Catching up with the mail

Gregory Ain, Dunsmuir Flats, 1937. Photo by Orhan Ayyuce

Gregory Ain, Dunsmuir Flats, 1937. Photo by Orhan Ayyuce

I am currently on a “semi-vacation.” “Semi” is because I’m visiting relatives and enjoying myself immensely in a city where I’m a stranger, but at this time I have a lot of work to finish (and hence a good excuse to blog). So this semi-gives me a moment to sift through some weeks of email to find a fewreallyinterestingthings…

1.a. Orhan’s new blog: Elseplace. Orhan Ayyüce can’t be imitated. He is a friend of creative artists and good taquerias all over L.A. English is not his native language but he has a magical touch in the way he turns his prolific ideas, probably thought up in Turkish, into descriptive images quite like you’ve never heard or read before. Following his classic web personas, like Abracadabra FAIA (the starchitect life-style mock-memoir planted in Archinect’s discussion section), Silica Boy (his photo essay on architectural glass fetishes that inspire voyeurism), and not to mention his other prolific coverage on Archinect and Arkitera, he has now started a blog where you can see his design work in one column and his main tracts on cultures of design from all over the planet. Orhan is probably one of the few sources I can think of that will search for something that is relevant, something that is scrappy, something that is implausible or should not be possible. He does it for free (or nearly so…). He does it out of passion, much like the way he devotes months on end to perfecting- to crafting record-seeking spin-tops. What I love about this blog is that it is unafraid to back into architecture through unexpected roads. Blue chip developers and fawners: go to dezeen to find your latest global bitch starchitect (sorry!); Orhan’s stuff is for the rest of us.

1.b. By the way, Orhan’s latest Feature has a survey of architects in Istanbul, not exactly the latest script-generated city that we should all be aspiring to (*wink), but still might have some valid ideas for producing an ethical architecture. And thanks to Orhan, I was reminded of…

2. …Bryan Boyer’s thesis. Sometimes thesis projects in architecture schools try to be everything that the latest cutting-edge should be. Rarely does such an approach actually produce intelligence. Bryan’s work is refreshing because it is actually researched and reasoned. The basic premise is that a spatial re-conceiving of the U.S. Capitol could reveal a new democracy, a new politics. The current status quo is not just a flaw brought on by corruption, but it is also a spatial calamity that prevents good governance. A very clear example of how struggles over power are also struggles over space. See Bryan’s last blog posting and also see his flickr set, also demonstrating how he went about representing his design and showing how our symbols also inflect upon our spatial thoughts.

3. And speaking of symbols that come back to spatial cognition, my brother sends word of the X-men moving into San Francisco. (See also this article on the editor behind the X-men move). Perhaps the notion of difference (mutants, in this case) reconciled with the non-mutants through the space of the city in this imaginary form can help some come to grips with the idea of the right to the city, of a right to sanctuary from sexual or racial or xenophobic exclusion. However, how do we negotiate the notion of the other as mutant, as altered human? (No surprise that it seems titillating to the interviewer to put Frank Chu in the comic book). But maybe we can hold out hope that some kind of identification with the super-hero, with the superpower, can help us identify the otherness in us all.

Finally, en español, Zizek on Karadzic.

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