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14 Oct 2010
The Urban Reinventors Online Urban Journal is conceived as a collection of writings, commentaries, reportages, photographic galleries, films and videos on urban topics. Each thematic issue is meant to lead the reader into a fascinating journey around the bright and dark sides of our contemporary urban condition.

Articles / Urban/City / Virtual Soil

02 Sep 2009
Heavy Metal
Germany, And Other Central European Countries
My new feature about the transformation of former industrial landscapes on the German - Polish border. Read it in our features section here.

Articles / Public Projects / Social Practice / Sustainability / Urban/City
14 Jun 2008
US, Troy
The Society for a Subliminal State agitates against the exclusive use of empirical evidence in the search for truth. It is an organization that believes there are many different types of digging that may be productively undertaken.

The Society for a Subliminal State mirrors the form of a traditional historical society, contributing to the public discourse through a newsletter, a variety of public projects, a membership program, and a website.

The Society believes that if you see it three times then it too may be the path to truth.

Articles / Organizations / Virtual Soil
22 Apr 2008
Ideas that Inform, Construct and Concern the Production of Exhibitions and Events
US, New York
"This second book by FeedBack Project continues to instigate creative discursive spheres between audience, curators and artists. It focuses on projects that fall under the broad category of participatory art and pays attention to the experiences of those involved in the making and realisation of these projects (artists, curators, participants). FeedBack 4 brings together material important for future research from primary contemporary sources presented by the makers themselves."

Book Launch: Saturday 3 May 2008
5-7 pm at Printed Matter

Articles / Artists / Books
07 Apr 2008
The International Journal of Neighbourhood Renewal
"In most developed economies, the effective renewal of local neighbourhoods has become a key feature of the public policy strategies of city, regional, federal and national governments and agencies. However, examples from around the world indicate that many neighbourhood renewal strategies despite being well meant, have failed to deliver effective neighbourhood renewal because of a lack of understanding of the societal effects that have led to the long term decline of neighbourhoods.

This Journal aims to contribute to the development of high quality neighbourhood renewal strategies by publishing research and practice from around the world."

Articles / Magazines / Urban/City
18 Mar 2008
Belgium, Ghent
"A Prior Magazine publishes two regular issues a year in which the body of work of an artist is discussed at large by means of visual and textual contributions. With an extensive portfolio and texts by various authors from different fields a substantial publication is established – always in close collaboration with the artist – offering simultaneously two additional artists the possibility to set up an artist’s project accompanied by a newly commissioned text.

A Prior Magazine is in fact compiled in a similar way as an exhibition: a multi-sided offer including different viewpoints however with an eye for some degree of affinity. After the monographic and artistic contributions, the last section of A Prior Magazine, VISIONS, consists of a series of textual as well as visual columns comments on contemporary developments and discussions in the fields of art and visual culture."

Articles / Artists / Magazines
10 Jan 2008
A Portrait of the Artist as a Researcher
Belgium / USA
In the fall of 2007, this last ever issue of one of belgians best magazine was published by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. Luckily, from January 2008 onwards, MuHKA will join the publishing tandem of Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. in producing the journal Afterall.

Articles / Artists / Magazines
29 Nov 2007
Europe, Various Cities
A large collection of extended essays, critical articles, interviews and film reviews focussed on contemporary Central and European visual culture. Archived from 1999 up till today.

Articles / Artists / Free
24 Nov 2007
Formed in 2000 by scientists and physicians, PLoS is a non-profit organization committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.

"PLoS publishes peer-reviewed, open access scientific and medical journals that include original research as well as timely feature articles. All PLoS articles are immediately freely accessible online, are deposited in the free public archive PubMed Central, and can be redistributed and reused according to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License."

Articles / Free / Open Source / Organizations

23 Nov 2007
By Katie Hepworth
The aim of all descriptions of cities is to know how to live, to see what is coming and accept it and become part of it or, better, see what could make life better and make those things endure. Imagining cities lets you search for the perfection that would produce happiness, and that is a major goal of the work.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

We travel the world in search of guidebook images, disappointed when we can’t find the places that we’ve constructed from stories and pictures. The most recent work by Lucy Harrison is situated in this space between the imagined city and the city of lived experience, the places of everyday, situated encounters. The following conversation and has been taken from a series of emails that were exchanged with Lucy Harrison in Sep / Oct 2007, and deals with 4 of these later works: Fantastic Cities, Guided Tour Riga and the Canvey Guides.

