teaching

Uneven Growth Studio, 2047 (2014 GSAPP studio)

Uneven Growth: Hong Kong 2047

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Instructor: Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Associate:  Jochen Hartmann

This studio parallels and informs the Uneven Growth exhibition opening at the Museum of Modern Art in November 2014. The intent of both studio and exhibition is to tackle the complex condition of the megacity and the growing economic and social inequality within it.

As in the exhibition, the Network Architecture Lab’s physical site is Hong Kong and the temporal site is the year 2047. At this point the “One Country, Two Systems,” doctrine that began in 1997 as the former British colony was handed over to the People’s Republic of China is scheduled to run out, and the city is scheduled to lose its status as an exceptional zone within China. We hypothesize that Hong Kong will not disappear, but that instead China will.

We set out to ask how architecture can address uneven growth in Hong Kong and other megacities. Rather than finding strategic solutions, we intend to identify the conditions and location in which to operate.

This studio is conceptual, aimed at developing arguments and polemics, but it sets out to do so using the tools of the architect. We propose architecture based on rigorous programming rather than generative designs or cool forms, architecture as a system of thought that makes abstract knowledge experiential, and conceptual thinking rational and understandable. We maintain that buildings can be constructions of thought in addition to material, conceptual machines that produce arguments and state positions.

Against a cynical world in which architects—and even studios in schools of architecture—have unabashedly agreed to serve authoritarian clients, we believe it is still possible to act. We reject neoliberalism’s doctrine that “There Is No Alternative” together with the self-expressive and performance-based models of design that dominate today as fundamentally incompatible with a future of extreme scarcity and declining populations. We ask not only how architecture can continue to function in this condition but also how it can play a transformational role in it. This studio’s central task is the invention of an ethics of design appropriate to a diminished future.

Students participating in this studio will be required to travel to Hong Kong for site visits. Travel will be funded through the school.

Scenario

“The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the labouring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they are going fast backwards.”

-Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations(1776)

Demographic projections show that the People’s Republic of China faces a brick wall created by the one-child policy. The demographic dividend created by the country’s large ratio of effective producers (working age adults) to effective consumers (children and the elderly) was a critical factor in the country’s growth to date. In 2013, however, a turning point was reached and the dividend’s growth rate turned negative, with China fairing now worse than many other countries. Within five years, yearly declines in the numbers of new workers fresh from school will become normal in China. Between 2016 and 2026 the population of workers aged 20 to 29 will drop by one quarter. By midcentury, 30% of the country’s population will be over 60. Without young workers dreaming of a better future, productivity will collapse. The result will be a suddenly poor country with a population of aging, bitter men, lacking sufficient pensions, welfare, or other means of supporting themselves. The central government will lose its grip on power, leading instead to a loose agglomeration of regional states, roughly akin to the Commonwealth of Independent States. In an effort to mask the collapse, the last PRC regime will describe the devolution as a natural process to recognize the differences within the country and will negotiate deals to include Taiwan, Mongolia, and post-DPRK North Korea into the commonwealth.

China’s crisis will parallel the condition of the vast majority of the world’s developed countries in which population growth has long past the tipping point. By midcentury, in addition to China, Japan, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the United States will all endure major population declines as both poor and rich avoid having too many children. Even stern government measures, such as Vladimir Putin’s 2006 attempt to offer 250,000 rubles (about $9,200 US) to women who will have a second child, will fail to change demographic destiny. Only the southern hemisphere will continue to grow, although by then the days of its growth will seem numbered too. Although population growth has become a problem lately, its seeming inevitability means that our economies rely on it. As populations decline, economies do as well.

In China, many interior cities, hastily filled with housing, factories, and starchitecture during the first decades of twenty-first century will empty, turning into Detroit-like ghost cities. In contrast, even with dwindling population rates, some coastal cities, having demanded Hong Kong-style autonomy from the diminished central government, will continue to thrive as active players in the global network of city-states. Since 2000, Hong Kong has had the distinction of being the country with the world’s second lowest fertility rate, Macao having the lowest, but with Hong Kong’s history of accommodating migrants from both within China and outside it, Hong Kong will be able to resume growth through migration from other countries in Southeast Asia as well as from Africa which is now becoming extensively colonized by Chinese capital. With its continuing role in global finance and manufacturing, Hong Kong is uniquely suited to lead the Chinese coastal city-states.

Hong Kong’s special status will spread, becoming a model for other megacities increasingly disconnected from the territories around them. Megacities will advocate for such special status within their larger countries, demanding greater autonomy, both economically and in terms of foreign policy. Such super-city-states will band together more formally over time, leaving their nation-states behind.

Even so, as in the rest of the world, inequality in Hong Kong will have grown almost insurmountable. As measured by the GINI coefficient, Hong Kong has the highest income inequality of any developed city in the world (and likely higher still since wealthy families in China habitually understate their income) and that coefficient has trended inexorably higher over the last two decades. Thus, it is unlikely that Hong Kong will deal with its own demographic crisis by allowing permanent immigration. Rather, the government will continue to expand the existing two-tier system, allowing poor immigrants to remain in the territory only on time-delimited visas while allowing the wealthy and skilled access to the system.

After the explosion of the demographic bomb, the world will face a new economic reality. Adam Smith observed that continuous economic growth has historically been predicated not only on growing technological efficiencies but also an increase in both population and the amount of raw materials available. Should any of those three variables flag, growth will cease. Under stagnant or falling populations, economies begin to contract and national wealth decreases and capitalism cannot be maintained in such circumstances. Smith himself never argued that growth in the West would be endlessly sustainable. On the contrary, he uses China as an example of a country much the same as five hundred years beforehand when Marco Polo first wrote about it. China, he explained, is a stationary state, going neither forward nor backward, but rather that had “acquired that full complement of riches which the nature of its laws and institutions permits it to acquire.” China’s past, then, is the world’s future.

The current economic crisis is a sign that capitalism is already in a stationary state and may soon be in an inexorable slide. Starting in the late 1990s, declining profit margins and radical technological changes led economies and financial markets into a pattern of booms and busts. Within the next decade, the world’s financial élite turned away from traditional investments, toward increasingly complex and short-term ways to extract wealth such as high speed trading and quantitatively driven arbitrage so as to ensure that returns would continue regardless of the direction of the market. As a hedge against the ever-present threat of currency collapses, the wealthy also turned to real estate in global cities, helping to drive prices skyward. 

We hypothesize that, booms and busts notwithstanding, these trends will continue. Capitalism itself will have long come to an end, its highest levels being replaced by the algorithmic production of wealth wherever a loophole may still be found. Global city cores will remain strong as well. Highly defended, with a huge population of surplus labor to draw on for services, these will continue to be attractive destinations for the élite to work and play in (although only within a geographically dispersed strategy of global hedging that will include idyllic, defended exurban ecotopias should the shit finally really hit the fan).

Just as high finance will essentially be a game, everyday life for individuals worldwide will follow suit. By 2047, with income disparity high and social mobility low, those unlucky enough to be in the top 1% have little opportunity to better their conditions. Instead, as they eke out a living, they occupy themselves in a world that increasingly dominated by the logic of games. The governments of megacity-states, burdened with debt and facing radically limited budgets turn to tactical urbanism as the only possible way to make interventions in the city and to keep the populace away from the barricades.

Semester Plan

The semester will begin with a scenario planning exercise to hone what Hong Kong, 2047 will be like. Students will work individually or in teams to identify the drivers in society, technology, economics, ecology, and politics likely to impact the building over the next generation. These scenario plans will be communicated through the technique of architecture fiction. An exhibition exploring these scenario plans will be held in early March. After joining into teams to investigate possible sites, students will individually develop detailed proposals for their scenarios by the end of March. For the final review, students will develop responses to their scenarios.

Course Blog

Students will be expected to maintain and post regularly to a shared course Tumblr blog of their research and design progress. All student work will be posted online tagged by student name (firstname-lastname).

