“The Wild, Secret Life of New York City” by Brandon Keim
“We are in the habit of seeing untended nature as a sort of blankness, awaiting human work to fill it. It’s right there in the name: vacant lot. A place where spontaneous life is invisible, or at best considered so many weeds, the term used to lump together and dismiss what thrives in spite of our preferences.”
This Is Criminal Podcast: “He’s Neutral”
About a traffic island turned dump turned Buddhist shrine….
“Dan Stevenson has lived in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood for 40 years. He says crime has been an issue for as long as he can remember, but he isn’t one to call the police on drug dealers or sex workers. He’s a pretty “live and let live” kind of guy. Or he was. Before he finally got fed up and took matters into his own hands.”
Producing Waste / Producing Space event at Princeton
“This symposium brings together scholars engaging in innovative research on the origins, meanings and repercussions of waste landscapes in conversation with artists and architects conducting design research and interventions in spaces designated as waste or wasted.”
Really exciting project by Patricia Dominguez.
Browse the website/log of the project: http://thepossibilityofatree.blogspot.com/
Experiment: Can one create a ‘sacred space’ by investing time, energy, and attention into a site? I’m not sure what vocabulary Pati uses to talk about this project. She might use a different term than ‘sacred space’, but you get the idea.
Listen to this 99% Invisible podcast.
I have a couple of theories about why pneumatic tubes are magic. I think they inspire wonder because they’re alive or it feels like they’re alive. They’re reaching out through the city they have tendrils and tentacles and they breathe and they throw things up and they feel much much bigger than we are. I also think they inspire wonder because they manifest communication. For us today, when we think of communication, all the 1’s and 0’s and digital things that we move don’t feel real tangible to us anymore. but i also think that they felt pretty magical to people back then too, that they were electrical and breathing networks of communication. You could scent a handkerchief and send it to your loved one via pneumatic tube, and it would still smell like you. So I think that we’re romantic as well and I think that’s part of the wonder today too.
So in a sense they’re both alive and mechanical. both high and low tech. and there’s also something to be said about the journey of a tube canister. You can imagine it snaking its way through these underground passageways, carrying your message. And so this idea of being able to go somewhere where you wouldn’t otherwise be able to go is amazing.
About 50 people set out on foot from the Swiss village of Fiesch at dawn on July 31. As the sun rose over 13,000-foot (4,000-meter) Alpine peaks, the procession moved slowly up a mountainside and into the cool of a pine forest, stopping at a tiny church.
By 7:30 the group had swollen to around a hundred—too many to fit inside the chapel of Maria Heimsuchung, or Mary of the Visitation, so a makeshift altar was erected outside.
“Glacier is ice, ice is water, water is life,” intoned priest Toni Wenger, before beseeching God to stop the glaciers high above them from melting.
By changing a few, crucial words in the liturgy, Father Wenger reversed a Catholic ritual that for 350 years had implored the heavens to push back the glaciers.
The Vatican had approved the change as the effects of global warming became all too tangible in the Alps…
…We prayed for the ice to recede, and our prayer worked—too well,” said Herbert Volken, mountain guide and mayor of Conches, the district that includes Fiesch.
Read more at National Geographic, article by Laura Spinney.
Also read a blog post by Andrew Revkin on the subject.
“Artifacts, just like people, animals or plants, have souls and historical memories,” said Turkey’s culture minister, Ertugrul Gunay. “When they are repatriated to their countries, the balance of nature will be restored.” — via The New York Times: Seeking Return of Art, Turkey Jolts Museums by Dan Bilefsky
“I believe in the lives of many things—not only living animals, flowers and so forth, but also a small cup, your camera, your watch, your shoes… everything has its own life. It was born somewhere, and it will be worn out and reborn. In Kyoto you find a very interesting tomb called fudezuka. It’s a tombstone for old pens. Once you use your pens, you cannot put them in the garbage, you have to preform a ritual.” — comments by Hidetoshi Kato found in the margin of Kenji Ekuan’s interview, under a caption entitled “spirit”.
fudezuka mound in Kyoto, image toranosuke
This tombstone performs a similar function as the Jamaica Bay Pen Project — treating even the most mundane things in our lives with respect.
Patricia Dominguez is feeding me images of shrines in Thailand. She says she’s seen hundreds, and “they all have small inhabitants inside them…”
I unfortunately missed Husk Lab’s Broom Making Workshop last month at Proteus Gowanus.
More photos of the event here.
More on the project in this post.
Someone is definitely getting one of these handmade brooms for Christmas.
When I was in Japan in 2006, I visited the Great Shrine of Ise. Every 20 years for the last two millennia it’s been rebuilt out of Japanese Cypress trees using ancient construction methods, so that it’s “forever new and forever ancient and original”. Only one priest(ess) can enter the central shrine, within which there is supposedly an ancient mirror cocooned in cloth bag after cloth bag. There are tame deer roaming the town, which just heightens the surreal / mythical qualities of the place.
There is an ancient forest there, and it looks like visitors have built tiny shrines to the huge trees. These small shrines were the most memorable for me.
You can’t tell from this photo, but this tree is absolutely huge. I could have easily crawled underneath it.
I met with Christina Kelly last week to talk about our two Gowanus projects.
She is growing broomcorn next to the Gowanus, actually at my “Site 1”. I saw it there before, but I didn’t know it was hers!
She says the growing is almost finished, and she’s bringing a craftsman in to make the corn into a traditional-style broom. The sculpture will be an artifact of a season of cultivating the material.
Additionally, through all the flooding and hurricanes, she discovered that as water drains into the canal, the corn acts as a sieve, catching debris and preventing it from entering the canal…just like a broom.
This is all very exciting to me. It embodies a lot of the same processes and values that my shrine project does … paying consistent attention over time, a marriage of symbolic and practical action, and an emphasis on the source of one’s material …
It’s also a beautiful echo of Agnes Denes’s “Wheatfield”.