Sabtu, 31 Maret 2007

0 The Cloud

[Image: Photo by Kim Johnson Flodin/Associated Press, via the New York Times].

Not being a local news follower, I found myself sitting outside yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles, beneath a huge brown cloud that seemed to hover there, more or less stationary, above the parking lot beside me. The cloud was totally alone, surrounded on all sides by perfectly blue sky, as if a thunderstorm had rolled in – only to change its mind and drift off, leaving part of itself behind, atmospherically orphaned in the sunlight. After all, there was no rain.
The cloud didn't appear to be moving.
I began expecting an earthquake.
"Is there a fire or something?" I asked a guy wearing sunglasses as he walked past me on the sidewalk – but it occurred to me, absurdly, even as I heard myself asking him the question, that perhaps the cloud would be impossible to see through his sunglasses: its color would be visually filtered out by the glass's tint and so he wouldn't even know what I was talking about.
Instead, he just nodded and said, "Uh huh," walking off past Radio Shack.
Still detached from the local news cycle at that point, and beginning to notice that not a single other person was looking up into the sky at what seemed, at least to me, to be a very obvious and possibly threatening brown cloud, I decided that people here really must be so over-trustful of the world that even a menacing, oily blur hovering above their heads could simply be perceptually filed away as some weird but harmless fluke: it'll go away – it won't be here tomorrow – and you can therefore just forget it ever happened...
Don't think about it and it won't harm you.
Which is when I remembered something called the "airborne toxic event" from Don DeLillo's novel White Noise.
About a third of the way through that book, there is a train derailment somewhere outside a small American college town. The accident releases a toxic cloud into the sky: "the smoke was plainly visible," we read, "a heavy black mass hanging in the air beyond the river, more or less shapeless."
One of the characters says it resembles "a shapeless growing thing. A dark black breathing thing of smoke."
Families close to the accident are soon asked to evacuate – "Abandon all domiciles," an amplified voice calls out, broadcast from a truck that drives through the cul-de-sacs – while "medical problems" that might develop upon "personal contact with the airborne toxic event" are discussed on the radio.
One of these problems is apparently déjà vu.
The source of the cloud, meanwhile, is being buried by snow machines, in the weird hope that this will thermo-chemically contain its spread; and so an artificial winter begins to erupt as rogue flakes blow on contaminated winds through the suburbs. Etc. etc. It's all very ironic and surreal.
At one point, though, the drifting cloud becomes an all-out military spectacle:
    A few minutes later, back on the road, we saw a remarkable and startling sight. It appeared in the sky ahead of us and to the left, prompting us to lower ourselves in our seats, bend our heads for a clearer view, exclaim to each other in half finished phrases. It was the black billowing cloud, the airborne toxic event, lighted by the clear beams of seven army helicopters. They were tracking its windborne movement, keeping it in view. In every car, heads shifted, drivers blew their horns to alert others, faces appeared in side windows, expressions set in tones of outlandish wonderment.
    The enormous dark mass moved like some death ship in a Norse legend, escorted across the night by armored creatures with spiral wings. We weren't sure how to react.
To find out what happens next, both to the cloud and to the people watching it, you'll just have to read the book; but, returning to a bench in Los Angeles yesterday – yes, there is one – on top of which I sat, looking up at an oily blur that seemed oddly rooted in place there above a parking lot, with no one else visibly concerned, no one else appearing to wonder what on earth it was that had come to visit us that day, there in the atmosphere, shadowing us, perhaps some strange and void-like inversion set to suck away the very air we breathed, I was sad to learn that the whole thing was just the downwind result of a fire in the Hollywood Hills – an event I had otherwise managed to miss seeing entirely.

[Images: Via the BBC].

So much for the sublime or the inexplicable or the mysterious. I went back to reading, and the cloud blew away.

0 Presents and seaweed

I'm so excited! In a bit I'm going with Qihua to collect Qing qing's birthday present, and we all love love love the present!!

Though, I can't tell you guys YET what it is, as Qing's bdae is not till Sunday. *smug smile*

We all had a fun time teasing her yesterday about it, giving her rubbish clues like "It can be worn, can be eaten, and can be flicked" and the preverted girl keeps thinking it has something to do with sex, like an edible underwear or something!!

Siao one.

So, that day, I was randomly talking to Gillian (my manager) about this new crispy seaweed I discovered called Tao Kae Noi and how much I am obsessing over it coz I like it so much.

But it's quite expensive la, the single sheet one is 70c and the big packets are like $2.95 or something.

And Gillian was like, to my surprise, "Yeah, my favourite is the Wasabi one!". I only found one other avid lover of Tao Kae Noi, who is Wong, and everyone else seemed to have not tried it before, so I am quite happy that I found another common liker of the seaweed. :D


"Hey," I said excitedly to G, "Let's ask them to advertise with us la, then they can give us free samples!!!"

And so G approached them.

Unfortunately, they said they didn't have a budget allocated, but since Wendy likes it so much, we will give her some packets for free!!

I HAVE SO MUCH SEAWEED AT HOME NOW!!!!!!!!!!! SHIOK!

For those of you who are missing out, here is the seaweed I am talking about:

My favourite is original flavour...


Buy the big packets! Single sheet's never enough!!


Inside, half eaten


It is very different from conventional seaweed coz it's so crispy! And yummier.

And they let me try this new flavour called the Tempura Seaweed!


Not out in Singapore yet!

Even the packaging in still in Thai




Inside


One side seaweed


Other side tempura! Yummy







Professional cam-whores can cam-whore with even just a piece of seaweed!

Besides original, there is also...


Tomato, which I like


Tom Yam... A bit spicy with a tinge of sourness.

