The Los Angeles Biennale in Shenzhen is an experimentation in creating a nomadic biennale on urbanism, hosted by the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture. It is not possible to
holistically represent Los Angeles in Shenzhen, but as a frontier-city, L.A. is constantly growing, seeking and evolving, manufacturing its progressive self. Why curb our physical boundaries, when Shenzhen and Los Angeles are partners in the traffic of a global
economic network, and images of Los Angeles populate the world under all types of alternative names? Fiction is everything when every snapshot is fleeting, and we do not presume L.A. to have a sole reality. Through a hodgepodge
of presentations, discussions, art pieces and interactive opportunities, the Biennale will perpetuate a generative study and performance of Los Angeles.
Orhan Ayy端ce: Proposal To Participate In Bi-City Biennale
Aris Janigian: This Angelic Land: (Excerpts)
Paul Petrunia: On Archinect
Ole Bouman: Opening Speech
Karen Lohrmann: Codes
f:24, A Journal of Loft Living Brian Mann
Andy Wilcox: Working notes on Stalking Carp
Sarah Lorenzen and Irma Ramirez: Informality and Hybridism in Los Angeles
Orhan Ayy端ce: Apartment Stories
Aram Guiragozian: Dede
Brian Mann: On Assembly
Discussion Amelia Taylor-Hochberg and Anders Bjerregaard-Andersen: As it Lays: the New LA Game
Located Anthony Carfello
LADOT People St. Activity Scan Sheets
Proposal to Participate in Bi-City Biennale by Orhan Ayyüce
Los Angeles has long been a major global city of paradigmatic properties and universal fame. The City has generated anything from copies of itself to being backdrop to countless movies from which the world learned and mythified her. Often these images of Los Angeles don’t do more than creating touristic products and services, adding unsustainable values and values that divide and decline its worth. It is the “La Citta Capitalista,” the ultimate one with countless paradoxical border situations and divisions if looked closely. Besides all that junk cornucopia, exists a city with people of working class, immigrants, social unrests, neighborhoods of highest and lowest per capita, largest and smallest footprints of ownerships. One has to negotiate these adverse conditions everyday. It is a megalopolis, arguably the first of its kind, a giant sprawl, an industrial engine mostly abandoned; emptied, closed, covered and built over the oil derricks which made Los Angeles a major city to begin with; its orange groves are long gone and its concrete lined river meanders through its disparate neighborhoods trying to wash away the missed opportunities to Pacific Ocean. A city with little social justice, with its producing arms cut off and fitted by the artificial ones serving fast food and sugary drinks. Celebrity culture driving most everything from street life to its cultural output. Like Shenzhen, Los Angeles is one of the busiest port cities with millions of containers in its disposal, goods coming in, goods distributed and shipped from here. If the twenty eight days of sea travel taken out, these two cities share borders. The cultural exchange opportunities that condition creates is part of our focus. Los Angeles and Shenzhen are next port neighbors. There has never been an Architecture and Urbanism Biennale held in Los Angeles. This won’t be the one either. But it will test its value and possibly build a nomad brand always hosted elsewhere and always orbiting its physical self. We will aim to set a framework on future L.A. Biennale of Urbanism. We ask Bi City Biennale to host
us group of architects, urbanists, economists, geographers and writers to talk about Los Angeles, interact with our listeners and aim to produce ideas, critique, visual references and arguments, applicable to L.A. and to its parallels everywhere. Unlike our reputation we won’t take too much time and space or cost a lot, but we will tell you what we know and what we can improve, overcome and further instigate. We are a very creative city at the core. Thank you for your consideration. Orhan Ayyüce, AIA
Opening Speech by Ole Bouman
Thank you Orhan, for having me in this illustrious company of the first LA Biennale, to be hosted by the Shenzhen Biennale. I’m the Creative Director of the Shenzhen Biennale, and it’s a role I like to play not only in terms of preparing an exhibition, typical to a biennale, opening the doors and letting people come in, but by organizing events and activating the place for which the biennale has been designed. This old glass factory in the western tip of Shenzhen in Shekou, a place with a great history, is symbolic for the history of contemporary China because of this industrial plant. It all happened in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s when Deng Xiaoping opened the door of modern China, and started to create a society beyond the agricultural focus of Mao Zedong, allowing foreign capital to come in and creating an entirely new China. Industry was crucial for that, and became the engine of the Chinese rise in prosperity for the last three decades, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Industry should start somewhere, and Shekou (as a part of Shenzhen) was the first experimental zone to pioneer with industry as an economic driver, and as a social driver. Shekou became the example for Shenzhen to become the first special economic zone. You could say it started with Shekou, then Shenzhen, then the rest of China in some way, making this into a cradle of modern Chinese pursuit of happiness. It’s fantastic that through the dialogue I had with Orhan at the opening days of the Biennale that, less than three months later, you’re all here, as a group representing this idea of the Los Angeles Biennale, and trying to do something in the spirit of the Shenzhen Biennale, which is also in the spirit of Los Angeles. To explain the philosophy behind this biennale, it’s trying to go beyond the typical festival, the typical showcase of fantastic design, which very often (or almost always) is more about consolidation -- consolidating reputations, certain big names, to be represented in a biennale and to be celebrated. This Biennale is not about consolidation. It’s about trying to be an urban catalyst, and use the energy of
the Biennale to start doing new things and experiment. One of the first things I did as Creative Director was write a piece called “Biennale as RIsk”. To take a risk in terms of positioning the biennale as “urban catalyst” and trying to lure in decision-makers to see the Biennale not only as the window to the world, but as an experimental zone. I was very keen on working in this old industrial plant, which only a year ago was in total decay, to make sure we started mentally and program-wise from scratch, because this place lost all its value. It could only be used for a biennale to get some attention for future real estate developers and investors to market this place for its name, but not to use it as a building, or as a physical reality. So that’s now what’s really the case, the owner of this place no longer thinks that the biennale is just for making people aware of the site, but that it can really become a landmark in further urban development. Quite a few other factories here may become landmarks -- anchors of a different kind of urban development in the international perspective, but certainly a different kind of urbanism in terms of Chinese practice today. In Chinese practice it’s still quite common that, after a certain period, a certain life-cycle of buildings, you start all over -- demolish it and start from scratch again. Here, it’s about renovation, a revival of industrial heritage and using it for a new purpose. This building, for all its beauty, can do very well. So, talking about beauty, let’s dwell briefly on that topic because everyone is invited to come to this place and enjoy the beauty of it. The beauty of the spaces, the materials, the geography, the architecture tour that you can take throughout the building, which the curatorial strategy was very much about -- to create an architecture experience on almost a poetical level. You can walk through the old machine hall and see the giant space being turned from a place of mass production into a place of almost spiritual quality. You can walk through the old silo building, that used to be filled completely with sand, soda and chalk for decades. Now for the first time in
its history, it can be enjoyed just by walking through it, and feel as if you were in a monastery. You can enjoy it if you are open to the aesthetics of an artist like Gordon Matta-Clark, you can enjoy spatial dynamics that could never be experienced before, because all these spaces were filled with stuff. So the liberation of space, of architecture from a certain kind of use -- very functional, very straightforward -- to another kind of perception, or life, is very much what we tried to do in the renovation of this building. Making this venue for a biennale, making this place that was supposed to be the background of a show into the foreground, into the show itself. This was one of the key strategies that I brought up as creative director: to present the building itself as an exhibit, and to transform it, and the act of transformation as the main story. Making the building into the main protagonist. The second layer was to invite program partners to use this space and reside here, to get an address in Shenzhen. We invited several international schools like MIT and the Berlage institute, and we invited famous museums like MoMA, MAXXI Museum, or The Museum of Finnish Architecture, and we invited design offices and design labels like OMA and Joke Design, to occupy spaces and appropriate them, and use them as their premise for their activities. Thirdly, why we’re here for now, is whatever building you present and whatever residence you have, in the end, it’s all about a public event. To make it a public event in all respects, in the true sense of the word, as a public sphere. To do that, you need to organize events. Traditionally of course we have lectures and debates, with audio or guided tours, but it’s very important to keep inventing -- even if the building is done, you can present it as a physical accommodation. It’s very important to keep inventing and breaking through scripts, the formats of events. And I’m very happy that through that conversation I had with Orhan in early December, that we could come up with such a breakthrough of a script -- because you’re here with the first Los
Angeles Biennale. Many people will probably ask “The Los Angeles Biennale? Shouldn’t that be in Los Angeles? And Biennale? How can a biennale ever be a first time? Only the second time you can prove it is a biennale; a biennial should take place every two years and this is only the first time. Talking about breaking through scripts, it’s already interesting to see how biennales can start to travel -- to no longer just “indulge themselves” within the comfort zone of their own territory, in this case Los Angeles, but to travel and position themselves temporarily in other places, taking with them a certain mindset, a certain way of thinking, which I’m very curious about. It might be the Los Angeles way of thinking, maybe it’s the harbor mindset, maybe it’s the traveling spirit, maybe it’s the pioneering spirit of Los Angeles which it’s famous for, maybe it’s the filmic way of thinking of Los Angeles -- I’m just projecting some assumptions here. But it’s interesting to see whether these so-called “typical” Los Angeles qualities can be reinvented or reenergized in a different location, a location that has a certain kinship with Los Angeles because this is also a harbor city. We are only a couple of hundreds yards away from the ocean, from the river, and the harbor is very near. When you climb to the top of this building you’ll see all the harbor plans. So I’m very curious to see whether this experiment will travel -- bringing the Los Angeles way of thinking to another location that is welcoming and understands it very well -- how that will work out and produce new ideas and interesting overlaps.
years ago, and it’s already at the end of its industrial cycle and has to think about new programming. Only thirty years is enough for a complete historical era. Now we’re talking only about a biennale, and we’re here with people who are creating everyday, to come up with this idea of a biennale. I think you’re showing by coming all the way here and starting the LA biennale here, that this creative flow can’t wait for two years, and can just start somewhere. You come from LA, but you start somewhere, you start in Shenzhen, and I’m quite sure that this process after these two days will just continue. Maybe in two years you’ll have another moment, that you can call the “public moment” like the window to the world, with people invited, but I’m quite sure that in-between this one and the next one that you’ll continue doing things and presenting yourself and using your platform to get the message across. So I think in space, in location, or in time, this in itself is already proof of how you’re breaking the scripts, and how welcome you are in this particular place that is all about that. The whole thing that we’re trying to do is have a biennale in a different place -- to merge culture with industry, to reposition Shenzhen as a city of culture rather than a city of mass-production. So I’m very happy that Orhan, and through him, all of you, accepted the invitation and came all the way here to make sure that we can make this statement. And that hopefully, in the next two days, we can also prove some points, to make sure that this is substantiated with some worthwhile discourse, and hopefully we’ll get a lot of feedback through the internet as well.
Talking about biennial in terms of time and timing, I think what you see already in a few places and with a few other biennales … that to wait for a next installment for two years? If you’re doing a real energetic, innovative and creative event, to wait for two years for the next one is almost insane. A biennale that’s connected to a real creative energy can’t wait for two years. Especially in China -- two years is almost like a complete historical cycle. To think, that this factory was built less than thirty
So welcome once again, I think it’s a wonderful setting. It reminds me of a few great moments of architecture and design history, when people came back from their busy offices and sat down, to stop for a while and talk about what’s next. -- what’s the next stage and how can we develop our ideas in a thorough manner? Welcome, I hope the coffee is good, and that the visitors of the biennale every now and then join you and give you instant feedback on what you’re doing. Good luck.
The alchemy of the Los Angeles River produces a corpulent gold from the city it drains, Cyprinus carpio, the common carp. A common species from a wild potion outflowing from faucets and streets mixing to produce ripples of displacement as 10-pounds of muscle flex and hipster barbel mustaches quiver below, thick broad shadows over sand and concrete, blood-red finned reflections in the film of black water, loud slurps of fat orange lips sucking seed-laden foam from arundo edges, broad backs of toenail sized scales split the surface tension of effluent eddies, man-hand sized fins emerge between broken concrete slides as big orange eyes stare up atop fleshy bodies with the bulk of an obese opossum that cruise with the unexpected elegance of submerged hippos forever grubbing through the shopping cart rooted islands and rip-rap urbanite beds of a novel ecology in an ever novel city.
The Los Angeles River is a strange place simultaneously an icon of the nature of the city and an iconoclastic experience of a wild L.A. The image of the River and the reality of it are a soup of intentional engineering and feral ecology. This duality of image and process bear an interesting set of layered relationships; loved and defiled, controlled and wild, a landscape that is critically dismissed and critically required- it is Los Angeles. A Los Angles Archetype
Working notes on Stalking Carp Forthcoming: Los Angeles Atlas, Heyday Press, 2015 Andy Wilcox
Carp are not native as is little of what we have come to associate with Southern California context of Los Angeles. This fish represents an analogous relationship between city and inhabitants, landscape
and species; existence in defiant adaptation to the context- a true L.A. story. Neither city nor fish should really occur yet thrive within the infrastructural subtext of the L.A. environment. This opportunistic resilience, this irreverent bravado, is an attribute that attracts so many to this city. The common carp, cyprinus carpio, is a large fish that thrives in a river of effluent- the treated water of our sinks, showers and toilets- as it runs between cliffs of concrete.
Andy- There is another wild that is out there in between the unrelenting mat that spread out towards it, an infrastructural wilderness. It is also a way to question the word and idea of nature. Even Landscape is a term from painting and doesn’t convey processes- our capacity to shift this image based construct is a primary concern. Andy- The creatures don’t care, if the opportunity exist they will take advantage of it. We are at one point in the continuum of evolution. To think we can restore things to a previous point is idealistic and negates how species change and adapt. The nature of today is not the nature of tomorrow, there is no going back. And the future is a nature we do not yet know. Andy- The freeways are an impressive connecting structure, and while it is problematic, it is an opportunity. The same thing with the LA River, the most public of public space in Los Angeles- 52 miles through the broader city. The Los Angeles River was channelized because it floods, its natural condition produced its current condition. The river migrated across the plain, it never had a specific route, it was a regional process.
