Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 12 FINAL REVIEW Friday June 19th 2009

Invited Critics:

Panos Dragonas, Patras University

Dimitris Fatouros, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Georgios Panetsos, Patras University

Efi Rentzou, Princeton University

with Yannis Aesopos, Petros Babasikas, Christine Boyer, and Dimitri Gondicas

Day 11 Thursday Jun 18th

Studio Work day and night:

Day 10 June 17th Wednesday

Walk on the Acropolis: 8:00 a.m. We were met by Spyros Economoupoulos [Aesopos’ uncle] who then introduced us to Katerina Lambrinou. She gave us a walk inside the Parthenon and up the circular staircase to overlook the restoration work. We felt very privileged to be inside the monument while the hords of tourists began to ascend the Acroppolis hill. We next met Mr. Tanoulas who showed us the restoration work on the Erectheon.

Afternoon Day Ten June 17th Wednesday
The mid-day Nikos Xydakis from Kathimerini spoke to us about the G-Riots in Athens during Dec 2008 and briefly about other cultural events in the city. He offered us a multi-faceted view on how to interpret the ‘uprising’ of young high school students, precarious workers, immigrant sympathizers, anarchists, and others, after the police shot and killed Alexandros Grigoropoulos a 15 year old student. This was not an ordinary political protest, not to be compared to Paris riots in the banlieus, LA riots after Rodney King but a protest in the historical center of Athens, reclaiming public space, lighting up the city. It was from one point of view. The multitude were protesting the precariousness of the future, no jobs, no good jobs, having to pay an entry fee for everything, consumer fetishes of i-phones and mac-books, the weak and corrupt political system that offers no hope to succeed in an honest way. The effects of this protest were likened to Marx’s ‘ole mole’ – revolutionists that burrow through the underground, digging tunnels, slowly agitating the earth until it shakes. things to come’.
Xydakis also quoted Cavafy: events that are coming have a certain hum that one hears from a distance –the uprisings were like spasms, and fireworks flaring up and quickly distinguished. Only during the moment you see something, that is there value, a bright torch for little while, and afterwards a hardening, or thickening. Yet the ideas sleep for many months, years, nevertheless they are an essential part of the public’s collective memory.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nikos Xydakis recommends Ed Vuillamy's Article

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 9 June 16th


Lectures by Christina Papadimitriou on Reconstructing the Parthenon B. Tschumi and the New Acropolis Museum and Marc Britz on Zappeion Building, Zappos and Theophile von Hansen: a multi-purpose building from the start.

Lectures Day Nine June 16th

Christina described the long history of restoration and clearance of the Acropolis, after becoming an archaeological site in 1828. She reviewed plans for transforming Athens into a modern city and concerns of what to do with the Acropolis. There was Karl Friedrich Schinkel ‘s Plan 1834 to build the King’s Palace on its plateau, rejected because there was no water on the hill. There were many romantic and neo-classical idealize views of contemplated restoration; Gottfried Semper’s polychromatic drawings of Parthenon. Eventually the Acropolis became the icon of Greek modernity.
After restoration work began, some 200 houses on Acropolis, built to house the families of the garrison, were cleared away, as was a mosque inside Parthenon built in the early 18th century. Parts of the Parthenon were restored. Early photographs reveal the ground strewn with rubble which led Christina to dispute Auguste Choisy’s description of movement of the eye from the Erechtheion to the Parthenon, the interpretation of the architectural promenade of Le Corbusier following Choisy, and the scenographic interpretation made by Eisenstein also following Choisy. Such a walk would have been impossible, she argued, due to the clutter accumulated during the Persian wars and rubble from the base of an original temple to Athena.
She also described Bernard Tshumi’s New Acropolis Museum and the several competition prior to his winning proposal. The program called for a site close to the Acropolis but where? It must be a building neutral in appearance in order to preserve the dominance of the ancient landscape. During construction post-classical archaeological ruins were discovered requiring the museum to preserve their material traces. It is expected that 10,000 visitors per day will loop through the building. Tshumi has offered a look at the contemporary city while viewing the ancient marbles, thus presenting the visitor with dramatically different conditions.
Was the museum built to house the Elgin marbles? Will the marbles be returned? Might they start a great exchange of antiquities from London, New York, Berlin and elsewhere? Is this about moveable objects and international law, or is it about Greek identity and national possessions? These were a few questions raised in a discussion.

