Sunday, July 11, 2010
To write messages of today and save them on draft to the future.
To chose a number of objects from today and imagine someone will find them out of the context in the distant future. To "catalog" today's day by explaining through these objects how we live today.
Lets imagine an archeologist finds one object of today in 400 years from now. How easy will it be for him to understand the context, the use, the year of made... If we could make his life easy what will we attach to that object.
For the "today in a boat" project I would like to invite a diverse group of people, from different backgrounds (who could per si represent today's society) and present them the challenge of choosing an object, collecting all the operating instructions, manufacture information, manuals, and come on board to give us a short introduction of why they have chosen their particular object. For that they will have to describe the object, tells us what it's used for, where it was found, bought, measurements materials, etc, how much did it cost... And from there move to what does it say about our society today.
As an example I chose a plastic bottle filled with tap water. And let's say It has the original packaging from the distributor.
I would have to explain exactly how we use it now (context), how the container is produced (manufacturing instructions and technology used to produce it), what is plastic, how we put the tap water inside and how the plump water system works and gets to our houses, the problem of excess of plastic bottles in the world, how we carry this bottles in our bags an forget them it in meeting tables, visual instructions of how to use it, how we use our hand to grab it, harm to help it get close to the mouth, mouth as to be slightly open.
Well, this all seams annoyingly obvious for us now.
But how will people drink water in the future?
Portable, on the move, recycle, plastic! (will plastic still exist in 400 years from now?). So speed could also be an abstract element we can use to represent our everyday routine. What kind of speed, in what situation, what is our reaction to low speed?
Now pick another object and do the same.
If 40 people collect 40 objects will it be enough to represent this present day?
Some objects have a lot to say, and if each person put it in context and explains all the connections around it, I believe it could.
The purpose of this project is also to raise important issues about the society today and to promote tertulias between people.
The project was based on the idea that by being in a close environment such as a boat, people will focus more. Also the fact we are going to spend two days on a boat makes us think better about what we want to take with us. Again what objects?
So I thought it would be interesting to go up the Thames in the boat. And up the Thames on a boat is "Three man in a boat", by Jerome K. Jerome. And here's an excerpt of the book that helped building the concept for this project:
"To go back to the carved-oak question, they must have had very fair notions of the artistic and the beautiful, our great-great-grandfathers. Why, all our art treasures of to-day are only the dug-up commonplaces of three or four hundred years ago. I wonder if there is real intrinsic beauty in the old soup-plates, beer-mugs, and candle-snuffers that we prize so now, or if it is only the halo of age glowing around them that gives them their charms in our eyes. The "old blue" that we hang about
our walls as ornaments were the common every-day household utensils of a few centuries ago; and the pink shepherds and the yellow shepherdesses that we hand round now for all our friends to gush over, and pretend they understand, were the unvalued mantel-ornaments that the mother of the eighteenth century would have given the baby to suck when he cried.
Will it be the same in the future? Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before? Will rows of our willow-pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd? Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?
That china dog that ornaments the bedroom of my furnished lodgings. It is a white dog. Its eyes blue. Its nose is a delicate red, with spots. Its head is painfully erect, its expression is amiability carried to
verge of imbecility. I do not admire it myself. Considered as a work of art, I may say it irritates me. Thoughtless friends jeer at it, and even my landlady herself has no admiration for it, and excuses its presence by the circumstance that her aunt gave it to her.
But in 200 years' time it is more than probable that that dog will be dug up from somewhere or other, minus its legs, and with its tail broken, and will be sold for old china, and put in a glass cabinet. And people will pass it round, and admire it. They will be struck by the wonderful depth of the colour on the nose, and speculate as to how beautiful the bit of the tail that is lost no doubt was.
We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog. We are too familiar with it. It is like the sunset and the stars: we are not awed by their loveliness because they are common to our eyes. So it is with that china dog. In 2288 people will gush over it. The making of such dogs will have become a lost art. Our descendants will wonder how we did it, and say how clever we were. We shall be referred to lovingly as "those grand old artists that flourished in the nineteenth century, and produced those china dogs."
Chapter 6, pag 45
The concept behind the boat project it's expressed in the book itself. And this made me build the route on the river based on the trip they did as well: Starting in Kingston-upon-Thames (were they've got the boat from), up into Pangbourne, where the book heroes abandoned their boat and got the train back to London.
This project would be documented in the shape of a book.
More details to follow.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Published June 9, 2010
A Manolo Blahnik it isn't.
Still, the world's oldest known leather shoe, revealed Wednesday, struck one of the world's best known shoe designers as shockingly au courant. "It is astonishing," Blahnik said via email, "how much this shoe resembles a modern shoe!"