There are many issues with nature in LA of both process an idea: the shooting of mountain lions in Santa Monica and the existence of P22, the fake cell tower trees, swifts in ventilation shafts, the Salton Sea, the Prado Dam. There are numerous case studies of insurmountable wild nature of a region, a city and the wild inhabitants. This is true in other areas- the wild dogs in the Russian subways that learned to travel on their own, The Congress Avenue bridge bat population in Austin, Sutro Sam the river otter in SF that lives in the ruins of Sutro Baths, the La Jolla children’s beach that is the perfect space for seal pups and children alike. Andy- The imagery that we associate with these (man-made) places is too narrow– there is opportunity for the wild everywhere. We all love Nature,
but are fundamentally unwilling to accommodate it in our own city lives. Andy- All of this can be seen it the LA River; it has been revealed as I flyfish for carp. The LA River has more water than it ever had because it comes from water treatment facilities- the river is the outflow of our urbanism. FOLAR’s fish study of 2008 found numerous species of fish in the LA river, none of which are native. The carp is a kind of archetype for the wild in the city. They shouldn’t be there (just like we shouldn’t), but it’s ok, it is all a matter of perspective and values. The carp is not suppose to be there, but it provides the food for many of the birds that we so value that inhabit the river. Andy- I fish in the areas that have the soft bottom. Conversations with people that travel, recreate and live in the river. The first recipe for carp I got was from a man living in the river. First time I ate carp I made fish tacos. It is clean water coming out of the water recycling, but it picks up a lot of chemicals and heavy metals along the way. I wouldn’t feed them to my 13-yearold daughter or my wife, but I will eat them. Andy- Carp are hard to catch… you have to look for signs – their fins, looking in the shadows, certain sounds. There are however a lot of them. Orhan- This is an important picture of Los Angeles. We often just think of it as endless sprawl, lawns and tract homes, the typical image of the boulevards, but we seldom think of the natural ground that the city is sitting on. I live in Glendale and we have skunks, raccoons, and squirrels. 20-blocks away a mountain lion will appear or a bear. The city cannot contain the wilderness around it. Orhan- In your work you argue the existence of wilderness within the city. What do you mean by that? Andy- You have to be ok with coyotes eating your cats, or with vermin. We have to make fundamentally different ways of evaluating the landscape – trees
are selected for aesthetics versus how they may support habitat. The only issue that people are looking at is water needs and drought, but not at these larger issues. It is a big question, that has many layers. Karen- I am impressed by how well the balance between wild animals and the man-made environment of Los Angeles is working. Living in Los Angeles I couldn’t believe what I was encountering. We had a small pond, and we had to pump it out because the coyotes were drinking this water. We actually got a letter that we could not fence off our yard, because it might limit the movement of wildlife. Orhan- As a landscape architect how do you see the densification of the city? How will it impact wildlife? Andy- I think the answer is not public parks, it is about larger infrastructures that are availablesidewalks, public trees, front yards. It is about interspecies equity. We need to address more than urban patterning, and I am not talking about green roofs, which are just dumb given the climate. But there a lot of ways to address birds nesting with tree selection. We are not managing for bio-diversity for insects. There is no answer but a nostalgic idea of what nature is will not work and our future depends on it. Brian- Attempts to manage and reconstruct nature. There is obviously a connection to certain popular ideas about this and the commercial real estate apparatus…
Karp Tacos. Recoipe from a fellow karp fisher.
Time to Develop! Los Angeles is a city perpetually re-written as a fiction. Now entering a new phase of renegotiation, L.A. must establish new frontiers, while acknowledging its icons and ecologies. As It Lays: The New L.A. Game allows players to radically reinterpret the city, brokering the landscape as developers working through issues of typological diversity, densification and interconnected- ness.
As it Lays: the New LA Game
Amelia Taylor-Hochberg and Anders Bjerregaard-Andersen
MEDIUM developments are worth 1, TALL developments are -3.
3. Each player lays a development piece under the Situation.
3. Ride the Bubble: Property is cheap and the housing bubble is expanding! Race to build as fast as possible before the bubble bursts -- the first player to get rid of all their pieces wins.
4. Once each player has taken their turn, the Card is returned to the bottom of the deck.
4. Get your Ducks in a Row: the player with the longest contiguous chain of developments wins. In the event of a tie, add a point for every MEDIUM development in the chain, and add 2 points for every TALL point in the chain.
Laying it Down
5. Another Situation Card is pulled, and the next round begins.
Not all development pieces are treated equally -- some can be placed where others can’t. Players may place their developments How to Win according to the following Basic Rules (unless specified by the The goal of As It Lays is determined 5. L.A. is a salad: Player with highest Situation Card): by rolling the Vic- tory Die at the beginning of each game. Gameplay number of dis- crete, coherent gatherings of 3+ developments (of SHORT piece: Adjacent to any lasts for 45 minutes (this is only any size) wins. In the event of a tie, existing development. MEDIUM the suggested time limit), unless the player with the least pieces left piece: Adjacent to two “friendly” otherwise stated by the Victory on hand wins. (belonging to Condition. There are six different that same player) developments. Victory Conditions: 6. Ghettoized: Players may only TALL piece: Adjacent to two 1. Simple Majority: The player with build developments placed next to “friendly” developments, given that the most accumulated points from one coherent main development. Solitary developments are one of those developments is of their built developments wins. allowed as long stay solitary or MEDIUM or TALL size. SHORT developments are worth 1 gets absorbed in the main. The point, MEDIUM developments are player with the largest coherent If beginning with a completely worth 2, and TALL developments development gathering wins. blank board, players may place a are worth 3 points. SHORT development anywhere Course of Action on the board for their first turn. All 2. Hit ‘em low: The player with the future turns then follow the Basic most accumulated points from Once the Victory Condition has Rules of Laying It Down. Some their built developments wins. Situation Cards refer to landmarks/ SHORT developments are worth 2, been set, the game can begin with either a completely blank boroughs that are unmarked on gameboard, or by placing the the gameboard. All players must “neutral” black pieces as shown in come to consensus on where the the above graphic. The choice is up landmark/borough lies, and follow to the players’ consensus. Pieces this deci- sion throughout that are encoded as follows: round. SHORT, MEDIUM, TALL Each player begins with ten SHORT Have at it pieces, eight MEDIUM pieces, and five TALL pieces, all in individual Now it’s time to start building. player colors. The first round begins Los Angeles unfolds as the turns by pulling a Situation Card. That progress, whether or not it’s pretty. card will determine how properties Keep in mind that every Situation is may be used for each player’s turn up for negotiation and collaboration during that round. Turns progress amongst players, so feel free according to the following this to discuss the terms and their sequence: applications. Conditions can change at every turn, so once the game is 1. Round begins, a Situation Card is underway, reflect on the city being pulled. built -- what would it be like to live here? 2. The terms of the round are prepared, according to the card.
Boulevard Bonanza! The player with the longest continuous chain of developments at this time can play two developments during this round. Density Demand! The player with the largest gathering of coherent developments in each quadrant of the gameboard can play two developments during this round. In the event of a tie in any given quadrant, neither player receives a prize.
Construction Delay: Subway tunnels are being dug throughout the SW quadrant -- no development maybe built in the SW area during this turn.
Furor in the foothills! The homeowner associations succesfully reunite -- No developments larger than SHORT may be built this turn.
Stimulus Package! Washington, D.C. gifts L.A. County federal art subsidy, encouraging museum building. Each player receives an additional TALL piece.
Bleached bones: A mountain lion terrorizes residents in new development in Malibu mountains. Remove all S developments from the area.
Downtown downgrade! A high-rise multi-use being built in downtown loses funding, and programs must bereassigned. Each player can remove a TALL piece of the player to the right, located in that area, and re-place it with one of their own. Smog Attack: Trade schedule shiftOptionally, players can choose to ed in Long Beach harbor, increasing play elsewhere on the board during unloading of imports during daytime this round. Downtown downgrade! hours. Morning traffic congestion A high-rise multi-use being built increases and area is declared in downtown loses funding, and “hazardous” to health. Players must programs must be reassigned. Each remove any SMALL developments player can remove a TALL piece of located along the LB harbor before the player to the right, located in beginning turn. that area, and replace it with one of their own. Optionally, players can choose to play elsewhere on the board during this round.
NIMBY: No new developments in any of the foothills during this turn.
One Spark: An unpopular case ruling sparks riots in the SE quadrant of the gameboard. Small businesses are targeted and destroyed by rioters/looters. Remove all SHORT properties adjacent to friendly TALL developments.
Olympic Fever! All players must discuss a new unattached development to be laid in the LA basin (away from foothills), containing a development of free choice from each player. This piece will be compensated by a recollection of that piece from the pool.
River revitalization. All new development with the LA river in an adjacent grid cell may place one additional development, of the type of what was laid.
Anyone can make it in Hollywood! Players may put down 2 adjacent developments near the Hollywood Hills.
Beachfront Boom: Facing an up-turn after a long recession, folks are finally starting to buy homes again, and a new influx of the population has joined the population rich enough to buy beachfront property. Each player receives an extra SHORT piece and may build extra 2 properties anywhere along the coast for this turn.
Gentrification Station: Cheap development opportunities arise in a run-down former industrial district. A few other developers buy cheap warehouse property and turn them into performance venues. The area becomes attractive to small businesses for its hip trajectory and cheap rents. Players may place a MEDIUM piece anywhere on the board that is at least three spaces away from any other development in all directions.
Earthquake! An earthquake rips through the San Gabriel Valley, destroying all developments in its wake. Clear all developments from the NE quadrant, then players may take their turn.
As it Lays: the New LA Game Situation Cards
Park requirement for TALL development. Any TALL pieces laid this turn obliges the player to place down one adjacent SHORT piece as recreational assets. Hyperion breakdown: The Hyperion water treatment plant breaks down and pollutes the entire Santa Monica Bay. No new developments may be built on this part of the coastline throughout the turn.
Drought debacle: A forecasted drought throughout Southern California halts development throughout the basin. No building in the basin during this round.
Westward Exceptionalism: West-side government seeks to rebrand the city as distinct from “the rest” of Los Angeles, severs ties with property developers with properties that straddles their border. Players with properties on the eastern border of the West-side must remove their developments; may still place a property on this turn but not on the West-side’s eastern border marker.
Surfurbian trend. All new development with the coastline in an adjacent grid cell receives one equal piece on hand, of the type of what was laid.
The Mega-Region: Transit-oriented development subsidies are made available along the East-West corridor, encouraging mixed-used developments alongside transit nodes. Any previously established development on that corridor can remain, while players may build TALL developments along the East-West line so long as it has no adjacent properties (friendly or otherwise). Eastside upturn: Development east of the LA river pays off for both investors and the community! For every new development east of the river this turn, all players receive an extra piece on hand of that type.
When Orhan first approached Paul and I with the Los Angeles biennale, we began identifying projects or objects that could make up such an experiment. One of the ideas Orhan floated past us was a game. My husband and I had been interested in creating a board game about Los Angeles for a while, so we jumped on the idea. The whole game came together very quickly, in a couple weeks’ time. It started simply as an interest in engaging with the concept of Los Angeles, whatever that is, without being too demonstrative or prescriptive. The goal wasn’t to describe or represent the city/ region, but to prompt people to create their own LA realities. I realize now that the game’s rules are too complicated... seeing Chinese students trying to decode it, without any prior connection to Los Angeles, the mechanics need to be simplified. This is the 00 prototype phase, so it’s been very helpful to see people’s reactions and gauge feedback.
As it Lays: the New LA Game Discussion
The game is about being a developer in Los Angeles. We started out with a blank grid, a map with nothing on it. Then we defined a set of constraints that would impact what and where you could build. The game progresses turn by turn on changing conditions, aka Situation Cards, such as riots or earthquakes. Some relate specifically to Los Angeles’ history but are not named as such. We are not trying to rep- resent Los Angeles as it stands, but to understand some of the forces that continually help shape it, setting it in the motion that perpetuates (and accelerates) today. We wanted to create a neutral field that allowed people to see how development might occur given a series of constraints, not guided by cohesive strategy or image, and not identifiable as a preconceived urban logic. All the rules are posted on the banner, so I don’t need to rehash them. There are a few simple, unchanging rules dictating how you can develop properties, but every Situation Card adds a caveat, changing the possibilities for a set amount of time. I hope people
consider how these constraints might impact their goals for development, and the overall cityscape.
Amelia: The point wasn’t to simulate Los Angeles, but to make explicit the factors that influence patterns of development in Los Angeles. The didactic opportunities Paul- Based on your experience are really strong, but we didn’t conceiving the game and watching want it to teach you about what people play it here at the Biennale, Los Angeles is, or should be, besides making it easier, what else but instead to demonstrate the do you think should change? interlocking systems of constraints Amelia- We thought it might be that produce the city. Even if we interesting to force players into felt we had the authority to teach different roles. To assign goals, explicitly “these historical facts needs, wants, which would make made Los Angeles what it is today”, it more political and allow it to be then I wouldn’t feel comfortable more personal. Currently there representing it in this game, are no explicitly named issues, which is more of a performance or mentions of demographics, device than educational tool. That ethnicity, class, etc. that might being said though, a digitized/ make the game dated. By having it app version would open up the be more political it would make it gameplay potentials massively. I more engaging, but it would require think there’s definite potential in the having that personal investment in role-playing aspects I mentioned the history of Los Angeles to make earlier, assigning political roles to it most relatable, which would be the players and such, but in some fleeting. ways the more nuanced the game becomes, the less it’s able to Paul- Do you think this is only about continue being about Los Angeles. Los Angeles, or could it apply to other cities? Aris: This seems to be a subversive act. To consider the game as a way Amelia- We wanted to make a to see our ambitions. I am struck game in particular because we see with it. I think it is genius, but I feel Los Angeles as hard to talk about very vulnerable. We suddenly have in definite terms, and not very to come up as to how we want to satisfying to try and re-represent. live. Today it isn’t about having my Our relationship to the city is as a own territory, but how I want to network of interlocking systems, represent myself. that push and pull at varying intervals to create a shifting mass Paul: I like this, because there is a as diverse as it is overwhelming. lifelong struggle to explain what is We thought a game might offer a Los Angeles to people outside of good opportunity to describe the Los Angeles. There seems to be a terms of the place, if not its actual way to develop this further. structure. A game was simply the natural media to address, through Amelia: Each card gives you a performance and competition, the condition that defines how you topic of Los Angeles. So without can build -- from earthquakes, to that relationship and obtuseness, riots, to NIMBYism. Everything a game doesn’t make sense for that makes it about Los Angeles other cities, or it just may not be is in the cards’ references, other the ideal medium of translating the than the topography, but they both ideas behind that city. Personally, describe that constant push-pull without being a member of any that the city faces. The cards keep other potential city, I don’t have that the game from being too didactic, personal investment to understand because they don’t refer precisely whether the game is the best to individual Los Angeles events medium to explain the systems to compile a factual history of Los of the city, so I can’t make that Angeles -- they pop up long enough judgment. to kickstart the systems that are already at work. Brian- If it is a didactic tool why not digitize it and have it be playable As a developer, each player takes a online or as an app? turn “playing” different development
types on the board -- those are the game pieces. Each player has their own color of developments, but the pieces only differ by size -- short, medium, and tall -- not by program. We tried to avoid value judgments, and simplify development as a type of investment in the land. Even at the beginning of the game you are given conditions of how to build, but not what you’re actually building. There is no question about quality of life on those properties. If you are using it as simulation it breaks down, because there’s no explicit programmed activity to simulate among the properties. Some Situation Cards do refer implicitly to quality of life or a particular activity, and are based on historical issues: smog, riots, the Olympics. If you have the personal relationship, you can refer back to that specific moment and personalize the game, but if you don’t know it, then you get an idea of what developing Los Angeles might have meant. The game avoids simulation, focusing more on creating a fiction -- the outcome is always going to be different. I think there is a false logic in data-driven design, that treats data as the beginning and end. Something like, “we used all our data therefore it is an infallible judgment and product”. At that point, if everything is supported by the irrefutability of data and not by the designer’s choices, it no longer has authorship, and that releases the “designers” of any social or political responsibility. It also gives their design strategy a kind of datasupremacy and inevitability, while part of it is indelibly about a personal style and design.
