Archive for the 'Real Cities' Category

City for Lovers and Friends – Lewis Mumford – Banksy in Studio

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.

Lewis Mumford (October 19, 1895 – January 26, 1990) was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic. Particularly noted for his study of cities and urban architecture, he had a broad career as a writer.

  • Edward Burtynsky – Navajo reservation adjacent to a Phoenix suburb.

  • via Robin Gunningham/Mr Banksy… or Banksy in Studio
    Banksy homepage here.

  • Why Scandinavian Prisons are Superior.

    It’s a postcard-perfect day on Suomenlinna Island, in Helsinki’s South Harbor. Warm for the first week of June, day trippers mix with Russian, Dutch, and Chinese tourists sporting sun shades and carrying cones of pink ice cream.

    “Is this the prison?” asks a 40-something American woman wearing cargo pants and a floral sleeveless blouse.

    24 City – Jia Zhang Ke

    Thursday, August 30th, 2012
  • 24 city

    See full film here

    The film follows three generations of characters in Chengdu (in the 1950s, the 1970s and the present day) as a state-owned factory gives way to a modern apartment complex.
    The apartment complex featured in the film is an actual development (also called “24 City”) built on the former site of an airplane engine manufacturing facility. Jia will also produce a documentary about the location.
    The film’s narrative style is described by critics as a blend of fictional and documentary storytelling, and it consist of five authentic interviews and four fictional scenes delivered by actors (but presented in a documentary format.

    Joan Chen (Photo via 24 City – Mixing and manipulating Chinese History )

    Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

    His most sensational “fictional” interview is with a beautiful, lonely factory worker, who is nicknamed Little Flower on the shopfloor, because of her resemblance to the eponymous heroine of a popular 1980 film. The heroine of that genuine film was played by Joan Chen and this character is played by … Joan Chen. Using such an obviously famous star in my view exonerates Jia from the charge of dishonesty. It’s an extraordinarily audacious, even outrageous casting gesture, a day-glo post-modern joke amidst the dour factory dust: an alienation effect which is also its opposite, an identification effect, a way of dramatising how downtrodden factory workers dreamed of glamorous escape, of lives other than the ones they had.

    Early film – 1997

    Jia Zhang Ke photo via

    “Part of the reason I started making films was to respond to cinema’s blind spots, its silences, on the kind of life I knew. I wanted to express all the memorable things that I had experienced, and I think this is still my primary responsibility as a filmmaker.” – Jia Zhangke (MUBI)

    The quest for memory – documentary – (Senses of Cinema)

    There Will Be A Couch

    Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

    Photo by Paul Chinn (image source)

    Pick a title from the list below.

    1 – The Last of the Mohicans Couch
    2 – A Room with a View and Why the Couch Got Away
    3 – The Crucible
    4 – There Will Be Blood
    5 – The Unbearable Lightness of Furniture Being
    6 – The Boxer in the Age of Innocence

    Photo by Paul Chinn (image source)

    The image below is a repost, more about this here.
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    This post is dedicated to Heath Ledger who inspired Daniel Day Lewis.

    Buenos Aires to Hong Kong

    Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

    Robert Weight is blogging from Buenos Aires.
    A few of his photos are featured at Agog post featuring two novels by Argentinian Martinez.

    Yesterday an email came from Valery Grancher announcing his new project, Miniature China blog.

    Valery Grancher Stanley Bay Hong Kong
    Stanley Bay Hong Kong by Valery Grancher (via)
    Buenos Aires and Hong Kong are happily linked together here at vitro-nasu.

    RIP Jane Jacobs – D+A = nD

    Sunday, April 30th, 2006

    Jane Jacobs Jane Jacobs

    There is perhaps no person in the 20th Century who was more influential in raising the benchmark for our quality of life in cities than Jane Jacobs, who died on April 25, 2006 at 89.
    Remembering Jane Jacobs (Cool Town Studios)

    She decided to leave the United States in part out of her objection to the Vietnam War and due to worry about the fate of her two draft-age sons. She chose Toronto as she found it a pleasant city and its rapid growth meant plenty of work for her architect husband. She quickly became a leading figure in her new city and was involved in stopping the Spadina Expressway. A common theme of her work has been to question whether we are building cities for people or for cars. She has been arrested twice during demonstrations. (Jane Jacobs Wikipedia)

    Dark Age Ahead (Ideas That Matter Quarterly)

    D+A = nD (D is labor division in a given economic system, A new activities of entrepreneurs and nD the resulting new form of labor division.)

    In the forty-plus years since her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” appeared, her views, which then seemed wildly eccentric—basically, that New York’s future depended less on tall buildings and big projects than on the preservation of small, old blocks and catch-as-catch-can retailing—have been vindicated so many times, and in so many ways, that by now one can hardly think about this city without thinking about her, and like her.

    Jacobs has closely followed the Ground Zero plans and debates, and she thinks that the right thing to do is not to do anything right away. “The significance of that site now is that we don’t know what its significance is,” she said. “We’ll know in fifteen or twenty years.”
    (Cities and Songs – Adam Gopnik, New Yorker )