Category Archives: Review Item
Urban Maps, by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn
Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City is now available in paperback. Written by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn from Manchester School of Architecture, the book considers the city and the ‘devices’ that define the urban environment.
‘Urban Maps provides an interesting new way of “minding the gap” between the contemporary urban condition and architectural design. Calling on familiar and well-loved theoretical friends like Walter Benjamin, but also bringing in exciting new contenders such Thomas de Quincey, the narrators interrogate an interdisciplinary array of projects from graffiti to branded environments. The map is posited as a central element of design behaviour, and Brook and Dunn argue convincingly that to address today’s pressing urban issues architecture must move outside its normal frames of reference, and engage with a new vocabulary and conceptual framework comprising images, networks, films, marks and objects.’ Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of…
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Book review – Jerome Krase (2012) Seeing Cities Change: Local Culture and Class. (Farnham: Ashgate).
Review of Adrian Forty, Concrete and Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2012)
A version of the following review appeared in Sculpture Journal in 2013
Everybody has a view about concrete, but few of these views are exactly the same: there is no material so contradictory and complex in its application and meaning. I myself became fully aware of concrete’s contradictions in Brazil, latterly accompanied by Forty’s edited book on the country’s modernist architecture (Brazil’s Modern Architecture, 2007). I had never seen so much concrete. But equally I have never been confronted with such a disjunction between aspiration and application. Standing outside Oscar Niemeyer’s MAC art museum in Niteroí, it was impossible to square the MAC’s futuristic form (a flying saucer) with the crudeness of its execution (all cracks and, lumps, like a primary school project). That contrast was really quite disturbing, as the official photographs of the MAC depicted a building of otherworldly sleekness whose construction was a mystery to…
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Call for reviews – “Lo urbano” (Critical Reviews on Latin American Research)
Please find the entire call in Spanish and English at http://www.crolar.org/index.php/crolar/announcement
Call for reviews, Volume N° 4: CROLAR – Critical Reviews on Latin American Research
We cordially invite you to contribute a book review for “Lo Urbano”, Volume 4 of CROLAR – Critical Reviews on Latin American Research , which will appear in October 2013. CROLAR IV calls for reviews on recent publications on “the urban” and urban phenomena in and from Latin America.
As place of anonymous cohabitation and social diversity (Simmel, 1903), as a sphere of capitalist reproduction and collective consumption (Castells, 1974), via the imaginarios urbanos (García Canclini, 1996), to the “Rebel Cities” (Harvey, 2012), the city has evoked systematic analysis of the tight linkages between public space and collective culture, the effects of capital accumulation, and social discontent. Moving beyond a broad range of questions which have been (or can be) studied in urban environments by the social, cultural as well as natural sciences, CROLAR IV calls for reviews on the particularity of “the urban” itself. Which phenomena constitute “the urban” as a field of study and how are urban areas studied differently from (or even in a dialectical relation to) rural areas?
Many urban theories have claimed to have universal applicability independent of the location they were built from, or where they are applied. Our more specific interest lies in publications which reflect on such dichotomization – either by compiling and comparing research results from diverse locations, or by discussing limits to travelling concepts (Said). It is well known that Latin America is not only the most urbanized continent and the one with the highest inequality in incomes, but that it also offers a long interdisciplinary tradition of urban studies. We therefore also call for reviews which mirror the rich contribution of Latin American urban research to a general understanding of issues such as violence, migration, citizenship, protest, ecology, spatial segregation, or the financial crisis, amongst others. With respect to “the urban”, what can and has been learned from Latin America?
The editorial team is eagerly awaiting your reviews – which may be written in Spanish, Portuguese, English or German – no later than July 15th, 2013. If you are considering writing a review, please take notice of our formal guidelines (http://www.crolar.org/index.php/crolar/about/submissions#authorGuidelines).
If you are interested in contributing, please directly contact the editors of this volume: Anke Schwarz (anke.schwarz[at]ufz.de) and Frank Müller (frank.mueller[at]fu-berlin.de).
Dipl.-Ing. Anke Schwarz
Department Urban and Environmental Sociology
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ
Permoserstraße 15 / 04318 Leipzig / Germany
Phone +49 341 235-1726
Fax +49 341 235-1836
Review of 2 Books on Urban Culture in China
In volume 3 issue 1 of Reviews in Cultural Theory, Joshua Neves has reviewed these two books:
Yomi Braester. Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract. Duke University Press, 2010. 405 pp.
Robin Visser. Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China. Duke University Press, 2010. 362 pp.
Read the review in the original context here
and click here for youtube discussion by the authors of those books.