Marc Britz described the start of his summer research project, with Christina, on the Danish architect Theophil Hansen (1813 -1891) who was trained by Schinkel. Marc’s work begins with the Zappeion Building, intended to be a multi-purpose structure from the start. Built on the edge of the city but now enclosed by the city and a park, The Zappeion (1874 – 1888) was intended by its benefactor Evangelos Zappas to help revive the Olympic Games in modern times. It was used during the 1896 Oympics as a Fencing Hall, photographs of which were shown by Marc, and as an Olympic Village for the 1906 Olympic games, and as the press center for the 2004 Olympics. It has also been used for events that range from fashion week to the signing of documents for Greek EU membership.
A bemusing fact is Zappas’ head is buried within his statue, for an undisclosed reason. He died before the revival of the Olympics that he had worked for such since 1856, perhaps he desired to be close to their eventual re-enactment. The Building itself, as Marc explained, is a wonderful example of neo-classical architecture arranged around a circular atrium, with an academically correct façade and beautiful polychrome interiors.

Day Nine June 16th Tuesday
Late afternoon Katerina Sikianaki spoke to us about the 2009 Master Plan for Athens region, the creation of special entrepreneurial zones: such as a high technology park near the new airport or the western zone for heavy industry in which the government provides the infrastructure to support them and industries and enterprises self-relocate. She spoke about environmental protection: along the 42 klm coastal zone, the mountain areas and how the the vegetation of each are is given protection. Each municipality has developed capacity studies such as Glyfada has too many restaurants, they have to reduce the number.
Katerina Sikianaki also spoke about the old airport and plans to turn it into Helinikon Park. A big expanse of land, bigger than Central Park in New York City, it contains some 600 hectares: 100 hectares has been given to regionally important institutions and they will find the funds to create the park and to see that it functions afterwards. The old Saarinen airport building is planned to be an exhibition center; there will be zones for a marine park, an athletic park, a conference center, a high tech zone, housing zones, multi-functional cultural zones with handicraft. Nevertheless the local neighborhood rejected the plan for the City Planers had to take a new approach embodying environmental y strategic considerations combined with implementation plans. These were only a few of the many different aspects of city planning in the Athens region which Sikianaki explained in great detail.

Day 8 June 15th Mid-Term Review

Reviewers and Reviewed

Tei and Ivi

Jessie and Kassy

Darren and Christina

Laura and Marios

Amy and Niki

Day seven June 14th

Morning: Studio Work
Evening: Thomas Doxiadis site visit of Pikionis' landscaping of Philopappos Hills

Day Five June 12th Studio Work and Dinner at Koutouki Taverna

Lectures on Population: Dimitris Christodoulou (KEMO-Research Center for Minority Groups) and Miltos Pavlous (Director, Institute for Rights Equality and Diversity)

Dinner at Koutouki:

