Thursday, April 29, 2010

This American Life aired an episode Semptember 4th 1998 on Mapping. Everyone should listen to this because a) it is very possible that this may be the best This American Life ever posted, and b) it is totally applicable to our class. Ira Glass starts the episode off by saying "Every map is a different way to seeing the world" , thus they devote the hour long episode to exploring mapping our everyday experiences through each of the senses...sight.hearing.smell.touch. Ultimately ones everyday can be seen through the episodes exploration of mundane events which would otherwise go unnoticed.
Here is some imagery of a mural project I organized at 1900 Broadway. It was a summer project that extended over 200 feet and is continuing to develop. Artists involved in the process were Kerry Cesen. Nick Illuzada, Cam Floyd, Gaia, Shana Hoehn and myself. I just recieved a France Merrick Fellowship from MICA to continue similar work throughout Baltimore. More or less I am taking advantage of the open space of the city bringing a wile pallete and impressive imagery to otherwise desolute and gray parts of the city.

change of tone

When the semester began and this process of learning all about the Station North developmental plans began, I was worried that the “charm” of the city would be in full assault. After living in Baltimore for more then three years I have adopted Baltimore has my home and have found comfort in everything that Baltimore City has offered. The DIY framework of the city is what initially attracted me to Baltimore. The availability of space within the urban environment, and the fluid transition of abandoned building to functional music venue is something I still have difficulty figuring out, but love nonetheless. While the city at certain moments may appear to be deteriorating all around me with vacant lots scattered throughout and certain blocks being completely abandoned, the arts scene is up and running 24/7.
Prior to hearing anything in the class my fear of developmental plans in the area was that this current relationship with the arts within the area would cease to exist. The status quo would not be able to handle the economic revision of the area and would be outsourced and the area completely gentrified. While potentially this would not need to be a bad thing (it would change the area and could have a functioning economically driven cultural area) it would not be the same North Avenue region which has attracted many artists and musicians to the area.
Fortunately, after hearing from a slew of active players in the developmental future of SNAED I can honestly say that I am optimistic about this project. While it will be impossible to say that I am “sold” that my Baltimore will not change too drastically for my liking until I check out the region twenty years from now, it has been presented to the class that it is in the best interest of Baltimore that the atmosphere stays the same. Even in the last couple of years huge changes have been made—for the better in my opinion. The Windup Space, Artists and Craftsmen Supply, Joe Squared and more have been built and have tapped into and encouraged the current music and arts scene of the city. Restaurants, galleries, theatres, markets, and green spaces seem to appear in every developmental plan, and if these spots remain affordable and universally welcoming, SNAED developmental plans can maintain the “charm” of North Avenue while improving the city and continuing to having a fully functioning culturally driven area.

BREAKING GROUND: A Beginners Guide for Nonprofit Developers

This informational brochure gives step by step instructions for people interested in starting a nonprofit real estate development business. The brochure starts off by explaining in very concrete terms how to assess whether or not an organization is ready to start a nonprofit real estate development business and tells you what you need to have in order to be ready. The brochure continues by giving people questions to ask themselves before starting such a business, and explains the different roles that a nonprofit can play in the community as well as the different forms a real estate business can take as a nonprofit. In addition, the brochure covers what types of people such a business should include (how to structure your business), what types of funding are available and how to get it, how to know your neighborhood's needs and facilitate community engagement, and how to manage a budget. The brochure also explains the lending process that businesses need to be aware of before starting a nonprofit real estate development business (which was informative for me). This explained a lot of things for me about the inner workings of nonprofit real estate development by revealing everything in a simple, clear, and understandable manner.
You guys should check this out:

After reading "How Art and Culture Happen in New York" and thought about Station North arts and Entertainment District in Baltimore

The author suggests importance of effects that art and culture in the urban, because economic structure moved from industry basis to art and culture basis. She took survey from cultural producers, gatekeepers and social life providers, research of policies which could help develop the cultural economy, concluded:

"The relationship between place and culture can be an effective tool for economic development….Fundamentally, art and culture thrive in places that support the social and economic dynamics necessary for creative production.”