Engineering

Students will work with roving engineers from ARUP during the semester to address the structural and environmental systems in their designs. Even the most speculative of projects can benefit from the advice of these experts.

Representation

We propose that the ultra-realistic renderings commonly used in studios today are inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism,” a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present, delivered to us through the wonders of technology while we eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer. Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.

But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in. The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.

If Gibson is right and society is gripped by “future fatigue,” then envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.

We will look at forms of representation immanent to our topic at hand, both the means of representation that architects and others working on these and similar projects would have used, but also the other means of representation of the day, e.g. schedules, traffic engineering plans, flowcharts, exploded axonometrics, and so on. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand how to think and represent visually.


Grading:

20% Attendance and Participation

Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. By this we mean that students should be in studio at least from 2 to 6 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays unless they have made other arrangements or are conducting research. Please let us know in advance. In no case will we meet with students who arrive after 4pm on that day unless they have prearranged the late arrival with us or there are mitigating circumstances.

Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.

Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).

40% Concept

Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.

Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.

40% Execution and Presentation

A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.

Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.

Work should be thoroughly and completely represented.

Against Peer Review

I've recently made the decision to say no to requests for peer reviews (outside of editorial boards on which I already participate, of course). While in the future, I may reconsider on my terms, I am finding at least one request a week for these and I think that it would be useful for to explain why this is so. 

Obviously, I am well aware that peer-reviewed work is part of system that academics established in order to verify that work is up to scholarly standards and that it plays an important role in the tenure system. But the peer review system, as presently constituted, is broken.

First, there are far too many requests going around. Given the pervasiveness of global telecommunications, I get requests not just from the US, Ireland, and Lithuania, but from worldwide. Some of them are from entirely different systems and I am so far outside of the context that I have no framework to accurately respond with. If a dissertation is done badly by the standards that I would apply to it, is my evaluation appropriate if the person's work is head and shoulders above that of their own peers? How do I evaluate such work? 

Moreover, academics asking for peer review are asking for free labor, time spent away from my work and my family. In an ideal world, this is communistic in which we all participate equally and do so for the mutual good of the system.

But my own position, outside of the tenured framework with have no sign that this will change any time in the near future, is the norm today. During the last decade, universities eager to engorge themselves with administrative staff have done so at the expense of tenure-track and tenured positions. If in the past, tenure-track was the rule, it is now the exception. The vast majority of my colleagues are not tenured or even tenure track. Most of us are not evaluated on the basis of peer-reviewed accomplishments, so asking us to peer-review work is to ask us to provide free labor for a system we are excluded from, and frankly that adds insult to injury. 

Nor is this something that can simply be fixed. For every ten people who get a tenured position, I hear at least one unbelievable story of tenure denial. I couldn't think of a denial that I know of that has hit the press and therefore I can mention, apart from this famous one (ok, they have some grounds in denying him, no question), but if you are in academe and don't have friends who have been scarred in the process, then you are either a student or should still consider yourself "freshly minted" in the lingua franca.  

Finally, Lyotard is right. We speak in incommensurable languages and, particularly in the messy realm of digital and network culture, we often have no way to evaluate each other's work. For example, the trumpeting of sources, in which a pastiche of names is strung together with nary an argument, is endemic in certain strains of sociology, but it would get a failing grade from a student in one of my courses. How do I evaluate it fairly? In another strand of geography, writers constantly refer to how their feelings about a place and the way that the ground feels under their feet. Normally I try to weed that out of my students like so much poison ivy in a yard. What am I to do with a review request regarding that sort of work?

I don't mean to say that these strains of academia should be snuffed out like old candles whose wick has burned down, although I suppose that I enthusiastically urge that on, but given that I have encountered this sort of work recently in reviews, was it appropriate to have a reviewer like myself on board? I'll leave it to your imagination as to how I might have responded to such requests, but obviously I have to balance being objective about the quality of the work with the fact that there is another person on the other side, no matter how ill-informed. In my own case, my attempt to find balance is informed by having been the victim of reviewers who I still think of as unqualified to be considered my peers. A long wihle back one of my articles was rejected for publication in one venue only to win an award in another. Another piece that I submitted as a talk to a conference was turned down because "the author's is derivative of research being done at the Center for Land Use Interpretation." This so-called peer was not sharp enough to fathom that the work was not derivative but was rather done in collaboration with the Center for Land Use Interpretation! Given that the submission was to be anonymous, I did not find it appropriate to list the Center any more than I would have listed the university I teach in. Another peer reviewed a project negatively and their decision stood even though the editor said it was quite clear that they had not actually read what I had submitted (believe me it perfectly was clear to me!). And so on.  

Peer review is broken and I have no good ideas for fixing it, but more than griping my experiences with it or making excuses about why I am not responding to over-the-transom peer reviews, I want to put this complaint on the blog, and therefore, in public as a political statement, as a call to openly discuss the failings of this system. 

Finally, I really miss Lingua Franca. If you are too young to have read it and you are in academe or planning to be, check out that link. Lots of grist for the mill there. 

Studio 2013: Building Megalopolis

 

Extreme Cities: Building Megalopolis

Spring 2013
Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Instructor:              Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Associate:             Leigha Dennis

This studio is part of the Extreme Cities collaboration between the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and Audi AG. Not merely content with the extra-large, our aims are the extreme future, the megalopolis, and the megaform.

Developed out of the Experiments in Motion program, Extreme Cities begins with the observation that cities will intensify considerably during the next fifty years. Instead of the usual mindset seeing the growth of global cities as an overwhelming set of seemingly unmanageable problems, this project sets out to take this intensification to an extreme. In doing so, we will interrogate both the past and the distant future, with the aim of having students envision unprecedented building types for the year 2063.

The studio’s site is the world’s first megalopolis, BOSWASH. In his 1961 book Megalopolis; the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States, geographer Jean Gottmann identified this territory as an unending conurbation of cities, satellites, and suburbs stretching from Boston to Washington D.C., For Gottmann, the megalopolis is “the cradle of a new order in the organization of inhabited spaces,” a territory in which any distinction of city and country is gone, but also a territory that is dominantly suburban.[1] Dubbing the area BOSWASH in his 1967 book the Year 2000: A Framework for Speculation on the Next Thirty-Three Years, scenario planner Herman Kahn predicted that the area would reach a population of 80 million by the year 2000, up from 37 million in 1960. Kahn’s term stuck but his prediction was mistaken, missing the massive migration of population to the South and West, and a warning sign to us that prediction is a dangerous business. Architecture studio, of course, is dangerous business.

Thus, if BOSWASH is our physical site, the studio’s temporal site is in both the past and the future. We aim to go back fifty years into the past, to the era of Gottmann and Kahn, as well as fifty years into the future, to a time when current GSAPP students will reach an age traditionally considered as elderly. Doing so will unsettle our conceptions about architecture and cities, allowing us to think beyond the atemporality of contemporary culture and the limitations of contemporary thought.


Semester Plan

We will begin the semester with a historical research project into the development of BOSWASH.

Our premise is that the fifteen years between 1961 and 1976, traditionally seen as an era of decline were in fact a rich time in terms of thinking about the future of cities and particularly so in BOSWASH. In addition to Gottmann’s work, the research of BOSWASH-based scholars and designers such as Jane Jacobs, Herbert Gans, Kevin Lynch, Venturi-Scott-Brown, Stanley Milgram, William H. Whyte, Paul Rudolph, Kevin Roche, Robert Smithson, and Gordon-Matta Clark proved critical to establishing new thinking about the city. We start off with a survey of both, producing a timeline of the megalopolis and also a dictionary of urban qualities.

For our survey, we will take repeated forays into the nearby areas of BOSWASH, visiting the Empire State Plaza in Albany (one of America’s largest megastructures and an attempt to create a link to BOSWASH that is generally considered to have failed), Union Carbide Headquarters in Danbury, and take repeated forays into New York City. Our goal is to investigate architectural interventions that reflect specific qualities of the city, engage in the region, and anticipate a future, particularly those that Kenneth Frampton has identified as megaforms, an architectural genre of massive sprawling horizontality that he sees as native to the megalopolis.[2]

During the first half of the semester, each student will examine one project in this region and timeframe in extreme depth and identify the governing urban quality in it. If the Ford Foundation exemplifies generosity, which projects demonstrate mobility, asymmetry, complexity, or cosmopolitanism?

