To be brutally honest, there hasn’t been much color in my life recently. Visually, my attention has been focused on making black and white images for the past couple of weeks and have just not been “thinking in color”. Philosophically, I find myself being drawn into the idea of “gray” – a middle tone that seems appropriate for a world that is neither black and white, right or wrong… Read More
I love change.
I am attached to nothing.
An absolutely fitting quote for the situation I find myself in.
From time to time I have nothing really great to write about. Ok most of the time… so I’ll draw inward and recount some little tidbit of my day.
After several Sapporos and a delicious veggie feast, I fell asleep on my sofa last night around 10:00 PM. Apparently I am becoming a Golden Girl after all. I wasn’t anticipating going to bed that early until I was at least 75. But, oh well.
Every now and then it seems like I dream with my eyes open. I can accurately see and understand the room surrounding me, but I am very much unconscious. While I can take note that I left the lamp on, have dirty clothes on my floor, and my foot is almost in my veggie Tikka Masala, I cannot move. That is what happened last night.
As I was laying there, dreaming away in a glassy-eyed coma, I could feel myself adding and subtracting rooms to my apartment at will. It was like being inside of a Gegor Schneider installation – rooms open onto duplicated rooms; a wall may appear to be normal thickness, when in reality it is so deep that it makes the next space chokingly small. In the dream I had, rooms were arranged similarly, but had completely different functions – my desk drawers were filled with water for bathing and my sofa was a covered in terry cloth turning it into a huge towel.
I felt like I was living out Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space… that I was able to override the practical abstractions that made my apartment the way it is and actually make it work according to the experiences I have there…
I am very lucky to have the friends that surround me (even if they are on the other side of the country). I might even say I am exceptionally lucky. For example, my friend Andrea sent me this great card from the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York. At first glance it is simply a blank slate, ordinary piece of paper. But with a few twists… a pristine new architectural space is created. I have had this thing sitting on my desk… taunting me for the last few days. Taunting you say? How can paper-turned-space taunt someone?
Well, it is taunting me in the “unrealized potential” sector that is located at the back of my brain (next to the part that craves the delicious muffins from Dunn Brothers).
Perhaps because of the city I live in, my view of architecture is becoming more and more static by the day. Instead of seeing architecture and buildings as sites of potential energy and social exchange, I’m too focused on the restraints, pathways, and barriers that are presented. How does one rectify this situation? Ah yes… by sneaking away to Mexico City again and photographing the informal architecture which shifts, like a sand dune in the sahara, over the city daily.
Wishful thinking… for a very busy Tuesday.
I’m taking a note from the EuroNews “No Comment” section and just posting some images today. After a rather confusing weekend, I am back to my daily grind. Here is just a small sampling of images captured this weekend as I wandered around the Mid-West… trying to get to know things a bit better.
(1) Lets face it, everyone becomes disillusioned with their life at some point. Disappointment with one’s situation and status is inevitable in the same way that costs will always rise and the last good day-old pastry will be sold by your barista before you can make it to the coffee shop. (I have nothing but love for my boys at Dunn Brothers, but the scone I am eating right now is not very tasty)
At the moment I find myself desperately searching for possible social interactions… but am finding only a great deal of empty space. Perhaps it is the city I live in. Maybe it is our age of digital interaction, but I find it overwhelmingly difficult to create new connections.
Does anyone else have this ailment? Has it always been this difficult to establish new lines of communication with the people surrounding me?
(2) For Walter Lippman the idea of “public” was the ultimate fiction. Human beings are embedded with the false knowledge that we can come together to form a cosmopolitan, diverse, and knowable body of individuals that can determine its own course of action. He posits that “public” is a fantasy meant to make us believe that we are cells in an greater organism and, as such, we can determine the “will of the people”.
Lippman divides all members of a society into two types of people: agents and bystanders. Agents act freely, make “executive decisions on the basis of their own opinions. Bystanders are not agents of freewill. They are the background spectators to life’s events.
For Lippman, the “public” is the bystander – “a deaf spectator in the back row”.
(3) Who are we?
Lippman admits that the border between agent and bystander is permeable. We move across it daily. The agents of one action are the bystanders of another and so on and so forth…
He posits that individuals are usually just spectators in life because of their perpetual self-interest and focus on private affairs.
I agree with this statement. How can there really be private life if there is no public life? I can spend the entire day in “public space” and never even grunt in communication with another individual. Eye contact seems to be a rarity when spectators are spectator to other spectators.
(4) Who am I?
By taking photographs of the absence of spaces for real public interaction, am I a bystander? An agent? For these photographs to matter, do I have to alter the vacuums and deserted plazas? Does making a visual notation of the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life’s objects indicate that there might be a larger, unknowable, body of individuals out there?
…and I laugh with it.
I’ve been slipping up a great deal lately. Snapping at people. Generally being an asshole and feeling rather down about being an asshole. Somehow, I would like to think that the humorous forces of the universe sensed this and sent me this. But, more than likely it is just a crazy Christian cult trying to recruit me. Either way. It gave me a great reason to laugh today in the middle of all the darkness…
Cheers and more serious work soon.
A great site that is holding my attention hostage this morning. Check it out for a variety of fresh perspectives on one of the most important issues in the contemporary city. Few sites I have come across investigate what makes public spaces successful, desirable, and heavily used in the same way that Project for Public Spaces does. Joy.
And bit more of failed public space from my own travel experiences.
Something shocking is happening in Minneapolis. A group of artists are undertaking a project to make art on the facades of unused buildings in the city. I was a bit skeptical when I saw the slickly printed, well designed signs for this type of work (I prefer guerilla style or ephemeral projects in public space). Intersecting artistic/private aesthetic interests with public space rarely works… but the Save Canvas project presented by Overproof Design Studio actually succeeds in its aims. It has been a pleasure to watch the empty structure along Nicollet avenue be turned into a work of art. Especially since this is the site of the unrealized Nicollet condo project (a 60 floor glass high-rise that never materialized thanks to the economic downturn).
Definitely check out their work.
On another note, I am reminded of something distinctly beautiful about the public sphere in Montreal. The city seemed to be predisposed to giving up automobile traffic for pedestrianized streets. In Minneapolis we have the “National Night Out” every year, during which certain blocks are closed to vehicular traffic. It takes a special event here to get people onto the street and walking around. In stark contrast, the above posters in Montreal indicate that the pedestrian is almost synonymous with the urban experience.
I couldn’t agree more.