BE Spring Symposium: mark your calendars!

Critical Design

BE+_poster_final_shrunk

Students in the Built Environment PhD program at the University of Washington will be hosting a symposium on the morning of Friday, May 3rd in Gould Court. The impetus for the “BE+ More” symposium centers on defining the “built environment” as an educational framework. Specifically, what makes us more than merely a aggregation of departments each connected to their own disciplines and professions? The symposium format will consist of three moderated discussion panels, one of which I am excited to announce will focus on the topic of Critical Design.

More information to follow over the coming weeks, but in the meantime…mark your calendars! It is sure to be an intellectually stimulating conversation. And for those of you outside the college who have ever asked yourselves, “The built environments–what does that even mean?”, this is our attempt at answering your call.

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what a great photo

Queer Urban Ecologies

Which means I’ll be writing some reflections on last week’s incredible experiences soon…but, for now:

We have seen all that this valorization of the negative signified, including the conservative spirit of such an enterprise, the platitude of the affirmations supposed to be engendered thereby, and the manner in which we are led away from the most important task [for philosophy], that of determining problems and realizing in them our power of creation and decision. That is why conflicts, oppositions and contradictions seemed to us to be surface effects of conscious epiphenomena, while the unconscious lived on in problems and differences. History progresses not by negation and the negation of negation, but by deciding problems and affirming differences. It is no less bloody and cruel as a result. Only the shadows of history live by negation: the good enter into it with all the power of a posited differential or a…

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I like the idea of D returning to the same problem. It seems that if he found an answer he was fully satisfied with and stopped ‘working on it’, he might be guilty of that which he cautions against, falling into habit. If the context is always changing, it seems like the answers would change. This is a nice reminder for myself to actually finish this text…

Posthegemony

Deleuze, Nietzsche and PhilosophyAs with most of his books on the History of Philosophy, Gilles Deleuze’s Nietzsche and Philosophy is in large part a work of ventriloquy. Deleuze is speaking through Nietzsche, or making Nietzsche speak for him, as part of a series of debates and concerns that are perhaps more properly “Deleuzian” than they are “Nietzschean.” This is no doubt clearest in the book’s excoriation of Hegelianism and the dialectic: “There is no possible compromise between Hegel and Nietzsche,” Deleuze tells us (195). Written in 1962, Nietzsche and Philosophy is then part of a broadside within French thought against the prevailing postwar interest in Hegel (very much as mediated by Alexandre Kojève). A few years later, Louis Althusser would also join in the fray, with his attempt to construct a Marxism in which all indebtedness to Hegel had been absolutely excised.

The war against Hegel and Hegelianism is also a war against…

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Anarchist Without Content

smith-deleuzeI just uploaded these lectures, which I listened to a couple years ago. They are perhaps the best introduction to the politics of Deleuze and Guattari but is also rewarding for more advanced scholars. I’m sorry for the quality – I tried to clean them up, but they’re not perfect. awc

Also available here.

Daniel W Smith discussed Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s works Anti-Oedipus & A Thousand Plateaus at the Collegium Phaenomenologicum 2009. Smith, a professor of philosophy at Purdue University, is a leading expert of Deleuze and Guattari’s work. In these lectures, he lucidly outlines the theories and implications of the most political sections of Deleuze and Guattari’s work while giving special attention to the primary source materials and philosophical arguments that the authors utilized to make their argument.

Day 1: Anti-Oedipus & Desire
In this talk, Smith discusses Deleuze and Guattari’s ambitious reworking of psychoanalysis, especially with…

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Fascist Regime

As I was writing a paper last summer that looked at artist practices, it took a dark turn at the end. I began thinking about the enormous ‘latitude’ it seems like we have with Google’s tools, nearly all ‘free’ to use; but their service also dependent upon users to contribute to their larger project, ‘free activity’, as Holland would say.  As we grow more dependent upon their tools (they are so smart! accurate!), we contribute to the structure that makes us dependent. Microfascism. Fascism, for D & G, is first evident in the molecular realm, where divisive, controlling behaviors play out on a variety of scales. It is when these microfascisms begin to really cohere into a larger formation that a fascist regime becomes possible.