Lectures: Day 5 Friday June 12th
Lecture on Population: Miltos Pavlou (Director, Institute for Rights Equality and Diversity,
Migration, Miltos Pavlou explained to us, deals with every aspect of society. It is linked to a set of problems both creating them and reacting to them. It offers an opportunity to redesign society, moreover a mixture of civilizations creates progress. Politicians might say we don’t need unskilled migrants, but that is not so --- informal workers, without a legal path to employment, comprise nearly 50% of the Greek economy and the formal sector greatly benefits from the informal sector. For example, without migrant labor, the 2004 Olympics would not have been successful. This is a major shift: to accept the migrants’ contribution to Greek society. ‘Migrant’ historically used to describe those who went to USA or Australia, it meant Greeks abroad. Today migrants coming to Greece have gained recognition and are referred to as ‘migrants’. An intermediate term was ‘economic migrant’.
But a new phase has been entered with the economic crisis of 2008 and ‘migrant’ has acquired a negative meaning. The majority of incoming migrants in the 1990s were Albanians and Greek natives from distant origins. These migrants have a strong compatibility, culturally and musically with Greeks . They were accepted without discrimination. Albanians keep saying they are no longer target of discrimination. But the new migrants, those from Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan use Athens as a entry portal to Europe. Only about 2% of these migrants get permanent residency, the rest are stuck here without passport or papers to go anywhere. There are as well many criminal networks operating within these new migrant groups. Street vendors, for example, are exploited by their own criminal networks
On the other hand, Pavlou believes that crime waves are artificially constructed by the media, spreading the fear of a diffused criminality throughout the city. ‘Ghetto’ in Athens is a new word in 2008. If you say ghetto, then ghetto becomes a ghetto – no one goes there --- ghetto means separation – but this fear is linked to economic crisis and to fear of crime waves. The major newspapers now openly express racist discourse, warning for example ‘If you drive your car through certain neighborhoods don’t get out’, when actually you can safely walk in these areas. Furthermore the media supports the rise of far right groups, represented since 2007 for the first time in Parliament helping to shift the focus to the single issue of immigration. And police have also cooperated with far right groups, not allowing migrant groups to enter into public space, or disrupting the publication of a minority language dictionary. Separation has brought new problems to Athens.
When you don’t have right to vote, no right to express your opinions, you cannot participate in public space of the city. Yet migrants participate by negotiating public space. Omonia Square is a good example. The square has been the heart of rural Athenians, it is where people go to meet, where migrants meet locals, where different groups begin to understand each other not keep themselves at separate distances. It used to be that different groups lived in polykatikia horizontally: the new groups renting the underground while more prosperous the upper floors. Migrants from the Middle East and Africa are now forming ghettos: they cannot be integrated into the formal economy and are confined to being illegal street vendors. They are fertile ground for intolerance --- treating people as things, they are denied rights, sent back to their homelands, excluded. This is a vicious circle: sent back at state expense they will pay more to return, smugglers are given new opportunities, more brutalized groups will enter the market, more corruption will result, more fear developed – all of which reinforces the new ghetto situation. The solution, instead, Pavlou argues, is that the migrants’ rights must be protected, and it should begin with their rights to achieve economic benefits.

Dimitris Christodoulou (KEMO- Research Center for Minority Groups)
Dimitris spoke to us about how security and migration are related in the EU countries. Do we have to give up some of our freedom in order to gain security? He contests this idea: the extreme right wing counts on fear, fear creates a political agenda which mainstream elites also follow. Human rights are not against freedom. Between the two world wars citizens paid to redistribute wealth in society, to guarantee social peace. Today we do not want to pay for the welfare of others, we let the market deal with this problem. The first wave of immigration could be handled by market solutions but not the 2nd wave. The state and the EU must create a new agenda for social integration – education, health, housing, etc. --- otherwise security of all is at stake.
There are two perspective on the public space of the political community. One is integration which merges the space of the migrant with the space of the local --- but the question is how to integrate these spaces? Does one destroy their public space, annihilate their perception of identity, their culture, their religion in order to create a common public space, which is really my public space, not their public space? On the other hand this may have positive outcomes of integration. The second perspective is recognition. You can be different to a certain extent, but we will negotiate how different you can be. We make a new balance where the final choice depends on the collectivity who decides that we want a school, a mosque, Fridays is a holiday, and so forth.
Dimitris also spoke about borders. We can close borders and exclude others: if I invite you, you can come to my home but elsewhere the doors are closed. The European state excludes, it imposes restrictive measures, it does not integrate, it does not assimilate, it prefers ‘others’ to be far away. Hence my public space and your public space will never meet – therefore the only route is illegal migration
We can open borders somewhat and keep two public spaces closed and completely different. This leads to the creation of a ghetto – you can be yourself in your area, but I have low esteem of you, and you deserve that lowness. We tolerate those who go to a mosque, but Greeks retain power over those tolerated – they control the ‘others’ to go there, create your own space, we can be some kind of good neighbors but can never be in the same space. Always the relationship between migrants and state, or minorities and majorities, is based on power relations – the state is always the strong one, but there are also power relations within minority community itself. Thus social cohesion and political emancipation is difficult, because power relations within minority groups, gender relations, religious domination, etc. can be repressive.
Do rights mean integration? Dimitris thinks not: rights are humanitarian, there are no natural rights --- if you have no membership in a community then you have no rights, if you are part of a political community then you have rights.