Students will be required to produce two well-developed drawings of publication-level quality that address the architectural project through project-specific analyses. Some projects may have remarkable circulation and crowd patterns, space planning, environmental systems, etc. These drawings should be produced over time, developing throughout the first half of the semester, as more information is unearthed and will be simultaneously oversaturated with information and rigorous restrained (in other words, you will find out so much utterly amazing information that even though you will only add the information you cannot resist adding, there will be a lot of it). Students should look to the representational techniques that their projects’ architects and others produced for inspiration. Grand exterior axonometric drawings, intricate multi-layered plans and analog data visualizations will become common tools for representing projects of the megalopolis.

Accompanying this, students will collect a dossier of information on the single urban quality embodied within their project. Using photography and film, they will capture evidence of this quality within the present day city. Students will situate this data in the form of a timeline that examines the temporal dimensions of their quality and its architectural, urban and social implications.

This historical research will act as the basis for the second half of the studio in which students will extrapolate a new building type. This time, projecting fifty years into the future, students will produce a new architecture typology that reflects and aids the changing characteristics of the radically intensified megalopolis of 2063. These future projects must have a timeline of their own, and should demonstrate a nonlinear intensification of multiple urban conditions while embracing one urban quality.


 

Course Blog

Students will be expected to maintain and post regularly to a shared course Tumblr blog of their research and design progress. All student work will be posted online tagged by student name (firstname-lastname).

Engineering

Students will work with roving engineers from ARUP during the semester to address the structural and environmental systems in their designs. Even the most speculative of projects can benefit from the advice of these experts.

Representation

Ultra-realistic perspective and Photoshop-based montages are banned in this studio. We propose that this sort of representation is inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism,” a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present the eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer.[3] Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.

But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in.[4] The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.

Thus, envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.[5]

We will look at forms of representation immanent to our topic at hand, both the means of representation that architects and others working on these and similar projects would have used, but also the other means of representation of the day, e.g. schedules, traffic engineering plans, flowcharts, exploded axonometrics, and so on. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand how to think and represent visually.

Precise, unshaded hidden line drawings, plan, section, elevation, and axonometric form the basis for this studio.

Grading:

20% Attendance and Participation

Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. By this we mean that students should be in studio at least from 2 to 6 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays unless they have made other arrangements or are conducting research. Please let us know in advance. In no case will we meet with students who arrive after 4pm on that day unless they have prearranged the late arrival with us or there are mitigating circumstances.

Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.

Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).

40% Concept

Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.

Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.

40% Execution and Presentation

A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.

Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.

Work should be thoroughly and completely represented.

A Brief Bibliography of Books regarding Design and Presentation

 

Elam, Kimberley. Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.

Hurlburt, Allen. The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books. New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978.

Jardí, Enric Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).

Muller-Brockmann, Josef. Grid Systems in Graphic Design. Zurich: Niggli, 2001.

Samar, Timothy. Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).

The Grid System, http://www.thegridsystem.org/

Tomato,Bareback: A Tomato Project (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press,1999).

 


 

Preliminary Bibliography

 

Abalos, Iñaki, and Juan Herreros. Tower and Office: From Modernist Theory to Contemporary Practice.  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003.

Associates, Archizoom. “No-Stop City. Residential Parkings. Climatic Universal Sistem." Domus 496 (1971): 49-55.

Baudrillard, Jean. The Illusion of the End.  Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.

———. "The End of the Millennium or the Countdown." Economy & Society 26, no. 4 (1997): 447-55.

Bell, Genevieve, and Paul Dourish. "Yesterday's Tomorrows: Notes on Ubiquitous Computing's Dominant Vision." Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 11, no. 2 (2007): 133-43.

Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. (New York: Harcourt, 1968.

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Empty Fortress; Infantile Autism and the Birth of the Self.  New York: Free Press, 1967.

———. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.  New York: Knopf, 1976.

Brash, Julian. Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City. Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

Caillois, Roger. The Edge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois Reader.  Durham N.C: Duke University Press, 2003.

Castells, Manuel. The Power of Identity. 2nd ed.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2004.

———. The Rise of the Network Society. 2nd ed.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2010.

———. End of Millennium 2nd ed.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2010.

Clark, T. J. Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

Crystal, David. English as a Global Language.  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Deleuze, Gilles. "Postscript on Control Societies." In Negotiations, 177-82. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Eckardt, Wolf von, and Jean Gottmann. The Challenge of Megalopolis; a Graphic Presentation of the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States. Twentieth Century Fund Report.  New York: Macmillan, 1964.

Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative.  Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009.

Frampton, Kenneth. Megaform as Urban Landscape, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1999.

Flood, Joe. The Fires: How a Computer Formula Burned Down New York City--and Determined the Future of American Cities.  New York: Riverhead Books, 2010.

Foster, John Bellamy. "The Financialization of Capitalism." Monthly Review, April 2007, 1-12.

Frank, Thomas. The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Gere, Charlie. Digital Culture.  London: Reaktion Books, 2002.

Gottmann, Jean. Megalopolis; the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States.  New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961.

———. Megalopolis Revisited: 25 Years Later. Institute for Urban Studies Monograph Series.  College Park, Md.: University of Maryland Institute for Urban Studies, 1987.

Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Empire.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989.

———. A Brief History of Neoliberalism.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Hatherley, Owen. Militant Modernism.  Winchester: O Books, 2008.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities.  New York: Random House, 1961.

Johnson, Simon, and James Kwak. 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. New York: Pantheon Books, 2010.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. La production de l'espace copyright Editions Anthropos 1974, Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1991.

Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority; an Experimental View. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.

———. The Individual in a Social World: Essays and Experiments. Addison-Wesley Series in Social Psychology.  Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co, 1977.

Osborn, Frederic J., and Arnold Whittick. The New Towns: The Answer to Megalopolis.  London: L. Hill, 1963.

Patterson, Clayton, Joe Flood, and Alan Moore. Resistance: A Radical Political and Social History of the Lower East Side. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007.

Pell, Claiborne. Megalopolis Unbound: the Supercity and the Transportation of Tomorrow.  New York: Praeger, 1966.

Phillips, Kevin. Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism.  New York: Viking, 2009.

Sassen, Saskia. The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo.  Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991.

———. "Global City 20 Years Later." A+U, February 2011, 10-16.

Scheppe, Wolfgang, Migropolis: Venice: Atlas of a Global Situation.  Ostfildern: Hatje/Cantz, 2009.

Shepard, Mark, ed. Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space.

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

Short, John R. Liquid City: Megalopolis and the Contemporary Northeast.  Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 2007.

———. Liquid City: Megalopolis and the Contemporary Northeast.  Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 2007.

Sky, Alison, and Michelle Stone. Unbuilt America: Forgotten Architecture in the United States from Thomas Jefferson to the Space Age: A Book. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.

Stern, Robert A. M., David Fishman, and Jacob Tilove. New York 2000: Architecture and Urbanism between the Bicentennial and the Millennium.  New York: Monacelli Press, 2006.

Stern, Robert A. M., Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman. New York 1960: Architecture and Urbanism between the Second World War and the Bicentennial.  New York: Monacelli Press, 1995.

Swatridge, L. A. Problems in the Bosnywash Megalopolis: Pollution, Transportation, Sprawl, Social Problems. Selected Studies in the United States. New York: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972.

Tafuri, Manfredo. Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1976.

Tainter, Joseph A. The Collapse of Complex Societies. New Studies in Archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Tomlinson, John. The Culture of Speed. The Coming of Immediacy.  London: Sage, 2007.

Venturi, Robert. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Museum of Modern Art Papers on Architecture.  New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966.

Wigley, Mark. "Network Fever." Grey Room  (2001): 82-122.

