February 28, 2009

Public Spacemaking/Seating Typologies

For the purposes of the workshop we have outlined 3 categories of public spacemaking / seating typologies to explore.

  • DIY spacemaking
  • Vending Machine/ Coin Operated/ Franchised Spacemaking devices
  • Permanent Flexible Infrastructures

1. DIY spacemaking

joel -crook
Originally uploaded by swampy123
DIY spacemaking is typified by the efforts of individual street users which utilize a set of affordable tools for customizing their environment to accommodate a certain behavior, like skateboarding.

Originally uploaded by Dakos / Spaceman Clara!
The picnic basket and blanket are familiar tools for customizing an outdoor environment

Camping Chairs
Originally uploaded by kathym6366
Camping chairs are another good example of customizing an outdoor environment.

To add to this, we also consider the emergent phenomenon of urban play. A great example of this is the public pillow fight that takes place in San Francisco and around the world on Valentines Day.

Originally uploaded by urban_data
The Postal Chairs project by GRL embodies all of the best principles of DIY spacemaking.

See the video: http://graffitiresearchlab.com/?page_id=35

And then there is the absurdly functional work of Sarah Ross: Archisuit consists of an edition of four leisure jogging suits made for specific architectural structures in Los Angeles. The suits include the negative space of the structures and allow a wearer to fit into, or onto, structures designed to deny them.


Originally uploaded by beatlequeen

Rebar's contribution to this equation is Bushwaffle: our prototype
personal space softening device.

Social ecology

The groundwork for a lot of the way we think about public space was laid by social ecology and environmental psychology thinkers of the mid- to late-20th century. If you're not already familiar with these names, have a look at some of the links here, and if you'd like, check out their original writings.

The proto-urbanist of the modern city is Lewis Mumford. He had a way with words--one of my favorite quotes of his is "forget the damned motor car and build the city for lovers and friends." His writings were the beginning of the critique of the engineered, technocratic city that would later become the populist defense of Greenwich Village against freeways and urban renewal made by Jane Jacobs. Her most important book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, gets into the social life of neighborhoods and explores the kind of informal social interactions that make for resilient, safe, interesting places. New York's Project for Public Spaces considers Jacobs its intellectual godmother. Her defense of "eyes on the street" and informal play on stoops and in alleyways ran against the grain in the 60s, but is common wisdom in planning today.

Allan Jacobs, no relation to Jane, is a designer at emeritus faculty at UC Berkeley. His book Great Streets outlines the design characteristics of good public spaces and looks at how scale and form contribute to the social life of cities.

The person to have done the most to create primary research on how people actually use public space is William Whyte. His contribution was to systematize and quantify the successful design characteristics of public spaces (much like Corbusier did for architecture in creating the proportions of his Modulor Man) by actually filming people using public space and scientifically analyzing their behaviors. Whyte's work was tremendously influential and helped urban designers understand the human implications of the spaces they were creating. 

Strategies, tactics and interim uses...hello Texas A&M

John Bela and I are sitting in cafe in San Francisco planning out our workshop with you in a couple weeks. We're looking forward to it! From the looks of the blog, you've started doing some good background work already. We'll be posting some more leads for you to check out in the next few days. 

To start us off, check out this excellent article by our friend Chris Roach. In it, Chris lays out a basic framework for thinking about the kind of work we're about to engage in together. He also mentions other research that you might want to look into. This provides a good overview of the ground we'll be covering.

Next Friday, we'll be on a conference call with your class so we can check in with any questions you have and discuss any prep we need to do before the workshop.

February 27, 2009

Rebargroup: Sloan Springer

Improv Everywhere is the group responsible for the Frozen Grand Central, as well as many other 0ff the wall public interventions. Their website has lots of videos and examples, as well as DVDs of all their "missions" available for purchase.


Rebargroup: Kristina Waller

Rebargroup: Kristina Waller

Inflatable art examples.


This is a video of the artist speaking about his work.
Click on the picture and it will take you to the video.

February 25, 2009

Rebargroup: Barrett Davis

Graffiti Research Labs:

A common thread that holds the projects together is that they are trying to make a statement in the public area. As conscious as they are with their message, they are also conscious to not damage the areas as much as a normally thought to be graffiti artist. Instead of tagging with spray paint cans they use techniques such as projectors and LED's to get their messages across.

- This is a fun little link where it takes you step by step on how to make a difference in the public space. It seems a bit in-your-face at times, however.

- LED Throwies: perhaps one of their better known projects. The idea is that you make graffiti by only using LED's and magnets which can be attached to many surfaces without actually damaging them. It is a very aesthetically pleasing sight, it's easy to clean up, yet it makes a statement.

- Night Writer: extends the idea of the LED Throwie in a more practical regard. Instead of having to throw the LED's without discretion, one can attach the LED's to a board and attach it as they please.

- Drip Sessions: the beginning of an ongoing project that uses captured ink effects with projection capabilities. Some of their later work expands on this idea but appears to use a laser to draw instead of having captured video. The filming of the ink dripping down the paper is much more along the idea of a typical graffiti artist spray-painting on a wall.

February 24, 2009

Jenny Sabin Research

Jenny Sabin workshop description (pdf, 1.5 Mb)

Readings for the workshop (zip file, 154 Mb)

Rhino scripting primer (pdf, 3.6 Mb)

Also, research artist and scientist Ernest Chladni

Rebargroup: Katie Smither

They are coming.  So I think we should use what we learned from Michele's visit and capitalize on it.  Preparation is key, and let's not put a lock on our own door.  I think we would all agree that the more preparation we do before the artist is here the more we will be able to get accomplished, that way we don't have to waste time planning and thinking and pondering, we can just rock out.  That said, this is on REBAR's bushwaffle site:

"Rebar is currently exploring new material options and design innovations for Bushwaffle, and will delve deeper into this question at a week-long artists’ residency program at Texas A&M University. Specifically, we will seek to identify available materials that are recyclable (or compostable) alternatives to PVC. These materials include corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) and other bioplastics."

That's us! So, if anybody has time or interest, it seems like researching inflatable options and  plastics that can be used as a skin for inflatable objects is a good place to start.  I really like the implications of the bushwaffle and REBAR's other work, it's proactive/progressive and serves a positive purpose, it's great.  Like bushwaffles, they're 'social bubbles' in the opposite sense of the phrase, they allow people to branch out rather than remain confined to themselves or their circumstances...therefore, breaking the actual 'social bubbles'....nice.  

Hopefully I'll have more to post soon to get us going, till then enjoy Jeff Koons.  The uber famous artist of today who used inflatables in his old work (hey, that looks kinda like a bushwaffle......) 

He also made inflatables out of metal....so, no...not really inflatable.  His work is the epitome of 'kitsch' art....and if you look up 'kitsch' it talks about bad taste, tackiness, or something aesthetically inferior or low class (like your plastic Little Mermaid piggy bank you had when you were 8.....or 20), but when Koons talks about his work, he talks about the actual beauty of such things.  That the balloon animal really is gorgeous, or that there's something wonderfully charming about your grandmother's collection of porcelain cats that can't be ugly.  I'm not sure about the cats.....but I think he might be right about some things.  See y'all friday!


- Katie Smither

February 22, 2009

Michele Brody: Kristina Waller

This is a photograph from 2/20/09 of Chris' seed post.

This is a detail of what might be his first sprout.