As well as Hot & Spicy (which I have not tried before, but is Wong's favourite) and Wasabi, which I dislike coz wasabi sucks!!! *looks at wasabi lovers weirdly*

Better wash your mouth after you eat, or you will look like me!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Hahaha

Jumat, 30 Maret 2007

0 Return to Cinemapolis

[Image: A page-spread from The Next American City].

If you're looking for something to read outside the internet, I've got a short article in this month's issue of The Next American City about the use of video surveillance – CCTV – as a new, cinematic form of urban analysis.
Citing Andy Warhol, John Cage, Bernard Tschumi, William Whyte's "film analyses of corporate plazas, urban streets, parks and other open spaces," Chris Petit, and a variety of other sources, the article makes the claim that 24-hour surveillance of urban space is a tool being used by the wrong industry: it shouldn't be private security firms installing these cameras in the name of public safety – but architects and urban planners, putting them up for the purpose of spatial research...
In any case, if you see a copy of the magazine lying around be sure to pick it up. Alternatively, I'll be giving away some free copies at next week's event in San Francisco – so let me know if you're looking for one.

0 Capital Movements

Yesterday, via the BBC, BLDGBLOG explored the militarily controlled and organized instant city of Naypyidaw, new capital of Burma (aka Myanmar), a whole city built so that the Burmese dictatorship could move nearly 300 miles north from where the capital had originally been (Rangoon – aka Yangon).
But what if they'd moved the capital – a mere two miles? Or one mile – or twenty-five feet? The entire imperial capital picks up... and moves eight feet to the southwest. Thirty-five centimeters. The buildings themselves aren't changed – though perhaps all the streets are renamed.
Meanwhile, everything looks the same.
Except...

Or: as a child you went on holidays with your auntie to a small village in southern France, but now you're 63 years old and you haven't been there in half a century. So you hire a car and you drive down, alone, crossing the Millau Viaduct, to arrive in the same old village before sunset.
But something doesn't feel right.
For one thing, that view of the distant hills that you remember so vividly, from the picture window in your family cottage outside town, no longer even captures the hills; instead you stare blankly at the valley right next to them. How could that have happened...? And the front door no longer opens out to face the old oak tree.
Worse, the nearby forest seems a whole lot closer to the edge of town, and several buildings are practically falling into the nearby river; that's impossible, you think: you used to play down there. Is your memory really that bad?
You can't sleep at night. Do you have Alzheimer's Disease...? You toss and turn. Do you drink too much? You get up and look out the window, dehydrated. Or have you just been wrong about everything, all along?
How sad.

To bide the time before driving back north, you do some casual gardening out back, screwing around with a shovel and wondering why, as you tried to go back to find the past, everything fell out from beneath you – when you discover something: foundation stones. You clear away more dirt and stare.
They match the outline of the family cottage.
You dig a bit more, sweating – and, as some clouds pass over the sun, sending a chill down the back of your neck, you find that stupid plastic toy you buried as a 12-year old. You'd put it right beside the house – you remember that – you'd even been scolded for digging so close to your auntie's bedroom window – yet now here it is clear out in the middle of the yard.
You drop the shovel.
Small discrepancies like this suddenly stand out all over town: the well in the central plaza, for instance, is now inexplicably close to the old tavern – whereas it very definitely used to stand right out there in the open, catching sunshine. You used to read books there. You know what you're talking about.
You don't have Alzheimer's Disease.
The town has been moved.

Kamis, 29 Maret 2007

0 Considerations when Starting a Business

I really hope none of you really think there is a tell-all, fool-proof method of staring a business. If you do, I hate to be the one to burst your bubble- there is no easy way to start a business. You need a ton of moxie, time and often times money.

If you're buying books, audio tapes, or advice from people claiming anything different, you are in for a rude awakening. I did it, I bought that garbage and guess where it is now; in my closet on the floor right next to the Abdominizer that promised 6-pack abs.

Doing your homework and learning lessons is the ONLY real way to get a business cooking. My internet buddy Dane Carlson points to a pretty simple list of things to consider:

1. Determine if you’re an entrepreneur or just a wannabe. Starting a successful business requires a unique set of characteristics. You have to be willing to take calculated risks. In addition, a mix of optimism, high energy, and an ability to live with ambiguity are also crucial.

2. Pinpoint an opportunity. There are lots of ways to find the right business idea. But for most people, it’s wise to begin with your interests, say small-business experts.

3. Make sure there’s a market for your idea. Get out there and talk to as many potential customers, suppliers and distributors as you can. Trade-show attendees are a particularly good source of information. And remember: You’re not trying to sell anything yet; you’re just exploring the opportunity.

4. Write a business plan. Any plan needs to answer a few key questions: What is your product or service? Who is your customer? What need does it address? And, how are you going to turn your idea into a money-making venture?

5. Determine your business structure. You have four basic choices — sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Each offers different legal protections, tax savings, and ownership requirements. They also vary in how complicated they are to set up.

6. Look for funding. Most entrepreneurs start their businesses by dipping into their savings, and hitting up friends and family. Perhaps half of all startups, in fact, are funded initially by the founder’s credit cards.

You can get more in depth on this at 6 steps to Creating a Super Start Up by Smart Money. As an aside to this, you are also encouraged to read how you can provisionally patent your idea before getting others involved.

0 10 Nutrition Myths

As far as I am concerned, nutrition is like politics; you have 2 sides that will never agree. Each expensive study is countered by a more expensive study and ultimately the side with the marketing budget wins. It's sad.

Basically, it's up to you to minimally absorb the information and make a determination based on what you believe and what you're doctor says is good for you.

