I recently came across this gritty sensorial view of NYC through the lens of a blind resident.
Through this gentleman’s perspective, no preconceived notions of social, racial or economic boundaries exist for him; he states “I can penetrate neighborhoods.” All senses are piqued; smells, temperature and sound in particular, color his daily world, completely devoid of lightness or dark.
I had befriended a man in Portland, Maine, blind since birth, who navigated the city in a similar manner, avoiding new areas and choosing to adhere to familiar terrain and people. He had agreed to work on a project with me and we would meet and talk for a while at his favorite lunch spot. Just walking with him, each step calculated, each destination planned out well in advance, gave me an extreme insight into his capacity for true presence in the moment, how trust is always in question, and how the continual feelings of fear and vulnerability blanket each day’s activities.
“The artificial memory is established from places and images, the stock definition to be forever repeated down the ages. A locus is a place easily grasped by the memory, such as a house, an intercolumnar space, a corner, an arch, or the like. Images are forms, marks or simulacra of what we wish to remember.
If we wish to remember much material we must equip ourselves with a large number of places. It is essential that the places should form a series and must be remembered in their order, so that we can start from any locus in the series and move either backwards or forwards from it.”
– Francis Yates, The Art of Memory
And so Ariadne gave to him this in clew, the use of a string to mark the way, by which Theseus might escape after the monster was killed.
- Attributed to Ovid
I have recently gotten my hands on a copy of The Activist Drawing, a type of retrospective of Dutch artist Constant Niewenhuys’ experimental architectural vision of a possible future cityscape created in 1956; which he termed New Babylon. What brings this into current discourse is the uncanny resemblance to today’s world-wide web, reflecting Constant’s ‘unified urbanism’ and socio-political reconfigurations morphing almost as quickly as technology’s stratifigraphic formations. In New Babylon, every aspect of sensorial engagement would be plastic, reconstructed according to an individual’s momentary desires. He devised a parallel world where movement, not settlement would reign. Constant’s argument for such a possibility was seated in the discourse of a dialectical view of life, where one moment erases the preceding one; essentially a constant unfolding of experience. Keeping this in mind, one can readily see Constant’s deep involvement with Guy Debord and International Situationiste; even writing for the IS Journal during ’58. Often criticized for his dedication to what many thought to be an abandonment of current society, Constant believed his drawings and models to be an activist’s call to arms for a free and revolutionary culture.
(1971) New Babylon, Nord
The term moshing originated in the 80s hardcore punk scene in D.C. This aspect of mashing (currently referred to as moshing) was intrinsic to club culture at the time, and I soaked it up like a sponge. The term has grown in current culture to not only denote music and sound compositions, but aggregate web development portals using open source and APIs (web technologies that allow interaction between websites) as well. I am fascinated with this constantly morphing and rapidly evolving model of appropriation in both U.S. and transnational social trends.
The following video celebrates this idea of cultural moshing evident in the collaborative creative achievements of Ray and Charles Eames, drawing parallels between contemporary architecture music, and art.
There is a relevance to the conceptual nature to a series of seismographic process drawings (Commute) produced in L.A., which examine the connections between road condition and socio-economic landscape to Ice Cube’s reference to L.A. roadway culture: ‘need to know where you are.‘
A revolutionary pedagogical sharing system was announced this week in a joint partnership between Harvard University and MIT to advance enrollment, research, and educational opportunities world-wide. What makes this new system, EdX, so cutting edge is not merely the scale, but the mere fact that two such highly esteemed and generously funded higher education institutions are leading the world in the effort. President Susan Hockfield of MIT termed this pedagogical era as ”a moment charged with the most exciting possibilities presented to educators in our lifetimes” rather than one of volatility. Not only do these leaders embrace technology as experimental, but hold to the conviction of the collaborative process. Several previous small-scale pilot open-source platform collaborative projects paved the way for the EdX initiative, with MIT’s Provosts supporting key faculty members committed to this new ‘frontier of education.’ Fasten your seat belts!
Online virtual and live questions followed.
Why MIT and Harvard?
Preconditions of rich collaboration between these institutions exist, which underscores our commitment to the area as a hub of education.
Key goals of EdX:
Research in technologies to benefit online education, ease of collaboration, personalized learning for students, global involvement between faculty and students for a better synthesis of education.
Examine fundamental ways in which we learn both in a traditional classroom and online. For example, the research can tell us how well a student acquires and applies content months after a topic is introduced in a course.
How will this platform be different from Online Education for-profit companies:
Personalized learning can be drawn from this as an applicable process, videos for example. We can progressively push the online learning environment forward in quality by learning from one another.
Monetization, certification plans?
EdX is not driven for money, but to improve learning world-wide. They do need to find a way to be self-supporting, rather than becoming a burden for MIT and Harvard. Content will be able to compliment the classroom with the courses from the online version. The common set of values between the two institutions as dedicated to improving learning and research education advancement differ from for-profit models.
Host a web portal and offer courses as institution ‘brands’ (from other universities) and grades will be given based on these collaboratively designed courses. It will be an honor code type of certification process for students completing the course work.
Open courseware is already being utilized in the physical university setting, so we do not see EdX as detracting from the on-campus experience, but benefitting it.
Note: All of the questions and answers have been paraphrased.
To read press release - http://www.edxonline.org/release.html
I recently completed an Artist in Residence/Guest lectureship at Franklin Pierce University. The AIR was a three-component project examining social, pedagogical and historic constructs. When offered the opportunity to have access to the entire campus, student body and faculty, I was immediately struck with the unbelievable opportunity to engage in a critical, non-hierarchical pedagogy; essentially building on the existing community potential and ratcheting it up via social exchange. I was prepared to have the proposed idea scraped due to it’s public nature; utilizing an internet platform as an ongoing forum and archive document. To my surprise, I was completely supported by the university.
The interdisciplinary aspect of this campus-wide engagement then led me to create a video/soundscape for the night of the exhibition. For the work, I recorded sound over the course of a typical day at university (7:30 am to 7:30 pm). I returned again the next day to capture video footage within the same time frame. I was utterly exhausted by the last take, but I rigorously adhere to my ‘rules’ set for every project. It is what it is has become my mantra at the end of the final recording wrap. I take it back to the studio, and magically, it always is enough, just right. The real gems are those small things I am too tired or wrapped up in the moment while recording to realize until I begin editing. The comment under the breath of someone passing, the clock striking in the distance, an airplane, a flock of geese departing.
I often utilize video technology in my sound work, but rarely sync the two mediums to not only avoid typical aesthetics, but to keep the audience engaged in the process of acute listening. Despite laying the tracks down together, I was careful to allow bleed and chance moments to seep into the work. I am enraptured much more by the momentary thumb over the lens in old home-movie reels than the events unfolding in front of the lens. Such less than perfect moments startle me, a reminder of the human presence behind the technology.
A soundscape was created along the central axis of the Student Center as a socio-historical unearthing of the site. The campus buildings and it’s borders were examined, co-mingling past with present, in an experiential sound chamber. The sound chamber was housed in a 25′ long corridor which links the Student Center with the Central Commons of the campus, often used by students and faculty as a transitional cut-through from the lower level of the building (zig zagging pathways running its length via ramps and stairs) upwards to the outdoors. The bends in the corridor created an element of surprise from either end, unable to see to the opposing entrance immediately. The lights were doused and sound was funneled through resonant HVAC duct-work above 24/7. The objective in my proposing the installation in the service corridor was to heighten the awareness of this in-between space; shifting time and place for a moment.
for more on the project: http://tamarareynolds.us/dirt-creative-interventions-thoughtful-encounters