Sunday, February 25, 2007

congratulations to Al Gore and the team behind "An Inconvenient Truth" for winning an Oscar!!!!
let the rain fall

jubilee pearls

dew bead to come

cracked tree

ant's path

swollen buds

gristled soft, dark red soil

rifted light, cuts of powder sand

ensuing blood, pollen, water

my beckon cry

warmth of darkness sound

gift of life

(c) M. Waxman 2007

The Challenge

The Challenge: How do we make a better world? How do we create the type of infrastructure for a growing population and changing demands, changing needs, and desire and pleasure in creativity, innovation, and research progress? How do we situate this in a world context with real and serious consequences of many kinds? How do we value the challenge and blessing of problems and work towards diverse, multifacted, interconnected solutions to them? How do we negotiate life in existence?

Let's appreciate contradiction, complexity, diversity, difference and the unknown in the world. Let's work towards solutions and many scales that take on the challenge of the worlds problems in many contexts. Let's celebrate play, pleasure, comedy, human vices, chaos and our human nature. Let's celebrate order, constraints, civil society and rules, limitations. Let's seek to globalize information access, technological access, educational access, human rights, civil liberties, freedom, peace, and opportunities for finding wealth.

Let's globalize the value of the localized, and remember that maybe some people would rather not globalize that, too. Let's develop our personal and community wishes for manifested development, monuments, and identity. Let's develop our personal and community wishes for preserving that which is not manifested development. Let's teach and honor the future the way history is taught to be valued. Let's each try to wrap our minds around the idea of extended intergenerational families -- if you're twenty years old, imagine what would it be like to be a great-great-great grandparent!

Let's do the math and science of art and spirituality, and let's do the art and spirituality of math and science. Let us each live a life full of decisions, of love, of pleasure, of celebration, of community, of place, of relationship to our eternal context, this planet Earth. Let us savor the density of a single time-less moment, and savor the blistering swiftness of time. Let us know great places are made by our relationship to it, but that great places can and do exist without our knowledge or relation to them. Let us love our imminent death and permenant existence made by our birth -- both the definition of truth and fact.

Let us look change straight in the eye and see it in the mirror, from day to day, year to year, decade to decade. Let us imagine fantasies, wish for the unattainable, and work in all our abilities to create it and make it real. Let us make things beautiful and look long to seek beauty in that which is ugly, and let us recognize that not all is beautiful and that there is a purpose and place for the profane. Let us save ourselves from decay, war, and destruction, and let us save ourselves from the vanity of eternal preservation of everything and a disdane for destruction, regeneration, and that which will replace what is before it.

Let us speak many languages, teach many languages, communicate to each other, and write many rosetta stones, and let us keep talking in many ways. And let us see in as many ways as there are languages. And let us understand, deeply, that there is a different perspective upon the world through everyones' eyes and that each is valid and can have a vision. Let us know that it is not about being right and it is not about being wrong.

Such a challenge is bestowed upon the world. Such a challenge is the world.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

a place is like a person

A place is like a person; it is something that can be visited, it has an immaterial presence or spirit (a sense of place), a memory and history, a life, and can be formed by time and care, dressed up or torn down, mobilized, and can flex its parts to make new contours, experiences, and attitudes.

A great place can stand alone in its beauty; holistic strength stressing pride, confidence, and presence for all to wonder. Or a place can be defeated and destroyed, made weak and timid; put into hiding, fears awaiting the opportune moment to strike out from the shadows.

Multiple places, when they come together, can be likened to a family. The links between each place may be tight bonds forged through relationship, aged and tried over time; or, like siblings, together in love since birth.

To travel from a place to a place is an act of communication, a journey. And much to the similarity of conversation, as we look at each other while debating or cajoling, we each may have – as do adjoining places – our own perspectives, grand views, and passages of many words or silence, and trails of thought… a distant vista running off into the beyond, questions left unanswered, a gift for the future and our dreams.

Ideally, we will meet places we love, need, enjoy and savor; places we can dream to be with forever. Great places bringing people together are about the greatness of people. And while a human experience in a place is fundamentally about the human relationship to the place, a place is also more than something like a person – it is something we inhabit amongst a context. Great places need not just be about us.

Savoring a moment through parallax made real by a grand tree or light fluctuating between the mass of buildings marking a piazza: both are about those objects and their freedom, identity, and relationship to context and differentiations within space.

People share much in common with the world, the Earth, and place. A bond between us and our environs – like that between two old friends – must not be forgotten.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

stasis or mobile : place and human context

Some people elect to stay living in one place forever. If this is the case, the people conform to their context in entirety, thus becoming sown into its immaterial systemic network of flows and connections, like a nervous system woven deep into a body, or the entwined roots of many trees becoming one gigantic system underground. Thus, if there is proposed great change, it will be limited because the human context woven into the landscape context will react as fiercely as it would be if the proposed changed was upon its own human body. Alternatively, the human context may also respond to the change with inclusion, inviting it in as part of its own.