Day Three AND Day Four June 10th and June 11th 2009

Day Three Lectures by Yiannis Aespos on Athens architecture in the 21st century and M. Christine Boyer on Mapping Cities [see powerpoint below]
Studio work and Site Visits

Day Four Lectures Petros Babsikas on Mapping, Yannis Pyrgiotis on post-Olympic Games

Afternoon Lecture: Day 4 Thursday June 11th
Lecture by Yannis Pyrgiotis, Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee
Post-Olympic Athens: Yannis Pyrigiots, an influential member of the Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee, explained to us that for every host city, the Olympic games present opportunities to acquire sporting infrastructures, to improve transport infrastructure; to enhance the urban environment, to change and promote its image. The power of transformation is far-reaching, greater than any planning policies. Yet tremendous expenditures are sunk into fixed investments with uncertain benefits in the future. Athens before the games was receiving an insufficient percentage of development investment monies. For a city growing so fast, this was unique and placed the city close to being a third world city. Inertia eroded the competitiveness and quality of life in Athens. It appeared impossible for public investment improvements to catch up with the need caused by such long neglect. Therefore the Olympics changed the major investment policies without political blockage, which after the games, slid backwards to a low percentage and allowed politics to allocate a smaller share of the investment pie to Athens. Nevertheless the multiplier effect in a city such as Athens or Beijing is far greater than say a city such as Atlanta or London.
Athens’ fragmented administrative systems, a large number of local authorities and overlapping responsibilities, had led to an inability to conceive and implement any area-wide strategy. [for example, waste treatment facilities are blocked by local administrations – what we call NIMBY [not in my back yard] protests in USA. ]
In discussing the Phaleron Coastal Zone, Pyrgriotic described that before the sports complex started in 2002 complaints were made by environmental groups that the Olympics was destroying beautiful eco-environments. In reality, trash and, two rivers/ steams dumped waste into the zone, the site selected was in fact a dumb site and no-man’s land. The Olympics transformed the Phaleron Coastal Zone although some of the area is empty awaiting new uses and investment. Keeping these areas empty while looking for investors, not enforcing a developer’s obligation with respect to maintenance, or listening too often to local complaints, has meant that is often impossible to maintain the green open areas. Compared to Barcelona’s waterfront success story, post-Olympic Athens’ coastal zone is less successful. Barcelona had plans for the future of the city for after the games, Athens had none, no idea for later usage of Olympic venues and for maintaining the image of the city.

Cinema Projection: From the Edge of the City (dir. Constantinos Yannaris)

Yannis' and Joel's Napkin Drawings

Watch out guys....these may be worth a lot of money next time! Done at the lovely Koutouki Restaurant

