Monday, March 31, 2008

Rudo contra Tecnico

Terminal 5Sir Richard Rogers should be thinking about giving back his Pritzker prize (or give it to Foster ) (btw: tomorrow it's this year's laureate announcement) I must admit he has done very interesting and spectacular buildings. Although, on his bio Sir Richard Rogers-T5they don't mention any collaboration with Renzo Piano on the Pompidou Center. On the other hand, the infamous Heathrow's Terminal 5... has failed to meet the Vitruvian principles of : “firmness, commodity and delight”. T5 is a horrible oversized grain storage shed! It's not just ugly, it has been a complete functional disaster and operations are at the edge of collapsing just one week after it's opening... the hiccups from day one turned into an almost heart failure... It's just how Meredith Grey's step-mom died! And that's not the first British architectural fiasco lately:
Heathrow's T5This was also another blow to London's and Britain's image in the eyes of the world, following other fiascos such as the Millennium Dome (expensive white elephant), the Millennium Bridge (unstable), and – closer to home – the Holyrood Parliament building (over-budget), the "squinty" bridge over the Clyde (broken cable) and the Science Centre Tower (non-working lift).
Sir Norman Foster's Beijing AirportNo wonder that kiwi pseudo-architects like Warren and Mahoney are so incompetent, with such terrible examples form their masters! Although, Sir Norman Foster did an excellent job on the also new Beijing Airport. For starters: it's not a box shape; The idea of the analogy/reference with a flying dragon is a good example of using cultural references to develop a modern aesthetic language; The parking space and pick-up are Norman Foster - Beijing Airport T3well resolved as compared to the rigid small shoe-box that came out of the big shoe-box; The overall view at user's perspective is just to die for... compared to the bulkiness and almost threatening rigidness of Richard Rogers' glass box; and last but not least: it seems that the skylights not only resemble dragon's scales, they also regulate temperature : "Terminal 3's curved roof contains thousands of skylights. Their orientation to the southeast is intended to maximize the heat gain from the early morning sun, Beijing Airporthelping to reduce the amount of energy expended by the structure for heating. The golden tint, meanwhile, is meant to evoke the colors of Beijing's Forbidden City, the Ming Dynasty-era imperial palace at the city's center" In other words, the flying dragon is much more transparent and welcoming, is less obstructive and blends and respects the environment. I guess, I'm starting to prefer the principle of harmony, rather than disruption, confrontation or contrast as a form of aesthetic composition.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hot for radios

magno radioI have absolutely no idea how they calculate the infamous "carbon footprint". Even the name seems to me a bit odd and a bad choice of semantics, and googleing it didn't help much. Makes me feel as if we all are a bunch of "big foot" ...when it's a problem of physiology / forensics. A "footprint" or a "fingerprint" should always be identical in size and shape to the bodypart that generated the impression. Any "CSI" fan should know that, in fact, the whole forensics thing is based on that principle... you will always have the same fingerprints or footprints, and you can't change it. So, by implication, the only way of reducing the footprint size or shape is by mutilation! In other words, if you want to wear size 4 shoes when you are currently size 9, means you would have to cut off your toes! It's anatomically impossible to reduce one's footprint unless you have some kind of surgery to deform your body.

Then, this other issue: why is the carbon footprint larger than the organism that makes it? It doesn't make any sense. A footprint can not be larger than the bodypart. When I walk on the beach, my footprints are the same size as my sandals. MarinaI could try to learn the art of kung-fu to walk over rice paper without leaving a trace... but my footprint would still be the same size, even when it doesn't leave any mark on the paper. Again: the idea of a reducing a carbon footprint has a bad semantic. They should have consulted Marina for a better choice of words, she certainly knows about the impact of body parts on the environment. So, why not describe "that"... (Hey! I'm talking about the carbon footprint here!!! ) as "carbon shadow", objects can cast a longer or shorter shadow, maybe "environmental impact profile" or "carbon emissions index" etc. I wish she decides to investigate that one day.

