Potentially very interesting from a spatial perspective on videogames…

Gigaom

Sifteo (see disclosure), the San Francisco-based company known for its popular touchscreen cube games, is launching a second generation of the product that will be available for pre-order on Thursday, expanding to a portable edition that won’t require users to play near a connected laptop.

Currently, Sifteo’s gaming system is composed of Sifteo Cubes, which “are motion-aware 1.7-inch blocks with full-color touch-sensitive TFT LCDs,” the company explains in a press release. “The cubes communicate wirelessly and respond to each others proximity and players’ gestures during gameplay.”

The game system, which was developed by entrepreneurs David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi beginning at the MIT Media Lab and later drew attention from the popularity of Merrill’s TED talk, is currently available in a few brick and mortar stores, as well as Amazon and the company’s website. The updated basic package will include three cubes and a base for $129.95, although players can purchase additional cubes and play…

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Zola’s The Squares: City, Country and Work

In the Introduction to Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille by Denis Hollier (trans. Betsy Wing; MIT 1989) there are some interesting remarks:

“In 1867, Emilie Zola, a young journalist, dedicated one of his articles to the upcoming inauguration of a public space. The piece is entitled ‘The Squares.’ It begins: ‘The gates to the new Parmentier square, built on the site of the former Popincourt slaughterhouse, will soon be opened to the public.’ Then come two pages of sarcasm directed at the absurdity of urban landscaping, where lawns try to recall nature for consumptive city dwellers. ‘It looks like a bit of nature that did something wrong and was put in prison.’ A square is not a museum, but it too is a place for soft expenditure, it is an enclave through whose gates Parisian workers escape the implacable law of labor: they take the air (regenerate their lungs just as do the museum visitors observed by Bataille). For lack of an animal they kill time.” (xv)

“Despite his sarcastic remarks about squares, a mere detail in Haussmann’s overall plan, Zola is vigorously in favor of the modernization of Paris. […] In the modern city, the capital of the world of work, everyone is busy. Everything found there has its function, a physiological justification. […] Zola is allergic to the squares because the city takes its rest there, or, more precisely, because these idleness preserves are urban. Not that Zola is opposed to stopping work (workers have a right to recreation), but he is opposed to this happening in the city. If one is not working one should leave.” (xvi)

Although I’ve read more of Chilean writer Baldomero Lillo and Spanish author Emilia Pardo Bazán (both influenced by Zola) than Zola himself, I was reminded of the role of the country in the French writer’s Germinal (a great read) where the forest serves as a safe space for organizing against the evils of mine-work. Given that nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century reactions unfolded against industrialization and mechanization rather than against urbanization proper (e.g. see Lewis Mumford), it makes sense to see authors of that time upholding such a strict city-country dichotomy instead of seeing (as some have suggested) capitalist industrialization as a first step toward capitalist urbanization (much easier in hindsight)–in both cases, of course, the city and the country are part of an evolving and dynamic relationship, which renders Zola’s view on squares somewhat humorous if not also absurd from today’s perspective.

“if one is not working one should leave”–I’m not sure how well this statement represents Zola’s view, but it certainly supports a reifying perspective on city and country that itself anticipates the post-war uneven development of leisure and work spaces taken on by Lefebvre (e.g. The Production of Space).

 

Espaces Publics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Johannesburg Play/Urban residency is taking place at the King Kong building in New Doornfontein (VANSA & Parking Gallery space) from the 27th of August until the 22 of September, during the French-South Africa Season.

This residency is the first of a series (the second one will take place in Strasbourg in October 2013). It will be a collective process (moments of work in a large group, see the list of participants) but will also allow participants to develop personal research areas. These projects will be continued throughout the year between Johannesburg and Strasbourg, and also Kinshasa.
The Johannesburg residency will be one month long. Its principle aim is to engage with the inner city of Johannesburg on a series of experimentations in urban space. These experimentations will be anchored by artists living and working in Joburg…

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archithoughts

In Caracas, these two scenes lie side by side. The developers’ version of the city, and the people’s version: barrios built over 25-30 years, a flexible city that is constantly adapting itself to the growth of surroundings and families, plugging in to existing electricity and water supplies, and adding rooms and floors so that the mountain feels like one big house.

How important is the infrastructure in the informal city and how is it built?
People cut out parts of the mountain, and then put the land on the other side of the hole, creating a horizontal parcel which is used to make the first hut. Then later on a concrete structure is built ontop of these foundations. This unstable frame is later filled with the available block leaving steel rods poking out: a symbol for continued growth and construction.

As buildings are getting taller, the steel rods and concrete…

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Progressive Geographies

At the Antipode blog, Marijn Nieuwenhuis has an interesting post on Urban Geopolitics in the wake of the London Olympics. He mentions the Territorial Support Group’s ‘Total Policing’ map I linked to a few weeks back. Marijn discusses Foucault and Stephen Graham among others.

A subsequent piece at the Antipode blog provides some additional reading suggestions.

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Becoming Poor

As previously posted, we are currently reading Thrift’s Non-Representational Theory. It has a sexy subtitle: Space | politics | affect, and having just come off of a quarter of tangling with Spinoza, thinking that everything is ‘political’ in general, and being in a program that is decidedly spatially oriented, what’s not to like? There are plenty of good things, to be sure. Some of it feels very familiar; but in many respects, he has a quietly political- political, not Political- message that is important to hear out. (We discussed in our last meeting that the chapters thus far seem to lack a critical, political stance, but perhaps this emerges in the third installment…) We are only a third of the way through the book, so I’m going focus on a particular chapter. Given that the chapters were written at different points as journal articles, and subsequently compiled together…

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