Stuffed with grass, perhaps as an insulator or an early shoe tree, the 5,500-year-old moccasin-like shoe was found exceptionally well preserved—thanks to a surfeit of sheep dung—during a recent dig in an Armenian cave.
About as big as a current women's size seven (U.S.), the shoe was likely tailor-made for the right foot of its owner, who could have been a man or a woman—not enough is known about Armenian feet of the era to say for sure.
Made from a single piece of cowhide—a technique that draws premium prices for modern shoes under the designation "whole cut"—the shoe is laced along seams at the front and back, with a leather cord.
"The hide had been cut into two layers and tanned, which was probably quite a new technology," explained Ron Pinhasi, co-director of the dig, from University College Cork in Ireland.
Yvette Worrall, a shoemaker for the Conker handmade-shoe company in the U.K., added, "I'd imagine the leather was wetted first and then cut and fitted around the foot, using the foot as a last [mold] to stitch it up there and then."
The end result looks surprisingly familiar for something so ancient—and not just to Blahnik.
"It immediately struck me as very similar to a traditional form of Balkan footwear known as the opanke, which is still worn as a part of regional dress at festivals today," said Elizabeth Semmelhack, a curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada.
"I thought, Wow, not so much has changed."
Oldest Leather Shoe Shows Stunning Preservation
Radiocarbon dated to about 3500 B.C., during Armenia's Copper Age, the prehistoric shoe is compressed in the heel and toe area, likely due to miles upon miles of walking. But the shoe is by no means worn out.
Shoes of this age are incredibly rare, because leather and plant materials normally degrade very quickly.
But in this case the contents of a pit in the cave, dubbed Areni-1, had been sealed in by several layers of sheep dung, which accumulated in the cave after its Copper Age human inhabitants had gone.
"The cave environment kept it cool and dry, while the dung cemented the finds in," said Pinhasi, lead author of the new study, published by the journal PLoS ONE Wednesday.
Why Was Oldest Leather Shoe Made?
Protecting the foot was probably one of the main reasons people started wearing shoes, and certainly this seems the case for the world's oldest leather shoe.
Around the Armenian cave, "the terrain is very rugged, and there are many sharp stones and prickly bushes," said University of California archaeologist and study co-author Gregory Areshian, who was partly funded by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
Furthermore, shoes like this would have enabled people to cope with extremes of temperature in the region—up to 113°F (45°C) in summer and below freezing in winter—and to travel farther.
"These people were walking long distances. We have found obsidian in the cave, which came from at least 75 miles [120 kilometers] away," he said.
Blahnik, the shoe designer, speculates that even this simple design was worn for style as well as substance.
"The shoe's function was obviously to protect the foot, but I am in no doubt that a certain appearance of a shoe meant belonging to a particular tribe," said Blahnik, who knows a thing or two about expressing identity through attire. "I am sure it was part of the outfit which a specific tribe wore to distinguish their identity from another."
Not the World's Oldest Shoe
Previously, the oldest known closed-toe shoes were those belonging to Ötzi, the "Iceman" found in the Austrian Alps in 1991, who died around 5,300 years ago. (See "Iceman Wore Cattle, Sheep Hides; May Have Been a Herder.")
Sandals meanwhile, have an even longer history, with the oldest specimens, dated to more than 7,000 years ago, discovered in the Arnold Research Cave in central Missouri.
The wearing of shoes, though, is almost certainly older than the oldest known shoes. For example, a weakening of small toe bones found in 40,000-year-old human fossils has been cited as evidence of the advent of shoes.
Compared to Ötzi's shoes, the world's oldest leather shoe is strictly bare-bones, according to Jacqui Wood, an independent archaeologist based in the U.K., who studied Ötzi's shoes and who said the new study's science is sound.
"The Iceman's shoe was in another league altogether," Wood said. "Each base was made from brown bearskin; the side panels were deerskin; and inside was a bark-string net, which pulled tight around the foot.
"By contrast, the Armenian shoe is the most basic of shoes and was probably made worldwide once people decided not to walk about in bare feet." (See pictures of the Iceman.)
It's true that similar shoes have been found at other sites and from other times, but study co-authors Pinhasi and Areshian think it's plausible that the style originated in Armenia.
"Many other inventions, such as wheel-thrown pottery, cuneiform writing, and wool production evolved in the ancient Near East," Pinhasi said. "And so Armenia may give us the earliest clues to a 'prototype' shoe, which later spread to Europe.
