rainbow colorings, of all that has the potential to question contemporary design and architecture and its statistical rationality. Junk Jet nightdreamt of something that has the potential to fluidize what has become monumental, of something that speculates on speculation. Something that is able to create an alternative universe, in which thrilling transformation, mystic metamorphosis, and insane invention build up a modern wunderkammer, a visionary show window and a living laboratory. It asked for contributions from those who turn the everyday into the unique and the ordinary into the xxxxxxtra-ordaniary.


Contributors include Enrique Ramirez (a456), Jimmy Stamp (Life Without Buildings), Sam Jacobs (Strange Harvest) and Kazys Varnelis.

Junk Jet


We also have piece inside as well, basically a reprint of our proposal for a wayfinding infrastructure of networked cyborg fauna, but without the images and the link to YouTube video showing Snow White as a sonic fauna-magnet. Luckily we were paired with Alex McCleod's cristal towers.

Junk Jet


Note that 888 copies were printed, so get yours as soon as possible.


Flux-us! Flux-you! Flux-me!
Onkalo


Here's the trailer to what sounds like a very interesting feature documentary, Into Eternity, about the world's first permanent nuclear waste repository, Onkalo, which means “hiding place.” Located in Finland, the underground facility must last 100,000 years.

Once the waste has been deposited and the repository is full, the facility is to be sealed off and never opened again. Or so we hope, but can we ensure that? And how is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures? Which languages and signs will they understand? And if they understand, will they respect our instructions? While gigantic monster machines dig deeper and deeper into the dark, experts above ground strive to find solutions to this crucially important radioactive waste issue to secure mankind and all species on planet Earth now and in the near and very distant future.


For the above questions, we have some ideas here and here.

Subterranean Aeolian Farm
Containing Undertainty


A disused gold mine might soon provide geothermal energy for the city of Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories, reports CBC.ca.

Yellowknifers have long thought about drawing geothermal heat from the abandoned mine, as former miners have reported temperatures exceeding 30 C when they were underground.

If the project goes ahead, a network of distribution pipes would have to be built to deliver heat from the mine to various downtown buildings.

Oil would still be used under the proposed geothermal plan, but would make up five per cent of the energy used. Still, Yellowknife could save 7.6 million litres of oil and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 17,000 tonnes a year under the proposed plan.


To quickly change to a related or unrelated subject, we've often wondered if you can excavate a system of underground tunnels wherein differentials in atmospheric pressure (or some other laws of physics unknown to us) create air movements at speeds fast and consistent enough to produce appreciable wind energy.

If you perforate a mountain (or an entire mountain range) that's buffeted by strong winds all the time from all sides and then populate it with burrowing giant helium balloons to keep the air moving when the Chinook or Katabic winds are at a standstill, how many homes can be powered? The entire downtown area or just the reclusive hamlet of a rogue Swiss tunnel digger?

Wind power and the cost-benefit headaches of such a multi-billion-dollar project aside, can you perforate a mountain simply to hum a tune, to turn it into a gigantic wind organ playing a melancholic song from deep geologic time? You won't be singing it to the mountain; the mountain will instead, to you.
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