At the heart of a st ory like this, The Kurd told me, there should be love—a man and woman, or friends, two people, anyway, who, amid the destruction, find in each other what may be worth dying for, what may even require it. As the city burns, imagine them at the kitchen table with cups of coffee, an atom of intimacy in a galaxy of waste. Watching the ashes drift, they might still speak of another life in another place, certain that if such goodness between two people were possible then all was not lost, even if all might be destroyed. Forget that it wasn’t 1915, 1934, or 1984. Forget that we were hardly on death marches or stuffed into cattle cars or terrorbound to a chair—no, just the opposite, we were cock-walking pilgrims, each from a different country and caste, supercharged with will. Yes, we were a melancholy distance away from all that was familiar, at an outpost far from home; but each toted his or her best, the very most finely spun and handsomely hewn. There we showed, bartered, bought, and sold, to better store up for the long journey ahead on the magic lantern-lighted road.
This Angelic Land: (Excerpts) Aris Janigian
Only in the middle of that sojourn we were forced to stop, such was the commotion over the high fence, stop and stoop and peer through peepholes. In black and white, the monochrome color of the plainest of dreams, several police, batons cocked, surrounded a man prone on the ground with his head vaguely raised. Then the man rose, and a policeman struck him, and the man went down, and then rose again and the policeman struck him again, and again, and with each strike the man rose rather than fell, until another policeman, appalled, put out a hand. “Stop.” Suddenly, the man, like some cornered and wounded buffalo, lunged, and at the vile sight of his unlikely power they lunged back, his buffalo-sized body absorbing blow after baton blow. Groping in the darkness as though for a life rope, he fell to his knees like a supplicant. What must he do, melt into the ground before they would relent?
He did melt to the ground, and one of the hyenas put a foot to his nape, and they struck his prostrate bulk. They were striking him for anything now, not because he was resisting them, but because he was there, because it simply struck their fancy. A tort of blows landed at each rung of his body, and when he jumped from pain they struck him for that too. Finally, convinced he was subdued, the hyenas cuffed his hands and lashed them to his ankles behind his back and dragged him facedown to the side of the street, where he was left to his debased self. And the hyenas loped back and forth, taking notes, dispatching reports, contented with their quarry.
They listened to experts and counter-experts, and bystanders who told of what we had not seen:
What was done was done, except for a man hiding in the shadows, who at that moment had turned his camera on and now had in hand an accounting, a moving negative a mere minute long. With no floodlight or fanfare or marketing budget, in a matter of days this shortest-of-shorts dumbstruck the world. We watched it, endlessly studied it, tried to find a way to stamp it with reason, with purpose; but it continued to mystify, spooling upon its own tortured body, its own sadomasochistic logic. Twelve persons were charged to put its meaning to rest. They watched and listened for three weeks, and frame for frame tried to fix the meaning of the moving negative; they accepted arguments, retorts, theories, and counter-theories about what was in the hyenas’ minds during each frame—what frame of mind accompanied the frame, how did the hyenas’ action comport with the hyena handbook, why did the buffalo lunge at one of them, why, once surrounded, did the buffalo not submit?
4. Forthwith, it was surmised the beast had eaten crystalline, a hellish substance, and that this was what had unleashed in him such a formidable force. Upon this surmise, the entire pack, even those hyenas of two minds, were galvanized.
1. The encounter that night had begun on the freeway, with the buffalo trying to outrun the hyenas for eight miles at an ungodly speed. 2. In the vehicle, three men rode alongside the beast. When orders were given to heel, only the beast demurred. His stare blank, his limbs inarticulate, sweat dripping from his brow. 3. Whipped up and frothing, the beast grabbed his arse and to provoke the hyenas shook it brazenly.
5. With stun guns, twice he’d been struck. But rather than wreaking havoc upon his flesh, the guns’ hundred thousand mortifying volts by all appearance did multiply it. 6. The best science has it that no man not possessed by a malevolent force could prove so refractory to such stuns, be so impervious to pain. 7. As the malefactor was struck, emanating from his throat were grunts and reports of otherworldly import. Note: these diabolical cries rose even over the vulture’s terrific thunder. 8. Even when subdued, handcuffed, nearly snuffed, the beast’s spirit, animated by unknowns, was lambent still. 9. Of the beating, true, one of the hyenas had opined he’d never had a hand in anything akin; it reminded him, he averred, of a hard ball game, part of the good ol’ American pastime, during which he had hit a home run. 10. There were spectators to this “sport.” Some watched frozen in
horror, others rallied the hyenas on, yet others pleaded for the hyenas not to mortally wound him. 11. Hospital pictures revealed that from the beating his face had lost its features. Blood-red, ochre, and plum-colored bruises, tumescent and everywhere split; it looked like something that from inhumation had begun to putrefy. 12. One eye from distension was sealed shut, and from a baton blow that had severed his face from ear to chin, a new eye was opened. 13. Before it was sewn shut, there were those who deposed: along the round of the iris was inscribed, novue ordo seclorum. “A new world has begun.” And the jury went into a room to deliberate. There, with the information they were handed, they elevated and elaborated, parsed the pure from the impure, the subtle part from the gross, and within a matter of days returned with their verdict: ot guilty. How? How! It was as though the beating was legerdemain, that your eyes perhaps were cataract, your reasoning sublimated, from dereliction deprived, or that what you saw was a base version of the real, that the deluxe, superlit version existed elsewhere, where only those twelve people had in lux-ury stood. Sensing the fulminate taking shape, civic leaders and clergy rose to prayer, imploring, flapping, squawking, one by one, running the sky the way crows do before a storm; but no sooner had they come than space was emptied of them, of sense itself. The city had turned into a sense vacuum, and in a matter of hours into this vital negativity, this perfect black body, particles began to collide and form a kind of supernova. It was just about dusk when you felt it from the heavens with an appalling force hit. In a section of the city there was thunder, lightning, a gale strong enough to bust open the cages and set loose a horde: they flooded into the streets throwing bottles and rocks, overturning garbage cans,
and screaming from rage. Then they began striking at cars with bats and bars and jumping up and down. And then we saw, from a peephole in the sky this time, a big truck lumber like a lost elephant into an intersection and dumbly stop. Within seconds they had swung up and lifted from right out of his seat the driver, a sad, waif-like figure. They dragged him into a clearing, where he cowered and looked confused, because never, even on TV, even in the movies, had he seen anything like this. They screeched and hollered and spat at him and jumped up and down, and threw him to the ground, and one of them held his head down with a foot, and the others kicked and struck him, and he wondered— as he wobbled to his feet like a newborn calf, lost his balance and fell, and tried to find his feet again— what was going on, and they stood over him, kicking and striking, aping each other, and then a man with an X on his chest hurled a canister at his head, and then another man, at point-blank range, did a trick with a brick, busting it on the scrawny calf ’s skull, whereupon his body collapsed to the asphalt and went limp. We saw the bloody mop of his newborn head; his innocent body curled up unconscious. We saw the bricklayer do a little jig.
To Adam, a “white boy” was someone with pearly skin, freckles, and lanky limbs. White Boy was Nick—his partner at the bar—and that wasn’t what Adam saw when he looked in the mirror. He finally reached the bar and sat down in front of his computer and tried to work on a spreadsheet. But “white boy” kept drumming at his head, the ugly injustice of it making him mad and sad at the same time. It brought back junior high school, all those feelings. When Adam first came to America, he had enrolled in the local elementary school, where for two years he blended in fairly well; but by the time he reached junior high they had started “bussing,” and so for a semester and a half he took that rolling purgatory across town to what they called a “minority school.” When the bus door opened all forty students shuffled off the bus holding their breaths. Blackness was everywhere, alarming, that much of it all of a sudden, exotic, vaguely menacing, brothers and cousins of Crips and Bloods, all with searing wits, cocky rooster’s walks, and the jazziest way with words. What exactly he was, with olivebrown skin and black hair and eyes as black as theirs, was a wide open question. Some figured he was a kind of Messican, some wondered whether Arm-onion was A-rab. Say whah, Lebuhn-on where de fuck ih dat. Syria, and Israel, in that general direction, he might’ve said, if he’d thought it would help. In the meantime, he watched with horror—dozens of unambiguously white kids harassed and spit on and punched and tripped and made to squirm through the gauntlets of the hallways. He’d perfected his pace through it; not too slow not too fast, lest they prey on his fear, which he held in so tightly that by the time he hopped on the bus home he was close to shitting in the seat. Within a month two boys from the bus psychologically collapsed, and he never saw them again. Now and then, before he fell asleep, Martin Luther King would appear: his childlike face and river-big voice, telling Americans, “I HAVE A DREAM.” Adam too had a dream, Dr. King, and a prayer: that as he slept God
would transform him from whatever he was into a lustrous, swaggering, black kid. That he’d have a big fat Afro and fuck you attitude when he woke. Until that transubstantiation occurred, he’d use the grinding commute to mull over strategies to distance himself from his “whiteyness.” He’d kept his heritage secret, out of shame, but eventually he began to wonder whether he’d be better off bringing it into play: bombs, guns, razor wire, militias, our uncle murdered in cold blood—he’d seen some shit in his day. “Lebahn-on, huh?” “That’s where the war was, man, but I’m Armenian. Being Armenian in Lebanon is like being black in America.” “Armainyun.” “Exactly; Armain-yun. When you hear it, just think, OUR MAIN MAN. Get it: Our main man!” He spread his arms out. It was an all-in absurdist wager. Their brains flickered as they sized up the pun. Suddenly laughter rose in their chests and sent their bodies into spasms. Were they mocking him? It took a minute for the matter to settle one way or the lethal other. Suddenly, they had smiles on their faces, and their heads began to bob like dashboard dogs. “Awright, den. Ah main man. U Coo.”
A stereo-thundering Cadillac full of black-teens-whomsociety-hadneglected shot past and skidded into the parking lot of a mini mall. The Kurd put a hand up to slow. The passengers, four in all, respectfully passed around a small ganja pipe, each took a solemn, almost sacramental hit, and then two got out of the car, one heading back to the trunk and the other toward one of the store’s double doors. He gave it a quick tug. Locked, presumably empty, but who could say for sure. With a finger he lassoed the air, a “good to go,” because now his friend took a canister from out of the trunk, lit it at arm’s length and hurled the Molotov through a picture window. The glass shattered all at once, like a curtain collapsing. They got back into the car and motored up the road to their next job, as matter-of-factly as the DWP.
the refrigerated section, gallon-size glass bottles of kimchee lay busted on the linoleum floor, still draining their crimson brine. The cabbages resembled large bloody organs layered in fat, the sum of the scene like a medical experiment gone berserk. The fumes were potent as pepper spray, so that Adam was forced to pull his shirt up over his nose. Oddly, no one else seemed bothered by the smell. Not even the kids. Maybe they’d been inoculated from all those jalapeños?
Then he saw an elderly Asian man with three boxes of rice cookers in his arms scurry up an aisle, and disappear into a storage room. It took a second to conclude the obvious: this man was the owner of the store, trying to stash away what he could, maybe hoping to plead for mercy when the pyromaniacs came. The shoppers paid him no Adam followed them for half a mile mind, or maybe they were relieved before The Kurd said “Pull over.” he was there, in other words, it’s Adam did, into another Korean not really stealing if you’re here mini-mall. A dozen or so hair-netted watching me take the stuff, in other cholos were sitting on car hoods words, if you own the store and chilling with cases of beer. The Kurd you don’t stop me, then what I am marched past them into a grocery doing must be okay, in a way, right? store, Adam trailing. Noodles, Like you have insurance to cover it, packaged seaweed, bags of red and like you wanted to thin down your yellow spice, mud-colored beans, inventory anyhow? The Kurd told cans, and large jars of whatever you he’d seen enough. Adam was weird things Koreans cooked up about to follow him out, when the were in a shambles on the shelves owner shambled back up the aisle or knocked clean off them. Several with his head lowered, as though in twenty-pound sacks of rice were shame. When he looked up, and his here and there on the floor, like eyes met Adam’s, he froze, raising small dogs left for dead. It was a his hands in surrender. Adam said, Korean Kristallnacht. A tattooed “Don’t worry,” but it didn’t help. Latina gal, fat with baby, waddled a His face was jumping with fear, like cart up an aisle of Korean cooking Adam had a gun leveled at his head. gadgets. She reached for a certain “No, no, no,” Adam beseeched. metal square-headed mallet, the The man turned clumsily to escape meat-flattening kind, tested it on her and slipped, his body slamming on palm, and then politely put it back. the floor. Adam pitched forward to help, but the man cupped his Down in the produce section, four hands in prayer for Adam to please or five people were stuffing multitake mercy. He made to his old feet ply garbage bags with whatever trembling and lurched back down was in season; two boys, maybe the aisle. nine or ten years old, had a fruit fight going. One flung an Asian pear at Trembling himself, Adam walked the other. The other volleyed back outside. The Kurd was sucking on with a plum that almost struck their a cigarette, with his eyes welded to mother, who was emptying the a man with greasy matted hair and onion bins. She turned in rage and ripped jeans, homeless probably, cursed them in Spanish. The boys readying to make his mark with a pointed fingers at each other; she stabbed her own finger at the empty bags; they needed to be helping! In
stainless steel trashcan that he was balancing on the back of his neck, a kind of alleyway Atlas. Half a dozen people, including a young boy and girl, looked on. “Hurry,” Atlas hollered to another guy, maybe a fellow traveler, who was down on one knee fussing with the zoom on a video camera, price tag still dangling. “Okay,” he said. Everything for an instant froze, the cinematographer waved an arm, signaling action, and the man ran madly at a storefront howling like a samurai and then heaved the trashcan at a big window, but the trashcan bounced off. There was a collective sigh at the setback. He picked it up, loosely embarrassed, and with a kind of sick rage started swinging it at the window until the window had had enough. He stood there, wobbly with exhaustion, as the crowd whooped and cheered. That’s when the camera guy turned to The Kurd and said, “It’s history, ay,” and chuckled, and The Kurd said, “And you are making it, man, you are making it.”