The Unstoppable Jessie Turnbull

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Want You To Want Me

Websites mentioned by Petros

Day Two June 9th Hard at work in the Benaki photo archives

Afternoon Lectures:
Lectures: Day 2 June 10th
Joel Smith “American urban landscapes through photography”
Joel Smith, curator of photography Princeton University, gave us some tools with which to approach urban images: he began by stating there is a mis-match between maps and photographs. Maps give us command over space, they offer a schematic structure while a photograph depends on where the photographer is located; it is a monocular view.
Turning to speak of photographing the city, Joel offered four analytical categories: Frieze, Set, Mirror, and Organism.
1/ Frieze: a low relief image, a form that approximates sculpture, a puzzle that is fitted together, or interlocking motifs that add up to a larger meaning. Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, Stieglitz, Gropius photographs were offer as examples. Joel Smith’s own photograph of the Parthenon [June 8th 2009] was exemplary. It focused on an icon as a vast symbol that locked the view into a frieze. Iconic images such as the Flatiron Building in New York City tend to force the language of the photograph into a specific overloaded direction. Joel is suggesting that a frieze is constructed such that all parts function in relationship to each other in a mathematical or puzzle like manner. One part of picture is so dominant, i.e. iconic, that it erases other parts of the image. The frieze effect is most prevalent in urban photographs.
2/Set: photographs in which the city becomes a backdrop to human activity --- whether narration implied or not, or photographer acting as a director controlling every detail of the view, the city gives meaning to the image only as a backdrop. Joel offered examples of de Corshier’s [sp?] “Hustlers” (1991) and “Heads” (2001). Cartier Bresson also used the city as an adjunct to life – deploying the formal language of the frame his figures disappear into the city, up the stairs, behind the railing, etc. Gary Winograd, Helen Leavitt, Robert Frank are other examples in which figures are surrounded by the city and effected by it, but framed off from the city. Other photographers utilize mirrors to scatter the image, or like Andrew Moore’s photograph “Upper Floor Sarajevo” (2001) utilizing a sniper’s hole in a wall to frame the city.
3/ Mirror: reflection of self-awareness as an artist. Minor White’s 1950s photographs of San Francisco are an example: he crops the image, aligns the image with a window behind, suggesting a metaphorical image of the scene. Or Harry Callahan’s Chicago façade 1950s reiterates the subject, walls us off, stressing the artistic purist elements and fragments not a view of the city.
4/ Organism, [Joel could also have used the term ‘machine’]: Andrew Moore’s “Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge” points to life beyond the frame – he lets go of control, of an enclosed universe, suggesting there is a larger life of the city, beyond the frame of the image. The presentation of multiple photographs become complementary, life and activity and structure, at various scales, literal parts of the city are combined within a single image.
Serial photographs also fit into this category: the network of streets and neighborhoods such as Park Avenue, Soho or Atgee’s Paris photographs, Berenice Abbott’s New York images. One set of images is linked to another, the structure of one set of city images influencing another recording, also evoking life outside the frame. Montage or a combination of images also can reference life outside frame, across time. For example, Robert Flick’s images of serial views, printed in grid format, cataloguing an overview of the fragmented images of Los Angeles. Flick structures these images like a map reading from west to east, north to south.

Alexandra Moschovi’s lecture on “Tales of Urbanity in Contemporary Greek Photography” gave us an idea of what is going on in Greek photography today . Why there are not many examples of ‘urban photography’ in the 1950s, and what the shift towards the city in the 1970s and 1980s is all about.
She began by describing the 1952 Hellenic Photographic Society and the work of Harissiadis, Meletzis, Voula Papaioannis and Costas Balafas. Both professional as well as amateur photographers presented Greece to tourists. Their common subject matter focused on the Greek mountains, the light of Greece, the sky, fishing villages and fishermen, sailing on the Aegean sea. An entire picturesque vocabulary of Greek landscape was deployed such as in Voula Papaioannou’s album Hellas 1949 for European and America Tourists. Socialists’ photographers such as Spyros Meletzis “Mount Olympus” c 1950 idealized the countryside, with images of nature lovers, hikers, the Greek mountains. A Greek Portfolio c1960, 1972 by Constantine Manos and Ioannis Lambros’ posters for Greek National Tourism were other examples of this Romantic picturesque genre.
The Popular Cinema of 1950s and 1960s continued these themes: Athens was a backdrop for romantic comedies. “ Magic City” ( dir Nikos Koundouros, 1954 ) or “Never on Sunday” ( dir Jules Dassin 1960) focused on yhe Greek working class, keeping the city itself as backdrop. The architect, Aris Constantinidis took up photography but the city does not appear in his works. Photography was exclude from art museums at this time, there were no art galleries supporting the work, so a critical approach to photography did not develop.
This began to shift in the 1970s with a turn to the city as subject matter. A new generation comes to age distinguishing themselves from professional and amateur photographers and tourist organizations. They set up the Photographic Centre of Athens in the late 1970s and stressed the purity of the photographic medium. Since there was no infrastructure in Greece to support such photography, many went to USA, Germany or France to live and practice. Straight photography, un-manipulated negatives, on the periphery of high art was practiced by Yiagos Athanassopoulos, 1977 and Giorgos Depollas for Lonely People, 1975. Tachydromos magazine commissioned a series of the 1981 Elections from Nikos Panayotopoulos, and Stelios Efstathopoulos, developed a photographic essay on Gypsies, 1989.
Daily life, exploration of the photographer’s immediate environment [ Army 1985 -6 series In the army Yiorgos Katsaggelos] developed a politically charged documentary approach. Nikos Markou’s series “Perama” 1982 and “Gazi” 1984 and Yiago Anthanassopoulous series “Athenians, 1968-96 “captured the unpredicted and shifting nature of city life. Costis Antoniadis “Used Photographs”, 1986 dramatized place and people. They were problematizing the medium yet using the city only as backdrop … their ‘sociological’ gaze still was informed by the ‘pastoral’.
Photographs from Panos Kokkinias and Yiorgos Yerolymbols, the work of T.A.M.A. [Temporary Autonomous Museum for All] shifts this perspective, They offer a different perception of the unruly aspects of city, canceling out straight purist spaces and individual identity of earlier photographs. By the 1990s there is a definite blurring of boundaries in Greek photography. The Thessaloniki Museum of Photography opens in 2002, aiding this subversion of ‘photographicness’, and transferring perspective to a new photographic realism. Panos Kokkinias “here we are’ 2002 – 2006 offers an inversion from a public view to private life, an alienated and existential experience of life in the city. Subjects such as protests, riots, celebrations, socio-cultural immigration, police, and gypsies are more evident as subject material in other photographers of realism. A new interest in the city develops; perhaps as an intuitive return to the city.

