December 15, 2006

What can't you live without?

When i think of a technopoly, there is only one thing i think of. How our society functions on computers.

Without computers...we wouldn't get anywhere! Our world would never have the connections and advancements that it has today. The ideas shared around the world have excelled our generation into the future at a pace that is extraordinary.

And look how far we've come...FROM THIS:




The connection, the speed, the language, the ideas, the conversations, the entertainment...its all through this one piece of technology that our society relies on...making us a true technopoly. If we did not have computers, I have a feeling we would still be stuck in the 70's, watching TV or playing cards for our entertainment. We would be less educated in the ways of the world, and less connected to the ideas of others. Our minds would not be as expanded as they are today.

My prediction is that the computer will CREATE an entirely different society in the future (than we see today), and our society will no longer rely on computers, but it will BE computers!

You know those futuristic movies like Minority Report and The Matrix....soon to be not-so-futuristic!

November 10, 2006

Mathematics in the City

When reading over my notes about Mathematics and architecture there was a definition that stood out to me; a consistent way of mapping the world.

When i think of mapping the world, i think of a grid. This grid pattern shows up in countless numbers of cities and is most definately a way we, as humans, connect our architecture with mathematics. In a grid system, the distance from one object to the another becomes a mathematical equation and is repeated numerous times to create this grid effect.




It's such an amazing effect to see that this is the way we view our world. It shows us our need for order, ease, and control, and also shows how mathematical our brains are. We've taken a landscape that is anything but mathematical, that is purely organic, and created a mathematical understanding of it. Is this the only way we can understand our designed environment? Who knows...maybe one day we'll have swirling lines of streets and elevations to create an intentional piece of artwork seen from above.

October 29, 2006

Bio-mimicry of life

I was just sitting around watching some TV. Animal Planet actually, I was watching Meerkat Manor. Its a show about these super cute African Meerkats and their every day lives. After watching it for a while, you get to know each Meerkat and their struggle. Struggle against predators, against the weather, struggle against one another in their gang. Kinda reminded me of the whole oppositions lecture...

Anyways, it'll show a meerkat get kicked out of the gang because she's a threat to the matriarch of the gang. This poor little meerkat has to fend for itself, on its own, in the thunderstorms, without food or shelter. I felt really bad, cause its really cute, and it didnt even know better, it was just living its life and this is what happened to it. Well, the big picture here is that life, in general, relies on the survival of the fittest. It is how the world came to be what it is today.

In architecture lecture, when i see pictures of those less fortunate, I do feel bad and i do feel like its our duty of today to help those in need. It is what practically defines humans, the extraordinary ability to (mostly) overcome our instictual and innate feelings to dominate or eliminate those who are not "fit". But I also cannot ignore the idea that we are animals of this earth. Thinking back to the Web of Life reading, I gravitate more towards the idea that we are all the same, from the earth, made of the same energy and organic components. This leads me to believe even more strongly that we are more like the Meerkats than we think.

So then i think, "Can the world function if everyone were equal?" Think of any animal or even the lives of humans past...and you will notice it has all functioned based on hierarchy in some form or another. Do we have the power to overcome our deepest insticts about life and create a world of equality? and if so, Can the world actually function that way?

If we had a world of equality:
Who would become the janitors or sewage workers?
Would as many people work manual labor jobs?
What would our economy be based on?

I believe the modern world has widened the gap between the those well-off and those who aren't, but the awareness of this subject of equality has never been greater. Though I believe we have it in us to help those in need (those in Africa for example), I dont believe it's possible to help everyone. Our modern world does not function that way, and cannot function if everyone were equal. Our world economy would become a permanent stalemate.

These thoughts simply stem from thinking about how our world compares to those of the Meerkats. We are just like them. We work together, we help each other, care for each other, but in the end your rank in the group is what keeps it a group, a working system. Its the natural way of life.

October 24, 2006

Man vs. McDonalds

Now this is an opposition America is losing to! Obesity. The way I think of it, humans are active and muscular beings. Imagine what we might have looked like back in the time of cavemen, when the only mode of transportation were feet, walking and running. What a way to be fit. Nowadays, in our designed environment, we have got many modes of transportation that allow us to just sit along for the ride. This only helps out the fact that Americans are getting more obese every year, and the other factor that fuels that fire is fast food! I really don't think our bodies were intended to have double quarter pounders with cheese and a large fry every week. I correlate this opposition, obesity, to how our natural bodies should be. It's definately a problem that needs to be solved.

View image

The solution: either we remove the fast food restaurants or we make them strictly health foods. But this leads me to my second point. If we solved the obesity problem, we would only create another opposition. This opposition is how it would affect the economy, and eventually, our financial and economical lives. Fast food restaurants would either be gone entirely or probably less popular (let's face it, you want greasy burgers) and therefore the industry would crash and the result would be in loss of jobs and loss of money. I guess this is a little difficult to solve, but even in trying to solve any opposition, you must always think of what other oppositions you could create with that solution.