Aris- I was living in mid Wilshire when the riots broke up. I was writing a novel about a hip Angelino that wakes up with vertigo. I stopped when the riots broke out and began writing about what I was seeing in the streets of LA. When the riots subsided, I realized that it was impossible to continue the book about the hipster, but I didn’t throw it away. Years later, I paired a draft of that book with my reflections on the riots at the time they were happening and that became the basis for This Angelic Land. The main character is Adam a Lebanese Armenian, who has a business degree from USC, and now runs a bar. His partner is a WASP from Hancock Park. In the piece that I’m going to read Adam is a school kid who gets bussed across town to a minority school.
Brian- This became a horrendous situation. But ultimately still a response to social inequality. Clearly a response to social injustice, we shouldn’t call it riots, we don’t call the French Revolution the French Riots. Many people consider them uprisings, I side with that camp, but ultimately the only way to avoid this is through economic and social justice, to reconcile inequality. The only way people deal with it is to barricade themselves. I think ultimately the only way to avoid more riots is social justice, but our way has been to create fortress areas and to be really paranoid.
Evan Geisler- I was living in France at the time. I witnessed the event through TV. It was a limited and biased view of the city. When I came back I understood the change that happened to the city Aris- Now, I’ll read a second part because of the Riots. Coming back that has Adam in the riots. He and after the riots was shocking, how his friend The Kurd decide to go see much the social dynamics had Adam’s parents in Little Armenia to changed. I felt like it affected the let them know he’s ok. On the way wider demographic that I know. there they go through Korea Town My parents were living near USC. and witness the Riots first hand. I was getting their input, and their take on it was absolute horror. Orhan- I am very familiar with this They were trapped in their home. story, both from the point of view They were elderly Caucasians and of the protagonist. given that I am understandably frightened. My Turkish, and the experience of being perspective as an Angelino, when in the riots. I found it so interesting you have this sprawl, these invisible and sad that the police were there borders, you do not really witness to protect Beverly Hills, but there the tensions that exist. While I have was no plan for the rest of the city. never been scared in Los Angeles, For example the domestic workers I did change the way I navigate that couldn’t cross through Beverly through the city. Hills and were sent into harms way. This was such a sad story. It clarified Aris- First this book is a book, it can for me who was who. I brought up not be read as a social hypothesis. the issue with Eric Moss at SCI-Arc Still Don Waldie in his review of and was surprised at how cold his the book rsaid something very response was. He said this would interesting… he said that I opposed never happen again in LA, that this the hypothesis that this was a social would only happen in Chechnya. I struggle, and instead posited it as a had to remind him of the fact that tribal war. Not to negate what others one of the buildings he designed are saying about the economic and was burned during the riots. If there social injustices that were at play, is another riot in Los Angeles, it but it is important to also see LA as will be very different. It is possible a gathering of tribes that have come that when it happens again, and it to a kind of truce, but one that could is bound to happen, it will be very easily break into war at any moment. different. I am curious to ask how everyone thinks the next riot might Orhan- As a group we can change look like? the way architecture students to have greater social consciousness. I think it is possible to use the built environment to address these issues.
Aris- Architect should be at the table discussing these issues. Orhan- I don’t agree with the guy who says: “I am just the guy who makes the stew, I don’t determine the ingredients”.
as I would agree with Orhan, I think there are false conclusions that there is a way to determine the cause and effect, that there’s a direct causal relationship between a certain kind of form or urbanism and a certain kind of social Evan-- Your question as to what consequence. My biggest beef architects can do. The way it was with the new urbanists, everyone addressed---they put bulletproof wants to live in a more varied and glass in the windows. I think what’s mixed-use neighborhood, but the missing is spaces where people formalistic attitude they have — if can come together. There is no I make streets a certain way, the Agora. LA doesn’t have that. Where blocks are 200sqft, and therefore we do have parks they continue to I’ll have a social outcome that’s segregate. predictable? I think that’s bullshit. Andy- This puts a lot on the architect. It puts architecture as a worldview versus a practice. You have to have values and you have to support this. Where are we making investments, how are assets distributed. To get back to the question as to what is the next riot. It started to be the occupy movement, with a very different social consequence. Brian- The Korean community had it tough during the riots because they served as kind of spatial and economic buffer between those who have all the wealth and those who have none. Its not a nice job for example selling cheap booze to a community where that’s often a problem. I am excited by Boyle Heights right now and the way the community is resisting outside influence. There is this drive that is connected to witnessing the transformation of Echo Park. Everyone always says we saw echo park. This is why its important for people everywhere to understand what exactly is going on with redevelopment and gentrification. The community has to be given ways to make their own decisions and determine what it means to live in their community. What life will look like. Thinking about future upheaval, we can say what it will look like. A giant center fortress looking out to fires in the suburbs. Sarah: In terms of trying to predict the next riots, I don’t see the LA riots as a political act, what drove them to it might have been economic or political, but the response from the community was more like a free-for-all. As much
Aris- Reading #2: Waiting for Lipschitz at the Chateaux Marmot Aris- The character, a screenwriter, has given up on Los Angeles. He has given up his apartment and is moving to Fresno. When the character (on his way out) gets a call from Lipschitz, a producer, to meet him at the Chateaux Marmot.
Informality and Hybridism in Los Angeles Sarah Lorenzen and Irma Ramirez
In a class I teach at Cal Poly Pomona’s department of Architecture, entitled “Urbanism and Film”, students working in pairs, write, storyboard, direct, film and edit short digital films focused on a particular sub-culture found in Los Angeles. This is not to an effort to fight Hollywood, but to offer alternative views of particular communities, subcultures or large public projects. As in many American cities the form of Los Angeles is largely defined by economic factors. What has emerged is a generic built environment, where neighborhoods can be distinguished from each other only by the people who inhabit them. As a point of first arrival for immigrants the city is made up of hundreds of subgroups defined by interest, class, race, religion, or country of origin.
The pluralism found in Los Angeles makes these narrowly focused films particularly relevant. Past student films include: a cycling community in Culver City, Korea Town after the riots, a Lynwood shopping center that is more Mexican than Mexico, an SRO in Downtown LA, taco trucks in Highland park, gated communities in Manhattan Beach, and the impact of Billboards on the Sunset Strip. The goal is for a larger understanding of the city to be teased out of a large collection of these types of small stories. A few years ago I was asked to participate in an exhibit in Florence about media in architectural education. Every school presented formal design projects influenced by animation software such as Maya.
We took a different approach. The idea for this exhibit was to address the importance of program and people to architecture. So we created an exhibition about the students themselves and their views of Los Angeles done as short documentary films. The exhibit also confronts L.A.’s humanity head on. The population at Cal Poly Pomona mirrors that of Southern California. I won’t show the films the students produced, instead I will focus on the autobiographies they produced. The autobiographies had to be 100-words maximum and each one was accompanied by an image- a photograph, drawing or collage. Their stories are the stories of Los Angeles.
Informality and Hybridism in Los Angeles
Informality and Hybridism in Los Angeles
Sarah Lorenzen and Irma Ramirez
Sarah Lorenzen and Irma Ramirez
Sarah: Demographics are usually shown as a sequence of data. These are factual, number based ways of showing demographics. These portraits give a better understanding of what makes LA, LA. I photographed all of the students at school and asked each student to write a hundred word autobiography. I will read a few of these. Some are mundane, some are tragic.
Aris: It’s got to be almost a state school for something like this to happen. I think the 100 words is brilliant. It forces them to condense their experiences. The one guy talking about his father selling everything they had to buy gold? It’s just brilliant. It’s not his life story, it’s what mattered most, what made so physical his fate. Do you have more? (Sarah: I have a bunch!) Jian Xiang He: I had the same feeling, about the stories. I’ve been Andrew: This is a great living in Europe. I had the feeling of representation of the more the intimate, individual life. I would “statistical” demographic like to compare this discourse to representation of southern Chinese society. In China, we are in California. I see this in my own life. a period where people are moving How should my daughter represent between promises, from north to herself? What box does she check? south. People are always introduced The music she likes is just as much as networks of family, of home a representation of what she’ll do as towns. We don’t feel as individuals, what box she checks, or how much really. It’s really a fantastic money a school will give her, and comparison between two countries. how that will affect her future. Aris: Is that because of Orhan: My response to this is Confucianism or communism? The one of optimism. Often, we hear way people explain who they are? technology changes society… “kids today don’t care about this…” Jian Xiang He: You always relate the world is full of this kind of one person to a network to commentary. But this is beautiful hierarchies. When you’re out of the and very interesting, the real stories structure you are no one. You try to of life, of kids and grown-ups, they understand people first from their exist, they don’t disappear and there background. That’s always how we are beautiful stories. That’s very perceive people. encouraging, versus all this stuff about kids not doing this anymore, Aris: For us as a Christian country, not caring anymore… it gives me the structure of Christianity is each hope that none of that stuff is true. person reaches salvation on their Each one of those stories is a real, own. That myth becomes ingrained human story — funny, sad but never in our own ambitions. It slowly the less beautiful. That part of it is dawns on people they have to reach wonderful and I”m happy that there salvation on their own accord. are works like this, recordings about our lives. Jian Xiang He: In China, when you make a decision, you have to relate Karen: From another, European it to everything. perspective, I wouldn’t know whether students at that age would Aris: There’s a tremendous burden ever give you a biography like that in the life of the individual however. (in Europe). I don’t know whether they would be able to be so honest, Jian Xiang He: It would be and so personal. I think that says interesting to continue these story, something about the location, about to see where they will end up, how California, about Los Angeles. So their lives will change? many different characters, and stories, and you can’t just talk about Aris: It makes me think of what’s that. I wonder what you must have so particular about LA. I’ve been been through to get them to be so dealing a lot with this issue in my honest. That is really stunning. I don’t think that in every part of the world you would get these stories.
last two novels, the latest novel for sure, how it really brings into focus an anxiety and the hope of individuals. LA creates this burden of opportunity. That creates an energy and neuroticism at the same time. I think that phenomenon is becoming more global. As people dream of themselves on the screen as characters, they are increasingly adopting both the hope and the burden. It’s an exporting across the globe. I won’t make a value judgment about that at this point, but I see it and I think there’s a positive and a negative. There’s probably some middle road we have yet to obtain, or form for ourselves. Jian Xiang He: Young generations are using the Internet and electronic communications. In China, lots of young people have two characters: the in-person version, and a totally different virtual character. The stories are beautiful from the students, but maybe they have another kind of character as well. Orhan: These kids are all architecture students. Add that onto the stories they’re telling. How does this change what the new architects will be? With this expertise or familiarity with technology? We didn’t have this technology. Technology came later on. This is the full integration of stories and technology. The only thing we have right now, especially with consumer products, is communication. I did this piece on continuing education in LA, continuing education courses to renew the architecture license. I took this thing, and it was on the actual exam that you “meet the new generation Y” and their comparison to the baby boomer generation, and generation X. The way that they were represented was almost embarrassing. The generalizations
were awful. Blanket generalizations about what they’re like, where they spend their money. Generalizations like, they like clean lines. This identifies this generation as nothing but negotiating consumers. It was awful and shocking that this would be given as part of continuing education credits. What I learned from Sarah’s story is there’s this beautiful combination of two things: reality/story and technology.
It’s hard to take to heart and make transformations in curriculum, you’re overriding external demands, but I think it’s worth it. It’s the question we’ll have to face in the future.
Brian: When Glen Small was in town and he did a workshop with Orhan in East LA, I was blown away by one student who walked out. She said: I’m from Boyle Heights and I think about these things all the time, and Brian: What’s interesting for me I don’t think that he should build a too is not the stories but these housing project there. We never had experiences as perhaps foundational a conversation about the ethics of to architecture students… Sarah, building a building here. She said you’ve been teaching for a while, do “Fuck this, I’m leaving”. It was very you see these experiences informing radical, beautiful. This is a person their production process, or a who should practice architecture position in/on architecture? Do you in LA now. These are the questions see opportunity to work this into that should be asked. Obviously it their perspective on architecture? was partly her experiences that led her here to this politic. Sarah: I know my students very well but I was surprised at the stories that came out, that they were so honest about their backgrounds and willing to share fairly personal stories about their lives. I think what Aris is saying, that this is a state school, there’s a certain kind of demographic, a kind of student that that is perhaps less cynical. They do tend to be interested in social issues. I think we tend to beat it out of them, homogenize them through form-making exercises and a set of aesthetic judgments that we inculcate in them, that negate that personal experience. Most people are very suspicious of the personal in architecture; the project shouldn’t be about the architect, not about their experience or where they came from. I think it was a real eyeopener, to learn that they were up for that kind of challenge. Aris: Maybe I’m hypothesizing too much, but it seems like this formmaking, at the mercy of software in design, is homogenizing these personalities. When I first came to Sci-Arc, it was so remarkable that every character showed up there as though they were living out their personalities in terms of what they did. It was wild, on any given day you could see 100 different things happening. What does it say about design that this machinery, this technology is grinding away at the soft edges of these persons.
