Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America

"The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America" by Eduardo Navas

Curator and theorist, Eduardo Navas, has published an essay he wrote to accompany the Transitio_MX 2009 exhibition which included Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art by Owen Mundy and myself. The essay, “La Influencia de los No-Lugares en el concepto de America Latina.” (English “The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America”), was published in Spanish in Errata #3, Cultura digital y creación Dec 2010.

Here’s an excerpt of the essay in English. You can read more about (in English) on Eduardo’s blog or the full text is available in Spanish here.

Airplane travel and airports, which have been a key reference in the theory of non-places by both Augé and Ibelings finds direct commentary in Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art. This time-based work consists of a photograph of the Tallahassee Airport Check-in area, which hosts a wall sized reproduction of McClay Gardens Park. In front of the wallpaper image we find: on the left hand side a plant in a pot and on the right a portable fan, next to three airportline-dividing-poles which are connected with a dividing strip, and a dolly cart at the far end. The photograph of the actual lobby is projected on the wall along with a series of numbers, located at the bottom of the screen’s frame, complemented with an algorithmic simulation of Tree Pollen falling surrealistically, while a sound track of birds plays in a loop. In essence the airport check in lounge is turned into a staged moment where the reproduction of a natural environment is treated as a mere decoration.

In Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art the airport as a non-place is taken apart. The image is not only commenting on how parks are careful orchestrations of nature to fit human ideals, but also exposes how this aesthetic has entered the airport, a space of transition, in order to make people feel comfortable upon their arrival or departure. If one tries to believe that what one is looking at is real nature, or even a meta recording of nature, one only needs to notice that the pollen is falling just a bit too perfectly, executing an algorithm meant to appear naturally, magically. This orderliness, this pristine aesthetic, as in the other four selections has a direct link to the control that is inherent in supermodernism: “This boundless space is no dangerous wilderness or frightening emptiness, but rather a controlled vacuum, for if there is one thing that characterizes this age it is total control. The undefined space is not an emptiness but a safe container, a flexible shell.” Anemophilous Formula for Computer Art exposes the type of activity that more privileged migrants perform—those unlikely to work in maquiladoras or any other blue-collar job. Therefore, the wall projection is a commentary on the growing supermodern aesthetic of glocalization, and thus a critical commentary on a specific activity that is ingrained as much in Latin America as well as other regions. Viewers can project themselves into the computerized image, and feel comfortable in the virtual airport lobby; whether the viewer may potentially be in Japan or Mexico is irrelevant because the language of non-places has transcended space in this sense. And therefore makes the conceptualization of a constant migration an issue of class rather than identity.

—Eduardo Navas

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MASS MoCA :: Sol LeWitt :: Timelapse

MASS MoCA :: Sol LeWitt :: Timelapse

Anticipating the creation of my second temporary wall painting, a nod to Sol LeWitt, whose gesture of instructions was most pure.

More about LeWitt on artsy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Edwin Deen

“Edwin Deen is an artist of comic relief in daily life. Displaying remarkable collections of combined natural and cultural objects which at first sight seem quite trivial, however with a closer look uncover a web of cross associations in shape, color, function and meaning. Using existing objects as mind triggers. Whether the objects are empty shampoo bottles, a juicer, a pressure cooker, parts of a freezer, Deen sorts, organizes and converts the objects stimulating a broad range of associations triggered by his manipulation. Because many of the objects have been stripped of their every day identity their definition becomes undetermined, hereby opening their reading to be interpreted anew.

Edwin Deen’s work and practice is very close to that of a scientific laboratory, with projects like Terra Incognita (2009) showing water and plastic’s ability to transform from solid to liquid to gas undergoing phases of melting and evaporation, his endeavors are of utmost focus however he deconstructs what we “know” as opposed to building on it. In science things are proven based on previously proven facts. Science needs imagination and intuition other wise there would be no progress just as in Edwin Deen’s homespun laboratory the search is into the unknown. In Deen’s work the facts are disappearing and the imagination is physical.”


More at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tomás Saraceno's Cloud Cities

BERLIN ARCH LINK : Cloud Cities at Hamburger Bahnhof

Tomás Saraceno's Cloud Cities (2011) at Hamburger Bahnhof, my favorite art space in Berlin. Reminds me of some of my early expat drawings. Beautiful.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Zadie Smith on Maximalism

This is how it feels to me | The Guardian

While preparing to give a workshop on complex art forms driven by custom code, I flashback to Norman Bryson's description of Chinese Maximalism in his class on contemporary Chinese and Japanese art. By tapping into Wikipedia magic (however occasionally misguided), I find literary connections and am led to this compelling article by Zadie Smith. Enjoy...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


A long walk thru cardboard from Yaddo 2010 was expanded to 100 ft and reinstalled for the Texas Biennial at Box13 Artspace in Houston 2011...experiments in rhythm using time studies of daily activity logs and sleep charts...More at Laurie Frick

Monday, August 29, 2011

Action Office

Mika Tajima Versus the Cubicle | "New York Close Up" | Art21 - YouTube: artist Mika Tajima

“She needs decor, color, warmth, vitality and something as basic and all inclusive as dignity. She’s an action secretary and she need Action Office.” From an Art 21 about artist Mika Tajima. The same better-living-though-design sentiment that drives my recent work.