The Medical News Daily is a site that I frankly have never heard of but they have a ton of subscribers. Today the list 10 Nutrition Myths that are worth considering. I know that I fell for 2 of them...
  • Eating carbohydrates makes you fat

  • Drink eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day

  • Brown grain products are whole grain products

  • Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol

  • All alcohol is bad for you

  • Vitamin supplements are necessary for everyone

  • Consuming extra protein is necessary to build muscle mass

  • Eating fiber causes problems if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Eating immediately after a workout will improve recovery.

  • Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating foods low on the glycemic index.

To get the scoop on these points, read Dispelling The Top 10 Nutrition Myths by Medical News Today.

I helped Jay White start Dumb Little Man and was an early writer on the site. When I saw that he had to take a leave of absence, I volunteered to help. - Mark

0 Capital Times

The BBC reports that "Burma's military rulers have been showing off their new capital for the first time to the outside world."

[Image: The new Burmese capital of Naypyidaw, photographed by the Associated Press; via the BBC].

This brand new city will be called Naypyidaw, or Abode of Kings, and it "is being built on a vast and extravagant scale in hundreds of square kilometres of tropical scrubland. Shining new buildings rise out of tropical scrub like a mirage, separated by miles of broad highways and boulevards."
Even though the military now has "a fortress-like complex" on the east side of the city, "it is still not clear why the generals have moved here." Some analysts, the BBC explores elsewhere, have suggested that the move came about because "the country's hard-line military rulers were worried about foreign invasion, or wanted more control over ethnic minorities in the border regions, or were even following the advice of fortune tellers."
However the plans were decided, rumors now suggest that there is "a maze of underground tunnels being built" – and the new city itself has been described "as the government's 'rat hole'."

[Image: Courtesy of the Associated Press, via the BBC].

But even if only on the most superficial level, Naypyidaw seems desolate, sterile, and utterly boring – and, if you believe Mike Davis, it is also the spatial end-result of the region's violent and decade-long "urban beautification" program, led by the Burmese military.
In Planet of Slums – which Davis discussed last year in an interview with BLDGBLOG – we read:
    The most Orwellian "urban beautification" program in Asia in recent times, however, was undoubtedly the preparations for "Visit Myanmar Year 1996" undertaken by the heroin-financed Burmese military dictatorship in Rangoon and Mandalay. One-and-a-half million residents – an incredible 16 percent of the total urban population – were removed from their homes (frequently by state-sponsored arson) between 1989 and 1994 and shipped out to hastily constructed bamboo-and-hatch huts in the urban periphery, now creepily renamed the "New Fields." No one knew when their turn might come, and even the dead were evicted from the cemeteries.
Davis then quotes a scholar named Monique Skidmore, who writes that "whole city blocks disappear in a matter of days" – like some militarized version of China Miéville's "Reports of Certain Events In London," in which whole streets appear and disappear, violently carving their way through the city.
Skidmore continues: "Through the renaming, rebuilding, and relocating of familiar landmarks and the heavy presence of the army and weaponry, the military council imposes a new spatial configuration on Rangoon... suppressing potential democratic neighborhoods, demolishing the inner city, and creating new urban centers that immortalize the principle of authoritarianism."
The result, she writes, is "a landscape glorifying the control and authoritarian vision of its leaders."

[Image: Courtesy of the Associated Press, via the BBC].

The new capital town of Naypyidaw is just the logical extension of these spatial practices: urban design by police and military planners.

(Despite its flaws, by the way, Planet of Slums really is worth reading – it's a short book and you could finish it in two or three long sessions).

0 Fish hatcheries, barrier trees, and a new architectural Tokyo

I've just added two sketches by Mark Goerner to the film fest page; the images are also pictured here. I love this stuff!

[Image: A sketch by Mark Goerner].

You're looking, first, at Mark's vision of a future Tokyo, glancing down over the rim of a balcony into a massive hotel-like interior with its own train system and a kind of tent market laid out on the main floor (here's a much larger version to check out).

[Image: A sketch by Mark Goerner].

Then you're looking at a speculative building for a future Sahara, complete with fish hatcheries, beehive towers, barrier trees, and a roof made of "solar fabric" (larger version also available).
So I'll use this as a quick reminder to come out to the event on May 8th, and to bring a friend and some questions and listen to four guys talking about film and architecture.

Rabu, 28 Maret 2007

0 Ole Bouman Redux

I don't want the recent Ole Bouman interview to get buried under new posts, so let me highlight a few brief moments in the interview that I particularly like, and then encourage you to go read it in full.

For instance, Bouman says: "if you think that applying urban form is the same as building a city, or even creating urban culture, then you make a very big mistake." He goes on to describe how "architecture culture" in the mid-1990s "was taken hostage by the politics of the spectacular."
Even today, though, he says, "nothing has changed. There is still an incredible focus – not just among architects, but among clients – on an architecture that is strongest at first sight. The second sight or the third sight is not so important anymore."
In the process, "large congregations of architecture" have come to replace real cities – a kind of illegitimate spatial surrogate – and these are the hollow landscapes within which many of us now find ourselves living.
On the subject of post-conflict cities, then – or cities made hollow not by development but by war – Bouman says:
    Very often all the discourse that is left to those people in post-conflict cities is about everyday needs, or maybe some rebuilding of political institutions; but culture is always at the end of the story, at the end of the line. What we can do is provide them with discourse, give them a certain vitality, as we did in Ramallah once, in Bosnia once, in Vilnius once – and even as we did at the feet of the Statue of Liberty once. If a city is in trouble, sometimes it’s good to organize dialogue, regardless of the subject matter – dialogue as a goal in itself.
Dialogue – and architecture, more broadly speaking – is thus about "reclaiming the public domain."
That, of course, comes immediately after Bouman discusses China – which is perhaps my favorite part of the interview. There, Bouman says, and I'll quote him at great length:
    Bouman: It’s strange that China is seen as a new world by many Westerners, a land of opportunity, a place they all want to go... China is still seen as another world. You have to go there. You have to get yourself a portfolio in China. Or you have to start your office, or open a new headquarters there – so there is always the concept of over there, of otherness. I talk to Chinese colleagues, and Chinese businesspeople, and they sometimes openly admit that this persistence of otherness, this persistence of the idea that this is a country that is different from the West, that you can go to, or send your money to, is helping China to take over. To put it dramatically.