Panos Kokkinias, photographer “presentation of works”: Panos Kokkinias gave us a personal presentation of the development of his work. His concern involves the question of how space effects how we function, how we feel about what we are. He started with ‘straight photography’ – but pondered what straight photography meant? Maybe it entailed the use of a small camera, black & white photographs of streets and places, deploying Gary Winograd’s literal description of the camera’s view. Kokkinias photographed crowds and animals, putting a book together, with themes such as alienation, what is this all about, what about existence cropping up. Eventually he published a small book entitled Sinking
This type of questioning continued during his studies at Yale: who am I as a person or photographer, what is my state of mind, can it be photographed? He began to stage his photographs [food, split milk, peanut eater, t.v. as his ‘place’ or a self portrait smoking, ‘myself became my house’ in which interiors were a substitute, a mirror reflection of his inner state of mind. He also shot interior spaces at Yale: gym photographs with telling details, mattress that is American, photo between two windows nobody knows, squash room batting ball against it. Or he photographed an escape hatch, the empty spaces of Grand Central Station, placing human figures in empty spaces. It was important to capture a sense of the place/space and what was going to happen there. He did not conceive of an idea and then find place to photograph that idea in, but first found a place visually and then envisioned a scenario taking place there. Gradually the spaces he was photographing opened up, his images getting wider and wider.
In 1996 Kokkinias returned to Greece, the light changes effected his work. He stopped doing interiors and began to work outdoor work in nature with figures. His urban neurosis transferred to nature, and, strange behavior, black humor or sarcasm became apparent. How do we feel in the world? The size of the image is important, we are small in the world therefore he used large format in which details became apparent.
Kokkinias began to pursue a PhD but what was going to be the subject? Why not explore the question of where we are, absurdity of not understanding the world and what we are going to do about it? He developed a group of portraits as his PhD in which alienation is the subject and the question examined ‘Can photography discuss existential matter?’. This shift also changed the way Kokkinias was working. The title of this group is ‘Here we are’; ‘but what do we do now?’ ‘Can photography deal with existential subject matter?’ The start of ‘Here we are’ began with someone entering the world, then wandering in urban environments [In the Megaron Musici a guy wears the badge of a visitor; the place dictates the mood] Kokkinias mixes genres: staged to non-staged views, reality plus fiction. He focuses on the non-places we move through, that we spend time in by traveling. These are moments of realizing or feeling ‘I am in the work’, ‘what is all this about?’ He utilizes a telephoto lens so that no interaction occurs between the image and the lens [A car leaving, broken umbrella, small world you don’t know where you are.][ Metro photograph: it is ordered, its visually clean not like rest of Athens. Is the platform another non-place? Waiting, waiting for Godot, waiting for the train.] [Underground drive through underpass, a prostitute in a red dress waiting in sunlight on narrow pavement not for pedestrians, an opening in roof allows sunbeams to come through pointing towards her yet the photograph is haunted by emptiness, nothingness, and death.]
[Escalators: you arrive somewhere, you have moments of waiting, empty, you wonder about your life,
reflections are there without the people there, they have been erased digitally, yet reflections left which the cleaning lady appears to be wiping away. This set up a kind of magical realism, which Kokkinais will pursue in the future.]
He refers to this set of photographs as ‘very short films’. We project our imagination onto/ into the space and we don’t care that it’s an illusion, we get absorbed. This sets up a kind of momentary narration. He likes a space without an idea and takes notes on spaces that he might use later. He began his photographic career wanting to make films, but with photography he did not need to have as much money, a big crew, and he discovered he could use photography to say something similar as he might in a small film.