magno radio - areawareIf you feel guilty of having an iPod (all iPod models have a terrible carbon shadow (aka footprint) For example, the tini-tiny iPod nano has a huge carbon shadow of 31 kg (68 pounds) CO2 already. Can you imagine how many more footprints it leaves all the way from the factory to your hands? anyway, if you are thinking about getting one of those speaker cradles for your iPod. Well, here's a good option to compensate for all those nasty graphite skid-marks: The MAGNO Radios designed by Singgih Kartono. "He chooses wood for his radios not just based on aesthetics but on his appreciation of wood's simplicity and organic vitality. The Magno radio combines the most current mp3 player compatible electronics with sustainable grown woods." The radios are manufactured by skilled craftspeople in Indonesia, also supporting their jobs. If you are going to pay for an overpriced radio, I guess this is a "greener" option than the Tivoli Model One... I just love the looks of those, but I am still not convinced of the high price for a boxed radio or a mono aural radio! The Magno on the other hand, looks and feels to be more honest and sincere.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is that the easter bunny or a suicide-bomber?

zena holloway"The" President is absolutely right : "It's amazing with the software that has been developed these days that enable a camera to distinguish the difference between a squirrel and a bomb". It's a good thing to have such software, specially if the squirrel looks like Lincoln! Seriously, I guess it depends on how good you are using that software. It seems like we can manipulate images to create almost anything... but I still believe that despite retouching, a good picture depends on the eye of the photographer, not just on the special effects. Click on the images to visit the pictures galleries by : Zena Holloway (video), Mr. Toledano, Belinda Mason and Alison Jackson.

zena hollowayLet's just make it clear that not every photograph is art, just like not every oil painting is art. Journalistic pictures are not art, they are just good or bad journalist pictures. Pictures of friends and family during a party or reunion are not art... and so on. Even some photographic essays, are not necessarily art. Some of them are, some of them aren't. Photography, and cinema are just a medium... whether a picture is art or not is another matter. However, there's still some magic involved in the philosophical idea of capturing a precise instant on an image. At least, it's still a wonderful concept for me. An instant that will never be repeated, and yet that exact fraction of a second will become a permanent record of time and space.

belinda masonYes, photography has become a regular thing and lost it's magic for many people. Digital imaging has made things worse, since the materialization into a piece of paper has become obsolete. Digital pictures can be deleted with no mercy, and those moments will be gone forever, whereas for traditional paper pictures... destroying a picture was some kind of a ritual (I am imagining someone burning the picture of an ex-boyfriend or something like that). Digital pictures have become ephemeral, they are no longer a permanent record, and this changes the perceived way we look at photography.

alison jacksonSnapshots of celebrities are important for just a matter of hours or days... then we become hungry to see the next celebrity being humiliated or having an embarrassing "friggin" moment. Images become a constant flow of "infotainment" and their communication power becomes "unrealistic" or at least disguised in a fast food-like edible way, rather than being a nourishing communication tool. Women's magazines, news, and reality TV are some kind of malicious voyeurism, rather than any kind of art form. How long until we get someone like Miss Teen North Carolina as the word's sexiest blogger/geek!

britney with iPhoneIt's the same old argument proletarians vs. elite. The problem with vulgarization, is that it devaluates the media. Half a century ago, only a few people had cameras (stills or 8mm movies), nowadays, any bozo with a cell phone can take pictures or video and post it on youTube or Flickr. What we get is the collective idea that (all) videos on youTube are just people doing stupid things. My concern is that loss of relevance, and the social construction of meanings (mass belief) that (all) digital pictures are either photoshop manipulated or just banal items. The fact, that many aficionados pretend to be professional photographers, or professional film makers, doesn't help this situation. For example, last week on a newsletter from a NZ creative initiative, they reported that a couple of young students won a grant to visit England for a small workshop or something. Anyway, they had links to the portfolio of both students... and well... judge for yourself. Proves my point that any bozo with a video camera or a video game, can call himself an artist... although it doesn't mean it's true.

mr toledanoIf you are still too stupid to handle a camera to be an artist, there's still a better job : you can become an "international man (or woman) of mystery" . British police has launched a Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign asking people to send their "funny videos" and pictures of suspicious terrorists. If you catch someone on the street or in your workplace acting strange, well... go snoop and then squeal to Scotland Yard. If your video is selected, you can win a 500 pounds and tickets to the ferris wheel every week! UK citizens can now feel safe and secure, just like the old times when people used to denounce their weird neighbors and even odd family members. I wonder if Scotland Yard has at least some pirated copies of that amazing american software to recognize a squirrel form a bomb, or if they can use it to tell the difference between these DVDs. Here's what the Michigan police says: "DVDAs part of your daily routine, being observant and reporting anything out the ordinary could be the crucial first step in preventing a possible terrorist plot or threat" Of course, that means it is our civil duty to be squealers and invade the privacy of others to make sure they are not evil. So have always your camera-cell-phone ready!