Some people elect to move across many places, and live as nomads. If this is the case, their contexts change frequently, and the people become dipped in the flavors and set in the ways of each place passed through, as well as learn to find a skin to comprise the individual, a selective identity influenced brick by brick, footstep by footstep. Much like ants crawling across a landscape of striations, danger, and difference, the nomad with deep reciprocity to the changing context, is at once bound and mobile, like the finite freedoms of a leaf floating endlessly on the surface of the sea. Thus, if there is proposed great change, the human context may find it an opportune moment to make of new travels, to go or stay, or to create new places set layered within the contexts of current, or reminiscent of past days. Alternatively, the nomadic human context may observe the change as divergent from their own paths and flows, and strike response by demanding a reprise to make present what once was but is no longer.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

space/time code = math minus # computation

Math is the code of space/time that tells how it works, much like zeros and ones are computed as on/off in computers to make computer environments work. Yet the environment of space and time is such that it requires no represented numerical computation -- there is no crunching of zeros and ones -- instead the environment, the context that some call "nature," is such that the system works on its own accord and syncopation.

Geometry, a sub-set of math, is special because it is a means of translating our understanding of the math code to space/time, and from space/time to the code of math. Trigonometry, calculus, basic arithmetic, and other forms of math, are all means of reading and writing the code. Math is logical because our understanding of the code must be computed by reason; people have still much to discover in the logic of math. Math can also become illogical and it is in this capacity that people also have much to discover. The majesty of our computational ability is to construct mathematics -- as well as translate them into space/time -- that utilize the code and model algorithms observed in space/time but might not exist in space/time without human-assisted computation and construction.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Whether you think you can't do it, or you think you can, you're right! -- Henry Ford

the patron

The patron in architecture has historically been an important part of the profession; this importance should be revisited.

Fluor Engineering Corporation has contracts around the world in various sectors. This is wonderful. Tonight, though, I was watching Iraq Reconstruction contract hearings on C-SPAN, and one of the companies under question at the hearing was Fluor. Sitting next to two men of equal stature and occupational focus, the Fluor representative worked in security and had been previously a member of the Armed Forces.

Fluor has water and electrical infrastructure development contracts in Iraq.

Why would a corporation seek to bid on contracts in Iraq? Why would someone seek to bid on a contract anywhere? Various reasons... a good work opportunity, a means to generate revenue, a means to extend the reach of the company's work and relationship with hiring bodies. More than likely it was a good opportunity, work-wise and in terms of generating revenue. But isn't Iraq a terribly dangerous place? Yes, I'd say it is -- and so did the Fluor security representative.

Maybe Fluor sees it also as a good opportunity to help the people of Iraq. Maybe Fluor sees it as civic and public duty both to the United States and to the people and government of Iraq; such is a noble and meaningful cause. But -- and I am mostly ignorant on the complexities of this matter -- I must admit I am a tad skeptical. It is true that, for example, when I first heard about the destruction in Lebanon and Iraq, one of my initial reactions is to say -- they need help in reconstruction! they need help in infrastructure! they need help in planning! And I still hold this opinion. But questions remain....

Why didn't Fluor agressively bid for contracts in water and electrical infrastructure in New Orleans? Well, the contracts were not really there... at least not on the scale of Iraq.

The patron is the person or body who provides the financial means for the fruition of a project.

There are different kinds of patrons, and each patron can serve different roles in the site, in the design, and in the institutional effect on place and time.

Louis Kahn, for example when designing the Salk Institute and the Capital of Banglesdesh, had a deep relationship to the site and the patron.

Michelangelo, Bernini, and Vasari, as well, for example, also had complex ties to their patrons, whether the Medici Family or the Papacy.

Architecture for Humanity and still-developing nations also can serve as interesting patrons with interesting needs, such as TunaHAKI in Tanzania.

And UC Santa Cruz and the University of California system has been the appreciative patron to EHDD Architecture.

Whatever you do, wherever it is done. Think of the patron. Think of your service and think of their role and your relationship to them. What is the context; patron is a vital part of this. Pride in patron, pride in expressing the icon of time and labor. Value the institution and the human, together. Be at the site and be in the place. Patron -- who are the people, what do they need, what are their values, how can you deliver vision and manifestation?

(c) M. Waxman 2007

the marshall's

Tonight I took a few moments to surf blogs on Blogger via the "next blog" button. What came next was "The Marshall's," a blog apparently written by someone (who I guess, by reading every entry is a man) recanting in bullet-point style the main events of each day since December 23rd, 2006. It's extremely fascinating just reading these simple details written by this person from Arizona... he went to sleep, watched 24, played monopoly with his son, got through work, watched football, spent time with his wife, ate dinner and desert... I wonder if he wonders anyone is reading his story:

Spending time reading other people’s blogs is very interesting and telling about the human condition, that deep inside we all have passions, for instance. Each passion is different for each person, just as are our differences in body and identity. Along the same lines, at work today, during my lunch break while taking a walk, I saw a gym teacher running alone around the field on her prep period – her passion is to be active and to run, I presumed. She has a great job and must be very happy!