For a long time one of my favourite books has been Calvino's Invisible Cities, in which Marco Polo describes places he had (possibly never) been to, and in doing so elaborating on the different and magical facets of a single city, Venice…What appealed to me about Fantastic Cities was that, unlike many of the recent mapping projects that aim to uncover the secrets of a place through personal wandering and touring, your works highlight the subjectivity of all guides.

A number of your earlier works, such as Art School Marginalia, seem to be focused on rearranging and re-contextualisation of existing text. Did you approach the two stories for Fantastic Cities in a similar way, by taking existing stories of conflict, or was the book a trigger to uncover other untold stories of the cities?

I asked the artists for Fantastic Cities to write about a city they had never visited. I envisaged this being in the vein of a travel guide to an existing city, but only using information gleaned from films, fiction and anecdotes. However some people gave me stories, or writing about imaginary places, so there is a mixture in the book.

I have 2 pieces in the book, one on Sarajevo and one on Baghdad, as these were two places that I only knew through news reports about the conflicts there. Other people's ones included Springfield from the Simpsons (Jessica Voorsanger), Chernobyl by the Estonian artist Marko Mäetamm, Bobstown by Bob Matthews, and Sealand (which is actually an oil refinery platform off the English coast) by Alun Rowlands.

My two pieces – and the book itself, really- were inspired by ‘The Question of Bruno’ by Alexander Hemon, in which the main character, who is from Sarajevo like the author, is in New York watching the war in his home town on television. He had left before it had started, and so this huge change had occurred while he was away and yet he only ever saw it mediated through CNN. I had a friend from Sarajevo too, who told me about her family who were returning there, and so that became part of it as well. I’ve always been aware of places that I’ve never been to- Los Angeles for example- but which I almost know the geography of through stories, films etc. I also read a report from the UK Home office which stated that migrants who choose to come to the UK often have unreliable versions of the country in their imaginations, especially those from countries which were former colonies. My pieces in Fantastic Cities were in a way the only versions of those places that I had, as they included as much as I knew, and that is only as reliable as anyone else’s descriptions.

Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head with thinking about subjective guides, and the text being about the author too. I think that most of my work can be said to be re-arranging existing texts, I find that much more interesting than anything I have written myself!

We've already spoken briefly about ‘Touring Riga’ as being an extension of your earlier work with text and representation, but I’m interested to know how you would place your work in regards to the history of walking as an artistic practice?

You mention in your interview for the 13th Tallinn Print Triennial, 2004 that navigating the city using outdated guidebooks could be compared to the Situationists technique of orienting themselves in one city using the maps of another, and yet I think your Tallinn + Riga works are quite different, in that they also play with how images of cities are created and propagated.

It’s difficult for me to say where I would place my work although I’ve always had an interest in how complicated cities are, how many different versions of them there are in people’s minds, (see Fantastic Cities) and a lot of the projects I’ve done are about uncovering some of the forgotten ones - often forgotten intentionally for political reasons. My main interest at the moment is related to Henri Lefebvre and his ideas of ‘lived experience’ that he talks about in The Production of Space. I’m interested in how we imagine that places have some kind of sense of community or memory and how fragile this can really be. In Benjamin’s Arcades Project there are quotes related to a harsh criticism of Haussman’s redevelopment of Paris and how it was destroying all the mini-cities, the different cultures and communities and replacing them with non-descript boulevards - and yet now the tourist’s idea of Paris is of a beautiful romantic city. Is there any way in which the previous places were preserved? I’m just about to start a project which is related to the Olympic redevelopment in East London and the changes that will take place there. In that sense I think that although my work may sometimes seem gentle or poetic perhaps, I hope that there is a critical edge which has a relationship to the way the Situationists re-imagined Paris in particular. I think that I choose to give prominence to what may have otherwise been in the background in order to question what is the generally accepted idea of a place.