    So, in terms of capital, for instance, if you just consider the fact that 15 years of boundless investment in China – hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in China, within a very Western paradigm of finding the best returns – is also, in the long-term, undermining the Western position. So, in a Western way of thinking, and from a capitalist point of view, investing in China may actually accomplish the opposite of what investors intended. These kind of paradoxes are hardly understood.

    If China is launching a new rocket, or a new satellite, or testing a new space weapon system, suddenly people wake up – but there is this strange anomaly between China as the promised land and China as the latent rival, the opponent, the growing danger. Either people accept that China is becoming part of a larger global system of capital, and so they aren’t afraid to give it its own momentum wherever it goes, or whatever it takes – that is just the price you pay for growth. Or you say: we can no longer accept this – and this might be a moment that is not so far away anymore, a moment of regression or conservatism. Some governments will say that we can no longer go there, maybe, because we would not like to add to the power and culture of China. It’s still very fashionable to host Chinese festivals and to invite Chinese artists and to buy Chinese art – but the moment might not be so far away when we ask: why would we pay for China? If it reinforces or strengthens their power?

    I feel sometimes that we are just a little bit away from the moment when this paradox, this anomaly, will erupt into a more existential question. What do we do? Do we keep adding to the strength of China? Or do we go back to this kind of Western chauvinism, or nationalism, and not allow architects, for instance, to work in China or to allow Western investors to invest in China?

    I think, in the work of Rem Koolhaas, for instance, this anomaly is almost already on the surface. On the one hand there’s this admiration of the great architect with an incredible track record who goes to build in China, who creates a new monument, a kind of signal of what architecture can do, an incredible achievement. On the other hand, there is this latent, almost open criticism: what does this do for China? Are we giving away our assets to the enemy? I think in the whole discussion around the CCTV Building you see this tension between chauvinism and internationalism, between western interests and the interests of globalization in general, and many other dialectics in the debate being played out through that specific building. That’s why the building is so interesting. As a metaphor, it represents much more than just the fact that it is built for an institution of Chinese power by a powerful western architect; it also reveals something that has to do with the dynamics of our culture – and where architecture can do that, then architecture is gaining in legitimacy.
[Image: Ole Bouman, photographed by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk].

In any case, if you get a chance, check out the rest of the interview.

0 Architecture on Wall Street

I'll shamelessly point out that BLDGBLOG, Inhabitat, and Archinect's school blogs project were all written up in Monday's edition of the Wall Street Journal.

[Image: Bullish on Wall Street; image via].

About Inhabitat, we read:
    Jill Fehrenbacher, a graduate student at Columbia University's architecture program, created her group blog in 2005 to explore what seemed to be an untapped topic: sustainable architecture, which focuses on using recycled materials and otherwise protecting the environment. "I wanted to read something that had that focus, and couldn't find anything out there," Ms. Fehrenbacher says. "There are publications dedicated to design, and policy issues, but nothing about the overlap between the two." Recent posts cover a "disposable chandelier" made of plastic wine glasses, and the designs for towers in a park that are meant to be covered with vines.
We also learn that Inhabitat "has as many as 20 contributors, but that only five write frequently"; indeed, Jill herself "edits all the posts in addition to contributing her own."
Turning its attention to the Archinect school blogs, then, the Wall Street Journal reports:
    Paul Petrunia, a Web producer who helps architects develop sites for their projects, founded the Archinect school (!) as a resource for aspiring architecture students. The close-knit nature of the industry, he says, presents a challenge for people who want to know which programs are the best and which skills they should develop.
So the school blogs help them out. Prospective students can thus "browse the blogs – which are indexed by region and school – to get an inside look at programs that interest them."
Finally, reaching the very bottom of the column, as the bicep-flexing brokers of Wall Street chew clients' ears off over the phone and pop tabs of Alka-Seltzer, and as mortgages collapse in suburbs and commuter belt towns throughout the nation, the Wall Street Journal clears its throat and begins, timidly, as if unsure that this is really worth repeating to others:
    Geoff Manaugh says that there are architecture writers who are primarily concerned with buildings and others who are interested in anything architectural. His blog is definitely an example of the latter. Recent posts have covered a photograph of a "cosmic volcano" associated with star formation, a shantytown built on a frozen lake in Minnesota and the recent purchase on eBay of the window through which John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The Dow briefly rose upon the findings...
In any case, I was happy to see the coverage.

(Thanks to Jill and Paul for the tip!)

Selasa, 27 Maret 2007

0 Agitation, Power, Space: An Interview with Ole Bouman

[Image: Ole Bouman, photographed by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk].

In May 2005, Ole Bouman, Rem Koolhaas, and Mark Wigley co-founded Volume. Volume was meant as both a magazine and a "global idea platform... dedicated to experimentation and the production of new forms of architectural discourse." The tenth issue of Volume was published last month.
Meanwhile, on April 1, 2007, Ole Bouman will become Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam. As he explained in an NAI press release, that role will involve "draw[ing] inspiration from the major spatial challenges of our time."
In the following interview, Bouman talks to BLDGBLOG about some of these "spatial challenges," including the role of "agitation" in architecture; who the real audience for architectural journalism might be; the "politics of the spectacular"; unexpected possible side-effects of long-term investment in China; public space and dialogue in post-conflict cities; and the future of the Netherlands Architecture Institute.

