samedi 28 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Temporary Autonomous Zone

The TAZ is an art of life in continual rising up, wild but gentle--a seducer not a rapist, a smuggler rather than a bloody pirate, a dancer not an eschatologist.

TAZ or Temporary Autonomous Zone is an essay written by Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey about the creation of small territories free of any structure of control for a moment. This time issue is a very important point of the TAZ, because it advocates a non-revolutionnary way of acting which would imply that it should be perrenial. Instead of that, the TAZ takes advantage of the system's folds to exist for a short while.

You can read it online here

vendredi 27 février 2009

# Godzilla by Michael Sorkin (1990)

Several years ago, before ever having visited Tokyo, I decided that before my delirious vision of the place was contaminated by the rigors of actual observation, we'd better do a project there. Although we've called the building Godzilla, it isn't mean to be sinister, just large: a building with presence. Perhaps it would seem less threatening had we called it Barney.
The project's affinities with Godzilla, however, are not merely morphological but conceptual. Just as that monster (I mean the term not pejoratively but genetically) stand for a certain intensification of Japanese post-nuclear anxieties, so this building represents, for me, an intensification of Tokyo-ness. In it, the tangled skein of the city finds a critical mass and erupts into form, a verticalization of what I took - from my distant vantage point - to be the fundamental (dis)order of the city.
extract from the book Wiggle by Michael Sorkin Studio published by The Monacelli Press

jeudi 26 février 2009

# Stanley Kubrick retrospective in Paris

La Filmotheque du quartier latin, a little but well known Parisian theater proposes currently a Stanley Kubrick retrospective with seven movies: 2001 A space odyssee, The shining, Barry Lyndon, Clockwork orange, Lolita, Full metal jacket and Eyes wide shut. One can regret here that the fantastic Dr Strangelove does not belong to this list but the initiative already desserve to be salute !

mardi 24 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Thoreau's civil disobedience

Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil disobedience in 1849 principally against war between the United States and Mexico, and slavery which was still running at this time in America. However it became an a-temporal essay about resistance against a government. Some extract being more explicit that anything I could write, here are two of them:

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth—certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year—no more—in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with—for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel—and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborlines without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name—if ten honest men only—ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State's ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister—though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her—the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject of the following winter.

picture found on zazzle

# Zarathoustra returns

I eventually found Zarathoustra's extract I published earlier in English ! Here it is:

Then, however, something happened which made every mouth mute and every eye fixed. In the meantime, of course, the rope-dancer had commenced his performance: he had come out at a little door, and was going along the rope which was stretched between two towers, so that it hung above the market-place and the people. When he was just midway across, the little door opened once more, and a gaudily-dressed fellow like a buffoon sprang out, and went rapidly after the first one. "Go on, halt-foot," cried his frightful voice, "go on, lazy-bones, interloper, sallow-face!—lest I tickle thee with my heel! What dost thou here between the towers? In the tower is the place for thee, thou shouldst be locked up; to one better than thyself thou blockest the way!"—And with every word he came nearer and nearer the first one. When, however, he was but a step behind, there happened the frightful thing which made every mouth mute and every eye fixed—he uttered a yell like a devil, and jumped over the other who was in his way. The latter, however, when he thus saw his rival triumph, lost at the same time his head and his footing on the rope; he threw his pole away, and shot downwards faster than it, like an eddy of arms and legs, into the depth. The market-place and the people were like the sea when the storm cometh on: they all flew apart and in disorder, especially where the body was about to fall.

Zarathustra, however, remained standing, and just beside him fell the body, badly injured and disfigured, but not yet dead. After a while consciousness returned to the shattered man, and he saw Zarathustra kneeling beside him. "What art thou doing there?" said he at last, "I knew long ago that the devil would trip me up. Now he draggeth me to hell: wilt thou prevent him?"

"On mine honour, my friend," answered Zarathustra, "there is nothing of all that whereof thou speakest: there is no devil and no hell. Thy soul will be dead even sooner than thy body: fear, therefore, nothing any more!"