Wolf, Peter M., and American Federation of Arts. The Future of the City: New Directions in Urban Planning. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1974.

 

 

 

 



[1]
Jean Gottmann, Megalopolis the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States, (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961), 9.

[2] Kenneth Frampton, Megaform as Urban Landscape, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1999), also available at http://infotechmfp.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/kframpton_megaform-as-urb...

[3] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative,  (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009).

[4] Scott Thill, “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter,” Wired Underwire Blog, posted September 7, 2010, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1.

[5] Alex Galloway, “Cory Arcangel (Beige) and Paper Rad’s The Mario Movie" (2005)http://www.deitch.com/projects/press_text.php?pressId=29. Michael Parsons, “Interview: Wired Meets William Gibson,” Wired UK posted October 13, 2010, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-10/13/william-gibson-interview.

Terminal Condition Final Projects

Some images from the final projects in Terminal Condition, the Spring 2012 Netlab studio that I taught with Leigha Dennis, in which we set out to rebuild the Port Authority Bus Terminal, while plotting what the city of 2070 might be like.   

Terminal Condition. Spring 2012 Netlab Studio

 

Terminal Condition
Spring 2012

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Professor: Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Assistant: Leigha Dennis

Description

This studio explores the re-construction of a large-scale infrastructural element in the city, specifically the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. A structure of 1.5 million square feet, passed through daily by hundreds of thousands of commuters, over seven thousand buses, and thousands of automobiles, providing parking for over 1,000 spaces for automobiles on top, surmounting a subway below, linked to the Lincoln Tunnel through massive ramps for vehicular traffic, and accommodating a significant shopping area, the PABT operates in a realm between building, city, and infrastructure. We are interested in this overlap as a venue for experimentation in programming and design.

As the largest commuter facility in the city, the PABT is a necessary part of everyday life for hundreds of thousands of workers in the city. The PABT was constructed in response to growing traffic congestion in midtown produced by the operation of eight independent bus terminals in the area a decade after the opening of the Lincoln Tunnel in 1937. Costing $24 million, the PABT bus terminal started operations in December 1950, consolidating eight independent bus terminals located in the midtown area. The building has been expanded twice to accommodate growing bus traffic: in 1963 a $30 million expansion added new decks and in 1979 a north wing was built at a cost of over $160 million, integrating with the original structure with a bridge over 41st street through a series of massive X trusses designed by Port Authority chief structural engineer Eugene Fasullo.

Bringing over 50,000 sightseers to the city daily, most of whom stop at Times Square, the PABT has been a key player in midtown, caught up in a longstanding crime problem that only abated during the last decade. With a new, modern exterior and a tiled interior resistant to vandalism, the 1979 reconstruction was intended as an architectural solution. But the expanded space quickly wound up serving a growing population of hundreds of homeless people, drug dealers, and male prostitutes while the “Minnesota Strip” on Eighth avenue outside became a site where newly-arrived runaways of both genders, particularly from the Upper Midwest, would be pressed into prostitution. Soon, the brutalist trusses became seen as a symbol of the decay of the Times Square area. In response, the Port Authority invested significant funds in the redevelopment of the neighborhood and implemented crime prevention strategies. The building is now vastly safer, but with the successful redevelopment of Times Square, the PABT is one of the last vestiges of an older, less commercialized New York. Over the last decade, the Port Authority was working with the Vornado Realty Trust to construct a skyscraper over the north wing, which was built with the possibility of exploiting its air rights in mind. Plans for a forty-story office tower by Richard Rogers including a rooftop garden and eighteen new bus gates came to naught when the Chinese developer pulled out this past November.

In this exercise, we set out to develop new hypotheses for the future of the PABT which we see as needing to respond to a world in which mobility is as much a matter of portable networked telecommunications devices as travel. With the resurgence of bus travel, the Terminal has the opportunity to become an even more significant gateway into the city for both commuters and visitors. Containing significant retail space, the PABT is a major center of commerce in the Times Square area. How do we make a building that embraces civic, commercial, and infrastructural spaces while remaining secure?

Semester Plan

This studio understands the architect as a builder of not merely physical edifices but also social, conceptual, and technical structures. Our interest is to use architecture and the most advanced thinking in network culture to construct new and better ways of life. In doing so, this studio is engaged first and foremost with institution building and shaping of social behavior.

We will begin the semester with team-based based scenario plans. Students will identify the drivers in society, technology, economics, ecology, and politics likely to impact the building over the next generation. These scenario plans will be communicated through the technique of architecture fiction. A review exploring these scenario plans will be held in mid February.

Students will individually develop detailed proposals for the reconstruction of the building by mid-review in March. These proposals will take the form of books that define the mission and goals of the reconstructed PABT and a preliminary idea for an architectural program.

Cloud

As a Netlab studio concerned with the topic of mobility, this studio will be the first prototypical studio in the GSAPP Cloud. To this end, students will be expected to maintain Tumblr blogs of their research and to keep up with the online work of other students. All student work will be posted online and aggregated to the emerging GSAPP work site.

Program

Students will be responsible for devising programs for a 21st century PABT. With the scenario plans from the first part of the studio in hand, students will be asked to identify the programmatic direction of the new PABT. Crucial to this will be a balance between city, building, and infrastructure. How can the building maintain its own identity while integrating better with the urban environment surrounding it?

In the wake of an era defined by the attention-seeking strategy of shaping, it is only appropriate to ask if architecture shouldn’t lose its singularity and obsession with performance. Can we develop architectural strategies aimed at producing less individualistic works that operate in a more ambient register, embracing formlessness instead of shaping, works that build intensity more subtly rather than giving it away all at once, works that question the boundaries between the city and the building rather than affirming them?

With regard to the site, students will be encouraged to consider the extension of the PABT into New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel and the dedicated Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL) that stretches from the New Jersey Turnpike onto Route 495, underneath the Times Square area through the underground subway station and the subway routes beyond.

Engineering

Students will work with roving engineers from ARUP during the semester to address the immense requirements of the PABT and the prospects for the construction of their project without disrupting the terminal’s operation.

Representation

Ultra-realistic perspective and Photoshop-based montages are banned in this studio. We propose that this sort of representation is inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism,” a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present the eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer.[1] Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.

But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in.[2] The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.

Thus, envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.[3]

We will look at forms of representation immanent to our topic at hand, from schedules to traffic engineering plans, flowcharts, to exploded axonometrics for vehicle parts. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand the topic we are involved in. Precise, unshaded hidden line drawings, plan, section, elevation, and axonometric offer us a carefully and logically articulated system of delineation appropriate for a bus terminal.

Grading:

20% Attendance and Participation

Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.

Group meetings, regularly scheduled once per week allow us to share our research and constantly re-tune our method and approach to the material.

Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).

40% Concept

Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.

Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.

40% Execution and Presentation

A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.

Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.

Work should be thoroughly and represented.



[1]
Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative,  (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009).

[2] Scott Thill, “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter,” Wired Underwire Blog, posted September 7, 2010, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1.

[3] Alex Galloway, “Cory Arcangel (Beige) and Paper Rad’s The Mario Movie" (2005)http://www.deitch.com/projects/press_text.php?pressId=29. Michael Parsons, “Interview: Wired Meets William Gibson,” Wired UK posted October 13, 2010, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-10/13/william-gibson-interview.

Factory Studio Exhibit at Columbia

My students put up the exhibit for the factory studio in the end of year show yesterday.

The exhibit consists of a slit in a door. The space beyond it is bifurcated by a wall that allows view into two separate rooms. The first, to the right, is a factory office from years gone by. The second, to the left is a radical vision of a future factory. The children in the images below are mine.

The show will be up until for about six days. 

With luck, we'll have student work from the studio up in a few days.

Factory Studio, Spring 2011

 Factory
Spring 2011

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Professor:             Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Assistant:              Leigha Dennis
 
Description
This studio reimagines the factory for the twenty-first century, setting out to understand the architect as a builder of not merely physical edifices but also social, conceptual, and technical structures.
 