However, the most interesting thing is how to interact creative people. In the reading, there are several quotations which like one nightclub owner said, “So many times, I see creative people sitting next to each other and next thing you know they are doing something.” Moreover, in the survey, most of them mentioned important of social activity such as ‘introduction’. I also deeply agree with this.

In my experience, even they are just ‘student’ or ‘amateur’, art world is influenced strongly social life. Most of my creative friends met in the exhibition opening, by accidently joining at drinking party, or by others introduced.

With this opinion, I also gladly accept North market project which is normally well-known “Station north market arts and entertainment district”. It has a plan that develops complex center entertainment and art providing in Central Baltimore. There’s already several place are running now. ‘Metro gallery’(1700 North Charles street), ‘The Windup space’(12 W. North Avenue) where locate Station North district and mixed bar, stage and gallery. In addition, every month on second Saturday, there is an event which has music performances, art exhibition, entertain such as providing pizza. Hence, they had some projects like “The Door & Window Project” that decorated vacant houses.

However, I think it needs to more effort to advertise to people-including MICA students and other art students and local artists, residents. First, it should renew their web site. Since last year, there is no updating even this month the event held. It is hard to get information beside leaflets. Secondly, it has to increase more ally facilities. It is glad news that there will be a new pub as soon as in North market building. It could help more local art and culture communication. At last, it needs to be held more notable events. It helps collect more artists and culture planners, and also could revive local economy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baltimore City Paper from 2003: PAST AND FUTURE COLLIDE IN THE ARTICLE "Will the Station North Arts District Paint a Brighter Future for Midtown?"

In 2003 an article came out in the Baltimore City Paper entitled Will the Station North Arts District Paint a Brighter Future for Midtown? This article describes many things that we might already know (at least as a class) about the District, but I still found reading it pretty fascinating because much of what is described is still relevant to the SNAED of 2010. This is a really great article in my opinion, in part because it expresses the viewpoints of so many different neighborhood players. It also summarizes information well and gives a comprehensive description of the state of the district about seven years ago in it’s earliest and most formative days. The Article explains how Charles North/Greenmount West was chosen to be Baltimore’s Arts and Entertainment District and gives us a few anecdotes about SNAED’s initial conception. The article describes a Station North Arts District that is younger and maybe just as full of reservation (if not more so) about how much can realistically change in the next decade. It might be relevant to recall that this is also a pre-housing crisis and pre-recession SNAED. Brennen Jensen, the author of this article, is able to capture the characteristic sentiment of watchful hesitancy that people in the district have had since the beginning regarding any potential gentrification of Station North. This is a sentiment that asks for (in the words of Dennis Livingston of the Greenmount West Community Development corp) maximum local participation and hands-on grassroots initiatives.
2003 was a pretty crucial year for the Station North Arts District. This article was written the same year that the districts 10 year tax incentives were passed, including the property tax credit for arts-related businesses, the entertainment and amusement tax credit, and the artist-income tax credit. This was also the same year that the PUD (the Planned Unit Development) ordinance was passed. This ordinance was a zoning shift for Greenmount West's industrial buildings, allowing more of them to contain a mixture of commercial and residential tenants. In addition, 2003 was the year that City Council Bill 03-1143 was approved, giving the city authority to ‘use condemnation powers as a means to acquire 24 vacant or underutilized properties in and around the Charles Street corridor.’ At the time that this article was written, the building’s owners had been given 8 months to come up with credible finance plans of their own or else they faced being bought over by the BDC. By no surprise these buildings included sites that we now know to be part of the Charles North Vision plan, including the Chesapeake Restaurant and the Parkway Theater. Oh, and 2003 was also the year that Area 405 opened up.
It’s informative to realize how much is still the same but at the same time important to remember that it’s only been seven years since this article was published. Quite a lot has happened in these few years already. It's hard to measure progress, because with progress there's always the short term and then there's the long term and again, seven years really isn't a very long time. But you should still read the article, even after reading this summary.
Read the article @:

Monday, April 26, 2010

I recently joined a friend in the search of a nearby bus stop. A quick online investigation told us to walk just down the road to North and Howard. My friend turned to me and asked, “Where’s North and Howard?” For an instant I was taken aback, appalled really. To begin with, this intersection is not more than a 3-minute walk away from our apartment building. Perhaps more importantly, both North and Howard serve as major commercial streets, and their corners offer many assets for art students like us- Artist&Craftsman and Joe Squared, for example. These assets were of course familiar to my friend, but their geography was not. I soon realized that, over the course of Art, Artists, and The City, I have developed a strong position about the knowledge of geography. That is, I have come to view the understanding of ones spatial context as imperative, a personal responsibility. To choose to live in a place is to choose to acknowledge the surrounding area. This responsibility does not end at geography, but must extend the activities and trends that happen therein. In my case, this means I must know not only the physical manifestations of Central Baltimore (streets, land uses, etc.), but also how people interact with them. I must be aware that no urban process is organic- there is always human involvement. Residents, community organizations, developers, and the city all interact to change and mold the area. The responsibility of Central Baltimore residents is to be aware of their role in these processes. In my case, I must know that my identity as an artist makes me a component of the Station North Arts District. In addition, I must be aware that my identity as such may contribute to both residential and commercial gentrification. I cannot be ignorant of my possible role in displacement. The knowledge of this role allows me to minimize my negative impact. Through volunteering opportunities such as our surveying for Greenmount West Community Organization, I can make sure that the residents of the neighborhood are accounted for, perhaps increasing their representation in the case of displacement.
In the instant my friend asked “Where’s North and Howard?”, I wanted her to feel the personal sense of responsibility that I have developed. In essence, I wanted her to experience the whole course of Art, Artists, and The City. This, of course, is a ridiculous expectation to place one anyone. However, it is still very important that one is aware of their contextual surroundings, especially in the city. I would hope my friend is able to achieve this awareness by some other means. After all, though Art, Artists, and The City has been extremely informative, it can never measure up to years of immersion in an urban community.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Street Art works

I found several wall painting or some install works in neighborhood area.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

greenmount west redevelopment

Baltimore city provides a comprehensive list of PDFs available on their website of all the master plans of areas, redevelopment project goals, and what they call urban renewal plans (lower case u and p). I was reading over the greenmount west urban renewal plan, and thought I'd post the section about relocation, (which is the smallest section in the entire document). I'm glad there is a concrete plan defined for possible displacement.

3. Relocation

a. The Department of Housing and Community Development assures that before individuals or families are displaced from their dwelling units due to the requirements of this Plan, standard housing within the displacees’ financial means shall be provided. Residents living within the Project Area, if displaced through the requirements of this Plan, shall be given a priority by the Department of Housing and Community Development to any housing within the Project Area over which the Department has direct control.

b. The Department of Housing and Community Development assures that before firms or individual businesses are displaced from their present location of operation due to the requirements of this Plan, standard commercial structures within the displacees’ financial means, in or near the Project Area shall be identified. Businesses displaced because of the requirements of this Plan shall be given favorable consideration, but not necessarily priority, by the Department of Housing and Community Development in the review of commercial redevelopment proposals.

arts promotion?

There is an arts festival in pittsburgh called three rivers arts festival annually. Every year there is a poster contest for the promotion of the festival. Here is this year's winner.