The man looked up distrustfully. "If thou speakest the truth," said he, "I lose nothing when I lose my life. I am not much more than an animal which hath been taught to dance by blows and scanty fare."

"Not at all," said Zarathustra, "thou hast made danger thy calling; therein there is nothing contemptible. Now thou perishest by thy calling: therefore will I bury thee with mine own hands."

When Zarathustra had said this the dying one did not reply further; but he moved his hand as if he sought the hand of Zarathustra in gratitude.

Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus spoke Zarathoustra (translator: Thomas Common)

lundi 23 février 2009

# House by Pascal Hausermann

Here is a house designed by Pascal Hauserman and built in 1968 in east of France (near Annecy). This building represents pretty well the way of designing of this French architect who realized several projects that he calls bubbles.
two first pictures were extracted from the book Architecture Sculpture published by HYX.

dimanche 22 février 2009

# Albert Camus' revolt

Once again, Camus is speaking about the creative act. Here is an extract of the Rebel (L'homme révolté) which, once again, make me being sorry I don't have it in English...

En attendant, la révolution conquérante, dans l’égarement de son nihilisme, menace ceux qui, contre elle prétendent maintenir l’unité dans la totalité. Un des sens de l’histoire aujourd’hui, et plus encore de demain, est la lutte entre les artistes et les nouveaux conquérants entre les témoins de la révolution créatrice et les bâtisseurs de la révolution nihiliste. Sur l’issue de la lutte, on ne peut se faire que des illusions raisonnables. Du moins, nous savons désormais qu’elle doit être menée. Les conquérants modernes peuvent tuer, mais semblent ne pouvoir créer. Les artistes savent créer, mais ne peuvent réellement tuer. On ne trouve de meurtriers que par exception parmi les artistes. A la longue, l’art dans nos sociétés révolutionnaires devrait donc mourir. Mais alors la révolution aura vécu. Chaque fois que, dans un homme, elle tue l’artiste qu’il aurait pu être, la révolution s’exténue un peu plus. Si, enfin, les conquérants pliaient le monde à leur loi, ils ne prouveraient pas que la quantité est reine, mais que ce monde est enfer. Dans cet enfer même, la place de l’art coïnciderait encore avec celle de la révolte vaincue, espoir aveugle et vide au creux des jours désespérés. Ernst Dwinger, dans son Journal de Sibérie, parle de ce lieutenant allemand qui, prisonnier depuis des années dans un camp où régnaient le froid et la faim, s’était construit, avec des touches de bois, un piano silencieux. Là, dans l’entassement de la misère, au milieu d’une cohue en haillons, il composait une étrange musique qu’il était seul à entendre. Ainsi, jetés dans l’enfer, de mystérieuses mélodies et les images cruelles de la beauté enfuie nous apporteraient toujours, au milieu du crime et de la folie, l’écho de cette insurrection harmonieuse qui témoigne au long des siècles pour la grandeur humaine.

Albert Camus, L’homme révolté 1951. Folio 1985

samedi 21 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// 1871 Paris' Commune

This article has a strong connexion with last one about the canyon street. As a matter of fact, Paris' Commune was one of the most important urban conflicts in European history. It stayed nowadays as a good example of people's revolution as it last for a too short time to create a disenchantment. People who theorised about this event are many (Marx, Lenin, Debord...)

During seventy two days of 1871’s spring, Paris city lived in secession from the National Assembly which just capitulated in war against the Prussians. Simultaneously the Commune defends itself against the national “versaillaise” army lead by Thiers and “play the game” of considering to exist for a long period. Thus is created a Central Comity whose representatives are originally from the working population.

As far as urbanism is concerned, Situationnists Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Attila Kotanyi, one century after the Commune was declared, considered that "it has been in Human History, the only production of a revolutionary urbanism" which assumes as a principle that no building is innocent. That is how the Vendome column was solemnly destroyed on may 16th. In fact this column was the symbol of the first Empire’s (Napoleon Bonaparte) authority and the Bourgeois’ power.