As we were discussing a situation with my neighbor Joey Luna in unit G, I did say this, “all those dreams arrive in Los Angeles from distant places, dissipate into the thin walls of the dingbat apartments.” Earlier on, these boxy two story residential structures were the pride of ownership buildings, providing housing which were affordable, stylish and comfortable for the increasing population of Los Angeles. They were successful as single family dwelling replacements responding to demand of booming post war workforce and migration. They were human and they were worthy of some minor fantasies and California dreaming. If you were the owner, they were great as income properties, making you feel like a Conte or in English, the nobleman style Count entitled to first month’s rent and last month’s deposit. They could be called stucco retirement fund. Rose They are everywhere in Los Angeles. Looking for them is like looking for a hay in a haystack.
Apartment Stories Orhan Ayyüce
cheap steaks on a hibachi and drinking Coors Light with her, was a suspect of running away with all the jewelry from Rose’s apartment. Son of a bitch. I never liked him.
Sometime in the mid sixties Jack sent this note to Rose; “Honey, I do love you and the building is yours, but I won’t divorce my wife and lose There are 50 & 60’s originals, 70’s everything.” Now that Rose is gone, I instantly diagonal wood siders, 80’s transition thought of moving somewhere else. style, 90’s high stacks with vinyl From that day on, Jack’s pin-up girl Since she was taken to a nursing mullion windows, and of course was the front unit owner occupier, home three weeks ago, the place now, all ubiquitous walls of glass living the apartment life, having already lost all its charm and color. (curtains drawn) clean liners, and so affairs with his friends and having Without her, I wasn’t going to be on. You can make your own list. jurisdiction over the units in the able to live half the rent in exchange building which she named ‘Second for compiling her memoirs. In her If you have not lived in a dingbat Hand Rose,’ just to make Jack diaries she would go on and on apartment, you are not an Angelino forever jealous and feel guilty. about Jack and why she was a yet. better woman than his wife and After throwing the property her page after page about their trip way to save his other and more to New York and staying at the valuable holdings from a nasty Waldorf Astoria and seeing the divorce, he moved on, increasingly Broadway show, the King and I and distancing himself to pursue his in their room doing the same dance political ambitions to become a they saw in the show. Even though neighborhood councilman. He never Rose knew Jack was more of made it in politics. Suffering from a buffet man, that time in New York, Alzheimer, called his wife ‘Rose’ she thought of him as bold as Yul for the last two years of his life and Brynner to fulfill her own fantasies. eventually died from an heart attack in his backyard in Whittier. Rose liked having me around even though I never really did much with As we were smoking cigarettes her stories except read them back to in the laundry room by the alley, her out loud and turning them into Joey and I were told by downstairs computer files for the book that was Cindy that Rose has quietly died too long already. this morning at the care home. And, what’s more, unit F Sandy’s new A lot of Rose’s stories dissipated into biker guy boyfriend who sometimes those walls. stayed over on weekends, cooking
John Chase In his book titled, ‘Glitter Stucco and Dumpster Diving: Reflections on Building Production in the Vernacular City,’ Los Angeles urban planner and historian John Chase, with John Beach, summed up the background of dingbat apartments in the opening essay, ‘the Stucco Box,’ I quote: “The stucco-surfaced speculative apartment house is a symbol, for good or ill, of that golden age of Los Angeles, the 1950s. It was a time when Southern California seemed to come into its own, as a place where social and economic mobility combined with a benign climate to create a mythic good life, accessible, it seemed, to almost everyone. The stucco box apartment house reflected at once the pragmatic and hedonistic character of Southern California. It was ruthlessly expedient, made out of cheapest materials, by the simplest construction methods, allowing a maximum number of units to be shoehorned into a single lot. At the same time, these buildings were glamorously packaged consumer objects that often permitted more contact with the outdoors, easier access to the auto and greater recreational opportunities than had Los Angeles’ earlier tenement-style apartment houses. Some stucco boxes were more daringly abstract and more completely modernistic than others.”
Front Unit Case : A random cross section of the apartmental life.
long as they paid her for occasional services.
He already knew, from Ronny, that she liked to listen Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird during sexual climax for some reason and Steve practiced having sex with her on the mail ordered inflatable doll. As the song went, nothing could change for either one of them, living Steve’s unrelenting attraction for her in the same place since ‘69 and now was never to be answered in kind. forty some years later, looking older but still paying next to nothing for Except that day, after the ever the rent controlled beautiful front humbling earthquake, he invited her unit apartments North of Wilshire in for a pasta dish that he perfected in Santa Monica. his all clean bachelor’s kitchen. She, in a moment of hesitation said yes. As those years passed and Steve’s It is necessary to mention here that fettuccine Alfredo was improved they had one common friend, Ronny but Samantha could no longer have the designer/decorator who mixed dairy products absolutely necessary and matched interesting gossipy for his recipe. details and played both sides as As much as Samantha didn’t like Steve across her front unit apartment identical to hers, they had an unspoken agreement not to go public about what they knew about each other’s lives.
That night she brought the left over office party Chablis in a cardboard container and he had to change the main ingredient of his pride and joy cream sauce with soy milk. Nothing happened after the uncomfortable and botched dinner encounter. She left early, Steve reflected, that he was going to die a lonely man, put Freebird on the CD player and start to blow air into the doll. Sammy called me that night to come to her unit and listen to some 70’s rock ‘n roll music, I told her I was working on the Second Hand Rose story that I managed to sell to a TV producer living in the newly built loft style South of Montana Ave. condominium with a chance to go ‘pilot’ next year. I could not fuck that up, I declined.
Projectively speaking, Los Angeles’ need for new housing stock presents endless potential for architects and urban designers as they reflect on something more sweeping and apparent. Densification . The inescapable cause that can also necessitate urban transformation and creative possibilities, transportive, generative and other infrastructural changes. As Los Angeles grows up another allowable story or more, it also proves most of its building stock are not too precious. The city of cars can proceed with what many older major cities in the developed world can’t do; increase housing units in its center in doubling or tripling percentages. If this is reinforced with liberating the zoning conditions, it can lead to most spatially visible urban change since the freeways. This is the significance of the search for newer versions of housing. But, until it is energized by new economic innovations and models enabling lower income groups in ownership or providing
V.2 Style, Sky is the limit. Let’s get critical for a minute. The Dingbats were the first version of discount modernism in Los Angeles. The secretaries, bookkeepers, limo drivers, students, starlets, retirees were all covered by the flat roofs of these beauties. Upstairs or downstairs, they were all affordable, democratic, noisy.
with disproportionate profits and rapid gentrification bringing in homogeneous groups in new housing.
All this, eventually leading to the displacement of dingbats’ best The new version of dingbats are friends: lower income people, credit AIA awarded, taller and incorporate problematic, paycheck cashing more money. types, menial working class, people trying to stay afloat, in general. Not always rental, owner occupied units take on today’s commodity By the time most municipalities minimalism style as they These buildings eventually incorporated new regulations to accommodate people with some suffered from the same thing they shape the next type of apartments, exposure to magazine advertised themselves liked; the automobile the stakes were higher and keys life and dwelling styles within their speed. The architects never stopped were given to upper income people reach. long enough to look at them. The who knew what excellent credit In short, newly built housing stock dingbats represented the opposite rating meant and could maintain are more about upwardly mobile of everything they were supposed their lives that way. groups than we are all in this city to design. The manager in the back unit together mind set. It is because, was replaced by the luxury SUV this is our omni-lasting economic Their best aspects were overlooked driving leasing agents who showed improvement model for real estate, by big money developers busy the ‘property’ above the popular and, on a larger scale, of urban new restaurant . development.
affordable rents that are realistically proportioned and paired with general income distribution, the new fortress like model mostly flexes muscle on the exclusivity for the financially secure. Its privileged high pricing and discriminating qualifications for the target occupants, paints the economic sustainability of this current built for the hi-end market housing typology worrisome and unavailable for the actual majority of the city, lower income urban dweller. When the working class people and their communities excluded and pushed out from the urban neighborhoods, the healthy and
colorful diversity of the city is compromised. That would lead to many ills and put a lid on the sustainable and accessible urban developments in general. This condition is important to consider in any design attempt for 21st century housing and the make up of the cities.
Posthumously dedicated toÂ John Chase, Rest in Peace, August 13, 2010
Aris- Why did you select this issue to write about? This is a interesting way of writing switching from fiction to a critical take on urban development. Orhan- Issues of gentrification and change to higher density housing is transforming the city. In Los Angeles development always sees the ground as for profit opportunity. When you say development here you mean it to fill the empty lot with a real estate venture. I wanted to juxtapose that with real lives happening in thin walled apartments. So I curated special conditions like front units, apartments with names, managers, laundry rooms, porn, bachelor life, etc. Paul- I have read it many times, but hearing it read out laud from you changes the tenor of the piece. Aris- This is a great template for a book. As you read it I heard it as a story, but it seems very real. It is not s story for stories sake, but rather one that has a great capacity to illustrate larger issues.
density environment. The characters that populate the dingbats you write about are dead, you killed some of them off in your essay. Orhan- The characters I selected for these stories are occupiers of that environment. The new residents of the city are so self-conscious about claiming walking or riding the public transportation as a great discovery that they re-invented. People have always walked and ridden buses in LA. There’s a contradiction in that. Certain class with surplus income make everything consumable. Even walking is a consumable activity. MacArthur Park is the great urban equalizer environment not like people waiting in line to get a cup of coffee at expensive coffee joint in their fashionable and ah so special lives. Like I say in the story that a lot of dreams dissipate into the thin walls.., I want to recover those dreams. Karen- Within the taller buildings there is a social class created because of the height of the building, unlike the previous dingbat model.
Karen- What’s fascinating is the combination of research and a creative narrative.
Orhan- We should make a collection of real estate ads that illustrate this point. Including the price of the units. This is an important part of Orhan- Overall interest is illustrating the catalog. Including what has the realities of life and gentrification. happened with the flipper culture Capturing the atmosphere of the that has developed in LA. House city in apartments. A lot of people flipping is a despicable way of live in those apartments and they making money. Absolutely hideous have stories. people. Brian- How do Building / Zoning codes influence development?
Brian- As you walk down Broadway and see people being evicted from those units. The first thing you see is Orhan- I am proponent of loosening the replacement of the windows. zoning codes. Allowing commercial uses to the ground floor. Creates Orhan- Yes, from those fixed a wonderful environment. My windows one sees opportune mother lives above a pastry shop in and speculative profits. In the Izmir, Turkey. She is 88 years old. If background you can hear the real people want to visit her they meet estate agent talking to couple of at the bakery downstairs. When millennium kids blurry eyed that she needs something she lowers a they will live a culture producing basket and the grocers below fill it ‘creative city’ life just like they read with the goods she asks for from the in airline magazines. It is bullshit. balcony. It’s a much easier way to Eventually that process hurt many live. She would never be able to live people in the area. Some say like that in LA. “gentrification,” and some others say “Jihaaad!” I am with some Andy- Who are the new characters others and in my work I ultimately that will occupy the new higher like to write about their condition.
I don’t have a background of work investigating Los Angeles, formally, as most of you do. So I am going to talk about founding Archinect.
On Archinect Paul Petrunia
Archinect’s first presence was very simple, but I soon developed a forum for people to discuss issues and share work. This allowed people to read about things happening As a kid I was obsessed with around the world and see how contemporary architecture, and it might pertain to their own the only way I could learn about it community. was to ride my bike to the university One issue was MAPA, a selflibrary. organized group initiated by Archinect members, on Archinect, When I was in college the internet to galvanize support to preserve was brand new, and it fascinated a building that was under threat me. It opened up so many new of demolition. The Marcel Breuer possibilities. I started Archinect library in Michigan. Since then there in 1997 as a platform for people have been more initiatives to save to share their work, to encourage historically significant buildings, people outside the industry to most recently the Folk Art Museum. contribute and engage in it. When Not all have been successful, but it I started I intentionally ventured has created greater awareness on outside the industry to find people the issue. to bring into the conversations we People use Archinect for a variety of hosted on Archinect. When I think reasons: job boards, news, forums. about it now, Archinect is really The news section has evolved since a true product of Los Angeles. it started. Originally I was writing There were so many people talking all the articles and publishing all the about Architecture and engaged in architecture. LA has a very diverse community, a global culture and wide network of people engaged in a large number of related design fields.
projects that I curated among fellow students, faculty, local architects and from designers submitting their work from around the world. The goal was to have people contribute through posts and react to these stories. We separate this into features and news. Features are written by us and our collaborators. The news is a curated selection of stories from other sources. We’ve also started a blog network for people to create their own publications. The history of the blog network started with the school blog project. Studens were invited to write about their environment, the curriculum, design work. This has become a primary destination for students applying to architecture programs to learn about the school. Today we are interested in creating single subject niche topics, so people don’t have to wade through content that isn’t relevant to their interests. The first one we launched was Bustler in response to the flood of requests to report on, and promote, competitions and events. So we created a platform only for that content to avoid these posts flooding Archinect.
