This week has been mostly spent finishing research for my paper, and starting to write the rough draft. I had a skype call with Piero La Mura, who is one of the leading experts on quantum computing and the financial system. His research and our talk was very interesting, but I’m not entirely sure whether I can incorporate it into my work at this moment, or whether it will lead to projects in the future.
Two serendipitous things happened today.
Toby sent me an article on a plan in the works where three different companies, one Russian, one Canadian and one American, are all investing heavily into laying down high speed fiber optic cables that would traverse the arctic circle and provide much faster connections between the US, Western Europe and Japan. Despite the huge investment and undertaking (each cable is estimated to cost between $600 million and $1.5 billion each, and will reduce latency between London and Tokyo by 30%), this is only possible due to global warming and polar ice caps receding significantly in the last few years.
I believe that this cable, this story, really brings together the connections between the financial system and the environment that I’ve been trying to deal with in more metaphorical ways (with the Unity landscape). Currently, I’m trying to figure out how to relate the speed gained by investing billions into these cables, an idea only made possible by human impact on our planet, and the effects that the financial system (and the infrastructural feats we are willing to do in its name) will continue to have on the environment. Here is the map of the planned cable.
I also met with Heather earlier in the day about my paper topic for her research studio class and my thesis project. Since I haven’t actually completed the projects I want to make, I can’t necessarily write the artist’s paper she had in mind for me. I still want to frame what I’ve been researching in that vein, but I may have to focus on other artists who have tried to do similar things.
So that got me looking at a book I’ve had for a while called Else/Where: Mapping New Cartographies of Networks and Territories. Flipping through, I came across a diagram that immediately resonated with me in light of the previous map.
The diagram, called “Centers and Peripheries,” was originally made by geographer Denis Retaillé in 1992, but included in a 1994 volume on the “globalization of capital” by the economist François Chesnais. In his chapter “Counter Cartographies” Brian Holmes discusses the map.
This map shows three things. First, a circuit linking the United States, Western Europe and Japan, the so-called “Triad” regions, which form a “global oligopoly” accounting for the majority of industrial and financial exchanges. Second, the major nodes of the world network, represented by densely outlined circles. And third, the hierarchical relations between the regions, as described with these categories: center; periphery integrated to the center; annexed periphery; exploited periphery; abandoned periphery. Chesnais performs a Marxist analysis, showing how globally fragmented production lines are coordinated through the computerized circuits of the financial sphere. His map describes the hierarchy of social relations in a post-national era, when no political formation can erect any substantial barrier to the dictates of capital. And it reveals the near-perfect correlation between the graph of virtual flows and the geography of human exploitation.
I need to think about the relationship of these diagrams a bit more, but it’s as if one is predicting the existence of the other.
The organization of the site functions around the Staten Island Ferry schedule, which usually leaves every 30 min. During rush hour the frequency increases to about every 15-20 min, and then on the weekend decreases to every hour between 7 pm – 6 am.
When a ferry arrives there is tremendous activity and motion in the station as people debark and make their way into the city, or rush to board the ferry. Then the terminal empties out fairly quickly as people file onto the ferry, or proceed outside. Little by little, the terminal grows full as people arrive to wait for the next ferry. When people have a lot of time to kill, they are pretty relaxed, or bored and killing time. There are lots of snack bars that sell pretzels or other fast food. There are also ATMs and other electronic components that help people wayfind, plan their trip, or just read the adspace.
The main waiting area are long double-sided granite seats, which are all connected to one another. People sit on either side, similar to the subway benches. The benches are in the center of the waiting area, but there is a large area between them that creates an aisle, as well as a good people watching throughway.
The overwhelming characteristic of the space is transitional, but there are still people who sit there for up to an hour at a time. There are also many displays and ads and other forms of signage bombarding you, so it is not really a quiet area, but invites something else that will impact people or grab their attention.
While I was there I saw an exhibition of signs that had been made as a collaboration between students from Brooklyn and visual artists. The project was sponsored by the Dept of Transportation, and the artists helped the students create their own versions of road signs that applied to their lives and values. Aesthetically, I thought these worked well in the space since they were so graphically bold.
Um, there is also a Talking Map. It talks to you. It’s a bit embarrassing to use, but kind of amazing at the same time.
DRAFT SET OF INSTRUCTIONS
Enter the South Ferry station and proceed up the escalators to the 2nd floor waiting area.
Write down the time of your arrival.
Find out the time of the next ferry departure.
Calculate the amount of time you will have to wait for the ferry.
Take a seat with a good vantage point of one of the LED screens.
Write down each message that gets displayed on the screen. If possible, note the color of the message as well. If possible, note the time.
After leaving the terminal, re-type or xerox your notes. Cut out each sentence or phrase. Re-arrange them according to your own desires. Photograph the result. Post the before and after versions to the blog.
Observe the canine cop and his handler.
How would you characterize their relationship?
How many times does the canine cop conduct searches?
What are the various reposes of the canine cop?
What is the method of communication between the canine and his handler?
Document your thoughts and these behaviors with words, images, or video.
I was at the Bobst Library doing an assignment, and decided to see how my camera’s white balance would work when I was taking a picture into the sun. I’m using a Panasonic Lumix LX3. The first image is much bluer than the picture I took after using the gray card to white balance. This is probably to do with the florescent lighting in the library, more than pointing into the sunlight.
Also, I’m having trouble uploading raw files, so I need to compress them down to jpeg or tiff. Actually I did png.
The article by Rittel and Webber entitled “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning” lays out their idea of the “wicked problems” that face anyone working in the public sphere, though is geared towards urban planners. It was written in 1973, and seems to focus mainly on working in the United States. Despina assigned this as the first week’s reading in Principled Design, which is primarily focused on designing for social change, especially in the developing world.
This reading brings up a lot important fundamentals that people working in the social sciences need to consider, and that designing to improve people’s lives is involves confronting “wicked problems,” meaning problems that have no obviously clear solutions and many interconnected causes and effects. It contrasts previous approaches and models that were used to generate and evaluate design solutions: efficiency and rationalism, among others. It gives a good framework to see how planners have shifted gears to view problems and solutions in more holistic and interconnected ways, and was good to read before embarking on this week’s assignment of making our own model of the different forces at play when conceptualizing the context of a design solution.
I am still mulling over possible visual and experiential models that I’d like to try out. I think the goal is more to create a tool or a platform that people can frame a specific design problem within. General context, more than fixed network.