urbanism

A Visualization of Urban Collective Memory

I am currently working with Jason Hsu, organizer of TEDx Taipei, and Edward Shen, recent MIT Media Lab graduate, on a data visualization project aiming to document urban memory in Taipei. The project began with a dialog Jason and I started at TEDActive in Palm Springs earlier this year. Jason recently wrote a blog article comparing my earlier work Pastiche with Jonathan Harris’ We Feel Fine.  As the project progresses, I will continue to post updates here. Below is a proposal that captures my initial thoughts on issues the visualization might seek to address.

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Mapping—symbolism or realism?

Mapping seems to float between two poles—symbolism and realism, or abstraction and dimensionality—as the attempt is made to either (with increasing accuracy) simulate a landscape or environment, or interpret it as a sign or composite of signs. At first glance, the former could be considered the predominant direction—technology leading the way in the gradual displacement of the latter. However, not only are both vectors alive and well: realism has been an ongoing pursuit in mapping as long as symbolism, and symbolism is equally seeing a new resurgence due to technological developments.

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Identity and the Branded Community

Branded communities are an emerging phenomenon. Certainly, the term “branded community” is increasing in popularity. Yet—and this should not come as a surprise—brand has always been an important factor in regard to communities, and not only new communities. In this context, brand is a platform for creating and communicating a sense of place; it is the stated or perceived identity of a community. Branded communities, in their attempt to formalize sense of place, are not only the latest chapter in the ongoing narrative of the ideal or utopian city; they are also the outcome of a changing relationship between identity and community.

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Urban codes and the image of the city

In Celluloid Skyline, James Sanders explores the New York of the movies, and how its portrayal in film influences not only our perception of the city, but ultimately the shape of the city itself. I am interested in this reciprocal relationship, in particular the way in which an idea can influence a physical construct, as it manifests itself in actual, observable patterns.

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The boundaries of a development / 3 comments

Atlantic Yards boundaries

Atlantic Yards boundaries

The approval of the controversial Atlantic Yards development has renewed my interest in political and economic boundaries. At a pivotal point in Brooklyn, this project will dramatically transform the character of the area by drawing new business and creating economic growth. The development promises to create a sense of place from an urban void—the yards, which are inaccessible to the public, and currently separate four communities.

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