The Canvey Islands project seems like the greatest departure from your earlier, more text based work. How did this project develop? Were you approached by the local community / Art U Need with a project, or was it proposed by them? What were the reactions of the community to the project? It seems like the walks have continued independently even now that Art U Need has finished - is this the case?

This project was originally advertised as a public art commission managed by Commissions East, centred around Canvey Heights country park. It was a series of 5 commissions in Essex. The lead artist was Bob & Roberta Smith and he encouraged us to develop projects which engaged local people in a more meaningful way, so what could have been a more object-based commission instead became something more participatory. It was a huge departure, partly because I wasn’t used to working alongside so many other people, having to set deadlines or having local press coverage.

I had a steering group of local people and quickly made contact with lots of other local people, and approached it as a research project - I didn’t have many fixed ideas when I started but I explored the place as much as I could and used this as a process of discovery. Canvey has already changed a great deal over the past few decades, and now it is part of the Thames Gateway so it will in the future have a lot more people moving there. On the one hand I could understand that people were upset that the place had changed so much from how they remembered it as children, on the other hand this seemed to create a distance between them and the newcomers. There was a sense that there were parallel dangers of history being forgotten, but also of nostalgia becoming a negative force. So although walking had been a way of experiencing a place in other projects, here it became a way of getting people together and getting them talking to each other more. The themes each month were a way of trying to get them to question their attitudes to the place.

The community were incredibly positive - I now have a surprising collection of friends down there! My worry has been that they see it as a ‘history’ project, that they only see it as preserving their memories, rather than as an alternative way of speaking about a place, but I think that these kinds of things are unavoidable in this kind of project, and the way I engaged them was by taking an interest in anecdotes they had about things that had happened to them. Some of them don’t quite understand how the project was ‘art’ but that’s just because they’ve had no experience of any other contemporary art. Yes the walking club has continued so far, the project officially finished in March and it’s still going on, although they haven’t become co-operative enough yet, they still need an appointed leader each time, so I have still done some co-ordination of that.

How do you see the audio guides working now?

The most interesting part of the original tours, organised by theme, was the way in which they could become points of conversation between the local residents. That the work itself was about creating community, both in the moment of the tour, and extending on throughout, by identifying common and private places of interest and memory. In comparison, the downloadable audio guides seem to be more of a traditional audio tour, albeit with personal stories interwoven with the history of the place.

I wanted the audio guides to enable people to experience the project independently and to allow an aspect of the project that wasn’t all about groups of people, and so that however much the walking club changed that there would be certain more concrete aspects such as the book and the audio guide. I liked the idea that one of the remnants of the project would be that people would be wandering around with headphones, rather than something more tangible and permanent. I wanted it to sound like a traditional audio guide because some of the information was so incongruous, so that you would be surprised by things like ‘the place where some children found a dead dog’! However the thing that I had to bear in mind was that if people with no knowledge of art were going to actually use it in a practical sense, it had to be usable too. The actor has recorded audio guides for places like Hever Castle in Sussex, so I wanted this odd combination of a very professional voice pointing out these odd, pretty crap points of interest- which had been provided by people who were involved with the project, so in a sense it was still created by them.

Re the guidebook that you produced from this process - how much is borrowed from the original guidebook that the project was based on? Is this how it begins to tie into your earlier projects?

The cover is the main aspect which is borrowed- I re-designed the original replacing the girl on a beach with a woman with binoculars. The original was beautifully- if not entirely professionally!- designed, and was an odd mixture of business advertising and useful contacts, and made Canvey sound like a wonderful seaside destination- it’s difficult to tell how true this was! Yes I suppose that does tie it in more - my book is pretty useless unless you are particularly interested in finding out where particular people remember very particular things, and so it’s an antidote to the kind of false claims that you see in local council publications about places.

Katie Hepworth is an architect, artist and curator. With the aim of exposing the latent conditions in the urban environment, her work consists of subtle interventions that disrupt everyday behaviours. She is currently completing her Masters in International Studies at UTS, looking at how citizenship and belonging affect access and exclusion from urban space.