Spaceinvading.com was another spin off project. Another one is a printed publication Bracket, an annual almanac on issues involving architecture, urban planning, technology, etc. We just launched the latest call for submissions for Bracket called [Takes Action]. The first was On Farming. Others following included Goes Soft, and At Extremes. The process involves user submission which are selected for publication by a group of invited jurors. Amelia- What gets addressed in the print publication that is not addressed in Archinect? Paul- There will always be a need for print publications. We need to understand how different media lends itself to different content. I am particularly interested in how to hybridize media. The latest issue will have a completely new website that will have web-specific interactive capabilities while also helping define the print version of bracket. XX- How many visitors annually? Paul- Between 500,000 and 750,000 daily visitors. Those are visits, not unique visitors. Brian- There is a critical discussion that goes on in Archinect that is really beautiful. It is a very different than most open commenting forums. Are there things you’ve done to set this up? Paul- There isn’t an easy answer to that question, but I have theories. One is we have been nurturing our community for a long time and there are many people that have been active participants for years help set the tone. Another reason we don’t get the youtube-style comments, is that it is so architecture specific, Archinect often goes over the heads of many people outside of the industry. Archinect attracts and audience that has invested themselves in architecture. It nurtures a more respectful community. But it changes… in the beginning it was mostly a smaller Sci-Arc community that participated on Archinect, and the quality of the discussion was very high. It is our responsibility to nurture that
community to get a higher level of discourse. Do you conduct events or competitions in the community? Paul: We’ve engaged in some activities outside of the website. The first was way back in 1999, we hosted a competition for a “communication booth”. It was left very open. I made the mistake of asking for physical entries, and I was flooded with entries. The response was incredible. It was exciting. Back in ’99, given the newness of Archinect and the established relationships, it created a lot of excitement to be actively involved in doing things together. That led to other competitions. We hosted a competition last year to design the VIP lounge at the LA Film Fest. We had a competition to design a Michael Jackson memorial after he died. We had a competition to design the future of the minarets – a response to the Swiss banning minarets in Switzerland. It was a competition to come up with a way to maintain that architectural icon while following the Swiss restrictions. These competitions have been hosted, funded, and sponsored by us. It’s good for us, it’s marketing and increases the engagement with readers. It provides lots of press. We get published in magazines that might not have attracted readers familiar with our website. The LA Film Fest competition was hosted by an independent film entity. We’ve also hosted book launches. We’d like to get more into the “real world”. We haven’t taken on investors, and have been bootstrapped since the beginning. As we grow, we’ll expand on more events and competitions. Orhan: I am sorry to interrupt this discussion, but we have Professor Li Xiangning who is co-curators of the Biennale and is Assistant Dean at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tangi University.
Li: I’m the co-chief curator of this biennale, working with Ole. We’ve been doing this for 10 years. After this one I’m sitting on an academic committee of the biennale – I’m part of the next biennales. We have some ideas for future biennales, to do work with the LA Biennale. I know LA quite well. I spent several months at MAK as part of the urban future initiative, doing research for several months, exploring urbanism. I know some of the LA resources and would like to bring this together with you. I’m curating another biennale in Shanghai, it just finished. Maybe we could have some kind of longterm collaboration between the biennales? Orhan: This is our first biennale, and it seems like we’ve already committed to the nomadic aspect. Even in LA we would be nomadic, we’re not dealing with huge budgets and size matters, we aren’t a festival or exposition, at least now. We plan to continue this particular one almost continuously. Never-ending biennale that travels, is that good? If you want us to continue in Shanghai, we’ll be there. Sao Paolo, Rotterdam… I threw a coffee cup into Rem’s room with my name on it. Maybe it’ll reach him. We’re going to carry our open platform, always looking
for an umbrella to cover our heads. The work will be substantially developed as time goes by. We are expecting next month for example, possibly hosting a mirror biennale in LA. Hoping Ole will be there if he can find the time. The compactness of our biennale makes everything possible. If Ole came to LA, we could design an event around it, and give the weight to Shenzhen instead to LA. We have that kind of flexibility by default. We are building in our organization and structure.
picture of things. To take the whole thing outside of a usual treatment. If you asked someone to organize a biennale in LA, it’d be called “New Sculpturalism” where they ask architects to send models. Li: We were discussing the future of biennales. These days, we see emerging biennales in Chinese cities. It could be another option to work with other cities in China. The New York Times published an article about it. I think we really need to think about what kind of biennale we’re going to have, and what format. The LA Biennale may be a nice way to do it.
happen every other year, maybe in the future LA Biennale can work with us. Shanghai can host an event for LA Biennale in the future. Orhan: Thanks for coming!
Ole: I don’t know what’s on the agenda, but I think it’s interesting to reflect on the nature of biennales, as the framework for events like this. You can describe this in many different ways, but you decided on “Biennale” – it’s a direction for people to interpret Li: How can you ensure the it. But this touches on the whole continuation of this biennale? Do business of biennales. It doesn’t you change curators every two start with an idea, or people, or years? content to be produced, where Orhan: This particular action was you then look for form, but this Orhan: Probably. We’d develop inspired by Ole. I interviewed practice started with the name this particular group into an him here in the opening week, “biennale”. It started with a peer organization where we can start and was very inspired/impressed group searching for legitimacy to address the funding issues. We with the nature of this biennale and coining an event. There are are very nomadic at this point, being generative. The nature of two discourses on biennale – one we’re traveling at the moment. Our the performance here was to be starts with substance, the other foundation is generative, rather than generative, creative and visual. with terminology, with marketing object oriented. We are generating and terminology. It’s interesting if ideas here, and we’d like to carry Li: We had another architecture you’re looking for a more stable, that as much as possible. This gives biennale in Shanghai, another art continued effort, to position us a freedom to bypass many of biennale. We think of organizing within that dynamic. I don’t know the usual suspects. LA is in no way something like a public art festival, how many coffees oyu’ve had short on star architects. In this way combine art and architecture and to already, but there’s a certain we free ourselves to say whatever generate some dynamic using the moment where an “officialdom” we want to say and move on. In urban spaces for the city. It would can happen – being invited into that way we hope to create a whole another city. Suppose you play this new culture of particular discourse out and publish another invitation about the city. This is our bigger to a biennale. There’s a degree of
making it more complicated, and carving out the right formats for substance. As you said, so many institutions are pursuing content. You already have gusto, pursuing content. You’d suppose to start with content, but here, you find form and are still looking for content. This is an interesting battle, think about all those famous global museums that make a kind of mimicry of their own museum policy by doing it all over the world, somewhere else. I wouldn’t say in China it’s the same as in the Gulf region, another Guggenheim or another Louvre, and these things. But there’s the same tendency to multiply yourselves, not in regeneration, but in mimicking. It’s interesting if you pursue this notion of the biennale, and find new opportunities, it’d be interesting to think about how to keep that integrity of substance, to make sure it can land in a proper way. And not as a justification or pretext of something else. I think this may also relate to LA in general, because it’s a city where substance and fake go along well. Orhan: Some of your comments, if you have time, we would like to make arrangements. Some of these things you can voice as Paul interviews you. We would appreciate that. You’ve been very helpful to us so far. It would have died as another idea if you didn’t enthusiastically support us, as you have. We have a lot of things to look forward to, and considering the lessons we learn here, they’ll help us establish this. One of our positions, we are opinionated and critical group, even if you go to other cities hosted by other biennales, the freedom allows us to also be a critical biennale. We’ve already made a lot of critical mileage on LA itself. Having this kind of a voice gives us a lot of content. What’s behind all these names and titles. We’re already learning how to adapt that critical voice, and make it part of our identity. I think we have certain thinkers at this table helping us to develop this concept.
Orhan: Well it could be futile. We are critical about LA already.
It’s a very quick and dirty way of publishing, most people don’t even know it or read it. With lots of Brian: I wanted to say that the way architecture blogs focusing on fancy Archinect seems to present articles, images with a press release snuck in there’s a distance from it. It doesn’t there. We’re not as interested in that deliver the same feelings as the as we are pointing to content with article. the hope that the community will generate some original ideas based Paul: I agree. It’s intentional. We on that. I think I’m done. don’t try to replicate content or information from other sources – we prefer to reference content from other sources to our community and by reframing it visually, it provides our community an opportunity to own it in a different way, and to discuss it in a familiar context. It often benefits the sources that we link to, because there’s an embedded validation when we feature content from other sources. It’s kind of a branding that we apply to it – this is something we think is worthy of recognizing or talking about – so putting it within our framework is kind of like applying our brand validation to it. Brian: It’s not that the subject the article is bringing up is framed as being worthy of discussing, so much as the phenomenon and tone of the press around this or that topic seems to be worthy of highlighting. Does that make sense? Paul: Well, one thing we often do in our news section… We use the news as a curated section. We’ll often highlight a quote of that article that’s relevant to our audience within a greater article that may not have such relevance. We try to select different bits and pieces from different sources. The way we often frame an article on Archinect very differently from the way the author may have intended to present that content. Brian: One of the big problems with blogs is that they broadcast all the same stories. And so many of these stories are just rebroadcasting a press release, around art or architecture or whatever. One of the things I noticed in Archinect is there’s this distance, not simply broadcasting the article.
Aris: I love that title, Critical Biennale. I think we should call this a “Critical Biennale”, because it would Paul: I think that’s an unfortunate juxtapose what people usually think. trend that’s evolved a lot lately, the rehashing of press releases.
Mismatches The surfaces, objects and locations of Mismatches are documents of the anti-graffiti campaign of the City of Los Angelesâ€”without index, dimension or life span. The LA anti-graffiti campaign is in many ways similar to that of other cities, a continuous fight against tagging. The LA approach however is of another scale and produces a very different result: instead of rendering invisible it provides the city with continuously and perfectly prepped canvases. Non-stop. Perfect surfaces for highly sophisticated paintings. As workers buff every attempt with truckloads of Home Depot gray paints Los Angeles also looses a vast layer of codes and expression.
Canvases Karen Lohrmann and Stefano de Martino
These canvases are fast abstractions of the Mismatches, proposing always new assemblages to suggest an endless ongoing communication.
Artforum Karen Lohrmann and Stefano de Martino
In correspondence with Mismatches, however entering the strikingly different territory of the art magazine—instead of public space—this work pleads to “conserve” all artworks displayed in the pages of the Artforum April 2011 issue. As its pages are coated in more or less corresponding colors of paint, this particular copy also serves as a means of preservation, for some time later, in other words cultural heritage.
Exercises in Color Separation Karen Lohrmann and Stefano de Martino
Exercises in color separation is a series of works on dissecting color (or content, depending on how you look at it). The Buffing Series, although seemingly gray, can be broken down to its partsâ€”and substance. Taking a drab, plain color as a starting point, these exercises get behind appearances to show latent and implicit information. Separating such a nondescript color (boring and even a bit sordid as your average daily copy) into its component Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, opens up an unsuspected, dazzling range of possibilitiesâ€”as promised. It is often said that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. As it happens, the reverse is also true.
(Gold) Rush, Los Angeles 2009 - 2013 Karen Lohrmann and Stefano de Martino
Asphalt markings. The more rubber gets worn off the better, the blacker. Every night has its acrobats, their proofs of marking the territory, skid marks. Every night has a winner, measured by the thickness of the rubber. Every night burns thousands of dollars in prize money.
Direct to Ocean (Tennis Anyone?), Los Angeles 2011 Karen Lohrmann and Stefano de Martino
Billie Jean King has her very own star on East Sunset Bl. So much about high-end tennis in LA. A day after one of the Los Angeles winter stormsâ€”when they say you mustâ€™t go to the beach. We found huge amounts of tennis balls on the beach. And what a fabulous court this would be, endless. The Los Angeles aquifer system drains all street water to the ocean, this day with it, all that came down from the Chautauqua Canyon. Retro-engineering this system in the Canyon, literally walking back into the Canyon through Google Earth, we traced the multitude of tennis courts hidden in gardens, parks of the area.
Direct to Ocean (Tennis Anyone?), Los Angeles 2011 Karen Lohrmann and Stefano de Martino
-I wanted to start where Andy left off yesterday, somewhere in the environs of the LA River and the “beautification” going on there. In many cities, and in Berlin where I come from, graffiti is all over the place. To the extent that I never noticed it. My move to LA coincided with the particular moment when they started eradicating graffiti; because it was associated with gangs, their codes, slander and claiming territory, and because it was considered dirty and careless. The paint that was used to buff over the tags and pieces, all straightforward Home Depot paint, came in all possible shades of grey producing a grey wash over the city. But only through this erasure—the buffing—we, Stefano de Martino and I, became aware of the graffiti, and for the first time in my life I started seeing the remnants everywhere. This may also have to do with my interest in color and how it is specific to location and changes with light and exposure. This image from our series of Exercises in Color Separation, titled (detail), shows the CMYK use in printing. And these overlays of translucent layers of cyan, magenta, yellow and black, another piece in the series, titled CMYKs, show how every color can be broken down into CMYK. So the various types of grey used in the Buffing Series are yet another exercise of color separation. We started photographing and filming at many locations throughout LA, tracing the ongoing act of buffing. And we too, got all types of grey and started covering canvases of various dimensions, somewhat the gallery piece translation of an urban situation. Buffing is a form of suppression. We would not know how much of this was really about gang affiliation, or just a controversial form of fun. Without wanting to appear idealistic or elevating graffiti, it is still a form of self-expression that is suppressed. At the same time as producing the canvases we also began covering pages of the April 2011 issue of Artforum. To hint at this erasure of actual works of art and information. To test its effect. -Another work was taken from Glassell Park where we lived. We
began noticing and further on recording tire marks on the broken and bleached asphalt. Traces of late night power struggles in the streets. These marks were impressive, entirely circular marks in the center of a crossing—you must be able to do that. There were done with fat and, typical for LA, worn off tires that would leave a thick coat of rubber on the rough surface. We learned it was a kind of competition to see who could make the blackest, the harshest and most abrupt marks. They were doing this for money, night after night. In a way this refers to an earlier work we have done: Gold Rush, a series of gold leaf covered brush, or rush, marks. -The last work, or rather found piece—artist unknown—is titled Direct to Ocean. It somehow connects to this plaque put in the greasy sidewalk of East Sunset Boulevard for tennis legend Billie Jean King. So much about high-end tennis in LA. A day after one of those Los Angeles winter storms— when they say you mustn’t go to the beach— we found huge amounts of tennis balls on the beach of Santa Monica. What a fabulous court this would be. Endless. The Los Angeles aquifer system drains all street water and whatever comes with it to the ocean. At this particular location on the beach you encounter all that comes down from the Chautauqua Canyon. We retro-engineered this underground system back up into the Canyon—literally walking back into the Canyon with the help of Google Earth—and were able to trace the multitude of tennis courts hidden in the gardens and parks of the area. Complementing the work of the unknown artist, we produced this typical Google map full of tennis court placeholders. Brian- The graffiti in Berlin seems to have been incorporated into the city and appreciated as a kind of decoration and sign of the city.