Tokyo Sky City

The Discovery Channel website has a great interactive feature about a theoretical "Sky City" proposed for Tokyo. The project is at gargantuan scale and changes the invisible dynamics of a city's relationship to the land around it. The project could also reduce the temperature of the city -- being a partial (and grand scale) solution to climate change adaptation. With people moving to the towers, the site notes, more vegitated spaces could exist around the structure (but what about historical districts and existing city structures? Demolish to preserve that which is yet to be planted?).

The structure would stand at about three times the height of the Eiffel tower and would have three enormous legs and two connecting platforms stretched between them. I imagine such a structure would change the entire landscape of architecture for the city and region of its context. (The site notes that engineers would have to find a way to stabilize Tokyo’s unstable soil before the structure could be built.)

Architecture in a city of the sky would change the relationship of architecture to the land, to standing on the Earth, and relationship and value of Earth topography in human life. Such changes also speak to the multiplicity in human civilization -- from Babylon to Athens to Rome to cave dwellings to Sky Scrapers to a climate-adapted future – Civilization is changing.

Visit the interactive feature now. Shall this challenge the human tie to the land, or bond us closer to it by way of sending us into the air?

(image from Discovery Channel website)

Monday, February 05, 2007

sensing the future

Imagining the future is a watching and listening activity, a sensory activity different from the present.

This can mean more than one thing, and it's very true that in any kind of collaborative activity (like making, developing, fostering, participating in a large scale development or system) it is vitally important to listen and pay attention to all parties involved. And it is very true that in future visioning and scenario planning it is very important to study trends over-time and watch and listen to their movements.

But what I'm referring to is a little different.

We humans all live in the present; it's where we inhabit in the most literal sense. Think of living in the present as a first layer to our being. Our bodies and minds don't, of course, solely inhabit the "present" but also remember and feel the past and anticipate, vision, and imagine the future. Yet the reality of our being is that we forever sustain within a lived moment.

To examining the future, I want to first talk about the past.

Inhabiting the past can be a fun activity, whether completed by pondering past experiences, reading nonfiction or fictional history, examining documents and artifacts of the past, by participating in historical reenactments, or by strategically or randomly re-experiencing past events or circumstances. This act of connection from present to past is always made possible by using a medium of some sort: memory, book, movie, object, environmental experience, likeness or similarity. I term these media "conduits of transfer" because they facilitate the transfer of human awareness and thought from present to past and past to presence.

In this case, consider the "present" our real, lived, existence -- this is the first layer of our being. And then consider the "past" a real, lived, existence that no longer exists in tangible, material form. (It is true that the past exists all around us, but as the elements and objects and conditions change, so does the ever-interconnected material form and presence of the elements and objects under question.) The past, if the present is our first layer of being, is an added layer, wrapped over the first layer. What bonds the past and present together are "conduits of transfer" from one layer to another. (It could also be theorized that the past is not wrapped outside the present but inhabits the space inside the present.)

The past is thus no longer real in the same way the present is. The past is immaterial, while the present is material. The past is virtual and the present is real.

The future's presence persists the same way. No human in physical, commonplace, experiential existence can inhabit the future in the same capacity as they can inhabit the present. Just as the layer of the past coats the lived present, the layer of the future coats the present, and is bonded to it by way of a "conduit of transfer." (It can also be argued that we always inhabit the future (and past) as there is only one lived moment, and therefore the present is always in a state of being the future and potentially becoming the future.)

Human experience of the future, in a parallel capacity as to experiencing the past, thus occurs by way of some medium. The future therefore, while being imagined, is something that must be listened to and watched, felt, observed, and experienced, from a second order position in relation to the first order, "present" activity experience. The future, like the past, is immaterial while the present is material. The future, like the past, is virtual and the present is real.

To experience an imagined future, one might consider listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie or play, having a conversation, having sex in a virtual environment... or remembering the past, or participating in a creative act building the future.

The last two methods of experiencing the future taken one to a recognition of the future's existence and the change between the present and a future relative to one's own lived age. Remembering the past is also passive, while a creative act is active. Remembering the past allows one to be aware of a duration of continuous change between a point in one's past and the present state of one's present existence; thus being aware of change and the fact that the present one is currently in is in the future of the past. Participating in a creative act is, by default, an act of building the future because it alters the state of the world. Whether giving birth to a child, an art object, environment, experience, composition, or idea, the creative process experienced leads to a modified and new future; thus also making apparent a change between the past and the augmented future.

(c) M. Waxman 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"family future lives past"

little girl, i'm your son.
you don't know me, and won't now meet me.
little girl, i'm your love.
you're my mother and your future awaits me.

young man, i'm your grandson.
you look handsome, just like me.
young man, you haven't yet met me.
you're my grandad and your smiles await me.

old man, we won't ever meet.
i'm your great grandson, you can't ever know.
old man, i recognize your feet.
you tap 'em like your son, and i tap 'em like you.

we're lost in the middle of time.
we're part of so much and yet only ourselves.
if it weren't for so many, i wouldn't be here.
there are so many family - of the past - maybe the future
and yet i know they're so near.

(c) M.Waxman 2007