Recently in Places;

From November 2017, Shannon Mattern on the material archives of climate science.

As she explains “In the geosciences, there’s a long tradition of regarding the Earth itself, the terrestrial field, as an archive. Talk about big data…Over the next century, this metaphor multiplied across layers of abstraction. First there was the Earth as archive; then fossil records and specimen collections, visual representations of those collections, textual catalogs, and, eventually, databases…In classifying and indexing samples of ice, rock, soil, and sediment, we acknowledge the Earth as a vast geo-informatic construct. It is both geology and data, ontology and epistemology.

From December 2017, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg on Frank Pick, the London Tube and how as “chief administrator of the London Passenger Transport Board” he leveraged art and architecture to advance the “progressive ideal that public transport ought to be more than a means of getting around and that the ever expanding network was an unparalleled opportunity to enhance the lives of London’s citizens.

Also from December 2017, John David Rose on The house in American cinema, from the plantation to Chavez Ravine. Therein he reflects on Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird

When we see a house onscreen, the property relations implicit in the seemingly simple activity of moviegoing proliferate into confusion. And yet there is a kind of clarity in what is at stake here. In purchasing a movie ticket we pay for the right to occupy a space in order to gaze up at a space we can never occupy.

This is the story cinema has been mutely telling all along — a story about the house, the security and ease it promises, and the horrible anxieties produced when we try to force the house to deliver on those promises.

From Jan 2018, Douglas Murphy on The Modern Urbanism of Cook’s Camden.


re: a “Trivial Profession”

Places Journal published, ‘Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning‘, an essay by Associate Professor Thomas J. Campanella.

Therein he explains why;

To understand the roots of this sense of impotence requires us to dial back to the great cultural shift that occurred in planning beginning in the 1960s. The seeds of discontent sown then brought forth new and needed growth, which nonetheless choked out three vital aspects of the profession — its disciplinary identity, professional authority and visionary capacity.”

re: a crisis of pictorial representation

David Hanson, Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Adams County, Colorado, 1986, from the series Waste Land, 1985–86. [© David T. Hanson]

Over at Places Journal, Assistant Professor Lars Nowak published an essay examining the documentation of military landscapes by four American photographers: Richard Misrach, Jan Faul, Peter Goin, and David Hanson.

Curious Methods: re: a “Theory of Mud”

Collage of various living and non-living actors on the mud, a study of vectors and trajectories. [Karen Lutsky and Sean Burkholder]

On the need for “grounded reports“. The difference between a Proving vs Probing praxis. Not “Methodolatry“, but perhaps a small “p“, pedagogy? Which seeks to ask/answer the “loveliest“, not the “best” questions.

Via Karen Lutsky and Sean Burkholder, over at Places Journal

3 of 3 / 1 of 6

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Jacksonville and attend TEDxJacksonville 2014. The title of this post makes reference to the fact that I was one of six people in attendance, who have been to the past two and now all three TEDxes, that have occurred to-date in Jacksonville. Although the first, was the first and last incarnation of TEDx Avondale-Riverside.

Some rights reserved by TEDxJAX

Some rights reserved by TEDxJAX


Each year the TEDxes have provided a great weekend excursion to Jacksonville but this year was certainly the most memorable yet. This was because of; the combination of speakers/presentations and the scale/professionalism of the event.

Perhaps not surprisingly the speaker/presentation that I have thought about post-TEDx, is the one I was most unsettled by and skeptical of, during TEDx.

In Pastor Michael T. Smith’s presentation about systemic racism, generational poverty and violence, he argued in essence for a boycott/divestiture of rap. He questioned why is it ok to praise/support a media/culture wherein “Black murder is normal“. From my perspective as a white boy who loves dirty rap, he threw down a moral challenge of sorts. At the same time, as I discussed with co-host Al Letson at one point, I felt Pastor Smith drew too simplistic a causal link between “rap culture” and “black violence“. I am skeptical as to whether, shrinking/negating “rap culture’s” place in society would solely fix the problems of systemic racism, generational poverty and violence.

There were two groupings of speakers/presentations that formed a core of sorts to the day. The first axis focused on issues of urbanism and civic engagement and included speakers such as;

  • The local artist Chip Southworth spoke about his legal battles with JSO over “Keith Haring’s Ghost”  and how they have led to a community-wide reappraisal/embrace of street art. Specifically, The Downtown Investment Authority led an effort to roll out “graffiti zones” (as part of an Urban Art Façade and Streetscape Program) and committed almost a half million $ to public art in the city.
  • Ed McMahon of the ULI gave a presentation in which he argued the “image of a community is fundamental to (its) economic success” and urged the audience to embrace the unique not generic landscape. For the “scenic landscapes of Florida have quantifiable economic value“.

The second axis focused on issues identity and included speakers such as;

  • Judi Herring who discussed DSD (differences in sex development), the intersex(ed) and the value of “unknowing gender“.
  • Sara Gaver who challenged TEDxers to look beyond her physical disability (Arthrogryposis), to the other aspects of her self/life that define her.

As a final note, one thing that I loved from last year’s TEDx, that was missing this year, were specifically theatrical/performances. That being said, the opening and closing speakers/presentations (Warren Anderson on protecting and enhancing the “special places” of Northeast Florida and artist Aman Mojadidi‘s exploration of the “geography of self” and his lifestory) featured elements of performative storytelling or monologue. Evoking at moments, through lighting, props, soundtrack or act(ions/ing), a more traditional stage performance.

The music this year was really good. I particularly enjoyed Joseph Shuck’s song about Jacksonville, JJ Grey (of Mofro fame) and the final blowout performance/encore, featuring all the musicians from the day; the aforementioned two, plus the John Carver Band and the “Sultry Sister of SoulMama Blue.

Night / brunch

The other really enjoyable part of the weekend was the evening, after the TEDx presentations. This year TEDx had their official AfterGlow Party not in the WJCT building, but in Metropolitan Park Pavillion on the riverside. Lots of great small-bites, drinks and mingling. Later the after-after-party, went to The Blind Rabbit (a newish whiskey/burger) in Riverside.

There we had some delicious food and I had a chance to chat with TEDx team member Mark McCombs about his work within the local school system developing robotics programs, as well as his fabrication work creating sculpture and machines. We also talked about the importance of mentors and mentoring.

* Ed. Note: There was recently a great Archinect discussion about mentoring

*2nd Ed. Note: Meant to complete this post sooner but you know…

Bigness, violence and mobility

Over at his blog Landscape Archipelago, Brian Davis proposed “three approximations…as foundational to an American Landscapes project“.

He explains;

1) “The bigness approximation does not refer only to large things, be they mountains, rivers, or megacities.  Instead this refers to a certain range or bandwidth of experience.

2) “When violence is considered as a landscape approximation, then technology and the agency of the landscape itself become fundamental characteristics to any serious inquiry into an American landscape“.

3) “The mobility approximation is a focus on the movement of things in time.  These things can be physical objects (people, pollen grains, paper money) or intangible things (political borders, capital, knowledge) but the mobility approximation does not refer to mere concepts or abstractions“.

Professor Davis also “formalized a few conclusions that may serve as touchstones for future work” in relation to the hemispheric project of a trans-American Landscape.