• • •

BLDGBLOG: The new issue of Volume is themed around agitation. What exactly does that mean in the context of architecture?

Ole Bouman: Agitation is, of course, a very general category. It’s also a cultural term that has strong political connotations. In terms of Volume, as a way of approaching architecture, I think it’s good to cover that theme, to explore agitation in the present state of affairs, and to challenge the accepted formats, the accepted language, the accepted procedures in architecture. It’s a way to expand the architectural imagination in a way.

BLDGBLOG: You’ve said that part of this comes through asking why in architecture.

Bouman: Well, I think it’s very important to acknowledge the necessity of asking why in general. In a culture where people, at a very early stage of their careers, are forced to stick to their subject – or to a specific role – there is, in my view, an extreme urgency to keep asking why. Why, in a way, is a very innocent question and a very childish question – but it is also a very important question. It doesn’t allow you to take things for granted in terms of the role you play in society, or the service you provide to society and things like that. It always brings you back to fundamental questions about your presence, your role, your possibilities – etc. etc. So it’s an extremely important question, and, I would hope, a very obvious question – but, unfortunately, it is not so common anymore.

Posing it so explicitly – pushing forward this notion of why – is itself already a critical act. This is in contrast to presenting what you’re doing, how you are doing it, or – more gossipy – who is doing something. Who and what and how are, of course, very important questions, and there is a big market for those questions: everybody knows that you can make a lot of money presenting what has been done by other people. And there is a growing market now for information about the person behind the built work, the personality behind the building. But for why there is no natural market.

So we are trying to create a momentum behind this spirit, to create a market for why. And if we find sufficient international readers who share this attitude – asking why wherever they go and whatever they do – then maybe this project is sustainable in the long term. But this is an experiment, and we don’t know yet where it will go.

BLDGBLOG: In Volume #6 you refer to the idea that clients are a kind of “necessary evil.” But what’s interesting, in the context of architecture, is that magazines like Dwell and Metropolis are more popular than ever – which seems, at the very least, to indicate that clients read magazines, too. In other words, the people who buy and commission architecture also want to read about architecture. Perhaps, then, the declining popularity of non-mass market architectural criticism simply indicates that critics are not writing for clients anymore – for the people who actually purchase architecture. Instead, they are writing for other architects, and so of course architectural criticism appears to be in decline. Where would Volume fit in, here?

Bouman: It is a good question. Of course, there are at least three different layers of clients. First of all, there are the people with money who want a program to be accommodated by an architectural work – in other words, a client in the traditional sense. But I don’t think that there is a sufficient market for a magazine that would address that specific group.

There is also the client, in terms of the decision-maker. Maybe that person is not about to commission an architect to do something now, but they may ask an architect to do something in the future. And there are decision-makers throughout society – so this is a much larger group. If magazines can address this group of decision-makers specifically, then they already have a bigger reader base.

But, of course, there is also a group of clients that thinks, maybe in a more metaphorical way, about architecture as a way of fulfilling their dreams or serving their interests, in both a material way and in a more idealistic sense. And if our readership is this larger group of people – a very mixed group – then you could say that we already do address clients as the people who ask questions to architects – not just ask for buildings from architects, but who ask architects to engage with these issues. They ask architects to address larger social issues, rather than just supply built stuff. This is a redefinition of architecture, from delivering an object to a definition of architecture that challenges certain issues within a larger cultural strategy.

I think there could be a great dialogue between architects and this group of people. And this spirit and interpretation of the client is perhaps what we are addressing. Of course, the question comes up: is it still necessary to call this group clients and not just the public? But I think it is a nice way to put it: to see those people, this larger group of people engaged in cultural issues, as clients, who ask questions without an immediate budget, without pointing at a specific site, without asking you to accommodate a program. They ask general questions of architecture, and that helps us mobilize architecture beyond one specific purpose.

BLDGBLOG: So we need a new, or different, kind of architect now, in addition to a new way of interacting with clients?

Bouman: Yes – and that brings me to the role of the architect in responding to the client. This can no longer be the reactive way that most architects work with clients. In the first definition I gave of the client, the client is asking a question: Architect X or Architect Y, can you do something for me, because I need you? The output of architecture, in that sense, is very reactive. It can only be based on a program, a budget, a site, an existing location, etc. etc. – but there is always something coming first, before the architectural act.

In the other description I gave of the client, there is more of a shared interest – a common interest – with architects addressing a cultural or political issue from the angle of architecture. So there is a dialogue between different people with a common curiosity, and that can evolve into a completely different output of the architectural discipline. It gives architects a new role, I think, in the long-term, and this may even give architecture its future legitimacy.

If an art form or a scientific discipline, in the end, only boils down to performing a service for other people, then it’s very hard to find cultural legitimacy for that discipline.

BLDGBLOG: Again in Volume #6, you differentiate between cities and what you call “large congregations of architecture.” I’m curious how this distinction plays out on the level of community, or local identity – what a region full of architecture might mean to its inhabitants.

Bouman: If you don’t distinguish between those two – if you think that applying urban form is the same as building a city, or even creating urban culture – then you make a very big mistake. First of all, I think it’s necessary for architectural criticism, in that sense, to find the right words for these very complicated processes, to distinguish between two processes or forms that, at first sight, appear the same, but that are, in reality, very different.

When Roemer van Toorn and I wrote the book The Invisible in Architecture in the early 1990s, we were directly reacting to an architecture culture which was taken hostage by the politics of the spectacular. It was an effort to figure out what was behind those fancy or glossy facades which were already highly present in the architectural press – and, in that sense, nothing has changed. There is still an incredible focus – not just among architects, but among clients – on an architecture that is strongest at first sight. The second sight or the third sight is not so important anymore. The invisible in architecture, in that sense, is still an interesting concept to explore: to figure out the intricacies of the architectural profession within a larger political context.