Around the same time, my co-conspirator and I were contemplating organizing a panel on geophilosophy for the AAG- and we were looking for a conceptual framework that was broad enough to include both of our projects, while not so broad that it would lack any coherence. I was perusing A Thousand Plateaus to generate some ideas and thinking about planes and how they operate. We finally decided on ‘Planes of Urban Experience’ as a way to organize papers, which would allow different scales but also link them together. While Keith’s topic is a physical plane of organization, mine was virtual (not virtual in the Deleuzian sense), immaterial to some degree, but real just the same.

At the time I was thinking that Google best represented a fascist regime. I found plenty of textual support in ATP as I was browsing it, and it set me off on a path of thinking about Google’s dependence on users to help build a portion of their knowledge- either through countless hours of beta testing, the citizen cartographers that ‘unite’ to map the world, the need for them to maintain their status as the #1 search engine to continue to produce accurate results; this is solidified by enthusiastic users taking advantage of all of Google’s tools and applications that augment the internet experience- and increasingly wholly integrated across applications. One never needs to leave the Googleverse.

I’m currently working on that paper, while also working on a portion of my dissertation. Recently I ran across an outline of their company history, as told by them, and decided that I should build a spreadsheet that takes their milestones and makes that information more ‘accessible’ (compared to the 41 page pdf that resulted from printing their webpage) and ‘useful’, to use their jargon…. I’m about 3/4 through the timeline. What has become incredibly clear is how accurate that initial thought that I had last summer really was. To date, they are laying their own internet infrastructure in select places, powering free wi-fi, their mapping regime covers nearly every element of navigation, modal, temporal and spatial; they continue to invest in clean energy- large scale production as well as domestic systems, they are experimenting with countless environmental ‘stewardship’ models, they have the largest electric car charging infrastructure. That’s just the surface. They have become an important public service during natural disasters, providing communication and satellite imagery. They continue to acquire countless businesses to build models that continue to garner an enormous market share in which businesses rely on Google to make them visible; their positive ‘economic impact’ impact in the US economy was $64 billion in 2010, while also ‘matching’ up to $100 million to ‘jump-start’ the economy. They provide phone service via their email software, youtube is increasingly providing ‘live’ news features, they are willing to fund research that can provide news content in today’s ‘lean’ model. I’m not sure if there is any sector in the economy that they haven’t taken on to provide an alternative model.

Meanwhile, the State (used broadly) continues to take a backseat to much of their efforts. Many governments are too slow and unwieldy to perform and innovate like Google. Recently, some of their more controversial efforts have resulted in policy documents of ‘best practices’ that circumvent not only the court system, but also public participation. The current environment of legislative efforts is ineffective, not only at the State (US) level, but also globally- as each government has its own fractured guidelines. This prevents a clear mandate from taking shape- one that benefits all involved, rather than capitalist interests. Meanwhile, it seems clear that many governments tiptoe around Google’s practices, given that Google has increasingly absorbed the burden of providing many services, and most of them free of charge; a classic neoliberal argument if there ever was one. But it also feels fascistic, to recall the repeated rejoinder “why do we desire our own repression?” Continual concessions are made in favor of allowing Google to continue to ‘innovate’, so that it might make things ‘a little bit better’….  Instead of world peace through capitalistic ventures of the neoliberal order, Google is trumpeting data peace and the democratizing of information… of which they exert enormous control over the ways and means to search the information. How democratic is that? They want to refine my search results so that it continues to reinforce my existing habits. They even want me to personalize so that it can anticipate what I want. I don’t want that. I’m a fickle consumer! But boy, the accurate results and integrated tools are seductive…

While it would be easy to a default to a hyperbolic, deterministic argument here, it also feels almost accurate and fair to simply state that it appears that Google is perfectly poised to take over the world.

looks like a great resource for a course I’d like to teach on Spatial Practices.

Progressive Geographies

Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG has a new edited collection coming out – lots of images available at the blog.

Landscape-Futuresfinal-1Ground-penetrating radar used to map buried cities. Ghost tectonic plates subsiding beneath the American West, revealed by seismic tomography. Lensless cameras that measure WiFi networks to see through walls. Laser-jamming dazzle devices. Retroreflective prisms on the moon. These and other instruments reveal the strange and often unexpected landscapes invisibly present all around us.
Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions, edited by Geoff Manaugh, based on his exhibition of the same name at the Nevada Museum of Art, explores the future of landscape studies by way of the technical intermediaries the instruments, devices and architectural inventions through which humans have come to understand the built and natural environments.From autonomous tools for remote archaeology to radio telescopes scanning electromagnetic events in space, by way of colorful mechanisms allowing children to experience…

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