In other photographic matters, the Embassy of Mexico, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca (MACO) and Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo (CFMAB) are calling to submit pictures about Oaxaca's geography, life, history, landscapes, architecture, habits, desires, dreams, objects, past/present or any other motif that can represent Oaxaca on a collective exhibition to be presented at MACO. They are right to say that "the camera captures reality, but it also invents it". Just be careful, because if someone else with a camera catches you taking pictures or video of monuments or important buildings, your picture might end on the most wanted list.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, March 21, 2008

Geostationary Customs

I'm very upset with the level of corruption of some Mexican customs agents... I hope they don't get control of the final frontier's douane someday. Speaking of space, here's my homage to the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke,

clarke's geostationary orbit 1

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Julia Ringwald

ultimate cutieOK. Here are some new fractals created using FractalWorks. Well, the "Cutie Julia 3D" required a bit of photoshop manipulation to make a 3D effect like this . It's not as notorious as I wish, but any stronger would affect the real image as you can see on my first attempt (below). Maybe I'll try something in between later or wait for the real 3D version.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 10, 2008


I wonder if it also plays polka, or if it goes down the stairs like a springy "slinky"...

Monday Update:

"FlexibleLove™ experimental furniture incorporates an ‘accordion-like, honeycomb’ structure to create durable furniture pieces produced from widely-available, low-cost recycled materials. FlexibleLove™ furniture pieces, such as FlexibleLove 16™, are made wholly from recycled paper and wood products, and are produced using pre-existing manufacturing processes in order to reduce their overall impact on the environment. The name “FlexibleLove” was derived from the concept of a ‘flexible love-seat’ - seating that could hold from one to as many as sixteen individuals; changing length and shape with a simple pull at each end. A honeycomb structure, used throughtout the entire FlexibleLove line, produces an accordion-like result that allows each piece to be extended and collapsed with ease.

Flexiblelove by Chishen ChiuChishen Chiu(邱啟審) is a young designer based in Miao Li, Taiwan. His design thinking has been heavily influenced by his urban surroundings, consisting primarily of small, family-owned factories that produce everything from paper tubes used for rolls of tape to metal parts that find their way into computers and electronic devices. The idea to use a recycled honeycomb structure to create furniture came about through happenstance and some harmless creative experimentation. Chishen had stumbled upon a small factory producing ‘honeycombed’ sheets of recycled paper in suburban Taipei one day. Intrigued by the use of the honeycomb structure to create cardboard palettes that were being used to replace traditional wooden palettes, he believed the material could be applied to create any rigid structure. Within days, the idea for FlexibleLove had been sketched out and turned into a working model. Taking advantage of the honeycomb structure’s unique properties, Chishen created a simple chair that when first presented appear to seat only one individual; but when full extended could seat as many as sixteen."
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Der Teufel sitzt im Detail

Today I was organizing and cleaning files on my computer, when I found images of some installations and objects by Markus Hofer. I think the overflowing liquids are brilliant: rot, Erinnerungan ein nie stattgefundenes Telefonat, Überflüssige Pflanze, Halbmilch, Gelber Saft, Mehr als alle dachten, Der kleine Sonnenuntergang, Die magische Hand des Künstlers, u.a. His chairs have also a fresh and imaginative narrative, even if you don't undestand the title in German: Raum-Zeit Additionen, Sitzecke, Aufsitz, Sehr ungenaue Spiegelung, Hochsitz, usw. They reminded me of Yvonne Fehling & Jennie Peiz's "Sthulhockerbank".

To create a (good) narrative with a single object requires a good understanding and management of the message. Handling two objects, creates a dialogue... and communication becomes twice as hard, but when it's well done, then it is also twice as powerful as single meanings. Siamese objects on the other hand, have a more intimate dialog. Different objects may have different languages, similar objects are like similar people and they probably sahre the same language, allowing to make a conversation much easier. The trick is that the spectator is not the same kind of species as the objects, but should be able to understand and decipher that dialog, or like in this case: "project" the object into familiar situations.