October 9, 2006

When I think of phenomena, I tend to gravitate toward the idea of the business world. When you think about it, it's comprised of the business itself, the people who work within it, the product it produces, the economics it's evolved in, it's impact on society, the buyer, it's stock, bonds, etc.

All those things are bound in a framework that generally makes me think of a web, having the business idea itself at the center and having all these things spiral off it. For example, you have a big business such as US Bank, and it's framework goes a little something like this: The CEO at the top, then CIO, president, vice president, etc. This is the support system to keep the daily business going, in addition to the stock productions, the product sales, and so on.

In the clockwork, I think of a fiscal year. Every year the business starts another round of frameworking. Hirings, firings, redesigning processes, new products, etc. It goes on and on, this clockwork. And this clockwork is what keeps it thriving. If the clockwork were to stop, the business phenomenon would cease to exist.

October 2, 2006

The Loci and the Loon

I will always remember the time i went to church camp when i was in 9th grade. I had to wake up at 4:30 am to pack and get on a bus headed for the Boundary Waters. I was excited but at the same time crabby as hell because it was so early. I didnt know anyone, i didnt have any friends on the trip, but i soon made some on the bus ride there. We arrived at Wilderness Canoe Base Camp in the depths of the Boundary Waters sometime midday. It was the most beautiful place ive ever seen, and what made it even more special was that you cant even get to the base camp without taking a 10-person canoe across a huge lake system to get to the island where it was. It had a boy's island and a girl's island, connected by a long rope and woodplank bridge that swayed and bounced as one walked across it.

This place was magical. Even the main lodge was just like a cozy home in the middle of the mountains. It was big enough to hold the staff and whoever would stay there, and the mess hall was neatly organized with rows of log tables. How northwoodsy. The entire reason why i love that place so much is because nothing really mattered up there in the wilderness, at the camp, nothing mattered except absorbing nature, breathing the fresh air, exploring and learning about the most elemental things.
There was only one shower, and since we were there for only 4 days, I only had time to sign up for one slot at 6 am, the rest of the day it was preoccupied. I wouldnt have minded if it had no shower. No one even cared if you smelled horrible on day 4, because everyone was in their happy place by that time.

I liked to sit on the bridge between the two islands and just sway over the lake system below me. You could see for miles, it seemed, across the winding path of it, beyond the islands plopped all over the place. The weather was your perfect spring day. The snow had melted a week before, so imagine the greenery was everywhere, swallowing you up in lusious life.
I was sitting on a rock, writing in my journal about how great i felt up there, about how free it felt, and nothing mattered but the sound of the wind in the trees, and the warmth of the sun on my back, when i spotted a loon on the lake. It was fishing, diving and surfacing several times a minute. It really made me think about how simple life is, and how complex we humans make it. There, in the wilderness, my life was simple. I had a simple, free-spirited life with the loon and the bridge. Back home, i had complicated school work with complicated relationships and mind-bending media all around me. I wouldve lived at the wilderness canoe base if i had the chance, totally.

The Genius Loci of that place is a bit hard to pinpoint, so i say it's "spirit" is nothing. It's not trying to be something its not. It's not wearing any masks, or trying to convey any points. It just is what it is. Purely nature. And it takes a certain type of person to see spirit in it, to see a Genius Loci in it, not just anyone would be able to appreciate it for what its worth. That place is as original and unfooled around with as it couldve ever been.

September 24, 2006

Digging Up a Social Design Issue

There used to be a nice little area, around where my apartment is located, where i could go lay in the grass and play frisbee with my friends, as if it were my own backyard. It was a patch of land right smack dab in the middle of a small neighborhood in the city, a great thing to have i think. When you live in the city, you dont really get that outdoorsy sense of nature, but this small patch of grass was enough to give me a taste of that.

It's gone now. No more nearby place to throw the frisbee, or walk my friend's dog, or have a picnic in the grass. It's a parking lot now, since a month or so ago. Now the houses surrounding it wont have a view of a grassy area, but instead a view of a friggen parking lot. I think "what a shame", to destroy it and turn it into a moneymaking business, taking advantage of the college atmosphere. Every time i pass by it i shake my head and remember how nice it used to be.

Taking these areas that were un-fooled around with, and turning them into more businesses is such a disappointment to me. In an area near a college campus, having students living in these houses, it only makes sense that they should need a little relaxing outdoor feeling areas, taking into account their activities and possible stress levels! Instead, these new transformed areas are just bringing more bustle and traffic into the quiet neighborhoods that people love so much.

the sad thing is, the parking lot is full every day. Sometimes one's success is another's despair.

