Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Really interesting article about young photographers and thrill seekers climbing skyscrapers to capture breathtaking images of the "urban jungle" we call Toronto. I enjoy how the photographer(s) juxtapose the people in the frame and the cityscape itself. The pictures are an intriguing way of viewing the city from a vantage point not native to most urban dwellers. Most of these shots are taken illegally, with the photographer and thrill seekers avoiding security guards. This relates to the idea of the contested city, being that these people are defying the norms and legal system imposed on the system to provide themselves enjoyment and capture their view of Toronto with the use of a lens. These photographs contest the city's legal framework by defying private property rights, something that is instrumental to the neoliberal system. This is even related to this upcoming weeks readings... food for thought! I don't want to delve too deep into my perceptions, I hope you all can produce your own conclusions given the knowledge provided in lecture and in the readings. Enjoy!
Wednesday, November 06, 2013
Urban planning: Past and Present.
The pictures clearly shows the distinct changes to Toronto's skyline and landscape. Through the interaction photographs of past and present, it's pretty amazing to see where Toronto has changed.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Toronto and the Figure of the Hoser
Exciting new technologies for urban planning
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The Trayvon Martin case is an example of how an encounter at the street level in a nominally public space can scale up from the street and become a national public debate about race and racism. In this relatively impromptu speech, Obama puts himself in the position of Trayvon Martin and discusses some of the other ways that racism gives rise to a fear that forecloses the possibilities of open "contact" (Jacobs) kinds of encounters in the public spaces of the city. Note though how gender plays into this dynamic of fear, for when he discusses the now heavily mythologized elevator scene he refrains from putting himself in the position of someone who might be feared. Keep in mind also that this speech is aimed at giving expression to widespread political outrage in the hopes of heading off what could be a violent response to such a verdict (memories of Rodney King and the LA riots). In this regard, watch his hand gestures, which might be expected to emphasize his points with fist thrusts but which come across as being fatigued and lacklustre. Thus, even in his body language he channels the frustration while refusing to channel a forceful reaction, replacing the potential force with a frustrated fatigue.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
TED talk on "Walkable Cities"
Thursday, October 24, 2013
NY Times Article - The Experiences of living in London
I found this article from the New York Times titles 'Lessons From Living in London'. The writer is a New Yorker describing her experiences moving to London, UK. I thought it was a really interesting article to read as the author discusses how one makes a city their own, by becoming a local, and how living in a city is very different to visiting it. The author talks a lot about the neighbourhood feel of London, and I think this is something we all do in each city we live. We always frequent the same areas, we have our favourite places to eat, our favourite stores, and usually our friends live nearby. It was also interesting to note the cultural aspect - the difference of being an American in London.
Whilst this is essentially a travel article, I think it is useful and interesting to read when considering the metropolis.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Jane Jacobs meets John Travolta
One could probably have an entire film festival just on films with good sidewalk scenes but the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever is undoubtedly among the best. The soundtrack from the brothers Gibb certainly doesn't hurt either. Here we have all of Jane Jacobs' themes about sidewalk sociality: the different forms of contact (here: the gaze, the glance, the stare, the stop and chat, the shared liminal space) and the public characters (the pizza parlour woman who knows Travolta's usual order, the shopkeeper and Travolta himself). Here too the theme of trust comes up when Travolta tells the shopkeeper he doesn't need a receipt, saying 'I trust you'. That the shopkeeper rejects this trust only serves to emphasize the social fact of its existence, regardless of actual individual reliability (as it turns out Travolta can't really be trusted either as he proceeds to fleece a customer while acting neighbourly). Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Is this what future cities will be like?
The "Smart City" reminded me of some features of Modernity discussed in class. First, the striking amount of new technology used to advance the city to strive towards modernity is mind-boggling. And this makes me realize that moving towards modernity meant that things had to be efficient, productive and progressive. Everyone had to be connected somehow and in some someway (through the internet for example) and the environment had to be as pristine as possible. The technology involved in the whole experience is characteristic of a modern city by nature, suggested by Simmel's article "The Metropolis and Mental Life" (1995).