In this case, the chairs become a spatial representation of "projected" human based situations. In latin languages furniture is called mobilier (French) and mueble (Spanish), In this case, the chairs lost their mobility, they become permanently placed, like if they were a snapshot of a moment in time. And we can read (or imagine) what (may have) happened at that precise moment... that's our interpretation or reading of that dialogue :

This setting looks like 3 people talking, and then, one of them turns his/her back on disagreement. Or maybe the third person just happened to be there next to the other two, but is disapproving of the conversation. Maybe they were discussing Rugby and he's a soccer fan... or similar stories like: he was trying to read a book and was disturbed by the loud voices and jokes of the other two, etc. In any case, the reading is that the third element is "disconnecting" from the others.

This one looks like a shy person trying to hide behind the others. It's not disconnecting... it's just hiding behind, maybe to have a quiet moment... or maybe is ashamed or introvert. The last one is the easiest... it's of course an intimate dialog as seen from the distance. Maybe is a parent giving courage to a crying child, maybe it's a (love) couple. The fact that we are peeking from the distance certainly shows that it's an intimate moment not to be disturbed.

Which other dialogs or situations do you imagine are happening? Send me your comments.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Creeating creeatures

One of the most amazing TED talks:
theo jansen's creaturesDutch artist Theo Jansen has been working for 16 years to create sculptures that move on their own in eerily lifelike ways. Each generation of his "Strandbeests" is subject to the forces of evolution, with successful forms moving forward into new designs. Jansen's vision and long-term commitment to his wooden menagerie is as fascinating to observe as the beasts themselves. His newest creatures walk without assistance on the beaches of Holland, powered by wind, captured by gossamer wings that flap and pump air into old lemonade bottles that in turn power the creatures' many plastic spindly legs. The walking sculptures look alive as they move, each leg articulating in such a way that the body is steady and level. They even incorporate primitive logic gates that are used to reverse the machine’s direction if it senses dangerous water or loose sand where it might get stuck.

Bookmark and Share

Iconic Brits!

This boxed Grenadier/Queen's Guard looks more like some lego of a Danish guard. I think it's a difficult task to stylize an icon without the risk of ruining some visual encoding. It would have been impossible to mix the mexican sombrero with the helmet of a normal bobby for example! I wonder how it would have been if they had chosen among other British icons like : Alice in wonderland, monty phython, the english weather, fish and chips, the mini skirt, the pub, a pint of real ale, Dr. who, Punch & Judy, little Britain ... or something "designish" like a double-decker or a Garden Gnome.

Anyway, Dicojal is inviting again to the UK-GDL-MX Design Forum. The last forum 2006 in Guadalajara was so successful, that this time it will go to Mexico city as well. April 7/8 in Guadalajara (ITESO) and April 9/10 in Mexico City (IBERO) You can hear from 8 design firms on issues about branding and packaging.
Design Bridge, Mark Rodgers
Blue Marlin, John Morris
Imagintation, Eduardo Braniff
Paragraf Design, Pablo González de Castilla
BDP Brand New, Andres Villalobos
Haiku, Francisco Aguayo Aguilar y Gabriel Cárabes Viera
Ideograma, Juan Carlos Fernpandez
Helix Estrategias, Gerardo F. de la Mora Basañez
Retorno Tassier, Gonzalo Tassier
Bookmark and Share

Friday, March 07, 2008

Design for Dummies

Expert village is a website with thousands of "do it yourself" video tutorials in all areas of life: from belly dancing to magic tricks. There are weird video tutorials like "how tostart your karaoke business", "how to read tarot cards","zombie survival skills", "How to Draw the Human Body", "How to Carve a Figure out of Wood, "how to Make Clay Betty Boop pendants" or you can learn "Fire Breathing Basics" and many more vital knowledge in life... like how to become an Industrial Designer by Rajan Sedalia :

"Do you have an eye for design? Have you ever said to yourself, “I could do better than this” when it comes to the products you use everyday? Those attitudes are the basic driving principles behind industrial design. Whether it’s
tweaking the shape or texture of a new invention for ergonomic reasons, or reworking the overall aesthetic of the product for better marketing appeal, an industrial designer considers how to deliver a consumer good from concept to reality, helping it to succeed at every stop along the way. Industrial, or product, design requires a bit of the renaissance approach to the job, combining art, style, and creativity with concerns of usability, ease of manufacturing, and cost. Designers decide how the finished product looks and feels, and how it’s delivered to us in the retail marketplace. In other words, they influence our everyday lives in indirect but powerful ways."
OK, the "art and engineering of creating new products ... taking the renaissance approach", I think I'll stick with the belly dance lessons then.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, March 06, 2008

