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