There’s a hint of opportunism about this volume, a collection of essays on capitalism and the city dating from 2008. It gives Occupy something to feed on, and arrives nicely for the one-year anniversary of Britain’s riots, and the Olympic Games. No matter: we need people like Harvey to articulate an alternative to the capitalist city and its tendency to turn it into a relentless parade. There is much to like here: a critical introduction to the relationship between ‘fictional’ capital and real estate development; some commentary on the Left’s anxieties about social organisation, especially the problem of ‘horizontality’ (p. 70); a fascinating encounter with the ‘rebel city’ of El Alto, near La Paz. Much alludes to Harvey’s gloomy but compelling work on Baltimore, in which that small American city comes to represent the destructive power of capital, and the emptiness of its attempts at economic revival. ‘Revitalisation’ so often…
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Review – World Film Locations (books and [ipad] app)
I finally had time to check out the World Film Locations publishing project I’ve been meaning to explore for a while, actually I started by downloading the ‘World Film Locations’ app for the ipad, which is free, and which allowed me free access to view the ‘World Film Locations: Madrid’ – the other titles are available for purchase. (disclosure: published by Intellect, who is the publisher for the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies: more on that soon).
It was a bit different than I anticipated – which I think is a good thing – that is, I thought these would be standard academic articles, but it is much more of a visual catalog of film scenes featuring specific parts of the city (there are WFLocations volumes for a number of other cities: Berlin, Vienna, Las Vegas, Reykjavik, Melbourne, Istanbul, New York, London, of course Paris…).
There are brief readable descriptions/introductions with specific titles that sound like traditional academic articles on film (‘Iván Zulueta: Films of Madrid’s Underground’ by Steven Marsh, ‘Embracing Normalcy: Madrid Gay Cinema at the Turn of the New Millennium’ by Helio San Miguel, ‘Beyond the Cliché: Madrid in Twenty-first Century American Thrillers’ by John D. Sanderson, ‘Bright Young Things: Neo-existentialism in Madrid Cinema of the 1990s’ by Rafael Gómez Alonso), which cite interviews with film directors (Carlos Saura) and get further into film traditions, actors, directors, culture (La Movida) – but, importantly, with English translations (by Marsh for one, who is a name Hispanists will recognize; the editor of the volume is Lorenzo J. Torres Hortelano (of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid), who has in addition assembled a team of former-student photographers to help complement the volume visually).
They concise vignettes are framed with a general map/plano of the city itself as an organizing principle showing where in the city each scene takes place, and still shots of the films under discussion. I have to say I was impressed with the range of films chosen and the depth of the discussion given the spatial limitations (the volume, in this case an e-book is a visually stunning 128 pages).
While reading through this one, it occurred to me that the book would serve as quite an advantageous model for teaching in particular, I might have (film-/Spanish-) students compose their own similar volume. Here is some praise from the series site:
Praise for World Film Locations: New York: ‘An elegant tribute to the films and locations that have given New York its private real estate in our minds. The contributors are so immediately readable and movie-savvy.’ – Roger Ebert
Praise for World Film Locations: Paris: ‘A superbly edited collection explores the most important movie city in the world’ – David Sterritt
Praise for World Film Locations: London: ‘A superb book, indispensable for any cinephile interested in London’s psychogeography. I could pore over it for hours.’ – Peter Bradshaw
Three Spatial/Geo Humanities books…
I finally found time to grab a few books from the library that have looked interesting:
The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship (Indiana 2010)
Envisioning Landscapes, Making Worlds: Geography and the Humanities (Routledge 2011)
GeoHumanities: Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place (Routledge 2011) (this link is a review)
(let’s see if I can find time to read them)…
I’m particularly interested to gauge the extent to which geographers are engaging with the literary text without reducing it to content, something that seems to have been a temptation for David Harvey in particular. Just having reread the introduction to Engaging Film–a great book, but one whose introduction attempts to reinvent the wheel in that it simplifies the notion of film as a “representation of reality” and then seeks to provide an “antiessentialist” vision of film that of course can be traced back to the very complex nature of the theories it cites (e.g. Siegfried Kracauer’s theory of film)–it seems that a more thorough reconciliation of the humanities and social sciences is necessary.
Initial Thoughts on ‘Total Landscape’
So here are my initial thoughts on the volume reblogged earlier on a recent book titled Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space (2006) by Miodrag Mitrasinovic with Ashgate. I wanted to give the book a closer look before forming an opinion. And I still have questions as I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet…
The first issue is this: Continue reading