I find it interesting how they are promoting the arts festival this year. I guess this response is more about the idea of the open city rather than the actual arts scene, but the festival is about people getting out to the city, experiencing the arts and the various art booths, seeing the juried exhibits, having fun at the outdoor amphitheater concerts, etc. However, none of these ideas are expressed through this poster. Instead it is a very futurist interpretation of Pittsburgh, which shows no street view city life, and it is solely about the high towers and the architecture. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad interpretation of Pittsburgh, but as an advertisement for an arts festival, not necessarily a route I would have personally taken. The poster seems very cold and uninviting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Greenmount West Association

I wanted to talk briefly about my experience volunteering on Saturday. I think it's similar to the experience that Rachel described, but honestly I was a little surprised at the reactions to something like a survey on a Saturday morning. First of all, Cole and I got a bunch of people to do the survey. Like, more people than I thought would want to answer the door on a Saturday morning to fill out a survey. But people were totally interested, especially when we told them that we were affiliated with the Greenmount West Association. I was also totally impressed by the community participation in the trash clean up. At one point there was a girl talking to her friend on the phone trying to get her to come out. She accused her of throwing a Pepsi bottle on the ground the other day and told her that if she was going to litter in their community she better help clean up. That was really endearing. Another woman we talked to was elderly and had lived in the neighborhood for like twelve years. She said only good things about the community (caring people, etc) but when it came to her bills, she had a ton of trouble. When we asked her how long she planned to stay in Greenmount West, she looked us in the eye and told us that she'd probably die here. The people in this community need some help for the love of their neighborhood. They feel connected with the place that they live, even if trash blows down from 25th street and they have to clean it up.
After volunteering on Saturday, I went to a few locations that I was considering using for my final project. I only talked to a few people but when I talked to them, they were pretty enthusiastic about some activity. I think it just takes some proactive thinking and some action to make things happen in Greenmount West.

Also, anybody want to lend me a lawnmower? I'm looking either for a push lawnmower or a small one. Thanks!

Monday, April 19, 2010


The article mainly mentions public art definition and its history in these days. Through the article, I think how could we define public art now? Before, it is clearly ‘individual’, because in modern art, an artwork is sublimity. Even in the article, the artists who made their works in public place early days said their works completely irrelative surrounding things-architecture, urban design etc. This could be called ‘Integration’. Contradictory, in ‘Intervention’ view, the artists more consider about their work and environment: “site specificity”. Support organization, like GSA and NEA, they firstly put some huge sculptures to public space. However they renewed the guideline, works suggest some relationship with building, space.
But after read Serra’s insistent, it is more confused. I think his work is neutral between both of view. He declared clearly he opposes GSA guideline (later one), but it is also not just a huge sculpture. I thought the reason that he was not accepted by people and society is it was unfamiliar at that time and it was a proof that public artwork is not only ‘art’, but it needs utility, convenience for public. So definition of public art became complex to define because it needs to view diverse of side.
There’re many opinions about public art until now. I also constantly have studied this area, but I could not understand exactly at all. But if I spaced some artworks to the city, I would take ‘Intervention’ view. Because it is true that public place is not extending of white cube anymore.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

interesting article

while doing final last minute thesis research, i stumbled upon this article. Although it centers around the idea of historic preservation as gentrification, it also mentions the idea of Austin as a progressive arts city, and how property values rose so much so quickly. It is quite interesting.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

There must be a relationship

Forgive me for posting another drawn out response to the reading, but this is how I process information. Internal debates are how I learn.