September 19, 2006

A random thought

I took Design Fundamentals in the spring of last year, and there is one thing that stands out to me from that class. The professor, who is highly educated and brilliant, made a comment that ornamentation in architecture is pretty much obsolete now, and is looked down upon when creating new architecture today.

This bothers me because I really look up to the architectural works of ancient history, and even the not-so ancient history, that incorporates over-the-top ornamentation. I feel like people overlook the effort and time that went into making each piece by hand. Think of all those greek columns, and reliefs, and rosettes, one seems to care that some person took hours, days, years out of their life to create those forms by hand. Of course, what you get in the end is a beautiful, aethetically pleasing piece of work, that is worthy of being mentioned in textbooks today. But is it really fair to put something so time-consuming, meaningful, and personal, next to a picture of the Golden Gate bridge and call it it's equal?

What im trying to say is that i respect ornamentation immensely, and I hated to hear that It's looked down upon now, as a decoration that is not needed, and devalues a piece of work. I gotta say, im not a fan of the modernist movement. It feels so cold, so bland, so monochromatic, to clean, there's no passion that i can see. I feel like it was born out of the need to be different just for the sake of being different. The meaningless sake of just doing something different. And now, that modernism has become our same, and they are no longer different.

I know im being critical, but i wish i could bring that grandeur back in ornamentation and have it not be so criticized. And it wouldnt be prefabricated. And it would take a lot of time. And it would be very tedious. And those three things....are a good representation of our society right now (prefabrication, non-time consuming, not tedious), and if i could go against that, I wonder if i even could, i wonder how it would turn out, or if it would even be appreciated.

These thoughts are also surfacing because im taking ArchHist til 1750, and we are going learning about many buildings from the past that incorporate all that ornamentation. and i think "i wonder how long it wouldve taken someone to carve those out?" I think that really means something. When someone puts a lot of time and sweat into something, it becomes more than just something they are building. It becomes something they are connected to, something special.

Slip up

Ok so i guess i went to the wrong Midtown Market! At least i'm not the only one...

September 17, 2006

Energy in Need

Today's visit to the market took me back to thinking of a human's basic instinctual needs. Thinking about the need for food, water, and shelter (just naming the main things we normally assume to be most important). I can see these needs flowing through the market, even if they aren't obvious to the nonchalant passer-by.
I walked into the market today seeing every person there linked to each other, as though there were a rope tied around each of their waists that were part of a whole moving mass. Or even as though there was a wormhole of energy connecting one person to the next, making each person part of the same idea, same need, same world.

An eldery man walked by me as i stood there, assessing the environment. I thought "why is he here?" This elderly man may be at the market to satisfy his needs. His need for some fresh food for the fridge, or his need buy some hand-made soap to place next to his sink. Or maybe he is there to satisfy something else that is on a whole different level than a simple need. We could call it a complex need...the need to satisfy his intellect, his emotion, his expressions, his happiness, his consiousness.

This may seem like a tangent, but what i am trying to convey is that the market is a mix of basic needs, and complex needs, different types of energy. Some of those energies are frantic, some relaxed. Some organized, some free-freeflowing. And i believe these energies are dependent on the types of needs a person is trying to satisfy.

I can see a woman picking up some tomatoes, taking her time, feeling each one to make sure it satisfies her standards. Her energy is relaxed, and she looks like she is enjoying herself.
I see another person, who has a list, knows what they want, and is in and out of the market in 20 minutes, not even taking the time to grab a cup of coffee and take in the smells. Her energy is frantic, and i assume she has many other things to attend to after this market stop.

I think about the vendors. When i see them I get the idea that all their energies are linked, mainly because they are all at the market, selling a product or idea, mainly for the need of profit. Their energies are the same to me, with their common purpose. At the same time, they are very different. I compare the asian woman selling vegetables with the older caucasian woman in her chair selling some arts and crafts. Yes these two women are selling their hard work, but for what? Where is their profit going, and how is their energy affected by that?
In my mind i imagine scenarios. That the asian woman has a family to feed, with youngsters and a husband, and she would like to sell as much as she can today so she can keep her family happy and satisfy their needs.
I imagine the older white woman as selling for pleasure. That she is doing this to sustain herself and maybe her elderly husband. That she is at this marketplace to satisfy her complex needs: her enjoyment, her sanity.

The market is a bustle of energy, and yet they are all linked because every person there has a need they want to satisfy. Each energy is unique and different, just as each person is unique and different, yet in this marketplace, the energy is meshed together, and exchanged as people exchange words in a conversation. The calm relaxed environment of the marketplace shakes hands with the busy bustle of the city environment...they are one and yet distinctly different. The fast paced coming and going of the light rail mixing with the marketplace creates a unique energy all in its own in the heart of this Uptown that one can only know by experiencing it first hand.