If modernity is defined by mass production, then the factory is modern architecture’s definitive typology. Early factories were widely understood as sublime, sites of awe and horror that could only be overcome by the exertion of human reason. Spurred by this challenge, from the eighteenth century onward, architects and social reformers envisioned rational and just factories, not merely workplaces but rather centers of human habitation, places of joy in labor, and envisioned societies built around them.
 
Today, the factory evokes images of structures either converted to art museums, lofts, or abandoned to decay. With factories outsourced, design has all but abandoned re-imagining this critical site of human activity, the one truly new building type of modernity. Our interest is to use architecture and the most advanced thinking in network culture to construct new and better ways of life. In doing so, this studio is engaged first and foremost with institution building and shaping of social behavior.
 
The studio topic emerges from research into how we can navigate a landscape defined not by scarcity but by over-abundance. The very model of economy—the management and distribution of scarce resources— is undone by overproduction and overaccumulation. 19 million housing units are vacant in the United States, 345,000 in Ireland, 340,000 in Dubai, 1.5 million in Spain and 64 million in China.[1] Such stark figures call into question the very premise of building. What is the purpose of building—no matter how sustainably—when it means only more excess that must somehow be consumed?
 
The overproduction in housing has been accompanied by the overaccumulation of capital and overconsumption in advanced countries. The result is a bloated economy that cannot easily restart itself. Even as the stock market gyrates upward, unemployment levels in this and many other countries remain at Depression-era levels. Anticipating the current economy continuing its downturn for a protracted period of time, we feel it becomes crucial to imagine a saner economic structure than the current one. Deriving through financialization and conspicuous consumption based on debt is sheer madness.
 
We set out is to ask not only how architecture can continue to function in this condition but also how it can play a transformational role in it. This studio sets out to re-envision productivist thought for the 21st century, aligning itself with earlier projects targeting the relationship of production, design, and society such as the Gothic Revival, the Arts & Crafts, the Deutscher Werkbund, Russian Productivism, the Bauhaus, the Hochschule für Gestaltung at Ulm, and the Counterdesign movement.
 
Against a cynical world in which architects—and even studios in schools of architecture—have unabashedly agreed to serve and authoritarian clients, we believe in a new ethics.[2] Against all hope, we ask if it is possible to produce a new morality of objects. We reject the self-expressive and performance-based models of design that dominate today as incompatible with a post-scarcity society. This studio’s central task is the invention of an ethics of design appropriate to network culture.
 
Students will develop centers for small-scale manufacture and distribution. These centers will eschew a corporate model for a commons-based model, providing infrastructures, enclaves, guilds, or clubs in which individuals and small groups can work. Our intent is to envision such centers as means of reinvigorating local economies even as they provide models for life in societies if and when our current economic system collapses.
 
Beyond the ambitions of the studio at a societal level, we hope to provoke thought about how graduates of architecture can thrive in an economy that is likely will never again provide traditional positions in sufficiently large numbers to employ them. In envisioning the new factory we will look also to new institutions established by architects or artists—like the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Telic, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Temporary Services, and the Public School. We will also look at new cultural forms emerging on the Internet such as crowdsourced initiatives, open source projects, piracy, online help forums, Craigslist, Wikipedia, and maker culture that offer alternative models of social interaction.
 
Where Margaret Thatcher’s dictum about neoliberalism, “there is no alternative,” seems to rule, we say, “no, there is an alternative” and set to envision it in concrete terms. Within the network economy, these our factories are meant to embrace short-run, generally high-technology (although not necessarily or exclusively high technology) production. In alternate economic models—or in a severely protracted downturn—these factories may be repurposed for the purposes of retrofitting and repairing existing products.

 

Site
 
Our strategy for site navigates both physical and virtual space. We begin with a concern for situational ethics while plunging headlong into the problem of overabundance and unequal distribution.
The physical site for the studio is the greater New York metropolitan area. Gutted by high operating costs and decades of city policy that aimed to turn Manhattan into a control center for management and finance, manufacturing left the city, eliminating roughly 80% of the jobs in that sector. Instead, New York has become a “global city,” a key urban node in the worldwide financial network. Finance now accounts for some 35% of the city’s wages. The result is a city increasingly unaffordable to anyone but those engaged in the financial sector, ruled by its richest inhabitant who insists he runs it like a business and once dubbed New York “a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.” We believe that this is not only inequitable, it poses serious questions of long-term sustainability.
 
As finance becomes further virtualized while the city’s telecommunicational base ages, and enclaves like Greenwich, Connecticut become home to more and more large investment funds, we question whether New York will be able to depend on financial interests in a decade. Nor are these issues merely local. The decline in manufacturing in the United States and rise of finance is a key factor in the long-term economic downturn we are experiencing.
 
Each student will be responsible for identifying a site.
 
Architectural strategies of coping with overabundance will also be explored in the use of large datasets that will be exploited for the purposes of site selection. Using information from the American Community Survey we will target areas in the greater New York area in need of economic development having potential to act as bases for the sort of institutions we are developing. In a series of tutorials, studio teaching assistant Leigha Dennis, will instruct students on the use of ArcGIS and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software as well as how to improve the raw maps output by this software in Adobe Illustrator.
 
As a step toward hypothesizing our institutions, we will collectively produce a large-scale map interpreting the New York City metropolitan area over the course of the first three weeks of studio and continue to use and refine it throughout the term

Program

 
Having identified sites, students will devise programs for 21st century factories, specifically commons-based workshop facilities providing members with access to equipment, instruction, means of storage and distribution, and possibly living quarters and other amenities. These factories will set out to satisfy what Chris Anderson calls “the long tail of things,” employing high technology means such as CNC milling and 3d printing for rapid prototyping and small batch manufacturing. Students will develop process diagrams for the activities that take place within their factory and embed them within visual arguments for their projects.
 
Students will identify a set of possible programmatic elements that fit their factory, which will be roughly 15,000 to 60,000 feet in size (between 50% and 200% of the square footage of the Dessau Bauhaus building). Among these will be manufacturing center, media center, dormitory, common area, storage, shipping preparation, loading dock, and distribution.
 
Students will be asked to consider how their factories engage the megalopolis in which they are sited. In the wake of an era defined by the attention-seeking strategy of shaping, it is only appropriate to ask if architecture shouldn’t lose its singularity and obsession with performance. Can we develop architectural strategies aimed at producing less individualistic works that operate in a more ambient register, embracing formlessness instead of shaping, works that build intensity more subtly rather than giving it away all at once, works that question the boundaries between the city and the building rather than affirming them?
 
With regard to means of distribution, although this is not a requirement, it is plausible that some students may want to envision more complex forms of engaging the city through forms of distribution such as a kiosks, stores, or mobile units that might distribute manufactured goods throughout the city.
 
Structure
Students will be responsible for the structure and cladding of their buildings, deciding on systems that are economically feasible while appropriate to the work being done within. Students may turn to CNC milling, 3d printing, and other systems native to their factories but may also engage existing structural systems. Complexity will not be valued for its own sake. Projects are not limited to new constructions or empty sites but may also involve retrofitting existing structures.
 
Representation
 
This studio’s representational strategies are informed by its ethical ambitions. During the boom, ultra-realistic renderings and Photoshop-based montages dominated architecture studios. We propose that this sort of representation is inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism, a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present the eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer.[3] Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.
 
But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in.[4] The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.
 
Thus, envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.[5]
 
Specifically, given our subject matter we might look to industrial processes, which have produced a vast body of drawings—from exploded axonometrics to cutaways to flowcharts to process design drawings—all more attuned to serialism and reproduction than architecture has ever been. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand the topic we are involved in. Precise, unshaded hidden line drawings, plan, section, elevation, and axonometric offer us a carefully and logically articulated system of delineation appropriate for a manufacturing facility.
 