Monday, July 04, 2011



Color like bandaid, covering Tirana, Albania. Amazing story in this video by Anri Salas.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Passive House

Last week we went on an excellent Creative Sustainability Tour given by the Institute for Creative Sustainability. More information here:

Favorite stop: Passivhaus Schoenholzer Strasse (pictured above). More information at

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Case-Shiller Index Expected to Show New Low in House Prices -

Case-Shiller Index Expected to Show New Low in House Prices -

Quotes from the article:
- After every giddy boom comes the hangover, they acknowledge, but that deep-rooted desire for a castle of one’s own quickly reasserts itself.
- No one ever renovated the kitchen or redid a room for the kids in a rental...

Reminds me of our recent visit to Dresden. On a tour of the city, our tour guide mentioned that when the wall fell, her parents bought their home and did renovations. She explained that few people did renovations, especially outside of their homes, when they were state-owned.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Architecture + Art at UCSD

Kyong Park. 24620. Ongoing.

24620, a Kyong Park project, is an abandoned house from Detroit in search of a new home. The house was cut up so that it could be moved and re-assembled anywhere in the world. It is a 'fugitive house,' running from the city of Detroit, which has destroyed or burned more than two hundred thousand homes in the last fifty years.

24620 desperately extends its existence by travelling. Its first journey was made in April, 2001, when it crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and was re-constructed and presented in the 3rd annual Archilab exhibition in Orléans, France. Since then, it has been to five other European cities, and continues on.

With its pieces misplaced and their incisions permanent, the house, when re-assembled, replicates the condition of a dysfunctional city in the violence of dismembered spaces. Wherever it may go, the house takes the ideals and failures of modernism with it, creating discourses on the cultural state and destiny of each community.

Architecture folks affiliated with my alma mater, UCSD. Important work. Hurrah.

Teddy Cruz
Kyong Park
James Enos
Sam Kronic

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paradise Valley, Arizona

Paradise Valley, Arizona - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In contrast to the Frankfurt Kitchen:
"It has expensive real estate, with a median home price at $1.74 million, with many exceeding $10 million and some over $40 million."

Frankfurt Kitchen at MAK Vienna

Frankfurter Kitchen, Wikipedia entry

M A K o n l i n e

This last fall, I received a DAAD Research Grant to look at 20th Century German compact housing and the use of color to lighten the country's mode during difficult economic times. The Frankfurt Kitchen was one example of designs that met these goals.

From MAK Online:

The cost savings resulting from the reduced size of the kitchen remained significant, however, so that the Frankfurt Kitchen offered the double advantage of lower construction costs and less work for the occupants. Only by arguing in these terms, was it possible to persuade the Frankfurt city council to agree to the installation of the kitchens, with all their sophisticated work-saving features. The result was that, from 1926 to 1930, no municipal apartment could be built without the Frankfurt Kitchen.

In this period around 10,000 apartments were built with the Frankfurt Kitchen.

Frankfurter Kitchen, MAK Vienna

Gretchen Morgenson: The 'Reckless' Origins Of The Financial Meltdown : NPR

Gretchen Morgenson: The 'Reckless' Origins Of The Financial Meltdown : NPR

In the interview, Morgenson kept mentioning characters in the housing crisis who were wrapped up in "the American flag of home ownership." It's the unsustainable model imploding in my recent artwork, especially a period when Wall Street players bet against the model's success. Arranging numbers. Repackaging and selling loans.

How To Create a Job | This American Life

How To Create a Job | This American Life

Attracted to jobs overseas, my muse, the female expatriate, is constantly chasing a rainbow. Although more on domestic job creation, this episode from This American Life spells out how jobs get shuffled from state to state. Fascinating overview of how priorities warp through carefully crafted lenses like reduced regulation and people are encouraged to move away from traditional support structures.

Food: The Hidden Driver Of Global Politics : NPR

Food: The Hidden Driver Of Global Politics : NPR

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Horst Ademeit at Hamburger Bahnhof

Hamburger Bahnhof - Berlin: "HORST ADEMEIT"

I'm still haunted by this exhibition last week. I'm currently working on an exhibition called The Excess of Memory that goes hand and hand with an expat's tendency to live many lives and mix those memories. My occasional obsession with journal writing attempts to sort out people and places from past lives. Horst's incessant journals and photo-taking (8500 polaroids in the exhibition!) reminded me of this tendency...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Reading

Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture by Casey Reas, Chandler McWilliams, and LUST (Princeton Architectural Press). 2010.

Related lectures by Casey from 2008

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On The Media: Transcript of "Two Cautionary Data Tales" (May 13, 2011)

On The Media: Transcript of "Two Cautionary Data Tales" (May 13, 2011): "Two Cautionary Data Tales
May 13, 2011
Data doesn’t always expose and explain; it can also lead us astray. OTM producer Jamie York looks at two times in the recent past when an overreliance on data has had disastrous consequences. Joe Flood, author of The Fires and Dennis Smith, author and veteran firefighter, tell the story of the RAND Corporation and the fires in the Bronx in the 1970s. Scott Patterson, author of The Quants and Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short, explain how math and science whiz kids nearly destroyed Wall Street."