This urbanism can be thus said to substract the alienation zones within the city, which was called by Situationnist, positive holes. The Commune’s story illustrate quite clearly the dilemma which can appear with this operation. In fact, on may 24th, huge debates took place within the Central Comity to decide whether or not symbolic building should be destroyed before the national army win the conflict. That is how the City Hall, the Courthouse and the Tuilleries palace (which was never rebuilt since then) were burnt down but Notre Dame and the Louvre on the other hand stayed intact, because defended by artists collectives. Situationnist retrospectively judged that Paris’ cathedral has been saved because of “permanent aesthetic values belonging to museums’ spirit when other men legitimately wanted to access to expression this day by this destruction as a defiance to a society which was rejecting all their lives to silent.

For more information about this chapter of France's history click here.

jeudi 19 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Canyon street/Armin Linke

In a little more than one month, next G20 summit will happen in London. These pictures has been shot during G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 by Armin Linke. They show how much streets can be used as controled canyons. A lot of western cities has been replanned during XIXth century for this kind of purposes. Napoleon the 3rd/Haussmann Paris is obviouly an example of that. No more narrow network maze within urban fabric, only wide axis police can easily control. History war used to happen outside of the cities or at its periphery at least, new conflicts are now almost exclusively happenning within cities.

mercredi 18 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Alain Robert the French Spiderman

Alain Robert develops an original way of moving in the city, he litteraly climbs on high rises' facades without any security device and eventually...get arrested by authorities. He is now famous all over the world as the "French spiderman" and architects such as Renzo Piano (NYTimes' tower) invent devices to prevent him to climb their buildings !

# Nietzsche's tightrope walker

Here is an extract of Nietzsche's Zarathoustra. If anybody can transmit it to me in English, I'd be glad to publish it as well !

story of a tightrope walker...

[…] Mais il advint alors une chose qui rendit toutes les bouches muettes et fixes tous les regards. Dans l’entre-temps, le saltimbanque avait commencé son ouvrage ; il était sorti d’une petite porte et marchait sur la corde tendue entre deux tours au-dessus de la foule ; mais il avait fait juste la moitié du chemin, la petite porte s’ouvrit de nouveau et un gars bariolé qui avait l’air d’un paillasse en sorti d’un bond et courut à grand pas vers le premier. « Avance donc, boiteux, criait-il de son horrible voix, avance, traînard, sournois, face de carême ! Et prends garde que je ne te chatouille de mon talon ! Que fais-tu là entre ces deux tours ? C’est dans la tour qu’est ta place, on devrait t’enfermer, tu barres la route à un meilleur que toi. » Et à chaque mot il approchait davantage ; mais comme il n’était plus qu’à un pas derrière le premier, il arriva cette chose épouvantable qui rendit toutes les bouches muettes et fixes tous les regards : le nouveau venu poussa un cri diabolique et sauta par-dessus celui qui lui barrait la route. Or, celui-ci, voyant la victoire son rival, perdit la tête et lâcha la corde ; il jeta aussitôt son balancier et tomba plus vite encore dans le vide en un tourbillon de bras et de jambes. La place et la foule ressemblaient à la mer quand la tempête s’élève ; tous s’enfuirent en tous sens, pêle-mêle, surtout à l’endroit où le corps allait s’abattre.

Mais Zarathoustra ne bougea pas, et le corps tomba tout près de lui, meurtri et brisé, mais vivant encore. Au bout d’un instant le blessé reprit conscience et vit Zarathoustra s’agenouiller à ses côtés : « Que fais-tu là ? dit-il enfin, je le savais depuis longtemps que le Diable me ferait un croc-en-jambe. A présent il va m’entraîner en enfer ; vas-tu l’en empêcher ? »

-« Sur mon honneur, ami, répondit Zarathoustra, tout ce dont tu parles n’existe pas ; il n’y a ni Diable ni enfer. Ton âme va mourir plus vite encore que ton corps ; n’aie donc plus de crainte. »

L’homme leva un regard méfiant. « Si tu dis vrai, dit-il, je ne perdrai rien en perdant la vie. Je ne suis guère plus qu’un animal qu’on a dressé à danser, à force de coups et de maigre pitance. »

- Non pas, dit Zarathoustra. Tu as fait du danger ton métier, il n’y a rien là de méprisable. A présent tu vas mourir de ton métier, aussi vais-je t’enterrer de mes mains. »

A ces paroles, le mourant ne répondit plus ; mais il agita la main comme s’il cherchait la main de Zarathoustra pour le remercier.