Within her essay Alternative Space, Rosalyn Deutsche engages several critical theories in the process of deciphering a relationship between Art and the City. This relationship is brought to the forefront with the discussion of the art gallery’s role in gentrification and, subsequently, the displacement of the homeless. This very issue was the basis of a panel discussion about New York’s East Village. In response to a panelist’s statement, Roger Kimball remarks that “He never specified just what the homeless might have to do with art- how could he have done so, since they have nothing at all to do with art?”
I find myself immediately appalled by such a remark, which perhaps is Deutsche’s intention. The question remains, what sort of thought process leads to Kimball’s perspective, and for that matter, the opposite response that I favor? By elaborating of several Neoconservative criticisms, Deutsche points out a sort of mechanization of urban development. This eliminates the resident’s role in the formation of a city, instead placing responsibility on a “provision of facilities to fulfill ‘essentiall’ human needs.” According to Neoconservatives, this eliminates the urban environment from the political realm. I find a major flaw in this argument. My observations of Baltimore have led me to believe that residents play an integral role in the formation of their city. Community organizations, such as Charles North Community Organization, depend upon the involvement of the local population. It therefore seems self-evident that the environment plays a major political role. The question remains, how does this environment relate to art, and does the latter part of the political realm as well?
On the topic of public art, Deutsche mentions the concept of a “pure art experience,” in which art is at the forefront while the social realm is made a backdrop. I find this to be a highly irrational stance. One cannot separate a work of art from its surrounding context. For one, the artist will inevitably be influenced and inspired by his or her surroundings. Once the art is placed in a location, the experience it invokes in the viewer is influenced by the immediate physical surroundings. This is all to say that the human condition prohibits one from transcending their context: there is no pure, un-bias experience.
I have assumed the political realm requires the involvement of social forces (in this case, residents of an urban environment). If art cannot be separated from its physical and social context, then it must therefore be political. With this in mind, Kimball is mistaken in his statement about art and homelessness. Art is inseparable from the galleries it is displayed in, and consequently contributes to gentrification and displacement. This cause and effect relationship is proof that art and homelessness are indeed related.

Red Line Housing Crisis Center

The CUP project and Damon Rich's (next weeks lecturer) exhibition is discussed via pbs here.

Come enjoy urban interventions! Transmodernfest! 2010

This weekend there will be a fantastic array of performances and shows in the Transmodern festival 2010.

The festival is fantastic in many ways, particularly for me in its ability to transform public space into warm (for me at least) spaces. Actually, last year at the Love Parade in seton hill (by the H&H building/floristree) was where I decided to move back to Baltimore due to the immense love. The parade for me, took a park I never felt comfortable laying or sitting in and created a sense of celebration of the space. The parade began blocks away but I joined in, in a handy costume and it was definitely a little inspired by mob mentality but surely for the purest of motives. The parade was really just a marching band of random costumes and pedestrians handed heart protest-like signs with "Love" written on them. (

Here are some images from the event last year:

Its fun to think about how temporary events can alter the way we experience the space.

The city paper has a nice schedule laid out as part of their story on it.
The festival (which I'll be in this Sunday as part of the Pedestrian Service Exquisite (PSE) !)

Buckminster Fuller Map Project

Maps from the great, Buckminister Fuller.

Recent experiences

There are may different stereotypes that come with being a white college student in Baltimore city. It's unfortunate, but true, that race plays a huge role in the fabric of the urban environment. However, depending on the area, a different stereotype occurs. I have been trying to exit the idea of the "mica bubble" at least once a day as a breather for myself; this includes the areas of Bolton Hill, Mt.Vernon, ad the Charles North Arts and Entertainment District. Within the arts district, there is the automatic assumption, for the most part, that almost anyone white is somehow currently or was connected with MICA. However, once you exit SNAED, that stereotype completely dissolves, regardless of the way you dress and what you carry, and a new stereotype blankets you depending on the new neighborhood you've entered. I was recently photographing in east Baltimore in close proximity to Hopkins Medical. I was carrying a camera, and dress like I normally do; this would usually automatically categorize me as a MICA student; however, that was not the numerous encounters that I experienced. One man even pulled his car over to ask me if I was in the market for real estate, ad if I was photographing potential properties. I looked at him puzzled, only to realize that I was too far removed from MICA for the common stereotypes I am so accustomed to. I told him that I won't be ready to buy property for years, and I'm lucky if I can afford rent. He laughed and then asked what I was doing then, since people are always looking to buy property. I told him I was photographing for a project for school, and he said that was cool and keep doing what I'm doing. That interaction would never occur within SNAED. Usually I feel as though I'm being invasive when photographing around SNAED and MICA, and often think many of the long-term residents and homeowners become often annoyed.
I'm glad that the recent visiting speakers have been addressing uses of technology in urban planning.  I usually think of the channels of city bureaucracy that people have to navigate through when they embark on a city planning project or how cold and impersonal using technology can seem, but the recent talks have made me more hopeful that technology can bring more efficiency to urban planning without removing the personal touch.  Sarah Williams, for instance, used cell phone tracking to research traffic in the city, but added a personal, interactive aspect with the text-in for historical information fliers.  I was especially impressed by the projects that James Patten presented.  I appreciated that he kept a running theme of tailoring interfaces to be more organic and interactive so that technology becomes as much about the project and the people using it as it is about the function of the programs.  In the case of the telephone pole mapping project, the technology made the process much more practical and efficient, but still allowed for people working on the project to impose social and cultural restraints on the technology.  Although the DJ application was less related to city planning, I think it was very appropriate to Baltimore because of the electronic music scene.  There are so many shows where the performer is just working with a laptop or synthesizer.  Although adding a more tangible interface may not have that much influence on function, it's good to see people thinking about bringing the performance aspect back to electronic music.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Creativity and Property