Beyond that, distinguishing between a city and these “large congregations of architecture” may also help architects to clarify their own position, and to see how they might want to work – to help draft a new agenda for the discipline. This brings us back to that notion of agitation. So agitation can also mean: keep going, keep defining alternative agendas that are not well known – or well accepted, or that are just undiscovered – and keep opening windows for other kinds of practice.

[Image: The CCTV building, Beijing, by Rem Koolhaas/OMA].

BLDGBLOG: In Volume #8, you write that China is “an emerging world for which we as yet have no concepts” – but perhaps we do have concepts for it, only we won’t find them in China: we’ll find them within the logic of Western globalization. Do you think, then, that the economic development of China is really just a mutant strain of something that has already happened in the West?

Bouman: Well, there are many angles that could be taken, and I think that’s a good one. It’s strange that China is seen as a new world by many Westerners, a land of opportunity, a place they all want to go. Investors are also looking at China as where they would like to put their money. So, in a way, it’s very similar to concepts we already do have – the concepts of innovation, of career, of success. But also, the concept of a return on your investment, the concept of economic growth – all of those well-known elements of the Western worldview that we all share.

On the other hand, China is still seen as another world. You have to go there. You have to get yourself a portfolio in China. Or you have to start your office, or open a new headquarters there – so there is always the concept of over there, of otherness. I talk to Chinese colleagues, and Chinese businesspeople, and they sometimes openly admit that this persistence of otherness, this persistence of the idea that this is a country that is different from the West, that you can go to, or send your money to, is helping China to take over. To put it dramatically.

So, in terms of capital, for instance, if you just consider the fact that 15 years of boundless investment in China – hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in China, within a very Western paradigm of finding the best returns – is also, in the long-term, undermining the Western position. So, in a Western way of thinking, and from a capitalist point of view, investing in China may actually accomplish the opposite of what investors intended. These kind of paradoxes are hardly understood.

If China is launching a new rocket, or a new satellite, or testing a new space weapon system, suddenly people wake up – but there is this strange anomaly between China as the promised land and China as the latent rival, the opponent, the growing danger. Either people accept that China is becoming part of a larger global system of capital, and so they aren’t afraid to give it its own momentum wherever it goes, or whatever it takes – that is just the price you pay for growth. Or you say: we can no longer accept this – and this might be a moment that is not so far away anymore, a moment of regression or conservatism. Some governments will say that we can no longer go there, maybe, because we would not like to add to the power and culture of China. It’s still very fashionable to host Chinese festivals and to invite Chinese artists and to buy Chinese art – but the moment might not be so far away when we ask: why would we pay for China? If it reinforces or strengthens their power?

I feel sometimes that we are just a little bit away from the moment when this paradox, this anomaly, will erupt into a more existential question. What do we do? Do we keep adding to the strength of China? Or do we go back to this kind of Western chauvinism, or nationalism, and not allow architects, for instance, to work in China or to allow Western investors to invest in China?

I think, in the work of Rem Koolhaas, for instance, this anomaly is almost already on the surface. On the one hand there’s this admiration of the great architect with an incredible track record who goes to build in China, who creates a new monument, a kind of signal of what architecture can do, an incredible achievement. On the other hand, there is this latent, almost open criticism: what does this do for China? Are we giving away our assets to the enemy? I think in the whole discussion around the CCTV Building you see this tension between chauvinism and internationalism, between western interests and the interests of globalization in general, and many other dialectics in the debate being played out through that specific building. That’s why the building is so interesting. As a metaphor, it represents much more than just the fact that it is built for an institution of Chinese power by a powerful western architect; it also reveals something that has to do with the dynamics of our culture – and where architecture can do that, then architecture is gaining in legitimacy.

BLDGBLOG: I’m interested in your work – and Volume’s work – with cities like Beirut, Ramallah, and Prishtina. Could you tell me a bit more about the role of architecture and urban design in so-called conflict zones?

Bouman: Well, first of all, there are many people there who need help – so it’s a very direct appeal to do something for people who may need you. I don’t have money, and I don’t have power, and I don’t have political influence – but what I can do, together with many other people, is, first, to acknowledge the need for cultural discourse. Very often all the discourse that is left to those people in post-conflict cities is about everyday needs, or maybe some rebuilding of political institutions; but culture is always at the end of the story, at the end of the line. What we can do is provide them with discourse, give them a certain vitality, as we did in Ramallah once, in Bosnia once, in Vilnius once – and even as we did at the feet of the Statue of Liberty once. If a city is in trouble, sometimes it’s good to organize dialogue, regardless of the subject matter – dialogue as a goal in itself.

Of course, the second stage is the content – the subject matter of the dialogue. And for cities like Beirut or Prishtina, a very obvious subject matter is reclaiming the public domain. If there is a situation, as there is in many post-conflict cities, where political parties are extremely weak or even nonexistent, and where private citizens, sometimes criminals, have taken over the public domain because no one feels responsible – there are no owners, so to speak – then it is good to arrive quickly, and to figure out what the public domain can mean in that city.

Beirut, especially now, seems to be a culture that is divided among factions. We’re trying to set up some projects in Beirut, and in the entirety of Lebanon, to specifically address the question of public domain. Or in Prishtina, for instance, there is an incredibly strong tendency to let the public domain be grasped not just by private interests, but by mafia, by criminals. So real estate is no longer an off-spin of the need to build; real estate becomes a modality of corruption, or an exemplification of corrupt wheelings and dealings.

