WA/SA [waldrip architects/ s.a.] [architecture- los angeles]
Alberti, Sandro Not-So-New; 20 January, 2003 [text28]
Working 9-5, at...
‘WA/SA’, ‘Aloha8’, and ‘Working 9 to 5, at...’
‘New Cities, New Media’ has been going on for a while now, managing to make a space for discourse, and pleasant social gathering. This year it was charming, at the courtyard of USC’s School of Architecture. We got food, and drink, and video projections… But was it more than the brilliant ‘puff’ that has become such a rigorous part of cultural At the event. ventures. There were certainly panels and presentations to be had (and I unfortunately was only able to ‘have’ a few, as San Diego architecture would take me away the rest of the weekend). First I was to enjoy a panel discussion. I saw
‘them’ all walk by, as I finished a delightful cranberry muffin in the vanishing sunlight. The anthropologist, the ‘cineasta’, the urban planer, the artist. And there was Matías, as a guest, who recently ‘graduated’ from Hodgetts + Fung, where he has been engaged for quite-so-long now. He just ‘appeared’, as he tends to do at any architectural ‘event’ in town. You must remember him, if you are interested in careful architectural design [Matías Creimer; www.otherzone.com] The panelists spoke ‘lightly’. Nancy Lutkehaus (USC Anthropology) recollected the evolving history of visual representations. Michael Renov (USC Cinema/ TV) recollected the evolving history of urban topics in film. Some interesting ‘bits’: 1. The ‘montage’ of the 20’s is now ‘sampling’ [but what does this ‘mean’?] 2. After remaining ‘abandoned’ for so long, cities are now taken-up once more, but re-made in the image of the media. To this was added the association to ‘brandscape’ [too bad that most of the focus went to crediting Christianne Robbins (USC Fine Arts) with the use of the term, rather than delving into a topic, any topic; and the new ‘particular qualities’ of places were presented solely as escapes from branding]. Then there was Lev Manovich, who seemed to have been summoned last-minute from the UCSD campus. His failed attempt to display a casual an impromptu presentation was more like something broken (a record, perhaps). Incorporating real-time typing and file opening-closing on the overhead projection, he began by changing the title of his presentation to ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’. That was probably the most clever part. The rest was overloaded with chatter regarding the inherent problem of data-cataloguing in
are fictions of fen-om: [www.fen-om.com]
Mingling + media.
an image-driven society. Funny, he didn’t touch on the topic of ‘legacy’ and what happens in 10, 5, and 2 years, as data formats continue to expire (I can remember when all work at UCLA’s Center for Digital Arts, now ‘Media Arts’, was backed-up onto Syquest cartridges, just 6 years ago; and now, where can one find a Syquest reader?). But he did show the most generic images from movies such as ‘Minority Report’ and student projects dealing with image-projections in virtual reality, as the audience quickly began to fall asleep (a chance to dream of Web 3d images and ‘new’ types of image, while Manovich read outloud from the introduction to an ISO document on MPEG standards). I counted the minutes to the moment when audience members would be harshly wakened by the required applause. The conference was also an opportunity to evaluate/ reveal some of the multimedia projects that USC researchers (USC Art Collective) have been working on: ‘Bleeding Through the Layers of LA’, and ‘Tracing the Decay of Fiction’. Norman Klein described his team’s ‘bleeding’ fiction as a reaction to the eternally-pubescent quality of gaming and paranoid avatar-VR. To me, it seemed more like the inability to progress beyond the level of narrative multimedia that began to be seen in the early 90s (well, perhaps now with more sophisticated transitions between scenes, improved ‘video’ performance, and room for more data). The uniqueness of the experienced is driven by the content, with slight user choice, rather than recent technological development. This hardly “disrupts purist visions of the city”. Sure, the ‘scene’ now includes “building-block collisions”, but the building blocks themselves are quite obvious, from the handling of individual scenes to the general layout of the storyline in stages. ‘Tracing the Decay of Fiction’ does not fare much better, allowing one to travel through an old LA hotel in a grid of views that is coherent yet somewhat monotonous. Much more… No, scratch that. AS interesting, I recommend that set of books I recently received from a sentient friend: ‘The Moon Box’ (1995, edited by Miller and Smith). Even while constrained to physical, bound form, the 4-book set manages to provide imagery and thought as compelling as any aspect of the ‘USC narratives’. And the multiple tales and poems are loosely threaded, so all one needs to do is flip randomly to a page and begin reading (not unlike the feeling of turn-of-themillennium hyperlinking). All that is missing is a bit of jittery, ghostly video, that can be made up by the imagination. Here are some ‘blips’: From ‘The Werewolf’: 1. I comprehend, for without transformation, Men become wolves on any slight occasion. 2. We had killed a stag that day. The marquis was the only one of the guests who had not taken any part in this chase, for he never hunted. 3. The wolf let out a gulp, almost a sob, when it saw what had happened to it; wolves are less brave than they seem. 4. And not content with that, with the sword he cuts the throat of a hostage that had been sent from the nation of the Molossians. 5. [He had] murdered 2 goodly young women bit with child, tearing the children out of their wombs, in most bloody and savage sort, and after ate their hearts panting hot and raw, which he accounted dainty morsels an best agreeing to his appetite. 6. The prospect of this wild, nude animal in Van Cheele’s primly ordered house was certainly an alarming one. 7. I gave him this Potion… And lastly I gave him this vomit… This wrought upward and
downward; after which he became perfectly well. 8. He crossed himself, as he answered laconically: “Walpurgis Nacht.” Then he took out his watch. 9. The surest test of the werewolf’s identity lies in his complete absence of a tail. From ‘Somnium’: 1. Thus the globe of Levania also consists of 5 zones, which correspond in a certain manner to our terrestrial zones. 2. That too was a strange business; we 2 men floating loose in that spherical space and packing and pulling ropes. 3. I had fastened all about me a quantity of small bottles filled with dew. The sun beat so violently upon them with its rays that the heat which attracted them, just as it does the thickest mists, raised me aloft until at length I found myself above the middle region of air. 4. I forgot to mention that they wear their beards a little above the knee; and they have not any toe-nails, for the very good reason they have not any toes. 5. A second visit (but accidental one) to the moon. From ‘Moon Lore’: 1. At one time, according to Sir George H. Darwin, the Moon was very close to the Earth. Then the tides gradually pushed her away. 2. It was not I who told you to buy the shining thing. To give something, when plenty remains, is good; but none but a fool would give his all, that a light may shine in the dark. 3. The man cut his throat and left his head there. The others went to get it. 4. Fish at night in the Light of the Moon, but not in the daytime. During Dark of Moon, fish in daytime, as fish cannot see in dark and are hungrier in daytime. 5. Danger stalks on such nights; the moon is dangerous: Why will you walk beneath the compelling luster that draws the blood from your unwilling body? From ‘The Moon Goddess’: 1. In the Kabbalistic tradition, the Moon, this time known as Levannah, is associated with the section of the Tree of Life which is called Yesod. 2. For we were making sounds from our throats and lips to warn and encourage the helpless young, long before schools were built to teach boys to obey and be bored and kill.
'New Cities, New Media', at USC Architecture, a shy view at the future.