Friedrich Nietzsche. Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra (Also sprach Zarathustra). 1885. Flammarion 1996 p55

mardi 17 février 2009

# Pruned / Ski in Chicago

Here is an amazing article published by Pruned about 1954's Chicago stadium's ski jumping ramp installation...

dimanche 15 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Maider Lopez's urban football field

Here is Maider Lopez's proposition for Sharjah's (Emirates) 2007 biennal. She hijacked a public space to transform it into an hybrid square/football field.
I always believed that public spaces could die just with a panel "ball games forbidden" as there are more and more in our city so this is actually a proposition I like a lot !


samedi 14 février 2009

# Evolo 2009

Fourth evolo skyscrapers competition's winners have been announced. Like every years, some of them stand in a conservative trend, but some others like this "instant high rise" by Farzin Lotfi-Jam and Jerome Frumar bring some new refreshing idea justifying the persistence of this competition.
See the three winners and fifteen mentions on official website.

vendredi 13 février 2009

# Multiscapes sculpture by Pilm Palsgraaf

Following few works of Pim Palsgraaf, a young dutch artist.
He's dealing with the icone of the city wich is carried by dead animals or randoms object. Its a interesting status of immobility but with the suggestion of things that used to move...
His worked had been remarked at Art Rotterdam 2009 last week.

more here

jeudi 12 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Flash Mobs

Flash Mobs are evanescent gathering of people who do not know each other and who participate to a "gamy" action for about five minutes before leaving the place as fast as they arrived. Flash Mobs are a direct product of the possibility of instant spaming messages like emails or sms and amaze people for their evanescence as much as their uselessness.
Nevertheless, for five minutes a public space is considerably changed by this gathering and become an instant dreamlike vision of common space becoming social space.

For those who read French, here is an article by Valérie Chatelet, called La ville en fete et en délire (quoting Edith Piaf).

Here are two videos from the same place (Liverpool Street Station in London) during two different flash mobs. Freeze or Silent disco, choose your side !

samedi 7 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Surveillance vs Resistance

Nowadays, living in western metropolis and not being monitored by any mean is becoming almost impossible. Without falling into the total plot paranoia, the potentiality for an authority to be able to survey any inhabitant of these cities is truly frightening. Balance between liberty and security is likely incontrovertible and a lot of industrialized countries seem to agree more and more to add weight in the security plate.
Here are two examples of possible resistance against an orwellian world. First is a group called the Surveillance Camera Players which cleverly understood that you can't be killed while hugging your enemy. In fact, they are totally acknowledging the surveillance camera's presence and perform little plays in front of them. (see a video here)

With the help of this same group and some others (New York Civil Liberties Union, Surveillance Camera Project, Eyebeam Atelier Workshop), the Institute for Applied Autonomy has developed a software called Isee Manhattan which list all video cameras in Manhattan and try as most as possible to propose ways not to be recorded.

vendredi 6 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Guerilla benching in London

Guerilla benching is an illegal operation from four Londoners setting up benches in public space. In fact, benches have became more and more deleted from common space by authorities in order to prevent them to be colonised by homeless people. This phenomena is obvious in Paris' subway for example, where benches have been hypocritely replaced by so called "designed chairs"...

jeudi 5 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Violence interrupters in Chicago

Violence interrupters are former gangs' members patrolling in Chicago's streets in night time and looking for fight scenes. In fact, these guys take advantage of not being cops to try to minimize the violence of those fights. They can, for instance, advice a man about to shoot another that beating him up would be enough or suggest to gangs that a local war would not be good for their business.
This operation could probably be considered as outlaw, but this is actually a good example of an efficient negotiation with the law, resulting to real results and Chicago's authority seems to have understood its interest in this operation.
If you are interested, you can read a long article in NY Times magazine (see picture) from may 2008.

mercredi 4 février 2009

# Big big JR in Kibera

French photographer JR just achieved his biggest work in Kibera, Nairobi's biggest slum. 2000 square metres of pictures were set up on the houses' roof and a train.
Good way of decentralizing and globalizing (I happenned to see his work already in Paris, London and Berlin's streets).