Day One June 8th getting an overview of Athens from Lyabettus Hill

Joel Smith mentioned this article from the New York Times

New York Times March 29, 2009
Wikipedia: Exploring Fact City
Contributors to Wikipedia have wondered aloud lately if — perish the thought — they are running out of topics. The obvious articles, low-hanging fruit like “China,” “Moses” and “Homer Simpson,” have been written and rewritten hundreds of times. There are more than 2.8 million articles on the English version ________________________________________
of Wikipedia alone. Already looking back, Wikipedia this month got its first serious memoir, “The Wikipedia Revolution,” by Andrew Lih, an early Wikipedian (yes, that is what they call themselves), who writes about how “a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia.”
But these concerns seem misplaced — Wikipedia can no more be completed than can New York City, which O. Henry predicted would be “a great place if they ever finish it.” In fact, with its millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands of volunteers, its ever-expanding total of articles and languages spoken, Wikipedia may be the closest thing to a metropolis yet seen online.
Like a city, Wikipedia is greater than the sum of its parts; for example, the random encounters there are often more compelling than the articles themselves. The search for information resembles a walk through an overbuilt quarter of an ancient capital. You circle around topics on a path that appears to be shifting. Ultimately the journey ends and you are not sure how you got there.
Wikipedia articles can send you down unlikely alleyways in two ways. First, there are links that direct you to the same article in another language, a trippy experience that sheds light on a culture. Spend time in German Wikipedia, and you find jazz musicians like Thelonious Monk with articles far longer than those written in their own language; you may also come upon odd areas of deep interest, like “pecherei,” the extraction of resin from trees — no English equivalent provided — and 15 different tools needed for the job.
Second, at the bottom of most articles, there are the categories — impromptu neighborhoods, or perhaps civic organizations, that bind together the virtual encyclopedia. There are unsurprising ones, like “Jewish comedians,” found at the bottom of the Jerry Seinfeld article; and then there are the quirky kind, like this one I stumbled upon: “Literary devices playing with meaning.” It was in the latter category that I came upon the article “Mondegreen,” which describes the phenomenon of mishearing song lyrics, which led to “Soramimi,” a Japanese term for hearing lyrics in foreign languages as Japanese phrases, which led to the discovery that the heavy metal band Metallica has a line in “Enter Sandman” that frequently is heard by Japanese as “Let’s go to Chiyoda Life Insurance.” Which led to ...
It is a tale of spontaneous organization and achievement. Until recently, Wikipedia was able to operate on a budget of less than $3 million a year. Today it is still only $7 million, all donations and grants. No advertising, no sugar daddy. A rags-to-rags story of world domination in information that could only have happened in the Internet age.
In “The City in History,” Lewis Mumford tried to explain how cities came to be: “In the earliest gathering about a grave or a painted symbol, a great stone or sacred grove, one has the beginning of a succession of civic institutions that range from the temple to the astronomical observatory, from the theater to the university.”
In its seven years of existence Wikipedia has become one of the top 10 global Web sites. It has many fewer visitors than Google, yes, but it is in shouting distance of Amazon and eBay, with more than 60 million Americans visiting in January. Hundreds of thousands of people — some anonymous, some using pseudonyms, others exactly who they say they are — have thus far come together to collaborate.
A single article, say about the Mumbai attacks last year, can have more than 1,000 contributors. Their discussions on how best to write the article can occupy pages, all guided by one of Wikipedia’s founding principles: “Assume good faith.”
Wikipedia encourages contributors to mimic the basic civility, trust, cultural acceptance and self-organizing qualities familiar to any city dweller. Why don’t people attack each other on the way home? Why do they stay in line at the bank? Why don’t people guffaw at the person with blue hair?