There seems to be recognition of the value of a little bit of tolerance for these things. In Los Angeles they just lifted the Mural Ban, and “street artists” are lined up to do murals. So it seems cities accept writing on the wall as cultural capital institutionalized. The day that the ban was lifted murals were revealed in multiple locations. Karen- So why is graffiti covered up in LA? Brian- The lifting of the mural ban shows that this strategy is changing. Amelia- But murals are different from graffiti. In London, f. ex., there are free graffiti zones where it was allowed. But it’s not the same. What is so awesome about graffiti is that it is temporary, that it is not something that is publicly supported, that it is only there as long as people tolerate it. When cities create graffiti zones it defeats the purpose of it. Brian- There are different types of writing on the walls: demarcating territories, “political,” and a form of branding/advertising that street artists do. Karen- I am not that interested in the graffiti. In fact I am more interested in the grey buffing that covers it. I like the aesthetics, the shades of grey. Translating these into paintings, the Canvases, is a bit cynical, and obviously very different as an act: a small, domestic scale version of what otherwise happens at an urban scale. In a city where things are falling to pieces, where streets are ne giant pot hole, where countless people live in the streets, under bridges, on the beaches, why paint over graffiti? Amelia- Yes, it is very strange. The grey mark marks the landscape as much as the graffiti.
Orhan- I think of graffiti as an interesting form of communication. Karen- Berlin, and few other cities, Sometimes these are codes that would never spend money to paint it have meaning for some people, it is over the way it happens in LA. often used to demarcate territories. I find it so interesting that this is yet Brian- But the graffiti seems another codified language in the culturally appreciated in Berlin. city. It would be interesting if there Similar to how the city accepts were a dictionary that translated a certain amount of squatting. their meaning… this underground
language… a communicating device. Karen- Very much. I agree. On the other hand, the grey paint is a form of suppression, it is somewhat depressing, no? But, funny enough, what they are doing is similar to what a painter does: they prepare the surface of the canvas. The city is in fact creating a perfect surface for graffiti, one that gets better every time they paint over the graffiti. They provide a better canvas than the rough concrete could ever be.
identified by the project team as a potential match for this project.
OVERVIEW The Los Angeles County Arts Commission Civic Art program was awarded a grant through the Open Space District program to develop innovative arts-based projects which promote the value of civic spaces and work to deter vandalism at four facilities in the Second Supervisorial District. Projects may include murals, applied sculptural elements, integrated landscaping, actions and/ or temporary interventions that Aris- This is a kind of marking of consider a site’s social and physical territory, like an animal pissing to characteristics and work to beautify mark their territory. This happens and enhance public space. Artists at all levels, people laying claim with a background in graffiti art, to territories, from developers on mural making, sculpture, landscape downwards. The question is how do design, arts education and social people get an opportunity to claim practice have been invited to apply. their lives, and how does a city allow this in a maybe less destructive way. GOALS OF THE ARTWORK Ongoing youth participation, Amelia- I wouldn’t say graffiti is public engagement, collaboration an urge for creative expression. I and project evaluation are critical agree with Orhan that it is about components of this program. The communication…there are so many selected artists will be required to reasons why people do it. incorporate youth in the creation and execution of projects, and Aris- I am not suggesting it is will also be required to work with creative, but it is a way to say we a community engagement and are here. Pay attention to us! There evaluation specialist. The goal of are other ways to do this, standard the project is to foster a relationship and non-standard. Cities that don’t between the public, artwork and site accept this are usually in for a to ultimately increase awareness, surprise. ownership, and pride in public assets. Through creative and collaborative Karen- At the same time, in 2011, data collection strategies, the success the Art in the Streets exhibition took of each project will be evaluated. place at the Geffen, which had a Evaluation results will be compiled huge response equally among art in a final report and used as tool for lovers and those that do not follow the development of future civic art the arts. Is it only acceptable in the projects. museum but not where it actually belongs to, or originates from—the BUDGET streets, the city? Art project budgets will range from $30,000-$70,000, and will depend Brian- I would like to read an on site conditions. The qualifications invitation that a friend received the of each selected artist will be other day: assessed and artists will be assigned to a site. Artists will be responsible for Dear Artist, all-inclusive work: project design and coordination, fabrication, permitting Please see the attached invitational (as applicable) and coordination opportunity with the Los Angeles with County stakeholders and County Arts Commission. The departments. In some cases, a youth Arts Commission will be selecting labor force will act as a fabricator or four artists to creative vandalism general contractor for portions of a abatement projects at four County project’s execution that match their facilities in the Second Supervisorial areas of expertise. District. Your skills have been
Karen- I think they should give this grant to the people that paint the grey paint, do the buffing. They are likely the only ones capable of responding to this call. Not artists but some urban service force. Isn’t this ridiculous. Artist would at least want to decide about the grounds, the locations they work at. Instead of being given some “correct” location to showcase their work. Andy- This grey is the color of fear. It’s a color of control. It is the lowest common denominator of who controls the message. Graffiti is an act of defiance. It is also a declaration of I am here and I matter. I got here first this is mine. So fuck off. All the layers of paint show that struggle. Brian- What I think your works show is that the results of covering up grafitti can be fetishized the same way the graffiti can be.
On Assembly Brian Mann
At Orhan’s behest, I am going to talk to keep up with what’s “going on.” Nobody can see every show a little bit about Assembly. obviously, which makes it difficult then to maintain a common image Assembly is a conversation. It is of what’s being produced in Los a meeting that takes place every Angeles. There’s also skyrocketing Sunday. It is also sometimes an address. It is also a conglomeration rents, having to work to make ends meet, student loans. Surplus labor of entities. And a website: flooding the market, the dominance Assemblyof.com of the market and the continuing It really began as an idea many years mythology around Los Angeles art. Soliloquy in lieu of discourse and so ago. A few Artists talking about on. A lot of these conversations are getting together to talk about art. distilled and posted as fragments on We were very disenchanted with what was going on in Los Angeles. the website under the LE MONADE link. There were also things not We missed the conversations we had around school. Most of us really specific to Los Angeles of course. got into this extended critique we So on the site here you see a bunch participated in. of logos. Each represents a project and Assembly is all of these projects The extended critique as we know in a way. it was something that came up in the early seventies at Irvine. John At some point when we were Knight and Michael Asher would having these conversations in my do these classes that ran as long as they needed to in order to get to apartment and someone offered to rent us a space and we took the the bottom of things. Also David Askevold at NSCAD in Nova Scotia. offer. What do you do when you get a space? You do shows. And before that you build out the space. So once we finished school and But we resisted doing shows for a started doing shows and we were long time. Maybe half a year I can’t all really disappointed with the outcome. The kind of congratulatory remember exactly. We refused to rush into anything. We had a slap on the back that replaced the lot of conversations about how to discourse around the work. You spend months and years working on build out the space. It went on for an idea and then you present it and weeks. Then we realized it was everyone says congratulations and stupid to somehow program the it’s done (if you have the opportunity space through architecture. We were getting caught up in the same to present it). You’re left kind of kind of ideas as these other projects scratching your head wondering we were criticizing. We had talked why you worked the way you did. a lot about these architects who So gallery shows were problematic specialized in doing these kind of extravagant galleries. These minor and for more reasons than that. local starchitects who go around the city building these grand spaces As I said bunch of us wanted to for private galleries. Always with get together, but it didn’t happen some “conceptual” notion and they until about two years ago because get announced when the gallery we were all working so hard and then recharging for more work, and opens the way an architect gets announced with the opening of their burning a lot of time checking out shit-art. We finally pulled ourselves big museum. together and began meeting every When we thought about it we realized we should just do the Sunday in my apartment at 11am. simplest thing and then just put These meetings would and still go stuff in it and see if we need to on for 4-10 hours. We talk about adjust the design down the road work we’ve seen, lectures we’ve attended, etc. We began to identify to accommodate a work or show. We had been trying to conceive what drove our discontent, and it a programmatic architecture and was very specific to Los Angeles. the conversation never would have The explosion of galleries across ended because we didn’t have that the city for example, making it impossible for any group of people kind of program.
So we got this space and we did a couple of shows. Each show was pretty deliberated and had to have some kind of motivation with regards to the circumstances we had been articulating in our conversations. The first show was an exhibit of Merwin Belin’s front pages. These are collages Merwin has been working on since 1984, (morning in America). They are fragments of newspapers surgically removed from different sections of papers and different sections of the paper and rearranged as a front page according to the readymade layout of a frontpage. Things sit next to one another in a way they normally wouldn’t. Class struggle comes to the fore along with strategies of news media design. We like Merwin not because he is some kind of “rebel,” but because he rethinks the life span of a production of a work. He teaches us patience. He makes a work that can only be read 20 years later. We showed him because his practice presents another way to imagine the potential rhythm of an artist’s production and practice. We thought this would be a good thing to share with other artists. In Los Angeles, a lot of artists have a lot of work that piles up in their studios. The stand in line begging for studio visits. Their studios are like morgues—bodies upon bodies. One of the possible answers to this condition would be to rethink the rhythm of production. Not make work as though you had a show coming up every year and were under the gun. Allow things to breathe.
to work with you. Plus these kids come out understanding art in a more interesting way than most adults. One of the works they did was a recreation of the vestigial wall/sign in front of the school from when it was Mount Vernon Junior High School out of paper mache composted from old homework and tests. They were thinking of test scores and outcomes. Standardized testing and learning outcomes. Then they each did a painting of teenagers in public spaces. Thinking about public space and what happens in public space and how you occupy it. And like I said, it was an interesting way to combine an art practice and a day job. Mark also makes paintings on the weekend when he feels like it. He has a show up right now in Los Angeles.
This show here is one of my favorites. You’re seeing the show right now because the press release on the site is the show. In the late 70’s, Michael Asher, John Night, and David Askevold held a class in an old medical building on Las Cienega up the street from our place in what is now the Coffe Bean and Tea Leaf headquarters. The Coffe e Bean and Tea Leaf were a major supporter of the Pacific Standard Time project. It was owned by a student’s uncle or aunt or parents and was not in use at the time. We tried contacting ex-students and people that we know were around at the time, but there was no documentation of the event. It might be somewhere in Asher’s archives, but people we contacted either couldn’t remember or had vague memories or confused it with other events in their minds. We know that there was an ongoing critique, maybe Here is another artist, whose also non-stop somehow, often running part of Assembly. I explained that into the night. We know there we all have day jobs. Mark Roeder were students making work in the who is a teacher at Jonnie Cochran periphery of the building, and that Jr. middle school. For the last few there were many trips to the liquor years he has been teaching sixth store next door to the address we graders conceptual art. They come occupied on Las Cienega. We know up to him and show him drawings that the people doing it were not so and he tells them they suck. He asks concerned with mythologizing the what it takes to be an artists and event as with seeing where it could the students respond with notions take them. How it could move the related to technical ability, mostly conversation. We also now that drawing. He explains to them that these teachers and students didn’t the only thing it takes to be an artist ask for permission they just did it. is to say you’re an artist. It’s a really Today you would never have these interesting way to bring a practice competing school self organize
something like this. We were also interested in rumor over mythology, which is what PST was all about. We wanted to propose a kind of alternative. Not to pin it down, but to have people know that something really more interesting happened. And of course if one of these historians becomes interested they can do further research. Another show was to reintroduce an artist named Vern Blossom to the public. An artist that was operating under a pseudonym and had pretty much disappeared from history. The ultimate rediscovery narrative. The actual artist behind the project turned out to be not that interesting. Seems it was somewhat accidental circumstances that he created such nice paintings. You can read about the whole debacle online, and there is another article coming out soon that explains what I’m talking about. The show got a lot of press, and it was a way for us to insert ourselves into the art conversation in Los Angeles and beyond.
One of the things we realized was that it is important to have a place to come in and talk about issues and exchange ideas. A real address. Offer a place for people to drop into. A place that is permanent and fixed. I say this because it may bear som relation to this project here. I hope and look forward to a future meeting of the two projects back in Los Angeles. Aris- Maybe the point of this experiment is that art is about talking about what is missing in art. Art is about creating a community. Maybe that is your contribution to the artistic world is these discussions.
Orhan- This only happened at SciArc because of John Knight. You can see that current art shows by architects are naïve, this artwork never reaches the level of artists. These are two different disciplines. The work is a poor example of trying to make art. I am critical of the architect making sculpture. It goes both ways. I am also critical of artists doing architecture. I think they should stay away from each other. Architects are undeveloped as artists and it shows. I don’t really agree with architects showing in galleries.
Brian- And you can look at artists dealing with architecture and it is also problematic. Jorge Pardo Brian- I think that is important. It for example. Although there are was important for us to carve out of exceptions: Michael Asher, Dan our place. That there was no place Graham and still these are not works for the things we wanted to see, of architecture. But I hope I don’t what we wanted to do. This was come off sounding like I’m talking a place where that could happen. about Assembly only because I This is not the mega gallery that think we should learn what we can take after these swollen NY galleries from it. I am also interested in what that are market driven. This mass the Biennale can teach Assembly. privatization dominates and has We were interested before coming We did a show of Glen Small. We no one to answer to. There is no out here in how assembly might found that one of his first projects board or public with any input, but be able to operate outside of Los had become a chinese food it defines by market standards art Angeles. We have an invitation to restaurant across the street. That’s production across the board. do a show in Brussels for example. the image for the press release. We have been pondering art fairs. The other side of the postcard is a Orhan- Assembly is similar to We are trying to figure out how to utopian sketch for a detroit project. what we are trying to do here. It is take the conversation we have in flexible, expandable, can subdivide. Los Angeles to other places. How Then we had a video duo called I like these liquid qualities of can it be interesting and not just the Animal Charm project a show onto Assembly. same thing in another country. Or the Vern Blosum show. Attendees just about the conditions specific to would say the word and the lights Brian- I totally agree. We have had Los Angeles. Or maybe it should be would go off and the projections multiple fights. We have had spats. because it isn’t really about that… would go on. A way of bringing We have had an exodus. There were double the audience and cross claims that this was a boys club, Aris- I was in conversation with exposing each audience. and that these shows were a lot of artists and they asked what my artists who were old white men. We challenges were as a writer. The We also invite in artists to come talk had to have a serious discussion answer was simple people aren’t to us. We just sit in a circle and pick about that one. Whether it’s better reading anymore. I am sympathetic their brain and everyone enjoys it. to look at the work or the identity of with your plight. I like that you are Eventually the gallery closed down the artist. One of the advantages of documenting your critique of art. To because it was bought by a church, not being an actual public institution me that record of the conversation but we are getting a new space. is that you don’t need to think about is what is most radical about what how you’re distributing money and you’re doing. With Glen part of it was to have a to whom. Also we have no money! place for students from East LA It is all very fluid and subject to Brian- That’s great. The other thing College to meet people that were change. I look forward to expanding is that there aren’t many good art involved in architecture from early the community to include other writers in Los Angeles. There are Sci-Arc—Ray Kappe and Glen Small people other influences- architects in other cities: New York, Berlin, and others. And to bring Orhan into talking about art with artists and etc. People wait around for writers the conversation, who created a artist talking about architecture with to pick up on stuff and shake workshop for the students to learn architects. This happened at Sci-Arc things up. In Los Angeles you will from Glen. in the early 70s and 80s. be waiting forever. Waiting for someone to do it was miserable. We
had to do it ourselves. Karen- I don’t know if writing has to do with location. For me the medium of writing isn’t driven by location. I was surprised at you and Orhan saying that there is a big difference between art and architecture. For me the interest in art and parametric architecture is very localized to a particular group and I think there are many other examples of artist and architects working together that are very successful. I am uncomfortable with the art versus architecture debate. I don’t see it that way. Andy- What is the difference. Is it the way it is consumed? The way that it is produced? Art is the act of asking questions. The technique I used to answer that is what makes my work. My label as a landscape architect is professional, but it doesn’t negate my work as an artist. I have had a group called LALA about a similar number of years as Assembly. In order to do certain types of landscape projects, I have to call myself an artist. Aris- Isn’t there more to being an artist than asking questions? Karen- Art has gone through so many phases. Is a movie an artwork? Who says what is art? Brian- I think that what Andy says is important. Its fucked up that he would have to call himself an artist to get a landscape project. Art and architecture are not so interchangeable. We can look at a project like the cornfield thing, which totally blocks out the community living right next door. Andy- Is it a bad landscape project or a bad work of art? Brian- It’s a shitty landscape project and it’s a shitty work of art.