Thanks Winston !

mardi 3 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Fight Club

...When we invented fight club, Tyler and I, neither of us had ever been in a fight before. If you’ve never been in a fight, you wonder. About getting hurt, about what you’re capable of doing against another man. I was the first guy Tyler ever felt safe enough to ask, and we were both drunk in a bar where no one would care so Tyler said, “I want you to do me a favor. I want you to hit me as hard as you can.
I didn’t want to, but Tyler explained it all, about not wanting to die without any scars, about being tired of watching only professionals fight, and wanting to know more about himself.

About self-destruction.

At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything down to make something better out of ourselves. I looked around and said, okay. Okay, I say, but outside in the parking lot. So we went outside, and I asked if Tyler wanted it in the face or in the stomach.Tyler said, “Surprise me.”

I said I had never hit anybody.

Tyler said, “So go crazy, man.”

I said, close your eyes.

Tyler said, “No.”

Like every guy on his first night in fight club, I breathed in and swung my fist in a roundhouse at Tyler’s jaw like in every cowboy movie we’d ever seen, and me, my fist connected with the side of Tyler’s neck.

Shit, I said, that didn’t count. I want to try again.

Tyler said, “Yeah it counted,” and hit me, straight on, pow, just like a cartoon boxing glove on a spring on Saturday morning cartoons, right there in the middle of my chest and I fell back against a car. We both stood there, Tyler rubbing the side of his neck and me holding a hand on my chest, both of us knowing we’d gotten somewhere we’d never been and like the cat and mouse in cartoons, we were still alive and wanted to see how far we could take this thing and still be alive.

Tyler said, “Cool.”

I said, hit me again.

Tyler said, “No, you hit me.”

So I hit him, a girl’s wide roundhouse to right under his ear, and Tyler shoved me back and stomped the heel of his shoe in my stomach. What happened next and after that didn’t happen in words, but the bar closed and people came out and shouted around us in the parking lot.

Instead of Tyler, I felt finally I could get my hands on everything in the world that didn’t work, my cleaning that came back with the collar buttons broken, the bank that says I’m hundred of dollars overdrawn. My job where my boss got on my computer and fiddled with my DOS execute commands. And Marla Singer, who stole the support groups from me.

Nothing was solved when the fight was over, but nothing mattered..."

Chuck Palahniuk's novel and David Fincher's movie presents an amazing "club" rejecting any from of social contract. In fact, acting against every artefacts decoy-ing humans from their ability to feel life and death, what Tyler Durden tends forward is a return to natural state for humanity. He imagine a city invaded by jungle and the way of life it implies. Far away from gently and politicaly correct sustainibility, he gives himself all means to succeed.

And to prove you, Durden is not just a novel/movie character, here is a video of a live hijacking of last week end's super bowl, by a 30 seconds porn video !

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// Introduction

This month's thematic, FIGHT WITH TOOLS borrows its name from a Flobots' album. It tackles a problem not so far away from december and january's thematics but imply a form of urban guerilla flirting more or less with illegality. It is thus a difficult topic because the law is the base of the Social Contract which holds human relationships in a supposedly civilized way. Therefore, we would like to question these actions and their impact on public space.

picture: La Commune de Paris in 1871

lundi 2 février 2009

# Rio slum barrier plans spark outcry in The Guardian

Yesterday, Transit-City's blog was publishing an article from The Guardian about the construction of a new unfortunate barrier in the world. This one will be in a Rio favela, Dona Marta and is suposed to prevent the rain forest from the illegal occupation of the slum. Ecology is thus the new pretext of Brazilian authorities to act against the poorest of its population.

Here is the article