The police may be an obvious answer. But this misses the compact among city dwellers. Since their creation, cities have had to be accepting of strangers — no judgments — and residents learn to be subtly accommodating, outward looking.
Mumford elaborates: “Even before the city is a place of fixed residence, it begins as a meeting place to which people periodically return: the magnet comes before the container, and this ability to attract nonresidents to it for intercourse and spiritual stimulus no less than trade remains one of the essential criteria of the city, a witness to its essential dynamism, as opposed to the more fixed and indrawn form of the village, hostile to the outsider.”
The marvel of Wikipedia — and cities — is that all the intercourse and spiritual stimulus don’t make living there impossible. Rather, they are exactly what makes living there possible.
Mr. Lih at one point enlists the urban reformer Jane Jacobs to back up this point. For him, urban stability is replicated through the transparency of wikis — every change ever made at Wikipedia (every discussion as well) is recorded. Ms. Jacobs, he writes, “argued that sidewalks provided three important things: safety, contact and the assimilation of children.” She may as well have been talking about wikis, he says: “A wiki has all its activities happening in the open for inspection, as on Jacobs’s sidewalk. Trust is built by observing the actions of others in the community and discovering people with like or complementary interests.”
It is this sidewalk-like transparency and collective responsibility that makes Wikipedia as accurate as it is. The greater the foot traffic, the safer the neighborhood. Thus, oddly enough, the more popular, even controversial, an article is, the more likely it is to be accurate and free of vandalism. It is the obscure articles — the dead-end streets and industrial districts, if you will — where more mayhem can be committed. It takes longer for errors or even malice to be noticed and rooted out. (Fewer readers will be exposed to those errors, too.)
Like the modern megalopolis, Wikipedia has decentralized growth. Wikipedia adds articles the way Beijing adds neighborhoods — whenever the mood strikes. It is open to all: the sixth-grader typing in material from her homework assignment, the graduate student with a limited grasp of English. No judgments, no entry pass.
One of Wikipedia’s governing principles is N.P.O.V. (neutral point of view), in much the same way Venice or Amsterdam or New York City in their heyday were uninterested in the religious, ethnic or political fights rampaging across the world. They, like Wikipedia, were polyglot homes for all who arrived on their shores.
But perhaps the most convincing argument for Wikipedia as an urban outpost on the Internet is the deep unease — even anger — it engenders. Alone among the miraculous and destructive creations of the Internet — Google, Facebook, Flickr, eBay — Wikipedia can cause the professional classes to seethe. Or run away fast, arms flailing.
People don’t treat ineffectual inventions as taboo — that is reserved for things like evolution, alcohol or, yes, cities. And just as the world has had plenty of creationists, temperance societies and ruralists, there is a professional class of Wikipedia skeptics. They, too, have some seriously depraved behavior to expose: Wikipedia represents a world without experts! A world without commercial news outlets! A world lacking in distinction between the trivial and the profound! A world overrun with facts but lacking in wisdom!
It’s all reminiscent of the longstanding accusations made against cities: They don’t produce anything! All they do is gossip! They think they are so superior! They wouldn’t last a week if we farmers stopped shipping our food! They don’t know the meaning of real work!
This argument represents a true clash of ideas. It is clear from Mr. Lih’s account that nearly every time Wikipedia has come to a fork in the road where the project could have chosen to impose more restrictions on who could edit what — even insist on a bit of expertise — it has chosen not to. That has made all the difference. The vindication of those choices — by Wikipedia and cities — is proved each time some yokel overcomes his fear and decides to make a visit and stay awhile.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This is a test link to infosthetics, an awesome site for mapping information