Why I'm using code in these housing images. Data patterns gone unexpected directions, out of our perceived control.


Jazzanova - I Can See

Sunday, May 01, 2011



Space suit as lightest possible nomadic housing...


I'm working a new series of images related to my Sherwin Series, but inspired by domestic space, especially public housing in or near to Berlin. I'm especially fascinated by a project called Metastadt constructed Wulfen, 30 minutes west of the Bauhaus' second home, Dessau. The best description of the project is on this site about flexible housing at

I love the flexibility of the structure, and its tragic end, despite its utopian beginnings.

Influences on my drawing style these days:
1) Artists like David Shrigley
2) The repeated drawing of the Brandenburg Gate on the windows of the U1 trains here in Berlin

Diane Ravitch: Standardized Testing Undermines Teaching : NPR

Diane Ravitch: Standardized Testing Undermines Teaching : NPR


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Housing in Berlin

Dessau | Kalle Koponen Photography

I'm working on a Berlin extension of my Sherwin Series. Being apartment-bound more than I'd like with a fussy baby, I'm thinking a lot about this city—its layers of history, the impact of 20th century housing policy, the psychological implications of these shifts, a resurgence of nationalism and anti-immigration stances, my ethnically diverse neighborhood Kreuzberg and its dense sea of early 20th century architecture covered in graffiti. This graffiti becomes a texture: it is mostly immature tags and a quarter in English.

My husband forwarded me the photo series of how urban areas continue to change 20 years after reunification. One picture and a link to the series included above. He sent me this link after we were discussing The File: A Personal History by Timothy Garton Ash. After interviewing countless former Stasi, Timothy Garton Ash considers how the Stasi provided father figures for men who lost their fathers in WWII. With the policies of the Stasi well known by all people our age who grew up in Berlin, I'm also thinking about these layers of this city.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thoreau, Castles in the Air

If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lebbeus Woods

Leave it to bldgblog to always take me where I need to go.

As I'm wandering around Berlin, taking photos of architecture to take The Sherwin Series to the next stage, I learn about Lebbeus Wood's film treatment for Underground Berlin. Then I stumble on this quote from Woods which is exactly aligned with the behavior of the forms in my 2010 prints.

Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no "sacred and primordial site." I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then "melt into air." I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Boycotting Swiss Air

I normally don't make posts like this, but I feel the need to vent and help others avoid dealing with Swiss Air.

My husband Owen and I are in Berlin this academic year, funded by the DAAD. More about their programs here in case you are interested.

To make this adventure happen, last April we booked Swiss Air flights to Berlin on July 31, 2010, returning April 15, 2011 (because you can book further into the future), and it cost $1000 per person. They told us to call back after the new year to change the return flight home and that because of our circumstance, they would put a note in our file saying we could change once without a re-booking fee. We were told to pick a date when we thought we would come back. Our understanding was that this date was approximate and flexible so we picked July 30. They also said that we could add an infant ticket when we change the return ticket, and it would cost 10% of a normal ticket (also confirmed on the site:

This past Monday, we called to change the return, knowing that there would be a fee difference. Researching in advance, we learned that July 26 was cheaper, so we asked for that date, but learned that we would have to pay $250 per person in rebooking fees. What more? To have our child sit on our lap, we would need to pay $600 for an infant ticket (they say a one-way ticket in summer is $4000, 10% is $400 plus refueling and other fees). So we had to stick with July 30, pay the difference in price ($225 more per person) + the $600 for daughter who will 8 months when we fly. That's $1050 more! I'm never flying Swiss Air again. In the future, I'm taking even more meticulous notes and will insist on something in writing. Bastards.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hal Foster, American Academy of Berlin

Wave Garden Yusuke Obuchi, 2002 (in Hal Foster's 2004 lecture at UNC Charlotte,

Two nights ago I saw Hal Foster speak at the American Academy of Berlin. Ah to have a professor like him as an 18 year old. How lucky that would have been. His American Academy project is called Strategies of Survival 20th-Century Art, and last Thursday talk, How to Survive Civilization or What I Have Learned from Dada.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

After Death, Protecting Your 'Digital Afterlife' : NPR

After Death, Protecting Your 'Digital Afterlife' : NPR

I'm an incessant notekeeper + journal writer. Moving so many times leaves me with memories from too many places that shuffle and overlap, sometimes morphing into inaccurate images and half truths. My notes are my feeble attempts to get it all down to reference later. As organized as I am, I rarely revisit my journals, my delicious bookmarks, etc but I still do it, comforted by the idea that should I need them, I can dig up details. For these reasons, I found this Fresh interview about the digital afterlife fascinating. Enjoy.

Made me think of Danica Phelps contour line drawings with notes on her daily activities. The only ones I could find online separated the notetaking from the images, but when they are hung in the gallery together, you make the connection. A few images here.