UTOPIA

November 20, 2011
bubbles suburbia
Bubble Shooter for iPhone
Adrift in an Internet Suburbia, Present (source)

 

Italo Calvino was obsessed with stories.

 

He was interested in stories that are told for generations. Over and over. And again and again.

 

These are stories that are probably as old as us human beings. We told them years ago sitting around a fire in a cave and we tell them today, through various new formats, such as video games. They are completely familiar because, whether they are a story from the future or the past, they are timeless.

 

When writing about Voltaire’s Candide, Italo Calvino uniquely points out that Voltaire’s novel is, above all, about speed. As a reader, we are intrigued by its accelerated rhythms, of traveling around Europe and the globe at such an incredible pace. The story unfolds in one, two, even three countries a day. People die, lie, kill, love and deceive each other with such quickness that it is easy to lose track.

 

Despite its eventfulness, it is still believable.

 

Candide is therefore, as Calvino points out, a novel that depicts a place that does not exist. Candide depicts utopia.

 

Calvino’s definition of utopia is simple: it is a non-place. Not a place of wishes or longings of how things could be. Just a non-place.

 

But this is not entirely true.

 

Calvino shows us how Voltaire depicts… more

 

I once believed that utopia was the Internet. That was back when the Internet was distinguishable as being someplace different from the here and now, but that’s a utopia we have already arrived at, so it’s no longer a non-place. It’s time to look for other utopias.

 

Sometimes I’ll be driving by a neighborhood that I don’t know well, in a city like Los Angeles or Athens or the edges of New York. I’ll see a neglected lot, maybe there is a lone tree and some scrap material scattered around. This lot could be on the edge of suburbia or squeezed between downtown developments. That undeveloped and perhaps abandoned land is a utopia, because it’s an unformed place where thoughts can grow undisturbed.

 

And more than a place, it’s also a perfect moment in time. It’s someplace that though you know little about, it allows you to imagine the most.

 

Rather than its Greek origin as the non-place, I tend to think of utopia as a more personal matter, a subjective vision for a potential goal, a Fata Morgana, a place that perhaps does not exist right now, but one which you’ll definitely want to reach eventually. That place needn’t be geographical, it could be a personal achievement or a professional goal, a way to re-organize the reality you are working on. It’s the reality that you want to be realizing, whether it’s a building, an exhibition or a book, its rules and its organization are that of utopia, of a new garden of thoughts where you can only plant seeds and sit, imagining the glorious and ideal life that will grow out of them and surround you.

 

Jan Åman

 

 

Andreas Angelidakis

 

1 comment » | Guest Contributors

CORNER

November 6, 2011
caulk dirty
Caulk Structure
Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, Japanese Grand Prix, 1990 (source)

 

The corporation DAP unmercifully executed the inside corner around the end of World War II, and the butt joint suffered a slower death shortly thereafter. Sure, resins, putty and other schmear were used before that time–but all of a sudden this goo that could fix all problems was mass-produced and easily dispensed in tubes. Architects eventually started to make drawings indicating every linear inch where this frosting should be used. They called them wireframe diagrams, but their real function was to specify the locations of caulk at the intersection of any two planes. It did not matter how big the gap – just caulk to fill. Towards the end of World War II, Dow Corning jumped into the silicone market and made an array of goo so powerful that mechanical fasteners, welding, frames and other conventional tectonics were no longer necessary. In 1978, in order to test their new silicone caulk, Carlo Scarpa was sealed into his casket with a perfect quarter-inch bead of clear indoor/outdoor. So DAP killed the corner, Dow killed the connection. In the late 90s, the Institute for the Promotion of Blobs formed due to the communal hatred of the corner and called for a careful mimicry of this high-tech goo. Eventually they will accomplish their goal of creating a cast caulk structure so we will never have to worry about weathering, shrinking, cracking, expansion, peeling, or leaking. At least for fifteen years.

 

In his recent documentary Senna (2010), director Asif Kapadia brings to our attention the importance one corner can have on the course of a single Formula 1 race, a season, and a career. Framing the rivalry between cold, rational Frenchman Alain Prost and passionate, tempestuous Brazilian Ayrton Senna, Kapadia identifies its crescendo at the start of the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, where Senna unflinchingly attempted to overtake Prost at its first corner. Responding to Senna’s aggression, Prost followed an infamously ‘dirty’ line, entering the corner early enough that Senna’s McLaren Honda impacted the rear of his Fiat Ferrari, resulting in the disablement of both vehicles and, ironically, sealing a World Championship for Senna.

 

Prost’s paradoxical action was a critique, a means of calling attention to behavior he saw as unbecoming a driver in Senna’s position. It also calls attention to the difference between the static corner and the art (and science) of cornering, the means by which a vehicle fluidly traverses a track. Within a single manifold of possibilities, each driver constructs his or her own racing line, and the differences between said lines determine the winner.

 

Racing lines are concerned with quickness, not the shortest distance between two points… more

 

Kyle May

 

 

Michael Abrahamson

 

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