Articles / Artists
09 Aug 2007
History Is A Weapon is a left counter-hegemonic education project and offers a nice collection of texts focussing largely on American resistance history. The list of online readings covers a wide range of great authors and is organized in chapters. The blog serves to highlight updated material and offer sporadic commentary.

Articles / Blogs / Free
29 Jun 2007
And more summer readings from the Transversal web journal:
"The articles in this issue of the web journal link these new universalism debates with an analysis of specific examples, such as the Zapatist fight for liberation under the motto “Everything for everyone!”, the movement of the French intermittents, the revolutionary battles of the 18th century in San Domingo/Haiti, or feminist politics of friendship."

Articles / Social Practice
29 Jun 2007
This is a real resource for people interested in alternative city development and research. Editors and authors Jochen Becker and Stephan Lanz and others have made publicly available major parts of their writing on Cities like Istanbul, Teheran, Farvelas in Rio and more. Among the books are "City og COOP", and "Space // Troubles". The books continue a strong German tradition for alternative but thoroughly researched urban investigations.

Articles / Books / Free / Urban/City
15 May 2007
by Jo Freeman
A texts from 1970 that reflects on working in groups and collectives with a loose structure.
It builds on practical experiences from especially women's liberation movement and ends by suggesting principles for democratic structuring. Relevant reflections for today's collaborative practices as well.

Articles / Social Practice

03 May 2007
Arts in (Climate) Crisis
By Joni Taylor
Part 1

Apocalypse may be the new black, but the Plague, the Cold War and the Millennium Bug combined did not add up to the deserved attention that the dangers of Global Warming are receiving.
The scientific evidence, detailed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) drove the message home to (most) politicians that the planet is in dire straits, and their responsibilities lie further off than just the next election. On a local level, reports of North Alaskan fishermen hearing the sound of thunder for the first time in history and Media images of hurricanes, tsunamis and shattering icebergs did their bit to freak out the couch potato public. But still not everyone cares enough to be convinced. Potentially thousands of viewers were misinformed by the recent ‘documentary’ The Great Global Warming Swindle, when the already questionable talking heads claimed that overzealous Neo-Marxists and boosted Government funding were to blame for the ‘myth’ of man made global warming. It smacked of conspiracy theory, but compared to the depressing prophecies of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ one almost wished the ‘Swindle’ was true.

Artists have often aligned themselves with activist causes, and have helped to move radical social change. Anti-establishment or outspoken views have never been at odds with the creatively minded. And Nature itself has long been an inspiration. At the turn of last Century, the romantic landscape paintings of Caspar David Friedrich depicted the fears of the oncoming era of mechanical industrialisation. Land Artists emerged alongside the noisy environmental movements of the Sixties, pointing out Starship Earth’s fragile beauty by making temporary and ephemeral pieces. Green party candidate Joseph Beuys regenerated the city of Kassel by planting his 7000 oaks in 1984.

This Century there has been a hip move towards green design and sustainable architecture. The slickness of sites like Treehugger and Worldchanging can't be denied. There have also been a number of exhibitions lately focusing on ecological systems, such as ‘Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art’ at Chicago's Smart Museum; The Sharjah Biennial, 'Art, Ecology and the Politics Of Change' and the recent focus of the RCA (and accompanying book - LandArt: A Cultural Ecology handbook).

But climate change or global warming as a specific cause is a relatively new one for artists. As subject matter, the enemy here is invisible - but its affects are not.
More artists are collaborating with scientists in a bid to inform their work on a technical level. But while the scientists role is a didactic and theory based practise, the artist deals with the nuances and the abstract. Art asks to be interpreted by the viewer, and its appreciation is often personal. Art speaks another kind of language - one of emotion - and this is why it may be better understood by the public, amidst the Babel of scientific jargon.

There are 3 artistic strains in dealing with climate change.