Second, I think the idea of city management relates very well to city planning / urban planning. In one way, to manage a city is to organize it so that it is 'planned', by this I mean major players in the planning (or people who have a say in the plan) are those of significant power or wealth in a city, who set up the city to their desires. This brings into questions such as the reality of the rich/poor dichotomy and how that comes into play, as this "Smart City" seem to be geared more towards the rich. I could only imagine what the costs of it all would be like... to be able to have 'pristine environments', and internet wherever one goes, and all these high-tech gadgets that tell you how to live your life basically. Put in this way, I feel like cities will be controlling us rather than us 'managing' the city.
Lastly, the idea of a utopia comes to mind as this very much contrasts with the rural, and strengthens the difference between rural and urban life, not only in terms of structure but of lifestyle and standards as well. All the forms of transportation are symbolic, (as seen in the video), they all are very high-tech and symbolize a linear progressive direction to the bright future. The things seen only in movies and video games are becoming a reality as innovative technologies are so easily attainable.
The whole idea of it all seems very ambitious, but possible, perhaps in the future world of innovation and technologies, the future of cities will look something similar to a "Smart City". I'd have to admit though, it all seems very cool! But I can't help but also wonder about our safety, and risk of impersonators or fraud, or people 'hacking' into your life with all these high-tech stuff....
I remember reading that Toronto is the city with the greatest number of condominiums in North America. Why do you think this is? Most of these condo's might be in the central Toronto area.
I remember the Polish Community Centre hosting community sidewalk fairs where you could try Polish food and see Polish folk dancing. I remember my father visiting the mechanical shop numerous times.
There used to be an association between people in this neighbourhood across horizontal space - now community space seems to have become remodelled vertically.
What is foregrounded and what is obscured when our vision becomes orientated upwards?
Sunday, September 29, 2013
City of Toronto map - fantasy style
My first thought was to think of this class and how the prof brought up our own perception towards Toronto. Just thought this would be an interesting share, and whether some of you agree or disagree with the fantastical representation of each district.
I for one am really amused with City Hall, aka "Dragon Mayor's Lair".
Monday, September 23, 2013
"Streets are the dwelling place of the collective. The collective is an eternally unquiet, eternally agitated being that - in the space between the building fronts - experiences, learns, understands and invents as much as individuals do with the privacy of their own four walls."
Now along with these two quotes I would like you to examine these two images from the corner or Bathurst Street and Bloor Street (as seen on the afternoon of Friday September 20th, 2013)
I found it interesting that the filming of the documentary coincided with the ethnographic fieldwork conducted by Kelly. However, the documentary offers a different view, as the director follows two Black Canadian youths who live in Regent Park, commenting on their struggles within the community. I feel that this low-income perspective contrasts nicely with Kelly’s article. Watching the film added depth to my understanding of the “social mixing” taking place through the revitalization of the neighbourhood. I really enjoyed the premise of the article, which questions this whole idea about how the condo-owner might struggle with the idea of being some kind of saviour. Among other things, both works left me wondering if this social mixing in the area might have the opposite effect of lowering crime in the area, and actually make it worse.
Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler. Constructions of Deviance: Social Power, Context, and Interaction, 7th edition (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 2012) pg. 66
Sara Thompson, and Sandra Bucerius "Regent Park revitalization: Has it created an us versus them dynamic?" (Toronto Star, June 2012)
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Intersections Are Contests
You, the person reading this post, have probably decided that what I have been describing as diversity is shallow relative to other examples of urban diversity. This is a description merely of a diversity of things to be purchased at Yonge and Dundas. None of my examples were of things visitors could sell themselves in the market. None of my examples were of those objects or experiences existing outside of the market.
|Yonge and Dundas (click the image to enlarge)|
Screen Capture from Google Maps
|Baldwin and Augusta (click the image to enlarge)|
Screen Capture from Google Maps
I have used the word must to describe a custom which you may think is voluntary. Why would I make an argument like this? This is a conditional, must-not usage. You must not break the law. You must not disobey your authority figures. You must not create dangerous situations. Each of these must-nots is predicated on the idea that you respect the customs of your environment, and if you contest the customs at any Toronto intersection you should be prepared to endure societal disgrace. The faces of societal disgrace include: stares, jeers, whispers, pointing, unintended injury, intended violence, malice, confusion and so on. These society-level behaviours exist wherever you find people, but the specific expectations and the degrees of severity you find are highly variable.