In that sense, it is important to be there, and to acknowledge the work of local architects, designers, civil servants: what they are doing is extremely important, and can be a model for a global discourse. It can be something that we learn from all over the world – because there are so many of those cities, and there is an increasing amount of those cities, that need to learn these lessons.

So we try to go there, to acknowledge the problems, sometimes to help – with just ideas – and to give it exposure; but also to give the local protagonists a certain momentum by connecting them to the international discourse. And if you live in Beirut, or Prishtina, or Ramallah, it might be an incredible thing to feel connected to a more general international discourse.

BLDGBLOG: When you go there, who exactly are you networking with? Architects? Civil servants?

Bouman: When we decided to go to these places and to organize a dialogue there, we started a practice called RSVP Events. We published an invitation to participate, and we just mentioned the place and the date and the subject matter. People who felt responsible, or who were interested, and who might show up on that date, could react by way of email. After collecting the people who might be interested, we started an email dialogue with this group. And the background of those people was always different – you might find an activist group, or a cultural institution, or a student association, or a school, and they would turn out to be the main provider of content, or the main provider of people, to help. So it’s always different.

In Ramallah, we did a conversation with an organization specifically responsible for heritage in Palestine – in the West Bank – which was a very unexpected turn of events. In Zagreb we worked with a group of students. In Vilnius we were at an art museum. It’s really not fixed – it’s an open system – and it should be that way.

We are trying to set up a new series this year, and, like Beirut and Kosovo, we are planning on going to Ulaanbaator, to Chennai, to Taichung, to Tijuana – different places in borderline situations – and I’m very curious who will eventually help us. We have no institutional connections yet, but we need some; that will help us find a larger audience. We urgently need, always, the email lists, and the local groups that may sustain an event like that.

BLDGBLOG: Finally, as far as your new job goes – becoming Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute on April 1, 2007 – what are your specific plans?

Bouman: [laughs] That’s a huge question – and it’s a question I’m still in the middle of answering. I haven’t found the words for it yet.

Mainly, my role there will be in the spirit of taking architecture as a cultural medium, not just as a profession – taking architecture as a way of thinking, as a metaphor for society, as a medium for culture, and as a very rich historical discipline that can address larger issues. Architecture is more than just serving the spatial needs of society, or providing technical solutions by professionals. Architecture is done by professionals, but that shouldn’t inhibit it to ask the questions of an amateur – very open, curious questions that are larger than just the service, or the facilities, the professional interests of that discipline.

Most of the time, when you find a podium, it is outside the discipline – and, as I said, that’s still successful – but I often wonder why architecture doesn’t seize the opportunity to make itself much more legitimate – more useful, in a way. I think presenting architecture as a potential, a capacity, to pose big questions and to draft agendas that are larger than architecture itself might be a good characterization of things I have in mind.

• • •

With special thanks to Benedict Clouette, of Columbia University's C-LAB, for setting this interview up and assisting me with images (all unlabeled images come from Volume); and to Ole Bouman for taking the time to talk!
The next two interviews in this series – with Jeffrey Inaba and Mark Wigley – will be going up within the next two weeks. Stay tuned.

0 SFF, Jaan, and a beautiful computer

HAHAHAHA!!!

Some people are just so hilarious!!

No seriously, people who leave hate comments are real comedians sometimes, I feel. I have no idea why, but the last post made some kids really angry, and they left remarks like,

"You are just a poor girl who has to wash your own dishes so stop acting rich!! Even my maid also richer than you...! I stay in a private house and I drive a big car!"

etc etc, obviously not as coherently as I just typed.

What the fuck is the problem with you people? I never said I was rich in the previous post, I merely said I spend beyond my limits. Siao!!!

Besides, how sure are you all that I am not rich? Maybe I've been saving money since I was a kid and I have tens of thousands in my bank? Maybe I won toto but I just didn't mention it coz I am scared people borrow money from me?

It's very weird how people take pleasure in telling me they are richer than me. Do you think anyone cares how rich YOU are? Nope, coz you are still... a sad rich nobody. Ha!

And this is my blog with 30,000 readers a day, obviously when I am being happy and indulgent I'd blog about it, but I'm not going to take photos of myself washing dishes or vaccuuming the floor in a dirty old tee now, am I?

YOU THINK I CINDERELLA AH?

Why should I be more humble?

Just to please you all? No, really, just to please you all? I think I'd gently decline - just go fuck yourself.

Irritating la such people!!!

Delete delete!! Imma delete all the long stupid comments that you all wrote.

Back to rich and happy topics again.

I SPLURGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

=( =( =(

I went to Sim Lim and within 3 hours or so I spent $600++!!!!!

I can't resist buying stuff leh, how? I really, really got to STOP spending beyond my limits.... =(

Ming and Mike went with me, and the poor boys just keep having to carry my heavy purchases for me...

Thanks Ming, you are super sweet lar!

IT Geek @ Heart

My Samsung White LCD monitor!! 19 inch/$344



Imagine a better life without your bulky CRT monitor!!!


I AM SO HAPPY!!!

I kept hopping around... Mike and Cloudy...


Both think it's typical behaviour from me. Hehe...


CHIO CHIO CHIO!!!!!!!

White and sleek and big!!!


Baby pink luv

And to go with the whole look I bought a nice pink mouse.... $25

After I got my monitor I was looking around for RAM, and I bought a one gig one for $135...

I thought maybe I'd buy some new speakers as well, because my old speakers make nice music sound like an old banshee wailing her head off.


Unbelieveably, when I was just about to give up on my speakers quest (nothing nice and not involving a ridiculously huge sub woofer) when I SAW THIS:

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.




A PINK CPU CASE!!!!!!!!!


