Diigo Bookmarks 05/27/2008 (a.m.)

by Yule Heibel on May 26, 2008

  • Brief article by Andrew Blum about Oxley Woods, a development of “90 eco-friendly homes, with 55 more planned to fill its seven acres.” The key aspect? They’re all pre-fab, relatively cheap to build, can be built quickly, and have in-built green features.

    If Canada had a federal housing plan/ strategy, this would be something the Feds (and the Province) could take a closer look at. It sounds like it could be a reasonable (if partial) solution to our affordable housing crisis.

    tags: andrew_blum, wired_magazine, prefab, green_buildings, green_technologies, oxley_woods, affordable_housing

  • File this under “life imitates art”? There’s a fascinating battle happening in LA over whether or not Sonny Astani, businessman and developer, should be permitted to install a new kind of LED-generated image, 12 stories above the street and 14 stories tall, on the side of his 33-story condo building currently under construction in downtown LA.

    The inspiration? Opening scenes in Blade Runner of downtown LA, showing “a skyscraper-sized advertisement portraying a Japanese woman smiling before popping a snack into her mouth. Astani says an image, such as that of a flying sea gull, could now even travel from one building to the next.”

    I have to admit this sounds really cool, but I can see why many factions in LA would oppose this, too. We’re all familiar with the really bright illuminated advertisements — even Victoria has a small version of one, installed outside the arena on Blanshard at Caledonia. It’s bright, too bright. But Astani proposes a much more modulated, artistic, and dimmed level of lighting. If the images could look as subtle — yet powerful — as Blade Runner’s, it could work, but there’s no garantee, that if permitted, subsequent developers would follow in that “artistic” style.

    Another aspect is this: the proposal, if it’s art, also calls into question just how intrusive public art should be in public space. Does it have a right to be so intrusive as to be impossible to ignore? Can I, as a citizen, be obliged to register public art — and admittedly, it would be impossible not to register this project?

    Is part of what captures my attention/ imagination regarding this project its uncanny fusion of subtlety and assault, packaged as visual stimulus?

    Another question: is this an art form that expresses a corporate and anti-pedestrian city (“…neighborhood anchored by Staples Center and L.A. Live, the hotel and entertainment complex that includes the recently opened Nokia Theatre”), fitting for LA where people don’t walk anyway (but just wait: it’ll show up soon enough on the very very pedestrian-friendly Las Vegas Strip)? I’m thinking of this in terms of Christopher Hume’s writings on Toronto, and the Leslie big box/ corporate redevelopment plans, which he has characterized (rightly, imo) as being anti-pedestrian and therefore anti-urban, too. But could anyone argue that LA is in any way anti-urban? No. So is this visual art / visual stimulus for a different kind of urbanity?

    tags: astani, advertising, billboards, outdoor_installations, public_art, public_space, los_angeles

  • Michiel de Lange reports on the CHI conference “The Web and Beyond: Mobility” in Amsterdam on 5/22/08, featuring Adam Greenfield (Everyware); Jyri Engeström (Jaiku); Ben Cerveny (Playground foundation, Flickr); Christian Lindholm (Fjord, Nokia). In this post, he focuses on Greenfield’s presentation. A key aspect that struck me was this observation by Greenfield: that ubicom / ubiquitous computing creates a new level of “ambient informatics,” and “information processing dissolves into behavior.” Greenfield’s example is the seemingly choreographed swish of a public transit user who swings her purse in front of the transit card reader, never skipping a beat, but shaped indelibly by the technology into certain movements.

    tags: adam_greenfield, mobile_city, ubiquitous, ubicom, technology

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