A consequence of participating in quieter intersections is an increase in what other people will expect from you and what you can expect from them in return (an exchanging of expectation). A consequence of participating in a noisier intersection is a decrease in expectation and an increase in the volume of information which you are exposed to.
When you and I decide to respect or contest the customs which surround us we are exercising our agencies. Depending on where these customs exist, we may need to work harder to express this agency. If we do not express our agencies we silence ourselves. If we remain silent we allow others to speak for us.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Global suburbanisms conference
Maria, who took Metropolis 347 some years ago and is now active in a community food initiative in Parkdale, sent on this information about an upcoming conference at York U on global suburbanisms.
Fritz Lang meets Kraftwerk
Metropolis: Age of Uncertainty
Thursday, February 26, 2009
welcome to the Panopticon! what, you didn't know? we have arrived!
This article by Peter Cashmore briefly points to the many ways in which our public actions and conversations are vulnerable to capture and re-presentation by more than just CCTV... for example, if anyone with a cellphone can catch you in the act of doing something socially distasteful, then broadcast and ultimately humiliate or shame you via YouTube or some other social media network, then will web 2.0 social media become the omnipresent Big Brother, the watching eyes and ears that ultimately train us to become better (nicer on the outside) people?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Physical Demarcations of Space in Toronto
Are these signs insinuating that once entering this neighbourhood can only certain people enjoy its amenities, thus creating a physical rich-poor divide. Or do these signs create feelings of superiority among those who are able enjoy the luxurious amenities this neighbourhood as to offer. Whatever the feelings may be among those who can enjoy and among those who simply walk through, the physical demarcation of space through the use of a sign within our city's pavement has transformed the invisible barrier of this elite neighbourhood into a physical divide, one people physical cross when the walk passed this embedded sign.
I wonder if any one could think of any other physical divides that characterize Toronto's city scape?
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I was in
The owners wanted to go for a feel where you could come sit in and watch people and enjoy a slow meal. But isn't the whole point of the flaneur so that you DON'T have some restricted framework guiding your actions and thoughts? So then, in wanting to achieve what the flaneur achieves, by walking idle around the city and interacting with everything for only short amounts of time, the restaurant actually fails.
I am by no means trying to critique the restaurant but just found it interesting to our discussions in the course. In a metropolis like London, I don't find it surprising at all that some people want to recreate the feel of the old bourgeoisie class in creating this restaurant, but from what we learned about what a flaneur is and how he lives and interacts with his surrounds, it seems incorrect to call this restaurant The Flaneur. Am I wrong in thinking so? Or could the concept of the Flaneur be changing when applied to a metropolis already full of people walking idle, and having a life full of only brief and rapid interactions with everything along its path? Could we call it a new postmodern flaneur character, one that actually sits and doesn't really interact with anything, if only to watch it from afar and actually not partake in the rapid city life? Instead of walking idle and interacting with the city, like the Flaneur in Paris of the 18th and 19th century, maybe London can bring this character some new definition and into the current century.
This got me thinking about how advertising companies have really changed, especially in larger cities like Toronto, and how such an ad could change what we talked about in class regarding street life and street dynamics. On a regular basis we're subjected to ads be it on posters, pasted on buildings, on billboards, in newspapers or even on other people, but now it seems to have come to life in a sense. It's not only on a flat screen but in the middle of the road forcing us to interact with it. People would slow down, look at it, trying to figure out what it was and I think in that it succeeded as a good advertising tool. It is still novel and so people are reacting to it and taking notice of it, but it makes me question what would be the next step up after the novelty wears off of this? What new 'characters' will be added to the street next and how will our forced interactions with them change our perceptions of the street?
I don't think it is entirely new what companies are doing now in order to sell their products. I remember a couple of years back reading about how Sony was using new tactics to sell its new phone, the first of the Ericsson series. Basically it would have a confederate walk the streets and ask people to take pictures of him/her with their new phone. And as he/she would hand their phone over to the willing citizens, they would get them to interact with the phone and hopefully spark their interest into buying it or at least inquiring about it.
This mannequin has worked in the same sense. Here I am, still talking about it, and I saw it weeks ago!
