28 April 2010

Characters in an Urban Society

This is one time I do not feel guilty shamelessly plugging another website's entry. This deals directly with the current exhibit at SUPERFRONT, a contemporary architecture collaborative located in Brooklyn, New York, of which I have recently become involved.

SUPERFRONT Gallery - Jimenez Lai

Jimenez's drawings accomplish the remarkable task of compiling perhaps the most complex issues surrounding urban structures and architectural language and streamlining his own thoughts on these matters into coherent trails of visual communication. As one progresses through this series of drawings, an attachment develops not only with the human characters featured, but also with the built structures beginning to form. A thought that resonates with me in the above video is when Jimenez refers to 'architecture as characters'. I believe it important as an architect and designer to acknowledge the fact that buildings are not passive structures, placed in the background of our everyday urban lives, but rather active players in an ever-changing scene. The push and pull of urban topographical advancement plays a vital role in public interaction. In contemplating the future of society as a whole, one must take into account the decay, resurrection, and creation of built form. For as the world's population tips toward a dominant modern city culture, we all become integral characters in the tale of urban evolution.

04 April 2010

New Yorleans State of Mind

When contemplating the true essence of a city and its inhabitants, I cannot name two places more fundamentally opposed than New Orleans and New York City. Which is why I was so very excited to participate in one of New Orleans oldest rites of passage right here in my new home, a second line parade. To give a very brief history of this event, a second line forms for many occasions: births, deaths, holidays, celebrations, mournings, or just a sunny afternoon. It is an impromptu parade in the truest sense of the word, for the only people actually part of the 'parade' are the select few initiating the event, always including members of a brass band. The rest of said parade are merely people the revelers pick up along the way and form a 'second line' of paraders, in other words people strolling along behind the band and in effect forming a second line of marchers.

This type of event symbolizes a selection of New Orleanian values: music, comradery, and relaxation. Participating in such an event across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City highlighted a true clash of cultures. At its climax, the parade probably reached about two hundred people. Understandably, this large of a group, along with a few tubas, dominated the path of travel in both directions. Of course, this made New Yorkers not involved with the event more than a little frustrated. New York is a culture built around a fast pace of life, a driven energy, and the desire to get from point A to B in the fastest possible way. As bicyclists and runners encountered this second line parade, many became frustrated and turned around, a few got angry and forced their way through the slow moving crowd, but an even greater number were captured by the light-hearted sense of togetherness the parade emitted. Bikers dismounted their rides, joggers slowed to a stroll, and together we crossed the bridge in true New Orleans style.

The second line was lead across the bridge by the ever energetic DancingMan504... a Treme resident. Check out his website for a more informative history of the second line and some videos of his sweet moves.

and he dances on long into the afternoon...