SIBEH SIBEH CHIO!!

(P/s: I am not a laptop sort of person, I like PCs)

I mean, CPU casings are usually bloody masculine-looking, and it is just out of pure chance that I saw this shop displaying a pink one!

PINK LEH!

How rare is that? Out of all the shops in Simlim, I seriously only saw ONE shop selling a remotely girly cpu casing... which is this one.

Ming and Mike visibly withered while I asked the owner how much it costs and whether my computer parts can fit into it, etc etc...

Within 5 mins of talking, I was sure I had to have it, and paid up. Looking back though, it was kinda dangerous because I had no idea if it would have worked with my old parts!

I think Mike must have wanted to whack my head with the casing all while cursing himself viciously for walking pass this particular store, because he knows he will have to be the one to fix it up. :D

$105.

Cheap! Well, I think it's cheap. It's rare to find a nice clean looking cpu casing!


Matches my carpet!!

Enough of ugly CPUs!


Comes with an extra fan...

The only unfortunate thing is that the lcd lights are BLUE!!

:( I wish computer designers will stop using blue for EVERYTHING!


Look at this fine example: My old CPU


Bye ugly thing!!!!

Some boys might be defensively shouting, "That's not ugly what! It's a normal-looking cpu!"

BUT IT IS! To girls it is. Engineers should never take over the jobs of designers.

I am so happy!! Mike managed to squeeze the contents of such a large casing into my small small pink one, and to add, now my frontal USB port works!

Thanks baby!

:D

Random photo:


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

I keep seeing this poster and it is so fucking funny!! Have you ever wondered how a turtle would look like without his shell?

Look at the tmnts! They all look like they are wearing their shells as a tube top! The shells look detached from their skins.

Or rather, they are wearing a flat sort of washboard on their tummies (tied to their waist with a ribbon) to cover their neh nehs. HAHAHA

Hehe, gay turtles!

Tangs 30th Anniversary


I think it's 30th I am not too sure...


With Joan's baby!!

Baby Clare really looks like her daddy...


Rozz looking glamourous while hosting with Bernard Lim


I brought Wong there.


The female model is so gorgeous!!

Anyway, did you realise this is Elvis, Charlie Chaplin, and Madonna?


HAGRID???? IS THAT YOU??

Actually, this is Whitney Houston. If you scroll a little up, you will see her, and her massive hair, standing beside "Marilyn Monroe". :)


Singapore Fashion Festival

Opening show - Vivianne Tam






Debbie with our GoL stylist Elisa!
She said I can't put her on my blog =X


Ashley, Joan and Joan's sister!


Me + Denise Keller!!

So gorgeous!


Jaan Restaurant (Swissotel level 70!!)

Mike is the sweetest! He said that he will treat me to dinner at Equinox if he gets the job that he wants, and he did!

Lucky me.


The fabulous view is worth half the price. :)


In what I thought was a classy green dress

Unfortunately, with the flash it seems everyone can see the white bra. I assure you in normal lighting it cannot be seen. Oh well.


You can't tell, but I am SO HAPPY with my food!




Super super yummy veal with truffles!

Oh, it's soooooo good.





Mike had Maine lobster, which, as you can see, he enjoyed.

Yummy!! I shall work harder to be rich so I can afford to do this every once a month or so.

Oh yeah! The service there was so... CONDESCENDING!

I won't say it is BAD per se, coz the waiters were extremely attentive and rather polite, but there was this one guy...

Mike's already decided he wants the lobster, but I was still not sure about the rest of the menu, so I asked the waiter about the veal and the codfish.

Everytime I finished asking a question, he would LOOK AT MIKE AND ANSWER MIKE.

HELLO LAO NIANG TALKING TO YOU OK!!!


His arm was draped across Mike's seat backing, and he just plain refused to look at me while answering MY question!!

After two questions I got fed up with him and said, "Excuse me, it is me who wants the veal not him."

AND YET THIS FELLOW KEPT UP HIS TALKING TO MIKE!

Poor Mike didn't know what to do so he just kept looking from my frowny face to the waiter's face, as if directing the waiter to answer me while looking at me.

So annoying!

It is bloody condescending ok! I think he is answering Mike just because Mike is angmoh and he thinks I'm some cheap China slut or something.

ANGRY! Feel so annoyed. I wish I remember his damn name.

Or maybe, as Mike suggested, the waiter is afraid Mike gets jealous if he looks at me? But can't be what, after I told him sharply that he is being rude, he still continued with his behaviour.

OR OR OR maybe, he is homo and wants to shag Mike real bad! That would explain why he was standing so close to Mike.

Sorry, straight! Girls and female animals only. Ha! I'm joking. Strictly humans. Maybe androids, I dunno. I think he likes robots.

Cam-whoring

Tattoo love!




Still a bit scabby

Vanity





And best of all!!!

I mentioned in the previous post about how I hate the way teeny boppers try so hard to act like they are so pretty, and I can't stand how they take photos right?

Well, some of you got really indignant and started saying that people cannot help being ugly, wearing glasses, etc.

True that people cannot help being ugly, but NO NEED TO KEEP TRYING SO HARD TO TAKE "PRETTY" PICTURES RIGHT?

Let me show you how they do it:

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.



Fucking disgusting!!

YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN NOW??????!!!!!!!

You see now don't you?!

Can you stand photos like this?

They look so bloody awkward and gross, I don't even know what to say.

Maybe except...




EW!


p/s: If you can't spot the different between my typical cam-whoring photos and the awkward teeny bopper one, you are blind, so don't bother giving your opinion. Cmon! One is so contrived!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 

The Inspiration Blog Copyright © 2011 - |- Template created by O Pregador - |- Powered by Blogger Templates

Sitemap