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
This digital project adds a wholly new dimension to the panoptic gaze of the city. The versatility of this utility allows one to appreciate Manhattan from not only a traditional cartographic perspective, but also from new and unusual angles, such as this perspective fly-through.
In Transparent New York, the urban infrastructure of Manhattan is dissected neatly into layers which can be viewed individually or together.
The virtual space of Manhattan Timeformations introduces a new way of seeing the city. It enables one to literally see through all the steel and concrete, and appreciate the spatial and geographic organization of the city in an elegant and purely geometric form.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
McDonald's in Beijing
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
NYC Playground Movement
According to CUNY Professor Roger Hart, the playground movement in New York City (c. 1900) attempted to replace free play with formalized play - playgrounds - due to fears for the safety of children playing in the streets, but also fears of these mostly immigrant, low-income children as unassimiliated threats who needed to be occupied with more wholesome, structured activities.
Hart argues that children resisted - including by spreading broken glass on streets to slow traffic impeding play - because playgrounds failed to meet the complexity of their interests and developmental needs. He instead points to adventure playgrounds with loose parts, natural environments, and play facilitators, and community gardens with play spaces planned by children themselves as examples that support the development of a more democratic society in which children are able to "invent their own worlds" and participate in building society as opposed to simply being passive recipients of it.
On a related note, an article (registration required) published in the New York Times about a "new kind of playground" being built in Lower Manhattan is accompanied by an in-depth multimedia feature entitled "Playgrounds Grow Up" that is narrated by New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and takes the viewer through the history of play provision in the city.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Planet in Focus Film Festival in Toronto October 24 - 28
The Mall on Top of My House - short playing with
Mr. Wong’s World (Die Häuser des Mr. Wong)
Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 7:30pm - Innis Town Hall
The Survivors Project: Voices from the Inside-out!
Friday, October 26, 2007 - 3:00pm - Innis College Town Hall
Gone: Bill Madden
Friday, October 26, 2007 - 7:00pm - Royal
Friday, October 26, 2007 - 9:00pm - Royal
You Never Bike Alone
Friday, October 26, 2007 - 9:30pm - Innis College Town Hall
Weapons of Mass Production
Saturday, October 27, 2007 - 11:00am - Innis College Room 222
Saturday, October 27, 2007 - 12:00pm - Innis College Room 222
Third Ward TX
Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 5:00pm - Innis College Town Hall
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
rich/poor divide in world cities
Found this post regarding Extreme Rich-Poor Divides in some of the world's biggest cities very interesting after our discussion on Tuesday about the upper class & "self interest". It is amazing to see such a severe visual juxtaposition of wealth.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Graffiti is the chameleon skin of the urban landscape. Equal parts public art and vandalism, virtuosity and subversion, it is among the most ephemeral forms of human expression. Graffiti walls are repainted frequently, as different writers compete and collaborate on the public canvas. A given piece may last years, weeks, or mere hours. For graffiti writers, this is expected and in fact fundamental to their process, which they perceive as an ongoing dialogue. However, most city dwellers experience this constant change only at a subconscious level.
Artists and photographers have been documenting the changes through time of graffiti in cities like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Graffiti Archaeology is an interactive timelapse collage of photographs taken at the same location by many different photographers over a span of several years.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The City, the Camera and the Optical Unconcious
Monday, September 17, 2007
In Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the underground city of 2027 is portrayed as a domain where the underclass works under oppressive and alienating conditions. It isn't even clear what they are producing; all we know is that the workers spend their days toiling on huge machines.
What is the underground city like today? Toronto is home to one of the world's largest underground cities, with some 27 kilometers of underground pathways located beneath the city centre. Unlike in Lang's film, however, the so-called PATH system is not a world of consumption rather than production. Beneath the towers of the metropolis are shops, food courts, and entertainment. Rather than a space of industrial regimentation, it is a space designed to maximize consumption by preventing people from finding routes back to the world above ground.
As reported in the Star, the City of Toronto has tried repeatedly to establish a system of signage that would allow PATH pedestrians to find their way from place to place, even when they don't have the benefit of seeing the exterior cityscape. But planners have only been partially successful. In the end, the PATH system may be less like a system of streets and more like a casino, where clues about one's location in space and time are reduced to a minimum, and people are encouraged to think only about what is right in front of them.