Dede Aram Guiragozian
Dede is a project which is an open ended short film. In its current research phase it is a composite of multiple thoughts, quotes and stories I reflect upon. This is the story of the immigrant with the American dream combined with the ambiguity of the Los Angeles dreamscape reality. These collection of stories are thoughts which I have struggled with over the years and in reality have become the subversive thoughts and questions that I play with everyday. In no particular order: Conversations with my family: “Dad you’ve already won. You’ve won because you don’t ever have to worry about three rockets hitting another house of yours and blowing it up again. You’re free!” My grandfather was house sitting
my parent’s home in the month of September, 1978. During this time, Lebanon was in midst of a Civil War. The attack happened! I was born in April of that year. I had a conversation with my father about a year ago discussing his “American Dream” and what it meant to him to have his freedom after living in America for the last twenty-eight years.
I wouldn’t get shot. I had to survive. I couldn’t disappoint my parents. Until today I can still hear her voice screaming, Gassia! Gassia! Help! Please! Help! Please don’t leave me here!” My aunt looked down reflecting on one of her classmates being shot down and explained, “I just couldn’t I had to save myself. I just couldn’t”.I had this conversation with my aunt six months ago.
“I remember I was living in London at the time working at a bank and was asked by my boss to transfer to New York . He was moving and since I was his secretary he wanted me to move as well. So I did. Our office stood right next to the New York-Well Cornell Medical Hospital. I remember in 1979, when the Shah stayed at this hospital during the Iranian Revolution. My Boss was of Iranian descent. He had a few pictures of the Shah up on the walls and we were told to bring down the pictures. So, we brought them down, we wrapped them up and hid them. New York was too much for me, so I moved to California”. I had this conversation with my eldest aunt a few days ago. She was the first one to come to California from our family.
“Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” Lebbeus Woods
Mom what was it like growing up in Lebanon? “It was simple. I remember we were one of the first homes in the city that had a telephone and a TV. All the neighborhood kids would come to our house to watch television shows. It was great time, we were a tight knit community and everyone treated each other like family.” I had this conversation with my mother two years ago.
Growing up (So) California : 1988, age nine: My family decided we should move to California from Doha, Qatar . At this time, Middle East had an expectation of war to break out within its near future. Two years later the Gulf War began. CALIFORNIA, Yay! I already understood as a kid what I thought of California . It was exciting. Nene and Dede (Grandma and Grandpa) lived in the U.S, Disneyland was in California , my aunts and uncles were in California and even Michael Jackson lived in California. “Mom! Dad! We’re going to live next door to the King of Pop? We Made It!”. California to me was comprised of small images and a couple of ideas.
During my teen years I grew up in a small city called Monrovia. Here To Gassia, my youngest aunt. I I had a group of friends who were asked her, “what do you remember mostly all skaters. We were always of the civil war in Lebanon?” She in the streets exploring L.A. on a replied, “I was eighteen. I remember one to one experience. Hanging out going to school at American at skate shop and skating from city University of Beirut (AUB) and the to city listening to metal and punk war broke out. We were stuck in rock music. class. We were told we had to run across the field to the bomb In high school, we were always shelter. So, they lined us up and we at Damien’s house. Damien had a sprinted across the field. There were cool cousin named Michael and snipers on the roof tops shooting Michael’s dad was even cooler. He at us. I can still hear the streams was good friends with the Band of bullets followed by the sound of Danzig. Danzig, in the 90s, were at thumps, body’s dropping. Naturally, their prime. We were always at their I started running in a zigzag form so concerts hanging out backstage
being in the middle of “L.A. Cool” screwing around mimicking Glenn and the crew. We had the Misfits shirts on, the Samhain haircuts, and the Danzig private parties to tag along to. For an Armenian kid where was my Armenian-ness. I was always in the middle of everything and was curious about anything. Anything and Everything!
you understand humility at its best. Hmm, questioning how L.A. am I really? Most of all, what bartending and my education in architecture brought to me was this project.
of my background. Naturally, living in L.A., I started to explore Glendale, California. Glendale is known for being one of the largest Armenian communities outside of Armenia. I started to explore everything about the city. During “When I was a boy I saw a film my exploration, I discovered that called The Isle of Lost Ships, and its there are large communities of scene was the Sargasso Sea, where elderly Armenian men throughout all the seaweed in the Atlantic the parks of Glendale. Here, they As I grew older, I phased out of winds up in a warm, enormous mostly spend their time playing metal and punk rock music and eddy. According to the movie, all cards, backgammon, discussing was introduced to rap. I found the lost ships wound up there, too, philosophy and current political something in rap that I couldn’t find and there were Spanish galleons issues. in any other music genres. The story and wrecked clipper ships and old of the underdog. Rap for me was Roman galleys, and people lived In my daily search for answers, I poetic and raw. I understood it and forever, and there was Lewis Stone visit these parks and I take pictures mostly it understood me. I finally in some kind of costume. You went and record videos when possible. found something that understood home afterward and could not sleep I’m trying to become more apart me. To emphasize...I finally found and lay in bed and listened to switch of my Armenian community. My something that understood me. I engines, somewhere, shunting Armenian speech is a little broken listened to Pac and Biggie all day, freight cars around in Chicago yards, and my dialect is of Western everyday. I listened to Pac so much and you thought what a wonderful, Armenian. Most of the men that I that at the age eighteen my first car wonderful world it was and how have interacted with are of Eastern was a “Black Ac Integra.” Now all could you ever wait to grow up?” Armenian dialect. I have to learn the kids think I’m L.A.! backgammon and overcome these The Territorial Imperative by Robert barriers. I’ve already met one elderly One night some things happened. Ardrey man and we talked a little about life. Finally, I got home and I was in my (Dede #1) bed. Age twenty, around 5:00am Dede: I heard my father waking up. This “I should like to see any power of man that sacrificed everything To reflect back on the beginning the world destroy this race, this was getting ready for his twelve stages of this project I truly am not small tribe of unimportant people, hour shift. The stories of my family sure when I started to think about whose wars have all been fought members started playing out in my all this. If I can pin point anything and lost, whose structures have head. Everything in twenty years of it would be the conversations that crumbled, literature is unread, music my experienced life came crashing I had with my Grandmother and is unheard, and prayers are no down on me. I promised myself Grandfather regarding their stories more answered. Go ahead, destroy from that point on I would get an of our family and the history of my Armenia . See if you can do it. education. So. I did. I enrolled into Armenian background. I grew up Send them into the desert without a city college and got a job as a in a very close Armenian family, bread or water. Burn their homes bartender. You’re fucking right I’m but outside of my immediate and and churches. Then see if they will L.A. extended family, I didn’t even not laugh, sing and pray again. For have one Armenian friend. All my when two of them meet anywhere Bartending in L.A. is interesting. friends were of different ethnic in the world, see if they will not The first couple of years were fun backgrounds. So, I felt like I was create a New Armenia .” William and exciting. I met a lot of people. missing a large part of my identity. Saroyan In bartending you can meet a range of all sorts of people. From the Throughout my education, I’ve [Time loop] everyday guy that nobody knows always fought for the humanness to the people on TV that everybody in Architecture. It’s this on going “Dad you’ve already won. You’ve thinks they know, but to be a struggle with myself, but truly I won because you don’t ever have bartender for fifteen years becomes understand what Architecture to worry about three rockets a little bit more complicated. I stands for in today’s society. I hitting another house of yours and don’t take any of it back because it myself can’t allow for Architecture blowing it up again. You’re free!” allowed me to become independent. to be the front man for humanity My grandfather was house sitting It helped me pay for my enrollment while feeding big name brand firms. my parent’s home in the month of into a higher education institution It’s just not why I fell in love with September, 1978. During this time, where I graduated with my Architecture, it’s just not me. Lebanon was in midst of a Civil degree. One of the great skills War. The attack happened! I was that bartending teaches you is to The more I questioned my own born in April of that year. I had a become a great listener and to read past and my identity the more I conversation with my father about a faces and body language. It makes wanted to understand the history year ago discussing his “American
Dream” and what it meant to him to have his freedom after living in America for the last twenty-eight years.
This project is dedicated to my grandmother, Thank you for teaching me and I miss you dearly.
Man on the right is Dede #1
Home #1: Monrovia, CA. Since then Iâ€™ve moved six times.
Activiy Scan and Pedestrrian Survey forms used by a private data collection agency commissioned by the LADOT and City of Los Angeles to collect information about the use and perception of Broadway Downtown.
Located Anthony Carfello Preliminary Mock up for Los Angeles Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.
f:24, A Journal of Loft Living Preliminary Mock up for Los Angeles Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. Brian Mann
is a senior editor for Archinect and writes about architectural and urbanistic themes often engaging people in his articles. He is a practicing licensed architect in California and teaches architecture and urban design at East Los Angeles College where most of his students are first and second generation immigrants intimately familiar with the city. The first Los Angeles Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism was originally initiated by Orhan while talking with Ole Bouman in Shenzhen, China and since joined by other collaborators who launched it in Value Factory.
is creative director at the Shenzhen Biennale for Architecture and Urbanism and founder of the Value Factory. Before, he acted as the director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, globally the largest institute of its kind. Prior to that, he was the editor-in-chief of Volume, the independent magazine for architecture, for pushing its limits and finding© new roles in society. Volume is a project by Archis Foundation, think tank AMO and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University. He also was the director of Archis Foundation, active in publishing, consultancy and, as NGO, establishing connections between local design communities in need of expertise and the Archis global knowledge network. In 2007 he founded the Studio for Unsolicited Architecture, starting at MIT, Cambridge Massachusetts.
is author of three novels, Bloodvine, Riverbig, and This Angelic Land. He is also co-author along with April Greiman of Something from Nothing, a book on the philosophy of graphic design. A Ph.D. in psychology, from 1993 to 2005 he was senior professor of Humanities at Southern California Institute of Architecture. He has published in genres as diverse as poetry, social psychology, and design criticism. He was a contributing writer to West, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, and currently writes for the literary website thenervousbreakdown.com.
is an artist.
© All material in this publication is exclusive property of the individual authors. Please contact Orhan Ayyuce firstname.lastname@example.org for any copyright requests.
is an artist, urbanist and writer. She monitors, depicts and interprets landscape from terrain to territory, from premise to significance. She studied art history, scenic design and architecture in Aachen, Zurich and Berlin, worked on documentary and genre films, and practices, writes and teaches across the arts, cultural production, landscape and urbanism (University of Innsbruck, Harvard, UCLA, TU Berlin). Together with Stefano de Martino she started the practice Lorma Marti, the edition Correspondents, and the platform Urban States. She is coeditor of Clear Skies with Patches of Grey, editor of Midsize America, and coauthor of Update: All Possible Worlds, How we spent it, and the forthcoming Waiting Land. Aram Guiragozian Graduate of SCI-Arc, is a film documentarian, photographer and designer based in Los Angeles, CA. Currently working on his own short film project named Dede in Glendale, CA. The short film describes the significance of the urban social interaction of immigrated Armenian communities juxtapose to the reality’s they face and their American dreams.
is a writer living in Los Angeles. She covers architecture and urbanism as Editorial Manager for Archinect, while writing about art, film, food and radio on the periphery. She received a BA with Honors in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley, Sarah Lorenzen with a thesis on the aesthetics of molecular gastronomy. She has is an architect, Chair of Architecture produced audio work for Bay Area at Cal Poly Pomona, and Director of radio stations and original sound art the Neutra VDL Research House. pieces, and co-created “As It Lays”, Some of her projects include a video a board game about the creation installation for the Palm Springs of a New Los Angeles. Be in touch Museum, a documentary film about through: email@example.com. the Los Angeles River, a video on Informal Urbanism in Mexico City Paul Petrunia for the Rotterdam Biennale, a film/ research project about the film started Archinect in the summer industry in downtown LA, and a of 1997, in his underwear, in his 4500sf temporary exhibition space childhood bedroom at his parents for the AEC expo in Mumbai, India. house in Victoria, BC, Canada, while She studied fine arts at Smith / on break from architecture school Atlanta College of Art (BFA), then at SCI-Arc. He now works mostly went on to study architecture at clothed, with the rest of his staff, Georgia Tech (M.Arch) and at SCIat the Archinect headquarters in Arc (M.Arch MR+D.) Pasadena, California. His wife, two kids, dog, and scuba diving keep Anthony Carfello him (relatively) sane.
Brian Mann is an artist. Paperbacks selected by Orhan Ayyuce and Eric Chavkin. Design: Pacific Design Solutions Pacific-Design-Solutions.com