End Disability Poverty campaign

This from Leonard Cheshire DisAbility:
Disabled people are twice as likely to live in financial poverty but disability poverty is about much more than that. It is about access to and quality of education; housing; transport; employment; access to shops and services; access to health care and social services; levels of hate crime and access to justice. The links between disability and poverty remain so strong that unless specific action is taken to tackle disability poverty, the goal for ending other forms of poverty, such as child poverty, will simply not be met. This is why we need you to get involved to help us raise disability poverty on the Government agenda.
Although this campaign is only in the UK, LCD also has a similar campaigns worldwide, like the global campaign for education and School 4 all:Creature discomforts
Can you imagine your childhood without an education? A childhood without learning, without playing amongst friends… You see, an education is about so much more than learning to read and write – it’s about socialisation; it's about getting a start in life. Yet 98% of disabled girls and boys in the developing world are excluded from school. Excluded from a chance in life....Every child should have the right to go to school. The chance to learn and play with other children, to learn basic skills and to fulfil their potential...We need to bring about the changes to make this happen.
Well, we don't have to go too far to see discrimination against disabled students. Check out the case of Ryan Leitch here in Auckland. Despite being an award winning student, he can't get funding for necessary caregiving to attend university. (via) Is not just ramps and accessible classrooms, you see.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

You can't be serious!

Sandra sent me a link to the Chronicle of Higher Education's architecture blog... and well. Of course what jumps out is the "back of the envelope" contest. Each U.S.A. president since Franklin D. Roosevelt gets to leave a building legacy in form of a monumental presidential library. Which is very practical, since we have noted that statues and places can be destroyed over time. Museums and libraries on the other hand, are somehow protected from being destroyed in case of war or invasion. The actual library (to be built) was designed by Robert A.M. Stern (or one of his 300 employees) and it will be of course at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

The CHE invited people to submit ideas on how the library should be like. Nothing fancy, no renders, just sketches on the back of an envelope. Some of those ideas are actually good! Just a couple are serious proposals, but what I mean is that the designers actually did a great job generating ideas that are literally "out of the box". In terms of creativity, I guess the fact that they knew it was just a contest to win an iPod and not an actual architecture contest, opened their minds into exploring concepts with no restraints. Usually, at school we learn so much about design restraints, that we forget about naive creativity. Of course that naive creativity is just that: naive. It can't be made or built, but it's sure a fresh approach to how we perceive the world and our reality.

Of course the political discourse was the main subject... I don't know if the semantic is meaningful or meaningless... but that was on purpose, I guess. My favourites are the "hole in the ground" and the "cruciform plan"... but I have to give serious credit to the "W" building and "floats on fountains". Watch the presentation videos, which includes other unseen (or unseenable*) projects. Did anyone thought about building the library upside down? so that when GWB walks in there during the opening ceremony (I guess it would be his great opportunity to visit a library) all books on the shelfs would be "correctly" displayed.

The other article that jumped into my attention was AIAS and Michael Graves' Freedom by design campaign to raise awareness (and some money) for Universal Design in architecture.

Large numbers of people feel confined in their own homes. They are unable to get into their showers, ascend steps, open doors or pass through doorways. More importantly, many are unable to flee their homes in an emergency without assistance because their residences are not properly designed for their specific needs.

Freedom by Design™, the AIAS community service program, utilizes the talents of architecture students to radically impact the lives of people in their community through modest design and construction solutions. Vital modifications are made to enhance the homes of low-income elderly and disabled individuals by addressing their struggles with everyday tasks such as bathing, ascending stairs and opening doors. Our priority is improving the safety, comfort and dignity of the home’s occupants.

Through numerous AIAS chapters, Freedom by Design™ (FBD) teaches students how to resolve accessibility issues while simultaneously providing them with the real world experience of working with a client, mentorship from a local architect and constructor, and an understanding of the practical impact of architecture and design.


*just to be ad hoc with Bushisms.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 03, 2008

Plagiarized 3D wallpaper

Let's keep talking about logos. Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the car companies have changed their logos into 3D. Probably because the natural move was to make their logos look exactly like the emblems used on the actual cars, but they could certainly consider other options to upgrade their logos.
When I was searching for this logos, I found some interesting stories like how the chevrolet logo was inspired by a wallpaper pattern. But I was more surprised to see the logo rip-offs, (some are truly outrageous) and the legal suit against Geely. Maybe I should post later a series on plagiarized logos.

Bookmark and Share