An entirely different issue, one that could be a prequel class for our course (and maybe everything) could be an extended discussion of the commodification not just of the artist for the city, but of art, the selling of work as it reflects on the work and how to be an artist that wants to eat and think of their work as a "gift". Several books of course have been written about this, famously and somewhat recently The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde (which I'm really enjoying reading!) considers these issues outside of the city and the use of the artist and more from the perspective of the artist themselves. He asks larger questions about the true value of art and the moral choices that ultimately reflect more on a large society than the individual.
Just a thought, a blogged thought.


I came across a website of Neil Freeman's maps I thought they'd be of interest to our class. Here are some images of the maps and it's website.

This one is of all nations capable of nuclear weapons sized down to the same size:

On the site there is also a collection of building typologies:

He took images of the most concentrated metro areas for each state:

The map exercises are simple. Each attempts to use mapping to alter a view point. Here is the site.

An article on one of the maps.
Reading Sitings of public art, it was interesting to see the contrast between the top-down model of public art and the more inclusive and sensitive way of going about public art. It is a contrast that we have seen all through the semester, but one aspect of this that we haven't talked about is the idea of listening.

I had always been told to listen to people when doing socially-based or community projects, but I don't think I really got it until seeing the work people were doing in Greensboro Alabama. Greensboro is the place Rural Studio started. Much of the work Rural studio does is about listening. The students live in tents at the site of the house they are building, and the houses are tailored specifically to the needs of the people who will be living in them. I saw a lot of the houses built by early rural studio students, and there are definitely problems with the structure of the houses, but the aspect of Rural Studio that is really important and has lasted is the idea of listening to people and designing around that.

So many organizations have come from this idea of listening in design and while Rural Studio did not start this, they did put it into an institutional context really well and this has been the lasting effect of it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge Park

So Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates is pulling an Olmstead! I was reading an article in the New York Times about the new Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Green Space can be a great improvement to a neighborhood. I know we've talked in class about how community gardens and other types of green space can be totally beneficial and it's interesting to look at Baltimore in this sense as it is sort of on a small scale compared to NYC.
I wonder how this park will impact the neighborhood? The article talks about how the park has years before it is completed, though it is supposed to be one of many large "greening" projects in New York. Before the area was filled with dilapidated warehouses that lined the piers from the water. Now, for the most part they've been demolished to make room for recreational sports centers. This park should have an incredible impact on the city as central park did when Frederick Law Olmstead designed it. The article talked about how Olmstead viewed parks as a "refuge from the physical and psychological wear and tear of the industrial city" whereas the grittier elements of cities are focused on in a positive way. The connection between sustainable landscapes in urban environments aid to this link.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Walking around the city, I often find myself trying to imagine which areas of street and sidewalk are the most traveled and what parts of the city are most popular.  I had already seen some examples of maps that had done this kind of tracking,  but I enjoyed learning more about the process of creating and putting to use these kinds of maps to use in Sarah William's lecture.  Before the lecture, I thought of cell phone tracking as just a creepy way for the government and phone companies to keep track of our movements for surveillance and advertising.  While the lecture further confirmed this, it also showed me the positive side of using cellphone tracking to locate high-traffic areas for city planning.  
It was also interesting to hear about the innovative research methods that Sarah Williams used, such as the street sign posts and flickr photo sifting.  I'd seen projects like the text-in information posts before, but had never been aware of it's use in tracking areas where people had time for leisure.  Sarah William's presentation made me much more aware of the uses of cultural technology like texting and flickr, if not, perhaps, just a little bit more paranoid about it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fine Art of Gentrification makes an interesting case in idea of gentrification. She makes the argument that it is more about the art market moving in than artists themselves. Too often it is the artists that get blamed for gentrifying an area when in fact, it is more the gatekeepers (gallery owners, writers and critics) that bring capital in and displace people. Yes, the writers were looking a the Lower East Side in a very different time when it seemed like bringing artists into an area to develop it was crazy, however, so much of the blame continues to be put on artists who move into lower income neighborhoods.
So much conversation happens about gentrification in Station North amongst it’s residents, but when you look at it as The Fine Art of Gentrification describes the process, gentrification in Station North is not much of a threat. This is mostly because there is very little capital invested into the arts in Baltimore. There are no galleries that are selling work in Station North, There is very little press regarding the art being made in Station North. Furthermore, the area continues to be virtually untouched by the art market.
That being said, we live in a time where the art market may not have to be the first investor of capital and interest in an area populated by artists. With all of the recent interest in Arts Economic Development, larger institutions like developers are catching on to the fact that artists can be good for an area’s economy. This begs the question: are they right? Is it right to assume that artists, without the support of the capital invested by the commercial art market are still economically good for an area? It seems that they are in some ways, but not in the ways that we have seen in cases like the Lower East Side. If artists are not making tons of money off of their work and being lauded in the art press, then there will not be the same influx of capital that there was in the Lower East Side. It seems that this initial push of capital made by the art market is what allows gentrification to happen because if artists in an area are making working class wages and no one injects some capital into the area to make it appealing to the upper classes, then none of the upper class people will move there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Martha Rosler 2010

A few months back I was in New York at e-flux to see a panel talk about 'If You Lived Here' and Martha Rosler was there talking about her exhibition in retrospect. She discussed, half laughing/half serious how things hadn't changed much, how the attitude of the art world spoke volumes in its lack of response to gentrification in New York City alone. Unfortunately, I can't recall the whole of the discussion but I'm having e-flux mail me a copy of the talk! Hopefully it will arrive soon, in the meantime, here is the press release for the event I attended.

This events press release here.

And some reflections from the same group with some nice photos of the original 1989 exhibition. I'll share the video with anyone interested once I receive this in the mail!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sarah Williams & The "Buzz Theory"

While speaking about her work at the Spatial Information Design Lab, Sarah Williams introduced the term “Spatial Data Traces”, or digital information registered by people in places that are left behind. She gave several examples of projects illustrating these data traces, the most compelling of which I found in the “Buzz Theory” project. The formulation of this project was rooted in the theory of “clustering”, a term we are not unfamiliar with from our readings by Richard Florida and Elizabeth Currid. The theory states, in short, that location and concentration is integral in developing a specific field-focused community. Silicon Valley, for example, is thriving due the clustering of engineers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in one area. The location of the “Buzz Theory” project began in Los Angeles, or more specifically, on the internet. Using the image repository site Getty Images, Sarah and her team mined for arts and cultural events happening in the area. They then divided the events by typology, finding that certain types of events developed “enclaves”, or their own concentrated areas. The team’s findings helped to make an interesting observation: the arts and cultural events were more common in commercial than creative areas. This supports the assumption that the Arts, though produced in creative enclaves, is celebrated by the public in commercial sectors. In addition, Sarah concludes that Getty Images is a market-driven site, used by those wanting to promote a commercial event. I was fascinated by this form of research- where the source of data and mapping of data serve to illuminate each other. Getty Images, though a provider of hard data, is made bias by its users. To recognize this, and use it to further your results, is what sets the research apart. When studying culture, why not use cultural data, and let the source and the results play off one another?