One is reducing the co2 emissions produced by artists themselves - not flying to that next art fair or finding alternatives to energy sucking Plasma screens. Just like a UN delegate, an artist is accountable for his /her carbon footprint. Using recycled and green products is another indication of ‘Slow Art’.(The next art movement perhaps?) London’s seven meter tall WEEE man, made of the industrial detritus used in a typical lifetime, was a successful shock factor device standing on the River Thames.

Another method is making art that depicts the effects of warming and pollution. The most memorable tools in Gore's film were the postcards of glaciers in the Twenties, compared with the dried up and sandy images of today. Photographers relish travelling to exotic places to bear witness to both environmental damage and utopian beauty, and bring back images to share with a city bound audience.

The last, most innovative area is the collision of art and science to create visualising tools, or to quote worldchanging ‘making the invisible, visible’. By transforming data and graphs to a visual language, artists can demonstrate the bare facts with humour and delight. Some even use ecological systems in their work, mimicking nature.

As you will see in part 2, there is a range of new arts initiatives aimed specifically at publicising climate change, with sponsors in tow. Will the public be driven to action by seeing an image on the side of a bus, or a public commission through their car window?
Let's hope that narrowing all the attention to climate change will not take away the real issue, which is the impact humans are having on the environment.
The new ecosystem here is one of dangerous networks - political situations, technological development, corporate responsibility and greed are all connnected to this alienation from the planet earth.
And let's hope that a walk in the country or a breathtaking sunset can also still do the trick when it comes to remembering what is at stake.

Commissioned by DAMn Magazine

Images courtesy of The Canaray Project

Art + Activism / Articles / Sustainability
18 Mar 2007
US, Oakland
"LiP, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit media project, brings a unique, accessible, and well-edited mix of radical politics, culture, sex, and humor, guided by a serious structural critique of power and social change, and a gleeful engagement with pop culture. The intent is to frame the project of social change as simple common sense, and to show active engagement and participation in the community as a vibrant, emancipatory practice, rather than the onerous, leaden practice we believed is being projected by many progressive media projects. Rejecting orthodoxies across the political spectrum, LiP seeks to provide intellectual tools for our readers' mental and political growth and self-defense."

Articles / Magazines
12 Mar 2007
creativity hypes
eipcp is again making new writings available online, this time on creativity and the creative industry with contributions by Lazzarato, von Osten, Maria Lind and more. Very relevant writing on cultural policies today.
creativity hypes

03 Feb 2007
The transnational multi-year research project Translate aims at exploring the political articulation of the notion of cultural translation in artistic practices as well as in political social movements through a number of arts and exhibition projects, discursive events and networking practices from 2005 to 2008.

Articles / Organizations
12 Dec 2006
Greenwash Exposed
George Monbiot has a weekly column in the Guardian, a great blog and wrote several books, so far. Linked to his latest book 'Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning', he launched a new website that creates a space for additional and up-to-date information. Both the book and the site strive to expose corporations' and politicians' false statements and claims about global warming. Monbiot wages war against their mean techniques, trying to make us believe their are taking action and we shouldn't.

Articles / Books / Sustainability
17 Oct 2006
Underground Buildings
US, Cape Cod
Over 40 years, Malcom has been promoting sustainable living and can be considered the father of modern earth-sheltered architecture. He has writen several articles and books, published by himself, about underground structures, gentle building and passive solar energy.

Architecture / Articles / Books / Sustainability
01 Oct 2006
Project 001
US, Los Angeles
For the first in a series of projects, the promising and brand new GOOD Magazine is asking their readers to submit bumper sticker designs that get people to vote. As long as you include the word “vote” and keep the size 3 by 9 inches, everything else is up to you.! Contributions will be viewable on—and downloadable from their site.

You can also send in other ideas for the following Good Projects.!

Articles / Calls / Magazines
24 Aug 2006
Global warming politics in a post-environmental world
A paper distributed widely around academia last year -- based on interviews with 25 leaders in the mainstream environmental movement argues that environmentalism is ill-equipped to face the massive global challenges of our day, particularly climate change.

The Grist has the full lowdown, rebuttals and interviews with Shellenberger and Nordhaus.