In addition, appropriate architectural forms of representation responding to the post-bubble condition recession can be found in the representational strategies produced in Japan during the Lost Decade of 1990 to 2000. In contrast to the overly exuberant and formal bubble architecture of the 1980s, post-bubble architectural representation—particularly that by Atelier Bow-Wow—was restrained even as it toyed with the absurd, tending to produce extremely rich drawings that chronicled a proliferation of contextual quirks and impossible conditions as well as drawings embracing a video game aesthetic to explore superflatness and pixilation.
 
Grading:
20% Attendance and Participation
 
Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.
Group meetings, regularly scheduled once per week allow us to share our research and constantly re-tune our method and approach to the material.
 
Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).
Students are expected to maintain a tumblelog of their research at tumblr.com and to keep up with the tumbleogs of other students. All students are expected to mail the instructors with the address of their tumblelog by the second class meeting.
30% Concept
 
Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.
 
Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.
 
30% Execution and Presentation
 
A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.
 
Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.
Work should be thoroughly and completely represented. A brief bibliography of books on design and presentation is appended.
 
 
A Brief Bibliography of Books regarding Design and Presentation
 
Elam, Kimberley. Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.
Hurlburt, Allen. The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books. New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978.
Jardí, Enric Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).
Muller-Brockmann, Josef. Grid Systems in Graphic Design. Zurich: Niggli, 2001.
Samar, Timothy. Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).
The Grid System, http://www.thegridsystem.org/
Tomato, Bareback: A Tomato Project (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press,1999).
 
 



[1] Adam Quinones, “America Has 130.7 Million Housing Units. 18.8 Million Are Vacant,”Mortgage News Daily, November 2, 2010,      http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/11022010_q3_homeownership_and_vacancy.asp, Frank McDonald, “345,000 homes vacant, says report,” Irish Times, March 5, 2010, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0305/1224265631515.html, Vincent Fernando, “There Are Now Enough Vacant Properties In China To House Over Half Of America,” Business Insider, September 8, 2010, “Spanish market will need at least four years to deal with property glut, experts predict,” Property Wire, December 22, 2010, http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/spanish-real-estate-glut-2010122..., http://www.businessinsider.com/there-are-now-enough-vacant-properties-in-china-to-house-over-half-of-america-2010-9.
[2] Kazys Varnelis and Robert Sumrell, “Advanced Studio V: Evil,” Columbia University, http://www.arch.columbia.edu/work/courses/studio/f09-evil.
[3] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative, (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009).
[4] Scott Thill, “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter,” Wired Underwire Blog, posted September 7, 2010, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1.
[5] Alex Galloway, “Cory Arcangel (Beige) and Paper Rad’s The Mario Movie" (2005)http://www.deitch.com/projects/press_text.php?pressId=29. Michael Parsons, “Interview: Wired Meets William Gibson,” Wired UK posted October 13, 2010, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-10/13/william-gibson-interview.

 

 

 

Network Culture Fall 2010

My latest syllabus for the Network Culture course as I am teaching it this term at Columbia.

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
A4515: Network Culture. The History of the Contemporary

Fall 2010 Professor Kazys Varnelis
Lectures/Seminars Wednesday 11-1,
408 Avery

Description

The purpose of this seminar is to come to an advanced historical understanding of the changed conditions that characterize our networked age. We will explore how the network is not merely a technology with social ramifications but rather serves as a cultural dominant connecting changes in society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism, and ideology. As a history of the contemporary, the seminar is organized around a series of topics tracing a genealogy of present-day culture.

Topics to be addressed include network theory, changing concepts of time and space, the rise of networked publics, contemporary poetics, new forms of subjectivity, and methods of control. Throughout, we will make connections between architecture and this insurgent condition.

Requirements

Participation: 20%

Each class will consist of a presentation by the instructor on selected themes, followed by an in-depth discussion in seminar. Students are expected to prepare all readings in order to facilitate a discussion in which all students participate. Active participation by all students in each session is required.

Tumblr: 20%

Each student is expected to maintain a tumblelog on tumblr.com and to post at least twice a week. Beyond mere reblogging of information pertinent to the course, the tumblelog will form a record and commentary upon their research during the semester.

Curatorial Project: 60%

The term project will be a curatorial project, exploring a cultural topic related to the subject matter with a written and visual component.

Both design and scholarship are integral to the term project. A carefully curated and designed work will be accompanied a 2,500 word essay on the curated material.

Plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate failure

Reading

Readings will be available on-line

01

09.08

Introduction

02

09.15

An Overview of Network Culture

Manuel Castells, "Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, ed. The Network Society: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2004), 3-45.

Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on Control Societies," Negotiations, 1972-1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 73-77.

Kazys Varnelis, "Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture," Networked Publics, 1-13 and 145-163.

03

09.22

Postmodernism and Periodization

David Harvey, "Fordism" and "From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation," in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-172.

Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," New Left Review 146 (July/August 1984): 53-92.

Optional:

Hal Foster, "Postmodernism: A Preface," in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983), ix-xvi.

04

09.29

Network Theory

Albert-László Barabási, "Six Degrees of Separation," "Small Worlds," and "Hubs and Connectors," Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002), 25-63.

Nicholas Carr, "From the Many to the Few" The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 127-149.

Optional:

Mark S. Granovetter, "The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology 78 (May 1973), 1360-1380.

Duncan J. Watts, "The Connected Age," Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19-42.

05

10.06

Time

Jean Baudrillard, "The End of the Millennium or the Countdown," Economy & Society 26 (1997): 447-55.

Jean François Lyotard, "Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?" Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984), xxiii-xxv.

Jeffrey Nealon, "Once More, With Intensity, Foucault's History of Power Revisited," Foucault Beyond Foucault, 24-53.

Bruce Sterling, "Atemporality for the Creative Artist," http://www.transmediale.de/en/keynote-bruce-sterling-us-atemporality

transcribed: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/atemporality-for-the-crea...

 

06

10.13

Special Class

Special Surprise Guest

 

07

10.20

Space

Michel Foucault, "Docile Bodies," Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.

Georg Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life," Georg Simmel, On Individuality and Social Forms: Selected Writings, ed. Donald N. Levine (Chicago, 1971), 325-339.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, "Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control," Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.

Marc Augé, "Prologue" and "From Places to Non-Places," in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.

Hans Ibelings, "Supermodernism," Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998), 55-102.

Optional:

Kazys Varnelis, interview with Hans Ibelings, to be posted online.

Kazys Varnelis and Marc Tuters, "Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things," Leonardo 39, No. 4 (2006): 357-363.

Jordan Crandall, "Operational Media," Ctheory, http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=441.

Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchen, "Code and the Transduction of Life," Journal of the Association of American Geographers 95, no. 1 (2005): 162-80.

 

08

10.27

Publics

Yochai Benkler, "Chapter 1. Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge" and "Chapter 4. The Economics of Social Production," The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 1-28 and 91-127.

Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail," Wired, October 2004, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html

Clay Shirky, "Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality," Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet. http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html

Bill Wausik, "My Crowd. Or Phase 5: A Report from the Inventor of the Flash Mob," Harper's Magazine (March 2006), 56-66.

Bill Bishop, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008), 1-77.

Optional

Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).

Malcolm Gladwell, "The Coolhunt," New Yorker (March 17, 1997), 78-88, http://www.gladwell.com/1997/1997_03_17_a_cool.htm

Grant McCracken, "Who Killed the Coolhunter?" http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/2006/06/who_killed_the_.html

Duncan J. Watts and Peter Sheridan Dodd, "Influentials, Networks, and Public Formation," Journal of Consumer Research (December 2007), 441-458.

 

09

11.03

Poetics

Geert Lovink, "Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse," Eurozine (2007), http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-01-02-lovink-en.html

Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002), 7-48.

Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), excerpts.

Jordan Crandall, "Showing," http://jordancrandall.com/showing/index.html

 

10

11.10

Subjectivity

Kenneth J. Gergen,"Social Saturation and the Populated Self," The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 48-80.

Brian Holmes, "The Flexible Personality. For a New Cultural Critique," Transversal, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/holmes/en

Warren Neidich, "Resistance is Futile," Artbrain. Journal of Neuroasthetic Theory 4, http://www.artbrain.org/neuroaesthetics/neidich.html.

Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?," Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008, 56-63.

 

11

11.17

Control

Joseph A .Tainter, "Introduction to Collapse," The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-21.

Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, "The Californian Ideology," http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html.

Saskia Sassen, "Electronic space and power," Journal of Urban Technology 4 (1997): 1-17.

Alexander R. Galloway, "Physical Media,"Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 29-53.

 

12

13

11.24

12.01

Research Week

Conclusion

 

Some Books to Consult on Design and Presentation:

Allen Hurlburt, The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books (New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978).

Enric Jardí, Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).

Josef Muller-Brockmann, Grid Systems in Graphic Design (Zurich: Niggli, 2001).

Timothy Samar, Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
(Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).

 

 

 

Network City 2010

Today marks the start of the tenth year of Network City. This may be my favorite course.

 

Network City
Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D. [kv2157@columbia.edu]
Avery 115, Tuesdays 11-1
 
“Cities are communications systems.” – Ronald Abler
 
This course fulfills the Urban Society M.Arch distributional requirement.
 
Network City explores how urban areas have developed as ecosystems of competing networks since the late nineteenth century.
 
Networks of capital, transportation infrastructures, and telecommunications systems centralize cities while dispersing them into larger posturban fields such as the Northeastern seaboard or Southern California. Linked together through networks, today such cities form the core of global capital, producing the geography of flows that structures economies and societies today.
 
Networks, infrastructures, and property values are the products of historical development. To this end, the first half of the course surveys the development of urbanization since the emergence of the modern network city in the late nineteenth century while the second half focuses on conditions in contemporary urbanism.
 
A fundamental thesis of the course is that buildings too, function as networks. We will consider the demands of cities and economies together with technological and social networks on program, envelope, and plan, particularly in the office building, the site of consumption, and the individual dwelling unit. In addition we will look at the fraught relationship between signature architecture (the so-called Bilbao-effect) and the contemporary city.
 
Throughout the course, we will explore the growth of both city and suburbia (and more recently postsuburbia and exurbia) not as separate and opposed phenomena but rather as intrinsically related. Although the material in the course is applicable globally, our focus will be on the development of the American city, in particular, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles.
Each class will juxtapose classic readings by sociologists, urban planners, and architects with more contemporary material. Readings will be available online.
 



Project
 
The term project will be one chapter within a research book, exploring one architectural, infrastructural, or urbanistic component of the Network City.
 
Material should not be formulated into a traditional research paper, but rather assembled as a dossier of information that tells a story through the designed and composed sequence of images and texts lead by an analytical narrative you have written yourself.
 
Design is integral to the term project. All work is to be carefully proofread and fact checked.
Citations are required, using the Chicago humanities footnote method. Please ensure that all images are properly credited.
 
The book will be designed simultaneously as a printed, bound object and for the Netlab web site. A layout grid will be provided.
 
Plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate failure. Exemplary books are at http://networkarchitecturelab.org/teaching/seminars/network_city.
 
A Brief Bibliography of Books regarding Design and Presentation
 
Kimberley Elam, Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004).
 
Allen Hurlburt, The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books (New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978).
 
Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth. The Planetary Emergence of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It (New York: Rodale, 2006).
 
Enric Jardí, Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).
 
Josef Muller-Brockmann, Grid Systems in Graphic Design (Zurich: Niggli, 2001)
 
Robert Sumrell, Superbrutalism: An Architecture for Muzak, http://audc.org/superbrutalism/index.html
 
Timothy Samar, Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).
 
Tomato, Bareback: A Tomato Project (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press,1999).
 
Discussions on Networked Publics
 
Students are asked to attend the Discussions on Networked Publics series, taking place this semester at Columbia’s Studio-X on February 9, March 25, April 13, and May 4.
 
These panels examine how the social and cultural shifts centering around new technologies have transformed our relationships to (and definitions of) place, culture, politics, and infrastructure. Our goal will be to come to an understanding of the changes in culture and society and how architects, designers, historians, and critics might work through this milieu.


* denotes classic reading that demands special attention.
 


1
1.19
Introduction: Towards Network City
 
2
1.26
The First Network Cities
 
* Ronald F. Abler “What Makes Cities Important,” Bell Telephone Magazine, March/April. (1970), 10-15.
 
Robert M. Fogelson, “The Business District: Downtown in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950, (New Haven: Yale, 2001), 9-42.
 
Anne Querrien, “The Metropolis and the Capital,” Zone 1/2 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986), 219-221
3
2.02
The Metropolitan Subject
 
* Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” On Individuality and Social Forms, ed. David Levine, ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 324-339.
 
* Ernest W. Burgess, “The Growth of the City: An Introduction to a Research Project,” The City: Suggestions for Investigation of Human Behavior in the Urban Environment, ed.Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925), 47-62.
 
* Louis Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” In American Journal of Sociology 44, July 1938, 1-24.
 
* Michel Foucault, “Docile Bodies,” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.
 
Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control,” October 59 (Winter 1992), 73-77.
4
2.09
Office Building as Corporate Machine
 
Special Presentation by Michael Kubo, MIT on the RAND Corporation
 
* William H. Whyte, “Introduction” and “A Generation of Bureaucrats,” The Organization Man, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956), 3-13 and 63-78.
 
* Norbert Wiener, “What is Cybernetics?” The Human Use of Human Beings (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950), 1-19.
 
* John D. Williams, “Comments on the RAND Building Program,” memorandum to RAND Staff, December 26, 1960 (RAND M-4251).
 
Abalos and Herreros, “The Evolution of Space Planning in the Workplace.”Tower and Office: From Modernist Theory to Contemporary Practice (Cambridge: Buell Center/Columbia Book of Architecture/The MIT Press, 2005),177-196. (first half of chapter)
 
Reinhold Martin, “The Physiognomy of the Office,” The Organizational Complex, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2003), 80-105, 114-121.
8
3.09
The Return of the Center
 
* Jane Jacobs, “Introduction,” The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), 2-25.
 
* Rem Koolhaas, “’Life in the Metropolis’ or ‘The Culture of Congestion,’” Architectural Design 47 (August 1977), 319-325.
 
* Sharon Zukin, “Living Lofts as Terrain and Market” and “The Creation of a ‘Loft Lifestyle” in Loft Living (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1982), 1-22, 58-81.
 
Richard Florida, “The Transformation of Everyday Life” and “The Creative Class,’ in The Rise of the Creative Class (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 1–17, 67–82.
 
David Harvey, “The Constructing of Consent,” A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005), 39-63.
 
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology,” http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html.
 
Optional:
 
Bert Mulder, “The Creative City or Redesigning Society,” and Justin O’Connor, “Popular Culture, Reflexivity and Urban Change in Jan Verwijnen and Panu Lehtovuori, eds, Creative Cities. Cultural Industries, Urban Development and the Information Society, (Helsinki: UIAH Publications, 1999), 60-75, 76-100.
 
Dan Graham, “Gordon Matta-Clark” in Gordon Matta-Clark (Marseilles: Musées de Marseilles, 1993), 378-380.
9
3.16
Spring Recess
 
10
 
3.23
The Global City and the New Centrality
 
* Saskia Sassen, “On Concentration and Centrality in the Global City,” Paul L. Knox and Peter J. Taylor, eds., World Cities in a World-System (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 63-78.
 
* Ignasi Sola-Morales, “Terrain Vague”, in Anyplace (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), 118-123.
 
* Castells “The Space of Flows,” The Rise of the Network Society, 407-459.
 
Sze Tsung Leong, “Readings of the Attenuated Landscape,” Michael Bell and Sze Tsung Leong, eds., Slow Space (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1998), 186-213.
 
Optional:
 
Martin Pawley, “From Postmodernism to Terrorism,” Terminal Architecture, 132-154.
11
3.30
The Clustered Field: Postsuburbia to Edgeless Cities and Beyond
 
* Robert Fishman, “Beyond Suburbia: The Rise of the Technoburb,” Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (New York: Basic Books, 1987), 182-208.
 
Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, “Beyond the Edge: The Dynamism of Postsuburban Regions,” and “The Emergence of Postsuburbia: An Introduction,” Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, eds. Postsuburban California: The Transformation of Orange County (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), vii-xx, 1-30.
 
Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).
 
Robert E. Lang and Jennifer LeFurgy, “Edgeless Cities: Examining the Noncentered Metropolis,” Housing Policy Debate 14 (2003): 427-460.
12
4.06
The Tourist City
 
* Robert D. Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital.” Journal of Democracy 6 (1995): 65-78
 
* Melvin M. Weber, “Order in Diversity: Community Without Propinquity,” Cities and Space: The Future of Urban Land, ed. Lowden Wingo, Jr. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1963), 23.
 
Wolfgang Scheppe, Migropolis :Venice / Atlas of a Global Situation (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2009), excerpts.
 
Paul Goldberger, “The Malling of Manhattan.” Metropolis (March 2001), [134]-139, 179.-
 
Bill Bishop, “The Power of Place,” The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008), 19-80.
13
4.13
Conclusion
 
Kazys Varnelis, “The Centripetal City: Telecommunications, the Internet, and the Shaping of the Modern Urban Environment,” Cabinet Magazine 17.
 
Mitchell L. Moss and Anthony M. Townsend, “How Telecommunications Systems are Transforming Urban Spaces,” James O. Wheeler, Yuko Aoyama, and Barney Warf, eds., Cities in the Telecommunications Age: The Fracturing of Geographies (New York: Routledge, 2000), 31-41.
 
 
 
 

 

Network Culture at Columbia Fall 2009

I will be teaching my course on Network Culture at Columbia this fall in addition to the studio I am teaching. The syllabus is below.

Description
The purpose of this seminar is to come to an advanced historical understanding of our networked age. We will explore how the network is not merely a technology with social ramifications but rather serves as a cultural dominant connecting changes in society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism, and ideology. As a history of the contemporary, the seminar is organized around a series of topics tracing a genealogy of present-day culture.
 
Requirements
Participation: 20%
Each class will consist of a presentation by the instructor on selected themes, followed by an in-depth discussion in seminar. Students are expected to prepare all readings in order to facilitate a discussion in which all students participate. Active participation by all students in each session is required. 
 
Tumblr: 20%
Each student is expected to maintain a tumblelog on tumblr.com and to post at least twice a week. Beyond mere reblogging of information pertinent to the course, the tumblelog will form a record and commentary upon their research during the semester.
 
Curatorial Project: 60%
The term project will be a curatorial project, exploring a cultural topic related to the subject matter with a written and visual component.  
 
Both design and scholarship are integral to the term project. A carefully curated and designed work will be accompanied a 3,500 word essay on the curated material. Plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate failure
 
Reading
There is one textbook. Kazys Varnelis, ed. Networked Publics (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008).
 
Other readings will be available separately on-line.



 
01
09.11
Introduction
 
Mizuko Ito, “Introduction,” and Kazys Varnelis, “Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture,” Networked Publics, 1-13 and 145-163.
 
02
09.18
Network Theory
Manuel Castells, “Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, ed. The Network Society: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2004), 3-45.
 
Albert-László Barabási, “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Small Worlds,” and “Hubs and Connectors,” Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002), 25-63.
 
Nicholas Carr, “From the Many to the Few” The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 127-149.
 
Optional:
 
Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 78 (May 1973), 1360-1380.
 
Duncan J. Watts, “The Connected Age,” Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19-42.
03
09.25
Freedom and Control
Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control ,” October 59 (Winter 1992), 73-77.
 
Michel Foucault, “Docile Bodies,” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.
 
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology,” http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html.
 
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control,” Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.
 
Optional:
 
Alexander R. Galloway, “Physical Media,”Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 29-53.
 
04
10.02
Postmodernism and History after the End of History
 
Jean Baudrillard, “The End of the Millennium or the Countdown,” Economy & Society 26 (1997): 447-55.
 
Jean François Lyotard, “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984), xxiii-xxv.
05
10.09
Postfordism and Postmodernism
 
David Harvey, “Fordism” and “From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation,” in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-172.
 
Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 (July/August 1984): 53-92.
 
Optional:
Hal Foster, “Postmodernism: A Preface,” in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983), ix-xvi.
 
06
10.16
Place, I. Non-Place to Networked Place
 
Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg, "Place: The Networking of Public Space," Varnelis, ed. Networked Publics (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008), 15-42.
 
Marc Augé, “Prologue” and “From Places to Non-Places,” in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.
 
Hans Ibelings, “Supermodernism,” Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998), 55-102.
 
Kazys Varnelis, interview with Hans Ibelings, to be posted online.
 
Ignasi de Sola-Morales Rubió, “Terrain Vague,” Cynthia Davison, ed. Anyplace (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), 119-123.
 
07
10.16
Place, II. Maps and Things

Kazys Varnelis and Marc Tuters, “Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things,” Leonardo 39, No. 4 (2006): 357–363.

 
Jordan Crandall, “Operational Media,” Ctheory, http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=441.
 
Bruno Latour, “On Actor Network Theory: A Few Clarifications,” Soziale Welt 47 (1998): 360-81,translated version, http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9801/msg00019.html.
 
08
10.23
Culture, I. Networked Publics and Cultural Work
 
Adrienne Russell, Mizuko Ito, Todd Richmond, and Marc Tuters, “Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Participation,” Networked Publics, 43-76.
 
Yochai Benkler, “Chapter 1. Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge” and “Chapter 4. The Economics of Social Production,” The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 1-28 and 91-127.

Geert Lovink, “Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse,” Eurozine (2007), http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-01-02-lovink-en.html

Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), excerpts.
 
09
10.30
Culture, II. Power Laws and Influence
 
Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail,” Wired, October 2004, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
 
Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality,” Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet. http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html
 
Bill Wausik, “My Crowd. Or Phase 5: A Report from the Inventor of the Flash Mob,” Harper’s Magazine (March 2006), 56-66.
 
Optional
 
Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).
 
Malcolm Gladwell, “The Coolhunt,” New Yorker (March 17, 1997), 78-88, http://www.gladwell.com/1997/1997_03_17_a_cool.htm
 
Grant McCracken, “Who Killed the Coolhunter?” http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/2006/06/who_killed_the_.html
 
Duncan J. Watts and Peter Sheridan Dodd, “Influentials, Networks, and Public Formation,” Journal of Consumer Research (December 2007), 441-458.
 
10
11.06
Infrastructure
 
François Bar, Walter Baer, Shahram Ghandeharizadeh, and Fernando Ordonez "Infrastructure: Network Neutrality and Network Futures," in Networked Publics, 109-144.
 
Joseph A .Tainter, “Introduction to Collapse,” The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-21.
 
Tom Vanderbilt, “Data Center Overload,” The New York Times (June 8, 2009), http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/magazine/14search-t.html

Nicholas Carr, “World Wide Computer” The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 107-127.

 
11
11.13
Subjectivity
 
Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008, 56-63.
 
Kenneth J. Gergen, “Social Saturation and the Populated Self,” The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 48-80.
 
Brian Holmes, “The Flexible Personality. For a New Cultural Critique,” Transversal, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/holmes/en
 
Warren Neidich, “Resistance is Futile,” Artbrain. Journal of Neuroasthetic Theory 4, http://www.artbrain.org/neuroaesthetics/neidich.html.
 
12
11.20
Politics, Urbanism, and Globalization
 
Saskia Sassen, “On Concentration and Centrality in the Global City,” Paul L. Knox and Peter J. Taylor, eds., World Cities in a World-System (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 63-78.
 
Saskia Sassen, “Electronic space and power,” Journal of Urban Technology 4 (1997): 1-17.
 
Stephen Graham, “Communication Grids: Cities and Infrastructure,” in Saskia Sassen, Global Networks. Linked Cities (London: Routledge, 2002), 71-92.
 
13
12.04
Conclusion
 
 

 

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