As a sort of sonic finale to his spring studio exploring the architectural possibilities of a speculative San Andreas Fault National Park, Studio-X NYC’s soon-to-be-former-co-director Geoff Manaugh partnered with Marc Weidenbaum’s Disquiet Junto, an online music collective.
The result is an open call for music that explores the sonic properties of particular sections of the fault, with the idea that, stitched together, the result will be a crowd-sourced soundtrack for the San Andreas.
If you want to participate, it’s easy: sign up here with your SoundCloud user name, and you’ll be emailed a map segment that you should then interpret as a form of musical score. Record the music you have found written in the fault, and post it to SoundCloud. You have until 11.59pm on Monday, May 27.
[IMAGE: Detail from GSAPP student Lina Ayala’s final project presentation for a San Andreas Fault National Park.]
Domus has published a short review written by me (Studio-X NYC’s co-director, Nicola Twilley), about Adhocracy, an exhibition curated by Joseph Grima and on display at the New Museum through July 7, 2013.
It’s a fascinating show, which takes as its starting point the idea that new technologies, materials, and distributed models of production are generating radical new social, political, economic, and artistic possibilities. Among these shifts is a change in the role of design, whose maximum expression today, Grima argues, is to create “open systems, tools that enable self-organization, and platforms driven by collaboration.”
As I conclude, the resulting exhibition is more of “an internally contradictory collection of signals” pointing to a range of opportunities, questions, and challenges embodied in this third industrial revolution, “rather than a set of examples assembled so as to illustrate a tightly argued thesis.”
That is not to say the exhibition is a failure — quite the opposite. It is the perfect playground in which to test ideas, prototype speculative futures, and wrestle with difficult issues — questions about regulation, incentives, sustainability, and whether it even makes sense to appreciate this new kind of design by its products. I could have used an extra thousand words, or more…
Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by architect Nicholas de Monchaux is being adapted into a movie! De Monchaux’s book, which he presented at Studio-X NYC as part of Thrilling Wonder Stories 3, is “an architectural history of the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment, manufactured by the industrial division of the Playtex Bra and Girdle company, against stiff opposition from hard, one-piece suits much beloved of designers.”
It’s a fantastically nuanced story, dipping into cyborg theory, JFK’s carefully concealed physical frailties, lunar analogs, and Christian Dior’s “new look,” but, according to the Deadline report, the Warner Bros’ adaptation, to be scripted by former advertising exec. Richard Cordiner, will focus on bra designers, telling:
the true story of the unsung heroes of the Apollo space program — a team of bra and girdle designers from Playtex who successfully built the iconic spacesuit that enabled Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the moon. This improbable band of outsiders — led by a former TV repairman, a car mechanic, and their crew of spirited seamstresses — accomplished what all the aerospace giants couldn’t.
Exciting stuff, although, of course, the movie won’t be as good as the book…
(Via Wired UK)
In case you happen to be in the market for a space shuttle launching pad, NASA has just released an announcement for proposals to lease Launch Complex 39A at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in sunny Merritt Island, Florida. Besides enjoying stunning oceanfront views, lessees will also be a part of the LC39A Historic District. To tour the property, click here for Google Street View.
The always-smart Courtney Humphries has written an interesting Boston Globe article on the potential downsides of smart cities (citing Anthony Townsend, who, with Greg Lindsay, curated our 2012 X-Cities series on the promise and pitfalls of smart cities). She explores privacy issues, and privatization issues — but the most interesting argument, to me, is similar to the one levied against the quantified self movement: if you relentlessly design and optimize around the things you can measure, you inevitably de-prioritize the things you can’t:
The more successful smart-city programs become, the more they risk diverting resources into the problems that can be solved with technology, rather than grappling with difficult issues that can’t be easily fixed with an app. […]
The biggest human issues cities face—like persistent poverty, social injustice, or public education—aren’t technological problems with single “best” answers that can be optimized by a system, [Rob] Kitchin argues. They’re fundamentally political questions about where our priorities lie. The more energy cities invest in running according to “smart” principles, he and others suggest, the easier it becomes to neglect the aspects of our problems that have no technological solution. Critics like Columbia’s Laura Kurgan have also pointed out that we will always measure what is cheap, convenient, technologically possible, and politically expedient to measure. Even the best-engineered control room will see only a slice of urban reality.
For example, take the parking sensor illustrated at the top of this post. A networked system that matches drives with the closest open parking spot saves time, gas, and pollution: a clear win-win. But does “fixing” the parking problem in this way foreclose more radical questions and solutions that remove stationary vehicles from cities altogether?
As we prepare for NYC beaches to reopen for Memorial Day weekend, here are a couple of useful tools for the urban beach-goer.
Beacon 2.0 is the EPA’s online beach advisory system that allows you to see whether a beach is open, if it has any advisories or warnings, and even allows you to monitor local water quality with data supplied by the NYS Department of Health, including local enterococcus levels. NYC outlines the standards for a safe bathing beach here.
On a related note, the (fairly astounding) NYC OASIS map from the Center for Urban Research at CUNY allows you to view hundreds of different layers of data, including your closest combined sewer outfall (CSO’s) or local sewage treatment plant. Alternately, and perhaps more optimistically, you can also turn on layers for points of access to fishing or Audubon designated “natural areas.”
As cicadas begin to emerge, add your sightings to Radiolab’s map and see how swarmaggedon (yes, another -geddon) has begun to impact the region. While cicada activity has been historically quite low in boroughs that aren’t Staten Island, you can see where Brood II has been seen and heard this year. If that only whets your appetite for more seasonal bugs, be sure to check out this guide to NYC invertebrates from the American Museum of Natural History or this cicada cookbook from the University of Maryland.
In case you were wondering why these cicadas decided to wait 17 years before reemerging, the New Yorker has a great article on the evolutionary benefits of working with prime numbers, referencing a paper from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas that uses a cellular automata program to model spatial interactions between predator and prey.
Citibike is set to launch in New York City on Memorial Day, but other aspects of the sharing economy are having less luck: earlier this week, a NYC judge ruled that a man renting out his East Village apartment on Airbnb was violating the state’s occupancy code.
The actual judgment is strangely fascinating, in the way it precisely delimits legal occupancy of a particular architecture. For example, thirty days of consecutive inhabitation “by the same natural person or family” is the minimum requirement to establish residency; anything less than that is transient occupancy, only permissible in a hotel, motel, or similar — certainly not in a class A dwelling.
But what about house guests, I hear you ask? Are they illegal too? No — there is a special exception for house guests, and even “lawful boarders, roomers, or lodgers living within the household of the permanent occupant” for less than thirty days.
So why wouldn’t an Airbnb guest qualify under that exemption? The case turns on the phrase “living within the household,” with the judge finding a legal definition of “household” elsewhere in the city’s occupancy code:
A common household is deemed to exist if every member of the family has access to all parts of the dwelling unit. Lack of access to all parts of the dwelling unit establishes a rebuttable presumption that no common household exists.
Which makes me wonder; if the apartment’s permanent resident is also present, and the entire space is accessible to the guest, is Airbnb legal in New York City after all?
For more on the wonder that is New York City’s convoluted housing code and high-stakes rental situation, do not miss Tad Friend’s account of “The Ultimate Apartment Scam” in this week’s New Yorker (subscription required, and recommended).