Rebecca Shawcross, a shoe historian at the Northampton Museums & Art Gallery in the U.K., said, "You can certainly make a case for this shoe [design] being a forerunner to the North American moccasin, which has gone on to be a popular shoe style, whose influences can be seen in shoes of today—deck shoes; soft, slipper-style shoes for men; and so on."
Beyond the World's Oldest Leather Shoe
With the moccasin mystery largely solved, the study team has plenty more puzzles to solve in Areni-1.
Along with the shoe, the ancient sheep dung had sealed in the horns of a wild goat, bones of red deer, and an upside-down broken pot.
"It is a strange assortment of items," Pinhasi said, "and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some symbolic meaning"—a meaning that could be revealed as summer, and a new dig season, dawns at Areni-1.
The discovery of the world's oldest known leather shoe was funded by the National Geographic Society, the Chitjian Foundation (Los Angeles), and Joe Gfoeller of the Gfoeller Foundation, the Steinmetz Family Foundation, the Boochever Foundation, and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
The oldest example of a leather shoe has been discovered by archaeologists in a cave in Armenia.
At 5,500 years old, the well preserved cow-hide shoe pre-dates Stonehenge by 400 years and the Pyramids of Giza by 1,000 years.
It was made of a single piece of leather and was shaped to fit the wearer's foot, the researchers say.
They have published details of the discovery from south-east Armenia in the journal Plos One.
The shoe contained grass, although the archaeologists are uncertain as to whether this was to keep the foot warm or to maintain the shape of the footwear.
The authors are unsure whether it was worn by a man or a woman. The shoe is relatively small, corresponding to a UK women's size 5 (European size 38; US size 7 women), but it could have been worn by a man of that period.
It was discovered at the Areni-1 cave in the Vayotz Dzor province of Armenia, which borders on Turkey and Iran.
The archaeologists put the shoe's remarkable preservation down to the stable, cool and dry conditions in the cave and the fact that the floor of the cave was covered by a thick layer of sheep dung.
This layer of excrement acted as a solid seal, preserving it over the millennia.
"We thought initially that the shoe and other objects were about 600-700 years old because they were in such good condition," said co-author Dr Ron Pinhasi from University College Cork in Ireland.
"It was only when the material was dated by the two radiocarbon laboratories in Oxford and in California that we realised that the shoe was older by a few hundred years than the shoes worn by Oetzi the Iceman."
Other well preserved objects were also found in the cave, including large containers, many of which held wheat and barley, apricots and other edible plants.
Sandals made from plant fibres found at the Arnold Research Cave in Missouri, US, pre-date the shoes from Areni by some 2,000-2,500 years.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Six independent, bottom-up educational initiatives share their experiences of experimenting with different systems of teaching, radically reassessing accepted modes of knowledge distribution: Critical Practice, FLAG, Interdisciplinary Critical Forum, Parallel School, Thinking & Practice Group and Department 21.
Flag, Joana, Bianca
How to deal with the question of authority of student-led or extra curricula projects? Could the work or participation in them not be valued as everything else one does in college? What authority do you need for those initiatives to be accepted by the student body?
How to keep a group accessible? Should information be widely accessible? Does a project become elitist, if the information is not stored in a place that can be accessed by everyone. Here the question comes up of how public you want the project to be.
New necessities evolve throughout running a project, so it is necessary to adapt to these in a flexible way.
Open calls for participation. Sometimes just one person gets back. This needs already to be seen as a success.
Trans-college communication should be improved so that like-minded students can meet across colleges.
These educational initiatives will always be institution-specific, but still connecting across institutions can prove valuable and supportive.
How to network if you don’t do shows? We should find a way of supporting people who have a non-medium based practice. Is cash all you can support them with?
Documentation vs. Legacy. As an initiative it is more productive to leave something that sparks imagination and reflection, rather then a 1:1 representation of the activities.
Sophie, Metod, Jay, Fabio, Callum
Initiating – getting people together, finding a common ground/aim/goal
Commitment, enthusiasm and trust are key attributes.
Openess – creating possibilities for people to join in
Collective in?? – forming a horizontal structure. (Here we discussed that horizontality might mean equal opportunity, but not that no one takes the lead.)
What role play personal interests within a collective goal?
Strong collective interests
In each group their needs to be space for employing the personal skills.
Initiatives should have some sort of perpetual restructuring build in.
Where do you find an agreement between the individual and collective interests?
Katrine, Marsha, Paul, Terry
Individuals – groups – specific. The chemistry in the group is important.
Be bothered. Something about value and aim – finding a common ground – trust.
There is no good or bad practice, lets speak about productive practice instead.
Occupying a social space – social engagement
Monday, July 5, 2010
From 2000 to 2010