Articles / Education / Sustainability
13 Aug 2006
Book by the WorldChanging authors. Official publication date is only November 1, 2006; but nevertheless worth being announced.

Covering eight chapters ( You, Stuff, Shelter, Cities, Communities, Business, Politics, Planet) it promises to cover a lot of new information, never before presented on the site.

Articles / Books / Sustainability
05 Mar 2006
After Winter Comes Spring: A Critical Look at Food Systems in Chicago
US, Chicago
Very interesting compilation of texts on food production and consumption by Brian Holmes, Sarah Lewison, Nance Klehm and more. Some amazing things happening in Chicago.

Art + Activism / Articles / Sustainability
17 Sep 2005
An Electronic Journal for electronic culture
Free online Journal from the University of Rochester. Issue 9 includes articles like:
"Taking the SUV to a Place it's Never Been Before:
SUV Ads and the Consumption of Nature"
"Man is in the Forest:
Humans and Nature in Bambi and The Lion King"
- which should make a good read

Articles / Free / Sustainability
03 Sep 2005
Make it yourself
Am I a little magnet to this kind of stuff or why do I run into them constantly. Doesn't really matter, but it seems that more and more websites are focussing on how-to projects.?
Instructables and Make Magazine are my favorite ones, so far.

Articles / Virtual Soil
12 Jul 2005
Idea platform by Ole Bouman, Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley
A website extension of Archis dedicated to creating new forms of architectural discourse including articles, news and public forum. There is a high and low bandwidth version. Yay!
high bandwidth (flash)
low bandwidth (html)

Architecture / Articles / Virtual Soil
06 Jul 2005
A site for discussing new forms and functions of public art. It has a mailinglist on projects, events and publications related to participatory, interventionist and activist practices in public art.

From the site manifesto:
It is about experimental forms of organizing, which develop in precarious micro-situations for a limited period of time, testing new modes of self-organization and interplays with other experiments. The "organizing function" of art (Walter Benjamin) creates new spaces in the overlapping zones of art practices, political activism and theory production.

Articles / Organizations / Public Projects
29 Jun 2005
Free thinkng for the world
An online magazine using todays web technologies to gather and share articles on key issues. By creating a 'democratic' space, with contributors from all over the world, openDemocracy tries to give a more open perspective on a wide range of topics.

Articles / Virtual Soil
12 Apr 2005
Culture in Action
A Public Art Program of Sculpture Chicago
This book must be mentionned here, it was very important to me having little acces to information or publications about community art in late 90ties. It is dealing with a wider approach to public arts and community, where environmental and societal issues are dealt with together. The review by Eleanor Heartney is quite critical and sharp
read it here

Articles / Books / Public Projects
30 Mar 2005
Collaborative Practices in Environmental Art
by Grant Kester
A good overview of environmental art practices, same writer as "Conversation Pieces"
read article

Articles / Public Projects / Sustainability
27 Mar 2005
basic ideas about the encounter between art and science
An essay on arts and science by Jan Verwoert, using Nils Norman, Peterman and others as examples and a discussion on their approach to research and science

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nowHere, a space where a spot becomes a place.
15 march - 25 may, 2008

nowHere, is a cabinet which invokes a dialogue on re-appropriation of the private and public domain. Through personal tags and geographies (books, movies, music, websites, drawings, mappings, photocopies, art works, ... ) it reads as a 'certain' historical relation between human, space and technology.

bolwerK considers the constructed in-between space of architect C.Kieckens, within the art space, Z33, not as a sub-art space with a curatorial reading; a cabinet as 'museum' but as a space with a personal narrative and a social meaning embedded in a neighborhood. The active use of the space for living, eating, working, sleeping implies that the cabinet is more a 'room of collection', in a live, real-time situation.

During PLACE@SPACE Marthe Van Dessel will post live from Z33, as a guest contributor on Free Soil, to connect, publish and share her discourse
with the virtual open public resources of the net.

The the conceptualization of the space as 'ongoing', work-in-progress externalizes the precarity of information, issues of copyright, authorship, knowledge production and hierarchical information networks.
Link of the Week:  
Interview with Fritz Haeg by Nato Thompson

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